Competitive bodybuilding has seen a surge in popularity over the past few decades, transcending borders and gaining worldwide appeal. While the sport was born in the United States, it has now reached countries all over the globe, including South Korea. Although Korea has yet to produce a top-tier Mr. Olympia contender, it would be a mistake to underestimate Korean bodybuilders. Several have made a name for themselves in the industry and gained recognition for their impressive physiques. If you’re interested in learning about the best bodybuilders from Korea, you’ve come to the right place.
One of the most popular Korean bodybuilders is Hwang Chul Soon, also known as the ‘Asian Arnold.’ He is treated as a superstar in his country and has amassed over 1.5 million followers on Instagram. Born on September 1, 1983, Soon was a skinny kid growing up and felt pushed around due to his small stature. Determined to change his physique, he started lifting weights and spent 12 years developing his size and strength. At the peak of his career, he weighed 230 pounds. Soon began his fitness journey as a personal trainer and his talent, grit, and genetics turned him into a celebrity. Despite his hulking physique, he maintains a tight midsection by training his abs every alternate day for 30 minutes to an hour. He also emphasizes the importance of a nutrient-rich balanced diet, with chicken breast, brown rice, bananas, and protein shakes being staples in his meals. Soon has competed in and won multiple bodybuilding competitions, with his victory at the 2016 Musclemania Universe Pro Champion being the highlight of his career. He has also appeared in Korean TV shows, commercials, and magazines.
Another notable Korean bodybuilder is Kim Jun Ho, who became the first Korean to earn an IFBB Pro Card. He is the most successful Korean male IFBB Pro League bodybuilder and has competed at the prestigious Mr. Olympia competition. Ho made his IFBB Pro debut with a silver medal at the 2015 New York Pro and competed at the Olympia in the same year, finishing in 16th place. His biggest achievement in competitive bodybuilding was winning the 2020 IFBB Monsterzym Pro. Ho’s bodybuilding journey began at the age of 16, and he won the Mr. Korea title in 1991. He earned his IFBB Pro Card by winning the 2014 Ben Weider Diamond Cup in China and has since become the most decorated bodybuilder in Korean history. In addition to his muscular prowess, Ho holds a Ph.D. in Sports Medicine and hosts the Kim Jun Ho Classic in South Korea, an Olympia qualifier.
Lee Seung Chul is another impressive Korean bodybuilder, known as “The Korean Mass Monster.” Weighing 230 pounds at a height of 5-foot-8, Chul turned an IFBB Pro by winning the Arnold Amateur Asia in 2016. He also won the Men’s Open division at the 2020 IFBB Monsterzym Pro. Chul trains with Neil Hill at Flex Lewis’ Dragon’s Lair Gym in Las Vegas and aspires to break into the upper echelons of the IFBB Pro League’s Men Open division.
Kang Kyung Won is a 5-foot-8 bodybuilder who competed in the 212 division. He placed 11th at the 2015 212 Olympia and achieved his best finish in the IFBB at the 2016 Arnold Classic, considered one of the most prestigious bodybuilding shows. Won won the Mr. Korea title in 1999 and has emerged victorious in several other competitions in the Asian and international circuits over the past 25 years. His journey in bodybuilding began at the age of 16, after being inspired by a friend who competed in a bodybuilding show. Won dominated the 80-85 kilogram weight class of the National Spring Sports Festival for 12 consecutive years from 1999 to 2010.
Kyoung Yun Nam is a popular lightweight bodybuilder competing in the 75KG weight category in South Korea. He earned his IFBB Pro card by winning the 2014 Asian Championships in the under 75KG class. Nam won the 2015 Mr. Korea contest and followed it up with a Hong Kong Asia Olympia overall title in 2016.
These are just a few of the remarkable Korean bodybuilders who have made a mark in the industry. They serve as an inspiration to aspiring bodybuilders in Korea and around the world, proving that hard work, dedication, and genetics can lead to incredible achievements in the world of competitive bodybuilding.