Actor Kang-Shin Sung-il, one of the biggest figures in Korean cinema in the 1960s and 1970s, died of lung cancer on Sunday, about a year and a half after being diagnosed with the disease. He was 81.
His widow, actress Um Aing-ran, said, "His last words for me were, 'Good work. Thank you and I'm sorry'".
Born in Daegu in 1937, Shin almost accidentally attended an audition for a film company in 1959 and was chosen out of 2,640 competitors. With his debut in the 1960 film "Romaenseu Ppappa", he instantly became a star and changed the landscape of Korean cinema, which until then had been dominated by historical drama.
Shin instead brought a breath of the fresh air of modernity with his trademark leather jackets and blue jeans.
Shin appeared in 524 films and starred in 507, a record that has never been broken. In his heyday, he made 65 films in a single year. He acted until the 1990s, when he switched to politics and became a lawmaker in 2000. He returned after 18 years of absence in 2013 with "Passion Flower" to an underwhelming reception.
Shin's private life was turbulent as he openly admitted multiple extramarital affairs.
His memorial altar at Asan Medical Center in Seoul has been visited by a stream of friends, colleagues and fans.
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