Dear kfangurl: Who are your favorite supporting actors – and will they ever get to play lead??

Beez writes:

Dear Kfangurl, Are supporting actors too funny to ever cast as leads? I keep waiting for my favorites – Park Jin Joo, Kim Seul Gi and my all time favorite, Kim Sung Oh to be part of an OTP or at least a single lead in their own dramas. I’ve seen all of them give snippets of really moving scenes so their acting talent is not in question. What gives?

And phl1rxd writes:

I would love to see an article on your favorite supporting actors|actresses. There are so many that pop up in our drama world all the time, and while they are not the leads, their work is great none-the-less.

Such excellent questions..

Dear Beez & phl,

You both ask excellent questions, and while I certainly feel confident to talk about who my favorite supporting actors and actresses are, I feel like a lot less of an authority to comment on why a supporting actor or actress may or may not cross over into lead territory.

I’m going to do my best to provide some answers and insights, but bear in mind that this is absolutely not the full picture, since I feel far from an expert on this topic. This is just.. my take, on the whole thing. I mean, just so we’re clear. 😅

To keep things more focused, I will only be talking about Korean actors and actresses. For the sake of being a little more concise, from this point onwards, I’ll just use the word “actors” to refer to “actors and actresses” coz it can be a gender-neutral word as well.

I also wanted to say, I won’t be able to mention all the actors out there, so if I missed out your favorite, or if you have insights, perspectives &/or experiences to share, please tell us all about it in the comments below! ❤

WHAT MAKES A LEAD ACTOR/ACTRESS?

Kim Soo Hyun: basically a quadruple threat, according to these factors.

I thought it would make sense to begin with what the industry tends to look for in a lead actor. I think understanding this would help us understand why certain actors might be passed over in favor of other actors.

The following are the four main factors that I think affect the casting of actors in lead roles, and although I hate to say it, these are, to my mind, in order of importance – to the networks.

(Us fans probably have a different order of ranking these factors, but.. that isn’t relevant to the decision-making process, unfortunately.)

1. Popularity

As much as we’d like to believe that creative integrity is of foremost importance in the making of our beloved kdramas, sadly, it’s profit that drives all the executive decisions, and ratings and sales drive profit, and therefore, the popularity of the lead actors is of great importance, when casting for a drama, particularly a mainstream drama in a popular time slot, where there are high hopes that the drama will help the network make a lot of money.

This explains why idols who are fairly new to acting can often be seen leading dramas, even though they have little to no experience in the acting game, and may not actually possess much acting talent, when it comes down to it. Essentially, the network is counting on the idol’s existing fan base to support their idol’s drama. In this case, it works to the network’s advantage that the fans tend to be fiercely loyal and supportive, regardless of the actual quality of the show itself.

2. Looks

Visuals are a Huge Deal in the industry, and in Korean society, as a general rule. Because good looks are valued in Korea, it makes sense that k-viewers would value good looks in their dramas’ lead actors as well.

Sure, the drama itself might actually have a lot more going for it, but having a good-looking pair of leads, to be the initial hook that entices audiences to check out the show, is good economic sense. After all, we’ve also talked about how a beautiful female lead can coax a guy to check out a drama, on this very blog.

And, shallow as I can sometimes be, I’ve been known to hang on to a show for longer than said show actually deserves, because I found some redeeming cuteness in Show’s male lead.

3. Screen presence

This is a little on the intangible side, but basically, I think that if an actor can manage a nice amount of screen presence and exude a decent amount of charisma, this can count for more than actual acting chops.

I mean, if you’ve been around Dramaland for a while, you could probably name at least a few actors whose acting leans on the more wooden side of things, but because they’re good-looking and have a decent amount of screen presence, they consistently land leading roles.

No shade of either of these actors, because I have personal affection for them both, but Song Seung Hun and Taecyeon come to mind.

4. Acting ability

This is what many of us would prioritize as the most important factor, but unfortunately, I do think it’s one of the factors that can get glossed over, in casting decisions. HOWEVER, once an actor establishes their reputation as being an amazing actor, I feel that they do become known for their craft, and then their acting prowess becomes part of why they’re popular, and that helps to drive the casting decisions too. (Notice how popularity is still where the emphasis is at, though? Coz it’s pointless being a great actor if people don’t really care about watching you on their screens.)

ALSO. This means that if a supporting actor manages to really impress audiences in the roles that they’re given, their acting abilities can help to drive up their popularity as well, and that can eventually lead to them getting promoted to lead.

Of course, this can be a double-edged sword. For example, back when You From Another Star was airing, audiences were very taken with Ahn Jae Hyun’s role as Jeon Ji Hyun’s little brother, and his role was promptly amplified. He then went on to snag bigger and meatier roles in other dramas over the next several years. Unfortunately, it appears that Ahn Jae Hyun got his big break too soon, and his various leading roles have leaned more underwhelming than anything.

SUPPORTING ACTORS WHO’VE CROSSED OVER TO LEAD TERRITORY

The ones who get promoted naturally

There are a good number of actors who get promoted quite steadily to lead, after spending a couple of years playing supporting characters or second leads. Essentially, it feels like a natural progression after an actor pays their dues, mostly because they do consistently well and are well-received and popular in their supporting roles, prompting studio execs and casting directors to have more confidence in the actor’s ability to fill the shoes of a lead role – and hold audience interest.

Here are just a few actors who’ve made the successful transition to lead actor territory fairly recently.

Seo Ye Ji

Seo Ye Ji majored in journalism in Madrid, Spain, with the intention of becoming a TV news presenter, but was persuaded by the CEO of her then-management company to consider acting instead.

She made her acting debut in 2013’s Potato Star 2013QR3, and spent a few years in supporting roles, before landing her first lead role in 2016’s Moorim School (which unfortunately was a dud for me). She played lead again in 2017’s Save Me, with many praising her performance, as well as in movie Another Way, in the same year. I liked her very well in 2018’s Lawless Lawyer, and most recently, she’s captured a great deal of audience attention with her role in 2020’s It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, with many netizens very much wowed by her performance.

Overall, a very successful transition from the support ranks to lead territory, with her most recent role in It’s Okay pretty much cementing her stature as a bona bide leading lady.

Chae Soo Bin

Chae Soo Bin was scouted by a casting director on the streets, and made her acting debut in 2014 film My Dictator. I must say, that casting director knew what’s what, coz there’s just something quite special about Chae Soo Bin.

I first noticed her in her supporting role in Cheer Up / Sassy Go Go, where I was impressed with how she managed to make her bully character interesting and not quite hateful. That’s quite a feat. In 2017, she landed her first lead role in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, and since then, has gone to headline several dramas, including 2018’s I’m Not A Robot (super cute), Where Stars Land / Fox Bride Star (not bad) and 2020’s A Piece Of Your Mind (quite special).

I personally really like Chae Soo Bin’s warm screen presence, and I find her very likable in each of her roles. And it does look like her transition to lead territory will be a long-term thing.

Seo Kang Joon

Seo Kang Joon started out with a bit part in 2012’s To The Beautiful You, and gained audience attention in 2014’s Cunning Single Lady and 2016’s Cheese In The Trap for his good looks (did you know he really does play the piano, though?). At the time, I personally was not moved, and felt his acting abilities were just.. ok. His first lead role was in 2016’s Entourage, but he really broke through in 2018’s Are You Human Too?, where he blew audiences (and me) away with his portrayal of both human and robot.

Since then, he’s established himself firmly in lead territory, and has regularly headlined dramas, including 2018’s The Third Charm (I thought this was very good) and 2020’s When The Weather Is Fine (I thought this was less good).

As you might’ve guessed, I have since completely changed my mind about Seo Kang Joon as an actor, and count him as someone to keep on my radar.

Jang Ki Yong

Jang Ki Yong started his career as a model in 2012, and eventually got into acting, starting with a small part in 2014’s It’s Okay It’s Love. He then went on to play various supporting roles over the next several years.

His second lead in 2017’s Go Back Couple captured audience attention for his character’s sweet and stoic nature (melt), and he also impressed audiences with his very different turn as a troubled loanshark in 2018’s My Mister (not melt, but.. heart-grabby anyway). Jang Ki Yong scored his first lead role in 2018’s Come And Hug Me, and has since played lead in several dramas, including 2019’s Search: WWW (I thought he was quite appealing in this).

Overall, I think Jang Ki Yong’s made a successful transition to lead territory, and it looks like his career is on a solid upward trajectory. I do count him as someone to keep on my radar.

Special mention: Kim Young Kwang

I wanted to include Kim Young Kwang as an example of an actor who took a little longer to make the jump from supporting actor to lead actor, but who’s since managed to establish himself quite nicely as a lead actor.

Kim Young Kwang started out as a model in 2006. He won several modeling awards, and in 2008, was the first Asian model to walk at Dior Homme’s show. He also began acting with a small part in 2008’s Worlds Within, and continued to play supporting characters until 2014’s Plus Nine Boys, where he made up half of the main loveline in the ensemble cast. His first major lead role was in 2015’s D-Day, and he’s since gone on to headline various dramas, including 2019’s The Secret Life Of My Secretary.

I used to think that Kim Young Kwang was typecast playing the annoying wuss (I used to find him very irksome as the annoying wuss – which means he was very good at it), but he’s managed to break out of that stereotype, and I have to admit, I enjoyed him nicely in The Secret Life Of My Secretary.

The ones who made a late breakthrough

There are also actors who spend a much longer time playing supporting roles, so much so that we start to think of them as actors who will spend the entirety of their career playing supporting roles. However, some of these actors have been known to have late-career breakthroughs, where they essentially blow everyone away with their performance in a particular role, which catapults them into the lead actor leagues, in pretty much one fell swoop.

Here are the ones that come to mind, let us know in the comments, if you think of other actors who’ve managed the same breakthrough!

Nam Goong Min

Nam Goong Min started out as an actor in 2001 movie Bungee Jumping Of Their Own, and actually had a initial positive streak, where he gained audience recognition for his role in 2002 sitcom My Big Family, and critical acclaim with his appearance in 2006 neo-noir film Dirty Carnival. He also gained a lot of positive attention for his role in 2011’s Can You Hear My Heart.

However, in a bid to break into lead territory, Nam Goong Min reportedly turned down all supporting roles offered to him after Can You Hear My Heart, which led to an inadvertent break in his career (yikes.. and oops). He did make a comeback in 2013, and continued to play supporting characters for quite a few projects, before making a breakthrough playing a serial killer in 2015’s Sensory Couple / The Girl Who Sees Smells.

Suddenly, he was no longer Mr. Vanilla, and audiences started lapping up this much more interesting version of him. He went on to blow audiences away with zany roles in 2016’s Beautiful Gong Shim and 2017’s Chief Kim. Since then, Nam Goong Min’s firmly graduated from Vanilla Second Lead to lead, and has consistently headlined various dramas since.

Honestly, I used to feel quite meh about Nam Goong Min as an actor, and although I didn’t jive with his zany characters, I do think he’s much more interesting now (I would’ve never imagined!), and I recently really loved him in his latest drama Stove League.

Kim Jae Wook

Kim Jae Wook made his acting debut as a member of an indie rock band in 2002 drama Ruler Of Your Own World. He then concentrated on modeling for 5 years, before landing his role in 2007’s Coffee Prince, where he gained audience attention as the cool and edgy Waffle Guy with a heart of gold. Since then, his projects have been varied and eclectic, with audiences memorably upset at his lack of lines in 2013’s Who Are You?, playing a sad ghost.

He also played lead in a couple of movies, like 2015’s Planck Constant and 2016’s Two Rooms, Two Nights, but the movies mostly didn’t gain much traction with audiences. He co-headlined 2018’s The Guest, but his most notable breakthrough was in 2019’s Her Private Life, where he finally was cast to pay the romantic male lead – a move that fans believe was long overdue. He blew audiences away with his portrayal of sweet and wonderful boyfriend Ryan Gold, and I swooned along with everyone else, heh.

It remains to be seen whether Kim Jae Wook will continue to headline dramas after this breakthrough role, or whether he’ll go back to choosing quirkier projects.

Jung Kyung Ho

Jung Kyung Ho studied theater in Chung-Ang University, where he became roommates with Ha Jung Woo in his freshman year. According to Jung Kyung Ho, he was inspired to become an actor after seeing Ha Jung Woo perform on stage. Jung Kyung Ho’s dad, veteran TV director Jung Eul Young, was opposed to his son’s desire to pursue acting, and Jung Kyung Ho defied his father’s wishes and moved out of the family home in order to chase his acting dreams. Happily, father and son have since reconciled.

Jung Kyung Ho’s first drama was 2004’s I’m Sorry I Love You, and thereafter, he continued to play a variety of supporting roles, establishing himself as quite the quintessential beta male. His first lead role was in 2009’s Smile, You, where he played a hapless beta male to Lee Min Jung’s feisty female lead. In my head – and probably in most viewers’ minds as well – he was probably going to make a career of playing beta males, mostly as support characters, and possibly with the occasional beta male lead.

However, Jung Kyung Ho went away to do his Military Service, and came back with a bang in 2013’s Heartless City, as a cool, intense, badass crime lord with swift and lethal fight moves. Wow. That essentially sealed his ability to play a wide range of characters, and he’s since established himself firmly as a lead actor, headlining a variety of dramas, including 2015’s Falling for Innocence, 2018’s Life On Mars and 2019’s When The Devil Calls Your Name.

Given Jung Kyung Ho’s decidedly unassuming start, it’s quite startling to me, that he’s gone from “pretty ok” to “pretty darn amazing” on my mental scale. I will now check out a drama just because he’s in it – and that’s saying A Lot.

Jeon Mi Do

Jeon Mi Do started her career as a stage / musical actor in 2006, and in terms of on-screen roles, only had one bit part in 2018’s Mother, before auditioning for 2020’s Hospital Playlist, where she blew both director and writer away, with her effortless reading for various characters. She’d thought she was auditioning for a small role as a patient, but was given the meatiest female character to play. This, despite her limited on-screen experience, because of her pitch perfect interpretation of the character from her first reading. Her outing in Hospital Playlist captured a great deal of audience attention – and I love her now.

I think that if Jeon Mi Do wants to do more on-screen acting, that she will absolutely be able to play among the lead actors. However, it remains to be seen how she will choose to split her time between stage and screen, especially since Hospital Playlist Season 2 already makes up a big time commitment.

I absolutely loved her in Hospital Playlist, and definitely hope to see her in other dramas.

Special mention: Oh Jung Se

Oh Jung Se started his acting career in theater in 2001, and has since appeared in numerous movies and dramas as a dependable and versatile character actor. He was cast in his first lead role in 2013 movie The Hero. He’s played more prominent roles in movies than in dramas, headlining 2015’s Sunshine Love, and playing second lead in 2014’s Man In High Heels and 2017’s Fabricated City.

On the drama front, Oh Jung Se generally spends most of his time playing supporting roles. Most recently, he’s blown audiences away with his portrayal of an autistic character in 2020’s It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, gaining him a lot more recognition and praise than before.

It will be interesting to see what kind of roles Oh Jung Se is offered in Dramaland, going forward. Perhaps this is the pivotal role that will launch him into headlining a drama?

THE ONES WHO TOGGLE BETWEEN LEAD & SUPPORTING ROLES

There are actors who seem to get offered both lead and supporting roles.

In my head, I feel like they are solid actors who do have what it takes to play lead, but may either still be in the transition phase between supporting actor and lead, or, they may have what it takes to play lead, but maybe they just possess all the above-mentioned lead actor factors in more.. modest amounts, which causes them to be offered lead roles less often.

Here are some actors who I think fall into this category.

Kim Ji Suk

Because he failed the entrance exam to get into the theater department(!), Kim Ji Suk majored in German at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. He debuted as a rapper(!!) in Eurodance boyband LEO in 2001; however LEO was disbanded after a short 8 months, which spelled the end of Kim Ji Suk’s rapper dreams.

Kim Ji Suk got started in acting in 2006, with a supporting role in drama The Man Of The Vineyard. He then got cast to play half of the main loveline in 2007 daily drama Likable Or Not, where I thought he was quite endearing, as the hapless beta male lead. After that, he played multiple supporting roles, many of which tapped on his comic timing and unassuming vibe. The first time he demonstrated his potential for playing the swoony male lead was in I Need Romance 2012, his post-military comeback project, where he triggered a fair amount of Second Lead Syndrome with his sweet, melty second lead (and his very nice arms, ahem).

Since then, Kim Ji Suk has toggled supporting roles with the occasional lead role. His most notable outing as romantic leading man was in 2017’s 20th Century Boy and Girl (so sweet and melty!), with 2020’s prime time family drama My Unfamiliar Family tapping into a similar boyfriend vibe.

I would personally love to see Kim Ji Suk flex more of his leading man chops, just sayin’.

Sohn Ho Joon

Sohn Ho Joon started out as an idol, debuting in 2007 as the leader of boyband Tachyon (check out their debut single here!). Unfortunately, the group disbanded soon after that debut single, and Sohn Ho Joon chose to go into acting.

His first role was in 2006 TV series Jump 2, and he went on to do a variety of supporting roles in both dramas and movies, with one of his most notable roles being in 2013’s Answer Me 1994.

His first lead role was in 2017 family drama Blow Breeze, and since then he’s toggled lead and support roles in a variety of dramas. I first got a taste of Sohn Ho Joon’s leading man abilities in 2017’s Go Back Couple, and I must say, he has very dreamy bedroom eyes, when given the chance to play in the romantic leading man space. Melt.

It makes me curious to check out 2020’s Was It Love?, because it appears Sohn Ho Joon is playing lead, and I could use a revisit to that bedroomy gaze, heh. 😉

Lee Joon Hyuk

Lee Joon Hyuk’s onscreen debut was a 2006 music video by hiphop band Typhoon, which you can check out here, in all of its grainy glory. His first drama was 2007’s The First Wives Club, where he acted in a supporting role. After a few more supporting roles, he went on to be part of the main loveline in 2009 family drama Three Brothers, where he plays an earnest, handsome young police officer who is swooningly undaunted in the pursuit of his lady love (I loved him in this show; can you tell?).

Lee Joon Hyuk currently toggles support and lead roles, and his lead roles include 2018’s A Poem A Day, and 2020’s 365: Repeat The Year. Aside from his lead roles, I do find him memorable in his non-lead roles as well. For example, I thought he was great as the perplexed secretary in 2018’s Are You Human Too?

That said, I’d love to see him in a Big Romantic Role (A Poem A Day was pretty muted), and remind us of how good he is at being swoony. Kinda like what Her Private Life did for Kim Jae Wook. 😉

Yoo In Na

Did you know that Yoo In Na started out as an idol trainee? (I didn’t, until researching for this post!) Starting from age 16, she spent 11 years training with 5 different agencies (ouch), but had difficulty getting her big break, and also, she struggled to memorize the complicated dance choreography, despite practicing for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week (double ouch). In the end, she quit her idol dreams and set her sights on acting instead.

She got her start in 2009 daily drama High Kick 2, and then got into DJ-ing(!), as she continued to act in supporting roles on various projects. She landed her first lead role in 2012’s Queen In Hyun’s Man, where I found her simply adorable. Instead of continuing her leading lady streak, however, she proceeded to act in a number of supporting roles, and her next leading role was in 2014’s rather lackluster My Secret Hotel. Recently, she got a chance to re-establish her leading lady charm in 2019’s Touch Your Heart, and is also slated to play lead again in 2020’s The Spy Who Loved Me.

I find Yoo In Na lovely and winsome, and she’s definitely paid her dues playing the cute best friend or the jealous frenemy; she has the potential to play lead more often, and I’d love to see that happen, going forward.

THE ONES WHO’RE JUST GETTING THERE / ALMOST THERE

These are the actors that I feel are either just on the cusp of breaking through to lead territory, or have recently broken through, and are working to sink roots and establish themselves as strong lead actors. In my head, these actors haven’t spent much time in lead territory, if they’ve managed to step foot there, and therefore we don’t know yet, whether they’ll end up toggling lead and supporting roles, at least for a while.

Lee Jae Wook

Lee Jae Wook is a hot up-and-comer with good reason.

He majored in theater studies at Chung-Ang University, and then got his acting start in 2018’s Memories Of The Alhambra as wild-eyed, intense Marco, then played the sweetest, dreamiest puppy in 2019’s Search: WWW, then played a brusque and aloof high school senior in 2019’s Extraordinary You, before playing a good-natured, fast-talking dork in 2020’s When The Weather Is Fine. And, in each of these very different roles, he’s been completely believable, and quite the scene-stealer, even. Can you say, Wow?

It’s no surprise that he’s graduating to lead territory early, and is poised to star as romantic leading man in 2020’s Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol. That’s very impressive indeed, and I am definitely curious to see what else Lee Jae Wook will bring to our screens.

Seo Ji Hye

Seo Ji Hye started out in 2003’s All In, and then spent quite a few years playing supporting roles, until she gained significant audience attention for playing second lead Seo Dan in 2020’s Crash Landing On You. This appears to be the big break she needed, and she’s finally headlined her first drama, 2020’s Dinner Mate. Word on the street is that audiences enjoyed her outing opposite Song Seung Hun, despite the show’s low ratings.

I really only noticed Seo Ji Hye in Crash Landing On You, and enjoyed her performance very well. I thought she made Seo Dan regal-stiff, yet awkward-vulnerable, and overall, very likable and empathetic. I think she’s got a lovely screen presence, and I’m looking forward to seeing her establish herself more firmly in leading lady territory.

Kim Jung Hyun

Kim Jung Hyun majored in Acting at the Korea National University of Arts, and started his acting career in musical theater, before making his onscreen debut in 2015 film Overman, which premiered at the Busan International Film Festival. For his role in Overman, Kim Jung Hyun earned Best New Actor Nominations at the 25th Buil Film Awards and the 22nd Chunsa Film Art Awards. Pretty impressive, yes?

On the drama front, his first role was as Gong Hyo Jin’s little brother in 2016’s Jealousy Incarnate, which gained him a fair amount of attention. He then moved quickly into his first lead role in School 2017. He looked set to establish himself as a lead actor, going on to headline 2018’s Welcome To Waikiki, and Time. Unfortunately, he had to drop out of Time early due to an eating and sleeping disorder apparently caused by his method acting (eep, the dangers of dedication!). He then took a break from his career for a while.

He came back with a bang in 2020’s Crash Landing On You, capturing audience’s hearts as a con-man with a heart of gold. Now he’s set to headline Queen Cheorin opposite Shin Hye Sun later this year, and it looks like he’s got his career back on track, after his health-related setback.

I really grew a soft spot for Kim Jung Hyun’s character in CLOY, and I’m looking forward to seeing him flex his acting chops, while establishing himself in leading man territory.

Kwak Dong Yeon

Kwak Dong Yeon moved from Daejeon to Seoul by himself at just 13 years old, to pursue his dream of being an artist. Wow. Talk about being young and focused! He studied music and acting, and was the lead guitarist of Kokoma Band (literally, “Little Kids’ Band”), managed by FNC Entertainment. Check out this clip which features a baby Kwak Dong Yeon (far right) on electric guitar. Here’s another clip of him on acoustic guitar and vocals. Cute, yes? 😀

Kwak Dong Yeon made his acting debut in 2012 family drama My Husband Got A Family, and did a range of supporting roles for several years until gaining audience attention in 2016’s Moonlight Drawn By Clouds as Park Bo Gum‘s broody badass royal bodyguard (swoony!). Subsequently he’s continued to appear in supporting roles, but 2020 feels potentially like a pivotal year for him.

He plays main romantic lead in 2020 family drama Never Twice, and also made an impressive scene-stealing cameo in It’s Okay To Not Be Okay. Because of that, I feel like Kwak Dong Yeon is quite possibly on the cusp of breaking into prime-time leading man territory. Bring it on, I say!

Son Seok Koo

Son Seok Koo got his start with a small part in 2014 movie Scarlet Innocence, but in the relatively few projects that he’s done, he’s been making his presence felt, with his uniquely quirky-deadpan sort of screen presence.

I found him equally memorable the various roles I’ve seen him in, in 2018’s Suits, 2019’s Designated Survivor: 60 Days and Be Melodramatic, and am pleased to see that he’s poised to headline 2020 movie The Outlaws 2, alongside Ma Dong Seok. I really like him as an actor, and hope that we’ll get to see more of Son Seok Koo on our screens – perhaps headlining a drama in the not-too-distant future.

Edit: I just found out that Son Seok Koo is the CEO(!) of GOMT (LTD), a large machine tool distribution company(!!). He’d participated actively in the management of the company before his acting debut, and has only recently stepped away from active management, despite still holding the title of CEO. Woah. I.. did not see that coming. I hafta admit, my mind is somewhat blown. 😯

Lee Da Hee

Lee Da Hee started her acting career with a small part in 2003 drama Thousand Years Of Love. She went on to play multiple supporting roles over the years. She gained a fair bit of audience attention in 2013’s I Hear Your Voice, where she did a very solid job playing Lee Bo Young’s long-time frenemy, and went on to her first lead role in 2014’s Big Man. 

I’d noticed Lee Da Hee in I Hear Your Voice, but it was really only in 2019’s Search: WWW where she captured my heart. As Cha Hyun, Lee Da Hee was fierce and badass, and yet, at the same time, innocent and pure, and I could not get over how fabulous she could be.

I’m stoked that she’s poised to headline 2020’s Luca, alongside Kim Rae Won. It remains to be seen whether she will continue to toggle lead and support roles, but I have confidence that Lee Da Hee has more than enough charm and chutzpah to establish herself as a bona fide leading lady.

Woo Do Hwan

Woo Do Hwan majored in Performance and Film at Dankook University, and made his screen debut with a bit part in 2011 daily drama You’re Here, You’re Here, You’re Really Here, and did a few other supporting roles before capturing audience attention in 2017’s dark thriller Save Me (which I am still too chicken to watch, heh).

He went on to a lead role in 2018’s The Great Seducer, which unfortunately wasn’t the ratings hit that MBC had hoped for. However, Woo Do Hwan’s come back strong, with a solid bromantic outing opposite Yang Se Jong in 2019’s My Country, and an impressive, scene-stealing performance in 2020’s The King: Eternal Monarch, playing two very different characters.

Woo Do Hwan’s now serving his Military Service, but I feel like he left on a very solid note, and is well-positioned to potentially make a crossover into lead territory, after his MS.

Kim Kyung Nam

Kim Kyung Nam got his start in 2012’s Faith, and has played a wide range of supporting characters since. He really caught my attention in 2018’s Where Stars Land / Fox Bride Star as one half of the very adorkable security couple, and I’m currently enjoying him very well in 2020’s The King: Eternal Monarch.

There’s something about his delivery that makes his characters pop; the emotions he presents feel real and raw, even when he sometimes doesn’t have many lines to speak, and I’ve grown very fond of him as an actor. I’m hoping that with a little more time and exposure, he’ll get his big break into lead territory.

Jin Ki Joo

Did you know that Jin Ki Joo didn’t start her career as an actress? She worked at Samsung SDS and then worked as a reporter for SBS regional affiliate G1, before getting into acting.

Jin Ki Joo got her acting start with a small part in 2015’s Twenty Again, and scored a second lead role the same year, in mini series Splash Splash Love. I first noticed her in 2018’s Misty, where she played an ambitious hoobae eager to unseat Kim Nam Joo from her principal news anchor position (maybe her reporter experience came in handy to give her delivery extra credibility?). She scored her first lead role in 2018’s Come And Hug Me, and then played lead again in 2019’s The Secret Life Of My Secretary.

I find Jin Ki Joo nicely versatile, having seen her play nasty-ambitious in Misty with just as much ease as cute-quirky, in The Secret Life Of My Secretary. It seems like she’s sinking roots quite nicely in lead territory, and her next drama will be family drama Love Blooming House.

Im Soo Hyang

Im Soo Hyang studied theater and film at Chung-Ang University, and made her first onscreen appearance in a bit part appearance in 2009 film 4th Period Mystery. Thereafter, she landed a breakthrough lead role in popular 2011 drama New Tales Of Gisaeng, for which she was nominated for a number of newcomer awards.

She toggled lead and supporting roles for a while, with her lead roles including 2014’s Inspiring Generation and 2017 daily drama Lovers In Bloom. She gained a nice amount of audience attention and popularity with her lead role in 2018’s My ID Is Gangnam Beauty, where I found her charming despite her somewhat limited delivery. She also headlined 2019’s Graceful Family, and is currently starring in prime time melodrama When I Was The Most Beautiful.

I’m pretty impressed with how far Im Soo Hyang has come, given (what I feel are) her less than top-tier acting chops. She does come across as charming and sincere in the roles where I’ve seen her, and I do think that she has a good chance of establishing herself long-term, as a leading lady.

THE ONES WHO MAY / MAY NOT CROSS OVER

There are two categories of actors in this section. There are those who show potential, but are still establishing themselves as supporting actors, and so it’s too early to say that they’re on the cusp of breaking through to lead.

Additionally, there are also actors that I think are great, but who are – in my personal opinion, don’t hate me! – probably unlikely to make that crossover to lead, unless a breakthrough role presents itself. We can hope, yes?

This section (and the next one too) most directly answers phl’s question about my favorite supporting actors.

Ye Ji Won

Ye Ji Won started her acting career in 1996 movie Mulberry, and followed shortly with a lead role in drama Juliet’s Man the following year. She was also lead in 2004 daily drama Old Miss Diary, and went on to star in the movie spin-off of the same name in 2006. She headlined a couple of other projects as well, but did more and more supporting roles over the years.

I’ve come to associate Ye Ji Won with scene-stealing supporting characters, because that seems to be the niche that she’s carved for herself. I thought she was a blast playing Eric‘s older sister in 2016’s Another Oh Hae Young. More recently, I really loved her quirky yet sensitive portrayal of her housekeeper character Jennifer, in 2018’s Thirty But Seventeen.

It seems rather unlikely that Ye Ji Won will cross back into lead territory, although I think she clearly has the acting chops for it. But then again, perhaps the right role will come along to allow her to showcase her leading lady talents.

Kim Sun Young

Kim Sun Young started her acting career with a small part in 2005 movie She’s On Duty, and another small part in 2006 movie Ice Bar. Over the years she’s played a wide variety of supporting characters in both dramas and movies, and she demonstrated an impressive versatility and range.

Her quiet and shy mom character in 2015’s Answer Me, 1988, is so different from her outlandish museum owner character in 2019’s Her Private Life. Basically, any time she shows up on my screen, I have confidence that she’ll pull off an excellent performance.

I think Kim Sun Young is amazing, and even though she’s built a reputation for herself as a great supporting character actor, I hope that she’ll get her time in the leading lady spotlight, with the right role.

Kim Young Min

Kim Young Min started out in movies, in 2001’s Address Unknown, in an ensemble cast, co-headlining the film with Yang Dong Geun and Ban Min Jung (pretty wow, for a debut!). His first drama role was in 2005’s Super Rookie, in a supporting role.

Over the years, Kim Young Min has played quite a wide variety of supporting roles, but only really caught mainstream audiences’ attention with his turn as a snooty executive in 2018’s My Mister. It was only after My Mister, that I came to realize what an impressive range Kim Young Min has. I was blown away by how different Kim Young Min was in 2020’s Crash Landing On You, compared to his outing in My Mister, and then how he managed to make his character in 2020’s A Couple’s World so distinct and different from his character in My Mister, despite both characters looking somewhat similar on paper.

I feel it’s quite likely that Kim Young Min will continue to thrive as a character actor, but then again, ya never know?

Park Jin Joo

Park Jin Joo’s first acting role was in 2011 movie Sunny, playing the teen version of one of the protagonists, and since then, she’s played multiple supporting characters in both dramas and movies. I always enjoy seeing her on my screen; she tends to bring a bright spark to the cast, and is often cast as the female lead’s best friend. I really enjoyed her as Park Min Young’s bestie in 2019’s Her Private Life, for example.

It doesn’t seem very likely that she will be able to cross over to lead territory, given that her filmography is essentially made up of smaller roles. I do think she’s awesome, though.

Also, did you know that she sings very well? I didn’t realize it, until I saw her in this video. Impressive, yes? 😀

Lee Yi Kyung

Lee Yi Kyung might have become a sportsman if he didn’t suffer from a career-ending injury that resulted in him developing depression. His father, then-CEO of LG Innotek, who hadn’t been keen on his son’s career choice, allowed – suggested, even – his son to drop out of school to live the life he wanted. Lee Yi Kyung then dropped out of high school, lived in a rooftop apartment in Noryangjin, and worked part-time jobs, while pursuing his acting dreams (what a story!).

Lee Yi Kyung made his acting debut in 2011, with a small part in prime-time rom-com Heartstrings, and followed that with many other supporting roles over the years. In recent years, he’s been making headway in establishing himself, headlining 2018’s Children Of Nobody alongside Kim Sun Ah. He also starred in 2018 movie Wretches / Monsters. He also played significantly meaty parts in 2018’s Welcome to Waikiki and 2019’s Welcome to Waikiki 2.

It remains to be seen if he’ll be able to land more lead roles, but he’s certainly become a well-recognized face among audiences, with his megawatt smile and elastic reaction faces. I do have a soft spot for Lee Yi Kyung, and hope that he’ll continue to do well while pursuing what he loves.

Lee Do Hyun

Lee Do Hyun studied theater and film at Chung-Ang University, and got his start in acting pretty recently, in 2017’s Prison Playbook, playing a young Jung Kyung Ho. I thought he was endearing in 2018’s Thirty But Seventeen, which was only his second acting project, and he was very adorable in Clean With Passion For Now (my friend Michele showed me just his scenes – and him being all ardent about his noona love is squee-worthy cuteness!). But it was in 2019’s Hotel Del Luna that he really stole my heart with his sensitive and poignant portrayal of the lovelorn Captain. It blows my mind now, to realize that that was only his fourth drama!

It’s still pretty early days for Lee Do Hyun, but I’m excited to see where this young man goes. He’s slated to star in 2020 rom-com 18 Again, and I’m definitely looking forward to him showcasing more of his acting chops.

Wi Ha Joon

Wi Ha Joon studied theater and film in Sungkyul University, and got his acting start in 2012 film Peace In Them. He’s since played a nice range of supporting roles in both dramas and movies. I first noticed him as Son Ye Jin’s disapproving younger brother in 2018’s Something In The Rain, but it was in 2019’s Romance Is A Bonus Book where he really earned himself a soft spot in my heart. His second lead was endearing and sweet, and very likable indeed.

I do think it’s early days as well, for Wi Ha Joon, but I do think he has potential to grow into some leading man shoes.

Kim Seul Gi

Kim Seul Gi apparently decided to pursue acting while in her third year of high school, as a way to cope with a broken heart. Aw. She studied at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, and in 2011, met well-known film director Jang Jin, when she worked with him on a memorial play. Jang Jin soon recruited her as a cast member for SNL Korea, and it was in SNL Korea that Kim Seul Gi enjoyed a rise in her popularity.

At around the same time, Kim Seul Gi made her acting debut with a small part on 2011’s Heartstrings, after which she’s appeared in a string of supporting roles in various movies and dramas. She first caught my attention as the sleep-deprived editor in 2013’s Flower Boy Next Door, where she stole every scene that she was in. Since then, she’s established a reputation for herself for being cute, versatile, and funny. Which means any time I see Kim Seul Gi on a cast list, it makes me happy. On the leading lady front, I thought she was excellent playing romantic lead in 2015 mini-series Splash Splash Love, and in 2017 drama special Queen Of The Ring.

I personally think Kim Seul Gi is wonderful, and I’d love to see her in more lead roles, but I think that would take a pretty special role to catapult her properly into lead territory, along with a forward-thinking writer-director team that’s able to look past her not typically pretty looks, to see and showcase her talent and charm.

Kim Sung Oh

Kim Sung Oh started out in 2002 movie Emergency Act 19, and has acted in multiple supporting roles over the years, both in dramas and movies. Looking at his filmography, he tends to be cast in cameos or other similarly small roles. The most notable exception, which I learned from Beez, is when he was cast as romantic male lead in 2016 mini series Baek Hee Has Returned / Becky’s Back.

I personally noticed him most in 2017’s Fight My Way, where he played Park Seo Joon‘s MMA coach and looked the most buff I’d ever seen him. I think he has an interesting face and from the screenshot above (from 2010 movie The Man From Nowhere), it’s clear that he’s capable of intensity. However, his drama appearances have been mostly limited to smaller supporting roles.

On the upside, he seems to be gaining more traction in movies, and starred in 2020 movie Secret Zoo (released in January), is slated to star in Night Of The Undead, due for release in September 2020. (Yay for Beez!)

Yang Kyung Won

Yang Kyung Won debuted as a musical actor in 2010, and only debuted on the small screen with a small part in 2015’s Six Flying Dragons. He went on to appear in several dramas in supporting roles, including 2017’s Fight My Way and The Liar And His Lover, as well as 2019’s Arthdal Chronicles. More recently, he captured a great deal of audience attention for his role as the wry, funny and likable Pyo Chi Soo in 2020’s Crash Landing On You.

I thought Yang Kyung Won was quite a scene stealer in CLOY, and I also think he did very well in his follow-up project, 2020’s Hi Bye, Mama!, where he plays a supporting role as an exorcist, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him on my screen, now that he’s become more of a known face.

Im Chul Soo

Im Chul Soo debuted as a stage & musical actor in 2004, and only started appearing on the small screen in 2015, in a variety of supporting roles.

I first noticed him in 2020’s Crash Landing On You, because of his very expressive face, and was subsequently delighted to see him cameo in 2020’s Hospital Playlist. His appearance was short, but full of emotional impact, and I count him as one of my favorite supporting actors at the moment.

Ji Seung Hyun

Ji Seung Hyun majored in English Language and Literature (aw! Just like me!) at Kyung Hee University (ok, not like me, lol), he got his acting start in 2008 movie A Goose’s Dream, and his first appearance in a drama was in a bit part in 2010’s OB & GY.

He captured quite a bit of audience attention in 2016 juggernaut Descendants Of The Sun, where he played an angsty, charismatic North Korean soldier. I thought he was excellent in that, and even felt ready to watch a show all about said North Korean soldier. He also gained a lot of audience attention in 2019’s Search: WWW, where he played Jeon Hye Jin’s estranged-but-lovelorn – and very smoldery! – husband. I loved him in that, and would’ve watched an entire drama featuring the story around this pairing (do we see a trend?). I also thought he was great in 2019’s My Country, where he played Yang Se Jong’s loyal mentor.

I think Ji Seung Hyun is pretty great; he’s got the charisma and acting chops that would enable him to carry a lead role – and I really hope we get to see him do that, in the not-too-distant future.

Random factoid: Did you know that he was born in Brazil? In Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, to be exact.

Lee Seung Joon

Lee Seung Joon debuted as a stage actor in 1999, and made his movie debut in a supporting role in 2001 short film Falling Season. I first noticed him in 2012’s Nine, where I thought he was really great as Lee Jin Wook’s incredulous and hapless bestie.

Since then I’ve had a soft spot for him, and he’s one of my favorite supporting actors. I think he’s got a really nice affable, warm energy about him, which shines through in all his various roles.

Kang Ki Young

Kang Ki Young studied theater and film at the University of Suwon, and got his acting start in 2014’s High School King where he played Seo In Guk’s dorky high-school friend – a pretty decent-sized role for an acting debut, I would say. I noticed him right away for his huge smile and very elastic reaction faces, as well as his knack for comedy. He’s since appeared in lots of movies and dramas, and I recently enjoyed him very much in 2018’s Terius Behind Me as an earnest-dorky stay-at-home dad, and in 2019’s At Eighteen, as a caring teacher.

I think Kang Ki Young’s got quite an effervescent quality about him, and yet is able to dial it down quite nicely, when the scene calls for it. Plus, he plays dorky so very well!

Lee Yoon Ji

Lee Yoon Ji got her master’s degree in theater and film at Chung-Ang University, and started her acting career in 2003 daily drama Nonstop 4, and has appeared in many supporting roles since then. I first noticed her while watching my gateway drama 2007’s Goong / Princess Hours, and I thought she was wonderfully poised and elegant as a princess. She made her theater debut in 2010, in the Korean staging of Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof, then won her first big-screen leading role in 2011 movie Couples.

I honestly thought she’d go on to bigger, more prominent roles, but Lee Yoon Ji’s continued to appear in supporting roles (some meatier than others) over the years. I can’t say I understand why, since I think she’s a competent and beautiful actress, who is adept at both the serious and funny ends of the acting spectrum.

I recently enjoyed her very much in 2018’s The Third Charm, where her supporting character gets a poignant, uplifting arc, and I hope to see more of her on my screen – preferably in meatier roles, please.

Lee Sang Hee

Lee Sang Hee got her acting start in 2014 movie Manshin, and since then, has racked up an impressive number of entries in her filmography in a wide range of supporting roles. I first noticed her in 2017’s 20th Century Boy And Girl, where she plays one of Han Ye Seul’s best friends. I also really liked her in 2019’s One Spring Night, where she plays – can you guess? – Han Ji Min’s best friend.

What really blew me away, though, is her outing in 2020’s A Piece Of Your Mind, where I didn’t recognize her for the longest time, playing a frumpy-earnest landlord. I think Lee Sang Hee’s a very versatile actress, and I’ve gotten to the point where I perk up when I see her on my screen.

Shim Hyung Tak

Shim Hyung Tak’s first screen appearance was in 2002 drama Reservation For Love, and he’s since appeared in a lot of dramas, with some movies on the side.

I first noticed him in 2014’s Let’s Eat, where his pompous yet lovesick character ended up melting my heart. I’ve had a soft spot for him since, and I thought it was quite amusing when he played a somewhat similar character in 2019’s Touch Your Heart. I’m sure Shim Hyung Tak’s got a lot more talents than that, but he does seem to have a particular talent for hamming it up as a pompous annoying prick, only to then worm his way into your heart with his earnest, marshmallow core.

Lee Joo Young

Lee Joo Young’s first acting role was in 2011 short film Behinds. She then made a bit of an impression in 2017’s Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, as one of the endearing and fiercely loyal trio of friends.

Recently, she gained a great deal of audience attention playing a transgender character in 2020’s Itaewon Class. I personally thought she did an excellent job, and I’m definitely curious to see what she does next.

THE VETERANS WE LOVE & ADMIRE

I wouldn’t call these supporting actors per se, since they are all amazing in their own right, and play supporting roles only because the stories themselves are focused on younger characters. These are the veterans that we love and admire, and who, when the opportunity presents itself (like in Dear My Friends, which features a main cast of veteran actors), blow us away with their effortless mastery of their craft.

I can’t possibly include all of them on this list, but here’s a shout-out to just some of the veterans who make our dramas better, by being in them.

Kim Mi Kyung

Kim Mi Kyung’s been active in the industry since 1993, where she made her first screen appearance in TV series Love Is Helpless. She’s since been in a mindboggling number of projects, and recently, seems to be just about everywhere in Dramaland (a very good thing!).

One of my favorite Kim Mi Kyung outings is her role as Ahjumma in 2015’s Healer, where she was quirky AND badass as a hacker extraordinaire. I also thought her performance as Park Shin Hye’s mute mom in 2013’s Heirs was very special, even though I thought the show itself was pretty meh. And, she made me cry big ugly tears in 2017’s Go Back Couple, because she was just that amazing as Jang Na Ra’s mom.

In short, Kim Mi Kyung is turning out to be a national treasure, and any time she shows up on my screen, I know I’m in for a treat.

Ra Mi Ran

Ra Mi Ran reportedly spent years in theater before making her screen debut with 2005 movie Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. However, it was many projects later, before she gained significant audience attention with her role as Uhm Jung Hwa’s bestie in 2012 movie Dancing Queen.

Over the years, Ra Mi Ran’s established herself as an excellent supporting actress, and has appeared in numerous movies and dramas. I was first wowed by her in her scene-stealing role in 2015’s Answer Me 1988, where I just could not get over her fabulosity, combined so nicely with her warm delivery of her character, and I’ve basically enjoyed her in everything I’ve seen her in since.

In recent years, Ra Mi Ran’s enjoying more popularity (YAY!), and has starred in several projects, including 2017 drama Avengers Social Club, 2018 drama The Miracle That We Met, 2019 movie Miss And Mrs. Cops, 2020 drama Black Dog, and 2020 movie Honest Candidate. I’m so happy for her – and for us, coz more Ra Mi Ran on our screens can only be a good thing. 😉

Kim Won Hae

Kim Won Hae made his acting debut in 1998 movie Spring In My Hometown, and has appeared in a staggering number of dramas and films, in a wide variety of supporting roles. Over time, Kim Won Hae’s struck me as something of a chameleon, with his extreme versatility as well as his gung-ho attitude in taking on roles that can be considered somewhat controversial. His role in 2017’s Strong Woman Do Bong Soon comes to mind, where he played a very theatrical and effeminate character. (I thought Show’s humor was in bad taste, but that’s a completely different issue, I think.)

In recent days, it’s been reported that Kim Won Hae has tested positive for COVID-19, and is now self-isolating while waiting for admission to hospital once a ward is available. Please recover well, Ahjusshi!

Yoo Oh Sung

Yoo Oh Sung studied theater and film at Hanyang University, and his first acting role was in 1991 movie Love, Love: The Stories Of Han Hie-jak, and his biggest success was co-starring in 2001 movie Friend, which was a smash hit.

His subsequent lead roles didn’t do well, and he made a return to the small screen in 2004, headlining sageuk Jang Gil San. In recent years, he has appeared in multiple supporting roles in both movies and dramas.

He always strikes me as having an expressive face that can be full of evil intent, and he’s pretty great to have onscreen. I found him very memorable in 2014’s Joseon Gunman, where he played Jeon Hye Bin’s doting if misguided father. More recently, I also thought he was excellent in 2018’s Are You Human Too? as our resident baddie. He’s just got a great smirk.

Kim Hye Ja

Kim Hye Ja dropped out of college to pursue a career in acting (talk about running after your dreams!), made her screen debut in 1963, and went on to win the Best New Actress (TV) Award at the 2nd Baeksang Arts Awards in 1966. She’s also won the Best Actress Award over many different awards ceremonies over many different years. Wow!

I loved Kim Hye Ja right away when I saw her in my gateway drama, 2007’s Goong / Princess Hours, where she played the sweet and open-minded Queen Mother. I just love her warm onscreen presence and her beautiful smile. More recently, I was blown away by her amazing performance in 2019’s The Light In Your Eyes / Dazzling, for which she won the Daesang (Grand Prize) at the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards. Love her.

Na Moon Hee

Na Moon Hee started her acting career in 1961, and has appeared in an astounding number of films and dramas, with a bit of theater on the side as well. She’s won multiple acting awards over the years, and has proven herself to be just as adept at tickling your funny bone, as tugging on your heartstrings.

I thought she was great in 2014 movie Miss Granny (such an excellent show!), and she blew me away with her performance in 2017 movie I Can Speak, for which she won multiple Best Actress Awards. What a queen.

Yoon Yeo Jung

Yoon Yeo Jung dropped out of college in 1966 after passing open auditions held by TBC, and made her screen debut in 1967 drama Mister Gong. She became quite the trailblazer, working with Kim Ki Young (considered Korea’s first style-conscious, experimental director), and starring in a number of films where she played risqué, provocative characters. She retired in 1975 at the peak of her career to get married, but made a comeback in 1984. Wow. What a legend!

From what I’ve seen of her in variety (like Noonas Over Flowers), I think Yoon Yeo Jung comes across as a strong, independent woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Pretty darn awesome. Recently, I thought she was amazing in 2018 movie Keys To The Heart.

Kim Young Ok

Kim Young Ok made her screen debut in 1957 movie Farewell Sorrow!, and is known as the Nation’s Grandma for her multiple portrayals of grandmothers in both dramas and movies. I will always remember her best as Gong Yoo‘s grandma though, from 2007’s Coffee Prince. 😉

More recently, I’ve been enjoying her in 2020’s The King: Eternal Monarch as the court lady who fusses over Lee Min Ho. I’m just so amazed that, at the time of this posting, Kim Young Ok is still actively acting, at 82 years of age! Wow! That’s pretty incredible!

Kwon Hae Hyo

Kwon Hae Hyo studied theater and film at Hanyang University, and made his acting debut in 1990 stage play The Good Person Of Szechwan, and then made his onscreen debut in 1992 movie Myong-ja Akiko Sonia. He’s since appeared in multiple dramas and movies in a wide variety of roles.

My first impression of him was in 2002’s Winter Sonata, where he played Bae Yong Joon’s affable friend and colleague. Over the years, he’s proven himself to be very versatile. Recently, I was pretty darn impressed with his outing as the resident baddie in 2019’s The Crowned Clown, followed by his role as a sweet and laidback CEO in Search: WWW the same year. Talk about coming in strong on both ends of the spectrum.

Park Sang Myun

Park Sang Myun studied theater at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, and made his acting debut in 1993 in stage musical Guys And Dolls. He then made his screen debut in 1996 movie Boss. He enjoyed a steady rise in popularity, and headlined several movies in 2001, including My Wife Is A Gangster and Hi! Dharma!. His popularity waned in 2002, however, and he has continued to act in both movies and dramas in a variety of supporting roles.

My favorite role of his so far, is that of Park Min Young’s wonderful doting dad in 2015’s Healer. I also really liked him as Lee Jang Woo’s kind father in 2019’s Graceful Family (do we see a trend here? Ha.) I just have this soft spot of him in the doting dad kind of space, even though he’s perfectly capable and competent in his other roles as well.

Kim Chang Wan

Did you know that Kim Chang Wan is a rock singer, composer, musician, actor, TV host, radio DJ, writer, and poet? Woah. I didn’t either, until I set about writing this post. He formed rock band Sanulrim with his two younger brothers, and they released their first album in 1977, to critical and commercial success. Their psychedelic rock / hard rock sound was considered fresh, and is credited with revitalizing the Korean music scene. Wow. Sanulrim disbanded in 2008, when drummer Kim Chang Ik died in tragically in a traffic accident. That’s really sad. 🙁

As a music director and film score composer, Kim Chang Ik eventually began to also appear in movies and dramas in supporting roles, and has acted in an impressive number of projects since. My deepest memory of Kim Chang Ik is his role in 2007’s Coffee Prince, as the kind-hearted manager of the café with questionable personal hygiene standards. Quite unforgettable, I thought!

Ahn Nae Sang

Ahn Nae Sang studied Theology(!) at Yonsei University, and began his acting career on the stage, before making his screen debut in 1994 short film Baeksekin, directed by Bong Joon Ho. He’s since appeared in numerous movies and dramas in a very wide range of roles. Ahn Nae Sang is quite the chameleon, and has played good guys, bad guys, funny guys and fierce guys, all with skill and aplomb.

My first memory of Ahn Nae Sang is in 2009 family drama Three Brothers, where he acted as the eldest brother (and Lee Joon Hyuk acted as the youngest). It’s a bit of a mind-bender now, to think of Ahn Nae Sang acting as someone’s son, rather than someone’s father, no? 😉 More recently, I thought he was very excellent as resident baddie Nam Jeon, in 2019’s My Country.

Kim Gab Soo

Kim Gab Soo made his acting debut in 1977, and has acted in numerous movies and dramas, in a diverse range of roles. He’s won multiple acting awards over the years, and also runs his own master class acting studio.

In my head, he’s always been great at playing antagonists, because of the way he’s able to channel eerie calm without moving a facial muscle. In recent years, though, he’s surprised me (pleasantly) by playing more affable, non-threatening characters, like in 2019’s Designated Survivor: 60 Days and 2020’s Hospital Playlist.

Kim Hae Sook

Kim Hae Sook made her acting debut in 1974 drama Chief Inspector, and went on to appear in numerous films and dramas, in a wide variety of roles. She’s won multiple awards over the years, and definitely feels like an OG in Hallyu, because for a time, she seemed to be just about every character’s mother. In conversation, that’s how my mom and I refer to her: Everyone’s Mother. Heh.

One of my earliest impressions of Kim Hae Sook, is in 2002’s Winter Sonata, where she plays Choi Ji Woo’s mom. I also really loved her in 2010 family drama Life Is Beautiful, where she plays the family’s loving mother. Recently, I really enjoyed her in 2020’s Hospital Playlist, where she plays Yoo Yeon Seok’s slightly quirky but very lovable mom. Yes, we see a trend; there’s a reason I thought of her as everyone’s mom. 😉

IN CLOSING

I hope you guys found my effort to answer the question on supporting actors somewhat helpful. Like I said before, I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic, and these are just my personal thoughts and impressions.

If I missed your favorite supporting / character actors, or if you have insights to share, please tell us about it in the comments! 🙂

Love! ❤

~kfangurl

Someday, my turn will come, yes? ❤️

POST-SCRIPT:

1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!

2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!

236 thoughts on “Dear kfangurl: Who are your favorite supporting actors – and will they ever get to play lead??

  1. merij1

    We’re almost done with a re-watch of One Spring Night and are keenly aware of the quality of the supporting actors.

    There are so many great ones in this show, but I’ll focus on two to illustrate a point: sometimes a supporting actor replicates roles they are already known for, over and over; and other times their acting is so good it’s hard to see them as the same person you watched in those earlier shows.

    Example #1 of the more versatile type — Seo Jung-Yeon

    In One Spring Night (OSN) she played the ML’s boss at the pharmacy and his key supporter as he struggles to balance his roles as a single dad and yet also as a single young man. We were 8 episodes into our re-watch before I looked her up to see what other shows she’d been in.  Most of you haven’t seen Was It Love?, but omg, we had finished it just a week prior and yet we still didn’t recognize her.  In Was It Love? she portrays a memorably ruthless entertainment agent named Jennifer Song.  Bear in mind, these shows were filmed only one year apart.  As the high-powered Jennifer Song, she looks like this:  https://thetvdb.com/series/was-it-love/people/65573170

    Example #2 — Gil Hae-yeon

    She played the FL’s mom in both OSN and Something In The Rain (SitR) .  In SitR, she is thoroughly hateable. You can make excuses all you want about cultural or generational differences, but the mom she portrays is despicable regardless and she conveys that masterfully.  In OSN, however, she is just about the best mom ever.  Really, really a great person and she conveys that just as convincingly. You might also recall her as the crooked “stock market psychic” in Secret Love Affair.  She looks the same in all three roles, but the characters could not be more different.

    Counter examples:

    Whereas, by comparison, Kim Chang-wan pretty much conveys the same persona in every role we’ve seen him in.  My wife and I love that persona, so no complaints at all, but you know what I mean. Ditto for Kim Mi-kyung, perennial K-drama mom (other than when she’s a ex-police detective/hacker ahjumma to Ji Chang-wook, ‘natch!)

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Yes, there’s really so much talent in our pool of supporting actors! 🤩🤩🤩 Sometimes I have trouble recognizing them too, like in Itaewon Class, where I did not recognize Yoo Jae Myung for the entirety of my watch! 😆 But that just goes to show how great he was (and his makeup artist wasn’t too shabby either!)

      Kim Mi Kyung is wonderful in everything! 😍😍😍

      Reply
      1. j3ffc

        OMG, I didn’t recognize him either and had to look up the actor and found that he was in Reply 1988. Totally different and very impressive. He is completely believable in his role.

        On the topic of Itaewon Class, not a completely good fit for this thread because she is the FL in her very first drama, but it seems that Kim Da-mi has enormous potential.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl Post author

          Oh yes, Yoo Jae Myung was in Reply 1988! I kind of forgot about that! And yes, he’s SO very different in both roles; amazing! 🤯😃

          I think you’re right; Kim Da Mi does look to be rising up the ranks in a fast and furious fashion. She debuted only a couple of years ago, in movies, and she’s already playing the female lead. That’s like skipping high school and going straight to college! 😆 I’m curious to see what she does next.

          Reply
  2. Andechi

    My favorite second lead turns into male lead right now is : Yoon Hyun Min!! I noticed him in Discovery of Love (along with my other fav: Kim Seul Gi) and then Witch’s Romance. Fast forward several years, I really can’t believe my eyes that he’s playing male lead in Witch at Court and pretty swoony. After that, eventhough the dramas are not high rating, he has established himself as a lead!
    How I wish Kim Seul Gi will get the same chance because her acting is really good.

    Other actor that toggle between lead and second lead is Choi Jin Hyuk. I’m fine with it actually as long as he got any roles coming, coz not only he’s handsome and tall but his acting can be good with the right director.

    Some lead actor got me scratching when they can’t act but you have explained it very clear that it’s all in the Producer’s hand to choose who will be the lead in their drama. I think most of the time popularity does play a heavy factor.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Yes, Yoon Hyun Min seems to have graduated quite successfully into lead territory. 🙂 I suppose you watched My Holo Love then, since he was lead in that? 😉

      Lol. It’s true that sometimes we wonder how someone could get cast as a lead, but it usually goes back to popularity, or, if dramas are to be believed, then maybe some kind of behind-the-scenes powerful connection (which then probably connects with profitability, since the powerful backer probably can invest in the drama..!) My imagination runs wild! 😆

      Reply
  3. Fellowsingaporean

    THANK YOU for writing about Kwak Dong Yeon and Ji Seung Hyun!!!!!! They have amazing charisma and stage presence and it’s sad how underrated they are even with so much talent. Hopefully this article can open people’s eyes to the wide and wonderful range of indispensable supporting actors/actresses in the kdrama world.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi FellowSingaporean! 😀 Thank you for enjoying the post! 😉 Yay for more Kwak Dong Yeon and Ji Seung Hyun love in the house – I must confess that I have an especially soft spot for Ji Seung Hyun. <3 Hoping for bigger and meatier roles for so many of these excellent supporting actors! <3

      Reply
      1. Fellowsingaporean

        Yes, definitely. Oh by the way, have you watched Team Bulldog Off-Duty Investigation? It’s an OCN drama that aired this year and has Ji Seung Hyun in a comedy role!

        Reply
        1. Fellowsingaporean

          Before I forget, he also played Editor Yoo Jung Seok in JYBC’s The Good Detective. 2020 has been quite a year for him!

          Reply
            1. Fellowsingaporean

              I can’t speak for The Good Detective, but please do check out Team Bulldog if you are a fan of crime and comedy, and love great character arcs! (Ji Seung Hyun is great as Profiler Tak Won, especially in episode 4).

              Reply
  4. vipulasharma

    I think Hwang Bo Ra is amazing too. She is very funny in the roles I have seen her in. I would watch her as lead or even a second lead. She is pretty cool. And Son Seok Koo is super cool. I saw him in Sense8 and loved him there and then was so surprised to see him in Be Melodramatic. 🥰 Also, Jeon Yeo Been is someone I am looking forward to see in my dramas. She was very good in Be melo and her and Seok Koo’s chemistry was pretty amazing. Wish to see both of them as a lead couple soon. 🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Oh yes, Hwang Bo Ra is awesome. She always leans into the funny, even when it’s embarrassing. And yes, Son Seok Koo is really cool. I am loving his quirky and interesting drama picks! Loved him in Be Melodramatic, and yes, I’d love to see him and Jeon Yeo Bin be an OTP in a drama! 😀

      Reply
  5. beez

    I always suspected Park Jin joo could sing just from a one very short line she sang on The Girl Who Sees Smells. I later found out she won a season of Korea’s King of Masks Singer. And this came up in my feed today – a link to her singing. Her voice is clear as a bell! https://youtu.be/vR9cdOMbnJM

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Wow, her voice IS as clear as a bell! Her vocal control is excellent, and she sounds lovely. It makes me wonder why she didn’t choose to try to break into singing instead of acting instead? She’s got talent. 🤩🤩

      Reply
  6. Kay

    Wow! This was such a wonderful post and so thorough. You mention so many wonderful actors from younger to older that have really made their mark on dramas. I have many favorite supporting actors who I always wish would be given a proper chance as a lead because I know how well they would do. Your reasons for why that opportunity doesn’t always happen are spot on.

    I’m rooting for many of the actors you mentioned, but one in particular is Lee Yi Kyung. His talent is through the roof. From comedy to serious, he can do it all. I’m glad to see he’s been given a chance at a couple of lead roles recently and really hope he is able to break through as a proper lead. Thanks for this wonderfully thought out article 🙂

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, thanks for enjoying the post, Kay! 😀 And thanks for affirming the casting logic – I had no basis for that except my own observations and theories, so it’s assuring to know that you feel it’s on the right track! 🙂 Lee Yi Kyung is really good, I agree! And after finding out more about his backstory, I want him to be given more opportunities, more than ever. He really pours his passion into his craft, and he takes it so seriously. I’d love for him to be offered meatier roles, to showcase his talent! 🤩

      Reply
      1. Kay

        I felt the same way to after reading about Lee Yi Kyung. He has so much talent that I don’t want it to go to waste. I too hope he gets offered more meatier roles where he can be taken more seriously. Of course, I want lots more comedies too since he really makes me laugh like no other 🙂

        Reply
          1. beez

            Even in Waikiki (the first one), his silliness is infectious. He plays an actor and even the quick scenes of his various auditions show what a good actor he really is.

            And his constant reassurance that 괜찮아 (It’ll be fine) 😂

            Reply
          2. Kay

            That’s what I’ve heard, and I don’t doubt it 🙂 I’m planning on eventually checking out Children of Nobody since I’ve heard such good things about him there too 🙂

            Reply
  7. oldlistener

    A couple of favorite supporting actors for me: Mandy Tao and Amanda Chou. These Taiwanese actresses were very good in Bromance. They have lush looks in comparison to the usual skinny model types. They have been good at portraying young women with vivid personalities in several shows I’ve watched. Mandy Tao was just right as the younger sister on Love Around. Amanda Chou was very effective as the second female lead in Two Fathers.

    I don’t recognize all the Among the actors Kfangirl showed at the top of the OP. I have appreciated Park Jin Joo’s presence in a number of shows including Something about 1%.

    Chae Soo Bin was very funny in the early scenes of I Am Not A Robot. Yoo In Na was just right for the leading lady in Touch Your Heart. Lee Da Hee was great as the competitive sister in Beauty Inside (drama). I re-watch My ID is Gangnam Beauty regularly; Im Soo Hyang and Cha Eun-woo made that show for me. All these actresses are convincing leading ladies in a good show.

    Reply
  8. Shaffira Gayatri

    Thrilled to see you mentioning Seo Yea Ji here, whom I believe has been so underrated if not for her superb performance in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (she was also fantastic in Save Me). Wondering whether you’ll be reviewing IOTNBO? It’s my favourite drama of 2020 and I’m really looking forward to read your review on it ♥️

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Seo Ye Ji is really proving herself to be a fully capable leading lady! 😀 Yes, I do plan to review IOTNBO, though I think it’ll be a couple of weeks before I’ll be able to post the review. Stay tuned for it though, it’s coming! 😀

      Reply
  9. BE

    Speaking of Bae Doo Na, supporting actors, and fantasy drama, while I actually actively dislike Zombie shows and movies, I mean what kind of villain can a zombie really be, kind of mindless impulses, I would like to say that Kingdom is very, very good: Bae Doo Na as ever while not exactly the lead, the show’s true north, and the supporting actor Kim Sang Ho, who was wonderful in Nokdu Flower, elder Heo Joon Ho (Jang Hyuk fans will remember him as Jang Hyuk’s father in Beautiful Mind), the oh so familiar Jun Suk Ho, and especially for the women aboard, Kim Sung Kyu who is an excellent, somewhat young (mid 30s, looks younger) physical actor with real charisma, all worth watching. Kingdom is an exemplary fantasy in that the story presents a hard hitting metaphor for how political power exploits the lower classes by using them for their own purposes; the world with its basis in Joseon historical context and political intrigue makes sense; the zombie trope working because these are not just clumsy zombies, but freaky deaky olympic athlete total squad menace kinds of zombies–real no frills yikes kinda guys; the plot hums, and the ensemble is very good.

    Reply
    1. beez

      I haven’t watched Kingdom yet (there’s got to be a lot more famous abs in the cast) – I googled Heo Joon Ho and was surprised at the face I saw because that actor is not the one who played in Beautiful Mind. But he is a good supporting actor who I see in a LOT of dramas. He’s usually funny but can bring the emotions – his role in City Hunter comes first to mine.

      Reply
    2. Snow Flower

      Kingdom is a great political thriller. The addition of Zombies intensifies its message even more.

      Reply
    3. kfangurl

      I have heard lots of good things about Kingdom as well, BE – I’m just too chicken to watch a zombie show. 😅 So thanks for giving the show and its cast a shout-out, coz I certainly can’t, since I haven’t watched it. 😜😅

      Reply
      1. BE

        Ryu Seong-Ryong plays the villain of the piece. I recently watched the historical battle epic movie The Admiral: Roaring Currents, which was while slow paced for the first half, simply riveting for the final hour and change. Ryu Seong-Ryong was even more villainous in that. Have you seen him in anything. A seriously charismatic scoundrel in both the things I have seen him in.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          I looked up his filmography, and I have apparently seen him in some older dramas, like Personal Taste and My Love From The Stars. I can see how he’d make a great villain! I love your phrase “charismatic scoundrel” – so perfect! <3

          Reply
  10. Lehar

    Thank you for the amazing list. I really picked up a lot of actors and a lot of dramas to watch from here.
    I absolutely love Yoo In Na and would love to see her in more leading roles.
    I admire Kim Seon Ho too. I found him to be only appealing factor in strongest deliveryman and in Drama special ‘You drive me crazy” i absolutely loved him.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, I’m glad you found this list helpful, Lehar! 😀 Yoo In Na is very charming indeed. I loved her in Queen In Hyun’s Man. Have you seen her in that yet? She’s so endearing in it. <3

      Reply
  11. simplyusi

    Wow, quite a list. My favorite from your “maybe not” list is Kim Seul Gi. I simply love her and her acting always is quite natural, if you know what I mean. It never looks like it is her job.

    I’m a bit mixed about Im Soo Hyang. Her facial acting for me lacks a lot even though she impersonated her roles well. It is just, I can’t connect with her. Sometimes I feel looking to the outside of a fridge.

    I was surprised when I watched Extraordinary You that Lee Jae Wook was so favored. Regarding that he wasn’t a rookie his acting -for me- fell totally through. He was so woodenly and stiff and quite uncomfortable sometimes. I have watched other Drama with him just to check and yes, he is promising. But for me he lacks this screen presence you mentioned. Okay, he is still young. Maybe in 10 years.

    For Park Jin Joo I think she always will stay 2nd row. Don’t know why but for me she isn’t just leading role material but I love her as sidekick. Maybe she is a future Kim Mi Kyung <3, who feels for me she is like everywhere. Wouldn't be surprised when lots from the first row wish they could land that much roles and get such a long lasting career. Supernova vs Evening Star…I know what I would choose.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Kim Seul Gi is fantastic! 😀 I agree that Im Soo Hyang isn’t a very strong actress, however she has managed to break into lead territory, and manages to be quite charming, in spite of her acting limitations. That’s quite impressive, given her less than amazing acting chops. 😉

      I think it would be helpful to see Lee Jae Wook in other shows besides Extraordinary You. He has a lot of range, and has more screen presence than most other actors in his age bracket. In Extraordinary You, his character was supposed to be on the stiffer side, but if you watch him in Search: WWW or Memories of the Alhambra, he comes across very differently. 🙂

      Reply
      1. simplyusi

        I watched LJW in few other Dramas to check and he is promising but he still has a long way to go. I think he is a bit too much hyped for whatever reason.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl Post author

          Hmm.. that’s interesting that you feel that way.. I have been quite impressed with him across his various roles.. Maybe it’s one of those subjective things. 😅

          Reply
  12. beez

    @kfangurl – such a nice way of putting it. I was just looking at that video you posted of Yoo Ji tae and I misunderstood something you said and once I realized the mistake I was feeling a bit of trepidation of fandom backlash so did not comment but what the heck, here goes – I saw “BTS” which used to only stand for “behind the scenes” but in my mistake, I really thought I was going to see Ji tae interviewing the band BTS (Duh!) They’ve taken over so much that I’d almost forgotten that BTS means behind the scenes. Whereas before they got popular I would be thrown when I clicked on something expecting behind the scenes and I got the band. And now it’s quite the opposite, I think I’m getting BTS but I get actual behind the scenes of something lol I know I’m not saying anything negative about the band, but I think we all know by now there are two fandoms you don’t mess around with – the Army and the BeeHive!

    Reply
    1. beez

      I actually tried to hide what I was saying in the previous post with spoiler tags as I’m chicken. But the tags didn’t work. Oh well. *shrug*

      Reply
    2. kfangurl

      Ahaha! Whoops! Sorry, I didn’t realize it would be misleading! As you know, I’m not a kpop fan, but admittedly I’ve heard enough about BTS and their fandom to understand what you mean! I hope you liked the video of Yoo Ji Tae though! He looks SO GOOD in it! 😍 (I think that was on the Healer review.. I tried searching for it on this page but came up empty, but I know I posted it very recently!)

      Reply
      1. MC

        I can solve this mystery for you all – it’s on the Healer review, KFG posted it for me cos I was talking about Yoo Ji Tae. Hahaha I can absolutely understand what you mean by BTS, beez! I would consider myself ARMY (not the high level type but I like their music and will keep up with their songs) – used to think of BTS as behind the scenes but now… nope it’s just the band. Hehe. In Bangkok Thailand the train stations are called BTS – I can’t imagine how confused I would be if I’m living there!

        Reply
      2. beez

        Not Healer. It was something I hadn’t watched. I think it was while I was venturing down the rabbit holes of the links in this post but I can’t remember which one.

        Reply
  13. Timescout

    What a great post! A real tribute to the (often) unsung heroes/heroines of kdramas. Many a time it’s been the supporting cast that has actually been the making of a drama for me. Even when I’m happy with the leads. This is especially true with romances/romcoms as there’s only so much loveydovey I can take before checking out, so interesting side characters are a godsend. 😀

    I’m so glad you had a separate section for the veterans, I just love all of them. I remember when Kim Gab Soo used to be ‘in every drama ever’, now it seems to be Kim Won He. *g*

    You know, I don’t think I know half of these names people have been mentioning in the comments. o_0 I’ll have to spend some time looking up who most of them are and then I’ll probably go “oh, that’s him/her, I’ve seen him/her in gzillion dramas!”, ha. I’m generally really, really bad with Korean names.

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Timescout – You know I often wonder if the hunks of yesterday (the born in the 1970’s guys) will soon become the old seasoned ahjumonis, ahjusshis, halabeojis we’ll be seeing soon. I’m sure most of these older actors and actresses were the hot stuff of “their day”.

      Reply
    2. kfangurl

      Aw, thanks for enjoying the post, Timescout! 😀 I know it was a beast to get through, since it was a beast to write! 😆 YES, the supporting actors are often unsung heroes.. they don’t enough credit for the awesome work that they do! And also, I don’t think that you’re bad at Korean names.. I had the same issue! I had to look up a lot of the names mentioned in the comments, and then I had that exact reaction: OHHH, I KNOW THIS ONE! 😆 It’s a great time for us to get a little more acquainted with our unsung heroes, I reckon! 😉

      Reply
  14. phl1rxd

    Well Fangurl – ever since I wrote that little blurb I have been collecting these fine actors and actresses in my head in the hopes that you would create a post like this one.

    I really appreciate that you have so many juicy links everywhere. How long did this take you to write? Wow. There is a lot of information about these actors that I did not expect. And not only that, but you organized it in a very thoughtful way by breaking it down into categories that make sense.

    I do find screen presence and acting ability more important than popularity and looks (unless the actor is Oded Fehr, looks usually do not sway me). Also, when I research a drama I find that I am hesitant to dive in if it is full of KPop idols.

    Although there is considerable talent among the young actors in KDrama, for me it is the older veteran actors who are more appealing. However, you did select some great talent from the younger crowd such as Park Jin Joo (I smile when I see her and yes, she really can sing!), Kim Kyung Nam (has a stellar career in front of him), Yoo In Na (my favorite actress from the younger set) and Jang Ki Yong (he killed it in Kill It), Lee Si Eon (I would like to be his neighbor) and not mentioned but loved nonetheless, is Jung Hye Sung (a natural comedic actress that needs more roles).

    My Holy Trinity of male secondary actors are (in this order) Kim Won Hae, Ahn Kil Kang and Jo Jae Yoon.

    HM Male actors – Lee Kyung Young (sigh, such a commanding presence), Kim Kwang Gyu (he brings blinking his eyes to an art form), Lee Han Wi (everybody’s Dad at some point in their career), Kim Yong Gun & Park Young Gyu (so good as the bad guys), Uhm Hyo Sub & Lee Joon Hyuk ‘72 (what havn’t they been in?), Jang Gwang (so Buddha-like even when his role is an evil character) and Kim Sung Kyum (his Grandfather role in Goblin moved me deeply).

    Female actresses – Kim Mi Kyung (simply the best), Na Moon Hee (her performance in episode 15 of Padam Padam was so real and so moving), Park Joon Geum (she truly excels at throwing money across the table), Seo Yi Sook (really such a badass), Hwang Young Hee and Go Doo Shim (consummate performers and favorite Moms) and last but not least Ye Ji Won (because we all need her).

    As Sean said above, there are many times when I will remember the supporting actors more than the leads. We have those dramas where the OTP does not sizzle but the secondary love line does.

    Praying for all 31 of the theater group, including Kim Won Hae, who tested positive for Covid-19. 😇🙏

    Everyone please stay safe and stay in watching Kdramas if you can! 🙆‍♀️🙌

    Reply
    1. beez

      Wow. Phl1rxd – I had to Google every single one of those names except Kim Mi-Kyung. Starting with Mr. Fine from The Mummy. Every single one of the names made me go “Ohhhhhh, him/her!”

      I’d like to add my personal swoony favorite Cheon Ho-Jin.

      Reply
      1. phl1rxd

        Yes Beez!! Every time I see Cheon Ho-Jin I think ‘Here comes Mr. President!’ even if he is playing a Dad. I am grateful for all the wonderful hours of entertainment these talented actors have given us.

        The first time (and every time since) I have watched the original Mummy and seen ‘Mr. Fine’ I gasp every time he comes on screen (sometimes I have to clutch my heart as well ’cause you know that feeling Beez – when that much fineness is on the screen it can be hard on a poor girl’s heart). My family knows all about it. It is similar to Sean’s Aquaman story ☺ BTW – he trained in Hapkido.

        Reply
        1. beez

          Yassss! Although I don’t sexualize Mr. Fine. He’s too beautiful for that. For me he’s like a work of art.

          My family knows nothing about my Korean heart throbs because they are totally uninterested. But my son does know I totally unabashedly go ga-ga over Jason Momoa. Not his acting though. I pretty much can’t stand to see him act but still photos. *whew* *fanning*

          Sean has an Aquaman story?

          Reply
          1. seankfletcher

            So, Beez, the story goes like this. In our house, the ladies like the boys from Supernatural and in addition to this, my wife is partial to Jason M. We have followed Jason since his Stargate Atlantis days. Then when he was Khal Drogo in GoT that was “ohh another monosyllabic role.” With Frontier, that was a no – too gruesome (I had to laugh – I said you watch zombie shows!). I will mention District 9 here, which we liked – and I know you have reservations about, but the boys were not allowed to watch it back then (but, I let them anyway) as we call this the “watermelon” movie – plenty of exploding bodies all over the place. Anyway, the other night we started watching Rambo – Last Blood and the boys came in and started watching it too. Their mother said a few things – to which the response was, but mum, you like zombie shows. It was a great, totally unbelievable, tongue in cheek finale to Rambo, My wife had left the room, but did ask how the movie ended. I totally accept that everyone else here will say it was a load a rubbish.

            So, back to Aquaman. We had to go and see Aquaman when it came out, and if nothing else is on, let’s watch Aquaman. Anyway, back at the cinema, and to cut a long story short, the boys were beside themselves as their father rolled his eyes every few minutes in repose to their mother’s enthusiasm. Then we were catching up with Graham Norton recently – ohhh look, it’s Jason. Of course, we are now watching his new show: See 😂🤣😂

            Reply
            1. beez

              Sean, you’re a saint to sit through Jason Momoa’s shows with your wife. I must be the one person on the planet to have only seen the first season of Game of Thrones. But my son insisted I watch and he downloaded the episodes for me but he couldn’t get the rest of the seasons and I don’t have cable tv so… I’m waiting. I’ll probably see the rest of the series around 2025. 😖

              I did watch Momoa on Stargate Atlantis but didn’t care for his character. I watched some crazy after apocalypse movie that had him capturing people and eating them. I hated Conan the Barbarian (which I should’ve loved). He just works better for me in still shots.

              I totally understand your wife being okay with zombies but not Rambo. That’s Women Logic. One is not real and the other is too close to reality.

              But I don’t remember Rambo’s ending at all. And are you talking about the first Rambo movie or I think I heard Stallone made a final one recently?

              Reply
                  1. j3ffc

                    No worries! I wish I had time to watch even a percent of everything…my drama watching is by nature limited and therefore selective, hence my always bugging folks online for recommendations to make things count.

                    Reply
                    1. beez

                      It’s a motto! 😆 Sean, if WordPress allowed us signature “flags” that would auto appear at the end of every comment – that would be my tagline. I’m so envious. One day you’ll have to teach us, Sensei *bows*

                      Sean watches EVERYthing!

              1. seankfletcher

                The reality is I quite like JM, he is an awfully nice guy and I enjoyed his take on Conan. Still shots – lol. I suspect if there was a calendar out there, it will be up on the wall. Even after all this time, I still need to remind myself of Women’s Logic. In our house, things go one step further – my wife’s view on things is referred to as “Linda Logic.” And, yes, I am referring to final Rambo movie that came out recently – underneath it all, it has a commentary on how Mexican people are treated.

                Reply
                  1. seankfletcher

                    As long as you didn’t snore, that’s okay in my book Beez 😂 The only movie I ever slept through at the cinema was St Elmos Fire.

                    Make sure you have a look at Alice once it appears for you. It has just started and I think we finally might have a sci-fi kdrama that treats the genre with some respect. It has a very classic vibe about it.

                    Reply
    2. kfangurl

      Aw, YAY that you enjoyed this post, phl!! 😄😄 It did take me a lot longer to write than I expected. I thought it’d take me day or two, tops, but I ended up working on it for a full week! 😅 But it was fun to research, coz I found out so many unexpected tidbits of information about these actors! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed exploring the links as well.. I thought they’d give a fun glimpse into the actors, outside of what we usually are able to see of them onscreen! 🙂

      I’m with you; I personally become quite wary if a cast list is full of idols.. many of them tend to still be very green with the acting when they’re cast, though some have proven to be very pleasant surprises. For example, I thought Ong Seong Wu was fantastic in At Eighteen, and only realized later, that he was an idol! 😱 I would’ve never guessed!

      Wow, what a great list of actors you’ve provided, phl! I knew I would inadvertently leave out some actors, but WOW, I’ve managed to forget so many! 😱😱 Thanks for giving them the shout-out they deserve – definitely a lot of talent in there! 🤩🤩🤩 Truly, they bring so much to our dramas just by being on our screens!

      And yes, may all who tested positive for COVID-19 recover well! 🙏🏻🙏🏻

      Reply
      1. phl1rxd

        Fangurl, I clicked on every single link. 😄 It took me a long time to read the whole post and I enjoyed every minute. The detail you provided is very much appreciated!!

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          I just updated the post with a new tidbit about Son Seok Koo, phl! I didn’t stumble on the information till just; did you know he was/is a CEO?!? 🤯😱

          Reply
          1. phl1rxd

            I just saw that – now I know who to call if I need a forklift. I also just discovered he was in Sens8 – I will have to go back and find him. 😆I noticed his excellent English pronunciation in Suits. I will now have to check out D.P Dog Day. I checked and I have seen every drama he has been in except Mother. Really glad you added him to this list. Great call!

            Reply
  15. BE

    Also a shout out to you K for including Kim Gap Soo who was one of the many great character actors in Mr. Sunshine that made it such a wonderful series, and to add to that, I thought among the cast, and several of the supporting actors played well off of Lee Byung Hun’s stolid characterization, I thought Kim Gap Soo had the most chemistry on screen with him, and with the child actor as well who played Yu Jin as a nine year old.
    I have seen him in many series, and it is always comforting to do so. I thought he was quite memorable in Sungkyunkwan Scandal as well.

    I also like Jang Young Nam. She was the only really good woman actor in My Country, and I was disappointed in real time when the show runners killed her character off–I would have liked to see her in a couple scenes with Jang Hyuk. She was a very good in The Crowned Clown.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Oh yes, Kim Gab Soo is so excellent! And so versatile too.. He’s so convincing no matter whether he’s playing nice or evil. And oh my, I forgot about Jang Young Nam! She’s great! And, she’s becoming quite prolific too; I feel like she’s just about everywhere these days. So versatile! I was sad when they killed off her character in My Country as well.

      Reply
    2. seankfletcher

      I thought Kim Gap Soo was exceptional in Mr Sunshine – it was nice to see him play a “nice role”, and then in Chief of Staff 1 and 2 – back to his devilish best.

      Reply
  16. Snow Flower

    I forgot to mention Sung Dong Il! Who can ever forget Cheon Jiho (every dentist’s nightmare) from Chuno? And the loveable dad in all Reply shows?
    Thank you, KFG, for the special section on our beloved veteran actors and actresses. They make every drama memorable.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Gosh, I can’t believe I forgot about Sung Dong Il! 😝😅 He’s fantastic, and yes, he really was every dentist’s nightmare in Chuno! 😆 I think I saw him talk about it in some interview.. like, those veneers were custom made for the role and he liked them so much that he kept them and used them in other roles as well. I think. (Or did I dream the whole thing? 🤪)

      Reply
      1. beez

        @kfangurl – Nope. You weren’t dreaming. I remember something about that as well. And I’ve seen him sport those puppies in a few saeguk. lol

        Reply
        1. j3ffc

          And my obligatory shout out to Sung Dong Il in “House on Wheels” which has become my COVIC penicillin.

          Reply
          1. phl1rxd

            j3ffc – I just checked out episode 1 – what a crew and it looks like fun which is what I need more of right now. I am going to check this out. Thanks!

            Reply
  17. carulhein

    Hi Kfangurl. Thank you for, as always, a wonderful write. I really like all these actors you have mentioned and hope for great things for them to come. I do have my favourites out of the ones you’ve mentioned though.
    Kim Ji Suk, is one of my all time favourite Korean actors. It doesn’t matter what he stars in, I think I will just adjust my ‘lens’ according to whatever he does. That’s how much I like him😂. In his latest outing in Unfamiliar family I thought he just stood out from everyone. I loved the show in the beginning, but the latter bits got draggy and Kim Ji Suk pulled me to the end, which I’m glad I finished. He’s so cool! And yes, he was seriously melty in I need Romance 2. Also so funny in Another Oh Hae Young.

    Next, Kwak Dong Yeon. I’ve seen him in My Strange hero and My ID is Gangnam beauty, but recently he blew me away with his cameo in It’s ok to not be ok. He made my heart flutter in a hundred different directions. Hope to see him in many lead roles to come.

    Kim Young Kwang, omo, so swoony in everything he’s been in. He does the best kisses 😁

    Seo Kang Joon. Seen him in many supporting and leading roles. Are you human is one of my first Korean shows and cemenented my sojourn into Korean drama. Even though When the weather is fine left me a little cold in the end, the end of episode 8 is one of my all time favourite romantic scenes. Eun Seob was an awesome character and Seo Kang Joon’s performance, as in most of his other shows, was great.

    Oh Jung Se was just amazing in It’s ok to not be ok. If he doesn’t win some sort of award I will eat my hat. Also loved him in When the Camelia blooms. He’s very likeable and just altogether awesome.

    Sohn Ho Joon. Love him. He’s just all sorts of handsome and funny in Go back couple. Watching Was it love at the moment and even though the show’s writing is quite a mess and the female lead makes me want to scrape my eyes out with a spoon from frustration, I’ll finish show because I really want to keep watching Sohn Ho Joon. Just him. 😁

    Woo Do Hwan and Kim Kyung Nam were the only thing about King Eternal Monarch I liked. They were awesome. Show, not so much.

    Yoo In Na. She’s just a show stealer. She can be really pretty and also really dorky as in Happy Ending once again, but just very loveable. Loved her in Queen and I. Everything about that show just hit the right spots for me.

    Anyway, thanx for a great post.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Thanks for enjoying the post, carulhein!! 😀 And yes, all the actors you mentioned are pretty awesome. I do have a big soft spot for Kim Ji Suk! He can be so sweet and swoony, augh. 😍😍

      Have you watched Moonlight Drawn By Clouds? I thought Kwak Dong Yeon was really great as the royal bodyguard, and he wears the mane of glory well! The role allows him to be broody and badass, and I thought it was a treat to see him in it! 😀

      I’m really enjoying Seo Kang Joon these days. Have you seen him yet in The Third Charm? It’s a heavier melodrama and requires a specific lens that can embrace the pain of growing as a person, but I thought it was quite lovely, and I really liked him in it. 🙂 Fair warning, it’s a show that a lot of people didn’t take to. 😛

      Ack, I’m rather dismayed to hear that Was It Love is quite messy on the writing front! I was hoping it was good. 😝 Now I have to rethink whether I can watch it, despite my affection for Sohn Ho Joon! 😬😅

      Reply
      1. carulhein

        Hi Kfangurl, I think my lens broke when I watched The third charm. 😁. I really tried, as it started out so cute, but in the end the angst was just too much for me to handle.

        I did see Moonlight drawn by clouds and loved Kwak Dong Yeon very well in it. He was just super sexy.

        Someone else I’d like to mention, a little reluctantly, because he’s an absolute leading man in my heart, is Lee Joon. Och, I really miss him and hope something great comes up for him soon. He’s just so adorable and sexy and he’s got that cute giggly laugh that just made me love him so much. I keep Googling him and then just things about Lee Joon Gi comes up. Lee Joon Gi is starting to annoy me because of it 😄

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Aw, you’re not alone about The Third Charm. Lots of viewers didn’t end up liking it, though I personally enjoyed it very much. I guess it’s not a show that works for most, which I think is a pity. Oh, Lee Joon! Yes, I think he has a nice amount of potential! It’ll be interesting to see what his comeback project is! 🙂 Also, aw.. it’s not Lee Joon Ki’s fault! 😆😆

          Reply
          1. carulhein

            I know! 🙂 Just haven’t watched any Lee Joon Ki/Gi?? shows yet, so I’m a bit indifferent to him right now and at the moment he’s just an annoyance to sift through while searching for new Lee Joon projects. 🙂 I do have Lawless Lawyer on my radar…

            Reply
            1. kfangurl

              Oh! May I recommend Arang and the Magistrate? I thought he was really lovely in that. Swoony, restrained, and a great match for Shin Min Ah! 😍😍

              Reply
              1. carulhein

                Will definitely check it out. I do love Shin Min Ah!! I know Oh my Venus wasn’t one of your favourites, but I really liked it. She was just awesome in it. Also Tomorrow with you, loved it. Lee Je Hoon stole my heart a bit in that. Yes, you did not like him, I know 😂😂. For some reason I just really like these understated heroes. I just thought he was really beautiful in it. In his understated way. Anyway, I probably sound like I’m being a bit contrary 😄 but I must say, mostly whenever I read your posts, it just resonates with me and I’ll think: ‘that’s exactly what I thought’ although I could never pronounce it as eloquently as you do. 😄

                Reply
                1. kfangurl

                  Haha, yes Shin Min Ah is awesome! Do check out oldie My Girlfriend is a Gumiho! She is WONDERFUL in it. 😍😍😍 As for Lee Je Hoon, I just didn’t like Tomorrow With You, I don’t have anything against him personally, heh. I did like him quite well in Where Stars Land. 😉 Also, that’s so cool, that we feel similarly about a lot of stuff! 😀

                  Reply
                  1. j3ffc

                    Just yesterday finally started “Gumiho” thank to the valuable directions on the “how the find all of the dramas” thread….thanks! First episode was super fun.

                    Reply
                    1. kfangurl

                      Aw, YAY that you’re loving My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, Jeff! 😀 I know you’ve been waiting to start it for the longest time, and I’m so pleased that so far, it’s been worth the wait! 😀

                  2. carulhein

                    I do like my shows to veer a little bit into fantasy land. 😄 That’s why Tomorrow with you hit all the right spots for me. I don’t like too much in your face reality 😁 loved It’s ok to not be ok with it’s fairy tale theme.

                    Reply
                    1. j3ffc

                      Just finished Gumiho and am in that post-drama happy/sad place (I’ll be crying me-self to sleep to the OST while laying on my huge pillow). Besides mixed feelings about the ending, so glad I found it. Thanks kfangurl for helping make it happen!

              2. j3ffc

                Would “Arang” be a good first whole-on sageuk to watch? I’ve only seen Josean bits in numerous shows with long timelines (for example “Hotel del Lunda”), plus Kingdom (just “finished” and now will wait forever to see part 3), which I experienced as more of a horror genre as opposed to period piece, and – as part of my official Watch Everything with Kim Seul-Gi In It campaign spurred on by this thread – Spli(a)sh Splash Love, which has the highest cuteness/length ratio of any show ever. Or would another show be a better intro than “Arang”?

                Reply
                1. beez

                  My 2 cents – Arang is good UNLESS you want the full real-deal historical feeling. Arang doesn’t really introduce you to any of the customs or court shenanigans or what life was like. In my opinion it’s just a fun romance-ghost story that could’ve happened in any country at any time before 1900.

                  Serious saeguks that I’d recommend (leaving out fantasy and fusion). I grade harder than most so an 8 is definitely worth watching.
                  – Chuno aka The Slave Hunters 10!
                  – Crowned Clown (for a shorter take, there’s the movie this was based on – Masquerade) 8.7
                  – The Grand Prince (didn’t plan on watching this yet it held my interest) 7.25
                  – Jang Ok Jung Living In Love 8.75
                  – Maids (really good look at a young lady of noble status forced to be a slave/maid. It was good until it switched its focus back to her restored status (similar to how I felt about Downton Abbey) 8.25
                  – Moon Embracing the Sun (I don’t remember anything about it but everyone raves. I might have to watch it again.) – Six Flying Dragons 10!
                  – Tree With Deep Roots 10!
                  – Warrior Baek Dong Soo (if you’re a fan of martial arts, give it an extra .5) 7
                  – Yaksha 6.5 (only listed here for its scandalous-ness and I never get to tell anyone about it. It’s Korean gladiators! If I recall it’s 12 episodes and exists only to compete with the American series Spartacus. Full female only 😕 nudity in episode 1 for no practical reason. lol I just have to laugh at the craziness of it but I’d be negligent fangirl if I didn’t mention that it stars His Hawtness Jo Dong-Hyuk (whose name sounds like a porn star and his many R movies testify to that 😊) I can’t even rank this one. It probably deserves a 5 but my judgment is off so want to give it a 6.5. Pretty sure that’s the abs blinding me. LIGHTBULB!💡 💡 💡I’ll going to start ranking by abs instead of points or stars. Now I just need to find a 6-pack emoji!

                  Reply
                    1. beez

                      I think Grand Prince was during a Kdrama drought for me. Those time periods where none of my biases have dramas and all of the interesting dramas have ended and you’re waiting for the next round which doesn’t start for another month. (I’ve since learned to watch stuff waiting on my watchlist.) So I watched expecting to be bored and probably drop it but it actually held my interest. Not a great show but it was solid enough – like methadone to my crack addiction. You know, doesn’t come anywhere close to filling the void but helps me hang on. ;p

                    2. seankfletcher

                      I looked back on my notes. I said “the first 15 minutes were superb and then I struggled with it after that.” Solid seems to be a popular opinion.

                      Yes, tackling that watch list is a good way to go. Mine needs weeding out 😊 I just need to clone myself first 😂

                2. kfangurl

                  Hi Jeff, in terms of first sageuk, my first was Sungkyunkwan Scandal, which I think is great for those who find regular sageuks too heavy-going. It’s a fusion sageuk, so there are some modern elements woven into the drama world, along with a soundtrack that vibes modern and breezy. I used to be intimidated by sageuks, but Sungkyunkwan Scandal was easy to get into, for me. 🙂 Other lighter sageuks I’d suggest are The Tale of Nokdu (not Nokdu Flower), and Moonlight Drawn By Clouds. Fair warning that as with most sageuks, even these lighter sageuks take a heavier, angstier turn in their later episodes. But then again, that’s true of many dramas, regardless of whether they are sageuks or not. 😉 To answer your original question, Arang is a fusion sageuk as well, with its fantasy world. It’s got its fun elements too, and I liked it a great deal, though I would count it slightly less light than the ones I mentioned. So, it’s a worthy contender for first sageuk too. 🙂

                  Reply
                  1. Snow Flower

                    Another good sageuk that mixes lightheartedness with serious themes is Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung.
                    Big yes for Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, and The tale of Nokdu. Another lighthearted sageuk is Tamra the Island.
                    Of the ones already mentioned:
                    Chuno is great at showing the lives of lower class people in the Joseon era.
                    The Crowned Clown (drama) and Masquerade (movie) are both excellent.
                    Six Flying Dragons and Tree with Deep Roots are outstanding, but do require a little prior knowledge of the historical period.
                    Once you are familiar with 6FD you can watch My Country, which covers the same historical period. These 2 dramas offer different takes on familiar historical figures.
                    Longer historical dramas:
                    Jumong – long, but fast moving
                    Queen Seondeok – memorable villain and anti hero

                    Reply
                    1. j3ffc

                      Thank you, Snow Flower! I am interested in learning more about Korean history so watching a show and reading about the time period is one fun way to go about (even worked in a minor way when I was watching Reply 1988).

                    2. kfangurl

                      I thought Tree With Deep Roots was fascinating for showing us the story of the development of Hangul! 🙂 So I’d vote for that – but for later, when you’re in the mood for something more intense. 😉

                    3. beez

                      @j3ffc – No spoilers, just background history – I can’t even imagine having no written language for your own language, then not understanding spoken Chinese (or any language that’s not your own)and yet having to learn to read and write it for all communications.

                      And then the impact the newly created written language would have on the entire country because prior to its creation, only the literate could hold the much prized government jobs. And with the thousands of characters in Chinese, the average farmer had no time to learn even if someone had been crazy enough to try to teach them.

                      Add to that this story is woven to include some everyday people and it’s great storytelling.

                      I learned so much about the creation of Hangul (Korean alphabet) and with no boring moments too boot!

                    4. j3ffc

                      I am zeroing in on the love of many of you for Tree With Deep Roots….will see if I can find it somewhere to watch (will have to wait until I finish my current pair of dramas). I’m fascinated by the deliberate invention of a written language. A friend of mine (an American) is a Hangul scholar and has shared a number of interesting facts about Hangul, as per some of @beez’s comments below.

                      Thanks again for all of the suggestions, all!

                      (Psst…by the way, figured out how to post from within the site and loving the editing feature!) Fighting!

                    5. beez

                      @j3ffc – just remember to watch Tree with Deep Roots before Six Flying Dragons. The reason – if you watch SFD first, then you might be disappointed that certain characters end up in a way you didn’t imagine. So you watch them in Tree first as older, more experienced individuals (and their destinies) and it’s more fulfilling to work forward (backward?) to them in SFD. (That makes total sense in my head but not so sure it’s coming across logically.)😆

                      Also FYI – Six Flying Dragons is being referred to on certain sites by a new name – The Roots of Throne.

                    6. j3ffc

                      Beez, thanks for the warning! Definitely going with Trees – just found it on Viki. It’ll be a while as that will be my replacement for Itaewan Class, where I’m only on episode 6. Looking forward to trying something new!

                  2. j3ffc

                    Thanks, KFG! In general, This is very helpful – I have a complicated set of rules that govern which two shows I watch at a given time and part of this is to balance a lighter/comedic show with a heavier/dramatic one. In general, I don’t mind drama in my dramas ;- so long as it’s good.

                    Reply
                    1. kfangurl

                      A man after my own drama loving heart! 😀 I like to balance the light with the heavy as well; I think it’s a great strategy to make the heavier shows not have too much influence over my real-life mood. 😉 And yes, drama in our dramas is absolutely ok – when it’s well done! I think that’s great that you’re open to the more dramatic shows too; there are some excellent ones out there. 🙂

            2. beez

              He is killing it in Flower of Evil (but I still want you to watch Beautiful Mind first). Like so many things, one thing informs the other and often when people see the latest thing that built off of information the first thing provided, they think the latest thing is better but no, the latest thing wouldn’t have known to take it to a new level without the first thing. It’s the same argument I have with my son about basketball. Dr. J (Julius Irving) vs. Michael Jordan. Dr. J was the first one hooping with flair while little MJ was on a playground or high school basketball court somewhere. If MJ had not seen Dr. J’s moves he probably never would have even thought to try certain things and then take it to another level because he’s grown up seeing what’s possible. Same thing with other athletes, musicians, singers, figure skating – nobody ever thought there would ever be a quadruple axle!
              I’m on a tangent that seems far removed from Kdrama but on the roadmap in my mind it’s all related. Excuse me. 😆

              Reply
              1. carulhein

                🤣🤣🤣 Although I’m big on sports, basketball is not really on my radar. Being from South Africa its more about cricket, rugby, tennis, golf. But I can totally imagine what you mean. 😄
                Flower of Evil, will ease my way into it, because I’m not really sure weather its my type of show 😬, but no 3 now on my watch list after search WWW and Arang and the magistrate.

                I’ve been tipping my toes a little bit into Search WWW. Jang Ki Yong. I can totally see him becoming a favourite of mine. He’s just very dreamy. Saw an interview he did. He’s so shy 😁 Would never have thought, watching his shows. Search WWW though, not so sure. I’m finding the dialogue a bit hard to digest. I’m all for strong female leads, but it’s as though everything they say need to be some profound thing. It feels a little bit pose, pose, pose??? 😄😄 I’ll push through though, because I hate dropping things. So many shows I’ve thought about dropping at one point just turned out great. Only one I’ve dropped at this stage is Wok of love. Find the humour very weird. But fully intend to finish it later. I do tend to drop things and when I don’t have anything to watch, go back and finish it. Temperature of love and Angel’s last mission are two great examples of dropping and then picking up again, enjoying it quite nicely in the end.

                Reply
      2. beez

        Kwak Dong Yeon – so dreamy in Moonlight… My theory on why he hasn’t broken out yet is his height. Nowadays, it seems the romantic male actor must be 6’0. (or 5’9′ and fibbing a bit). But I’m hopeful for him because he was cast as the main romantic lead in the weekender (?) Twice Again and I’ve noticed that the weekender shows seem to be the testing ground to see if they can bring in the viewers just before they give an actor/actress that opportunity for a lead in “primetime”.

        I have always wondered how you can tell if a show was a “weekender” if you’re watching it years later?

        Reply
        1. carulhein

          Hi, Beez. I thought a bit about the height thing. You might have a point there, Kwak Dong Yeon is rather shorter than I thought, although it’s not something that I noticed about him. I think his screen presence just shines through, so his height doesn’t bother me personally. Also, I’m not sure if this is a thing, but are Asian woman just shorter compared to Western woman? So many tiny leading ladies for him to tower over. 🙂

          Reply
          1. kfangurl

            Butting in to say that yes, Asian women do tend to be shorter compared to Western women, but the difference varies. For example, Thai and Vietnamese women are significantly tinier, whereas Chinese and Korean relatively less so. I’m Chinese and I’m about 5’4, and that’s considered above average (though not actually tall tall), but an actress my height (eg. Song Hye Kyo) looks tiny next to the typical male lead. 🙂

            Reply
            1. carulhein

              I’m 5 foot 8.5, in meters as I’m used to, 1.74, same as Kwak Dong Heon. I think it’s because I have a Dutch/Belgian heritage. Dutch people tend to be quite tall, but it’s obviously a bit of a generalisation. My son is 14 years old and already 1.9m. He’s very excited about his height and aims to be 2m, I do think 1.9 is just tall enough now though. 😄

              Reply
              1. seankfletcher

                Your son, just may get there re his desired height. Our two sons are 2.02 and 1.95 (he should end up as tall as his brother) respectively. Our house is split level, so if we stand on the top step into the family room we can eyeball them directly 😂 There is some wonderful footage out there of some of the great Hollywood actors of the past where the female lead is walking in a manmade ditch next to the male lead so that she is not seen as taller than he is. As far as kdramas go, I am not sure where things will all end up, but hopefully in the corner regarding talent, ability and hard work ethic rather than other factors. I was looking at a whole list of quotes re popular kmusicians (including those who have transitioned to dramaland) the other day and they all said just that – make the most of what you have and improve.

                Reply
                1. beez

                  Sean, I didn’t know that about the ditch. Too funny. Did you know Humphrey Bogart would stand on soap boxes for scenes with his leading ladies?

                  Reply
            2. beez

              Correct about western women, in general, being taller but my point was not so much the height of the actress which varies and doesn’t seem to be a factor (unless she’s tall and the actor is not): Lee Na-Young and Shin Hye sun come too mind as taller. I’m just looking at who gets cast as male leads nowadays. The only short actors that I see cast as male leads are already established.

              Reply
          2. beez

            Oh! I definitely have no problem with his height. I ❤ Jang Hyuk and I draw a lot of ire from my fellow Stuck on Hyuk fans because I believe he’s about 5’6″ even though he claims 5’8″. *I’m looking around to duck* I’m commenting on what I’m observing among the male leads, especially the up and comers. I can’t think of any under 6 feet. Oh! Cho Jung suk. But he’s not new. He and Jang Hyuk, Namgoong min, Yoo Seung-Ho and Yeo Jin-Goo are shorter – but they’ve all been around a while. And those two hoobaes were kind of destined to be male leads because of their amazing success (and skill) established as child stars.

            Look at the stars from around the 2010’s forward – they’re tall: Gong Yoo, Hyun bin, So Ji sub (I would add my ❤Song Seung heon but he wears lifts – because he knows what’s up 😉). And then the “newer” guys: Nam Joo-Hyuk; Lee Jong-Suk; Kim Young-Kwang; Yoo Yeon-Seok; Sung hoon; Sung joon; Lee Tae-Hwan; and Jang Ki-Yong. The list goes on and on.

            Of course, I don’t watch stuff that doesn’t have my biases or swoony guys so let me know if I’m totally off base with my observations.

            Reply
            1. carulhein

              In my opinion, height should not be a factor, because I just don’t think it’s that obvious on TV. And it would be a shame if they start using it as some sort of yardstick in the industry. When girls go on blind dates in shows, height is usually high on list of positives nowadays. 😄😄. Me, I do like myself some tallness in a leading man. Nam Yoo Huyk. Omo. Lee Sung Kyung is quite tall herself, but he just towered over her in WLFKBJ. I’m talking in circles now. 😁 Point: tall is nice, but my favourite actor, Lee Joon, is not very tall, so with me, I guess it’s just not a big thing and I hope they don’t start making it one.

              Reply
              1. beez

                @carulhein – I totally agree! But unfortunately, I think it’s a big factor in casting. 😥 I remember Song Joong ki speaking about being self conscious dieting filming A Frozen Flower because at 5’10”, he wasn’t as tall as all the other actors. He said 5’10” but I think that’s off by a smidgen or inch or two. 😉

                I’ve noticed when Korean actors stand next to someone whose height I’m sure of and I’ll see the difference in what they say their height is. I’m not negatively criticizing because I know their entire livelihood is about their appearance. And, heck, it’s not like I never embellished my resume myself back in the day.

                Reply
                  1. beez

                    Well, like I said, I’m not prejudiced against shorter actors (Jang Hyuk 💜; Kwak Dong-Yeon ❤) and I hope I’m not making it a bigger issue than it really is. I’m not stating some official inside information that I have. I’m just observing and adding my two cents wotth of personal observations. I could very well be wrong. In fact, I’m hoping others here can point out smaller stature actors who are being giving ample opportunities.

                    Reply
                    1. carulhein

                      Jung Hae In, Park Jin Young😂😂. Love them both. Just stumbled upon that scene in While you were sleeping the other day where Lee Jong Suk tries to cover up Jung Hae In’s abs in front of Suzy. It was so funny and omo, with abs like that…

                    2. beez

                      @carulhein – It’s comments like this that will make me push My Mister higher up on my watchlist. 👍

                    3. seankfletcher

                      Beez, My Mister is well and truly worth bumping up the list (and my reasons are different to yours, perhaps). My top three all time tv shows: Deadwood, The Expanse, My Mister.

                    4. beez

                      The Expanse – my son talked me into watching. I don’t remember if I finished the first episode or even got to episode 2. I’ve always said I’d give it another chance. With your endorsement, I’ll move up giving it another shot. But as for Deadwood, I was blown away but I don’t think I watched all the seasons. I do remember being disgusted by the prostitutes and the doctor scene and the way they showed their use of salve (if that was Deadwood?). That seems pretty tame now that I’ve seen far more disgusting things on tv which is probably what turned me to Kdrama.

                      But the most incredible scene that I recall from Deadwood was amazing and yet stopped me from watching further – Schweringer’s intimidation of Calamity Jane. It totally unnerved me and left me with a feeling of dread even now when I think about it. That’s a testament to how good the actors are. (I can’t recall, but wasn’t Calamity Jane going to testify to protect a child? That could have added to my anxiety while watching. I think one of the “tells” that I had M.S. or would be getting it was thinking back to when I was 18. I was watching a news program about child abuse (parents who are involved in selling their very little kids to the porn industry), I had to urinate every 5 minutes. It only lasted the duration of watching the program. And I’ve experienced it with other sexual child abuse segments but not to that extent. I think the parents involvement is what triggered such an intense reaction).

                      Anyway, about the actor that played Schweringer – have you seen him in the modern day retelling of the biblical story entitled Kings? I actually got some insight into the Saul and David relationship that I never understood in reading the Scriptures. I could never understand why David kept going back to Saul despite Saul trying to kill him. But in the series, it plays out in detail in the way that real- life relationships do. And I totally got it. It’s a good series but (Goliath is an enemy tank instead of a giant man and prophet Samuel is a mega church pastor 😆), unfortunately, the series wasn’t renewed.

                    5. seankfletcher

                      If you can get through the first few episodes of the Expanse, it will blow your mind away. It’s one of those rare shows where each season gets better.

                      Yes, Beez that’s right on all those fronts re Deadwood. I’m so sorry you had to experience such a trauma. The Deadwood Movie is very tame in comparison (but good all the same). Ian McShane is a great actor and nobody else could have played Al Sw. I kept hoping that Sheriff Bullock would stick it to him.

                      That being said, no I haven’t seen Kings 😱 – shock, horror, gasp! I can appreciate what you are saying re David and Saul though – the complexity, the challenge to ethical behaviour and the morality of relationships at its intriguing best.

                      Before his international rise to fame, Ian McShane made some wonderful shows in the UK. One of my all time favourite shows is, in fact, Lovejoy. Track it down if you can. It’s an absolute delight and totally different to what he has been doing for the last 20 years. Wikipedia has a good overview here:

                      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovejoy

                      I hope you will have the time to watch it one day. Plus, after an absence of 26 years, they are making a new series of Lovejoy!

                    6. beez

                      Thanks Sean. But I’m sorry I made that sound so dramatic. I’m not faint-hearted in general, but I have a weak spot for kids.

                      And I can’t believe it! I just searched my Roku for Lovejoy and Acorn TV has all six seasons. Clunk! I cancelled my Acorn TV subscription about two months ago trying to cut back but it just grates me that when I was looking for stuff to watch AcornTv, I didn’t come across this show. I originally signed up because that was the only place to see Miss Fischer’s movie.

                    7. merij1

                      Deadwood is one of my all-time favorites also. I’m still annoyed it was cancelled abruptly. But the recent “movie” revisit helped a little bit. I guess.

                    8. seankfletcher

                      Murphy’s Law Beez re the cancellation of your subscriptions 🤣 No, I didn’t take it as you were over dramatising things. I appreciate just how upsetting such things can be 😊

                    9. beez

                      Thanks, Sean. I could probably revisit Deadwood now that I’m much more calloused. I’ve watched Spartacus the 2010-2014 version. It was about as wild can get. Spartacus is one of my favorite historical characters and I’ve watched every version of movies and mini stores about him (that I’m aware of). Starz network was just starting out and they’re thinking was include as much gratuitous sex, nudity and violence as possible to attract an audience. My son said “Mom you can’t take that show”. But I watched and despite the excesses, the actual writing was AMAZING! I ended up being a moderator on Starz official forum for discussing the show. But the point is, I think I’m much more thick skinned now and I’ll try to see if Deadwood is playing anywhere that’s free or has a month’s free trial so I can watch the entire series.

                    10. seankfletcher

                      I often thought about watching Spartacus at the time, as he is also someone that has always been of interest to me too. However, I haven’t, despite Lucy Lawless being in it and Spartacus also being a Robert Tapert production. That’s because of the myriad of other Roman historical dramas I have tried to watch being way off beam. I expect a tiny touch of reality in there somewhere and so I have watched some excellent docudramas on Spartacus et al instead.

                      That’s awesome you were a moderator for the Spartacus forum on Starz. I can appreciate what you are saying when you come across a show that is so well written. I might just have to take a look see now.

                      With Deadwood, the writing and the superb acting carry the day. There are touchpoints that reflect the historical situation based on the diaries of those who lived there at that time. Despite this, it’s all the fictional parts that will, as with Spartacus, either resonate or not, as well. If you do get to finish watching Deadwood, I hope it is something worth your time 😊

                    11. beez

                      @Sean – I KNOW Deadwood will be totally worth my time as, in a way, I’m a different person than I was back during the initial airing of the first season. (Nothing shocks me on tv anymore.) As I said “show was awesome-terrible”. I had no doubt about how well done the show was.

                      As for Sparatcus, if you can make sure no one sensitive (or under age) is around, then block out all the sex – actually people do have sex for good reasons in the show – sometimes political, sometimes for intimidation, sometimes just because Romans could do whatever they wanted to a slave so it is there to show how horrible life was as a slave. Or in some of the gladiators’ situations – given as a reward and they took great pride in that. The issue is that despite the great writing, I’m afraid some people will shut it off at the “in your face” of it leaving almost nothing to the imagination.

                      The first episode is rather beautiful but by the time Spartacus is made a slave at the end of Ep1; Ep2 is another world.

                    12. seankfletcher

                      Hello Merij, I know the actors were upset at how quickly they pulled the sets down at the time. It pretty much told them that the show was at an end. The movie was open ended too. So, you never know. I just marvelled how brilliant many of the actors were and yet how mediocre some of them have been in other movies and shows. Says something for the writing and direction re Deadwood, I think.

                    13. seankfletcher

                      With Spartacus, the beginning you describe sounds familiar. I looked at my notes, but it shows I haven’t watched any of it. It’s okay on the sensitivity front, I do have my local moderator on hand. We were watching a show recently and the youngest one was in the room (not that he is so young anymore). I made a comment re the actress concerned along the lines of “she has her clothes off in this show too. I cant recall a show where she hasn’t.” To which the comment was made in response rather tongue in cheek “the producers must know your father watches this show too.” Said actress is a very good actress by the way.

        2. kfangurl

          About weekenders, it basically goes back to when they first aired. If they aired on Saturdays and Sundays, they’re weekenders even if they’re only 16 or 20 episodes long, though most are about 50 eps. And then if they air on weekdays but not in the prime time slot, but in the earlier evening slot, from Monday to Friday, those are termed dailies. I hope that helps to clarify! 🙂

          Reply
  18. beez

    @KFG – Amazing post. It took me a while as I had to visit the links in the post for shows I’ve watched but didn’t realize you’d reviewed. So much to digest here that you know this is only my first comment.

    @Everyone else. Great comments so far. I’ve added some things mentioned to my monster of a watchlist.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, I’m really glad you’re enjoying the post, beez!! 😀 Take your time to digest it all – there really is quite a bit here (and yet, I still managed to leave out so many other great actors! 😜)

      Reply
  19. j3ffc

    As usual, a spot-on and interesting take. I would add one more characteristic to successful leads: youth. I’m sure you and others can name some older individuals who’ve broken through, there are few industries more age-ist than entertainment. I’d also add “thin” but you’ve more or less covered that under “looks”.
    Have to keep hoping for Kim Seul-Gi will keep appearing. Maybe it’s because “Oh My Ghost” is a beloved early drama for me, but I’ve always thought she was wonderful. Also really, really liked Seo Ji-Hye in both CLOY and “Dinner Mate”, which I watched back-to-back and was very impressed by how differently and excellently played the roles were. DM is also worth watching for a very different and hilarious performance by Ye Ji-Won, btw.
    Ye Ji-won made me think of Song Ji-won in “Age of Youth” who was played by Park Eun-Bin and may be nearing the cusp to leading actor. She was also good in Stove League but I have to say that the Ji-Won character in AOY was so interesting that her later roles suffer in comparison (not her fault!).
    Another actor I really noted in OMG was Shin Hye-Sun. I also enjoyed her supporting role in Legend of the Blue Sea, especially b/c I didn’t recognize her at first and only later realized that it was the same person. I would add her to your list of those who have broken through due to “Thirty But Seventeen” (just finished it and enjoyed it very much) and “Angel’s Last Mission: Love”.
    Finally, gotta second Lee Jun-eun as a V-VIP supporting actor. She’s so excellent in everything that she’s been in, and quite different. Maybe her wearing the current “Parasite” sheen would inspire some writer/director to consider her for an unconventional lead role? A guy can dream, can’t he?

    Reply
    1. carulhein

      Hi Beez, I do love Kim Seul Gi as you do. First saw her in Oh my ghost, found her very vibrant in that. Then saw one of Kfangurl posts about Splash Splash love and she was just so great in it. Both her comedic and dramatic parts I thought was really well done. She’s actually one I’ve wondered about after Oh my ghost. She’s really pretty and I thought stole a lot of the scenes even though I loved the main couple. So don’t know what’s happening with her just now, but hope to see her in leading role soon.

      Reply
      1. beez

        @carulhein – it was the singing scene in Oh My Ghost that made me love her even more – and the Personality (yes, that’s a capital “P”) that made you see why the customers all loved her.

        Reply
    2. phl1rxd

      Hi j3ffc – a big yes to Lee Jun-eun! Is there anything she cannot do? Love her. I am with you on Kim Seul-Gi as well. I love her energy level.

      Reply
    3. kfangurl

      Hi Jeff!! 😀 Great to see ya! I’m glad you enjoyed this post! 🙂 That’s a very valid observation, that youth and a trim figure are both prized in k-ent. I think that’s a big part of the reason some actors have little choice but to transition into smaller roles as they grow older. Some older actors still manage to stay at the top of their game – Kim Hee Ae comes to mind – but as you’ve noted, they are few and far between.

      I’ve been wondering whether to check out Dinner Mate, and knowing that Ye Ji Won makes the show better by being in it, does help! 😉 Yes, I think Park Eun Bin and Shin Hye Sun do qualify as actors who’ve recently made the transition – thanks for giving them a shout-out! And oh yes, Lee Jung Eun is great! I feel bad for not including her on this list! I knew I wouldn’t be able to cover everyone in the post, but it blows my mind just how many awesome actors there are, that I missed out! 😅

      Reply
      1. beez

        @Kfangurl – I can selfishly smile and say “You got all of mine”. 😊 In fact, every single one of the supporting actors that I favor are on that first picture of the post (although there were 2 in that picture that are unknown to me).

        Btw, I might find it hard to forgive you for that picture of Kim Seul gi. You wrong for that, kfangurl. 😂

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Aw! Sorry about that. I picked that screenshot because that was the scene where she first caught my attention. I did put a prettier picture of her at the end of the post, to make up for it! 😉

          Reply
      2. j3ffc

        Warning vis a vis Dinner Mate: starts out strong, goes dangerously close to the dreaded Something in the Rain meltdown, but recovers in the end. I found it worthwhile for the OTP and for Ye Ji Won, but your mileage may vary.

        Reply
        1. j3ffc

          Oh! And also loved Ahn Jae-Hong in “Be Melodramatic” as an unconventional leading man (also pointed out elsewhere on the site). The question is will this be a start of a career of leading roles or a one-off….

          Reply
          1. kfangurl

            Ooh, yes, that’s an interesting question! I’d like to see him be leading man again. That unconventional appeal worked really well for him in Be Melodramatic, and I’d love to see someone bucking the trend and creating a more diverse leading man landscape! 😀

            Reply
        2. kfangurl

          Oh dear. Dangerously close to SITR is NOT a good thing! 😆😅 Thanks for the warning, Jeff! At least it recovers in the end, so it’s a step above SITR! 😉

          Reply
  20. seankfletcher

    What a fabulous tribute to these actors kfangurl! This will keep Beez and phl occupied for a day or two 🤣

    Yes, at the end of the day, they are actors (actor for both was its original use). Nearly all of my favourites are in your “fantabulous” list. I think I have said this before, sometimes I watch a show because of the supporting actors that are in it as opposed to the leads.

    A little bit of a trend now, is the emergence of the ensemble approach in kdrama. So, we see actors pretty much on an equal footing re screen time. Personally, I like this because it is like watching a play and sometimes the comedy is more effective as a result.

    As for Oh Jung Se, he is a tour de force. There he is trotting out his stuff in IOTNBO and at the same time we see him as the murderous CEO in the Good Detective.

    I couldn’t tell you how many shows I have seen Kim Mi Kyung in this year, but I will always stick my big toe in and have a look if she is in it. She’s as adept in the dailies as she is in the other drama forms.

    Some of those in your list such as Kim Hae Sook are university professors teaching drama and I find that fascinating as this is how they are giving so much back to the industry.

    If you do get a chance to watch “Into the Ring”, you will see some others there who are on your list, those who are prominent supporting actors not on your list and some who have, I think, now made the transition to bigger and better things. Anyway, “Into the Ring” this is the show of the year for me.

    As Shakespeare once penned in “As You Like It”: All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. This post was the perfect end to my day 😊😊😊

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Sean thanks for that interesting tidbit about Kim Hae Sook I think the second time I’d seen her was in Robber. Although she was not portraying a singer, she sang a song and her performance had me convinced that she must have been a famous singer earlier in her career but that’s not the case. I don’t know how she wasn’t though with this caliber of singing. If you ever want to check out her performance, it’s Ep. 11 at the 18 minute mark.

      Reply
      1. seankfletcher

        Hello Beez, I will take a look at Kim Hae Sook’s performance. I have liked every role I have seen her in, even in shows I haven’t liked much. She is so adept at what she can turn her hand to – from the overbearing mother in law in Saimdang, Light’s Diary to the mentor type figure in About Time to the main lead in Mother of Mine (which I enjoyed initially, but the male characters were absolutely hopeless). She turned in a blinder in Hotel King with Leo Deok Hwa – two protagonists fighting over the future of the hotel. This is one show where I enjoyed the veterans running rings around the younger, favourite, leads. Kim Hae Sook was described by one watcher as manipulative, backstabbing, mentoring, sympathetic and ruthless (but in the end a doting grandmother!).

        Reply
        1. beez

          That says how versatile and how prolific her work is because I haven’t seen any of the shows you mentioned and yet it seems like she is in 50 percent of the dramas I’ve watched and Kim Mi-Kyung is in the other half. 😄

          Reply
        2. beez

          Sean, I have to semi correct what I told you -kim Hae sook does sing in Ep. 11 at 18 minutes but it kept bothering me that the song in the episode didn’t quite hit me in the gut the way I remembered but I didn’t remember her singing more than once in the show. But it bothered me so until I went skimming through the episodes of Robber and sure enough, the song that had made such an impression on me was sang in Ep. 10 at 27.30 minutes.

          Reply
        1. beez

          @phl1rxd – Let me warn you – if you’re not a die-hard Jang Hyuk fan, the first few episodes are hard to take. I’ve had hard-hard core Hyuk-a-buck fans tell me they couldn’t take it and dropped Robber. Not because it’s not good or interesting but he is truly a cad. And not in a charming or likable “he’s such a rake” way at all! Anytime your fan base who fantasize about you and thinks you can do no wrong forsakes you… 😆 I guess they were afraid it would ruin the fantasy forever. 😄
          Is it worth it to stick it out? Most definitely, imo! I even enjoyed seeing him be scum because it was interesting and the lower he is in the muck the bigger the turn around later, right?

          Reply
          1. phl1rxd

            Thanks for the heads up Beez – I actually think that makes it more interesting. I also like that this was filmed in 2008 so I will def watch this. The only Jang Hyuk drama I dropped was Bad Papa. I may go back one day and finish it when the mood strikes me.

            I also have Becky’s Back in the queue – Ha! I have been waylaid for a few weeks by my annual big job which hits me this time every year. Once i get it to the printer next month I will have a breather and plenty of time to get caught up on dramas!

            Reply
            1. beez

              I liked Bad Papa but it ended up going nowhere. Have you watched Jang Hyuk in The Great Merchant? I’m curious because you say Bad Papa is the only one you’ve dripped. I wish I could’ve dropped Great Merchant. GM is the definition of – when the story is so devoid of logic and stupid that you make a great actor look bad. I’m not someone who knows anything about directing and editing so when a show actually makes me notice and think – “doesn’t the director see how stupid this scene looks? He could’ve easily fixed that by blocking it differently!” That’s pretty bad.

              Reply
              1. phl1rxd

                Hi Beez – Bad Papa was a case of “I am not in the mood for this type of drama right at this moment”. And yes, I did watch The Great Merchant but it has been so long ago that I forgot everything. I watched it for Jang Hyuk and for him only. I cannot even remember any of it so there you go Beez – it must not have impressed me.

                Jang Hyuk is an actor who deserves great scripts with challenging roles. Yoo Ah In as well. I am laughing at this – “when the story is so devoid of logic and stupid that you make a great actor look bad”. I think we may have seen our share of these. 😆

                Reply
                1. Snow Flower

                  I want to see Jang Hyuk playing the role of the brilliant and doomed Prince Gwanghae in a drama written by the writer of Nokdu Flower and directed by the director of Chuno or Six Flying Dragons.

                  Reply
                    1. beez

                      Thanks for the link Snow Flower. I don’t know about this one. Sounds like a lot of boring politics and court intrigue. But you know if Jang Hyuk makes it, I’m watching.

                2. beez

                  @phl1rxd I’ll never forgive whatever writer, director, production crew for The Great Merchant because I had to watch. I had to. You are so lucky that you can’t remember. Of all the times for my memory to kick in like a freakin’ verbatim & visual recorder. It’s seared into my brain! 😵

                  Reply
                  1. beez

                    Unfortunately, Hyuky did have me worried with Wok of Love and Bad Papa back to back (although there were some good scenes in Bad Papa). I saw him in a couple of web series in cameo roles as the neighborhood ahjusshi and I thought “Oh no! It’s happening! He’s being regulated to the older actor, somebody’s father roles”. But then, thank goodness, My Country came along. I think the real focus was for the young bucks but Hyuck-a-buck wasn’t having that and put on a course in Advanced Acting and Scene Stealing 101.

                    Reply
                    1. seankfletcher

                      I think, not only is he a great actor, but he is clever too. By that I mean he is deliberately mixing things up to make his eventual transition easier to whatever that may be. I just love it when an actor can go all in and steal a scene 😉

                    2. BE

                      Science fiction and fantasy are the hardest genres to pull off well, imo. They require suspension of disbelief estasblished early on, worlds that whether they make sense in the real world, a plus no doubt, absolutely must make sense in their own world (people complained about the final episode of Game of Thrones because it defied the sensobility of the whole show–people might have accepted a full blown tragedy and descent into chaos, but they could not accept tying it all up after several seasons of everything continuously collapsing, tied in a neat bow along with every single person’s seasons long rooting interest at the very end going rogue).

                      For the sci-fi or fantastic element(s) to work, they cannot be just a gimmick. Bad Papa existed in the down and dirty world of professional fighting and gangsterism. The whole magic pill and corporate nefariousness attached to it–not really of that world. Perhaps if they toned down the effects of the pill, made it more gradual, and if the company boss were not such a caricature, it might have not been so distracting.

                      Finally, character arcs and meritorious and balanced acting ensembles are even more necessary than usual because they have to keep the audience willing to believe in the non ordinary reality being presented.

                    3. seankfletcher

                      Hello BE, yes both sci-fi and fantasy (cdramas though, are so much better at this) are the hardest to pull off. With GoT, I bailed out at Season 8.3/8.4 – I could see where it was heading and I was so disappointed. So, I don’t need to watch the final episode and I never will – I am looking forward to the next book(s) though, which I am sure will have a completely different telling of events.

                      With sci-fi, its a mixed bag for me. I don’t mind gimmicky, but there has to be some substance to it and the story has to be sort of decent. There are some big shows coming out and they look awesome (e.g. Foundation). Dame Holly has an awesome take on many sci-fi shows – the ones of substance that is and some great reflections even on the kdrama attempts in this “space.”

                      That’s a great point about ensembles and why I, generally, like them so much – they are heavily invested in the final outcome.

                  2. BE

                    I kind of liked Bad Papa for all its flaws. It was such a combo of pulp and serious literary ambition. The scene where his wife falls in love with him for his fighting his way through while being beaten to a bloody pulp, and her a writer with the ambition of doing something equal to Crime and Punishment (which is likewise an ambitious but overwrought melodrama) really stuck in my head. The sci fi aspect of it kind of brought it down, but I find that Korean dramatists are excessively fond of those kinds of almost impossible to believe tropes. And yet…there was a real reaching for something about the redemptive power of love and repentance. It was flawed, but it was not just one more cop serial killer kind of show. I have never seen anything remotely like it elsewhere.

                    Reply
                    1. seankfletcher

                      I love your take on Bad Papa’s ambition and march towards redemption.

                      Bad Papa did have potential and I found it interesting to start with. As it turns out, Bad Papa reflects those moral issues raised in Crime and Punishment regarding the use of ill gotten means to make a better life only to find out the guilt ends up making things worse (which I remember thinking at the time). However, like Bad Papa, I only enjoyed the initial set up in Crime and Punishment and became disappointed re what was supposed to be such an important work on redemption.

                      The sci-fi element which should have drawn me in became one of consternation. The only saving grace for me though, were the father and daughter moments. They had a great relationship. I wanted Bad Papa to be so much more than it was. In some ways, “Limitless” follows a similar path, but has, possibly, a more positive outcome. Perhaps, I have waffled on too much, but I enjoyed putting some of my thoughts together 😎

                    2. beez

                      Some filmmakers or tv shows that take on sci-fi do not understand how we take sci-fi seriously. If they can’t make the story make sense logically (even though it’s totally made up science) – we’re out! Prime example was that Sector 9 mess. It had great things to say about racism toward anything different but somebody tell me how and why SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER drinking the ship’s fuel will turn a human being into an alien? The aliens weren’t drinking the fuel as sustenance to explain their appearance, so why?Whhhhyyyyyy?

                      I don’t really need or want an answer to that ridiculousness, I’m just saying they must build a logical story AND STICK WITH IT – no suddenly changing the rules and physics they set up because they weren’t smart enough to write the characters out of a fix without bending “physics”…

                      er, I’m going to stop writing now and go to bed cause I see I’m trippin’. Nite nite.

                    3. beez

                      I agree. I liked how it started out. I loved watching the interpersonal relationship of Papa and his wife and Papa and his daughter. I even found the premise interesting BUT nobody making the show knew where the story was going and it showed. Big time.

            2. kfangurl

              I watched Robber quite a while ago, and I remember still liking Jang Hyuk anyway, ha. But I do think my fangirl resilience was higher back then, ie, I was much better able to tolerate a drama I didn’t actually think was good, if it starred an actor I liked. He WAS quite the cad in it, but from what I can remember, it was worthwhile seeing him in it. I did think Lee Da Hae’s makeup was very pretty in that show. So soft and pretty and natural. 😜

              Reply
              1. BE

                I may have written this elsewhere, but Jang Hyuk reminds me of the mid to late 20th Century Congolese guitarist, Docteur Nico, who when he got on stage his fans would shout out in French: “God of the Guitar!” One did not always like the songs he was playing or the people he might have been playing with, but the instant he went into his solos, you just had to listen.

                Like everyone who loves to watch Jang Hyuk act, and no much how much one admires that the guy for all his sensitivity is really a lunch bucket, working stiff at acting, I really just wish he would get a super well written series with a whole cast that can go with him toe to toe throughout.

                Reply
                1. kfangurl

                  That’s a great analogy, BE!! We don’t always like the shows he’s cast in, but we do love to see him do his thing and burn up the screen! 😄🤩 Yes, I would LOVE to see an excellent series that showcases his talents, alongside other excellent actors! I mean, we did get that with Chuno and Money Flower, but I mean, I’m always hungry for more! 😋😅

                  Reply
                  1. BE

                    He wasn’t the lead, but Tree With Deep Roots was phenomenal, and imo the best ensemble I have seen him cast with.

                    Reply
                2. beez

                  @BE – I LIKEd what you said but can you give me an explanation for the “lunch bucket”? I don’t know if it means the same thing, but recently, I watched Yoo Ah in on I Live Alone. He is definitely what I would borrow your phrase and call a “lunch bucket”. A little spacy, maybe ADD. It almost ruined my fangirling. (Nothing against people with ADD – my ex and my wonderful genius but forgetful son have it but… after living with it for years, it would totally ruin my fantasy and escape from real life if that’s what my biases are like too. lol

                  Reply
                  1. BE

                    I think part of why Jang Hyuk is cast in so many less than worthy dramas is that he views his work in a kind of blue collar way. He wants to work and keep on working, bring his lunch from home so to speak, day in and day out. I have known some musicians like that. Having a steady gig is more important than being all that picky about what they are asked to play.

                    Reply
                    1. beez

                      @BE – Yes, I’ve heard him say he’s glad to still be wanted and knows popularity is fleeting and that’s why he doesn’t take breaks but takes projects back to back. [paraphrasing some of that]

                3. Snow Flower

                  BE,

                  I looked up Docteur Nico on youtube. Totally cool. I liked his leisurely style of playing. He surely made it look easy…

                  Reply
                  1. BE

                    A very understated guitarist. Like all pop musics, Congolese rumba and soukous is highly patterned. If one listens to it enough, one can hear Nico always choosing to eschew more cliched licks and instead doing things others given that pattern would have never considered. And very little of his live work is available unfortunately. I have a friend who played with him. He did many things well, transposing both traditional African thumb piano and Cuban piano playing, not to mention Hawaian pedal steel into pop Congolese solo electric guitar work. A good story about him was once after being introduced to the playing of the great early 20th C gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, Nico locked himself in a room with the recording for a week. When he came out, people who knew him swore there was nothing in Reinhardt’s songbook that Nico had not improved upon.
                    Between 1955-present, the Congo has produced a vast number of spectacular guitarists, and he is generally considered by fans and guitarists the greatest. There is an apocraphal story about Jimi Hendrix while in Paris hearing that Docteur Nico was holed up in some hotel and spent the whole day seeking him out.
                    He lived a rather tragic life, was an alcoholic, and here is something out of Korean historical drama, his wife had an affair with the doctor who treated the dictator Mobutu, and who it was rumored gave the woman poison which she fed over a period of time to Nico, and for two years he was extremely ill as a result. The Congo’s two biggest music stars (and actually they were the biggest music stars in all of Africa at the time), Franco Luambo and Tabu Ley Rochereau went to Mobutu and begged him to get the doctor to lay off.
                    When European critics found out about him, they claimed he was called Docteur (actually he was called L’Eternel Docteur Nico, Dieu de la Guitare) because he had been a university mechanics instructor for a period of time. My friend, Modero Mekanisi, who was Tabu Ley’s chef d’orchestre, told me, “no, no, no–we called him “Docteur” because he made everyone feel good.
                    It would not be a stretch for his fans to call Jang Hyuk such a doctor.

                    Reply
    2. kfangurl

      Ahh, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Sean!! 😀 I count it a big compliment, that you considered it a perfect way to end your day! Thank you! 🥰

      Yes, I do enjoy the ensemble cast trend.. it seems to just give us more awesome to enjoy! Like Hospital Playlist, and Mystic Pop-up Bar, where both felt like ensemble casts. And the awesome just seems to keep on coming, especially with Oh Jung Se! I’m still watching IOTNBO right now, and he never fails to amaze me; he’s just so good at delivering his role, it feels like he’s inhabiting Sang Tae’s skin. 🤩

      I didn’t realize that Kim Hae Sook is a university professor teaching drama! That’s so cool! 🤯🤩 No wonder we’ve been seeing less of her in recent years, relatively speaking. She’s probably had to cut down on her actual screen time, in order to make room for teaching!

      I’ve got Into The Ring lined up as one of my next dramas, so I’m excited to hear that it’s the show of year for you! That’s a Big Statement, and I can’t wait to see why! 😀

      Reply
      1. phl1rxd

        Yes Fangurl – Into the Ring is the best show of the year to date. Fresh, funky and very, very funny! From the Urban Dictionary – ‘Being funky is about taking risks, and not being afraid to get a stare or two from people who wish they could be as funky as you.’

        Reply
          1. BE

            My Rx for great critics is that first and foremost they really care about the health of the genre they are critiquing, and thus they know how to put really great work into the light, and when they have complaints, they make them without malice, but with the idea of how those elements might be improved upon. All that and the kind of tireless detail that I note in your responses. You take the time. We appreciate it.

            Reply
  21. BE

    It is hard for me to call him a support actor, but as a supporting lead Byun Yo Han is a rather remarkable actor with all kinds of acting chops.
    Lee Jung Eun is a wonderful actress. Her death scene in Mr. Sunshine may have been the single most powerful scene in a series that stacked up powerhouse scenes one on top of the other..
    Kim Byun Chul, a real comedic presence.
    Park Hyuk Kwon from his double role in Six Flying Dragons to the weak ashed husband to Kim Hee Ae in Secret Love Affair.
    Kim Hye Eun–who projects her character as if she were wearing masks of almost archtypal characters.
    Kim Ha Eun for her scene stealing, scene after scene in Chuno–be honest, how many actors male or female can stand up the Jang Hyuk the way she did.
    Lee Seung Jun.
    There are so many great character actors in these, and I am bad at remembering names–certainly every one of the actors in the Park family in My Mister simply killed it, but for me most of all, a shout out to Choi Moo Sung, my goodness! The man owns the screen every time he is on it.

    Reply
    1. MC

      Oh love your comment! Byun Yo Han was spectacular in Mr Sunshine and Misaeng. And the entire cast of My Ajusshi (I am extremely biased). And Choi Moo Sung – he is INCREDIBLE. I realised I’ve seen him in so many shows yet I didn’t realise it because he disappears into whichever character he’s playing. Amazing stuff.

      KFG – enjoyed the list! Not because there’s Jung Kyung Ho hahaha but because it was so lovely to see so many actors I enjoy especially the older ones. I so wish Kim Seul Gi breaks out, she is so amazing and under-rated. ♥️

      Reply
        1. BE

          He is in Season 2 of Stranger, such a different kind of role. What the fellow does with a facial expression and drawn out silence, and how he uses his weight! His weight is part of his charisma, his force.

          Reply
          1. seankfletcher

            There’s that wonderful scene with the photo being taken of the first prosecution/police council meeting, and the final shot of the way his presence dominates the photo says it all.

            Reply
          1. seankfletcher

            I will let you ladies sort that one out, but he is playing a blinder of a role in Forest of Secrets – just when you think he is going to go one way, he does a u-turn!

            Reply
            1. phl1rxd

              Oh dear Sean – that comment did it for me. You got me with that. I am going to squeeze in an hour or two each night to re-watch (FF!) season 1 and then go right into Season 2. I am now just too intrigued and I cannot wait. I will have to pull a “Sean” and prioritize my schedule to get it accomplished. I have faith! I will focus and I can do it! Fighting! 🐱‍💻🐱‍🚀🐱‍👓

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          2. beez

            😄😄😄😄 I find him very sexy. So now you’ve started my mind thinking thoughts like “Hug? I want to do more than hug him! All that gravitas he brings to the screen.

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      1. kfangurl

        Ahaha! Well, I do think having some Jung Kyung Ho on the list never hurt! 😍🤩 Glad you enjoyed this list, MC! 😀 Also, yes, Kim Seul Gi is great. I’ve loved her in every role I’ve seen her in; I’d love to see her be given meatier roles to chew on!

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    2. Snow Flower

      @BE, totally agree on Byun Yo Han and Kim Ha Eun. They deserve to be more famous than they are. Have you seen Conspiracy in the Court? Kim Ha Eun is the leading lady. Both male leads are excellent too. Ahn Nae Sang is also memorable in this drama.
      I have been a fan of Byun Yo Han since Six Flying Dragons. He has not done anything since Mr. Sunshine. I hope he comes back to dramaland soon.
      Choi Moo Sung is good in anything, from Heartless City to Nokdu Flower.
      Currently I am very impressed with Lee Joon Hyuk in Forest of Secrets. So far, the show is moving a little too slow for my taste, but his character is the reason to keep watching.

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        1. Snow Flower

          It is a slow burn show to be sure, so I am patiently waiting for Leviathan (or Moby Dick) to make some splash…

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        2. phl1rxd

          Sean – I am going to wait for a few weeks and then get caught up. I loved season 1 for so many reasons. I am so glad to see your mini review here.

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      1. BE

        The thing about Byung Yo Han is he is extremely capable of enacting character growth; other actors tend to keep their flavor throughout a series, but Byung Yo Han, changes in very subtle ways over such a course. One would really like to see him do a lead role with some weight to it, but he can run the gamut from comedy to tragedy to swashbuckle.

        I tried to find Conspiracy in the Court, but, alas, could not get it where I live.

        I forgot to mention Oh Na Ra, another character actor I wish would get a really meaty lead role, a mad, passionate, great love role with a really charismatic adult male lead as her foil; such a womanly woman.

        Forest of Secrets (Stranger)–Season two is starting off (imo) better than season one, but it helps to have seen season one, because the complex and interwoven plot lines, having seen season one with all its twists, seems more like something with real potential for a great payoff. For me, along with Choi Moo Sung, well…it is true, I have a thing for Bae Doo Na, who is the show’s point character, so to speak, just making every other actor really shine. I especially love the way she plays off Jeon Hye Jin’s character. If you have seen a lot of Bae Doo Na, you know she can really be a force of nature, but in this she is playing Han Yeo Jin with such a timorous front, in just the right way as to make an already charismatic Choi Bit played by Jeon Hye Jin seem even more so by contrast when they share the screen. And Choi Bit, sheesh, yes to go up against that woman might well as Yeo Jin comments have a death wish. The two of them!

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    3. kfangurl

      Hi BE! It’s always great to see ya! Thanks for adding more amazing actors to the list! (I know I missed out a lot of ’em. 😅) And I can’t believe I forgot Choi Moo Sung!! I think he’s fantastic, and so versatile! SUCH a teddy bear in Reply 1988, and then SUCH a complicated, threatening presence in Heartless City! 🤩🤩🤩

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    1. BE

      A recommendation if you can find it: the movie, The Man Standing Next about the month preceding and including the assassination of South Korean President Park. It is perhaps the best acting I have ever seen from Lee Byung Hun, which is saying something, and albeit it being a modern history, it contains all that epic weight of Korean historical drama. Not much room for romance, it is a film not a series, but it dives deeply.

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      1. phl1rxd

        Hey BE – I checked out the review and this sounds very good. I love when I can get a chance to look at S Korea’s history – there were so many big events in the 20th century there and a lot was filmed. Thanks for the recommendation.

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        1. BE

          It is phenomenal. The pacing is gradual and builds to devastating. I have seen Lee Byung Hun play several kinds of roles, and as a young actor he relied on his swagger and physical acting but this was his most mature and cerebral portrayal. The film itself, like all the best Korean historical drama, ponders and reflects about the upshot and deeply mortal and moral dilemmas confronting someone trying to do the right thing in which there is no right thing to do, everything, as it were, stained by the amorality and immorality of political power.

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    1. kfangurl

      Wow, thanks for the suggestion, Annie! I will add it to the list of questions! Although, I have to admit I’m a little leery of writing about idol actors.. The idol fans can be quite.. intense. 😝😜

      Reply

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