South Korean actress
Choi Ji-woo (born Choi Mi-hyang on June 11, 1975) is a South Korean actress. Considered one of South Korea’s most beautiful women, she has received critical acclaim for her work in a wide range of melodramas, most notably Beautiful Days (2001), Winter Sonata (2002), Stairway to Heaven (2003), The Suspicious Housekeeper (2013) and Temptation (2014), as well as the romantic comedy series Twenty Again (2015) and Woman with a Suitcase (2016).
Choi Mi-hyang was first discovered when she won a talent audition organized by MBC in 1994, then made her acting debut in the drama series War and Love in 1995. Afterwards, she adopted the stage name Choi Ji-woo.
She was cast in her first major role in 1996 film The Gate of Destiny, but her limited acting skills resulted in her being replaced during filming. In the next couple of years Choi continued to star in both TV dramas and films, including The Hole (the Original version of Hollywood thriller Hush), as well as the romantic comedies First Kiss with Ahn Jae-wook and The Romantic President with Ahn Sung-ki. It was her portrayals on TV of tragic heroines with a pure and innocent image—notably in Truth opposite Ryu Si-won and Beautiful Days opposite Lee Byung-hun—that boosted her rising popularity.
In 2002, she reunited onscreen with Bae Yong-joon (she previously had a supporting role in his 1996 drama First Love) that she would star in her most famous, iconic role. Directed by Yoon Seok-ho as the second installment of his “season dramas,”Winter Sonata became a phenomenal hit throughout Asia and has been credited as one of the initiators of the Korean Wave. As a result, Choi gained wide pan-Asian recognition, especially a huge following in Japan where she acquired the nickname Ji-woo Hime (“Princess Ji-woo”). In 2009 she and Bae reprised their roles as voice actors for Winter Sonata Anime. She continues to be a lucrative star and brand in Japan, fetching high licensing/broadcasting rights for her dramas and selling out concerts and merchandise (tvN’s E News compiled a list of the top Hallyu stars in Japan based on their approximate gross incomes for the first half of 2011, and Choi was number five with approximately US$2 million).
After the success of her 2003 melodrama Stairway to Heaven with Kwon Sang-woo, Choi again attempted to break into film. She played a terminally ill heroine in Now and Forever, and a more risque character in sex comedy Everybody Has Secrets (“The Original Version of Irish film About Adam). Both films were poorly received by critics and audiences in South Korea, but performed well at the Japanese box office.
Choi then spent the next few years overseas, shooting the Chinese drama 101st Proposal with Sun Xing, and the Japanese drama RONDO opposite Yutaka Takenouchi. She returned to Korean television in 2007 in Air City alongside Lee Jung-jae; her role was the Chief Operating Officer of Incheon Airport.
In 2009, she starred opposite Yoo Ji-tae in the drama Star’s Lover, playing a top actress who falls in love with an ordinary man. Choi received ₩48 million per episode, the highest salary for a Korean actress at the time (her record was later broken by Go Hyun-jung’s ₩55 million for the 2010 drama Daemul).
That same year, she set up her own management agency called C,JW Company with her brother as CEO. She also joined the ensemble cast of semi-improvisational mockumentary Actresses, arguably her most significant film yet.
During the press conference for the 2011 series, Can’t Lose, co-starring Yoon Sang-hyun, featuring a lawyer couple facing their own divorce suit, she was asked if she worried about shedding her pure and innocent image. Choi said, “I’ve had the same image for 15 years. Isn’t it time for me to break out? I was a melodrama queen and now I want the title of romantic comedy queen.” She added that she had gained more fans after showing her cheerful, easygoing side as a guest on the reality show 2 Days & 1 Night.
In 2012, Choi was cast in the Chinese drama City Lovers, in which she portrayed the CEO at an event management company opposite Qin Hao, a newly employed businessman at her firm.
Later that year, she became the host of Choi Ji-woo’s Delicious Korea on food lifestyle cable channel O’live TV alongside fashion designer Jung Kuho. The 5-episode show, which aired from November 23 to December 21, 2012, aimed to promote Korean cuisine and culture to the world, and the two hosts traveled through South Korea and introduced little-known regional food to the viewers.
She next headlined the 2013 remake of the hit 2011 Japanese drama Kaseifu no Mita. In The Suspicious Housekeeper, Choi played the titular character, an icy and stoic yet amazingly capable housekeeper who comes to work for a recently widowed father and his four children. Despite the difficulty of not being able to react to her costars, Choi said she chose the role because she “was really charmed by the way the heroine refrains from letting her emotions show.”
2014–2016: Acting setback
In February 2014, Choi signed with the talent agency YG Entertainment. She then reunited with previous costar Kwon Sang-woo in Temptation; she played a rich woman who makes a dangerous offer to a married man.
Choi joined the fourth season of travel-reality show Grandpas Over Flowers in 2015, where she and Lee Seo-jin backpacked through Greece with veteran actors Lee Soon-jae, Shin Goo, Park Geun-hyung and Baek Il-seob.
This was followed by the cable series Twenty Again, where she played a woman who became a wife and mother at 19 then decides to experience campus college life for the first time at age 38 when she becomes a university student alongside her 20-year-old son.
In 2016, Choi returned to the big screen in seven years, starring in the ensemble cast romance film Like for Likes. The same year, she starred in the legal romance drama Woman with a Suitcase.
2017–present: Career resurgence
In 2017, Choi was cast in the family melodrama The Most Beautiful Goodbye, a remake of the drama The Most Beautiful Goodbye in the World by Noh Hee-kyung.
In 2019, Choi made a cameo appearance as herself in episode 13 of the Netflix drama, Crash Landing on You.
Choi majored in aerobic dance at Busan Women’s College. She later enrolled in Hanyang University’s Department of Theater and Film and completed her first year; however she had to withdraw from college studies due to her hectic work schedule.
Choi was married on March 29, 2018. Choi announced that she was pregnant with her first child on December 23, 2019, and gave birth to a daughter on May 16, 2020.
Awards and nominations
- “Choi Ji-woo talks being replaced”. Korea JoongAng Daily. 27 December 2011. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012.
- “Producer Yun Seok-ho, the creator of Yonsama and the hallyu frenzy” Archived 2007-03-01 at the Wayback Machine. KBS Global. 17 January 2005.
- “Is it all over already? Gloomy signs overshadow rosy statistics of Hallyu“. The Korea Herald via Hancinema. 11 July 2005.
- “Pure Love: Tear-Jerking Love Stories Enthrall Japanese Women”. Web Japan. 14 October 2004.
- “Bae, Choi to Voice Winter Sonata Cartoon”. The Korea Times. 30 May 2008.
- “A reunion in 7 years: Yonsama and Jiwoohime”. 10Asia. 29 September 2009.
- “Bae Yong-joon, Choi Ji-woo reunite for Winter Sonata anime”. 10Asia. 2 February 2010.
- ““Winter Sonata”, The Most Popular Korean Drama In Japan”. Broasia via Hancinema. 2 July 2007.
- “Love Letter Starring Choi Ji-woo and Cho Han-sung to Open Next Year”. KBS Global. 5 August 2005. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013.
- “Yeonriji (“Now and Forever”) Depends Heavily on Ji-woo Hime“. The Korea Times via Hancinema. 13 April 2006.
- “Sexy Secret Has Little to Tell”. The Korea Times. 29 July 2004.
- “Sex and Laughter in a Game of Love“. The Dong-a Ilbo. 29 July 2004.
- “Choi Ji-woo Remains Huge Box-Office Draw in Japan”. The Chosun Ilbo. 5 April 2006.
- “Choi Ji-woo to Co-Star with Takenouchi Yutaka”. KBS Global. 4 July 2005. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- “Actress Choi Ji-woo Stars in Joint Korean-Japanese TV Drama”. KBS Global. 20 December 2005. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013.
- “TV Drama Rondo Starring Choi Ji-woo Suffers Low Viewer Ratings”. KBS Global. 24 February 2006. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- “TV drama starring Choi Ji-woo records 20.6% viewership in Japan”. KBS World. 16 January 2006.
- Chung, Ah-young (3 January 2007). “Hallyu Heroine Returns With New Drama”. The Korea Times via Hancinema.
- “Celebrity’s Sweetheart Knocks on Viewers Hearts”. The Korea Times. 2 December 2008.
- “Mega drama duo signals hot winter”. The Korea Herald. 1 December 2008.
- “Koh Hyun-jung, highest paid Korean actress”. The Korea Times. 12 April 2011.
- “Ko Hyun-jung Sets New Soap Opera Earnings Record”. The Chosun Ilbo. 12 April 2011.
- “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2011-04-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- “Actresses Choosing To Be Managed By Family”. KBS World. 10 December 2010.
- “Actresses is a miracle achieved, says Koh (Part 1)”. 10Asia. 23 November 2009.
- “Actresses is a miracle achieved, says Koh (Part 2)”. 10Asia. 23 November 2009.
- “Choi Ji-woo Can’t Lose in romantic comedy” Archived October 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. The Korea Times. 23 August 2011.
- “Choi Ji-woo Thrilled About Shaking Off Old Image”. The Chosun Ilbo. 25 August 2011.
- “Choi Ji-woo to return to Chinese TV series in 9 years, teaming up with Qin Hao”. 10Asia. 27 June 2012.
- “Choi Ji Woo Stars in Her First Chinese Drama in Nine Years”. enewsWorld. 27 June 2012. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- “Choi Ji-woo returns to Chinese drama”. Korea JoongAng Daily. 28 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 July 2012.
- “Choi Ji-woo Will Introduce Korean Food as TV Host”. 10Asia. 30 October 2012.
- “Choi Ji Woo to Look Far and Wide for Delicious Korean Foods in a Documentary”. enewsWorld. 3 November 2012.[permanent dead link]
- “Choi Ji-woo to Play Housekeeper in an Upcoming Drama”. 10Asia. 31 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-03-30.
- “Choi Ji-woo to Play Housemaid in a New Drama”. The Chosun Ilbo. 10 August 2013.
- “Choi Ji-woo to play modern-day Mary Poppins”. The Korea Herald. 16 September 2013.
- “Suspicious role challenged Choi”. Korea JoongAng Daily. 5 December 2013.
- “Choi Ji Woo Signs with YG Entertainment”. enewsWorld. 26 February 2014. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- “Actress Choi Ji-woo joins YG Entertainment”. The Korea Herald. 27 February 2014.
- “Actress Choi Ji-woo Joins YG Entertainment”. 10Asia. 26 February 2014. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014.
- “Hallyu icon joins YG Family”. Korea JoongAng Daily. 27 February 2014.
- “Look who’s back together: Kwon Sang-woo, Choi Ji-woo re-united in SBS drama Temptation“. The Korea Times. 11 July 2014.
- “Choi Ji-woo joins grandpas on tvN show”. K-pop Herald. 16 February 2015.
- “Choi Ji-woo is real gem in Grandpas over Flowers“. The Korea Herald. 24 March 2015.
- “Hallyu star joins Grandpas Over Flowers“. The Korea Times. 25 March 2015.
- “Korea’s 4 favorite Grandpas return”. Korea JoongAng Daily. 27 March 2015.
- “Choi Ji Woo Confirmed for New tvN Drama”. enewsWorld. 9 July 2015. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- “Choi Ji-woo to play a college student Actress”. Korea JoongAng Daily. July 10, 2015.
- “Choi Ji-woo returns to film”. Korea JoongAng Daily. 1 June 2015.
- “‘Like for Likes’ shows love on social media”. The Korea Times. 12 January 2016.
- “Choi Ji-woo returns in legal-romance drama”. Yonhap News Agency. 22 June 2016.
- “Actress Choi Ji-woo cast in remake series written by star writer”. Kpop Herald. 19 October 2017.
- “Choi Ji-woo announces ‘surprise’ wedding”. The Korea Herald. 29 May 2018.
- “Choi Ji-woo awaits her first child’s birth in May”. MSN. 23 December 2019.
- “Actress Choi Ji Woo gives birth to her first daughter!”. AllKpop. 16 May 2020.
- “Choi Ji-woo Takes Lead in ALI’s New Music Video”. 10Asia. 31 January 2013. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014.
- “Top Stars Win Andre Kim Awards”. The Korea Times. 1 May 2007.
- “Choi Ji-woo Named Korea’s Greatest Acting Beauty”. The Chosun Ilbo. 7 August 2006.
- “Star Hall of Fame Celebrates Choi Ji-woo”. The Chosun Ilbo. 20 August 2009.
- “Dramas, Stars to Compete at Seoul Intl Drama Awards”. The Korea Times. 25 August 2009.
- “Actress Choi Ji-woo to receive President’s honor”. 10Asia. 24 September 2009.
- “Asia Model Awards” Archived 2012-02-16 at the Wayback Machine. KBS World. 18 January 2012.
- “Choi Ji-woo, Kara win Asia Star at 2012 Asia Model Awards”. The Korea Herald. 19 January 2012.
- “Choi Ji Woo receives Seoul City Social Welfare Award”. StarN News. 7 September 2012.