Won_BinGrowing up in the mountainous region of Gangwon-do South Korea, who would think it the perfect place to birth one of the brightest Hallyu stars in drama history? The youngest of five to a coal mining father and farming wife, Won Bin (nee Kim Do Jin, 33) has made an awesome journey to becoming that very star. Be it luck, destiny, or just good old hard work, Won Bin, that young boy who grew up playing in the coal mountains until his face was black with soot, is now officially known as one of Korea's prized entertainers.

Starting in 1995, Won Bin's future forever changed when he auditioned for a cable TV station in his senior year of high school. A month after auditioning, he signed a contract with a talent agency, and in 1997, just two years later, he held a supporting role in the drama Purpose. Over the next two years, his roles in Ready Go! (1998) and Kwangki (1999) caught the eyes of fans and along with his good looks, gained him the title of teen heartthrob.

It was that same year that Won Bin moved into the realm of modeling, becoming the spokesmodel for Clride, Yell and 018 Telecom, further spreading his appeal to the masses. Then, in 2000, he managed to snag a role that would forever change his status from up and coming cutie, to full on drama star: his portrayal of Han Tae-Suk in the classic Autumn In My Heart. Starring alongside other soon to be A-listers Song Hye Gyo and Song Seung Hun; Won Bin's talent was obviously in good company. The magnitude of this trifecta is seen now, as each of these stars are now at the top of their class. As with all three stars, and especially Won Bin, the massive popularity gained from Autumn In My Heart only continued to grow outside of Korea and into Asia. For Won Bin, however, he achieved one of the most amazing feats in the history of Korean entertainment, being the first Korean actor to crossover and gain a large following in Japan due to the Korean-Japan joint produced drama Friends.

From there he starred in popular movies Guns & Talk, My Brother, and Taegukgi. His depiction of JinSeok in Taegukgi solidified his status as an international star, not just in Asia, but in the West as well. He received the Best Newcomer awards in both the Golden Filming Awards and Chunsa Film Art Festival ceremonies held in 2004, adding to his collection of awards already amassed from previous works: Bvlgari Brilliant Dream Award (2002, Japan), Baek-Sang Awards: Best Newcomer in a TV Drama for Kkokji and Autnum In My Heart (2000, Korea), KBS Best Male Actor (2000, Korea) and KBS Best Newcomer (1999, Korea).

In 2007, after a mandatory service in the Korean army (which was cut short due to injury requiring surgery and rehabilitation), Won Bin was appointed as the Korean UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Along with all of these achievements, Won Bin has also published five books of photo essays starting in 2000. The books feature photographs taken by Won Bin on his travels in Bali, Indonesia, Korea, Czech Republic, and Japan. In two of his photo essay books, Won Bin included candid video footage of his personal life as a thank you to his fans and in his latest book, the 2006 'Dear Won Bin', he included his own drawings.

With such a charming personality and acclaimed acting skills, keep your bets on this star player, because Won Bin's star isn't set to supernova for years to come.

photo: daum