(This is a long intro, so skip it if you wish) Hello! I’ve been a silent reader of your blog for a really long time, since I was thirteen and I just made this account to comment! I’m sixteen now, and I feel like I’ve grown up with your blog- you introduced me to dramas and k-pop, and I still read your older articles when I feel down, it’s like comfort food for me. So thank you for that!
The question I have is: What do you think of idol actors? I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like a lot more idols are starring in dramas nowadays, and they may not always be good at acting. The general consensus among some of my other drama-watching friends is that idol actors take away jobs from better-trained rookie actors, and some think it’s unfair that they get to use a drama as an acting class. Personally, I think it’s a bit of a gray area, since there’s plenty of perfectly well-trained and decently popular actors who can’t reeeallly act that well, but also it kind of ruins the drama for me if the lead cannot act well (fourteen year old me wasn’t that bothered about acting skills so much as ~swoon~ factor and watched The Great Seducer on repeat, but I watched it last week and had to skip a big big chunk of the scenes because the acting was…not the greatest) What do you think?
(But I think we all know idols are going to keep getting casted anyways, lol. They’re far too popular to miss out on for profit-related purposes, and some of them are really really good!)
Would be interesting to read your thoughts on idols turned actors/actresses.
Dear Bubblebathdaisies and Annie,
I’ll be honest; I’m a little nervous talking about this topic, because, 1, I know very little about kpop, since I’m way more into dramas than kpop, and 2, I know enough about kpop to understand that kpop fans tend to be extremely protective of their idols, and I’m wary that I’ll end up upsetting people with what I have to say, and inadvertently start a war or something. Eep. 😬
So that’s my caveat in writing this post: I don’t know kpop and I certainly don’t know everything, and also, these are mostly just my personal opinions, so please take everything I say with an appropriate helping of salt. 😅
Everyone, as always, if you have other information, perspectives or insights to share, please tell us about it in the comments!
WHY ARE SO MANY IDOLS ACTING IN DRAMAS?
The way I see it, the kpop-drama crossover, where idols take on roles in dramas, is a mutually beneficial arrangement, where both sides stand to gain more fans.
There are drama fans – like me – who don’t follow kpop much, and the only real exposure we have to idols, is through the dramas that we watch. So if an idol manages to make a positive impression in a drama, there’d likely be a good number of fans who like them enough to explore other things that they’ve done – thus leading them to the idols’ kpop portfolio.
Excellent case in point: 2011’s Dream High (which is where this post’s screenshots come from), which featured a good number of idols in its cast, and which featured a good amount of singing and dancing.
I personally know of people who were never into kpop – that is, until they watched Dream High, after which they became full-on kpop fans. That’s a very successful crossover, no?
On the other side of things, kpop fans are generally a very loyal bunch, and they are likely to support their idols in every endeavor their idol undertakes, which, of course, includes acting projects. As a result, networks find the idea of idols on their cast appealing, because the idols’ fanbase will surely help to bolster ratings and therefore earnings.
WHY ARE SO MANY IDOLS GETTING LEAD ROLES IN DRAMAS?
I’ve talked about this in a bit more detail in my post on supporting actors, and I’ll mention it again more briefly here, since it’s relevant.
I think that the main factors that influence who gets cast as the lead in a drama, are, in order of importance:
3. Screen presence
4. Acting ability
Even though we as drama fans might feel that acting ability should be the most important factor in casting a drama’s lead, this is, unfortunately, not the case. Networks are most concerned with the profitability of the drama, so an actor’s popularity – whether it’s driven by their looks, their acting ability, or their existence as a kpop idol – is of utmost importance, because a popular actor is likely to bring his or her fans to the ratings table.
A skilled actor who doesn’t have a large fan base may well be passed over, for an idol who’s inexperienced in the acting arena, because it’s expected that the idol’s fanbase will surely help to bolster ratings. And ratings, as we’ve talked about, is where the money’s at. It’s what advertisers care about, and ad revenue is a big source of income for the networks.
Certainly, this doesn’t mean that only idols get starring roles, since there are lots of non-idol actors who are very popular as well.
I think it’s also important to note that not all idols begin acting in starring roles. There are idols who choose to make their acting debuts in supporting roles too, which is often a much more forgiving place to start.
THE IDOLS I’VE EXPERIENCED IN DRAMAS
..This brings me to my next point, which is, from what I’ve seen, even though idol actors as a category have a bit of a bad rap among drama fans, there’s a wide range of talent and ability among the idol actors.
Some are talented actors (and among them, there are those whose actual dream is to act), while some are perfectly decent, given the right role. On the other end of the scale, though, there are admittedly some who, in my cautious opinion, ought to stick with their idol day jobs.
There are lots of dramas I haven’t seen, and therefore, lots of idol actors whom I haven’t watched as well. So the following lists are only of idols whom I’ve personally seen in action on my screen. Also, these are just my current opinions and are therefore not cast in stone. I might change my mind about an idol actor yet!
Feel free to share your experiences and views of idol actors whom I may or may not have watched, in the comments below!
THE ONES I DIDN’T REALIZE WERE IDOLS
Yoon Eun Hye
Idol cred: Member of Baby Vox from 1999 to 2005.
My thoughts: I first watched her in my gateway drama, 2006’s Goong (aka Princess Hours), and so I had no idea that it was her drama debut, or that she’d been an idol prior. I thought she was great, with spot-on comic timing and excellent deep-reach ugly-crying scenes. And then I was blown away by how different she was in 2007’s Coffee Prince – so boyish and down-to-earth. This huge contrast convinced me that girl’s got talent. Pity that her recent drama picks haven’t been so great.
Jung Ryeo Won
Idol cred: Member of Chakra from 2000 to 2006.
My thoughts: I literally had no idea that Jung Ryeo Won had ever been an idol, until I started to write this post. I first saw her in 2005’s My Name Is Kim Sam Soon and hadn’t thought much of her acting, until her outing as foul-mouthed, spirited Baek Yeo Chi in 2012’s History Of A Salaryman completely changed my mind. I now think she’s pretty great; pity I haven’t loved any of her recent dramas. But there’s always next time!
Hwang Jung Eum
Idol cred: Member of Sugar from 2001 to 2004, after which she left to pursue a solo career. Her last non-drama-related single was released in 2009.
My thoughts: I had zero idea that Hwang Jung Eum was ever an idol, because I’ve only known her as an actress. I used to think of her as The Screechy One because of the weird regularity with which she’s directed to be screechy in her roles. But, I have enjoyed her in a lot of shows (the screechy tendencies usually only last for the first few episodes), and there wasn’t even a hint of screechy in her outing in this year’s Mystic Pop-up Bar. I count that as a good sign that the industry is acknowledging her growth as an actress. (I thought she was great in Mystic.)
Idol cred: Leader of Shinhwa, 1998-present.
My thoughts: It shows what a kpop noob I am, that I could watch Eric on my screen without first knowing that he’s leader of the iconic Shinhwa, heh. I know I did see him in 2004’s Phoenix but I only had eyes for Lee Seo Jin then, and Eric barely blipped on my radar, oops. I only really noticed Eric in 2014’s Discovery Of Love, and I was suitably melted into a puddle of spazz. I also really enjoyed him in 2016’s Another Oh Hae Young. I think Eric’s a very good actor, and I’d love for him to spend more time in Dramaland.
THE ONES I THINK HAVE ACTING TALENT
These are idols that have convinced me that they have actual acting talent vs. being solid in a role because the character suits them. These are the idols that I really wouldn’t mind seeing more of, in Dramaland.
Im Si Wan
Idol cred: Member of ZE:A and its sub-unit ZE:A-Five, 2010-present.
My thoughts: I’d apparently never noticed him in his cameos and smaller roles in shows like 2010’s Prosecutor Princess, 2012’s The Moon Embraces The Sun, and 2012’s The Equator Man. But he completely blew my socks off in his lead role in 2014’s Misaeng. His delivery was so raw, heartfelt and natural, that I wouldn’t have guessed he was an idol, if the promo materials hadn’t already announced it to the world. Really impressive. I also thought he was very good in 2017’s The King Loves, and I do count him as an actor to watch.
Ong Seong Wu
Idol cred: Member of Wanna One from 2017 to 2018, after which he’s continued with solo activities to the present.
My thoughts: He completely stole my heart as the quiet, awkward, reserved lead in 2019’s At Eighteen, displaying an acting range that I found both surprising and impressive. Because the character is so reserved and impassive a lot of the time, I’d thought that this was possibly one of those times when an actor could get by without emoting much. He proved me so wrong. He showed a great deal of nuance in his delivery, regularly showing lashings of raw emotion that hit me right in the heart. I thought his restrained delivery was excellent, and I’m planning to check out More Than Friends, just because I’m curious to see more from him.
Idol cred: Member of Fanclub from 1998 to 2000, after which he went solo.
My thoughts: I believe my introduction to Rain was in 2004’s Full House, which I didn’t love as much as everyone else. But I must’ve liked Rain quite well despite it, because I went on to check him out in 2003’s Sang Doo! Let’s Go To School, 2005’s A Love To Kill, and 2010’s The Fugitive: Plan B. I didn’t love any of those shows, but I do think that Rain’s got solid acting ability. His comic timing is good, he’s able to emote well and tugs at my heartstrings in crying scenes, and his flair for action is a nice bonus. I dropped out of 2016’s Come Back Mister, but not because of Rain’s performance; I thought he was one of Show’s plus points.
Idol cred: Member of MBLAQ, from 2009 to 2014, after which he left the group to go solo.
My thoughts: Although Lee Joon’s been acting in some capacity since 2008, I’ve only seen / noticed him in 2017’s Father Is Strange. Even so, in that one single role, I thought he showed a very nice acting range. From vain and petulant, to awkward and discombobulated, to wistful and sad, I thought he did an equally good job of portraying it all. To me, it felt like he was inhabiting the skin of his character, which is very impressive indeed.
Idol cred: Member of Super Junior since 2005, and sub-group Super Junior-M since 2008.
My thoughts: Although my first impression of Siwon in 2010’s Oh! My Lady was on the shallow side (I thought he was handsome and very ripped *cough*), I was very impressed with his comic timing in 2012’s King Of Dramas. That made me sit up and take real notice of his acting ability. He then proceeded to rip my heart out as the lovelorn second lead in 2015’s She Was Pretty, where I suffered an acute case of Second Lead Syndrome, mostly due to how heartfelt, wistful and gentle Siwon made his character. I still think of his character fondly now – which goes to show how well he did.
Idol cred: Debuted as a singer in 2008, got into songwriting in 2011, and still active in both today.
My thoughts: I found IU sweet and charming in 2011’s Dream High, but it was only in 2015’s Producer, where I started to have an inkling that she possibly had real acting talent. The pathos and depth that IU injected into her character, especially in Show’s later episodes, made me sit up and take notice. I wasn’t too impressed with her in 2016’s Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, but I realize that was probably more to do with the writing and directing than actor ability. I was suitably blown away by her outing in 2018’s My Mister, where she communicated so much, often without having to say much at all, and I now think she’s great.
Idol cred: Member of EXO since 2012.
My thoughts: I honestly haven’t seen D.O. in a lot, but I’ve seen enough to conclude that he has a good amount of acting talent. His role in 2014’s It’s Okay It’s Love was on the small side, but it was pivotal, and he delivered some very complex and difficult emotions with what looked like effortless ease. Color me immediately impressed. I still haven’t gone back to finish 2015’s Hello Monster / I Remember You, but I saw enough of Show’s early episodes to now always think of D.O. as a potential serial killer when I see him onscreen – even in EXO vehicle EXO Next Door, ha. Talk about making an impression, heh.
Yoon Doo Joon
Idol cred: Leader of Beast since 2009; the group has since rebranded as Highlight, starting in 2016.
My thoughts: Doo Joon stole my heart as passionate foodie power blogger Goo Dae Young in 2014’s Let’s Eat, and then again in 2015’s Let’s Eat 2. I found him charming, disarming and quite swoony. And then, just when I was wondering whether I just liked him as Goo Dae Young, 2015’s Splash Splash Love came along, and quashed my concerns. Doo Joon was fantastic; so sweet and earnest while also being so regal, at the same time. Although I honestly couldn’t get into 2018’s Radio Romance, and I thought Let’s Eat 3 was pretty meh, I wish he’d spend more time in Dramaland.
Idol cred: Member of After School and Orange Caramel, 2009-2013.
My thoughts: I’d caught glimpses of Nana in 2016’s The Good Wife and 2019’s Kill It, both of which I didn’t finish (The Good Wife is very good; I just wasn’t in the mood), and Nana didn’t strike me as specially talented, from the little that I saw. However, seeing her in this year’s Into The Ring / Memorials (review to come, when I finish my watch!) has completely opened my eyes. She throws herself into the hammy and quirky scenes with no apparent vanity, and is just as adept when it comes to expressing difficult emotions. Altogether very good, I say.
Idol cred: Member of After School from 2009 to 2016.
My thoughts: I first noticed UEE as the spoiled manipulative actress in 2009’s You’re Beautiful. She was really good in that, in that she made her character the kind that you love to hate. I then found her very charming in 2011’s Ojakgyo Brothers, where she played a spoiled rich girl made good. It was only in 2016’s Marriage Contract, however, where I felt truly impressed by UEE’s acting skills. Her role in Marriage Contract required the delivery of a lot of complex and difficult emotions, and UEE nailed it all. I was very impressed. I didn’t much care for her 2018 drama My Husband Oh Jak Doo, but I consider that a fault of the writing and directing, rather than of her acting ability.
Seo In Guk
Idol cred: Debuted as a singer after winning talent reality show Superstar K in 2009.
My thoughts: Because I hadn’t especially noticed Seo In Guk in 2012’s Love Rain, he felt quite new to me in 2012’s Answer Me, 1997, where he played our male lead. I was pretty impressed with his performance, which felt natural and raw. Since then, he’s gone on to do quite a variety of roles, ranging from comedic (like 2014’s High School King) to dark (like 2018’s The Smile Has Left Your Eyes). While I prefer him in more serious roles, I can’t deny that he’s equally skilled at the comedy too.
Idol cred: Member of Got7 since 2014.
My thoughts: Although Jinyoung’s been acting since 2012, I only really first noticed him in 2019’s He Is Psychometric, of which I watched a couple of episodes and thought he was very endearing and adorkable. More recently, I saw him in action in 2020’s When My Love Blooms, where I felt pretty impressed with the range that he showed. From his character’s carefree happier moments, to his more painful heartbreaking moments, I found Jinyoung believable and engaging, and that’s convinced me that Jinyoung’s capable of more, on the acting front.
Idol cred: Member of TVXQ, 2003-present.
My thoughts: I’ve only really seen Changmin in 2015’s Scholar Who Walks The Night, where he plays Crown Prince Lee Yoon. However, I found his delivery engaging, and I thought he did well with Lee Yoon’s complex feelings, particularly around the death of his father. That’s no small deal, especially for a relatively new actor, and I was pretty impressed.
Yook Sung Jae
Idol cred: Member of BtoB since 2012.
My thoughts: I’d technically seen Yook Sung Jae on my screen in 2014’s Answer Me 1994 and Plus Nine Boys, but I only really noticed him properly in 2015’s Who Are You: School 2015, where he made a strong impression as the lovelorn second male lead. What stood out to me was how real his heartbreak and angst felt, and my impression of him as an actor rose by quite a few notches right away. I also enjoyed him very much in 2020’s Mystic Pop-up Bar, where he does a really nice job showcasing a wide range of emotions – from the lonely isolation of a boy who’s never had a real family, to the awkward, tentative thrill of a young man falling in love for the first time – while remaining winsome and down-to-earth.
Park Hyung Sik
Idol cred: Member of ZE:A and sub-group ZE:A-Five, 2010-present.
My thoughts: I have to confess that even though Park Hyung Sik blipped on my radar in 2013’s Nine and Heirs, it wasn’t until 2015’s High Society that he caught my attention properly. Show wasn’t great, but he and his second leading lady managed to lift the entire show with their sparky chemistry. I also liked Park Hyung Sik’s delivery of his character; he made him roguishly charming, with flecks of pathos. Really nice. I didn’t manage to get through 2016’s Hwarang, but I was completely smitten with Park Hyung Sik’s turn in 2017’s Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, where I found him absolutely sweet and swoony. Importantly, I also really liked him in 2018’s Suits, where he made his character feel completely different; he came across as so young and innocent compared to his character in SWDBS. I was suitably impressed.
Lee Jun Ho
Idol cred: Member of 2PM, 2008-present.
My thoughts: I actually think that Junho did an admirably solid job in 2018’s Just Between Lovers, which was quite a serious, difficult role, given Show’s theme of PTSD. Sadly, I didn’t find him as engaging in 2018’s Greasy Melo, which I ended up dropping (not because of him per se; I just didn’t take to Show very much). But his outing in Just Between Lovers is enough to convince me that he’s got a nice amount of acting talent.
THE ONES I’VE ENJOYED IN SPECIFIC ROLES
These are the idol actors that I’ve enjoyed in specific roles, mostly because I think those roles work with their strengths &/or are suited to their personalities. Some of these idols may be more talented actors than I’m aware of, so I might change my mind about them, as I continue to see them in more roles.
Cha Eun Woo
Idol cred: Member of Astro, 2016-present.
My thoughts: From what I’ve seen of Cha Eun Woo in 2018’s My ID is Gangnam Beauty and 2019’s Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung, I conclude that he does best in roles which allow him to be rather reticent and aloof. I liked him better in Gangnam Beauty, probably because that role required less heavy lifting from him. More was required of him in Rookie Historian, and his greenness showed. That said, I do think he’s improving, since I thought he did better in the latter half of Rookie Historian, so he might have his acting breakthrough yet.
Kwon Na Ra
Idol cred: Member of Hello Venus, 2012-2019.
My thoughts: I first saw Kwon Na Ra in 2017’s Suspicious Partner, where I didn’t like her petulant, entitled character much at all, and so I didn’t take much notice of her. I thought she showed more range in 2020’s Itaewon Class, where she plays a more complex character. I consistently found her character interesting in Itaewon Class, even though I couldn’t decide whether I liked her. That’s pretty impressive. I’m putting Kwon Na Ra in this category, though, because so far I’ve mostly seen her play rather selfish and unlikable characters. I’m curious to see how she’d do in a completely different kind of role.
Lee Jin Hyuk
Idol cred: Member of UP10TION, 2015-present.
My thoughts: I’ve only seen him in 2020’s Find Me In Your Memory, which was his acting debut. I found him very adorkable and endearing, albeit slightly one-note. I very much enjoyed his gangly regular-guy vibe, and wouldn’t mind seeing him again on my screen, even if he’s just being cute.
Lee Hong Ki
Idol cred: Member of F.T. Island, 2007-present.
My thoughts: Even though Lee Hong Ki was a child actor before he became an idol, I only noticed him in 2009’s Your Beautiful, where he was super endearing as the innocent blonde-haired Jeremy. After that, I found him equally endearing – with a touch of puppy smolder – in 2014’s Bride of the Century. From the little that I’ve seen, I feel like Lee Hong Ki does best in cute and endearing roles. Even though he had plenty of opportunity to smolder in Bride of the Century, all I could see, really, was Cute Puppy.
Idol cred: Member of CNBLUE, 2009-present.
My thoughts: Having seen Jung Yonghwa in a couple of things – namely, 2009’s You’re Beautiful, 2011’s Heartstrings, and 2014’s The Three Musketeers – I’ve tentatively concluded that he does best with characters who are written to be a little stiff; bonus if the character plays a musical instrument &/or sings. I do think he made significant progress with The Three Musketeers, where he demonstrates a brightness and energy that I hadn’t seen in his other characters prior, but I still don’t think acting is one of his strengths (yet?).
Idol cred: Member of 2AM, 2008-2014.
My thoughts: I have to confess that my enjoyment of Jinwoon on my screen, is mostly of the eye-candy variety. He was my single bright spot in 2012’s very awful Dream High 2, and he was also very lovely to gaze at in 2014’s Marriage Not Dating. I did find that he had a nice range of expression in Dream High 2, but overall, in both shows, it was clear that his role was to serve up a nice quotient of shirtless charm – something that he is admittedly very good at. Heh.
Idol cred: Member of Girl’s Day, 2010-present.
My thoughts: I really, really enjoyed Hyeri in 2016’s Answer Me, 1988. I found her very likable, winsome and relatable, and I wouldn’t consider her a weak link in the show, at all. However, it’s possible that this could’ve been a one-time thing, because I couldn’t get into her acting, from the little that I saw of 2016’s Entertainer. I think Hyeri could probably do well in everygirl types of roles, given the right guidance from the PD.
Idol cred: Member of f(x), 2009-2016.
My thoughts: I enjoyed Krystal the most in 2013’s Heirs, a show which I ironically mostly hated, heh. I found her winsome and endearing despite her character’s spoiled rich girl context, which I thought was pretty hard to accomplish. I didn’t feel the same (at all, actually) from the little that I saw of her in 2014’s My Lovely Girl, but I did like her quite well in 2018’s Prison Playbook. Because of this, I conclude that Krystal can be a little hit or miss for me. With the right role, she’s really pretty good. But without the right role.. meh. 😜
Jung Eun Ji
Idol cred: Member of Apink, 2011-present.
My thoughts: I’ve seen Jung Eun Ji in several dramas now – 2012’s Answer Me 1997, 2013’s That Winter, The Wind Blows, and 2015’s Cheer Up – and while I really really like her, I also conclude that she does best in the warm, spunky, down-to-earth sort of space. I haven’t had the opportunity to see her in a very different sort of role yet, and I’d be more than happy to be proven wrong.
Idol cred: Member of Girls’ Generation, 2007-2017.
My thoughts: I’ve only seen Sooyoung in 2013’s Dating Agency Cyrano, where I enjoyed her very much. I thought she was very warm, earnest and likable, and I was also nicely impressed by her delivery of her character’s more difficult emotional scenes. I’ve got her in this category because I haven’t seen her in anything else yet, but I do think that she’s got potential to do well as an actress.
Idol cred: Member of 2PM, 2008-present.
My thoughts: I first set eyes on Taecyeon in 2011’s Dream High, where I thought he did reasonably well, because the role worked well with his slightly stiff screen presence, and capitalized on his clean-cut good looks (he reminds me of a young Seong Seung Hun, actually). I thought he did less well in 2014’s Wonderful Days, where his angry scenes vibed a little too aggressive, to my eyes. But, I thought he was nicely endearing in 2016’s Bring It On, Ghost, and that’s why I conclude that Taecyeon does best in roles that bring out his clean-cut, dorky charm.
Idol cred: Member of Girls’ Generation, 2007-present.
My thoughts: I’ve enjoyed Yoona selectively, ie, I like her in some roles, and really don’t like her in others. For the record, I liked her in 2013’s Prime Minister and I, and 2017’s The King Loves; I thought she was ok in 2012’s Love Rain; I really didn’t like her outing in 2016’s The K2. So I conclude that I don’t dislike her as an actress, necessarily, but I do need her to be cast in a role that works with her personality and her acting strengths.
Han Seung Yeon
Idol cred: Member of Kara, 2007-2016.
My thoughts: I found Seungyeon rather stiff and one-note in 2014’s Her Lovely Heels, but I was pleasantly surprised by her much more engaging outing in 2016’s Age Of Youth, and 2017’s Age Of Youth 2. I thought the character of Ye Eun, who’s cheery, pretty and sometimes a little petty, and sometimes a little thoughtless, played well with Seungyeon’s visuals and her acting range. I’m not yet convinced that she’s an especially strong actress, but I think she can be very engaging in the right role.
Idol cred: Member of Super Junior-M, 2008-2018.
My thoughts: I’ve only seen Henry in 2015’s Oh My Venus, where I found him bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and very cute and endearing. The role didn’t demand a whole lot from him, though, so I can’t tell if he has amazing acting chops hidden up his sleeves. Only time will tell, so I’m putting him in this category for now.
Idol cred: Member of SHINee, 2008-present.
My thoughts: I’ve only seen Key in 2016’s Drinking Solo, where I found him very decent in his supporting role. However, I can’t tell if he has heftier acting chops than what we see in Drinking Solo, and since I haven’t seen 2017’s Lookout, where he has a meatier role, I’m parking him in this section for now.
Idol cred: Member of Block B, 2011-present.
My thoughts: I’ve only seen P.O in 2019’s Hotel Del Luna, where I found him very warm and likable. This was a supporting role that didn’t offer a great deal of opportunity for him to show a wider acting range, so I’ve got him in this category for now.
Idol cred: Member of Girl’s Day, 2010-present.
My thoughts: I think Minah’s got a very pleasant, husky sort of vibe, and I find her likable in the right role. However, I haven’t liked her in anything, really, since first seeing her in 2011’s Vampire Idol, where I found her cute. I ended up dropping both 2016’s Beautiful Gong Shim and 2019’s My Absolute Boyfriend. But hope springs eternal, so hopefully she’ll land a drama role yet, that will do a nice job of showcasing her husky charm.
Choi Min Ho
Idol cred: Member of SHINee, 2008-present.
My thoughts: I’ve only seen Minho in 2012’s To The Beautiful You and 2017’s Hwarang, and I liked him for the same reason both times: his adorkable-ness. From what I’ve seen, I feel like Minho may not be a consummate actor, but given a role that knows how to capitalize on his charm, he’ll do a perfectly good job of being a likable, slightly goofy dork.
THE ONES I’VE FOUND JUST OKAY
Idol cred: Member of AOA, 2012-present.
My thoughts: I think Seolhyun is a very pretty girl, but I’ve found her acting just ok, so far. I saw her in 2015’s Orange Marmalade and 2019’s My Country, and both times, I found her a little flat. She does do better in the second half of My Country compared to the first half, so that’s a plus. I don’t think she’s a terrible actress. Mostly, though, I feel like she wears a default glossy-lipped, open-mouthed look which I find a little posed and rather distracting.
Idol cred: Member of SF9, 2016-present.
My thoughts: My main impressions of Rowoon are from seeing him in 2018’s Where Stars Land and 2019’s Extraordinary You. Both times, I found him good-looking but decidedly unremarkable, even though he’s listed as Extraordinary You’s male lead. Maybe it’s because the roles didn’t require more of him; maybe it’s because that’s really all there is to him, acting-wise. I don’t know, but for now, I find him just ok.
THE ONES I GENERALLY DON’T ENJOY SO MUCH
Here, just for the record, is a list of idol actors that I personally don’t prefer to watch. Certainly, these are just my personal reactions, so I’m sorry if any of your favorites are on this list. Your love for them is still valid!
L (Kim Myung Soo)
Idol cred: Member of Infinite, 2010-present.
My thoughts: For the record, I actually enjoyed L in 2012’s Shut Up Flower Boy Band. However, since then, I find that I haven’t genuinely loved him in a role, even though I’ve seen him in a couple of dramas, namely, 2014’s Cunning Single Lady and 2019’s Angel’s Last Mission: Love. Mainly, even though I appreciate that L is working hard and doing his best, my issue with his acting is that it’s very obvious that he’s trying, and I find that distracting. It’s perfectly possible that he’ll experience an acting breakthrough in time to come, but for now, he’s not an actor I prefer to watch.
Idol cred: Member of EXO, 2012-present.
My thoughts: My introduction to Chanyeol was in 2015 web drama EXO Next Door, where I found his acting stiff and quite cringey, to put it bluntly. I found his angry glower very aggressive and unnatural, and I honestly found him hard to watch. That said, I thought he did much better in his supporting role in 2019’s Memories Of The Alhambra. He’s still not an actor that I prefer to watch, though.
Idol cred: Member of Miss A, 2010-2017.
My thoughts: I think Suzy photographs beautifully, and I really liked her in 2011’s Dream High, where she plays a character whose deadpan expression is everything; “this is my happy face” and “this is my excited face” were fun catchphrases for her character and I found it a very fun, wry way to deal with an idol actor’s acting limitations.
Since then, though, I’ve found Suzy’s various drama outings on my screen rather uninspiring. I thought she was ok in 2012’s Big, but I really didn’t enjoy her in 2016’s Uncontrollably Fond. Granted, I didn’t enjoy ANYONE in Uncontrollably Fond, so it’s possible that Suzy might change my mind yet. But for now, she’s not an actress that I look forward to watching.
I hope you guys found my attempt at answering the question of why we see so many idol actors on the drama scene at least a little bit helpful, and I hope you also enjoyed this quick glimpse into what I think of the various idol actors that I’ve seen onscreen. There are so many of them out there, though, that it’s perfectly possible (probable?) that I’ve accidentally left out several that I’ve seen in action in Dramaland.
If you guys have other idol actors to shine the spotlight on, or have other perspectives or insights to share, please tell us about it in the comments! 😊
I hope this helps!
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!