Enews took a look at just who this actor is.
The high school student who dreamed of acting
Ju Won didn’t become a star merely overnight. His parents pushed him to join a theater club so that he could shed his shyness and become more outgoing.
He went from Kaywon High School of Arts to Sungkyunkwan University’s Performing Arts department. He worked hard as a college student to be good at what he liked, and with many small performances continued to creep closer to the bigger stage.
Ju Won loved to sing also, leading him to debut as a member of the co-ed group Frees in 2005, but his real career started in 2006 with the musical Altar Boys. He auditioned for the musical after receiving a recommendation from a school senior, and was immediately accepted for his singing, vocals and acting skills.
The professional world, however, wasn’t so easy. He despaired at some point soon after. He, however, never gave up. He regained his confidence with the musical Singles, and continued to broaden his spectrum as the leads of the musicals Greece and Spring Awakening.
The biggest success in ‘Baker King, Kim Tak Goo’
While he was starring in Spring Awakening in 2010, Ju Won signed a contract with Sim Entertainment, which held Kim Yun Suk, Uhm Jung Hwa and Yu Hae Jin. His tall height of 185cm, his good looks and his skills were enough for him to catch the eyes of Sim Entertainment rep Shim Jeong Woon.
With his contract Ju Won was quickly exposed to the public. Just a month after he signed the contract, he was cast for a lead role in the KBS2 drama Baker King, Kim Tak Goo as the antagonist Ma Jun.
At the press conference for Baker King, Kim Tak Goo Ju Won drew the attention of the press. It was his first debut in front of a public that weren’t musical fans. His looks that resembled Kang Dong Won, his bright and strong energy and his strong voice all left a big impression.
With the drama, Ju Won managed to be loved by the broader public. He was passed the baton by a skilled child actor, and picked up where he had left off to unfold the adult Ma Jun’s greed and the reason he couldn’t help but become the villain, ultimately becoming one that no one could bring themselves to hate.
The drama exploded on the small screen, scoring more than 50 percent in viewership ratings.
Many say Ju Won is the one who benefit the most from Baker King, Kim Tak Goo out of all the other actors. He let his name be known through the piece, and was soon bombarded with offers for commercials, films and dramas.
Ju Won made his way into Chungmuro as a cold FBI profiler with the film S.I.U. The film gathered a 1.18 million audience, handing Ju Won a fruitful big screen debut.
Ju Won, however, seemed to shine brighter on the small screen than the big screen. With the macho detective role Hwang Tae Hee of the KBS2 drama Ojakgyo Brothers, he burned his name into the minds of his viewers.
Hwang Tae Hee, in Ju Won’s hands, became the man who lost his birth father and had to grow up as a model son in the hands of his aunt and uncle.
He had to behave at all times, and he couldn’t show that his missed his mother, who had left him behind. Ju Won’s acting spilled from his heart to build a detective Hwang that choked down his sadness, and shook the hearts of his viewers.
Ju Won again proved he was a favorite in the drama, garnering viewership ratings of 36.3 percent. His fellow actors also put on great feats, but Ju Won’s acting, which melted in with the others yet exploded just at the right moments, definitely stood out.
Ju Won scored success after success first with Baker King, Kim Tak Goo and then with Ojakgyo Brothers, gaining himself the nickname of ‘lucky boy’. Ju Won became a name that was always followed by success.
This actor’s most recent piece, Bridal Mask, may both benefit and harm Ju Won’s career.
Bridal Mask is a period piece; such genres help actors show off they can take on a wide variety of roles, and makes it easy for them to appeal to the older generations.
The drama, however, will hinder Ju Won if he wishes to become any bigger in Japan. For Korea, Bridal Mask is a hero, but for Japan, Bridal Mask is a mere terrorist, as the hero mostly fights against Japan and its rule over Korea.
The drama probably won’t find it easy to make its way into Japan and become popular in the country, and this is why many actors turned the role down.
Of course all actors have their own standards of taking up their roles, but Ju Won wanted to be an actor more than a hallyu star. He said he was pushed to take up the role merely because it was a good piece.
Such straightforward sincerity in his character also shows in the variety show 1 Night, 2 Days.
Rather than try to use his head and force a character onto himself, he chose to slowly make his way deeper into the program. He followed his big brothers around as the youngest cast member trying to learn what he could, and these efforts helped him appeal to his viewers as well.
Ju Won as a person, not as an actor, is the cute mascot of 1 Night, 2 Days.
He hangs up calls with his mom with the words, “Mom, bling,” and sleeps soundly in the arms of the oldest brother Kim Seung Woo like a baby. When he takes his hat off, his hair is often as ruffled as it can be, and in games he spills out all of his passion like the youth he is. He refuses to use tricks; he always goes head on with anything he’s given.
Sincerity is what helps the public trust Ju Won. He has been proving that he still has more ways to go, and is slowly settling down as one of the biggest stars in Korea.
Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan, Hea Jung Min, KBS