Among many actors in the spectrum of being cool and passionate, Choi Minsik is a representative ‘fiery and passionate’ actor. Based on the acting skills he accumulated on the theater stage including Equus, Choi made his screen debut with Guro Arirang (1989), which deals with labor issues. He began to make his presence felt through TV dramas such as The Years of Ambition and The Moon of Seoul. After starring in NO.3 (1997) and The Quiet Family (1998), the actor began to succeed with his charismatic North Korean military acting in Swiri (1999), directed by Kang Jekyu, who set the highest box office record in Korean cinema at the time. Happy End (1999), a story about a guy who falls into the downward spiral of desire after finding out his wife’s affair, was invited to the Cannes Film Festival-Critics Week. The film Failan (2001), which vividly depicted the life of a backstreet gangster, made Choi a representative male actor after Ahn Sungki, Park Joonghoon, and Han Sukkyu in the 1990s. With Happy End and Failan, Choi swept the Best Actor awards at the Baeksang Arts Awards, the Grand Bell Awards, the Blue Dragon Film Awards, The Korean Association of Film Critics Awards, and the Deauville Asian Film Festival.
The moment he further evolved as an actor was when he was nominated for the Best Actor for the second consecutive time with Chihwaseon (2002) and Oldboy (2003), which were invited to the competition section of the Cannes International Film Festival. If the former is the period drama, in which Director Im Kwontaek depicted the artistic soul of the master Jang Seungup, the latter was a thriller that showed Director Park Chanwook’s mythical imagination based on the original comic book. Painter Jang Seungup, who tried to make his own style instead of copying others’ artworks, and a man named Oh Daesoo, who has been locked up in his room for 15 years without knowing any reasons, evidently show that Choi’s method acting reached the top level. Oldboy opened the way to promote Korean films to the moviegoers in North America and was remade by Director Spike Lee in 2013. Choi Minsik was subsequently cast in the action film Lucy (2014), directed by Luc Besson, and worked with Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman.
Choi has not stopped challenging himself. The characters he played ranged from a spine-chilling serial killer in Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil (2010) to a man who lives in a criminal organization as neither an ordinary man nor a gangster in Nameless Gangster: Rules of Time (2012). Meanwhile, in Roaring Currents (2014), the actor played Admiral Yi Sunsin, who is praised as one of the great figures in Korean history, setting the highest box office record in Korean cinema, which is still unbroken. Ju Sungchul