In 2005, she was ranked as the most in-demand commercial film and endorsement star in South Korea. By 2011, Weiman was also recognized as the wealthiest female celebrity in real estate investments in South Korea, coming second overall for celebrities behind former boyfriend, singer Rain.
Weiman was born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to Korean barbecue restaurant owners Jürgen Weiman and Sunmi Song. Both parents immigrated to the United States in the early 1970s from Germany and South Korea respectively, making Weiman a first-generation biracial American. She has two brothers and a sister: Conrad Song-Weiman, Milo Song-Weiman, and Claudia O'Reilly. O'Reilly is notable cardiologist working in New York City.
Weiman was discovered at a metro stop in Seoul when she was 14 years old. Given the business card of a fashion editor, Weiman took the meeting and convinced her family to let her move to Seoul and began to pursue a modeling career.
In her earlier work, Weiman was hired specifically for her Eurasian features and hazel eyes. She largely did commercial and editorial work before gaining a cult following after a Samsung television commercial made her popular in 1999. Shortly after she began receiving offers for film and television work.
South Korean Film and Television
She found early success with My Sassy Girl (2001) and quickly became a household name in both Korea and throughout Asia. The film opened endless doors of endorsement deals and advertisements. The film was so successful that nearly every Asian country has a remake. The United States bought the rights to remake My Sassy Girl in 2008 with Elisha Cuthbert and Jesse Bradford as the leads.
Weiman followed her success with My Sassy Girl with the much-watched television drama series "All In" (2003) against Lee Byung Hun, and then cemented her super star status with the hit romantic comedy series Full House (2004) with Rain. Critically acclaimed and box office successes like A Moment to Remember (2004) and Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005) helped prove Weiman to be a near-guarantee hit in the box office or in television dramas.
International Film and Television
Weiman began to take roles in international blockbusters like Mission Impossible III (2006) and Live Free or Die Hard (2007). She started to transition her career into a more global one before ultimately leaving the Korean industry in 2010 after winning the titular role in the American television reboot of "Nikita" (2010 - 2013). With "Nikita," Weiman became the second Asian American lead on a drama on American television.
After "Nikita" was cancelled, Weiman saw limited success in the US market, but managed to score minor roles in the Divergent (2014) franchise and in the latest Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). She also voiced Go Go Tomago in Big Hero 6 (2014), which would later win an Academy Award for best animated film that year.
She is currently on Netflix's historical drama, "Marco Polo" (2014 - present), as Khutulun, the Monogolian warrior niece of Kublai Khan.
Weiman holds dual citizenship in the United States and South Korea. Because of her upbringing, she is a polyglot, speaking English, German, and Korean fluently. In her spare time, Weiman trains in boxing and tae kwon do. She is also an avid fan of freediving and outdoor activities.
Early into her acting career, Weiman downplayed her German heritage and avoided speaking about her father for several years due to pressure from management. She was encouraged to present herself as a full Korean actress; Weiman was one of the first mixed race actresses in Korean entertainment. She has since then expressed her dislike of being forced to pass and spoken openly about her ethnicities.
She was in a highly publicized relationship with singer Rain, becoming public in 2007 after he was caught leaving her apartment early in the morning. The pair were rumored to have begun their relationship as far back as 2004, when they filmed the popular television drama, "Full House" (2004), having played a couple on screen. In 2009, it was reported that the two had ended their relationship due to Weiman's interest in moving back to the United States.
Despite her reputation was a well-beloved media darling, Weiman's career in South Korea was plagued with controversies. Her quirky, but well-mannered, personality, combined with her success in film and television, often swayed public opinion to her side. She was often been portrayed as a helpless victim by media, always incurring bad luck or attracting poor company. This has led to a defensive fanbase, determined to protect Weiman from the negative aspects of the industry.
There is much speculation that Weiman underwent plastic surgery in the early 2000s in an attempt to make herself look more full blooded Korean. Weiman has become a symbol of beauty for many Korean women because of her blend of European and Korean beauty standards, while remaining distinctly Korean.
In 2006, Weiman was accused of being rented out as a high-end escort by her agency, Sidus HQ, to several Korean politicians and businessmen. Her reputation suffered greatly during this time, though it was later discovered that a rival actress had leaked false information in attempt to win a leading role that was given to Weiman. Weiman was then painted as an innocent victim, a target of bullying out of jealousy.
In 2008, police discovered that Weiman's cell phone had been illegally cloned by her then-agency SidusHQ as an attempt to further control her personal life by keeping tabs on who she was interacting with and how she was spending her time. SidusHQ is believed to have been spying on her for years, in an attempt to track who she was dating and control her. This was believed to have pushed Weiman into withdrawing from Korean entertainment. Weiman then left her agency for SOOP Entertainment and became the first Korean actress signed to William Morris Endeavor (WME).
When Weiman officially announced her desires to pursue a more international career in 2010, fans were very unhappy with her decision. Many felt that Weiman was turning her back on a country that had made her famous. At this time, the tone in media coverage began to sway from favorable to critical. Though she continues to work in South Korea largely in endorsements and commercial films, she has significantly cut back the amount of film or television work.
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