|August 4, 1968|
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Born on Aug. 4, 1968 in Pusan, South Korea, Kim immigrated to the United States when he was two, settling with his family in the culturally diverse suburb of Easton, PA. A gifted athlete, Kim attended Freedom High School, where he played several varsity sports including football, golf and tennis. Kim was also editor of his school newspaper and was elected student government president during his senior year. While these accomplishments reflected his successful Americanization at an early age, they did not come at the expense of his Korean heritage; Kim's parents saw to that. Raised in a Korean-speaking household, Kim became bilingual by speaking Korean at home and English at school. Later, he attended Bryn Mawr College, where he discovered acting for the first time. Against the advice of his parents - both of whom were educated professionals - Kim changed majors and earned his bachelor's in both theater and political science. From there, he received his master's in acting from New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
Kim soon had his first major stage role, playing a very young Torvald in a Pan Asian Repertory Theater production of Henrik Ibsen's classic, "A Doll's House." He followed by making his professional feature debut in "American Shaolin: King of the Kickboxers II" (1993), a martial-arts themed action flick about a young boy who travels to train at the famed Shaolin Temple. Light on plot, but heavy on adrenalin, "American Shaolin" followed the familiar East-meets-West formula with Kim as Gao, an antagonistic Chinese monk with a mean kung-fu technique, but little else in terms of character. Meanwhile, his professional career in television began in 1994 while still living in New York, beginning with a guest stint on the venerable drama "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010). But his first appearance on television proved to be his last for the next three years, which led to a move to Los Angeles in 1997 after having exhausted all his opportunities in New York. The move proved fortuitous, as he began working almost immediately.
Kim spent his first two years in Los Angeles rapidly building his résumé with guest starring roles on a variety of hit shows, including "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000), "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1989-1998), "Party of Five" (Fox, 1994-2000), "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002) and "Walker: Texas Ranger" (CBS, 1993-2001). Kim displayed a knack for playing strong, enigmatic characters, which made him a favorite of producers who routinely called the actor back as a recurring player. Meanwhile, he began appearing in feature films, including "The Jackal" (1997), starring Bruce Willis, and the dark romantic comedy, "Addicted to Love" (1997). Despite his entrée into Hollywood films, Kim's career blossomed on the small screen, especially after landing his first regular series role on the short-lived science fiction series, "Crusade" (TNT, 1999), a spin-off of the cult hit "Babylon 5" (syndicated, 1994-99). Cast as Lt. John Matheson, the telepathic first officer of the starship Excalibur, Kim beat out several actors and quickly became a fan favorite. Though the series was canceled during its maiden season, Kim was able to savor his triumph of landing the part in the first place, since it had originally been written with a Caucasian actor in mind.
After "Crusade" folded, Kim continued to find work as a guest star on several television shows, including "Star Trek: Voyager" (UPN, 1995-2001) and "Without a Trace" (CBS, 2002-09). Kim next had the recurring role of amoral attorney Gavin Park on the hit drama "Angel" (The WB, 1999-2004), which he played over the course of a dozen episodes before his character was killed off. Following feature turns in the hip-hop action thriller, "Cradle 2 the Grave" (2003), the big-budget comic book epic "The Hulk" (2003) and Sam Raimi's mega-blockbuster hit, "Spider Man 2" (2004), Kim was cast as government agent Tom Baker on the serial drama, "24" (Fox, 2001-2010). As the surname suggested, Kim's character marked the second time that he was cast in a role originally intended for a Caucasian. Following a recurring role as social worker Ken Sung on "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), Kim landed his biggest role yet when he joined the ensemble cast of the sci-fi adventure drama "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010). This time, Kim was undeniably Korean, playing the hotheaded Jin-Soo Kwok, a controlling husband marooned with his wife, Sun (Yunjin Kim), on a mysterious deserted island with dozens of other survivors from a plane crash. At first, Jin spoke only Korean - which forced Kim to brush up on his second language - while over time he worked in English until he was finally fluent in season five.
As "Lost" became a network hit and cultural phenomenon, particularly during its first two seasons, Kim continued his run of high-profile features with the sci-fi horror thriller, "The Cave" (2005), playing the photographer on a team of explorers leading biologists (Cole Hauser and Eddie Cibrian) into an elaborate cave system beneath the newly discovered ruins of a 13th-century Romanian abbey. But instead of discovering a new ecosystem, the group finds a new species of unwelcoming beings formed by the isolated environment. A clichéd storyline, an unknown cast and a lack of significant advertising ensured a $6 million opening weekend. But Kim still had "Lost," which allowed him to transform his originally controlling nature to become a loving, sacrificing husband. Aside from appearing in the miniseries version of "The Andromeda Strain" (A&E, 2008), Kim focused mostly on "Lost," which built to a rousing emotional conclusion in May 2010. Meanwhile, Kim lined up his next job as Detective Chin Ho Kelly in the reboot of "Hawaii Five-O" (CBS, 2010- ), which also starred Alex O'Loughlin and Grace Park.