South Korean actress Gong Hyo-jin celebrates her 40th birthday on April 40 – or her 41st, if you follow the Korean tradition of being recorded as 1 at birth. Whichever way you count it, it’s undeniable her skin is as glowing as ever – much like her career. Known as Korea’s “queen of romantic comedy”, Gong proves that she’s a multifaceted actress for her various roles in romcoms, black comedies, mystery films and indie productions. Can you believe she didn’t actually intend to pursue a career in acting? Here are five things you need to know about the award-winning actress. Before her acting debut, she was a model View this post on Instagram #Piaget 2019 A post shared by Hjk (@rovvxhyo) on May 7, 2019 at 11:07pm PDT Gong was not interested in acting at all before she ventured into the industry. She was working hard on her modelling career when she took up a supporting role in a horror film, Memento Mori (1999). At first, Gong didn’t take it too seriously and couldn’t wait for the filming schedule to end. Older woman, younger man – K-drama’s best ‘noona romances’ When the film was released, Gong wasn’t fond of her on-screen debut – she called herself ugly. Although it wasn’t a hit, the model started receiving calls from agencies and felt encouraged to pursue a career in acting. Crush and Blush helped her break out View this post on Instagram A post shared by (@m__m__ooi) on Jan 30, 2019 at 7:49am PST When she worked on Crush and Blush (2008), Gong says that she “stopped trying to look pretty”. Even so, the actress felt liberated after the movie was released. What else could she be scared of after her big red face was shown in theatres? Strangely enough, Gong believes she may have developed the same blushing disorder her character had because she began to blush whenever she felt anxious. It was worth it though; she received three best actress awards for her role as the blushing high schoolteacher. She does not take on stereotypical roles View this post on Instagram A post shared by @doramaandnime on Jan 20, 2020 at 3:20pm PST Throughout her career, the actress has not been one to play stereotypical roles. The innocent, doe-eyed girl next door or the CEO’s daughter was just not her thing. She favoured multifaceted characters whose personalities were as rich as the story they told – such as a single mum in When the Camellia Blooms (2019), an aspiring celebrity chef in Pasta (2010) and a social outcast in Missing (2016). Loved Itaewon Clss? Five new K-dramas to watch out for She served as Australia’s goodwill ambassador in Korea Gong has many fond memories of Australia – she went to high school there when she moved to Brisbane with her mother and brother in 1994. The family returned to South Korea three years later due to the Asian financial crisis. In 2011, Gong was named as a goodwill ambassador for Australia during “The Year of Friendship” between the two nations. She’s passionate about the environment View this post on Instagram A post shared by sᴜᴘᴇʀ ᴍᴀɢɪᴄ ғᴀᴄᴛᴏʀʏ (@supermagicfactory) on Dec 6, 2019 at 3:33am PST At the Herald Design Forum 2019, in Seoul, Gong spoke about her inner conflict as a fashion icon – part of her job was to promote clothes, but she understood that fast fashion contributed to environmental pollution. So, she turned that inner turmoil into a project that could help the earth. The actress co-founded Super Magic Factory, a company that turns discarded material into new clothes, art and accessories. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .