If you’re a fan of thrilling and suspenseful K-Dramas, then chances are you’ve already heard of the buzz-worthy series The Penthouse: War in Life. You might have even caught wind of the show’s breakout star, Eugene. Although she’s now most recognizable for her iconic portrayal of the determined and cunning Oh Yoon-hee in the series, the actress already had quite the portfolio prior to her humongous role in The Penthouse, appearing in dramas like A Hundred Year Legacy, Can We Fall In Love Again?, and All About My Mom. All things considered, it’s safe to say she’s already had an immensely rewarding career after being in the business for roughly twenty-four years and counting, and we can’t wait for what else she has in store now that she’s recently found even more success in the acting game.
With that said, if you’re like us and are now completely obsessed with Eugene since watching The Penthouse, we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about the talented actress.
1. She’s a Pisces.
She was born on March 3, 1981 in Seoul, South Korea. Though she’s better associated with her English screen name ‘Eugene,’ her real name is actually Kim Yoo Jin.
2. She used to live in Guam.
Back in her elementary years, Eugene’s family immigrated from Seoul to Guam at the behest of her grandfather who’d already taken residence there. She would continue to stay in Guam up until high school when she moved back to South Korea at the age of 16.
3. She’s fluent in English
Considering Eugene lived in Guam for years, the actress is perfectly fluent in English. In fact, while playing Oh Yoon-hee in The Penthouse, she admitted that she found it difficult when she had to pretend to not know English everytime her character would try to speak it. “It’s a kind of acting that I’ve never tried before, [to pretend I couldn’t do something that I could]. I thought a lot about how I should pronounce the words to make me sound awkward,” she said in an interview with Cosmopolitan Korea.
4. She was a former K-pop idol.
Before she decided to make her debut in acting, Eugene was a member of the girl group S.E.S., a three-member team under SM Entertainment, who found great success in South Korea. After the group disbanded in 2002, Eugene, who’s hailed as K-pop’s original visual, later went on to pursue a solo career in music. She’s even contributed to the soundtracks of a number of dramas and movies, including Romantic Island and Save the Last Dance for Me, both of which she also starred in.
5. She made her acting debut in 2002.
Shortly after going solo, she decided to expand her horizons by exploring the acting industry, first emerging in the role of Jin Da-rae in KBS2’s Loving You, which also starred Lee Dong Wook. She would later go on to have a fruitful career as an actress with more than 15 projects currently under her belt. Additionally, she even ventured into theater by top-billing the musical Innocent Steps. Her last drama before her five year hiatus was All About My Mom in 2015.
6. She’s married with two kids.
Eugene met her future husband at the set of her 2009 drama Creating Destiny. Just like the title would coincidentally have it, she would end up marrying her leading man Ki Tae Young three years later. Eugene revealed recently on an SBS show that even after eleven years of marriage the couple are still as affectionate as ever. “We got the nickname ‘super glue couple’ from our newlywed days. Ki Tae Young is on the conservative side, but he hasn’t been hesitant about physical contact since our dating days and after our marriage," she shared. "He does it naturally regardless of whether my mom is present or our friends are there.” At present, the couple have two beautiful daughters, Rohee and Lorin.
7. She knits clothes for her children.
During a guest appearance for the SBS variety show Master in the House, Eugene revealed she loves knitting, so much so that she often ends up making clothes for her children. When asked if she prefers her mom’s sewing to store-bought clothes, her eldest daughter, Rohee, hilariously answered, “The store-bought kind,” making everyone in the studio burst into laughter.
8. She almost turned down her iconic role in "The Penthouse."
Eugene revealed in an interview with Noblesse Men magazine that she was initially hesitant to take on a role as complex as Oh Yoon-hee after her five year hiatus, “I needed a certain amount of time before making up my mind to play the role of Oh Yoon-hee. This was at a different level. Because it’s a role where every moment is aswirl with extreme and shocking emotions. But everyone around me told me that they wanted me to take the role and they gave me the courage by telling me I could do it.”
9. She's already visited the Philippines.
The actress has actually been to the country numerous times for work, and was even once a special South Korean tourism envoy to the Philippines. On one of her many visits, she guest starred in the famous Filipino variety show Wowowee and even sang a duet with Zanjoe Marudo! Her last visit to the Philippines was back in 2008 when she filmed her movie Island in Boracay.
10. She seems to be a BTS fan.
The idol-turned-actress once posted a screenshot of the BTS album Map of the Soul: Persona on her Instagram. She captioned the photo with “I love all 7 tracks!” showing her appreciation for the K-pop group’s music.