Kwon Sang-woo

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Kwon Sang-woo
Kwon Sang-Woo from acrofan.jpg
Born (1976-08-05) August 5, 1976 (age 42)
EducationHannam University - B.A.[1]
Years active2001–present
Son Tae-young (m. 2008)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGwon Sang-u
McCune–ReischauerKwŏn Sang'u

Kwon Sang-woo (born August 5, 1976) is a South Korean actor. He rose to stardom in 2003 with the romantic comedy film My Tutor Friend and the melodrama series Stairway to Heaven.


Kwon Sang-woo, the most visible example of the so-called mom-zzang (slang for "great body") movement, started his career as a fashion model in the late 1990s. His first acting experience was in the TV drama Delicious Proposal, and for the first few years of his entertainment career, he received only minor roles on television, before making his big-screen debut in the martial arts film Volcano High (2001). The following year, he played his first lead role in the comedy Make It Big (2002) together with real-life best friend Song Seung-heon.[2]

Kwon's breakthrough came in 2003 with the phenomenally successful romantic comedy My Tutor Friend, as a troublesome high school boy who is tutored by a college student of the same age (played by actress Kim Ha-neul). This was followed by appearances in My Good Partner, the world's first movie made for mobile phones, and the music video collection Project X.[2]

His next film released in early 2004 was also a hit. Once Upon a Time in High School portrayed the authoritarian society of the 1970s through a notoriously violent high school. Simultaneously, Kwon's TV tearjerker Stairway to Heaven was winning high ratings over 40%. The drama eventually screened throughout Asia and helped to turn him into a regional star.[3][4]

However, Kwon's follow-up film Love, So Divine, about a priest in training who falls in love,[5] earned poor reviews and did not get much attention from audiences.[2]

For 2006, Kwon starred in the big-budget action noir Running Wild,[6] about a detective, a prosecutor, and a criminal who are all equally vicious.[2] Running Wild received satisfactory reviews, but disappointing returns, and Kwon's next film Almost Love, a romantic comedy reteaming him with Kim Ha-neul,[7] likewise failed to replicate the success of their previous film.

Thus began Kwon's career slump, as the films Fate and More Than Blue flopped in the box office, and his small-screen projects Sad Love Story, Bad Love, and Cinderella Man received low ratings.[8][9][10]

Things took a turn for the better in 2010 with the box-office success of Korean War film 71: Into the Fire which Kwon reportedly did not hesitate to take on, though he again portrayed a high school student.[11][12][13][14][15][16] His drama Daemul about Korea's first female president (played by Go Hyun-jung) was also very popular during its run, staying atop TV charts for 11 weeks straight and ending with viewership ratings around 26%.[17][18][19][20]

In the 2011 melodrama Pained, Kwon played a man with analgesia, the inability to sense physical pain, who then falls in love with a woman suffering from hemophilia. Based on an original story by webcomic artist Kang Full, Pained was directed by Kwak Kyung-taek in a departure from his previous macho movies. Kwak said, "The production company told me Kwon Sang-woo was contemplating the part, and I said I would do it only if Kwon does. There was nobody else."[21][22]

Looking to expand his acting career to a wider audience in Asia,[23] in 2012 Kwon starred in movies with Chinese superstars Cecilia Cheung (romantic comedy Shadows of Love, previously known as Repeat, I Love You)[24][25] and Jackie Chan (action film CZ12[26][27][28]).[29] He also made his singing debut in a DVD released in Japan in 2010.[30][31] Cast as the male lead in a Chinese TV series titled Feng Hua Xue Yue (Wind Flower Snow Moon), Kwon's role was an Asian-American Broadway producer who comes back to China to stage a musical production in Yunnan Province and falls in love with the leading lady of his stage musical.[32][33]

He next starred opposite Soo Ae in Yawang (also known as Queen of Ambition), which was adapted from the third installment of manhwa artist Park In-kwon's 21-part saga Daemul (the 2010 SBS TV series of the same name that also starred Kwon was adapted from the comic's second book).[34][35][36][37][38][39]

Kwon was cast in his first medical drama in 2013, Medical Top Team from the director of Moon Embracing the Sun and the writer of Brain. He played a straightforward yet warm-hearted genius surgeon.[40][41] In 2014, he reunited with Stairway to Heaven costar Choi Ji-woo in Temptation, about a married, debt-ridden businessman who agrees to a deal with a female CEO in exchange for her "ownership" of his body.[42]

He next played the owner of an internet startup company in Honey Enemy, a 2015 Chinese romance film opposite Zhang Yuqi that filmed in Jeju Island and Shanghai.[43] Kwon then starred in comedy film The Accidental Detective which revolves around a misfit comic book rental shop owner who becomes involved in a murder case.[44][45][46][47][48]

In 2016, Kwon starred alongside Choi Kang-hee in the crime comedy drama, Queen of Mystery.[49] Kwon reprised his role in the second season of the show, which aired in 2018.[50]

In 2018, Kwon starred in crime comedy The Accidental Detective 2: In Action.[51] He was also cast in the romantic comedy film Shall We Do It Again.[52]

Kwon has said in an interview, "I hope I'm remembered as an actor whose work the audience looks forward to rather than an actor who acts well."[53][54]

Business interests[edit]

In 2009 Kwon established the cosmetics firm Natural Tears, of which he is the owner and CEO, as well as the inaugural advertising model for the brand TEARS. It was named after his nickname "Mr. Tears", given to him by fans in recognition of his tear-jerking acting in Stairway to Heaven.[55][56]

He also opened the cafe Tea'Us in Myeong-dong,[57][58] and is the biggest shareholder of the resort Ocean Blue Hotel Bali. The property Kwon owns in Bundang-gu was appraised at an estimated worth of ₩18 billion.[59]

Personal life[edit]

Unlike many Korean male stars who had to fulfill their mandatory military service at the height of their careers, Kwon completed his military service long before he became an actor.

Kwon's mother is a Roman Catholic, and he himself converted after filming Love, So Divine in which he played as a seminarian. His confirmation name is Francisco.

Kwon married actress and former Miss Korea Son Tae-young at the Shilla Hotel on September 28, 2008.[60][61][62][63][64] On February 6, 2009, his wife gave birth to a baby boy, christened as Luke (nicknamed Rookie).[65] Their second child, a daughter, was born on January 10, 2015.[66][67]


In 2006 Kwon filed a complaint against Kim Tae-chon, the godfather of Beomseobangpa (one of Korea's three major criminal gangs), for threatening him when the actor failed to keep his promise to hold a fan meeting in Japan. Kwon and the defendant eventually came to a settlement, but prosecutors continued investigations into possible ties between kkangpae and Japanese and Chinese crime syndicates that are looking to cash in on the Korean Wave entertainment business.[68][69][70][71]

There was fan backlash to his 2008 marriage due to his wife's previous dating history.[72] In an appearance on a talk show hosted by Kang Ho-dong in 2009, Kwon said, "After I got married, membership in my fan cafe dwindled from 240,000 to 135,000 - it was like a stock market crash." He also said that before he got married, he had an average of seven TV commercials per year, but by early 2009 that number had dwindled down to zero.[16][73]

In the early hours of June 12, 2010, Kwon was involved in a car accident in Gangnam District. According to news reports, Kwon was driving on the wrong side of the road and hit a parked car. He then ran into the police car that had pursued him, continued driving and hit a tree before fleeing the scene on foot. Two days later, he turned himself in at Gangnam Police Station, claiming he had not been drunk.[74][75] Kwon later made a public apology through a handwritten letter, and was fined ₩7 million by a Seoul district court.[76]


Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Network
2001 Delicious Proposal Lee Choon-shik MBC
Legend Yang Dol-man SBS
2002 We Are Dating Now Yoon Ho-jae SBS
2003 Into the Sun Kang Seok-min SBS
Stairway to Heaven Cha Song-joo SBS
2005 Sad Love Story Seo Joon-young/Choi Joon-kyu MBC
2007 Cruel Love Kang Yong-ki KBS2
2009 Cinderella Man Oh Dae-san/Lee Joon-hee MBC
2010 Daemul Ha Do-ya SBS
2011 Fuyu no Sakura Himself (cameo, episode 8) TBS
2013 Queen of Ambition Ha Ryu/Cha Jae-woong SBS
Medical Top Team Park Tae-shin MBC
2014 Temptation Cha Seok-hoon SBS
2017 Queen of Mystery Ha Wan-seung KBS2
2018 Queen of Mystery 2


Year Title Role Notes
2001 Volcano High Song Hak-rim
2002 Make It Big Lee Woo-seob
2003 My Tutor Friend Kim Ji-hoon
2004 Once Upon a Time in High School Kim Hyun-soo
Love, So Divine Kim Kyu-shik
2006 Running Wild Jang Do-young
Almost Love Lee Ji-hwan
2008 Fate Jo Cheol-joong
2009 More Than Blue K
2010 California - High Noon Short film
71: Into the Fire Goo Kap-jo
2011 Pained Nam-soon
2012 Shadows of Love Kwon Jung-hoon Chinese film
CZ12 Simon Chinese film
2015 The Honey Enemy Chinese film
The Accidental Detective Kang Dae-man
2018 The Accidental Detective 2: In Action Kang Dae-man
Shall We Do It Again Jo Hyun-woo

Music video[edit]

Year Song title Artist Co-star
2000 "Smile Smile" Papaya
"It's All Right" Circle
2001 "I Wish You Happiness"
(Joy Project - 1 Year of Love)
Why Ryu Si-won,
Lee Yo-won,
Gong Yoo
"First Love" Ji Young-sun Moon Geun-young[77]
2002 "I Can't Tell" Cha Eun-ju Kim Joo-hyuk
"Ace of Sorrow" Jo Sung-mo Jung Joon-ho,
Shin Eun-kyung
2003 "Project X" Cha Seung-won,
Kim Min-jung
2005 "Sad Love Story" Yoon Gun Kim Hee-sun,
Song Seung-heon
"Anyclub" Eric Mun and Lee Hyori Eric Mun,
Lee Hyori

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2002 23rd Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor Make It Big Nominated
SBS Drama Awards New Star Award We Are Dating Now Won
2003 39th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor (Film) My Tutor Friend Won
40th Grand Bell Awards Best New Actor Won
20th Korea Best Dresser Swan Awards Best Dressed, TV actor category N/A Won
SBS Drama Awards Netizen Popularity Award Stairway to Heaven Won
Top 10 Stars Won
Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Nominated
Excellence Award, Actor in a Special Planning Drama Into the Sun Nominated
Top Excellence Award, Actor Stairway to Heaven Nominated
2004 2nd Andre Kim Best Star Awards[78] Male Star Award Won
40th Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actor (Film) Once Upon a Time in High School Won
Best Actor (Film) Nominated
41st Grand Bell Awards Popularity Award Won
25th Blue Dragon Film Awards Popular Star Award Won
2005 42nd Savings Day Presidential Citation N/A Won
The Motion Pictures Association of Korea's
The Year in Film Awards
Hallyu Star Award N/A Won
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor Sad Love Story Nominated
2007 Andre Kim Best Star Awards[79] Star Award, Men's category N/A Won
1st Mnet 20's Choice Awards Hot Body N/A Won
Korea-Japan Culture Awards Non-Governmental Diplomacy Award N/A Won
KBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor Bad Love Nominated
2008 44th Baeksang Arts Awards[80] Most Popular Actor (Film) Fate Won
2009 2nd Style Icon Awards[81] Style Icon, TV actor category N/A Won
2010 SBS Drama Awards[82] Top 10 Stars Daemul Won
Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Won
2011 47th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actor (TV) Nominated
4th Korea Drama Awards Best Actor Nominated
6th Asia Model Festival Awards[83] Asia Star Award N/A Won
2013 8th Seoul International Drama Awards Outstanding Korean Drama Actor Queen of Ambition Nominated
SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Nominated
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Medical Top Team Nominated
2014 SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Temptation Nominated
2017 KBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor Queen of Mystery Nominated
Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Nominated
Netizen Award - Male Nominated
Best Couple Award Nominated


  1. ^ 권상우 영화배우, 탤런트 (in Korean). Naver. December 8, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d "Actors and Actresses of Korean Cinema: Kwon Sang-woo". Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  3. ^ "Korean actor wows Japan". Korea JoongAng Daily. December 14, 2004. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  4. ^ "Fueled by Japan, star shines his light on Asia" Archived 2012-07-09 at Korea JoongAng Daily. September 4, 2006.
  5. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo Looks for Divine Love in Upcoming Movie". The Korea Times via Hancinema. May 2, 2004.
  6. ^ "야수 (Running Wild) Press Screening Report". Twitch Film. January 4, 2006.
  7. ^ "청춘만화 (Almost Love) Press Screening Report". Twitch Film. March 14, 2006.
  8. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo Resumes Romantic Role". The Korea Times. January 13, 2009.
  9. ^ "Male Hallyu Stars Clash on TV". The Korea Times. April 7, 2009.
  10. ^ "Interview: Kwon Sang-woo "thirsty" for Fire success". 10Asia. June 23, 2010.
  11. ^ "Korean War resurrected onscreen". The Korea Times. May 11, 2010.
  12. ^ "TOP says lived as 17-year-old for 6 months for Fire (1)". 10Asia. May 11, 2010.
  13. ^ "TOP says lived as 17-year-old for 6 months for Fire (2)". 10Asia. May 11, 2010.
  14. ^ "Kwon Sang Woo: 'I Filmed Movie with Debut Mindset'". KBS Global. May 11, 2010.
  15. ^ "Kwon Sang Woo: 'I Acted While Motivating Myself'". KBS Global. May 31, 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Actor banks on his lucky charm". Korea JoongAng Daily. May 28, 2010. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  17. ^ "Will female president appeal to TV drama fans?". The Korea Times. October 5, 2010.
  18. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo says pondered over President after car accident". 10Asia. September 30, 2010.
  19. ^ "SBS The President ends run on top for 11th consecutive week". 10Asia December 24, 2010.
  20. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo's The President to air in Japan". 10Asia. July 8, 2011.
  21. ^ "Kwak, Kwon team up for melodrama". The Korea Times. July 21, 2011.
  22. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo says enjoyed Pain". 10Asia. July 21, 2011.
  23. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo eyeing acting roles in China". 10Asia. June 23, 2010.
  24. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo, Cecilia Cheung's pic Shadows of Love to open in China this week" Archived 2014-07-29 at the Wayback Machine.. 10Asia. May 10, 2012.
  25. ^ "China to see a lot of Kwon Sang-woo" Archived 2012-05-13 at the Wayback Machine.. Korea JoongAng Daily. May 11, 2012.
  26. ^ "Kwon Sang Woo, Jackie Chan's Chinese Zodiac Movie Sets January Release Date in Korea". enewsWorld. November 28, 2012.
  27. ^ "Kwone's Chinese Zodiac Breaks Record in China". 10Asia. December 24, 2012. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.
  28. ^ "KWON Sang-woo's 12 CHINESE ZODIAC HEADS Top of the Chinese Box Office". Korean Film Biz Zone. December 26, 2012.
  29. ^ "South Korea's Kwon Sang-woo Eyes Chinese Film Career". The Hollywood Reporter. May 28, 2011.
  30. ^ "Actor Kwon Sang-woo to make singing debut in Japan". 10Asia. February 16, 2010.
  31. ^ "Kwon's gotta sing". Korea JoongAng Daily. February 18, 2010. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  32. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo to play lead role in Chinese TV series". 10Asia. March 5, 2012.
  33. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo to star in Chinese drama" Archived 2012-07-12 at Korea JoongAng Daily. March 6, 2012.
  34. ^ "Kwone Sang-woo, Soo-ae to play in SBS drama presold to Asian countries". 10Asia. June 12, 2012.
  35. ^ "King of the Beast will air in January. Archived 2012-11-30 at the Wayback Machine. Korea JoongAng Daily. September 6, 2012.
  36. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo Wins Back Fans as Jilted Lover in SBS Soap". The Chosun Ilbo. January 29, 2013.
  37. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo says acting is hard". Korea JoongAng Daily. March 16, 2013. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  38. ^ "Interview: Kwon Sang-woo tells about his life in drama and in reality". BNTNews. April 11, 2013.
  39. ^ "Interview: Kwon Sang Woo Says Yawang Was a Half-Success". enewsWorld. April 20, 2013.
  40. ^ "Kwone Sang-woo Cast in New Medical Drama". 10Asia. July 5, 2013. Archived from the original on April 29, 2014.
  41. ^ "Kwon shows another side with new medical drama". Korea JoongAng Daily. July 8, 2013.
  42. ^ "Look who's back together: Kwon Sang-woo, Choi Ji-woo re-united in SBS drama Temptation". The Korea Times. July 11, 2014.
  43. ^ "Kwon Sang Woo to Film Chinese Film Honeymoon With the Enemy". KDramaStars. October 14, 2014.
  44. ^ "KWON Sang-woo's New Film Detective Wraps Up Production". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  45. ^ "Actor Kwon Sang-woo felt most like self in Accidental Detective". The Korea Times. August 24, 2015.
  46. ^ "(Yonhap interview) Kwon says he's having a mid-career crisis". Yonhap News Agency. September 10, 2015.
  47. ^ "Actor brings personal touch to husband role". Korea JoongAng Daily. September 18, 2015.
  48. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo Hopes to Please Moviegoers at Chuseok with New Comedy". The Chosun Ilbo. September 23, 2015.
  49. ^ "Queen of Mystery: Hard-boiled crime show with comedic 'ajumma' twist". Yonhap News Agency. April 3, 2017.
  50. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo's 'Queen of Mystery' to return in Feb". Yonhap News Agency. December 21, 2017.
  51. ^ "KWON Sang-woo and SUNG Dong-il Return for ACCIDENTAL DETECTIVE". Korean Film Biz Zone. March 30, 2017.
  52. ^ "Korean Romcom SHALL WE DO IT AGAIN Begins Shoot". Korean Film Biz Zone. June 11, 2018.
  53. ^ "Interview: Kwon Sang-woo - Part 1". 10Asia. June 25, 2010.
  54. ^ "Interview: Kwon Sang-woo - Part 2". 10Asia. June 25, 2010.
  55. ^ "Actor Kwon Sang-woo to Run Cosmetics Firm". The Korea Times. September 30, 2009.
  56. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo Becomes Entrepreneur". The Korea Times. December 4, 2009.
  57. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo offers fans another taste of him". The Korea Herald. May 19, 2009.
  58. ^ "Café TEA'US Myeongdong 1st Branch". Korea Tourism Organization. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
  59. ^ "Stars' real estate assets listed on site". Korea JoongAng Daily. August 7, 2014.
  60. ^ "Kwon, Sohn to Wed in Sept". The Korea Times. July 18, 2008.
  61. ^ "Kwone, Son to Tie the Knot on Sept. 28". The Chosun Ilbo. July 21, 2008.
  62. ^ "Kwon Vows to be a Passionate and Devoted Husband". KBS Global. July 21, 2008.
  63. ^ "Actors Kwon, Sohn Tie Knot". The Korea Times. September 28, 2008.
  64. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo & Son Tae-young Say "I Do"". KBS Global. September 29, 2008.
  65. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo, Sohn Tae-young reveal son's pics". 10Asia. January 27, 2010.
  66. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo, wife expecting a girl". Korea JoongAng Daily. August 19, 2014.
  67. ^ "Son Tae-young has baby girl". Korea JoongAng Daily. January 12, 2015.
  68. ^ "Actor Threatened by Organized Crime Boss". The Chosun Ilbo. November 10, 2006.
  69. ^ "Gang leader indicted for threatening actor". Korea JoongAng Daily. February 7, 2007. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  70. ^ "The brave Mr. Kwon". Korea JoongAng Daily. February 7, 2007. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  71. ^ "Threats Highlight Mob Role in Korean Show Business". The Chosun Ilbo. February 7, 2007.
  72. ^ "Another Child For Kwon Sang Woo And Son Tae Young". KDramaStars. July 23, 2014.
  73. ^ '최고의 사랑'은 권상우-손태영 맞춤 이야기? 비하인드 스토리 공개 [Kwon Sang Woo's dedication to his wife revealed during Pain press conference] (in Korean). TV Daily. July 21, 2011. Archived from the original on February 19, 2013.
  74. ^ "Actor Kwon Sang-woo booked for hit-and-run". The Korea Times. June 25, 2010.
  75. ^ "Kwon Sang-woo’s car troubles force his wife to shut Web site" Archived 2012-07-12 at Korea JoongAng Daily. July 1, 2010.
  76. ^ "Actor Kwon Sang-woo fined W7 mil.for hit-and-run". The Korea Times. July 29, 2010.
  77. ^ "권상우 뮤비 열도누빈다" (in Korean). Herald Media via Naver. March 7, 2008.
  78. ^ "Fashion Designer Andre Kim Gives Out Best Star Awards". Hancinema. The Korea Times. 16 November 2004.
  79. ^ "Top Stars Win Andre Kim Awards". The Korea Times. May 1, 2007.
  80. ^ "The 44th PaekSang Arts Awards Sparkles with Stars". KBS World. April 24, 2008.
  81. ^ "Style Icon Awards shines 2009 with edginess". TenAsia. November 13, 2009.
  82. ^ "Ko Hyun-jung wins grand prize at SBS Drama Awards". 10Asia. January 3, 2011.
  83. ^ "Winners of 2011 Asia Model Awards". Hancinema. KBS World. January 23, 2011.

External links[edit]