South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee, one of the most famous celebrities in the country during 1960s and 1970s, passed away on Monday at the age of 92.
“My mother passed away when she went to hospital for kidney dialysis this afternoon,” director Shin Jeong-gyun, Choi’s eldest son, confirmed the news to Yonhap News Agency.
Choi, who was born in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province on Nov. 20, 1926, began her career as an actress in the 1947 movie “A New Oath.” She landed a lead role in the film “The Sun Of Night” in 1948, followed by the 1949 movie “A Hometown in Heart,” which helped make her a breakout star.
She then became one of the three most celebrated actresses of her time, along with Um Aing-ran and Kim Ji-mi.
Choi received international attention when it was revealed that she had been kidnapped by late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 1978, The Huffington Post reported.
Her then ex-husband, director and producer Shin Sang-ok, was also kidnapped six months later. The couple was regarded as the “Brangelina of ‘70s South Korea” until their divorce in 1976.
They were forced to make movies in North Korea for nearly a decade. But Choi and Shin managed to escape the grasp of the leader after seeking help from a United States embassy while in Vienna, Austria, in 1986 and requested political asylum.
After successfully escaping North Korea, the couple lived in Reston, Virginia, before moving to Beverly Hills, California and ultimately back to South Korea in 1999.
Shin died in 2006, and Choi’s health reportedly began to deteriorate shortly thereafter.
“I still have nightmares about being chased by North Korean agents,” Choi said in an interview with Korea Joongan Daily in 2015. “It feels like somebody is always chasing me. People who haven’t experienced this will never know the feeling.”
Images via YouTube / Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing