They may not understand a word out of Jin-Soo Wok’s mouth but girls swoon anyway. Daniel Dae Kim has achieved stardom as the rugged Korean-only-speaking character in ABC’s hit series Lost after having caught our eyes for years in TV series like Law and Order, Angel, and 24. Kim is admired for his rock-hard physique and commanding personality that defy those stereotypes dogging Asian American men.
Daniel Dae Kim was born on August 4, 1968 in Pusan, South Korea to two professional parents. At the age of two his family moved to Easton, Pennsylvania. Kim attended Freedom High School where he became known as a star student. His natural athleticism led him onto several varsity sports teams including football, golf and tennis. While juggling the demands of multiple sports, he was both editor of his high school newspaper and senior student body president.
Kim entered Bryn Mawr College intending to pursue finance, but soon discovered an interest in acting. Against his parents’ wishes he changed his major and graduated with a bachelors in theatre and political science. Kim went on to earn his Masters degree in theater arts from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. While in New York, Kim made his debut in a low-budget martial arts action film American Shaolin, in which he portrayed a fierce kung-fu fighting Chinese monk. After making a guest appearance on the drama Law and Order Kim decided that his options were limited in New York. He moved to Los Angeles in 1997.
Kim quickly immersed himself into the television scene, appearing in over twenty projects over two years. He became a regular on the series Crusade, a spin-off of the cult hit Babylon in which he was cast as the telepathic first officer Lt. John Matheson. The series was canceled after six episodes but it was a triumph for Kim given the fact that the part had originally been written for a Caucasian actor. A year later Kim went on to earn a bit part in the hit drama Angel which grew into a 12-episode recurring role thanks to his popularity among producers and viewers. In 2001 Kim was again cast in a role originally intended for a Caucasian as government agent Tom Baker in the popular serial drama 24.
Kim’s breakthrough came when he joined the cast of the ABC adventure drama Lost in 2004 playing sexy, hot-tempered Jin-Soo Kwok. To brush up on his Korean Kim enlisted the help of Lost co-star and on-screen wife Yunjin Kim.
Over the years Kim has also appeared in Star Trek, Charmed, The Shield, Seinfield, NYPD Blue and ER. More recently, he has starred in the A&E TV miniseries The Andromeda Strain. His film credits include Thriller, the comic book epic The Hulk, a major role in The Cave, and a small part in Spider-Man 2 as Doctor Octavius’ assistant scientist.
Despite being cast in a non-English speaking role, Lost earns Kim frequent notice in the entertainment media. In 2005 Kim was named one of People’s “Sexiest Men Alive”. The following year AZN television awarded Kim the Asian Excellence Award as Outstanding Male Performer and TV GUIDE named him one of TV’s Sexiest men.
Kim’s new ambition is to prove his talents onstage.
“What’s great in theater,” he says, is that you can sustain the arc of the character for a full three hours, whereas in film or TV, you have to create that arc in little pieces, and usually out of sequence.” Kim’s first major stage role will be the King of Siam in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I. The production is slated to debut June 12-28, 2009 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Kim relocated to Hawaii with his wife Mia Kim and two sons Zander and Jackson when it became apparent that Lost was likely to need his presence for a long time. He still maintains his original residences in New York and Los Angeles.