He began his acting career in 2010 with SBS's series Dr. Champ where he took the role of Park Ki-young, a doctor. He additionally portrayed additional minor roles in series like Athena: Goddess of War (2010), Oh My God x2 (2012) and Pure Love (2013). He is mostly known for his role of Baek Su in JTBC's sitcom Welcome to Royal Villa and the cardiothoracic resident Lee Chi-hoon in the popular KBS2 drama Descendants of the Sun.
2008–10: Career beginnings
Onew was discovered at the 2006 S.M. Academy Casting. Onew received great appreciation from Lee Soo-man, SM Entertainment's founder, at Girls' Generation's debut showcase. Lee Soo-man noticed him and wanted to hear Onew sing throughout a one time on the spot audition. He signed the contract with SM the day after he auditioned. In 2008, he was chosen as the leader of the group Shinee, and the 5-member boy group debuted on May 25, 2008 on SBS's Inkigayo.
Shortly after debut, Onew contributed to singles for Lee Hyun-ji in 2008, for Vanilla LOVE and Vanilla Love Part 2. In 2009, he was featured with Girls' Generation member Jessica for the song One Year Later in the Tell Me Your Wish mini-album. The same year, he additionally sang a duet with Kim Yeon-woo for the song, The Name I Loved from the third mini album by Shinee, 2009, Year Of Us.
2011–present: Master of ceremonies, acting debut and solo activities
In 2010, Onew tried his hands at songwriting and together with Minho, wrote the lyrics for the song, "Your Name" from Shinee's second studio album Lucifer. In addition to music, Onew became an MC of two programmes — KBS2's Night Star, which he co-hosted alongside Shin Dong-yup, Yoon Jong-shin, movie director Jang Hang Joon, and Leessang's Gil and MBC's Show! Music Core. Since his first job as an MC, Onew has gained experience through the years and was active as a presenter for different television networks and events like Dream Concert, SBS's Incheon K-Pop Concert and additionally Mnet's special event in Taiwan called Nihao Taiwan.
Onew starred in various musicals starting from 2010, debuting in the musical Brothers were Brave alongside singer Lee Ji-hoon. He then starred in the Korean production of Rock of Ages playing the lead role, Drew. He has additionally showcased his acting skills via television like having a cameo role as a clumsy doctor in the drama Dr. Champ. He appeared in the drama's final episode. He additionally had cameo roles in the dramas Athena: Goddess of War, Oh My God x2, Pure Love and for sitcom Royal Villa. Also, Onew recorded a song titled In Your Eyes for the drama series To the Beautiful You. The song was released in the album To The Beautiful You OST Part 2 on August 22, 2012. Onew additionally sang the soundtrack Moonlight for drama Miss Korea. The song was released on January 3, 2014.
In January 14, 2014, his participation in the Borneo edition of the reality show Laws of the Jungle was confirmed. He was additionally in the cast for the Brazil edition, but had to leave and be substituted because of schedule conflicts. Additionally to his group activities and his job as a MC, Onew gained experience in radio hosting and took over shows like Kiss the Radio, a popular radio programme aired on KBS Cool FM which is hosted by his labelmates Super Junior. In 2015, Onew was chosen out of more than 2,000 people as the main lead of a new web drama, Dating was the Easiest. The drama is adapted from a popular webtoon of the same title which revolves around the pure yet boisterous romance between a tiger spirit of the mountains and a high school girl. Onew was cast because of his unique analysis of the character and his determination whilst preparing for the auditions.
In 2016, Onew was confirmed to become a part of Song Hye-kyo's and Song Joong-ki's drama Descendants of the Sun. He portrayed a young doctor who's a junior of Song's character, Lee Chi-hoon. The drama became a huge success especially in China where the series reached more than 2 billion views on the Chinese streaming site iQiyi. In Korea, the drama became a massive hit as well, surpassing more than 30 percent viewership ratings nationwide. Onew was awarded the "Newcomer Scene Stealer Award" at the 2016 Scene Stealer Festival for his role in Descendants of the Sun. Onew was additionally confirmed for a new tvN programme Eat, Sleep, Eat which serves local recipes through Southeast Asia. On August 12, Onew and Lee Jin-ah released a duet, "Starry Night" as part of SM Station, a digital music project by S.M. Entertainment. It's a pop jazz song which is the work of numerous artists including Andreas Oberg, a Swedish guitarist and songwriter, and singer-composer Yoo Hee-yeol.
Onew underwent a vocal cord polyp removal and vocal fold mucosa reconstruction operation in June 2014, which made him unable to sing for a few months. Kim Yeon-woo, a friend of Onew as well as his vocal coach revealed throughout the December 17 broadcast of MBC FM4U’s FM Date radio that Onew's voice had improved after the vocal cords surgery. He additionally said that Onew's vocal range "improved and he can make sounds comfortably too".
In order to support Onew in the musical Rock of Ages, in 2010, his fans had donated 1.44 tonnes of rice, a common practise for fans in South Korea, with the expectation that the idol will then donate to a charity of their choice — Onew donated it to help feed North Korean children, which was prepared by the Child Development Program. Onew additionally donated 770 kg of rice to children in need in South Korea in May 2010. In 2016, Onew donated roughly 1.2 million won to the Korean Heart Association.
Collaborations and Featurings
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
(with Lee Hyun-ji)
|"Vanilla Love Part 2"|
(with Lee Hyun-ji)
|Vanilla Love Part 2|
|"One Year Later"|
(with Lee Jin-ah)
The Gaon Digital Chart was launched in 2010.
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"In Your Eyes"||2012||To the Beautiful You OST|
|"Moonlight"||2014||Miss Korea OST|
|2010||Dr. Champ||Park Ki-young (cameo)||SBS|
|Athena: Goddess of War||Himself (cameo)||SBS|
|2012||Oh My God x2||Himself (cameo)||SBS|
|2013||Pure Love||Choi Joon-young's cousin (cameo)||KBS2|
|Welcome to Royal Villa||Baek Su||JTBC|
|2016||Descendants of the Sun||Lee Chi-hoon||KBS2|
|2010-2011||Show! Music Core||MBC||Host|
|2014||Law of the Jungle||SBS||Main Cast (Borneo edition)|
|2016||Eat, Sleep, Eat||tvN||Host|
|2010||Brothers Were Brave||Joo-bong||Korean musical|
|2010||Rock of Ages||Drew||Korean Ver.|
Music Video Appearance
|2008||Vanilla Love Part 2||Lee Hyun-ji|
|2015||2015 SBS Gayo Daejeon||Best Leader 2015||Shinee||Won|
|2016||2016 Scene Stealer Festival||Newcomer Scene Stealer Award (Male)||Descendants of the Sun||Won|