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 also portrayed other 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.
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 during a one time on the spot audition. He signed the contract with SM the day after he auditioned. In 2008, he was chosen as a member of the group Shinee, and the 5-member boy group debuted on May 25, 2008 on SBS's Inkigayo.
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 also 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.
Onew recorded a song titled In Your Eyes for drama series To The Beautiful You. The song was released for the albums To The Beautiful You OST Part 2 on August 22, 2012. Onew also sang the soundtrack Moonlight for drama Miss Korea. The song was released on January 3, 2014.
Onew starred in various musicals starting in 2010, debuting in the musical Hyeongjeneun Yonggamhaetda (형제는 용감했다, "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 also showcased his acting skills via television having a cameo role as a clumsy doctor in the drama Dr. Champ. He appeared in the drama's final episode. He also had cameo role's in the dramas Athena: Goddess of War, Oh My God x2, Pure Love and for sitcom Royal Villa.
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, the drama revolves around the pure yet boisterous romance between a tiger spirit of the mountains and a high school girl. Onew was casted 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 is a junior of Song Hye-kyo'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 rating nationwide.
Variety show career
Master of ceremonies
In addition to music, Onew became an MC on two programs — KBS2's Yahaengsung (야행성, "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 as MC Onew has gained experience through the years and was active as presenter for different television networks and events like Dream Concert, SBS's Incheon K-Pop Concert and also Mnet's special event in Taiwan called Nihao Taiwan.
In January 14, 2014, his participation in the Borneo edition of the reality show Laws of the Jungle was confirmed. He was also 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 MC Onew gained experience in the job as radio hoster and took over shows like Kiss the Radio, a popular radio program aired on KBS Cool FM which is hosted by his labelmates Super Junior.
Onew underwent a vocal cord polyp removal and vocal fold mucosa reconstruction operation in June 2014, which made him unable to sing for few months. Kim Yeon-woo, a friend of Onew as well as his vocal coach revealed during the December 17 broadcast of MBC FM4U’s FM Date radio that Onew's voice got better after the vocal cords surgery. He also said that Onew's vocal range "improved and he can make sounds comfortably too".
Fans of Onew showed up to one of Onew's performances in "Rock of Ages" with 1.44 tons of rice. Onew donated the 1.44 tons of Dreame rice to help feed North Korean children, and according to a Dreame representative, the rice was delivered to an Incheon storehouse on 16 October 2010 and was sent to North Korea on the 22nd. Onew had also donated 770 kg of Dreame Rice to the Children in Need in South Korea in May 2010 when he was in the "Brothers are Brave" musical. In 2016 fans of Onew donated to the Korean Heart Association on his behalf. Though the donation of roughly 1.2 million won (approximately $975) was made on February 18, it wasn’t made public until February 23. A representative for the fan club responsible for the donation stated, “We wanted to congratulate Onew on his performance in the drama ‘Descendants of the Sun.’ So we decided to fundraise donations for patients suffering from heart-related diseases who have difficult financial situations. We’re very happy to be able to help the patients.”
Collaborations and soundtrack contributions
|2008||"Vanilla Love"||Kiss Me||03:37||Duet with Lee Hyun-ji|
|2008||"Vanilla Love Part 2"||Vanilla Love Part 2||04:11||Duet with Lee Hyun-ji|
|2009||"One Year Later"||Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)||04:01||Duet with Jessica|
|2012||"In Your Eyes"||To the Beautiful You OST||04:28||Solo|
|2014||"Moonlight"||Miss Korea OST||03:45||Solo|
|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|
|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|