Kim Hee-chul (born July 10, 1983), better known by the mononym Heechul, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, presenter, and actor. He is a member of South Korean boy group Super Junior and has further participated in its subgroup, Super Junior-T as well as project groups Kim Heechul & Kim Jungmo and Universe Cowards with Min Kyung-hoon.
Prior to his debut in Super Junior, Heechul began his acting career in 2005, starring in the second season of teen drama Sharp 2. Subsequently, this led him to host his first music show Show! Music Tank , appear on advertisements, and host radio shows. However, on 2006, just a year after his Super Junior debut, Heechul was involved in car accident which fractured his left leg. The accident left him unable to perform Super Junior’s strenuous dances and instead focus on contributing as a singer-only to the group. In 2009, Heechul began his solo singing career by releasing his first single “First Star”, as part of the soundtrack for his drama Loving You a Thousand Times. He also participated in writing the lyrics for not only his band but also for his project groups and other artists.
In 2010, Heechul became a regular cast member in Radio Star, where his popularity skyrocketed and he won Best Newcomer Award at the 11th MBC Entertainment Awards. Following that, his career as a television host made a breakthrough after appearing on Knowing Bros and Weekly Idol, after which, Heechul was named as one of the Top 3 Idol MC’s of 2016.
Kim Hee-chul was born in Wonju, Gangwon Province, on July 10, 1983. His family consists of his parents and an older sister, Kim Hee-jin. In 2004, Heechul graduated from Sangji Youngsoe College with a bachelor’s degree in English tourism translation. In addition, in 2009, he graduated from Sangji University with a bachelor’s degree in informatics through Bachelor’s Degree Examination for Self-Education.
In 2002, after seeing Psy, who was singing “Champion” on a television program, he searched the internet for entertainment companies and found out that SM Entertainment was having open auditions. He moved to Seoul when he was twenty years old, with his friends in order to take part in the auditions. Being unfamiliar with the area, he got lost and missed the open Starlight Casting System audition. But they still let him perform because of his visuals, he sang the Korean national anthem and passed it. He was cast and signed a contract with SM Entertainment and became an official trainee, being trained in areas of singing, acting, dancing, and other performing talents such as hosting and modeling.
He was initially placed in a four-member group called Four Seasons along with Jaejoong, Yunho and Kangin. The project group was dropped when Yunho and Jaejoong joined TVXQ in early 2003. He was preparing to debut as the main vocalist of Trax, but during his trainee days he had frequent clashes and misunderstandings with the person in charge at SM at the time. He became frustrated and abandoned his Trax debut and returned to his hometown in Gangwon Province. Later with Trax’s Jungmo and Jay, TVXQ’s Yunho and Donghae encouragement and positivity, he returned to SM. He joined other trainees under SM Entertainment to form the group Super Junior 05, the first generation of Super Junior.
His first acting role was in the second season of teen drama Sharp 2, co-starring labelmates Go Ara and Kibum, which was loved by young people in 2005, he played Baek Jin-woo. At that time, he gained popularity among female student fans with unique visuals that popped out of genuine manga. That same year, he appeared as an extra in the KBS2 TV series Loveholic and was a regular MC for the cable music show Show! Music Tank . He also appeared on his first advertisements for Lotte’s Pepero.
On November 2, 2005, Super Junior 05 made their official debut as a twelve-member group on SBS’ Popular Songs, performing their first single “Twins”. Their debut album Twins was released on December 5 and debuted at number three on the monthly MIAK K-pop album charts.
In March 2006, SM Entertainment began to recruit new members for the next Super Junior generation. However, plans changed and the company declared a halt in forming future Super Junior generations. Following the addition of the thirteenth member Kyuhyun, the group dropped the suffix “05” and became officially credited as Super Junior. The re-polished group’s first CD single “U” was released on June 7, 2006, which was their most successful single until the release of “Sorry, Sorry” in March 2009. Heechul faced criticism from Super Junior’s fans when his voice cracked while performing “U”, which negatively affected him and he wanted to quit singing.
Apart from Super Junior’s activities, Heechul has acted in several television series. In 2005, he landed his first leading role in the TV series Rainbow Romance, then followed that by played a supporting role in Bad Family in 2006 and Golden Bride at the end of 2007. Golden Bride managed to achieve high ratings and Heechul received wider public recognition. In 2007, he made his film debut in Attack on the Pin-Up Boys, which was released on July 26. The film failed to attract viewers and was proven to be a big loss for SM Pictures. However, both versions of the film’s DVD became a best-selling record and were sold-out in both Korea and oversea markets. Same year he stepping into the field of voice-over for the Korean-dubbed version of the American live action/animated film called Alvin and the Chipmunks as the main character, Simon, the eldest and the tallest of the Chipmunks, along with fellow labelmate, Kangin and Shindong.
Heechul also appeared as a radio DJ on SBS Power FM’s Young Street Radio with Park Hee-von from November 2005 until mid-2006. Moreover, he co-hosted SBS’s weekly live music show Inkigayo as a substitute for Andy of Shinhwa, going on to become a permanent host starting April 23, 2006. On May 4, 2008, Heechul left his position after hosting the show with Song Ji-hyo.
On February 23, 2007, he debuted as part of Super Junior sub-group, Super Junior-T, performing trot single “Rokuko”. The single was Korea’s sixteenth best-selling record and the number one best-selling single of 2007. The debut was also marked as his comeback performance after his injury from a car accident that occurred in August 2006. In November 2008, the subgroup returned with a debut in the Japanese music industry, releasing the Japanese version of “Rokuko”, now titled “ROCK&GO”. On August 29, 2007, he won an award under the category “Best Pretty Boy” in the first Mnet 20’s Choice Awards.
In May 2008, he playing in the first production of SM Art Company Xanadu, the role of Sonny in rotation with his bandmate Kangin. The production ran between September 9 – December 28, 2008 at the Doosan Art Center, Yonkang Foundation, Seoul. Casting was carried out via a reality television programme, To be Kangin and Heechul. In the same year, he co-hosted a program called 8 vs 1 but it was canceled due to low ratings. He later became cast on the show Good Daddy and Band of Brothers.
In 2009, he starred in the surrogacy melodrama Loving You a Thousand Times; the latter became the first Korean drama exported to Bulgaria. On November 6, 2009, he released his first solo single, “First Star”, as part of the soundtrack for his drama Loving You a Thousand Times.
In 2010, he returned as a radio DJ for the first time in four years on SBS Power FM’s Kim Heechul’s Youngstreet from March 29, 2010 until mid-2011. On the May same year, he was added along with Jang Dong-min during a recording as the eighth member of the family on the series Family Outing 2, but the show was cancelled two months later due to low ratings. And in December heechul was selected as an official MC for Radio Star the main segment of Golden Fishery and one of the most popular variety show in Korea through the competition with Kim Tae-won, Moon Hee-joon and Tony An to fill the empty position after Shin Jung-hwan left the program following a gambling scandal. His effort gained positive viewers’ recognition and his popularity skyrocketed, also he won Best Newcomer Award at the 11th MBC Entertainment Awards.
In February 2011, he was cast in his debut Chinese drama Melody of Youth with a supporting role. Same year he formed a project group with label mate Jungmo of TRAX called M&D (meaning “Midnight and Dawn” or “Miari and Dangae-dong”, after the members’ hometowns). They released their debut single, “Close Ur Mouth”. Heechul wrote the lyrics and directed the music video for the song, while Jungmo produced and performed the instrumental. Their first live performance was at Mnet’s summer awards ceremony 20’s Choice on July 7.
Kim Hee-chul carried out mandatory military service from September 1, 2011 to August 30, 2013. He served as a public service worker for 23 months after undergoing four weeks of basic training at the Nonsan military camp in Chungcheongnam-do. At the time that he enlisted, he had been appearing on Secret as well as the Radio Star, for which bandmate Kyuhyun took over the role. Shortly after he had completed his military service, Kim Jang-hoon released a duet titled “Breakups are So Like Me” with Heechul. During live performances of the song on Music Bank and Show! Music Core, his part was performed by bandmates Yesung, Eunhyuk and Shindong.
On January 2012, Heechul has been selected to be an internet broadcasting radio DJ on Space for a Rest-Visible Radio, which is provided through Seongdong District’s homepage every Friday, where he was serving his two-year mandatory military service. He was responsible for filming and editing video footage to advertise the Seongdong District Office, but because of his experience and previous exposure to the media, they thought it be a better fit for him to be a DJ. Therefore, he appeared as a radio DJ from January 20 to May 18, 2012 and from January 14 to July 26, 2013.
For his comeback after military service, he chose Ssulzun. It’s a debate program on JTBC regarding current issues that affect South Korea. He became a regular cast member from September 2013 until July 2014, making his stay in the program two months shy of a full year. In his last recording for the show, he mentioned about having the pressure of talking about the people close to him. In January 2014, he appeared on the second season of MBC’s reality television program Global Edition, as an on-screen couple with Taiwanese girl group member Puff Kuo. That year, he return to the small screen with fantasy comedy drama Flower Grandpa Investigation Unit, starring Lee Soon-jae, Byun Hee-bong and Jang Gwang. He returned to the Super Junior’s line-up for the August performance at Music Bank, marking the first time he, Leeteuk and Kangin have been together in the line-up since they each completed their military service.
In 2015, he became MC on entertainment programs such as Wednesday Food Talk, A Style For You, MAPS, Knowing Bros and Korean-Chinese program With You All The Way, the first Chinese variety that he was in charge since his debut in Korean entertainment in 2005. Also he won his first Chinees’s award at 12th Cosmopolitan Beauty Awards. The same year, M&D released their first EP, Cottage Industry with the lead track “I Wish” digitally on April 16 and physically on April 20. The title track was also written and composed by the duo, which peaked at number two on the Gaon album Chart.
With Super Junior on a temporary hiatus for much of 2016 due to the enlistment of four other members, he returned to hosting. In March 2016, Heechul was confirmed to become a temporary host for Weekly Idol until October 5, when Jeong Hyeong-don ended his 11-month break from television activities. On April 15, he released a duet with Wheein for SM Station. The single “Narcissus” was written by him and produced by Jungmo, and it was his first collaboration with a female artist. In early July, M&D returned as Kim Heechul & Kim Jungmo, with a second EP, Goody Bag, and trot-rock lead track “Ulsanbawi” on July 12. In June, he appeared on the third season of the Chinese dating variety show, Perhaps Love with Chinese actress and singer Li Feier . This was his second time being in a virtual relationship.
In fall 2016, Heechul and Buzz member Min Kyung-hoon released a duet titled “Sweet Dream”. The two stars are known as “Universe Cowards” when they promote music, which is a name they came up with for a Knowing Bros project group. Their stage name is a mix of Heechul’s nickname “Universe Star” and Buzz’s song “Coward”. The song proved successful, topping the South Korean Gaon Digital Chart an achievement known as “all-kill”, making him the first Super Junior member to achieve “all-kill” in 2016. In 2017, “Sweet Dream” won a Best Rock Song at the Melon Music Awards. In December 23, he released single “Melody”, a collaboration with the South Korean legendary rock band Eve as a pre-release single on Christmas Eve- a nod to the band’s debut on Christmas Eve in 1997.
His career as a MC made a breakthrough after appearing on Knowing Bros and Weekly Idol. The success of Knowing Bros in Korea brought him a new range of fans and is a large part of why the show is so popular. He was named as one of the Top 3 Idol MC’s of 2016. After appearing on the show, he earned more recognition and received roles from other shows as MC — such as Phantom Singer, Singderella, Secretly Greatly, Game Show Yoo Hee Nak Rak and Lipstick Prince and is continuing to get a title of “Professional MC”. In 2017, He became the host of popular programs such as Life Bar and My Daughter’s Men, also less-popular programs such as Pot Stand, Idol School and Perfect on Paper.
In January 2018, Label SJ announced that Super Junior members launching their own variety show titled Super TV. Same year he joined the cast of 1 Percent of Friendship and TV Chosun’s travel-reality show Where Are You Going, DdaengChul?. This marks his first fixed travel show since MAPS in 2015. also he was cast in his second game show, Begin A Game.
In February 2018, following the success of “Sweet Dream”, Universe Cowards returned with “Falling Blossoms”. The song is part of Knowing Bros music video competition. Min Kyung-hoon wrote the lyrics to “Falling Blossoms” with his Buzz bandmates Yoo Woo-hyun and Shin Joon-ki. The song peaked at number 15 on Gaon Digital Chart. In November Heechul & Min Kyung-hoon were again nominated for Best Rock Song at the 10th Melon Music Awards, which they later won on December 1, making them the only artist to win the award two years in a row.
In 2019, Kim was announced to be the MC of KBS2’s new talk show, Six-Party Talks.
Heechul is active as a lyricist and has written several of Super Junior’s music, including “Show Me Your Love”, “Oops”, and “Lo Siento”. Moreover, he has written lyrics for his project group Kim Heechul & Kim Jungmo’s “I Wish”, “Narcissus”, and “Ulsanbawi”, as well as “Sweet Dream” for Universe Coward, which achieve an “all-kill” by topping the music charts. In addition, he wrote the lyrics for Orange Caramel’s “Shanghai Romance”, which peaked at number eight on the Gaon Digital Chart.
Heechul is known for his unique personality, no-holds-barred attitude and wit – all of which has earned him spots on variety shows. Heechul’s hosting received positive reviews. OSEN wrote: “He is making an artistic character that has not been able to cope with the excellent buzzword copying ability as well as the irreverent speech.” KStar News wrote: “His charm is make space for guest to shine.” Kim Min-seo from Newsen wrote: “It is not an exaggeration to call it a character which is not in the history of idol history.” Even SM C&C revealed they praised him for his honesty.
He is known as a celebrity with many connections and is named “King of Connections in Entertainment” and “Connection Rich” by the media. This became one of the reasons behind the rumors regarding his sexuality, along with his androgynous look and cross-dressing. The rumors have been a part of his career since he debuted in 2005. He never denied being gay because he believes that “It’d be rude if I denied it so strongly.” In addition, he has openly expressed his support for the LGBT community.
On October 9, 2010, he created a personal Facebook account which received 5,000 friend requests within five minutes. He became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter for 65 hours after the account’s creation. Mashable’s Associate Features Editor Matthew Silverman tweeted, “It’s official: Kim Hee Chul is the Korean Justin Bieber.” He also took the ninth place in the “2010 Twitter Trend Analysis” in People Category. On March 28, 2011, the 3rd Shorty Awards, announced that Heechul placed 3rd in the “Best Celebrity on Twitter” category.
In 2011, MTV K conducting a poll in which Heechul emerged as the champion in a Top 10 Cross-Dressing Idols poll. In July, Lady Gaga appeared on 9th’s episode on KBS2’s Entertainment Weekly for an exclusive interview and mentioned that she was amazed by Heechul’s imitation of her. He’s appeared “Lady HeeHee” throughout Super Show 3, as well as SM Town in Paris. Lady Gaga has seen his imitation and praised him, saying: “He looks amazing!”.
In 2016, Kim topped an online poll organised by a Chinese entertainment magazine People’s Daily as the one of the top “10 Most Anticipated K-Stars of 2017”. He appeared for the first time in the list after his activities in China.
He is an endorser of a wide range of brands in and outside South Korea. Heechul get his first solo endorsement deal with Lotte’s Pepero in 2005. After his hit show Knowing Bros and his famous Picks Miwon CF, his growing popularity led him to getting more commercial. In 2017, he was selected as a model for G-Market with AOA’s Seolhyun. In 2018, he was chosen to be the model for Mistral with Min Kyung-hoon.
In 2015, Heechul were announced as the ambassador for 20th Hoengseong County Ambassador appointment ceremony. In 2017, he became ambassador of 1st Seoul Comic-Con 2017 by the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). Later that year, he were chosen as the honorary tourism ambassador for Hoengseong beef in Hong Kong for Asia’s Leading Food and Hospitality Tradeshow “HOFEX”.
Heechul is an avid fan of the video game League of Legends, one of the most popular video games in South Korea. It was mentioned in his show Game Show Yoo Hee Nak Rak that he is high-level player with diamond rankings. In November 27, 2013, he appeared on OGN’s Pandora TV LoL Champions as a Special Commentator and Guest player. In February 2015, the famous LoL team SK Telecom T1 sponsored a special match titled the Celebrity League of Legends Invitational Event Match. SKT T-LoL invited various celebrities to join in a match against professional LoL gamers. The celebrity team including Heechul ultimately lost.
In August 2016, he attended the League of Legends Pro League 5th Anniversary in China, which included the Regional Final with four Chinese teams competing for a spot in the World Championship. He also competed in a Korea vs. China Celebrity Showmatch in commemoration. On October 9, he appeared on OGN as a special commentator for the LoL World Championship. In November, Heechul began participating in SM Entertainment’s League of Legends tournament 2016 SM Super Idol League, where he and labelmate Baekhyun played the game with both professional players and fans from South Korea and China.
On August 10, 2006, Heechul was involved in a car accident while heading back to Seoul from Mokpo after attending the funeral of fellow Super Junior member Donghae’s father. The tires malfunctioned while his car attempted to switch lanes. Heechul fractured his left leg, requiring him to undergo surgery where seven iron rods were inserted. He also sustained other injuries, including a tear in his tongue which required stitches.
Heechul was advised to stop all activities for a period of twelve weeks. He was released from the hospital on September 14, 2006 but he continued to receive out-patient care. He returned to the hospital to have a second surgery to remove some of the iron rods in his leg on October 10, and briefly returned to work in late October to film the final three episodes of MBC’s Rainbow Romance while still in a cast and on a wheelchair. He made his comeback on November 25 of the same year during the Mnet KM Music Festival. Six months following the accident, Heechul officially returned to individual activities such as variety show and hosting appearances. In 2007, Heechul started to perform regularly despite still having a few rods that the doctors had attached to his leg. The remaining rods in his leg were removed in 2008.
He’s still receiving treatment, and can no longer dance on live stages, often only making sporadic appearances for the latter half of the song. It also contributes to him being a sub-rapper and vocals instead of a lead dancer. In 2009, he decided not to participate in Super Junior concerts after finishing Super Junior’s third studio album Sorry, Sorry, but after being persuaded by other members, he made appearances for the latter half of the “Sorry, Sorry” and “It’s You”. He still performed regularly until 2017, despite the condition of his legs.
In March 2018, it was reported that Heechul would not be participating in music show performances of Super Junior’s repackage album Replay, due to health concerns, but would still participate in other promotions as normal. In the end of August, it was announced that Super Junior would perform at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta on September 2. He was absent during the performance due to health issue and they performed with seven members. On July 20, Heechul announced, during a Weibo live video, his decision not to participate at all on their first mini album One More Time to focus on recovering his health. However, along with the release of his teaser photo, Label SJ announced that Heechul had end up taking part in their comeback preparations after all but participated minimally due to ongoing health concerns.