Although he is no longer the biggest music sensation in China, no one would deny that Han Geng, who turns 36 on Sunday, has earned a place in Chinese pop culture history.
That's because Han was the first singer from the country to make it big in a K-pop band.
China got its first taste of South Korean pop music in the late 1990s.
The first K-pop bands, as they became known, were formed by SM Entertainment - H.O.T. (1996) and Shinhwa (1998), and the first girl group, S. E. S (1997) - which attracted fan bases in China.
Han, who had mastered traditional Chinese dance, ballet and martial arts, became a part of this new trend in 2002 after singing up for SM Entertainment's H.O.T. China Audition the previous year.
The company's founder, Lee Soo-man, had ambitions to build an empire based on K-pop and had gone in search of good-looking and talented youngsters.
Han was one of the few candidates who stood out among the 3,000 hopefuls, and was given a trainee place in the K-pop idol-making machine.
Han made his debut in South Korea in 2005 as a member of the boy band Super Junior, which went on to gain international recognition.
As a foreigner in South Korea, however, Han's television appearances in the country were limited as a result of visa restrictions.
He first performed in China in 2008 as the leader of the Super Junior subgroup, Super Junior-M.
The group's first Chinese album, Me, was released in the same year and the band went global.
Han soon became a household name in China, where he is regarded as one of the first "traffic stars" for his huge internet following.
In 2009 things turned sour, however.
Han filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment in a bid to terminate his 13-year exclusive contract.
The singer claimed an unfairly hectic schedule had given him gastritis and a kidney ailment, and that his requests for rest were repeatedly declined.
Han won the lawsuit and regained his artistic freedom, allowing him to embark on a new journey as a solo singer.
Almost a decade later Han explained on a talk show why he terminated the contract with SM. "I would be 30 years old [before the contract expired]. Should I be still bouncing around in the group? I have my own ideas," he said.
Han launched his first Chinese-language solo album, The Heart of Geng, in 2010, earning him an accolade at the ERC Chinese Top Ten Music Awards.
More than 350,000 copies of the album were sold within two months of its release.
The album's signature song, My Logo, was produced by American Craig Williams and Dutch counterpart Rene Van Verseveld.
Han even got Michael Jackson's choreographer, Travis Payne, on board, who told Han he was the only other artist he had worked with.
In addition to his solo career as a singer, Han ventured into the film industry in 2011, when he was given a role in the action movie My Kingdom, directed by Gao Xiaosong and choreographed by Hong Kong martial artist and actor Sammo Hung Kam-bo.
Han is also known for his part in the 2013 drama So Young, directed by Zhao Wei, which raked in 700 million yuan (S$140 million) at the box office in China.
He also had a role in a Sino-French co-produced gay romance, Looking for Rohmer, which premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in France and was widely screened in China in 2018.
That same year he also had a bit part in the Hollywood blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction.
In 2017, Han starred in director Tian Yusheng's comedy The Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes, which took 1.9 billion yuan at the box office within a month of its release.
Looking beyond his career as an idol, Han has been training a younger generation of actors and actresses since setting up his own entertainment company, the Heart of Geng Entertainment, in 2013.