South Korean film icon Choi Eun-hee dies at 92



Choi Eun-hee, an South Korean iconic movie star of the '60s and '70s, died as a result of a chronic disease at age 92 on Monday, her family have said.

"My mother passed away when she went to hospital for kidney dialysis this afternoon," Choi's eldest son, director Shin Jeong-gyun, told Yonhap News Agency by phone.

Born in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, in 1926, she began her film career in 1947 in the movie "A New Oath." She later rose to stardom for her lead roles in "The Sun Of Night" (1948) and "A Hometown in Heart" (1949) and became one of the three most celebrated actresses of her time, along with Kim Ji-mi and Um Aing-ran.

Choi Eun-hee.

In 1954, Choi married Shin Sang-ok, a leading film director. Together, they established Shin Film and made many films that led the heyday of the Korean film industry in the '60s and '70s.

She established her position as a great movie star while appearing in about 130 movies directed by Shin, such as "The Houseguest and My Mother" (1961) and "Red Scarf" (1964), until their joint career ended in divorce in 1978.

Whilst on a business trip to Hong Kong later that year, Choi was kidnapped by a DPRK's secret agent and taken to DPRK. She was forced to make films for the DPRK together with her estranged husband who was abducted a year later. She won the best actress in the Moscow Film Festival in 1985 for "Sault," which she made together with Shin, becoming the first Korean to claim an award at an overseas film festival.

This file photo shows late movie director Shin Sang-sok (L) and his estranged wife and late actress Choi Eun-hee.

But in 1986, the two escaped from DPRK to the United States. After over 10 years in exile, they permanently returned home in 1999.

In 2001, Choi became president of a theater company and produced a stage musical the next year. In 2007, she published her autobiography, "Confessions."

After her ex-husband Shin passed away in 2006, her health deteriorated quickly. She had been receiving kidney dialysis three times a week until her death, according to her family.

She was survived by two sons and two daughters.