, the towering figure of Korean cinema who appeared in well over 500 films during his 50-year career, passed away on Sunday, November 4 following his battle with lung cancer. The actor was 81 years old and is survived by his wife, fellow actress UM Aeng-ran
, as well as his son and two daughters.
Born in Daegu in 1937, SHIN (born KANG Shin-young
) quickly found fame through his debut, the now-classic A Romantic Papa
(1960). He established himself as the most in-demand leading man of the Korean film industry in the 1960s and 70s, as his popularity lasted beyond the industry’s so-called Golden Era. He was particularly prolific between 1964 and 1971, when he clocked up 324 credits, which was over a quarter of the 1,194 features produced in the country during that period.
SHIN was first regarded as a youth icon in the early 1960s, owing to works such as KIM Kee-duk
’s The Barefooted Young
(1964). Subsequently, he branched out into other roles and worked with all the leading directors of the period, including KIM Soo-yong
, 1967), LEE Man-hee
(A Day Off
, 1968), SHIN Sang-ok
, 1968) and KIM Ki-young
- produced in the mid-1970s but only released in 1981). In his later career he continued to work with major talent, such as IM Kwon-taek
, 1986). The Busan International Film Festival
devoted its Korean Cinema Retrospective section to the thespian last year. SHIN’s final work was in 2013’s Door to the Night
Director PARK Chan-wook
is known to have compared the actor to such world cinema luminaries as Gregory PECK and Alain DELON. Describing his incalculable contribution to Korean cinema, the director said: “Without understanding SHIN Seong-il
, it is hard to get a grasp of either Korean film history or Korean modern cultural history.”
Prior to his death, SHIN had signed on to appear in Small but Certain Happiness
(translated title), a new project by classic filmmaker LEE Jang-ho
, in which he would have co-starred with fellow acting titan AHN Sung-ki
. The project was expected to go into production next year.