This Korean actor used to be the ideal man of numerous girls in the 90s.
Reigned in the 90s and early 2000s
During the late 90s and early 2000s, actor Ahn Jae Wook used to be an extremely famous name, leading the Hallyu wave that extends outside of Korea. With visuals just as astounding as fellow actors of the same time like Choi Soo Jong, Bae Yong Joon, Jang Dong Gun, and more, Ahn Jae Wook also boasted the brightest smile and most expressive eyes, making him the ideal man of many women at the time.
Born to a family with a long tradition of doing business, Ahn Jae Wook faced vehement rejection from his family when he first decided to pursue the arts. However, the actor stood up for himself and applied to become a Theater student at Seoul Institute of the Arts.
At first, Ahn Jae Wook’s career did not proceed smoothly, with the actor mostly playing minor roles that pay low wages. He only became a big star via the 1997 K-drama “Star In My Heart”, playing the loyal heart-stealer Min Hee. With ratings as high as 40%, “Star In My Heart” effectively made Ahn Jae Wook a top star, to the point that the actor’s hairstyle became all the rage in Korea at the time. The K-drama’s OST, sung by Jae Wook himself, also became a classic within the nation.
However, Ahn Jae Wook struggled to overcome the shadow of “Star In My Heart” for the rest of his career. While his later works like “Goodbye My Love”, “Oh Feel Young”, and “Sunflower” all earned certain successes, they simply could not live up to the reputation of “Star In My Heart”. As a result, Ahn Jae Wook started to take on less acting projects, and instead switched to gameshow appearances and theatrical pursuits.
Diagnosed with life-threatening illness, once caught up in a shocking scandal
In 2009, tragedy struck when Ahn Jae Wook felt that there was a problem with his throat, so he went to the doctor and received bad news at the age of 39. He was diagnosed with a tumor and had to stop all activities to focus on treatment. Four years later, when his brain was recovering, it was asthma that took a toll on his health. He was advised by the doctor to stop working and prioritize treatment. Ahn Jae Wook’s treatment was once revealed to cost over 400 million won. After undergoing surgery, he could have become paralyzed or suffer from sequelae. Due to this, he completely broke down, even wanted to commit suicide.
Such a hiatus due to illness made it difficult for Ahn Jae Wook to maintain his popularity. Not to mention in 2019, Ahn Jae Wook was involved in a drunk driving scandal, which caused him to be criticized. His once likable image collapsed in the public eye. After the incident, he decided to gradually withdraw from the entertainment industry to focus on taking care of his family.
In 2021, the 50-year-old star returned to the entertainment industry. He took on a supporting role in the hit drama “Mouse” led by Lee Seung Gi. This year, Ahn Jae Wook will star in two new works, “The Empire of Law” and “The Driver”.