Choi Ji-woo (born Choi Mi-hyang on June 11, 1975) is a South Korean Actress. She is known for starring in the television melodramas Beautiful Days (2001), Winter Sonata (2002), Stairway to Heaven (2003), The Suspicious Housekeeper (2013) and Temptation (2014) and the romantic comedy series Twenty Again (2015) and Woman with a Suitcase (2016).
Choi Mi-hyang was first discovered when she won a talent audition organized by MBC in 1994, then made her acting debut in the drama series War and Love in 1995. Afterwards, she adopted the stage name Choi Ji-woo.
She was cast in her first major role in 1996 film The Gate of Destiny, but due to her limited acting skills, she was replaced in the middle of filming. In the next couple of years Choi continued to star in both TV dramas and films, including The Hole (the Original version of Hollywood thriller Hush), as well as the romantic comedies First Kiss with Ahn Jae-wook and The Romantic President with Ahn Sung-ki. But it was her portrayals on TV of tragic heroines with a pure and innocent image—notably in Truth opposite Ryu Si-won and Beautiful Days opposite Lee Byung-hun—that boosted her rising popularity.
In 2002, she reunited onscreen with Bae Yong-joon (she previously had a supporting role in his 1996 drama First Love) that she would star in her most famous, iconic role. Directed by Yoon Seok-ho as the second installment of his "season dramas," Winter Sonata became a phenomenal hit throughout Asia and has been credited as one of the initiators of the Korean Wave. As a result, Choi gained wide pan-Asian recognition, especially a huge following in Japan where she acquired the nickname Ji-woo Hime ("Princess Ji-woo"). In 2009 she and Bae reprised their roles as voice actors for Winter Sonata Anime. She continues to be a lucrative star and brand in Japan, fetching high licensing/broadcasting rights for her dramas and selling out concerts and merchandise (tvN's E News compiled a list of the top Hallyu stars in Japan based on their approximate gross incomes for the first half of 2011, and Choi was #5 with approximately US$2 million).
After the success of her 2003 melodrama Stairway to Heaven with Kwon Sang-woo, Choi again attempted to break into film. She played a terminally ill heroine in Now and Forever, and a more risque character in sex comedy Everybody Has Secrets ("The Original Version of Irish film About Adam). Both films were poorly received by critics and audiences in South Korea, but performed well at the Japanese box office.
In 2009, she starred opposite Yoo Ji-tae in the drama Star's Lover, playing a top Actress who falls in love with an ordinary man. Choi received ₩48 million per episode, the highest salary for a Korean Actress at the time (her record was later broken by Go Hyun-jung's ₩55 million for the 2010 drama Daemul).
During the press conference for the 2011 series, Can't Lose, co-starring Yoon Sang-hyun, featuring a Lawyer couple facing their own divorce suit, she was asked if she worried about shedding her pure and innocent image. Choi said, "I've had the same image for 15 years. Isn't it time for me to break out? I was a melodrama queen and now I want the title of romantic comedy queen." She added that she had gained more fans after showing her cheerful, easygoing side as a guest on the reality show 2 Days & 1 Night.
Later that year, she became the host of Choi Ji-woo's Delicious Korea on food lifestyle cable channel O'live TV alongside fashion designer Jung Kuho. The 5-episode show, which aired from November 23 to December 21, 2012, aimed to promote Korean cuisine and culture to the world, and the two hosts traveled through South Korea and introduced little-known regional food to the viewers.
She next headlined the 2013 remake of the hit 2011 Japanese drama Kaseifu no Mita. In The Suspicious Housekeeper, Choi played the titular character, an icy and stoic yet amazingly capable housekeeper who comes to work for a recently widowed Father and his four children. Despite the difficulty of not being able to react to her costars, Choi said she chose the role because she "was really charmed by the way the heroine refrains from letting her emotions show."
In February 2014, Choi signed with the talent agency YG Entertainment. She then reunited with previous costar Kwon Sang-woo in Temptation; she played a rich woman who makes a dangerous offer to a married man.
Choi joined the fourth season of travel-reality show Grandpas Over Flowers in 2015, where she and Lee Seo-jin backpacked through Greece with veteran actors Lee Soon-jae, Shin Goo, Park Geun-hyung and Baek Il-seob. This was followed by the cable series Twenty Again, where she played a woman who became a wife and mother at 19 then decides to experience campus college life for the first time at age 38 when she becomes a university student alongside her 20-year-old son.
In 2016, Choi returned to the big screen in seven years, starring in the ensemble cast romance film Like for Likes. The same year, she starred in the legal romance drama Woman with a Suitcase.
In 2017, Choi was cast in the family melodrama The Most Beautiful Goodbye, a remake of the drama The Most Beautiful Goodbye in the World by Noh Hee-kyung.
Choi married her non-celebrity fiancee on 29 March 2018.