Kim Byung Chul: his early acting career, notable roles and future K-dramas

In a career spanning more than two decades, South Korean actor Kim Byung Chul spent most of his working life in supporting roles.

That is until just a few years ago when the incredibly talented actor began grabbing more and more starring roles in K-dramas and film — all absolutely deserved and all that will, hopefully, be just a tiny part of a massive body of work in lead roles in some of the country’s best and most successful releases.

Here than is a quick look at actor Kim Byung Chul, his beginnings in the entertainment world, his most notable roles, and what we can expect to see coming from him in the near future.

Kim Byung Chul’s early life

Born on July 5th, 1974 in Andong, North Gyeongsang, South Korea, Kim Byung Chul (김병철 in Korean) discovered his passion for acting towards the end of his high school career.

After high school, he attended Seoul’s Chung-Ang University, where he earned a B.A. in Theater and Film.

Kim then started working professionally as an actor with his debut occurring in 2003 in a small role in the film Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield, and another support role in the film R-Point a year later.

It wasn’t until 2006, however, that he started to make inroads in the K-drama world when he earned a guest role in Coma, followed by a supporting role in The Scarlet Letter four years later, with those four years interspersed with several minor roles in films.

During the time he wasn’t working as an actor, he earned money by teaching drama for elementary school students.

In the next decade, Kim Byung Chul appeared in support or guest roles in K-dramas like Modern Farmer, Missing Noir M, and Cheo Yong Season 2, and in movies like Return, Punch Lady, The Guard Post, Miss Conspirator, Precious Love and Musudan.

But in 2016, he accepted the role of Park Byung Soo in the hit drama Descendants of the Sun, which changed his life as, all of a sudden, more higher-profile jobs began to come his way.

The same year he acted in a supporting role in the massively successful Goblin, followed by support roles in Tunnel, The Emperor: The Owner of the Mask, Dramaworld, and Mr. Sunshine.

SKY Castle and Critical Acclaim for Kim Byung Chul

Then in 2018, Kim Byung Chul was catapulted into the spotlight when he played the role of Cha Min Hyuk in the worldwide K-drama SKY Castle, a man who was a law professor, and a very complex character entangled in a web of ambition, privilege and societal pressures.

A superb performance that earned him a Best Supporting Actor award at the Baeksang Arts Awards the following year.

From then on, Kim Byung Chul suddenly seemed to be a possibility as a main character, and the actor suddenly found himself starring in 2019’s Doctor Prisoner,

He spoke interestingly at the time about starring in his first lead role, how he prepared for the role of Sun Min Sik, a medical director at West Seoul Prison, and how he worked to make a somewhat similar character to one he had recently played in SKY Castle quite a bit different.

Doctor Prisoner was then followed by leads in dramas Pegasus Market, Sisyphus: The Myth, a support role in the big Netflix hit All of Us are Dead, and, of course, the male lead in last year’s big Netflix hit Doctor Cha — in which he masterfully played vile husband Seo In Ho, and beautifully showed off his comedic talent.

Kim Byung Chul’s recent and future work

The now-49-year-old actor recently appeared in a support role in the popular Disney+ drama Blood Free as Woo Jae’s secretary.

His next main role will be in the MBN drama Perfect Family as Choi Jin Hyuk, which is due to premiere some time this year.

In that project, Kim Byung Chul plays a well-known prosecutor whose life suddenly changes dramatically when his daughter Choi Sun Hee (played by Jung Ji So) becomes involved in a murder case.

It was also announced last week that Kim Byung Chul will be one of the four main leads in the upcoming superhero drama Cashero alongside Lee Junho, Kim Hye Joon and Kim Hyang Gi.

A drama based on a webtoon, and one that looks like a whole lot of fun.

Meanwhile, the Korean actor has not appeared in a movie since his lead role in 2020s Best Friend. Likely because his K-drama career has really taken off.

Watch him in Doctor Cha below and you’ll see why.


About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered anime, manga, K-drama and music news for over a decade.