Any self-respecting K-Drama fan in 2020, old or new, would know who Kim Tae-pyung is. More popularly known as Hyun Bin, he’s been many memorable characters to all of us throughout his storied career.
Whether you’ve known him since his breakthrough hit 'My Name is Kim Sam-soon' or you’ve just discovered his charm in global phenomenon 'Crash Landing on You', the Korean superstar’s work in television and film has taken us through many stories and many hours of drama, action, romance, and comedy.
There’s no denying that Hyun Bin possesses great talent, having top-billed many notable titles in his filmography. He boasts a lean but mean body of work, with many lauded performances through 18 years in the industry.
Quite elusive to the public at this point in his career, there is little of Hyun Bin seen outside of his work on the big and small screens as well as official engagements and promotional events—and we all know that the mystery adds to the charm!
Hyun Bin at the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards | Soompi
As we await his appearance and possible Best Actor win at the 56th Baeksang Arts Awards airing on June 5, see Hyun Bin’s transformation from 2003 to present!
Hyun Bin Evolution
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(1/4) Before he was making women fall in love with his roles on TV and in film, the young Kim Tae-pyung’s head-turning good looks was already breaking hearts in school. His childhood friends even revealed in an interview he already had a fan club as early as then!
(2/4) His school photos show a younger Hyun Bin with the eyes, nose, lips, and jawline we all know and love him for! (He’s not smiling, but we know the dimple’s there somewhere!) He also favored the brushed-up spiked hair that was trendy during those years.
After his first film Shower (2002) unfortunately ran into production issues, he finally debuted in the series Bodyguard as the stalker to a supporting character in the show played by Lee Se-eun. Though it was a short appearance, Hyun Bin’s poolside aesthetic was definitely a look worthy of the early ’00s.
(1/2) Hyun Bin’s first commercially released film Spin Kick cast him in the role of Min-gyu, the only member of his school’s martial arts team. He grew his hair longer, leaving behind the spikes of his younger years behind.
After Spin Kick, Hyun Bin returned to television as the second lead in Ireland. For Kang Gook, he added a bit of layer to his hair to give it more body. You can already see the makings of a future male lead in a drama!
(1/3) We don’t need to say anything more to introduce Kim Sam-soon, of course. The romantic comedy that shot Hyun Bin to superstardom, he played g Hyun Jin-hyeon to Kim Sun-a’s Sam-soon, the show is one of the highest-rating Korean dramas of ALL time.
(3/3) The series also starred Daniel Henney, who Hyun Bin developed a close friendship with while filming. In this candid photo, we can see how his hair is spikier (possibly without professional styling).
My Name is Kim Sam-soon paved the way for Hyun Bin’s talents to be recognized, as he sweeped the MBC Drama Awards that year. He won three awards and accepted them with his now-long hair brushed back for a more awards show-appropriate look.
(1/2) His next film saw him take on the role of Kang Jae-kyung, an arrogant rich kid who has to transfer to a school in the province as his grandfather’s will before he can inherit their family’s vast fortune. Hyun Bin channeled his inner bad boy for the part, growing his hair the longest it’s so far been.
(1/2) Though not his best drama, The Snow Queen introduced a mature Hyun Bin who played Han Tae-woong—a boxer grappling with trauma from his past. Here, the actor continued to shed his “younger” image with a long mop top and facial hair!
Snow Queen was considered “underperforming,” but showcased Hyun Bin as an actor with serious skills. He went on to sweep the KBS Drama Awards in 2006, winning an Excellence Award, Popularity Award, and Best Couple Award (with Sung Yu-ri). He attended the show sporting long, dark, layered hair and a beard.
He also starred in a mini-drama produced to promote LG’s X-Note Laptops where he worked with Shin Min-a and Ryu Seong-beom. He cleaned up a little bit for the short stint, ditching the facial hair and trimming his locks.
Hyun Bin went on to take on different roles, including an institutionalized character in I Am Happy—a film that screened at the 13th Busan International Film Festival in 2008, but wasn’t released commercially until November 2009. As Man-soo, who suffers from mental illness, the actor didn’t really have a “hairstyle” to speak of, but kept his long hair from previous years.
(1/3) His next drama, starring alongside his ex Song Hye-kyo as Joo Joon-young, earned Hyun Bin praises for his talent. He also further cemented his status as a heartthrob with his portrayal of Jung Ji-oh—a man who struggles in his relationship with Joon-young due to their differences in values and social status.
(1/2) Hyun Bin then worked on the TV adaptation of a 2001 Korean film where he played Hang Dong-soo, a young man who grows hardened by time on the tough streets of Busan entangled in its in underground gangs.
(2/2) To prepare for his role as the lead in the drama, he was reported to have watched the film more than 20 times and, well, shaved his long hair into a buzz cut. Friend, Our Legend is widely known as one of his most critically acclaimed works.
(1/2) Another title that needs no introduction in Hyun Bin’s filmography, Secret Garden launched “Hyun Bin Syndrome” as coined by his co-star Ha Ji-won. As chaebol Kim Joo-won, we see an earlier incarnation of the famous bowl cut we see in his future role as Captain Ri in Crash Landing on You.
(1/2) His performance in Secret Garden was recognized at the SBS Drama Awards when he sweeped all the categories he was nominated in. Hyun Bin received his awards looking sleek and dapper with a textured pompadour—one of his best looks yet!
(1/2) His other film Come Rain, Come Shine tells the story of a married couple in the midst of a breakup and what ensues during their last day together. Compared to his previous role, his character keeps his long-ish hair loose to show off its natural curls.
After eight successful years in the industry, Hyun Bin took a hiatus to fulfill his mandatory military enlistment. He signed up with the Marine Corps. Of course, he had to shave off his hair to a buzz cut, but we already know he still looks awesome from his previous role in Friend, Our Legend.
Despite serving in the South Korean military’s toughest branch, Hyun Bin managed to keep his skin relatively clear throughout his service. We wonder what his skincare was because we’re seriously amazed!
After spending most of 2013 shooting advertisements and holding fan meets, Hyun Bin’s comeback was The Fatal Encounter where he portrayed King Jeongjo of the Joseon era. In his first period film, he donned traditional royal garb and grew his beard to transform into the 22nd ruler of the dynasty.
(1/3) In his comeback to TV, Hyde, Jekyll, Me, he played another chaebol; this time, a man with dissociative identity disorder. He was both cold-hearted Goo Seo-jin and sweet-natured Robin at the same time.
(2/3) Hyun Bin seemed to have lost a bit of the muscle he built from his military training as well as The Fatal Attraction, but looked super good nonetheless. He wore a faded hairstyle, which signaled the change between his characters. As Seo-jin, he wears his bangs to the side...
Hyun Bin put up his own agency in 2016 and worked on Confidential Assignment, which premiered in January 2017. This film was his first project portraying a character from North Korea, a detective named Il Cheol-ryung who is sent to the South to cooperate with their authorities in catching criminals.
(1/2) Hyun Bin’s next film, The Swindlers, then came out in November where he played con-man Hwang Ji-sung alongside an all-star cast. To transform into the handsome swindler, he changes his look between clean-cut...
His film Rampant was released commercially in October where he portrayed Prince Lee Chung. He dons traditional Korean dress once again, but with less facial hair than his previous role in a period film.
(1/2) By December, his work on Memories of the Alhambra premiered on TV. As Yoo Jin-woo, he was a dapper CEO of an investment company who encounters a glitch in an Augmented Reality game he’s trying to acquire. As his story starts out in Alhambra, Spain, Hyun Bin is a vision with wispy bangs and shorter hair.
(1/5) Of course, there’s no introduction needed to Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok. When Crash Landing on You premiered in December and picked up momentum through January, Hyun Bin had already wowed his audience with his acting range as the seemingly cold-shouldered yet soft-hearted Captain Ri. Who can forget his helmet hair, too?
(4/5) We also see a different side of the stern Captain Ri in flashbacks while he’s studying in Switzerland. Here, he ditches the helmet hair and sweeps his bangs to the side for that school boy charm. Who else can pull this off at 36 years old? We’re not sure many others can.