Choi Min-shik began his acting career on stage before breaking into films and TV series. In 1992, he appeared in the movie Our Twisted Hero, in which he was named Best Supporting Actor at the 38th Asia Pacific Film Festival. In 1999, he starred in the action film Shiri, which earned him several Best Actor trophies, including one from the 35th Baeksang Arts Awards. Also in 1999, he acted alongside Jeon Do-yeon and Joo Jin-moo in the film Happy End, in which he took home two Best Actor awards. In 2001, he was paired with Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung in the novel-based film Failan, which gave him another set of Best Actor trophies. In 2003 and 2004, he raked in more Best Actor citations for his portrayal of the leading role in the Cannes-winning neo-noir action thriller film Oldboy. In 2012, he headlined the gangster film Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time along with Ha Jung-woo. He received numerous Best Actor citations for his performance in the movie. In 2014, he became part of the French sci-fi action film Lucy, in which Scarlett Johansson plays the titular character. That same year, he led the ensemble cast of the blockbuster movie The Admiral: Roaring Currents, which recorded over 17.6 million theater admissions and a worldwide gross of more than $138 million. His work in the movie scored him many acting awards, including the Daesang at the 51st Baeksang Arts Awards.

Choi Min-shik has been married twice. His first marriage was in 1990 and lasted until 1996. He again tied the knot in 1999.