Celebrity News
Shin Dong-wook publishes novel, still no comeback plans
by | October 28, 2016 | 54 Comments

Aw, I’m glad to have an update on Shin Dong-wook (Wish Upon a Star, Soulmate), even if it’s not to say he’s been cast in a drama or has concrete plans to return to acting. The actor has been out of the spotlight for the past five years after he was diagnosed with a rare illness, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS), and I’d occasionally wondered how he was doing because there have been very few updates since then. Now he has announced the upcoming publication of a novel he wrote in the intervening years while undergoing treatment, which will be released next month.

It’s titled I Write, Space Journal and it tells of a love story between a cranky genius businessperson and a genius theoretical physicist. (That’s all the detail that’s been provided, but already it sounds like a drama in the making!) He is considering some kind of event with fans following the release of his book, though no official decisions have been announced.

Shin Dong-wook intially fell ill in July 2010 while serving in the army; a sudden collapse turned into a year of hospitalization before he was ultimately given a medical discharge from the military. The disease causes sudden and severe onsets of pain and has no known cure, and while Shin had hoped to return to acting, he has been unable to make plans or promises to the effect. A rep from his agency explained that while the disease generally allows patients to live normally on a day-to-day basis, the suddenness of the attacks make it difficult to deal with, and he is not yet at a point where he can consider making an acting comeback.

I’m glad to hear something positive about Shin Dong-wook’s condition; I loooooved one of his early dramas, Soulmate, which remains on my all-time favorites list, and had always wanted to see more of him. Sadly, 2010’s weekend family rom-com Wish Upon a Star was his last project, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to see him acting anytime soon. But, priorities: At least he is doing well!

Shin’s novel will publish in November.

Via Newsen


54 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Lzbth

    I wish him well and would love to see him back in a drama but seriously… genius business person and genius theoretical physicist?? I think it’s redundant to add genius to theoretical physicist.

  2. alienshore7

    Oh, this makes me so happy to have an update on him! At least a couple times per year I do searches trying to find some info on how he is doing. This is great to finally have some news!

    Thank you so much!

    I wish him all the best and hope his novel does well!

    • 2.1 skelly


      I really, really hope his novel does well because I have serious doubts about his ability to return to acting: both because of the chronic, unpredictable, and incurable nature of his disease, and also the fact that dealing with massive pain for long periods of time causes premature aging to the body. He needs to find another source of long-term income; perhaps he could become a scriptwriter!

  3. kimerica

    This is great news; made my day good news! I too, loved him in Soulmate, as well as War of Money (all episodes) and Wish Upon a Star. I wish him only the best and hope he can return to acting in the future.

  4. wapz

    I’m so glad to hear about him and that he’s doing well. He was so good in Soulmate and I wish he had been given better roles.

  5. janezelda

    What a lovely surprise to see Shin Dong-Wook! Soulmate is also a favorite of mine. His smile at the end of the drama was so full of hope for the future, it has stayed in my heart. Wishing him health and happiness.

    • 5.1 otheryoyo

      That video from Tokyo at the end of the drama always makes me cry with a mixture of joy and nostalgia!
      Am I the only addict that routinely plots Soulmate Season 2 (Tokyo) in her head instead of counting sheep when having trouble falling asleep?

      • 5.1.1 wapz

        I do plot Soulmate season 2 but probably with other actors. Because maybe after hearing about SDW’s illness, I never imagined him in that role for another season and made it up with other actors all over because if there’s not even a single person from the main cast, I don’t think anyone can fill in their place when the rest of the cast stay there.

    • 5.2 birdscout

      Shin Dong-Wook was perfect in Soulmate, a drama I would never have watched save for javabeans’ excellent recommendation. The characters and the music! Such wonderful memories.^^

      Thank you for this update. Hope SDW stays healthy and enjoys success with his novel!

  6. Arhazivory

    I’m so glad for this update. Being a novelist is much better than dealing with filming schedules. I hope his book does well and he finds much success and good health to him also.

  7. bmore

    Thank you SO much for this news! There is a small group of us who joined a facebook page about him after he was diagnosed. We say prayers for him and everyone suffering from this really horrific illness. Always, always we have been waiting for some news of how he is doing! Thrilled for this posting!

    • 7.1 Robyne

      Hi Bernie, it’s the page owner of that FB page. We are so happy for answered prayer, aren’t we?

  8. mekko

    Same tune as everyone else! Fell in love with him because of Soulmate, and am always happy to have an update. It sounds like he’s still been able to make something of his life despite his illness, which is great to hear.

  9. Ren

    I’ve recently been thinking about Shin Dong-wook and wondered how he’s doing, so it’s great to hear from him. Like everyone else, Soulmate is one of my all time favourites. All the best to him and I hope his debut novel is a resounding success.

  10. 10 Erratic

    I was wondering about him. So that’s why he’s ben out of circulation for so long. Soulmate was the first drama rec I followed here in dramabeans, and I loved it and him in it. I hope the book will be translated. Fighting, Shin Dong Wook-ssi. (Lol, I said that with cabbage head girl’s mum’s accent. XD)

  11. 11 spazmo

    i was wondering why i hadn’t seen him in anything – i really liked him in Soulmate…

    speaking of MIA — what happened to Lee Philip, btw? his eye was injured during filming of Faith, right? been waiting for news, hoping he has recovered well……

    : (

    • 11.1 DeeDee315

      I’ve also wondered about Lee Philip. Never really believed the eye injury story. It’s like he packed up and left Korea. Nothing on his web page and nothing on Facebook for the last few years. Very strange. Glad to hear Shin Dong Wook is doing better.

      • 11.1.1 Janezelda

        I believe Lee Phillip is back home in the states. I was telling my niece, a George Washington University grad, about my love of kdrama and mentioned him. She texted her best friend in California, we live in Massachusetts, who immediately texted her back a photo of her and Phillip from a couple of years ago at an event celebrating GW students who participated in his dad’s engineering scholarship program with Korea. My takeaway—-hooray for women engineering students, AND the internet can be a random and wonderful thing. Oh, and Phillip looked very handsome with a regular haircut and tux.

  12. 12 otheryoyo

    I’ve been checking the internet to see if there were updates every few months since I got addicted to dramas (and to marathon-rewatching Soulmate every 6 months). So glad that you posted this!
    The novel sounds very Haruki Murakami. Who knows? It may be really good!
    I hope it is a great success. His disease sounds really awful and to have his career truncated that way just when it was picking up must have been so painful. Best luck to him!!!! Kudos to pursuing other goals! Fighting!

    • 12.1 Yoyo

      Dude, seriously! Are you going to stick with this user name for reals? People might think I have a fan or worst, a stalker.

      Give it some thought, don’t ride on my (imaginary) fame.

      Don’t settle for being the the other one, rather be creative and be the only one!

      My two cents…

      Yoyo (the one, the only)

      • 12.1.1 mary

        Aww… her first name could be Othe and last name Ryoyo.

        • Yoyo

          I love you, Mary! 😊

      • 12.1.2 lasttimeotheryoyo

        Just wanted to clarify why I was doing this (otheryoyo here). I do not post often but I’ve been in dramabeans for quite a while and I always used to post as yoyo because that IS what people call me in real life, it is actually a shortening of my real name, and is how I post everywhere.
        Then one day I saw your posts and since you seemed to be a more active user, and I noticed other people with the same problem had resorted to “other….” to avoid confusion with people that were using the same name, I decided to do it this way.
        Seemingly you took it as a sign of disrespect, when I was actually trying to do the opposite (I could have continued posting as yoyo as I had always done).
        Anyway. So much for participating in forums. I thought we were all here because we love dramas…

        • mary

          Hi, otheryoyo, I think this is my fault. I should’ve asked Yoyo to stop when I saw it in Open Thread. I’m sorry that the joke went too far. I hope you won’t let this stop you from discussing kdramas with us. πŸ™

          • replytomary

            Hi, Mary
            Thanks for your message! I will continue to be around for sure πŸ™‚ No worries–your post was actually kind of funny.

        • Purple Owl

          To reassure you:

          I immediately understood what you were doing using the “other…”. I only just saw the OR conversation and didn’t see you before or the rumors lol.

          It’s like how @kiara went by @theotherkiara for like, over a year until the second @kiara disappeared. Wow, that’s confusing.

          It sounds like our current @Yoyo showed up second. I hope you can settle on a name that identifies you as an individual and that you like. It took me a while to decide on my db name and I would have been heartbroken if another one showed up. Like what seems to have happened between you and @Yoyo.

          I look forward to your future comments and connecting you to your previous ones, once you’ve got your new alter ego πŸ˜†

        • Yoyo


          I think I owe you an apology for coming on too strong. I have a real knack for sarcasm and I apologize if it seemed to have crossed the line. I value individuality so it does matter that you opted to become someone secondary where you could have simply chosen another name to avoid any confusion. I would have appreciated it if you have called my attention before when you first saw my name pop up in DB. Let me know if you prefer to use the @Yoyo name, I wouldn’t mind changing mine out of respect since you were the first to use it.

          Don’t be discouraged about this misunderstanding, this is a really great community and I hope you continue to be part of it. Thanks for speaking up, let me know if you have further concerns.


          • replytoyoyo

            Hi, Yoyo

            It’s the other yoyo :). Actually, I do not mind at all if you keep using the name. I am not that attached to it, as it is simply a way people call me in real life and it was not something I gave any thought to. I post very rarely and I don’t think I do it enough for people to “recognize” me, so I do not care either way. I was just surprised about the message because there’s so many reasons why anyone would be using a name or another that have nothing to do with wanting to take over somebody else or with a lack of creativity (although I admit I put no creativity in this one).
            So just Yoyo away. I may go by Pigbit in next posts (another nickname I have in the 3D world that derives from Pig Rabbit), assuming nobody else has it.
            Let’s all just continue to enjoy our dramas and our dissections of them, especially those of us who unfortunately do not know any other addicts in the flesh that they could share these thoughts with!

          • Yoyo

            I’ll be the first one then to call you, Pigbit then! Looking forward to our future interactions! Thanks and *hugs*

      • 12.1.3 I Will Goryeo You

        I’m also the first one created my handle name based on SFD, and noticed that someone else is also using my handlename and she’s more active in DB then I am. Saw her in asianjunkie too. But since she doesn’t sound like a troll I let it pass. But I won’t ever change mine to “the other I Will Goryeo You”.

  13. 13 WM

    Wouldn’t it be great if his book did so well they made it into a drama? Because that would be awesome! I do miss seeing him; he’s very talented, and one of the main actors who drew me into Korean Dramas. It’s good to see he’s trying to keep himself active.

  14. 14 Gaeina Lee

    So glad to learn that he’s doing well and do something productive. Hopefully the novel would be translated into English to cater his International fans who have been missing him all these years, me included. Soulmate OST is still my all time fave songs that i still listen.

    Thanks for the update, JB!

  15. 15 Cingdoc

    SDW stole my heart before I found my GY- in a old drama , CloudStairs with Han Ji Hye.
    It’s a beautiful drama.
    I’m glad he’s doing well .

  16. 16 PakalanaPikake

    Thanks for the update on Shin Dong-Wook, javabeans!

    I watched SOUL MATE two months ago because of your romantic-comedy drama recommendations and recaps, and loved it to bits, in no small part due to SDW’s performance. I was sad to read of his medical condition, and am glad that he’s now able to pursue literary activities. I hope he has a bestseller on his hands. πŸ˜‰

  17. 17 Dakchigo

    Is it so severe that he couldn’t do a small role in a pre-produced drama or film? πŸ™ Anyway, glad he’s able to find something to do in the meantime.

    • 17.1 noname

      CRPS is claimed as the most painful disease in the world. It gives you the sense of burning, like your skin is on fire all the time. Just imagine it. You can’t touch anything because anything will make you feel more pain. Cloths, water, even vibration. It depends on what part of his body is diagnosed with CPRS. If it’s on his leg, then he can’t walk surely without any help. So yes, it is that severe. And I am really happy that he still can do something in his life despite his disease.

      • 17.1.1 Michykdrama

        Just to clarify since it’s a disease under pain specialists who are anesthetists and I know a bit more about it-

        CRPS usually affects a limb but isn’t just disabling because of pain. There are also changes in the skin like redness and swelling, abnormal sweating, as well as joint stiffness or even muscle weakness.
        And like you said, pain isn’t the usual kind we think of, but also can be burning/shooting/tingling, normal touch can be felt as pain and painful sensations are worsened.

        It’s not easy to diagnose and no one is certain why it happens (it’s related to nerve damage, usually from an injury but no one knows why some people get it while most other people don’t), and there is no cure. It can be so bad that amputation of the affected limb is sometimes considered.

        So yeah. If he was diagnosed late, (earlier diagnosis and intervention generally brings better results) and he has it bad then it can be really awful and he really wouldn’t be able to act.

  18. 18 cheekbones

    Whoa, a couple of days ago I suddenly (really out of the blue) thought about him. I wondered how he was doing, and now there’s this article….

    I’m glad he’s doing relatively well.

  19. 19 Yaya

    What an awesome surprise to hear from Shin Dong-wook!! I loved, loved him, in Soulmate.

    I too have wondered how he was doing. Thank you DB for posting.

  20. 20 SweetPurple

    Finally, an update on him!!

    I too have wondered how he was doing. I’m glad he is doing quite well. I hope his novel does well and he finds success and good health.

    Thanks for the update Javabeans!

  21. 21 Nev

    Oh my word , you dont know how happy that news has made me!

  22. 22 irmar

    As the Italian and Greek moderator of “Soulmate” volunteer translator teams at viki, I had to watch and rewatch the series, and him, and I was really devastated at hearing the news of that promising young actor. Like many of you, I did search every now and then, to no avail. So I’m overjoyed that he’s still alive and with the will to do something productive like writing.
    I wish him every success and happiness, hoping that he has besides him loving people to keep him company, and lots of interesting things to do.

  23. 23 fab

    Thank you! It’s so good to hear about him. I remember exactly when I’d read your piece about his illness. That disease reads like the worst, really devastating for him. It’s amazing that he was able to live with it and even get to write a book. Someone has to translate that book! Maybe his future is in writing, it’ll be awesome to have his writing translate to dramas. And how great is it that his agency didn’t drop him.

    I really enjoyed Once Upon a Star! His sweet character and the kids -OMG the kids!- are totally worth it. 5 stars do wholeheartedly recommend. πŸ˜‰

  24. 24 Makoto

    Wah, glad to know that he’s been well all this time. Good luck with the novel!

  25. 25 goldeng

    Omg im glad to hear of him again!! Since watching Soulmate -which I love! I wish I could watch another drama that used the music to tell a story like they did- and wish upon a star ive looked left and right news avout him but nothing came up so Im so happy to see this! Hope he can continue in the industry in some way as a voice actor or something because hes awesome

  26. 26 saranga

    i too wondered about shin dong-wook from time to time. not because i knew him really well as an actor, but i did remember reading the news about his condition and feeling so bad for him. how awful it must have been for him to not be able to work, during some of his best years too. i hope his novel does well. i wonder if there’s any kind of broadcast he could do that doesn’t require too long of a commitment?

    i think i’ll check out soulmates. i tried twice to get into it, both because it was so highly recommended here, and both times i couldn’t get into it.

    but tastes change, and i’ve been combing back through the years for dramas that i missed the first time around, or passed on. i’ve been going all over the placeβ€”really old stuff like the sitcom three guys and three girls (so nostalgic for the 90s!), mid oughties, and stuff as recent as 2 years ago. i picked up high school king of savvy this summer after passing on it originally, and i’m so glad i did. ended up loving it. this prompted me to go back and look for stuff that i passed on initially.

    shut up flower boy band is also on my list. i couldn’t get into that one because visually it was so dark and gloomy, but we’ll give it another go…

  27. 27 Michykdrama

    Hihi mary,

    I tried to post something up above to explain CRPS but it’s being moderated. Is it too much medical jargon? Strange though that I commented a lot on Beautiful Mind with lots of medical terms but never had a problem.
    I’m sure I didn’t put in any links or swear words 😏

    Just wondering so that I can avoid doing it in the future and give you less work 😊

    • 27.1 mary

      I don’t know :O The robot overlords decide what goes into moderation! But it’s okay, I don’t mind fishing them out. πŸ˜€

      • 27.1.1 Michykdrama

        Ok, well thanks very much! ❀️ Have a good weekend!

  28. 28 Robyne Henderson

    Having 2 pages on FB dedicated to him and always praying for him along with others who joined me there, this news makes me so happy I cried when I first read this article. I wish him the very best success in the direction he is taking and i hope he comes here and has someone translate all the comments for him so he will be encouraged that he has never been forgotten and always wished the best. FIGHTING Shin Dong Wook!

  29. 29 beldaran

    i actually probably think of him more for cloud stairways… which most people didn’t like as much. but i think about him every so often and wonder how he’s doing. thank you for the news!! glad to hear good news.

  30. 30 flower

    I love him in ” Soulmate ” and ” War of Money “…best wishes for his new novel…

  31. 31 I Will Goryeo You

    I’ve seen a person suffered from the same disease and he was also an actor turned a writer due to this long term illness. There’s no cure for CPRS yet, but the spirit of these patients just blew my mind. GBU Shin Dong Wook. Fighting!

  32. 32 MoonieMoon

    Thanks for the update on him. I’m so glad others have not forgotten him either. I loved him in Soulmate but I had heard about his illness and often wondered how he was doing. Thanks for the update DB!

Add a Comment

Stay civil, don't spoil, and don't feed the trolls! Read the commenting policy here.

 characters available. Comments will be truncated at the word limit.