With his chiseled physique and handsome features, Rick Yune seemed a natural for working in front of the camera, but his original intention was to pursue a career on Wall Street. Born in Korea and raised in the Washington, DC, area, he was enrolled at Wharton when a modeling agent "discovered" him in the elevator of the financial firm at which he had a summer position. Impressed with Yune's charisma and natural good looks, the agent managed to land the novice model some impressive gigs. Yune became the first Asian-American to appear in campaigns for Versace and Ralph Lauren's Polo. One might have thought that acting would be the inevitable step, but instead the model accepted a position as a stock trader when he graduated in 1994.
Work on the Street, however, became somewhat stifling for Yune, who began to take acting classes as a creative outlet. Leaving his job in finance in 1997, he soon landed his first paying job: a guest role as a district attorney on the NBC daytime drama "Another World". Two years later, he landed the coveted role of Kazuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American war hero who is accused of murder in the 1950s Pacific Northwest in Snow Falling on Cedars (1999). Although the film was gorgeously shot, it was languidly paced and rather dramatically inert, so Yune's fine performance wasn't fully appreciated. He fared slightly better as the leader of a Vietnamese gang in The Fast and the Furious (2001) before tackling another villainous character in Die Another Day (2002), the 20th James Bond feature. As Zao, a North Korean military man trying to transform his appearance into a white Westerner, Yune was a freakish sight with bleached-out skin, blue eyes and a face scarred and studded with real diamonds.