Won Bin of “Autumn In My Heart”: no new works for 12 years, still the center of attention

Korean actor Won Bin has not acted for over a decade, and yet his popularity is as enviable as ever.

Korean netizens seem to have a love-hate relationship with actor Won Bin, whose latest acting project was from 12 years ago. 

In particular, they respect Won Bin for his astounding visuals and acting skills, and are dying to see him return to the screen. However, they also criticized Won Bin for not being a dedicated actor, as he continuously stars in new CF films, but takes up no new acting projects. 

The sole exception in Korean showbiz

Debuted back in 1997, Won Bin has only starred in 12 works. He also never appears at award ceremonies, variety shows, or interviews. And yet, the actor is possibly one of the most popular stars, and was even hailed as a gem of the Korean acting world. 

Won Bin exploded in popularity after playing the loyal guy Han Tae Seok in the 2000 K-drama “Autumn In My Heart”. The series, which starred actress Song Hye Kyo, became a phenomenon upon air, and as the second male lead, Won Bin achieved an insane level of popularity. With this role, the actor even won Best Actor at the 2000 KBS Drama Awards, surpassing Song Seung Hun, who played the male lead.

Won Bin is excellent at picking the best scripts, and all of his works, from “Taegukgi”, “Mother”, to “The Man From Nowhere” were both successful and critically acclaimed. The actor was undefeatable in his reign, winning Best Actor at the Grand Bell Film Awards, earning nicknames like “Korea’s Oscar”, and surpassing the “Hallyu’s King” Bae Yong Joon to become the most favorite Korean actor in Japan. 

Even now, after 12 years of absence from both the large and small screen, Won Bin is still a top-earning actor with various commercial deals. According to the site Sintong Bangtong, for each CF film, Won Bin is paid roughly $54,000-630,000. At his prime time, a company even cashed out $3.2 million for the actor to represent them. 

On Korean forums, netizens addressed Won Bin as “God” Bin, constantly praising the actor for his talents and once-of-a-kind visuals. He is also known for his charity work, and is an ambassador of UNICEF, having gone around the world and contributed to the building of various facilities for disadvantaged children. 

Missed out on various major hits 

Won Bin’s last acting project was the 2010 movie “The Man From Nowhere”, which eventually became the biggest box-office earner of Korea within the year, with over 6.2 million tickets sold. However, despite such a huge achievement, Hyun Bin just vanished from the industry ever since. 

According to Won Bin, it’s not that he doesn’t consider new scripts and characters, but rather he’s too overwhelmed and pressured to make a decision. 

As a result, Won Bin missed out on numerous hit films, including “Along With The Gods:: The Two Worlds”, where he was offered to play the male lead Kang Rim, a role later assumed by actor Ha Jung Woo

In addition, before Song Joong Ki landed the sensational role of Yoo Shi Jin in “Descendants of The Sun” and became a top star, Hyun Bin was the first choice, as producers believed that the actor would look spectacular in a military uniform. However, rumors had it that Won Bin turned down the offer as he did not want to cut his hair short and film overseas. In addition, Won Bin allegedly found it stressful that “Descendants of The Suns” had to finish all filmings before its air date. 

 The producer of Korea’s most popular zombie movie Train to Busan also invited Won Bin to play the role of Seok Woo (which was later played by Gong Yoo).  However, the actor rejected this offer because he was not impressed with the character Seok Woo even though it was the main role.  Besides, he was also offered the role of Oh Soo in That Winter The Wind Blows, but the actor also refused.

In an interview, Won Bin explained why he’s been absent from the screen for so long: “When I meet a new movie, I first feel it with my heart, then I use my head to think. In my head, I know there are roles that are essential to my career. My reason tells me to accept.  But in fact, even though I read the script many times, my heart still didn’t like it, so I finally decided to give up.

Netizens are debating whether to call Won Bin an actor or not

Recently, images of Won Bin in a promotional photoshoot for a golf sportswear brand were widely shared on social networks.  This topic even became the focus of many news sites in Korea.

At the age of 46, the actor is still handsome and attractive.  Many people were surprised because he didn’t look older than before, but many also expressed disappointment because it had been a long time since they last saw Won Bin as an actor.

Some netizens questioned if Won Bin can be considered an actor since he hasn’t returned to the acting career for more than a decade, but still receives advertising projects regularly. “Can he still be called an actor?  Or better call him an advertising model,” ”The kid (Kim Sae Ron) who acted with him that year is now an adult and even caused an accident while drunk driving, but Won Bin has not acted in any movie.  I don’t understand what he’s doing anymore”, etc

However, the public is still looking forward to his return to the screen. Many people express their disapproval and displeasure towards Won Bin, but in fact they still wish to see him as an actor again.

Regarding private life, Won Bin and Lee Na Young got married in 2015. The wedding was held privately and it was kept secret until the last minute.  6 months after the wedding, the couple welcomed their first son. His wife, actress Lee Na Young also revealed when she was asked why he was no longer accepting new film projects: “What is he doing? Why isn’t he showing up? Won Bin also wants to be told a story. But, there aren’t many works like that lately. He wants to tell a story with a humane spirit, but because he was always looking for his right script, his “rest” period lasted longer“.

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