Gong Yoo is a South Korean actor. He is known for starring in lead roles in the South Korean dramas Coffee Prince (2007) and Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (2016–2017) and South Korean films Silenced (2011), Train to Busan (2016), and The Age of Shadows (2016).
Gong Ji-cheol was born on Tuesday, July 10, 1979 (age 42 years; as of 2021), in Dongnae-gu, Busan, South Korea. His zodiac sign is Cancer.
He did his schooling at Nakmin Elementary School, Naesung Middle School, and Dongin High School, all situated in Busan.
He did his bachelor’s in theater and film at Kyung Hee University, Global Campus, Yongin, South Korea.
He did his post-graduation in Performing Arts at Kyung Hee University’s Graduate School of Art and Fusion Design.
Height: 6′ 0½”
Weight: 74 kg
Eye Color: Black
Hair Color: Black
In 2017, he was revealed to be the 79th generation of the descendant of Confucius, Chinese philosopher, poet, and politician of the Spring and Autumn period; Confucius’ real name was Kong Qiu. He is respectfully labeled as Kong Zi or Kong Fu Zi in China. The family tree of Confucius is on the Guinness World Records for being the longest family tree in the world, as their family register was carefully maintained despite changes in emperors. Gong Yoo is descended from the Gokbu Gong clan, a Korean clan originally from China, which is the only non-Chinese branch acknowledged in the family tree of Confucius.
Parents & Siblings
His father, Gong Won, attended Gae-sung Highschool, a famous baseball high school in South Korea. In 1982, his father was the head of the professional baseball team Lotte Giants’ Busan office. His father was the manager of the first team of the Lotte Giants from 1983 to 1985. His mother’s name is Yoo Myung-joo, and she is from the Baecheon Yoo clan from Paechon County.
He has an older sister named Gong Eun-jung.
His grandfather’s name is Gong Hyun-dai (1909-1995). He was the 77th generation of Confucius. His grandmother’s name is Lee Soon-gi (1913-1979), and she belonged to the Gyeongju Lee clan of Gyeongju province.
He is a catholic, and his baptismal name is Joseph.
When he starred opposite the South Korean actress Yoon Eun-hye in ‘Coffee Prince’ in 2007, he was rumored to be dating her. Their agencies later confirmed that they were both not dating.
After the movie ‘Finding Mr. Destiny’ was released in 2010, he was rumored to be in a relationship with the South Korean actress and co-star Im Soo-jung. Their on-screen pairing led to the rumor. There was even speculation of them getting married in the United States, which was denied by both the actors’ agencies.
Before Goblin was released, Kim Go-eun announced she was dating a man elder than her, and she had broken up with him. After ‘Goblin’ was released, rumors started spreading that she and Gong Yoo were dating after she posted the wedding picture from the drama. They both later denied being in a relationship.
His dating rumor with South Korean actress Kim Sun-ah started when the actress revealed in a 2017 interview that Gong Yoo was his ideal type.
He was also shipped with his co-stars Jung Yu-mi, Lee Min-jung, and Jeon Do-yeon.
Mandatory Military Service
At the peak of his career, he decided to enlist in the military, and his last fan meeting before military service was held at the Millennium Hall at Sungyunkhwan University. On January 14, 2008, he enlisted in mandatory military service and completed his training at Korea Army Training Center, Nonsan. He completed three weeks of secondary education at the Republic of Korea Army Armor School, Jangseong, and eight months of deployment in the frontline active service in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province. In September 2008, he was chosen as a member of the public relations department of Defense Media Agency; he even hosted as the DJ of army radio station KFN. He was discharged from his services on December 8, 2009.
He began his career as a model in magazines and TV commercials in 1999. In 2000, he worked as a video jockey on Mnet. In 2001, he made his television debut with the sitcom ‘Golbaeng-i’ and played a small role. The series aired on SBS TV.
The same year, he appeared in the sitcoms ‘Lipstick’ in episode 21, ‘Why Can’t We Stop Them’ in episode 108, ‘Ssangdongine’ in episode 87, and ‘Twins’ in episode 87. He played his first notable role in ‘School 4’ as ‘Hwang Tae-young’ from episodes 29 to 48. The South Korean anthology series ‘School 4’ that aired on KBS2 focused on the issues that South Korean high school students faced such as corrupt education system, suicide, tutoring culture, career prospects, and bullying. In the series, he carried a lollipop and earned the monicker ‘Candy Boy.’
He then appeared in the supporting role in Whenever the Heart Beats (2002), Hard Love (2002), Screen (2003), and My Room, Your Room (2003). In 2003, he played his first lead role as ‘Seo-joon’ in the SBS drama ‘Twenty Years,’ a sitcom telling the story of a college student. In the series, Seo Joon is a sophomore year good-looking student who has no shortcomings. However, behind the good looks, he is living with the pain of troubled family history.
In 2004, he hosted the South Korean music program ‘Music Camp.’
In 2005, he was seen in the lead role of ‘Park Tae-in’ in the SBS Kdrama ‘Hello My Teacher.’ The series is about a high school teacher ‘Na Bori’ who decides to teach at her old school to get close to her crush (also a teacher at the high school). However, Bori is employed on a contract of babysitting the mischievous ‘Tae-in.’ In the process, Tae-in and Bori become close, and Noh Jemma (another high school student) is jealous of their relationship and plots to get Bori kicked out of the high school.
In 2006, Gong Yoo was seen in the MBC drama ‘One Fine Day’ in which he played ‘Seo Gun.’ The story follows Seo Gun and Seo Ha-neul, who become legal siblings after her Gun’s father and Ha-neul’s mother got married. The siblings are separated after being adopted by different families following the death of their parents in an accident. Fifteen years later, Gun has become a swindler and decides to meet Ha-neul to swindle money from her. However, he can’t help but feel affection towards her and protect her until they realize their feelings are more than the love between siblings. The show was not liked much by the audience, receiving average viewership of 10%.
After ‘One Fine Day,’ Gong Yoo acted in some of his most well-received Kdramas. Some of them are:
- Coffee Prince (2007)He made his breakthrough with the MBC drama ‘Coffee Prince’ in which he played the lead role of ‘Choi Han-kyul.’ Choi Han-kyul is the grandson of chairwoman Bang (played by South Korean veteran actress Kim Young-ok) of Dongin Foods, a thriving coffee business. Han-kyul is constantly pushed by his grandmother to begin working and get married. Sick from his grandmother arranging blind dates for him, he introduces ‘Go Eun-chan’ (played by South Korean actress Yoon Eun-hye), a tomboy often mistaken as a man, as his boyfriend. To prove himself as capable to his grandmother and his love interest Han Yoo-joo (played by South Korean actress Chae Jung-an), Han-kyul takes over a run-down old coffee shop, later named ‘Coffee Prince.’ Soon, Han-kyul finds himself falling for Eun-chan, unaware Eun-chan is a woman.
The series was a huge hit with a nationwide rating of 24.2%. The series was internationally broadcast in countries like Japan on Fuji TV (2010), Philippines on GMA Network (2008, 2010, 2016), Thailand on Channel 7 (2008), Malaysia on Animax Asia (2010), Middle East on MBC 4 (2013), India on Puthuyugam TV (in Tamil; 2014), and Chile on ETC (2016). The series was also remade in Thailand and the Philippines in 2012, China in 2016, and Malaysia in 2017.
After starring in Coffee Prince, Gong Yoo did not appear in any Kdrama until 2012 as he first enlisted for mandatory military services, and upon discharge, he was only working in South Korean films.
- Big (2012)
In 2012, he played the lead role of ‘Seo Yoon-jae/Kang Kyung-joon’ in the series ‘Big.’ In the series, a high school teacher Gil Da-ran (played by South Korean actress Lee Min-jung) is engaged to Yoon-jae, a handsome doctor. Yoon-jae meets Kyung-joon (played by South Korean actor Shin Won-ho), and they both end up in an accident in which Yoon-jae dies, and Kyung-joon soul transfers to Yoon-jae’s body while Kyung-joon’s body is in a coma.
The next year, he appeared in the cameo role of a magician in the Kdrama ‘Dating Agency: Cyrano.’
- Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (2016-17)
After working in films for some time, he returned to television with the tvN series ‘Guardian: The Lonely and Great God’ (also known as Goblin) in the titular role. The series follows ‘Kim Shin’ (also Goblin after death), a Goryeo Dynasty soldier who is framed as a traitor, and the king kills him by piercing the sword to his chest; his family is also killed with him. He is buried by his servant with his sword intact at his chest. Years after his death, the almighty punishes him to live and watch his loved ones die until his bride would take his sword out and free him from the punishment. 939-year-old goblin has lived through the years and helped numerous people until he meets his bride Ji Eun-tak (played by the South Korean actress Kim Go-eun), who gives his life a direction as they both fall in love.
The series was relatively lower in rating when it started but eventually got 18.68% in the final episode, making it the second highest-rated episode in Kdrama history. The series was popular among international audiences, with people making its parodies on social media, notably by both political figures and celebrities.
Next, he was seen in the 2021 superhit Netflix Kdrama ‘Squid Game’ as ‘Recruiter,’ who recruits participants for the game, in episodes 1 and 9.
In 2021, he appeared in the Netflix drama ‘The Silent Sea’ in the lead role of ‘Han Yoon-jae,’ the leader of the exploration team sent to the moon to retrieve a mysterious sample from an abandoned research station.
In 2021, he was in talks for appearing in the Kdrama ‘Devil.’ However, in 2022, it was announced that he would no longer star in the Kdrama.
In 2003, he made his film debut with the film ‘My Tutor Friend’ as ‘Lee Jong-soo,’ the best fighter at Surim High School. The story is about Kim Ji-hoon (Kwon Sang-woo), who is being tutored by Choi Su-wan (Kim Ha-neul), a girl his age, to avoid being sent to the US to study. Kim Kyeong-hyeong directed the film.
The following year, he starred in his first lead role as ‘Choi Go-bong’ in the movie ‘Spy Girl.’ The film centers around students running a website devoted to girls working at a local Burger King. When Go-bong, part of the group, falls in love with the new Burger King employee Park Hyo-jin (played by Kim Jung-hwa), he posts pictures of her on the internet, turning her into a local celebrity. However, little did he know that she was a North Korean spy supposed to keep a low profile. The film was directed by Park Han-Jun.
He then starred in lead or supporting roles in the movies Superstar Mr. Gam (2004), S Diary (2004), and She’s on Duty (2005). In 2007, he made his Japanese film debut with ‘Like a Dragon’ as ‘Park the Korean hitman.’ The crime film is an adaptation of the video game Ryu Ga Gotoku and is directed by Takashi Miike and stars Kazuki Kitamura, Goro Kishitani, Show Aikawa, Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Kenichi Endō, and Tomorowo Taguchi in the main roles.
After serving in the military, he starred in the lead role in the South Korean film ‘Finding Mr. Destiny’ (2010) as ‘Han Gi-joon.’ With the film, he turned his image into a comic actor.
He even starred in the South Korean films A Man and a Woman (2018) and Wonderland (2022). Some of his notable works are listed below.
- Silenced (2011)In 2011, he starred in the epic South Korean film ‘Silenced’ in which he was seen in the role of ‘Kang In-ho,’ a man collecting money for his daughter’s surgery is employed as a teacher at the hearing impaired school in Gwangju. Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the film is based on a real-life event at Gwangju Inhwa School for the deaf and hard of hearing, where students faced sexual assault for five years by faculty members and administration in the 2000s. The culprits received minimum punishment due to the flawed justice system. In the film, In-ho, upon discovering the heinous things happening in school, along with human rights NGOs and activists, fights to bring justice to the victims. However, because of the ties of the school administration with the prosecution and judges, the culprits received little to no punishment.
When the film was released, it was ranked #1 for three consecutive weeks (grossing ₩7.8 billion in its first week of release), and after ten weeks of screening, it grossed a total of ₩35 billion. The film, upon release, sparked outrage in public over the lenient court ruling. As a result, the case was reopened, and lawmakers introduced bills for the human rights of the vulnerable. Two months after the continuous outrage, the school was shut down for good in November 2011, and all the culprits received the maximum sentence. In 2011, the Korean National Assembly passed the “Dogani Law” (named after the Korean name of the film), maximizing the sentence to life in prison for sexual assault against children and the disabled. It also removed any statute of limitations for sexual assault against children 13 years of age or under and disabled and clause asking ‘prove they were unable to defend’ due to disability. The film received Blue Dragon Film Award for Best Music for Mowg (2011) and KOFRA Film Award for Best Film (2012).
- The Suspect (2013)
Gong Yoo starred in the lead role of ‘Ji Dong-cheol’ in ‘The Suspect,’ directed by Won Shin-yun. In the film, Ji Dong-cheol is a former top special forces agent in North Korea abandoned by his government while on a mission. He defected to South Korea searching for the murderer, an ex-colleague, of his sister and mother, who were sold as slaves to China and then killed. In the South, he works as a personal chauffeur to a business executive at night and searches for the murderer in the daytime. One day, the business executive is killed, giving him a clue to find top-secret materials. On the quest to find the materials, he is followed by the South Korean police as a suspect of the executive’s murder.
Ji Dong-cheol’s role was to be played by actor Yoon Kye-sang initially, but he dropped out of it after Choi Min-sik left the project. For his role as Dong-cheol, Gong Yoo went on a three-month diet to lose his body fat and learned the Russian martial art Systema for fight sequences. He even did car chases, rock climbing, and skydiving at the Han River without stunt performers. The film was a box office hit at its release with a collection of US$26.9 million.
- Train to Busan (2016)
Gong Yoo starred in the South Korean horror film ‘Train to Busan’ in the lead role of ‘Seok-woo,’ alongside Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Kim Su-an, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee, and Kim Eui-sung. The film chronicles Seok-woo, a fund manager and divorced father, who boards a KTX 101 train from Seoul to Busan to let his daughter meet her mother on her birthday. However, due to a chemical leak at a biotech plant, the zombie apocalypse began and spread very rapidly. While the KTX was about to leave for Busan, an infected lady entered, turned into a zombie, and attacked an attendant. Soon, many passengers on the train turn into zombies. The remaining passengers of the trains fight for their lives against zombies.
The film was a superhit and grossed $80.5 million in South Korea, $2.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $15.8 million in other territories, totaling $98.5 million worldwide upon its release. The film became the highest-grossing film of the year in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea. The film won many awards, including the Blue Dragon Film Award – Technical Awad (2016), Buil Fim Award – Yu Hyun-mok Film Arts Award (2016), Korean Association of Film Critics Award – Technical Award (2016), Baeksang Arts Awards for Best New Director (2017), and Chunsa Film Awards- Technical and Best FIlm (2017).
- The Age of Shadows (2016)
Gong Woo was next seen in the South Korean period action thriller film ‘The Age of Shadows,’ directed by Kim Jee-woon and written by Lee Ji-min and Park Jong-dae. The film chronicles the Korean resistance fighters smuggling explosives from Shanghai to Seoul to destroy the Japanese forces-controlled facilities in Korea under Japanese rule. The film follows the psychological war between Lee Jung-chool (played by Song Kang-ho), commissioned by the Japanese Colonial Government to eradicate the resistance, and ‘Kim Woo-jin,’ the leading resistance figure who owns an antique shop, front to smuggle the explosive to Korea.
With a budget of $8.6 million, the film grossed a total of $55.3 million and topped the South Korean box office for three consecutive weeks. The film won awards such as the Korean Association of Film Critics Awards for Best Film and Best Music (2016), Grand Bell Awards for Best Art Design (2016), Asian Film Award for Best Composer (2017), and Baeksang Art Award for Best Director (2017). The film was also South Korea’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards but failed to get nominated. It also won the Best Picture award in the Action Features category at the 2016 Fantastic Fest held in Austin, Texas.
- Kim Ji-young: Born 1982 (2019)
He then starred in the drama film ‘Kim Ji-young: Born 1982’ opposite Jung Yu-mi. The film was directed by Kim Do-young and written by Yoo Yiung-ah and chronicled the story of Kim Ji-young (played by Jung Yu-mi) who dreamt of traveling around the world and being a career woman. She convinces herself of living the life she dreams of one day; however, after suffocating with her life for a long time, she started showing symptoms of being inhabited by her mother and late grandmother. Gong Yoo plays the role of ‘Jung Dae-hyun,’ Ji-young’s husband, in the film.
- Seo Bok (2021)
Gong Yoo was seen in the 2021 South Korean sci-fi action film ‘Seo Bok,’ directed by Lee Yong-ju. The film starred Gong Yoo, Park Bo Gum, and Jang Young-nam in the lead roles. In the film, he plays ‘Min Gi-heon’ (former intelligence agent) who is tasked with the safe transportation of Seo Bok (played by Park Bo-gum), the first human clone created from genetic engineering and stem cell cloning possessing the secret to eternal life. The film follows Gi-heon and Bok face different challenges as many want to take control of the clone.
For his role in the film, he lost a lot of weight to feel the distress of Gi-heon. However, he became too immersed in the character that he lost a lot of it to the point that the director almost decided to take him out of the film. The film was first released simultaneously on theaters and OTTs on April 15, 2021, and was chosen to premiere at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2021, held from April 6 to April 18, 2021. At the end of the closing weekend, the film was on the top of the Korean box office and collected US$3.28 million. In August 2021, the film was screened at Fantasia International Film Festival, held in Montreal, and on-demand, it was premiered at the Canadian premiere section of the festival.
In November 2013, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Korea appointed Gong Yoo as their special representative in conjunction with the celebration of the adoption of the 24th year of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). After his appointment, he visited numerous countries to raise awareness regarding children coming from underdeveloped countries. He also appeared in several UNICEF commercials, videos for UNICEF seminars, and advertisement campaigns for children’s rights. While talking about his inclination towards children’s rights in an interview, he said,
I was outraged at how handicapped children were being treated after filming ‘silenced’ and realized the importance of protecting their rights. I have since been interested in joining UNICEF to fight for their rights, and I am honored and glad to be appointed to this position.”
In July 2014, Gong Yoo, along with Ha Ji-won, was chosen as an ambassador for National Tax Service (NTS). As a part of the campaign, supporting NTS, Yoo and Ha Ji-won modeled in promotional posters and encouraged honest tax payment.
He has been in advertisements for brands like SK Telecom, Lamy ZIO, Fanta, Nongshim, Samsung C&T, Lotte Chilsung, LG Household & Health Care, LG Electronics, Dong Suh Foods, Renault Samsung Motors, Domino’s Pizza, Volkswagen, and Kia Motors.
He has also served as a brand ambassador of LVMH in 2017 all over Asia, Asus (2017-2019) all over Asia, and Chanel Korea (2021-2022).
Music Video Appearances and Singing
In 2001, he appeared in the music video of South Korean singer Why’s ‘Haengbokhage-seyo.’ In 2014, he appeared in the music video of ‘How I Am’ by Kim Dong-ryool.
He made his singing debut in the 2010 film Finding Mr. Destiny’s songs ‘두 번째 첫사랑’ (lit. Second First Love). In the 2012 film ‘Big,’ he sang the song ‘Because It’s You.’
Awards & Achievements
MBC Drama Award
- Special Award, Actor in a Miniseries for ‘One Fine Day’ in 2006
- Excellence Award, Actor for ‘Coffe Prince’ in 2007
Drama Fever Awards
- Best Actor for ‘Goblin’ in 2017
- Best Couple Award (with Kim Go-eun) in 2017
Forbes Korea Power Celebrity
- SBS Drama Award – New Star Award in 2003
- Andre Kim Best Star Award for Best Dressed Actor in 2004
- Mnet 20’s Choice Award – Best Style in 2007
- Blue Dragon Film Award – Popular Star Award for ‘Silenced’ in 2011
- Korea Culture and Entertainment Award – Best Actor for ‘The Suspect’ in 2014
- 48th Taxpayer’s Day – Presidential Commendation in 2014
- Korea Film Actors Association Awards – Daesang for ‘A Man and a Woman’ in 2016
- Korea Advertisers Association Awards – Best Model Award in 2017
- Brand of the Year Awards – Actor of the Year for ‘Goblin’ in 2017
- Baeksang Arts Award for Best Actor (TV) for Guardian: The Lonely and Great God’ on 2017
- Korea Advertisers Contest – Advertiser Night Awards – Advertiser’s Best Model Award in 2017
- Brand Customer Loyalty Award – Advertising Model in 2020
In 2016, in an interview of Gong Yoo with Joongang Ilbo from 2005, he quoted his father, basketball player Michael Jordan, and former President Park Chung-hee as the most respectable male figures. He faced backlash for idolizing a dictator and having little knowledge of history when his film ‘Train To Busan’ showed the incompetence of Korean political leaders and the government became superhit.
- Sports: Baseball, Basketball
- Baseball Team: Lotte Giants
- Film(s): Her (2013), Gran Torino (2008), Moonlight (2016)
- Film Director: Clint Eastwood
- Singer(s): Yoo Jae-Ha, Kim Dong Ryul
- Basketball Player: Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry
- Basketball Team: Golden State Warriors
- In the 1990s, there was a trend in actors to use two syllables for their names. His stage name is the combination of both his parents’ family names, where Gong comes from his father and Yoo from his mother.
- He is a sports fanatic and especially likes baseball. He often plays sports and is a member of the celebrity baseball team Playboys. He is a follower of Lotte Giants, the South Korean professional baseball team based in Busan. His love for Lotte Giants was fuelled by his father’s connection to the team, who once managed it in its former years.
- Whenever he watches a live broadcast of football matches at home, he wears Curry’s uniform and sits reverently to cheer.
- Due to Gong Yoo’s popularity in Coffee Prince, ‘One Fine Day’ was aired in Vietnam on HTV9 in January 2007 and Japan on Fuji TV in October 2010.
- The coffee shop that Gong Yoo owned in “Coffee Prince” was an actual old coffee shop in the Hongdae area of Seoul. The shop was remodeled for the filming. After the filming of Coffee Prince concluded, the eponymous cafe was reopened with Han Yoo-joo’s (a character in the drama) wallflowers painting and other props from the drama on display. In 2011, a National Geographic Channel-produced documentary on the Korean Wave titled ‘Seoul’s Got Soul’ featured the Hongdae area and the coffee shop.
- He is an avid animal lover and owns two pet cats.
- According to Gong Yoo, he fell into a career slump before appearing in ‘Coffee Prince.’ He doubted whether he wanted to continue acting or not. He believed that it was not because his movies or shows were working on not, but whether he was on the right track. He overcame the slump after he appeared in ‘The Coffee Prince.’ He said,
Before appearing in this work, for the first time in 6 years since my debut, I started to have some skepticism. As a result, I was worried about what would happen if my passion gradually cooled down. To be honest, I had to make a big decision before choosing this drama. All of the previous dramas I appeared in were trendy dramas with a light feeling, so I was worried that it would give viewers a boring feeling. I am so grateful that I am now able to work passionately in front of the camera again.”
- Although he is one of the most revered actors in South Korea, he was not active on any social media platforms until December 2021. In an interview, he said,
I don’t think it fits me. The last social network I used was Cyworld, and even then, I ran it privately. I am anxious that I will get addicted to it. Also, getting too much attention on the Internet is overwhelming. I think it’s a tool that makes people lonelier. You feel insecurities you don’t need to feel on social media. I am not familiar with digital gadgets. I still ask people how my smartphone works. I even prefer handwritten letters.”
However, in December 2021, he opened his Instagram account, where he posts pictures related to his ventures from time to time.
- When he was once asked about being in a relationship or marriage, he said he grew fond of his career and wanted to focus more on acting. He added that he wished to get married early, but he liked being alone.
- In an interview, Yoo confessed that he is scared of ghosts and watching horror films. He said he believed in ghosts, which becomes scarier when he uses his imagination. He even considers social media scary.
- In an interview, he once said that he wanted to run a small restaurant on Jeju Island one day. Years later, when an interviewer pointed that out, Gong Yoo commented that nearly 80 percent of his phone’s pictures are of food. He adores food, and whenever he finds a restaurant, he becomes curious about its taste. He added,
Perhaps the reason why I said I wanted to open a restaurant was because of my attachment to a space. I have a desire to stay in a pretty and simple space, even if it’s very small. I don’t know if I’ll really open a restaurant later, but I want to live close to the countryside. I don’t want to live in a forest of buildings, like I do now.”
- He likes traveling. When he was asked what was one place he wanted to visit the most. He said that he missed the sun in California. He added,
I lived in the United States for a month. When I woke up, I went to the local gym to exercise, and then I took a rented car for a drive on the west coast and walked to different places. I also went to the beach in swim trunks and flip-flops, and I would lie on the sand, read books, and listen to music. It was heaven. I like tanning, so I have a white plastic sunbed on my small terrace. When the weather is nice, I lie there with a can of beer. I listen to music and soak up the sun. It’s small happiness.”
- He is a fitness fanatic and usually exercises. According to him, no matter how much he drank the night before or how tired he was, he went to the gym. He feels a sense of relief that he saved himself from failing another day. In an interview, he said,
It’s kind of an obsession. I need to work out to eat comfortably. As I get older, my body breaks down much faster. If I don’t take care of it, it’ll become obvious. Now that I’m over 40, I realize that your body never lies. If I can’t go to the gym, I work out at home.”
- He likes fishing in his leisure time. According to Yoo, when he had too many thoughts and could not sleep, he tried fishing, which helped him with his mental health.
- In an interview, he said that he would like to be reborn as a musician, if possible. According to him, people used mediums like writing, filmmaking, and acting in films and dramas to tell a story. Hence, he wanted to live his life by telling his story as a musician.
- He often consumes alcohol.
- He follows a non-vegetarian diet.
- In 2017, he made history by becoming the first South Korean actor to grace the covers of the June edition of the fashion magazine Esquire in 7 Asian countries: Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. In Vietnam and the Philippines, the June edition of Esquire featured Gong Yoo’s pictorials. This implied that Gong Yoo was promoted by Esquire in 9 out of all its editions in Asian countries.
- The former JPop band AKB48 member Ikumi Nakano is a huge fan of Gong Yoo. In an Instagram live, while replying to her fan’s query of who her favorite actor is, she said,
Gong Yoo is my favorite.”
- In early 2020, Gong Yoo donated 100 million won using his real name to Community Chest of Korea to support quarantine authorities and medical staff in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and helping the low-income and socially disadvantaged people. The same year, he also donated 100 million won to Hope Bridge Association of the National Disaster Relief under his real name to help flood victims affected by heavy rain.
- He is best friends with the South Korean actor Lee Dong Wook, who has once acted in the Kdrama’ Goblin’ and played the ‘Grim Reaper.’ The actors are often seen hanging out together.