If you’ve ever wondered what some of our favorite stars did before their rise to fame, look no further! Here are 6 of South Korea’s biggest stars who quit their corporate jobs before making it big in the entertainment industry.
1. Squid Game actor, Heo Sung Tae — LG Electronics
First up on our list is none other than our favorite Squid Game villain, actor Heo Sung Tae. Before his big breakthrough in the acting industry, the actor actually used to work at LG Electronics as an overseas sales team member. His position involved exporting LED televisions to Russia and he was so good at his job, he earned the nickname “sales king” during his time at the company.
He eventually moved onto Daewoo, which is one of the three biggest shipbuilding companies in South Korea alongside Hyundai and Samsung. Here, he worked in the planning and coordination office. Not too long after he moved companies, however, is when he appeared on a SBS variety program—which led to his entertainment debut at 35-years-old. The rest is history and now, Heo Sung Tae is one of the biggest actors in the nation.
2. Come and Hug Me actress, Jin Ki Joo — Samsung SDS
Next up, we have the stunning actress Jin Ki Joo. Following her 2011 college graduation, the actress was hired as an IT Consultant at Samsung SDS, which is a subsidiary of Samsung Group. However, just 3 years after getting hired, the actress quit her job at the corporation to pursue her dreams.
Following her resignation, Jin Ki Joo worked as a reporter at G1 Broadcasting (SBS affiliate) for a short period before pursuing her dream as an actress. In 2014, she competed in the 23rd Supermodel Contest, where she gained recognition from the competition’s organizers. It was through her connections with the contest’s organizers that she was able to meet different acting agencies, which led to her official acting debut in 2015.
3. Comedian Jung Hyung Don — Samsung Electronics
While we may know him as a comedian now, Jung Hyung Don worked at Samsung Electronics before turning in his resignation to pursue his dream. It’s been rumored that the comedian worked as an engineer for Samsung, which was highly envied by fans.
The comedian revealed his story on an episode of SBS’s Healing Camp, where he shared his feeling of relief after handing in his resignation. And that relief foreshadowed his future career successes, as Jung Hyung Don would debut as an official a comedian back in 2002 through KBS‘s comedian program. Ever since, Jung Hyung Don has become one of the biggest comedians and television personalities in the nation.
4. Taxi Driver Actress, Pyo Ye Jin — Korean Air
Fourth on our list, we have actress Pyo Ye Jin. Before her success in the acting industry, Pyo Ye Jin worked as a flight attendant for the one and only, Korean Air. After she graduated college in 2011, she participated in the highly competitive flight attendant examination and passed—at the young age of 18 (international age). Due to her stunning visuals and perfect complexion, she became famous in the flight attendant world, gaining the nickname of “ulzzang flight attendant.”
Unable to give up her dreams as an actress, however, Pyo Ye Jin quit her flight attendant job and debuted in MBC‘s Here Comes Mr. Oh. Ever since, the actress has been gaining fast momentum in the industry, as she would go on to be featured in Fight for My Way, VIP, Taxi Driver, and more.
5. Bae Yoon Kyung — E Land
Actress Bae Yoon Kyung started her entertainment journey after appearing on the dating reality series, Heart Signal. She showed off her lovely charms whilst on the television program, but before her endeavors in the acting and entertainment industry, Bae Yoon Kyung also worked for a large corporation.
Due to her parents’ opposition, the actress gave up on her acting dreams and went to college, where she would be given the opportunity to work as an intern for the massive conglomerate, E Land. Following her internship, she began her career as a shoe designer for the retail corporation. It was during her shoe designing career that she was cast for the first season of Heart Signal and well, the rest is history.
6. Actor Ji Jin Hee — Cheil Worldwide
Last, but most certainly not least we have the very handsome, Ji Jin Hee. Before his big breakthrough as one of nation’s biggest actors, Ji Jin Hee worked for one of South Korea’s biggest marketing companies, Cheil Worldwide. He worked at the corporation as a graphic designer, but began to feel skeptical about his career choice. It didn’t take long for him to shift his career into photography, as he worked as an assistant in a studio.
But as destiny would have it, Ji Jin Hee eventually became an actor after standing in for Japanese-Taiwanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro. He caught the eye of an executive at SidusHQ—one of South Korea’s largest acting management agencies—and was given a scouting offer from the company. Ever since, Ji Jin Hee has gone on to become a household name in the Korean acting industry.