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Bae Yong-joon
Bae Yong Joon.jpg
Waxwork of Bae Yong-joon
Born (1972-08-29) August 29, 1972 (age 51)
Mapo District, Seoul, South Korea
Occupation Actor, businessman
Years active 1994–2017
Park Soo-jin
(m. 2015)
Children 2
Awards ROK Order of Cultural Merit Hwa-gwan (5th Class) ribbon.PNG Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit (2008)
Korean name
Hangul 배용준
Revised Romanization Bae Yong-jun
McCune–Reischauer Pae Yongjun

Bae Yong-joon (Hangul: 배용준; Hanja: 裵勇浚; born August 29, 1972) is a South Korean businessman and former actor. He has starred in numerous television dramas, including, notably, Winter Sonata which became a major part of the Korean Wave. Bae retired from acting after 2007, but remains active as the chairman of management agency KeyEast.

Early life

Bae Yong-joon was born in Mapo District, Seoul. He entered Sungkyunkwan University in 2000 as a Film Studies major.


Bae made his acting debut in 1994 in the Korean drama Salut D'Amour (lit. "Love Greeting"). The rookie actor quickly gained popularity, and a year later he won Best New Actor at the 1995 KBS Drama Awards for Our Sunny Days of Youth. Throughout the 1990s, Bae continued playing leading roles on television, in Papa (1996), First Love (1996) which reached a peak viewership rating of 65.8%, The Barefooted Youth (1998), and the Noh Hee-kyung-penned Did We Really Love? (1999). In Hotelier (2001), he played a mergers and acquisitions specialist about to takeover a hotel, but has a change of heart after falling in love with one of its employees (Bae would later reprise his role in a cameo in the 2007 Japanese remake of Hotelier).

But it was Yoon Seok-ho's Winter Sonata in 2002 that would transform Bae's career, and consequently the face of Korean dramas abroad. A melodrama about first love, lost memory and unknown family ties, Winter Sonata became an unprecedented success in Asia and more than 20 countries, particularly in Japan. Bae gained a tremendous fan base among Japanese middle-aged women, who dubbed him with the honorific nickname Yon-sama (ヨン様; cf. "Emperor Yon") and brought in US$2.3 billion in tourism and Winter Sonata merchandise sales.

In 2003, Bae was cast in his first major big-screen role in Untold Scandal (he had previously appeared in bit parts in two films in the 1990s). In contrast to his gentle, intellectual image, Bae played a conniving nobleman in E J-yong's adaptation of Les Liaisons dangereuses set in 18th century Joseon. His performance received Best New Actor accolades from the Blue Dragon Film Awards and the Baeksang Arts Awards. He next published a photo book The Image: Volume 1 in 2004, which sold 10,000 copies.

Afterwards he worked with director Hur Jin-ho in April Snow (2005). The film had a weak domestic run but due to Bae's star power, it set a new box office record for a Korean film in Japan with ¥2.72 billion.

Bae then entered the restaurant business, by establishing restaurants and cafes that capitalize on the well-being trend. He owns health food restaurant Gorilla in the Kitchen and high-end traditional Korean restaurant Gosire. As the most famous Korean actor in Japan, he became a proponent for Korean cuisine, and his Gosire lunchboxes (or bento) are sold in Japanese convenience stores and supermarkets. In 2006, Bae became one of Korea's wealthiest celebrities as the majority shareholder (34.6%) of management agency KeyEast (his stocks are valued at US$128 million as of May 2015). Most of the KeyEast executives, including president Bae Sung-woong, are Bae's former managers and have worked with him for more than ten years.

Bae made his much-anticipated return to television in 2007 in The Legend (also known as Taewangsasingi, lit. "The Four Guardian Gods of the King"). The big-budget period-fantasy epic was written by Song Ji-na and directed by Kim Jong-hak, and Bae played dual roles: Gwanggaeto, 19th ruler of the Goguryeo kingdom; and Hwanung, believed to be the son of God and founder of Gojoseon. He was paid ₩250 million (US$217,000) per episode, making him the highest paid Korean television actor of all time.

In 2009, Bae and Winter Sonata co-star Choi Ji-woo reunited as voice actors for the animated series Winter Sonata Anime, which aired in Japan. He also wrote a book of photo-essays A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty, which promoted Korean traditional culture such as ceramics, liquor, hanbok, pansori, hanok, Hangul, kimchi-making, temple stays, museums and historical sites. It became a bestseller, and has been translated to Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese and English. A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty was later turned into an eight-episode TV documentary that aired on MBC Life in 2011.

In 2009 and 2010, he was the star of D3 Publisher's Nintendo DS edutainment series Bae Yong-joon to Manabu Kankokugo DS ("Learn Korean with Bae Yong-joon"), consisting of three games: Bae Yong-joon to Manabu Kankokugo DS (beginner level), Bae Yong-joon to Manabu Kankokugo DS Date Hen (intermediate level), and Bae Yong-joon to Manabu Kankokugo DS Test Hen (advanced level).

Bae and KeyEast entered into a joint partnership with Park Jin-young and JYP Entertainment in 2009, which eventually produced Dream High (2011), a teen musical series that revolved around the lives of students attending a high school for the performing arts. As creative producer, Bae supervised the screenplay and production; he also appeared in a four-episode guest arc. The collaboration between KeyEast and JYPE, named Holym, lasted until 2013.

Personal life

He and actress Park Soo-jin announced their engagement in May 2015 and married on July 27, 2015 at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel. The couple only invited friends and relatives to the wedding and forbade attendance of the press media.


Television series

Year Title Role
1994 Salut D'Amour Kim Young-min
1995 Our Sunny Days of Youth Ha Seok-joo
Drama Game: Six Steps to Separation Kyung-min
Sea Breeze Jang Moon-young
1996 Papa Choi Hyun-joon
Colors: Blue
First Love Sung Chan-woo
1997 The Angel Within Man in café (cameo)
1998 The Barefooted Youth Han Yo-seok/Jang Yo-seok
1999 Did We Really Love? Kang Jae-ho
2001 Hotelier Shin Dong-hyuk/Frank Shin
2002 Winter Sonata Kang Joon-sang/Lee Min-hyeong
2007 Hotelier Shin Dong-hyuk (cameo, episode 1)
The Legend Damdeok/Hwan-woong
2009 Winter Sonata Anime Kang Joon-sang/Lee Min-hyeong (voice)
2011 Dream High Jung Ha-myung (guest, episodes 1–4)


Year Title Role Director
1994 The Young Man (bit part) Bae Chang-ho
1997 PpilKu Shock member (bit part) You Jin-sun
2003 Untold Scandal Jo-won E J-yong
2005 April Snow In-su Hur Jin-ho

Music videos

Year Song Title Artist
2001 "Goodbye, My Love" Jo Sung-mo
2002 "Ditto and Sympathy 2"

Video games

Year Title Platform
January 25, 2007 Pachinko Fuyu no Sonata Pachitte Chonmage Tatsujin 10 PlayStation 2
December 25, 2008 Pachinko Fuyu no Sonata 2 Pachitte Chonmage Tatsujin 15  PlayStation 2
September 19, 2009 Bae Yong-joon to Manabu Kankokugo DS (Learn Korean with Bae Yong-joon DS) Nintendo DS
December 23, 2009 Fuyu no Sonata DS  Nintendo DS
August 26, 2010 Bae Yong-joon to Manabu Kankokugo DS Date Hen (Learn Korean with Bae Yong-joon DS Date Version) Nintendo DS
August 26, 2010 Bae Yong-joon to Manabu Kankokugo DS Test Hen (Learn Korean with Bae Yong-joon DS Test Version) Nintendo DS


Year Title Notes
2004 The Image: Volume 1
2005 100 Days of Bae Yong-joon
2007 BYJ Family Book
2009 Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty
2012 Visit to Kyoto

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1994 KBS Drama Awards Best New Actor Salut D'Amour Nominated
1995 Our Sunny Days of Youth Won
Photogenic Award Won
1996 32nd Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor (TV) Nominated
KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, actor First Love Won
Popularity Award Won
Korean Model Center Best Dressed Awards Recipient N/A Won
1997 33rd Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actor (TV) First Love Won
Kyunghyang Shinmun Readers' Choice
Special Advertisement Awards
Readers' Favorite Advertisement Model N/A Won
2002 38th Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actor (TV) Winter Sonata Won
10th Korean Most Popular Entertainment Awards Best Actor (TV) Won
KBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, actor Won
Popularity Award Won
2003 24th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor Untold Scandal Won
Popular Star Award Won
2004 40th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor (Film) Won
41st Grand Bell Awards Best New Actor Nominated
33rd Japan Men's Fashion Association Best Dressed of the Year, International category N/A Won
4th Proud Korean Awards
(Journalists Federation of Korea)
Recipient, Public Art category N/A Won
2007 MBC Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) The Legend Won
Top Excellence Award, actor Nominated
Popularity Award Won
Best Couple Award with Lee Ji-ah Won
2008 44th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actor (TV) Nominated
2nd Korea Drama Awards Hallyu Achievement Award Won
Order of Cultural Merit
(Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)
Recipient, Hwagam Medal N/A Won
2009 1st Korea Brand Image Awards Recipient, Broadcasting category N/A Won
2010 1st Stars of Korean Tourism Awards
(Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)
Achievement Award N/A Won
2013 10th Anniversary of Korean
Entertainment in Japan Awards
Grand Prize (Daesang) Winter Sonata Won
Best Actor Won


Name of publisher, year listed, name of listicle, and placement
Publisher Year Listicle Placement Ref.
Forbes 2010 Korea Power Celebrity 21st
2011 33rd

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bae Yong-joon para niños

  • Contemporary culture of South Korea
  • Korean Wave
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