Choi Jin-sil

Choi Jin-sil
Choi Jin-sil

Choi Jin-sil
Born December 24, 1968(1968-12-24)
Seoul, South Korea
Died October 2, 2008(2008-10-02) (aged 39)
Seoul, South Korea
Years active 1988–2008
Spouse Jo Sung-min (2000-2004)
Children 2
Korean name
Hangul 최진실
Revised Romanization Choe Jin-sil
McCune–Reischauer Ch'oe Chin-sil

Choi Jin-sil (December 24, 1968 – October 2, 2008) was a South Korean actress. She was considered one of the best actresses in South Korea, nicknamed "The Nation's Actress". Since her debut two decades ago, she played a leading role in 18 movies, 20 television dramas and 140 commercials.[1]


Early years

Choi Jin-sil was born as the first child to her parents Choi Guk-hyeon and Jeong Ok-suk on 24 December 1968 in Seoul. Her mother had lived separately from her father since 1985 and divorced him in 1998.[2] She had a younger brother, Choi Jin-yeong who was an actor and singer.

Her family was so poor that her mother once managed the household by running a pojangmacha (a small street stall selling foods). She dreamed of becoming a star to survive from the poverty.[3] She confessed in talk shows her nickname during her school days was "Choisujebi" because she used to eat "sujebi" (a dumpling soup) instead of ordinary meals due to the home environment.[4] Although she later became a high-paid model and actress, she was known for frugality, even receiving awards for her savings activity and frugality.[3]


In 1987, Choi Jin Sil graduated from Seonil Girls' High School.

She debuted in Korea's entertainment circles as a commercial film model. She began to gain "stardom" by starring in an advertising campaign for Samsung Electronics in which she acted as a newly wedded housewife. [5] [6] [7]

In 1988, she became a TV actress starring in the MBC historical drama, 500 Years of Joseon Dynasty.[8] Her first movie was "North Korean Partisan in South Korea"(1990).[1]

After several experiences in TV dramas as a supporting actress, Choi played a leading roles in the MBC drama Jealousy (1992), the movie titled My Love, My Bride (1990), and so on.[3]

In 1998, Choi released an autobiography Yes, Let's Live Truthfully Today Too, looking back at the change from an ordinary high school graduate to a famous actress.[1]

She largely stayed out of the limelight after the divorce (2004), raising her two children.

In 2005, Choi returned with the soap opera Rosy Life and delivered a good performance. That role resurrected her career. [9][10]

Her last work was The Last Scandal of My Life (2008), generating many positive reviews from critics and viewers.[11] A second season of "The Last Scandal of My Life" was being planned to be aired in November 2008 before her abrupt death. [12][13]

She was also an MC in a talk show, Choi Jin-sil 'Truth and Lie' in 2008.[14]

Personal life

In 1994, her former manager Bae Byeong-su, who was an influential figure in the entertainment field, was murdered by her road manager. She was then called in as a witness to the murder of her former manager. The incident shocked the Korean public.[15][16]

In 2000, her marriage with Jo Sung-min received widespread attention in South Korea. Jo was a professional baseball player with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan. Choi first met Jo on a television show in 1998. Choi gave birth to a son (2001) and a daughter (2003). [2][17]

In November 2002, Jo physically attacked Choi, who was then pregnant with their second child. In August 2004, Jo again assaulted Choi. In September 2004, Choi divorced Jo.[18][19][20][21][22]

Choi took the parental rights and child custody over the children on condition of exempting Jo's debt to her mother and brother as well as dropping several charges against Jo. Jo could only visit his children regularly according to the mutual agreement.[23]

In January 2008, the South Korean family register (hoju) was changed. As a result, children could use their maternal family name when the family members wanted it. According to the changed family register, her children changed their surname from "Jo" (paternal family name) to "Choi" (maternal family name).[24][25]

After Choi's death, her mother managed the inheritance and took the child custody over her two children.[26][27][28][29]

Allegations of domestic violence

In August 2004, Choi Jin-sil came forward and declared herself a victim of domestic violence. Subsequently the advertiser, Shinhan Engineering and Construction, claimed she did not keep her contractual obligation to "maintain dignity," because she disclosed to the public her bruised and swollen face which was caused by the violence of her then husband.[21][30]

On June 4, 2009, the Supreme Court reversed a high court ruling that decided in favor of Choi in a compensation suit filed by the advertiser in 2004 against the actress, who was the model for its apartments. In handing down its ruling, the Supreme Court censured Choi for coming forward and declaring herself a victim of domestic violence, saying it constituted a failure to maintain proper "social and moral honor." Her two children became defendants as heirs.[31][32]

On June 9, 2009, Korean Womenlink, the Korea Women's Hot Line, and the Korea Women's Association United issued a joint statement lambasting the ruling. Women's groups censured the Supreme Court for not realizing the suffering of domestic violence victims, which included Choi. As to the ruling, the groups claimed that revealing the results of domestic violence was not a matter of "dignity" but a matter of "survival." "When a person is suffering, he or she needs to restore their dignity and social honor by disclosing the damage and seeking proper legal help as Choi did," a director of Korean Womenlink said.[33]


Choi Jin-sil committed suicide by hanging on 2 October 2008, at her home in Seoul.[34][35][36] Her suicide was confirmed by police. She was survived by her two children, mother, and younger brother Choi Jin-young, who also committed suicide just a year and a half after his sister.


On September 8, 2008, Ahn Jae-hwan, husband of popular comedian Jeong Sun-hee, was found dead in his car. Ahn committed suicide apparently due to distress over mounting debts.[37][38]

Jeong and Choi had been close friends for a long time in South Korea's entertainment circles. When the news of Ahn's death hit the nation, Choi appeared deeply shaken at the funeral.[39]

Shortly after the funeral rumors circulated on the Web that Choi, as a loan shark, had lent a large sum of money to Ahn. On September 22, 2008, Choi sought a police probe into the source of the rumors, calling them groundless. On September 28, 2008, Police arrested a securities company employee for spreading the rumors.[35][40][41][42]

Choi came under greater stress amid rumors circulating on the Internet she was involved in the suicide of fellow actor Ahn Jae-hwan.[43][44][45]

In response to Choi's death, the South Korean government tried to strengthen a legal push to regulate Internet postings by Netizens. Politicians have reacted by proposing legislation that would impose a more rigorous real name registration requirement on the Internet and more heightened punishment for libelous statements.[46][47][48][49]

Press reaction

The news of her death was reported in major daily newspapers and broadcasts. Before long a great number of reporters rushed to Choi's house and started to cover the event on a large scale. On the other hand major portal web sites blocked online users from leaving replies for articles concerning Choi, for fear that some users might leave malicious comments.[50][51][52]

"Almost 80 percent of South Korea's households have broadband access, fostering active online interactions. Most Web sites here have bulletin boards where users can post uncensored, anonymous comments, and nearly all young people run their own blogs, updating via cellphone. Such sites were a major avenue for rumors about the possible dangers of dropping a ban on American beef that fed enormous street protests and political upheaval earlier this year. Major Web portals have in recent years doubled the number of monitors to screen out online character assassination and respond more quickly to complaints of malicious rumors. But many victims still complained that vicious rumors spread so fast their reputations were ruined virtually overnight," The New York Times commented on her death on October 2, 2008.[44]

"She was more than South Korea's Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie. For nearly 20 years, Choi Jin Sil was the country's cinematic sweetheart and as close to being a "national" actress as possible. But since her body was found on Oct. 2, an apparent suicide, she has become a symbol of the difficulties women face in this deeply conservative yet technologically savvy society. Incessant online gossip appears to have been largely to blame for her death. But it's also clear that public life as a single, working, divorced mom — still a pariah status in South Korea — was one role she had a lot of trouble with," TIME commented on her death on October 6, 2008.[53]

Theft of urn

The surveillance cameras set up around Choi Jin Sil's burial site in the park in the Gapsan Park Cemetery in Yangpyeong.

On August 15, 2009, Choi Jin Sil's ashes were stolen from her burial site.[54] The police hunt for a suspect in the case of Choi Jin-sil's stolen urn after securing surveillance camera images showing a man carrying out the theft. On August 25, 2009, the police arrested the criminal. Choi Jin Sil's ashes were found in his home.[55]

A small memorial park for Choi Jin-sil has been built in a cemetery in Gyeonggi Province. Choi Jin Sil's ashes were placed in the new tomb in the park in the Gapsan Park Cemetery in Yangpyeong on September 28, 2009. Security devices have been installed to prevent the recurrence of another theft, with the tomb specially manufactured in China and more surveillance cameras placed around the tomb.[56]

Choi Jin Sil Foundation

Choi Jin Sil was the "big sister" who led the so-called "Choi Jin-sil Association". It was a friendly group of close celebrities that included comedians Lee Young-ja, Jeong Sun-hee, models Hong Jin-kyung, Lee So-ra and actresses Choi Hwa-jung, Uhm Jung-hwa. After Choi's death, they founded "The Choi Jin Sil Foundation" for charity.[57][58][59]

Drama synopsis

The Drama synopsis As Life Goes On (사노라면) which Choi Jin-sil had written was found in her home after her death.[60]


  • Note: The whole section is referenced.[61][62]


Year Title Korean Romanization
2000 The Legend of Gingko 단적비연수 Tan Jeok Bi Yeon Su
1999 Mayonnaise 마요네즈 Mayonejeu
1997 The Letter 편지 Pyeonji
1997 Holiday In Seoul 홀리데이 인 서울 Holidei in Seoul
1997 Baby Sale 베이비 세일 Beibi Seil
1996 Ghost Mamma 고스트 맘마 Goseuteu mamma
1995 Who Makes Me Crazy 누가 나를 미치게 하는가 Nuga Nareul Michige Haneunga
1995 Mom Has a New Boyfriend 엄마에게 애인이 생겼어요 Eommaege Aeini Saenggyeosseoyo
1994 I wish for what is forbidden to me 나는 소망한다, 내게 금지된 것을 Naneun Somanghanda Naege Geumjidoen Geoseul
1994 How to Top My Wife 마누라 죽이기 Manura Jugigi
1993 The Girl for Love and The One for Marriage 사랑하고 싶은 여자, 결혼하고 싶은 여자 Saranghago sipeun Yeoja, Gyeolhonhago sipeun Yeoja
1992 Mister Mama 미스터 맘마 Miseuteo Mamma
1991 The Room in the Forest 숲속의 방 Supsogui Bang
1991 Susanne Brink's Arirang 수잔 브링크의 아리랑 Sujan Beuringkeu-ui Arirang
1990 My Love, My Bride 나의 사랑, 나의 신부 Naui Sarang Naui Sinbu
1990 Kkokjiddan 꼭지단 Kkogjidan
1990 You Know What? It's a Secret 2 있잖아요 비밀이에요 2 Itjanayo Bimiriyeyo 2
1990 Nambugun 남부군 Nambugun

TV drama

Year Title Korean Romanizaton Broadcast
2008 The Last Scandal of My Life 내 생애 마지막 스캔들 Nae Saeng-ae Majimak Seukaendeul MBC
2007 Bad Woman, Good Woman 나쁜여자 착한여자 Nappeun Yeoja, Chakhan Yeoja MBC
2005 Rosy Life 장밋빛 인생 Jangmitbit Insaeng KBS2
2004 War of the Roses 장미의 전쟁 Jangmiui Jeonjaeng MBC
2002 Since We Met 그대를 알고부터 Geudaereul Algobuteo MBC
1999 Roses and Bean Sprouts 장미와 콩나물 Jangmiwa Kongnamul MBC
1998 Memories 추억 Chueok MBC
1997 Star in My Heart 별은 내 가슴에 Byeoreun Nae Gaseume MBC
1997 You and I 그대 그리고 나 Geudae Geurigo Na MBC
1996 Promise 약속 Yaksok MBC
1995 Asphalt Man 아스팔트 사나이 Aseupalteu Sanai SBS
1995 Jazz 째즈 Jjaejeu SBS
1995 APT 아파트 Apateu MBC
1994 Scent of Love 사랑의 향기 Sarang-ui Hyanggi SBS
1993 Storming Season 폭풍의 계절 Pokpung-ui Gyejeol MBC
1992 Enchantment 매혹 Maehok MBC
1992 Jealousy 질투 Jiltu MBC
1990 각시방 사랑 열렸네 Gaksibang Sarang Yeollyeonne MBC
1990 Our Paradise 우리들의 천국 Urideurui Cheon-guk MBC
1989 Sleepless Tree 잠들지 않는 나무 Jamdeulji anneun Namu MBC
1988 500 Years of Joseon Dynasty 조선왕조 오백년 Joseon Wangjo Obaengnyeon MBC


Film awards

  • Grand Bell Awards
    • 1995 (33rd) - Best Actress for How to Top My Wife
    • 1993 (31st) - Best Favorite Actor
    • 1991 (29th) - New Rising Actress for My Love, My Bride
  • Blue Dragon Film Awards
    • 1991 (12th), 1992 (13th), 1993 (14th), 1994 (15th), 1995 (16th), 1997 (18th), 1998 (19th) - Best Favorite Star
    • 1990 (11th) - New Rising Actress for Partisans of South Korea
  • Baeksang Art Awards
    • 2006, Best Actress for Television part
    • 1991, 1995, 1997 - Best Favorite Actor

Broadcasting awards

  • KBS Drama Awards
    • 2005, Best Actress Award, Netizen Award, Best Couple Award
    • 1998, Best TV Actress
  • MBC Drama Awards
    • 1997, Best Acting Award
    • 2008, Achievement Award [63]
  • SBS Drama Awards
    • 1995, Star Award, Good Acting Award [64]

Broadcasting nominations

  • 2008 MBC Drama Awards[65]
    • Top Excellence Award for Actress
    • Best Couple Award, Choi Jin-sil and Jung Jun-ho, for The Last Scandal of My Life
    • Best Drama Award, The Last Scandal of My Life

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c [1] From Ad Star to Celeb-Mom
  2. ^ a b [2] 대한해협 넘나든 사랑 끝에 부부로 탄생한 커플 최진실·조성민
  3. ^ a b c [3] 최진실 충격의 죽음 … 곡절 얼룩진 짧은 일생
  4. ^ [4] 故최진실 '시대의 아이콘'서 비운의 스타로
  5. ^ [5] 내 CF속에 살아있던 신데렐라, 최진실
  6. ^ [6] 최초로 공개된 최진실의 연예계 데뷔사진
  7. ^ [7] Iconic Korean actress found dead
  8. ^ Kim Hyeon-gil (김현길) (2008-10-03). "‘국민 요정’에서 ‘억척 주부’로 최진실과 함께 한 작품들" (in Korean). Kookmin Ilbo. 
  9. ^ [8] ‘장밋빛 인생’으로 제2의 전성기 맞은 최진실
  10. ^ [9] 최진실, 1968년12월24일~2008년10월2일
  11. ^ [10] `Last Scandal': A New Drama of Strong Spirited Ajumma
  12. ^ [11] 20년 연예계 정상 지킨 톱스타 최진실
  13. ^ [12] '내 생애 마지막 스캔들'시즌2 11월부터 방영
  14. ^ [13] 세상의 모든 ‘진실’ 과 ‘구라’ 를 보여주마
  15. ^ Kim Su-jin (김수진) (2008-10-02). "故 최진실, 데뷔부터 사망까지… 온 국민 사랑받은 톱스타" (in Korean). Star News. 
  16. ^ Jeon Ye-jin (전예진) (2008-10-02). "질곡 많던 최진실..온갖 루머 오뚝이처럼 이겨내더니" (in Korean). Money Today. 
  17. ^ [14] 팬과 우상… 의남매… 이젠 연인으로
  18. ^ [15] 조성민 유감(遺憾)
  19. ^ [16] “조성민이 아이 포기한 날 진실이는 통곡했다”
  20. ^ [17] 결별 선언한 최진실·조성민 커플 상반된 입장 쌍방 인터뷰
  21. ^ a b [18] 최진실, "그래도 아이들의 아빠인데…"(종합)
  22. ^ [19] "최진실, 조성민 결혼 소식에 충격"
  23. ^ [20] 친권 포기 조성민, 월 2회 자녀 만날 수 있어
  24. ^ [21] 탤런트 최진실씨 두 자녀 어머니 姓으로 변경 허가
  25. ^ [22] 최진실, '시사매거진2580'서 자녀 姓 변경 심경토로
  26. ^] "최진실 짓밟았던 조성민이… 묵도할 수 없다"
  27. ^ [23] 조성민 친권회복 논란, 정치권까지 흔들다!
  28. ^ [24] Cho Sung-min Gives Up Control of Ex-Wife’s Property
  29. ^ [25] 이혼가정 자녀 친권자 사망때 ‘양육권 승계’ 법원이 결정한다
  30. ^ [26] 최진실씨 소송, 변호인단 25명 무료 변론 나서
  31. ^ [27] Blatant Double Standard
  32. ^ [28] 고(故)최진실 모델료 소송, 아이들이 수행
  33. ^ [29] Women's Groups Up in Arms Over Ruling on Late Actress
  34. ^] Star actress Choi Jin-sil found dead at home in apparent suicide
  35. ^ a b [30] Top Actress Choi Found Dead at Home
  36. ^ [31] 최진실 유가족, 검찰과 대치 끝 부검 동의... 시신 강남성모병원 이송
  37. ^ [32] 故 안재환 수사 결과 발표, '자살'로 최종 결론
  38. ^ [33] 자정능력 잃은 ‘악플’ 사회적 흉기로 둔갑하나
  39. ^ [34] S. Korean actress found dead in apparent suicide
  40. ^ [35] 고 최진실 루머 관련 백씨녀, 증권회사 사직
  41. ^ [36] Netizens Attack Spreader of Rumors About Actress Choi
  42. ^ [37] '故최진실 사채설' 유포자, 징역 10월에 집행유예 2년, 사회봉사 120시간
  43. ^ [38] “최진실, 악플이 죽였다” 동료·네티즌 공분 (Negative replies kill Choi.)
  44. ^ a b [39] Web Rumors Tied to Korean Actress’s Suicide
  45. ^ [40] 故최진실 마지막 통화 공개..."죽으면 사람들이 내 진실 믿어줄까?"
  46. ^ [41] Seoul rushes Internet Bill
  47. ^ [42] SKorea cracks down on malicious Internet use
  48. ^ [43] Defamation on Trial
  49. ^ [44] Private Newsletters Drive Celebs Up Wall
  50. ^ [45] 최진실 `문자메시지 유서'…자살 유력
  51. ^ [46] '연예여왕 20년' 최진실 가다
  52. ^ [47] 'Actress Committed Suicide Impulsively'
  53. ^ [48] South Koreans Are Shaken by a Celebrity Suicide
  54. ^] Choi Jin Shil’s Ashes Stolen!
  55. ^] Suspect Caught Over Actress Urn Theft
  56. ^] Actress Choi’s Urn Placed in New Tomb
  57. ^ [49] 최진실 사단, “엄마의 빈자리 이모들이 채워줄께”
  58. ^ [50] 오드리 헵번처럼! '최진실 재단' 팬사랑 갚는다
  59. ^ [51] '최진실 재단' 드디어 기지개 펴다
  60. ^] 생전 최진실이 쓴 시놉시스 나왔다
  61. ^ "최진실과 함께 했던 영화, 그리고 드라마" (in Korean). The Chosun Ilbo / Edaily SPN. 2008-10-02. 
  62. ^ "최진실 - 필모그래피" (in Korean). Naver Movie. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  63. ^ [52] 故최진실, 공로상 안고 지상과 영원히 이별(MBC연기대상)
  64. ^
  65. ^ [53] 2008 MBC 연기대상, 김명민? 최진실?

External links

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