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Seoul, South Korea
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Seoul, South Korea

Choi Min-sik is a South Korean actor best known for his role as Oh Dae-su in the critically acclaimed thriller ‘Oldboy.’ He began his acting career in theatre before moving on to low-budget films. He then went on to star in a couple TV shows before returning to acting in films. But this time, he was in for international fame. His career peaked in 2003, when he starred in the revenge thriller ‘Oldboy,’ and it never went down after that. His starring part in ‘Shiri’ catapulted him into the spotlight, and his career never went down after that. He went on to perform pivotal roles in critically acclaimed films such as ‘I Saw the Devil’ and ‘Lucy.’ ‘The Admiral: Roaring Currents,’ his historical drama, went on to become the most successful South Korean film of all time in terms of box office receipts. The film was well-received by critics, and Choi quickly established himself as the most prominent South Korean actor outside of the country. He entered the American cinema industry with the science fiction film ‘Lucy,’ in which he played the primary antagonist, after earning multiple honors for his performances back home.

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Childhood and Adolescence

Choi Min was born on January 22, 1962, in Seoul, South Korea. He enjoyed playing sports in school and dabbling in the performing arts, and he was artistic in his senses and subtle in his demeanor.

He was raised in a religious environment and was exposed to the concept of faith in God from a young age. He didn’t like it at first, but he soon came to believe in a higher force. During his childhood, he contracted tuberculosis and was diagnosed while he was in third grade. When his physicians claimed his disease had spiraled out of control, his family rushed him to the mountains for a month to heal. This was another watershed moment in his life, and it influenced his beliefs even more.

He had a strong interest in performing during his middle and high school years. He did more theatre than he studied, and when he told his family about his ambitions to be in show business, he received a lot of pushback. But, determined to see his ambitions come true, he continued to do what he loved.

He began doing full-time theatre after graduating from high school and enrolling at Dongguk University. He met a few other performers there, and while still in college, he began applying for cinema and television, which is how he met Park Jong-won, a struggling filmmaker at the time. They developed a working partnership that would lay the groundwork for Choi’s future cinematic career.

Career of Choi

Choi made his cinematic debut in 1989 with Park Jong-film won’s ‘Kuro Arirang.’ For the film ‘Our Twisted Hero,’ the director-actor duo teamed up once more. Both films had modest budgets and were relatively unknown at the time of their release.

Choi went on to make a few more low-budget films before being picked up for a TV series. Throughout the 1990s, he was engrossed with television while also working on a few films. He thought the road he had selected for himself wasn’t working out at this point in his career, but he decided to stick around for a little longer.

Then, in the late 1990s, came the film that proved to be a breath of fresh air for Choi’s film career. In the film ‘No.3,’ he played a police investigator. Despite being a low-budget film, it was released on a larger scale than all of Choi’s prior films, and Choi’s work began to attract a following.

Another turning point in his career occurred in 1999, when he garnered financial and critical recognition for his major part in the film ‘Shiri.’ In the film, he played the role of a North Korean agent admirably. Choi subsequently went on to play a gangster in the drama ‘Failan’ in 2001.

Around the same time, Park Chan-wook, a relatively unknown director, was seeking actors for his big-budget revenge movie ‘Oldboy,’ and his hunt for Oh Dae-su came to an end when he discovered Choi’s work. The film ‘Oldboy’ told the narrative of a man who was imprisoned by another man for no apparent reason, and followed his search for the reasons. The film was released in 2003 to critical and popular acclaim both domestically and overseas. Choi received numerous honors for his performance, including the Korea Film Awards, Asia Pacific Film Award, and Director’s Cut Award.

Choi struggled to break off from his ‘Oldboy’ image over the next few years, as he was cast in similar parts. He turned down the majority of the offers because he was afraid of being typecast. In 2005, he appeared in the final episode of director Park Chan-retribution wook’s trilogy, ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.’

Following that, there were some controversies, and Choi was forced to leave the film industry for an indeterminate amount of time. Finally, in 2009, he made a comeback with the low-budget art picture ‘Himalaya, Where the Wind Dwells.’ He was the only South Korean actor in the film; the rest of the cast were Tibetans.

In 2010, his portrayal of an anarchist serial killer in the revenge movie ‘I Saw the Devil’ sparked outrage owing to the film’s purported promotion of violence. When the film was released, it was a hit both domestically and internationally, earning Choi multiple accolades in South Korean award ceremonies. His exile appears to have had no negative impact on his acting ability.

For the next few years, it appeared as if everything he touched turned to gold. He provided the voice of the protagonist in the animated film ‘Leafie, A Hen into the Wild,’ which went on to become the most successful South Korean animated film of all time. ‘Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time,’ which he directed in 2012, was one of the year’s most successful films.

While Choi’s renown spread throughout the globe, the Hollywood director of the science fiction picture ‘Lucy’ was looking for an Asian actor to play the major antagonist, and he found Choi. The film was released in 2014, and despite receiving mixed reviews, it did well at the box office.Choi performed the lead role in ‘The Admiral: Roaring Currents,’ and the picture went on to be a huge hit, eventually becoming the highest-grossing South Korean film of all time. He starred in the documentary film ‘Old Days’ in 2016, in which he played himself.

Personal Experiences of Choi

Choi Min-sik has had two marriages. He married Lee Hwayeong for the first time in 1990, but the marriage didn’t survive long and ended in 1996. After that, in 1999, he married actress Kim Hwal-ran. Choi never fathered a child but very recently, there were rumors that his wife Kim was expecting a child in 2017.

Choi is a perfectionist and says that he likes to be in the character for a film, for as long as it takes for the shoot to end. He once claimed that he became a laughingstock among his family and friends because he kept his long, unkempt hair until the director concluded the ‘Oldboy’ filming.

Estimated Net Worth

Choi Min-sik is one of the wealthiest and most well-known actors in Hollywood. Choi Min-net sik’s worth is estimated to be at $185 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.