Iconic actor Namkoong Won dies at age 90

February 5, 2024

Actor Namkoong Won, an iconic movie star of the 1960s-70s, died at a hospital Monday, his family said. He was 90.

He battled lung cancer for a long time at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, according to the family.

Making his debut on the silver screen with “When the Night Comes Again” (1959), the actor enjoyed his peak with “The Red Scarf” (1964) and “Woman of Fire” (1971). He appeared in a total of 345 films, including his final work, “L’amour” (1999).

This file photo taken in October 2016 shows late actor Namkoong Won. (Yonhap)
This file photo taken in October 2016 shows late actor Namkoong Won. (Yonhap)

Dubbed the “Gregory Peck” of Korea for his western, handsome appearance, he was among the popular actors of the ’60s and ’70s, along with Shin Seong-il, Shin Young-kyun and Choi Moo-ryong.

During the era, he won major film awards, including best supporting actor at the Buil Film Awards, the popular star award at the Blue Dragon Awards and best actor at Daejong Film Awards.

In 2016, the actor, whose original Korean name is Hong Gyeong-il, received the Eungwan Order of Cultural Merit, the second-highest class of the South Korean cultural decoration, from the government in recognition of his contribution to the development of the nation’s pop culture.

He is survived by his wife, son and two daughters. Namkoong is the father of Hong Jung-wook, an ex-lawmaker and founder and chairman of plant-based food producer Organica.