[Actor Spotlight] Kim Jae-wook
Kim Jae-wook is in this week’s spotlight, but he hardly needs an introduction. His recent drama Her Private Life, where he starred opposite Park Min-young, is quickly becoming a cult favorite — and yep, both their performances were fantastic. As the drama has just wrapped up (nooo!), it seems like a good time to take a look at Kim Jae-wook’s acting career.
Born in 1983 in Seoul, South Korea, Kim Jae-wook’s career had an early start in 2002 with a small role in the MBC drama Ruler of Your Own World. He was young at the time, and apparently didn’t enjoy the acting experience. Instead, he focused on his modeling career for many years. When Kim Jae-wook finally returned to the small screen, it was with a supporting role in two now-classic dramas: Dal Ja’s Spring and Coffee Prince.
Although those dramas (especially the latter) should have been enough to guarantee his success, it hasn’t been till recently that he’s starting to get the recognition he deserves. After Her Private Life, he’s definitely at a great point in his career. Quick, make us more dramas!
Here are some dramaland moments from Kim Jae-wook, followed by his full filmography.
Who Are You (2013)
I’m not quite sure how I got through all of this drama. I don’t like creepy tales, and I especially don’t like poorly written creepy tales. However, I have a soft spot for Taecyeon, and tvN, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Little did I know that this drama would be my introduction to Kim Jae-wook (*choir of angels*). It’s not exactly easy to steal an entire drama when you don’t even have a single line of dialogue — but Kim Jae-wook sure pulled it off. In Who Are You Kim Jae-wook played the wrongfully-murdered beloved of So Yi-hyun’s heroine. She was haunted/visited by him (depending on how you look at it, I guess) and it’s just a testament to his acting that his character was able to have the impact he did. White as a sheet, more silent than any Jang Ki-yong role, and not even doing much but standing there, Kim Jae-wook’s compelling screen presence held this drama together. Thank you.
Temperature of Love (2017)
In the face-off of Yang Se-jong and Kim Jae-wook, who can ever win the heart of the heroine? Truthfully, this drama was about much more than its love triangle — in fact, the love triangle was one of the weakest elements. It’s also one of the rare dramas where my perennial second lead syndrome was shelved (it’s a good drama practice to shelve that painful emotion from time to time). In Temperature of Love, Kim Jae-wook was cold, rich, and completely taken with Seo Hyun-jin’s screenwriting heroine. Though I didn’t love how the triangle/tension played out in moments, I never doubted the authenticity of his character’s emotions. Kim Jae-wook was also a nice foil for Yang Se-jong, who seemed extra young and chipper next to the suave businessman with the power to make or break the people around him.
Her Private Life (2019)
I loved the thought of Kim Jae-wook and Park Min-young starring together, but wasn’t really sure what to expect out of this drama… and boy have I been pleasantly surprised! I’m one of the first people to get drama fatigue over rom-coms with no personality — luckily, Her Private Life has not only personality, but pizzazz, super duper chemistry, and yeah, it’s also hilarious. Kim Jae-wook is great in this role, and it’s such a better character for him than the somewhat (conceptually) similar role he played in Temperature of Love. Here, he gets to have so much more fun, not only because he’s actually in the leading role, but because the script, thankfully, gives him more to do than just be a cold, smitten boss. Not that he doesn’t rock cold and smitten too.
Kim Jae-wook’s full filmography:
- Ruler of Your Own World (2002) [Drama]
Kim Jae-wook made his acting debut with a side role in this Lee Na-young and Yang Dong-geun drama, but apparently had a bad time filming, and wasn’t sure about pursuing acting.
- Dal Ja’s Spring (2007) [Drama]
Though many were blinded by Lee Min-ki when they watched this drama, Kim Jae-wook had an important (for his career, not really the drama) side role here as Lee Min-ki’s friend. Importantly, this drama was his return to the small screen after a 5-year break.
- Coffee Prince (2007) [Drama]
I love long-haired Kim Jae-wook. That is all.
- Antique (2008) [Film]
Comedy film based on a Japanese manga about a bakery that starred Joo Ji-hoon, Yoo Ah-in, Choi Ji-ho, and Kim Jae-wook, and got a good bit of acclaim.
- Kingdom of the Wind (2008) [Drama]
Kim Jae-wook had a side role in this epic historical drama that told the story of several figures from the Three Kingdoms period.
- Pygmalion’s Love (2010) [Drama]
Having grown up in Japan (he spent 7 years there), Kim Jae-wook has a great command of Japanese and it’s helped his career a lot. This short Japanese drama with Kim Joon and Minamisawa Nao is just one example.
- Heart of Gold (2010) [Film]
Kim Jae-wook and Hong Kong actress Janice Man starred in this web-released movie about a Koream artist who travels to Japan.
- Bad Guy (2010) [Drama]
No matter how bad the hero is, or how bad the plot is, this melodrama is one I want to watch. In addition to Kim Jae-wook, this drama starred Kim Nam-gil, Han Ga-in, Oh Yeon-soo, and Jung So-min.
- Mary Stayed Out All Night (2010) [Drama]
This rom-com starred Moon Geun-young, Jang Geun-seok, and Kim Jae-wook and hit some hairy behind-the-scenes drama. In-drama drama was more about love, marriage, and forging marriage certificates.
- Save Me (2010) [Film]
Short art film with Kim Jae-wook and Kim So-yi as a couple with a weird hobby.
- Who Are You (2013) [Drama]
Getting ghosted by a ghost has never looked so good (see above).
- Age of Feeling (2014) [Drama]
Unfortunately, Kim Jae-wook met with more behind-the-scene drama while shooting this ill-fated Kim Hyun-joong historical drama, and left mid-show after its writer swap.
- 4teen (2014) [Drama/Cameo]
Kim Jae-wook played the adult version of one of the leads in this two-episode drama special about a group of fourteen-year-olds.
- Sweet Temptation (2015) [Web Drama]
I’m not sure how Kim Jae-wook wound up in this series of short dramas written for the members of T-ara, but he did.
- Planck Constant (2015) [Film]
This art film starred Kim Jae-wook in the lead and chronicled his odd and/or erotic fetishes.
- Two Rooms, Two Nights (2016) [Film]
Kim Jae-wook starred as a popular movie director who tried to keep two girlfriends going simultaneously. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to sympathize with him or not? Because I’m not.
- The Last Princess (2016) [Film]
Sohn Ye-jin starred in this historical film as the last princess of Korea, and Kim Jae-wook was the Japanese nobleman who married her.
- Voice (2017) [Drama]
The first of OCN’s Voice dramas made a big splash, and Kim Jae-wook got a lot of attention for his role in this Jang Hyuk and Lee Hana drama.
- Temperature of Love (2017) [Drama]
It might not be perfect but I really enjoyed this drama — and the wonderful cast: Yang Se-jong, Hyun Seo-jin, Kim Jae-wook, and Jo Boa (see above).
- Butterfly Sleep (2018) [Film]
Kim Jae-wook starred with Miho Nakayama in this Japanese film about a writer with Alzheimer’s who met a younger Korean man (Kim Jae-wook).
- God’s Quiz: Reboot (2018) [Drama/Cameo]
Kim Jae-wook had a cameo in the final episode of the latest/fifth installment of this series about a medical examiner’s office.
- Her Private Life (2019) [Drama]
LionRyan Gold. Yes, yes, all the YES (see above).
BONUS: I read somewhere that Kim Jae-wook loves to clean and sometimes cleans for 4-5 hours at a time. I just needed to share that information.
- Her Private Life: Episode 1
- Fangirling in first teaser for tvN’s Her Private Life with Park Min-young, Kim Jae-wook
- Kim Jae-wook, Park Min-young courted for fanboy and fangirl roles in new tvN rom-com
- The Guest: Episode 1
- Casting out demons with Kim Jae-wook and Kim Dong-wook in Hand: The Guest
- Temperature of Love: Episodes 1-2
- Yesung and Kim Jae-wook join OCN’s The Voice
- Moon Geun-young, Kim Jae-wook confirm SBS’s Village