Kim Nam-gil (Korean김남길; born March 13, 1980) is a South Korean actor, producer, singer and philanthropist. He is best known from leading roles in disaster blockbuster Pandora (2016); crime thriller The Shameless (2015); adventure film The Pirates (2014); period drama Portrait of a Beauty (2008) and the crime-comedy television drama The Fiery Priest (2019). His breakthrough role was Bidam in the hit television period drama Queen Seondeok (2009).

Kim Nam-gil
Kim Nam-gil at Asian Star Awards 2018.jpg
Kim Nam-gil in 2018
Born (1980-03-13) March 13, 1980 (age 39)
Seoul, South Korea
Other namesLee Han
EducationMyongji University - Theater and Film (dropped out)
Cyber Hankuk University of Foreign Studies - Chinese language
OccupationActor, film producer, singer
Years active1999–present
AgentC-JeS Entertainment
Height184 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Nam-gil
McCune–ReischauerKim Namkil

Kim is also the founder and CEO of a non-profit organization Gilstory that focuses on preserving cultural heritage, promoting arts and raising special purpose relief funds.



Kim Nam-gil began his acting career on television with a minor role in the 1999 KBS youth drama School 1.[1] Four years later, he won the 2003 Talent Audition conducted annually by MBC, and appeared in various minor roles on the network's shows, such as Be Strong, Geum-soon!.[2] During this time, he was using the stage name Lee Han, which he made up to give himself a more sophisticated image (The name Nam-gil is considered to be somewhat old fashioned).[3] In the following years he took on more supporting roles in television dramas, among them Goodbye Solo,[4] Lovers,[5] and When Spring Comes.[6]

In 2009, Kim was cast as one of the supporting characters in the historical drama Queen Seondeok, in a role that would soon change his life. It became one of the highest-rated TV series of that year (reaching a peak of over 40%[7]), and Kim became a household name and the series' breakout star.[8] For his portrayal of the playful but tragic Bidam, Kim said he was inspired by comic book characters such as Han Bi-kwang in Ruler of the Land, Miyamoto Musashi in Vagabond, and Kang Baek-ho in Slam Dunk. The writers rewrote the script to respond to Bidam's popularity with the viewing audience, giving the character more screen time and emphasizing his romance with the titular Seondeok (despite the incredible historical inaccuracy), until there were two main male leads in the series.[9][10][11] A horse-riding-related injury on set,[12] and a brief hospitalization due to H1N1 flu,[13] were minor negatives compared to the impact the series had on Kim's career. He won several awards for his performance, gained more local and international fans,[14][15] received advertisement offers, and was flooded with film and TV scripts.

In 2010 he played an antihero lead role in Bad Guy, a dark melodrama about revenge, ambition, and fatal love.[16][17][18][19][20] But while still in the middle of filming, Kim received his draft notice for mandatory military service.[21] He tried to ask for deferment in order to wrap up the shoot for the series, but it was not granted.[22] Kim shot as much as he could (his scenes were reduced, and a body double was also used) then entered the army two days later on July 15, 2010. He received four weeks of basic training at Nonsan, and served for two years as a public service worker.[23]

In 2013 Kim starred in the revenge TV series Shark (also known as Don't Look Back), from the makers of Resurrection and The Devil.[24][25] In 2017 he starred in the time-slip medical drama Live Up to Your Name.[26] In 2019 he headlined the comedy crime drama The Fiery Priest as a hot tempered priest.[27] It was the first drama to air on Fridays and Saturdays on SBS and was well received by viewers, seeing a rapid rise in ratings and ending at a peak of 22%.[28] Kim earned a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal at the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards.[29]


Kim Nam-gil debuted on the big-screen in 2004 gangster movie Low life. In 2006, he made the bold decision to portray a homosexual character in the controversial queer indie No Regret in a role which included several gay sex scenes.[30] The film was critically praised and traveled the film festival circuit, being shown among others in the Panorama section of the 57th Berlin Film Festival. He then was cast in 2008's Public Enemy Returns, where he could work with the actor Jung Jae-young.[31] Kim had stated in interviews that Jung Jae-young, who attended the same high school he did, had been his role model as an actor. Upon the influence of the film's director Kang Woo-suk (but against the advice of his agent and manager[3]), Kim stopped using the stage name Lee Han and reverted to his birth name.[32] Later that year, Kim played his first leading role in a major commercial film, Portrait of a Beauty.[33] Though his co-star Kim Min-sun garnered most of the attention for the erotic costume drama, Kim's strong performance did not go unnoticed.[34]

Another side benefit of Kim's popularity resulting from the Seondeok was the theatrical release in 2010 of his indie Lovers Vanished,[3][35] a relationship drama which the director described as a "Korean Leaving Las Vegas."[36]

Following his discharge from the army in 2012,[37] Kim produced the film Ensemble, a music mockumentary about a group of classical musicians who form a group and take to the streets to perform outside their usual concert halls, showing their youthful passion in making music accessible. It premiered at the Jecheon International Music & Film Festival.[38] He was also one of four celebrities in 2013 who directed a short film using smartphone Samsung Galaxy S4 with the theme "Meet a Life Companion"; his short Hello, Mom depicted the love between a mother and her daughter, and evoked the warm feeling of an analog film.[39] This was followed by the 2014 period adventure film The Pirates, which reunited him with Shark costar Son Ye-jin.[40][41]

He next starred opposite award-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon in the 2015 thriller The Shameless; Kim played a detective who falls for the girlfriend of the murderer he is investigating.[42] The Shameless had its world premiere at 2015 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section.[43] Kim was next cast as powerful nobleman Heungseon Daewongun whose concubine takes up pansori in the period film The Sound of a Flower.[44]

In 2016 Kim starred in disaster blockbuster Pandora portraying the aftermath of an explosion in a nuclear plant.[45] Pandora premiered internationally at the International Film Festival and Awards Macao,[46] receiving standing ovation.

In 2017 Kim starred in the action thriller Memoir of a Murderer and romance drama film One Day.[47][48] In 2019, Kim starred in the comedy film The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale.[49]


In 2012 Kim published a book titled Way Back to the Road, his memoir of the past two years, which contained photos had taken himself. It also featured New Zealand scenery captured by photographer Cho Nam-ryong, and contributions from writer Lee Yoon-chul.[50]

In July 2013 he released his debut single in Japan. The title track is a cover of Kōji Tamaki's "Roman," and the single also included Kim's two songs from the Queen Seondeok soundtrack.[51]



Year Title Role Notes
2004 Low Life Police officer at checkpoint
2006 Don't Look Back Seok-woo [52]
No Regret Song Jae-min
2008 Public Enemy Returns Park Mun-su
Modern Boy Hidaka Shinsuke [53]
Portrait of a Beauty Kang-mu
2009 Handphone Jang Yoon-ho [54]
2010 Lovers Vanished Kim Su-in
2012 Ensemble N/A Producer
2013 Hello, Mom N/A Short film, Director
2014 The Pirates Jang Sa-jung
Glory for Everyone N/A Documentary narrator[55]
2015 The Shameless Jung Jae-gon
The Sound of a Flower Heungseon Daewongun
2016 Pandora Kang Jae-hyeok
2017 Memoir of a Murderer Tae-joo
One Day Kang-soo
2019 The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale Min-gul
2020 Closet


Year Title Role Network
1999 School 1 Min-soo KBS2
2004 MBC Best Theater
"Kang Jang-soo's Love House"
Nonstop 4
Sweet Buns Hong Hye-jan's boyfriend
2005 Be Strong, Geum-soon! Noh Seong-hwan
The 5th Republic[56] Park Ji-man
My Lovely Sam Soon[57] Kim Byung-tae
2006 Goodbye Solo Yoo Ji-an KBS2
Lovers Tae-san SBS
2007 When Spring Comes Kim Joon-ki KBS2
Several Questions That Make Us Happy[58] Im Seok-joo
2009 Queen Seondeok Bidam MBC
Tears of the Amazon[59] Documentary narrator
2010 Haiti, Tears of Tragedy[60]
Personal Taste[61] Man sitting in cafe (cameo, episode 11)
Bad Guy Shim Gun-wook SBS
2013 Shark Han Yi-soo KBS2
2017 Live Up to Your Name Heo Im / Heo Bong-tak tvN
2019 The Fiery Priest Kim Hae-il SBS

Music videoEdit

Year Song title Artist
1999 "Gift" Kim Jang-hoon
2005 "Attention" Lady
"Start" M.Street
"Don't Forget, Don't Forget" The Red
2007 "Just Ten Days" J

Variety ShowEdit

Year Title Network Notes
2019 Trans-Siberian Pathfinders tvN Cast member


Year Title Role
2000 A Midsummer Night's Dream
2003 Park Mu-geun's Family [62]


Album information Track listing
Can't I Love You?[63]
  • Track from Queen Seondeok Special OST
  • Released: January 8, 2010
  • Label: Star J Entertainment, Danal
Track listing
  1. 사랑하면 안 되니 ("Can't I Love You?")
  2. 사랑하면 안 되니 (Inst.)
You Don't Know
Track listing
  1. 너는 모른다 ("You Don't Know")
  2. 너는 모른다 (Inst.)
Track listing
  1. Roman 
  2. 愛してはいけないの (Korean original ver.) ("Can't I Love You?")
  3. 지금 당신은 사랑하고 있습니까 (Korean original ver.) ("Do You Still Love Now")
  4. Roman (Inst.) 
  5. 愛してはいけないの (Inst.)

Photo bookEdit

Year Title Publisher ISBN
2010 Into the Wild The Book Company ISBN 9788991317512
2012 Way Back to the Road MCK Publishing ISBN 9788996985402

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2008 29th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor Public Enemy Returns Nominated
2009 46th Grand Bell Awards Best New Actor Modern Boy Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Nominated
17th Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards Best New Actor (Film) Won [65]
2nd Style Icon Awards New TV Icon N/A Won [66]
MBC Drama Awards Best Couple Award with Lee Yo-won Queen Seondeok Won [67]
Excellence Award, Actor Won
Best New Actor Nominated
2010 46th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor (TV) Won [68]
SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Bad Guy Nominated
2013 KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actor in a Mid-length Drama Shark Nominated
Top Excellence Award, Actor Nominated
2014 8th Asian Film Awards Special Awards Asian Rising Star N/A Won [69]
2015 24th Buil Film Awards Best Actor The Shameless Nominated
2019 55th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actor (TV) The Fiery Priest Nominated [29]
Korean Broadcasters Association Awards Best Actor Won [70]
14th Seoul International Drama Awards Outstanding Korean Actor Won
Busan International Film Festival Best Actor Won [71]
32nd Grimae Awards Best Actor Won [72]
SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award in Mid-Length Drama (Actor) Nominated
Grand Prize (Daesang) Won
10th Korean Popular Culture & Arts Awards Prime Minister’s Commendation N/A Won [73]


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External linksEdit