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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part X: Zhang Fei and Jang Keun-suk


Jang Keun-suk (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 장근석/張根碩/Jang Geun-seok) was born on September 26, 1987 in Danyang County, Northern Chungcheong Province, South Korea. He is a South Korean actor, singer and model. He is best known for playing the role of band leader Hwang Tae-kyung in the 2009 drama You're Beautiful, with Lee Hongki, Jung Yong-hwa, Park Shin-hye and Uee, as well as the role of Kang Mu-gyul in the 2010 romantic comedy series Mary Stayed Out All Night, with Moon Geun-young and as Seo In-ha/Seo Joon in 2012 Love Rain with Yoona of Girls' Generation. 

He is coming from Indong Jang Clan (인동 장씨/仁同張氏) which is originated from the administrative precinct of Indong-dong, Gumi City, Northern Gyeongsang Province; along with two clansmen: famous statesman and disgraced consortChang Myon (1899-1966) - Prime Minster of Korea and Jang Ok-jeong, Royal Noble Consort Hui (1659-1701) - King Sukjong's Femme Fatale.

Keun-suk started working as a child model at the age of five after he was discovered by a talent agent. At that time, Keun-suk's parents were selling their house and the agent, who was a prospective buyer, saw Keun-suk. Seeing his potential, the agent advised Keun-Suk's parents to allow him to try a career in modeling.

Keun-suk made his acting debut in 1997 HBS (now Channel CGV) sitcom Selling Happiness (Haengbokdo Pabnida). He then continued to work in television as a child actor. In middle school, Keun-Suk heard the music of Japanese pop singer Ken Hirai. He was inspired enough by these bands to start learning Japanese by himself. In junior high school, Keun-suk went to school in New Zealand, where he attended Nelson College in 2003, to learn English and Japanese. Because of his studies in New Zealand, he can carry casual conversations in both languages.

Even though Keun-suk wanted to continue his studies in New Zealand, a job offer brought him back to South Korea, a role in the popular MBC sitcom Nonstop 4. After his work in Nonstop 4, Keun-Suk fell into a self-perceived slump and didn't think his acting was good enough. He decided then to re-devote himself to becoming a true actor.

In 2005, Keun-suk's portrayal of the president's son in the SBS drama Lovers in Prague became a hit and was well regarded by drama fans. In 2006, Keun-suk made the jump to the big screen in the Japanese horror film One Missed Call: Final where he played the role of a deaf boy. Using his past experience with the Japanese language, Keun-suk was able to communicate with his Japanese co-stars with ease. He also learned sign language in preparation for his role.

Back on the small screen, he next played the role of Kim Eun-ho, Hwang Jin-yi's first love in the TV drama Hwang Jin-i. Keun-suk's performance gained the attention of many female fans. In 2007, Keun-Suk was cast in the rock music-themed film The Happy Life. His portrayal of Hyeon-ju allowed Keun-suk to show off his masculine charms, as well as display his skills as a singer. Jang was co-MC with Heechul of Super Junior on SBS's weekly live music show Inkigayo, from 25 February to 7 October 2007.

In 2008, Keun-suk would go on to act in two more music-inspired titles with the feature film Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do and the hit MBC TV drama Beethoven Virus starring opposite Kim Myung Min. He also starred in the KBS drama, Hong Gil Dong, as Prince Lee Changhwi. He starred alongside the baby actor Moon Mason in the movie Baby and I.

Keun-suk's next role in the 2009 thriller The Case of Itaewon Homicide was his first villain role. The film is based on the true story of a murder that occurred at a Burger King restaurant in Itaewon, South Korea. Keun-suk portrayed the role of Pearson who was a disturbed young Korean-American accused of stabbing a student to death. Keun-Suk spoke his lines in English throughout the entire film, a job he did well, according to BeyondHollywood.com: "Jang Keun-suk performs very well as the sullen Pearson."

Film critics and moviegoers also praised Keun-suk for his acting. A movie review posted on LondonKoreanLinks.com said: "The casting is cleverly done with Jang as the ‘innocent’ accused, his popularity allowing the audience to feel some empathy and warmth to an otherwise unattractive character. He does well in this role, a break from his normal cheerful persona and, combined with the fact he has to speak English through most of the film, it’s quite impressive. Its not perfect American accent of course, but it plays a vital part in itself."

In You're Beautiful, Keun-suk played the role of Hwang Tae-Kyung, leader of pop band A.N.Jell, who falls in love with a fellow band member who is a female pretending to be a guy on behalf of her twin brother, played by Park Shin-hye. The show also starred Lee Hong-ki and Jung Yong-hwa as the band's drummer and guitarist, respectively.

Keun-suk was also one of the actors who appeared in the photoshoot "Kolon Christmas Photo Shoot" in 2008, along with co-actors Joo Jin-mo, Song Il-gook, Go Soo, and Park Jae-jung. He also was a host on Tracking Your X Boyfriend. He's also known for his outspoken personality and tectonic dance.

Although he sings for some of his dramas, he has not released any music of his own except for a few songs done for advertisements: "Black Engine" for Mens cosmetics and skin care, and "Touch Holic", "Just Drag" and "Magic Drag" for Samsung's YP-M1 mp3 player from the YEPP line.

Keun-suk did some advertisements in 2010–2011 such as Ole Beauty Candy, Zegda CF, Code Combines CF and Samsung Galaxy Player. His first single as a singer, "Let Me Cry," was released by Pony Canyon in Japan on April 27, 2011. "Let Me Cry" debuted at number 1 on Japan's Oricon single charts, selling 119,149 copies on its first week of release, making him the first non-Japanese act to have the debut single to debut at number 1 on the charts. "This made him win as Best New Artist in the 26th Japan Gold Disc Awards held last January (2012)" .

In August 2011, Jang Keun Suk and Moon Geun Young went to Japan for their Mary Stayed Out All Night Tour. There were a total of 4 Mary Stayed Out All Night Fanmeetings in Japan, 2 Meetings in Tokyo and 2 meetings in Osaka. Their Fanmeeting is the largest FM to date which can accommodate in more than 60,000 people.

By the month-end of September 2011, Jang officially released his first Chinese album, titled The Lounge H Vol.1, in China and throughout Southeast Asia. Jang worked with friend and musician Big Brother (大兄弟/Jung Kurt) to create the duo in Team H. Big Brother took part in writing, producing, re-making songs, and even rapping. The Lounge H Vol.1 has 4 tracks with the leading song "Gotta Getcha." Jang has reportedly written the lyrics for this song himself. The track has a strong beat and powerful rap. The album also includes a music video for "Gotta Getcha" and special backstage clips.

Keun-suk agreed to play the role of the pet character in the Korean movie adaptation of the Japanese drama Kimi wa Petto, based on the manga of the same name. You're My Pet was released in November 2011. On January 18 of 2012, Oricon reported that Jang will release a new album Lounge H (The First Impression was later added to the title) in Japan as part of the two-member group Team H (the other member being DJ Big Brother). To be released on March 21 and only available in Japan, this album will have its own original style with brand new jacket photos and packaging. It was emphasized that this album is not Lounge H Vol.1, which Team H released the year before. The new Japanese album will have seven tracks of rock and electronic genre, including "Gotta Getcha."

On February 23 of 2012, HS Media (韩星经纪) revealed on their official Weibo that Team H had won its first awards with their debut EP Lounge H Vol. 1. At the 2012 IFPI Hong Kong Record Sales Awards, based on the highest album record sales, the album was to be awarded the Best Selling Album and the Best Korean Album. Since mid-October 2011, the album had been sold in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong with impressive sales results, breaking through platinum.

The TV melodrama Love Rain, starring Jang and Girls' Generation's Yoona and made by drama PD Yoon Seok-ho, was aired on KBS2 every Monday and Tuesday at 21:55 from March 26 to May 29. By the end of May 2012, Jang released another Japanese album, now titled Just Crazy. It is his official debut full-length album and it made history on the Oricon charts. "The album debuted at No. 1 on the Oricon daily singles chart with 53,000 copies sold. It again topped the weekly singles chart with 88,009 copies sold." Jang Keun-suk is the first male international solo artist ever to reach the top of both the Oricon daily and weekly charts, and second overall after BoA with her "Listen To My Heart" to accomplish this feat. He is also the first artist in over 17 years to have topped both charts with the first single ("Let Me Cry") and the first studio album.

On June 10, Jang released a Japanese cookbook titled, Love Recipe. It features twenty recipes, essays, and photo shoots. His song, 200 Miles, is also featured as the opening of Fairy Tail the Movie: The Phoenix Priestess.


Jang Keun-suk's Fairy Tail the Movie OP song