Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Esther Lee
The year 2021 marks Gong Yoo’s 20th debut anniversary, and this year he has been quenching his thirst for new experiences through exploring new genres of works. In the first half of the year, Gong Yoo starred in Seo Bok as a former intelligence agent who is tasked with safely transporting the first-ever human clone. He threw a series of probing questions out to the audience throughout this much-anticipated movie. Soon, this star will make a long-awaited appearance in the upcoming Netflix Original Series, The Silent Sea, as a crew member of space explorers sent out to retrieve samples from an abandoned research facility steeped in classified secrets. This upcoming series is expected to broaden the horizons of mystery sci-fi shows in the Korean film industry. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most famous works of Gong Yoo.
Coffee Prince (2007)
Gong Yoo plays Han Gyul, the owner of cafe Coffee Prince and a third-generation chaebol whose lifelong mission is not to have an arranged marriage in his life. He received explosive responses for playing Han Gyul as he kept on denying his feelings for Eun Chan (Yoon Eun Hye) who he had fallen for. The confession scene where he said, “I like you. I don’t care if you’re a man or an alien. Let’s take it as far as we can,” became one of the best and most-watched scenes of all time in Korean drama history. Moreover, in MBC’s documentary film where the Coffee Prince cast members reunited for the first time in 13 years, Gong Yoo described the drama as “a drama series that is like a first love” to him. He also thanked his co-star Yoon Eun Hye for helping him get in character as Choi Han Gyul.
Finding Mr. Destiny (2010)
After concluding Coffee Prince, Gong Yoo enlisted to complete his mandatory military service. Then in 2010, he made his much-awaited movie comeback through a sweet romantic comedy movie, Find Mr. Destiny. In the flick, Gong Yoo played a young man named Gi Joon who started his own business after getting fired from his job due to his rigid personality. He plans to help people locate their long-lost first loves through his newly opened business. Gi Joon meets Ji Woo (Im Soo Jung) as a client and a server and sets out on a journey to find her first love, Kim Jong Wook, who she is still hung up on for nearly ten years. Gong Yoo both played the highly principled man, Han Gi Joon, and Ji Woo’s first love, Kim Jong Wook. He even sang the movie’s theme song called “Second First Love,” which talks about what he felt when he first met with the nonchalant woman, Ji Woo.
Silenced is a film that shows a different aspect of Gong Yoo. The film follows In Ho, the newly appointed teacher at a school for hearing-impaired children. When he finds out that the students have been secretly enduring physical and sexual abuse by the teachers and administration, he decides to fight for the children’s rights and expose the crimes committed at the school. Although In Ho himself has his personal struggles, he stands up against the cruel acts to protect the children and justice. Silenced was able to get its movie adaptation thanks to Gong Yoo, who showed interest in starring in its live-action adaptation after reading the original work during his hiatus. As this movie became a success and drew public attention, many voiced the necessity of the law for protecting students with special needs. Perhaps this movie is what made him reveal that he has been looking into planning and producing more films like this that need public attention. Silenced is the work of director Hwang Dong Hyuk, who created a worldwide sensation with Squid Game.
Train to Busan (2016)
Train to Busan is a blockbuster film that follows passengers who struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan while a zombie virus breaks out in South Korea. Gong Yoo plays Seok Woo, who prioritizes his family’s safety above anything else. Seok Woo, who only cared about his daughter on the train, goes through changes as he builds bonds with the other survivors on the train that turns into a living hell filled with zombies. Gong Yoo has previously played a father role, but this role is particularly special in that it focuses on showing the ultimate paternal love throughout the play. In addition, the brilliant action scenes where he uses shields to fight off zombies, races through the train, and runs on the gravel fields have added to the fun of the movie.
2016 was a very busy year for Gong Yoo. He returned to the small screen with a romance drama, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, after spending a busy year starring in three films: A Man and A Woman, Train to Busan and The Age of Shadows. Gong Yoo took the role of Kim Shin, an immortal goblin who has lived for more than 900 years against his will. The drama drew attention by telling a love story between an immortal and his human bride Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun), who he finds to be with to break his immortal curse. It also features a cute bromance between him and a grim reaper (Lee Dong Wook), who has lost all his past memories. Kim Shin’s line, “All the days I had spent with you were blindingly beautiful. Because the day was sunny, rainy, or just about right, I loved every minute we spent together,” was loved by many and spawned numerous parodies in pop culture.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.
Translator Esther Lee: I’ll be providing you with up-to-date, reliable Korean entertainment news. Enjoy!