Known for his deep, baritone voice, Kim Rae-won is one of the most memorable South Korean actors out there.
It is not just his unique voice that sets him apart from most of the other actors, it is his appearance as well.
Perhaps because of his masculine facial features and slightly darker skin tone, Kim usually finds himself taking roles as both opposite sides of the law; a policeman or a criminal.
To top his voice and look, Kim also has the talent and passion for acting to make him a well-rounded performer and one of South Korea’s most sought after actors.
Honestly, it was hard to choose our favourite dramas and movies starring Kim Rae-won since he has so many impressive works under his belt.
But somebody had to make the hard decision, so here are 12 K-dramas and movies you should watch if you are a fan of Kim Rae-won:
1.My Little Bride (2004)
This film is a Korean remake of the 2002 Hong Kong movie My Wife is 18 starring Charlene Choi and Ekin Cheng.
Here, Kim plays the role of a male college student Sang-min who has an arranged marriage between a female high school student Bo-eun (Moon Geun-young).
Both of them are forced to get married due to their grandfathers’ arrangement during the Korean War.
After they got married, they decide to hide their marriage. Things get complicated when Bo-eun pretends to be single and starts to date.
And the whole situation escalates even more when Sang-min becomes an art teacher at Bo-eun’s school.
The movie became a sleeper hit and was the second top-crossing Korean film of 2004.
2.Love Story in Harvard (2004)
If My Little Bride was the film that made us to take notice of Kim Rae-won, the drama of his that really caught our attention was none other than Love Story in Harvard (2004).
In this romantic drama, Kim teams up with future female star of K-dramas Kim Tae-hee.
They both play the roles of Harvard students who find love while studying abroad.
Their career choices lead them to different parts of the world after graduation.
Years pass and the former lovers find each other again in Seoul but this time will they let each other go?
The release of the drama brought a lot of popularity to both of the main leads but specifically to Kim Tae-hee who saw an increase amount of advertisement deals after the series.
In this film, Kim takes up the role of a former gangster named Oh Tae-sik.
After being released from prison, Tae-sik heads back to his hometown to start a new life.
He starts a new job at a garage and in the same time tries his best to leave his criminal past behind.
It has not been easy especially because most of the people still live in fear of his past brutal reputation.
But his past eventually catches up on him when a local politician tries to demolish his adoptive mom’s restaurant in order to build a new mall.
Overall, the movie was a hit when it came out. Kim on the other hand was impressive with his acting in the film especially near the ending.
4.A Thousand Days’ Promises (2011)
What we love about Kim is that he always tries to challenge himself in different types of roles as long as there is any opportunity rises for him.
For this melodrama, he plays the role of a doting husband who never gives up on his wife who is struggling with early on-set Alzheimer’s.
Park Ji-hyung (Kim Rae-won) works as an architect. Despite having a fiancee, he has a secret affair with Lee Seo-yeon (Soo Ae).
Seo-yeon breaks up with him after being diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s.
After finding out the reason of the break up, Ji-hyung dumps his fiancée two days before the wedding to be with Seo-yeon.
Despite the fierce opposition from his parents and Seo-yeon herself, Ji-hyung insists to marry Seo-yeon.
Seo-yeon eventually agrees and the couple begins their marriage life together with hardship.
Even when Seo-yeon’s memories starting to fail her, Ji-hyung’s love for her never falters.
A Thousand Days’ Promises is a great drama to watch when you are feeling lovey dovey with your partner.
When Park Jung-hwan (Kim Rae-won) is told that he only has six months left to live, it makes him to reexamine his life choices.
As the chief of the anti-corruption investigation team for the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office, he had made a lot of decisions that he is not proud of.
Since he is nearing to his death, Jung-hwan decides to pursue justice regardless of its price.
His main goal is to bring down his own boss Prosecutor General Lee Tae-joon, whose friendly public face masks his corruption.
Kim was nominated for the Top Excellence Award at the APAN Star Awards as well as Best Actor in Television at the Baeksang Arts Awards for his role in this drama.
6.Gangnam Blues (2015)
Kim returns to Set in the 1970s during the height of political corruption in South Korea, this action film stars Kim Rae-won and Lee Min-ho.
Kim returns to play a role he is familiar with; being a gangster.
Childhood friends, Jong-dae (Lee Min-ho) and Yong-ki (Kim Rae-won) struggle to get by, until their shanty homes are demolished by local thugs.
Desperate for cash, they get involved in violent political clashes, and are separated during one of the skirmishes.
Three years later, Jong-dae lives as an adopted son of a former gang leader, Gil-soo (Jung Jin-young) and unknown to him, as a small-time gangster.
Meanwhile, Yong-ki has risen as a made man inside Seoul’s most powerful criminal organization.
To play this role, Kim was asked to shed 15 kilograms for his character, which he did in less than a month.
7.The Doctors (2016)
Kim switches his usual police and prison uniforms for some scrubs in this medical drama.
He plays the role of Hong Ji-hong, a doctor who needs to step back in his career and become a biology teacher.
As a teacher, he plays an ‘extra’ attention to a rebellious student named Yoo Hye-jung (Park Shin-hye).
Both are caught in some dramas and eventually separated.
But 13 years later, the teacher-student pair is now reunited as colleagues as both are now surgeons working in a private hospital.
When it was aired, the drama was a hit which lead to Kim experiencing a surge in his popularity and commercial offers.
In this movie, Kim takes up the challenge playing someone is from both sides of the law.
He plays the role of a former detective Song Yoo-gun who got sentenced in prison for hit-and-run, destruction of evidence and bribery.
In the prison, he catches the attention of Ik-ho (Han Suk-kyu) who is known as “The King’.
Ik-ho wields his power truly like a king from the prison up to a point that the prisoners can leave the prison at nights to commit the perfect crimes.
The film was a surprise hit and Kim received critical acclaim for his realistic execution of action scenes.
9.Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me (2017)
If you want to see Kim rocking a historical costume, this is his drama for you.
He plays two different role in this series from two different time period.
First is Lee Myung-so, an aristocrat who falls deeply in love with his housemaid/concubine and the 21st century Moon Soo-ho, a young CEO who is still in love with his first crush.
What Soo-ho does not know is that he is the reincarnation of Lee Myung-so. Since Myung-so did not get to live happily ever after with the love of his life, Soo-ho determines that he would.
It is a romantic drama with a dose of fantasy. While the series did not gathered mainstream success like Kim’s previous works, we still enjoy the overall drama.
10.Long Live The King (2019)
Kim is familiar playing the role of a gangster but this time he is playing a mobster in love.
Mob boss Jang Se-chool (Kim Rae-won) meets lawyer Kang So-hyun at an anti-construction protest and quickly falls in love.
Unfortunately, she thinks of him as a thug. She repeatedly rejects him while telling him to live a decent life.
So-hyun eventually tries to get rid of Se-chool by saying that she can never accept him because her life goal is to become a first lady.
Meanwhile, one of Se-chool’s friends is on death row, and the only way to save him is through a presidential pardon.
When Se-chool ends up rescuing passengers after a bus accident at Mokpo Bridge, he is praised as a hero; he decides to use his newfound fame to run for public office, believing that success will lead him to win So-hyun’s heart and save his friend.
Critics has praised Kim’s performance in this movie as ‘one of his finest works’.
11.L.U.C.A: The Beginning (2021)
After dipping his toes in fantasy drama, Kim challenges himself once again in a science fiction genre.
Ji Oh (Kim Rae-won) is a man with special power and unearthly fighting skill. The only problem is, he has no memory of himself, how he got his power and why he is being pursued by a mysterious group of people.
In search of his memory and looking into those who pursued him, he comes across a mysterious group of scientists at an institution named Human Tech and a secretive biotech project code-named L.U.C.A.
Through his adventure, Ji Oh gains himself one ally Ha Neul-ae-goo-reum (Lee Dae-hee). She is a police detective who has a secret past of her own.
12.The First Responders (2022)
Here is another cliche role from Kim Rae-won; acting as a police detective.
The drama circles around the cases that takes place at Taewon Police Station and Taewon Fire Station.
Both buildings happened to be located next to each other and even handle most cases together.
Kim in this criminal procedural drama is Jin Ho-gae, a police detective team inspector in Taewon who was recently transferred from Regional Investigation Unit.
He starts to make friends with firefighter Bong Do-jin (Son Ho-jun) and paramedic Song Seol (Gong Seung-yeon).
Jin Ho-gae has tremulous relationship with his father Jin Cheol-jung (Jo Seung-yeon) who is the prosecutor of the Eastern District Attorney’s Office.
His father never wanted Ho-gae to be a policeman as he wanted him to follow his footsteps to read law.
Ho-gae on the other hand, resents his father who maintains dubious relationships with those who are corrupted especially among the rich and politicians.
The series marks Kim’s first terrestrial television in six years since 2016. His return to the small screen is definitely worth it as he bagged the Top Excellence Award for an Actor in a Miniseries Genre/Fantasy Drama at the SBS Drama Awards 2022.