South Korean Star Kim Joo-hyuk Dies at 45, Film Premieres Canceled

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Kim Joo-hyuk

Fans and industry folks across Asia are mourning his death in a car accident.

A string of South Korean film premieres and media events were called off following the sudden death of actor Kim Joo-hyuk in a car crash on Monday.

The 45-year-old was driving through the streets of Gangnam, Seoul, when his car swerved and collided with another vehicle before hitting a building. The driver of the other car has survived, according to local authorities.

The South Korean public and entertainment industry have expressed shock and disbelief, with high-profile media events being called off in deference to the late actor's death. The Blue Dragon Awards, one of the country’s top awards ceremonies, equivalent to the Oscars, has canceled its annual hand-printing ceremony that had been slated for Wednesday, featuring winners of the previous year’s edition, including The Magnificent Seven star Lee Byung-hun.

Red-carpet premieres for upcoming films have also been canceled, including The Swindlers, starring heartthrob Hyun Bin, who co-starred with Kim in Confidential Assignment, one of the year’s biggest box-office draws with $57 million, according to the Korean Film Council’s KOBIS database.

Kim enjoyed steady popularity over his 20-year career, first appearing in romantic TV roles, such as in Lovers in Prague (2005) opposite Cannes-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon. He went on to more diverse roles in historical dramas and crime actioners and won critical acclaim for his portrayal of villains, such as a North Korean gang boss (Confidential Assignment) and a callous murder suspect (The Tooth and the Nail).

Moreover, Kim had been praised for his awareness of gender equality issues in the local entertainment industry, often choosing to play roles in films that put the spotlight on a female lead. 

In recent years, his fan base grew as he revealed his quirky guy-next-door side through reality shows.

“We are deeply shocked and would like to pay our condolences to Kim Joo-hyuk, who will forever remain part of our team,” said a public statement from the popular show 2 Days & 1 Night.

The actor left behind two works, Heungboo: The Revolutionist and Dokjeon (working title), which are expected to be released posthumously next year.