Dear kfangurl: Can you talk about actors and their nicknames?

So, full disclosure, this post isn’t inspired by an actual Dear kfangurl question, but because Dear kfangurl is where all the lists on the blog live, I figured this would be the best place to put it.

This post is inspired by Beez and Trent, who recently had a conversation on my Kill Me, Heal Me group watch announcement post, where they discussed the nicknames of various actors and actresses.

I thought that would make a fun post, where I could share what I know, and you guys can share what you know, and together, we can paint a fuller picture together!


Some of these nicknames are given by the celebs’ fans, but some of them are nicknames that have formed organically over time.

Therefore, some of the nicknames are more complimentary than others. Also, some of these nicknames are used more than others.

I don’t claim to know everything – these are just the nicknames that I’ve come across over the years that I’ve spend wandering Dramaland.

Where possible, I provide an explanation for the nicknames’ origins, but there are some nicknames whose origins I’m not sure of. Also, there’s always the possibility that I might have gotten some of these wrong. 😅

If you know the background behind a nickname, &/or if you spot a mistake in this post, or if you just want to add on to the list, feel free to let us know in the comments!

Bae Yong Joon

Nickname: Yon-sama

Background: Bae Yong Joon is an OG Hallyu heartthrob. Back when Winter Sonata aired, he gained immense popularity around the world, with an especially ardent fan following in Japan.

It’s the Japanese fans who gave him the nickname “Yon-sama” (ヨン様; cf. “Emperor Yon”) and that nickname still sticks today, even though Bae Yong Joon’s no longer acting onscreen.

Chun Jung Myung

Nickname: PIE

Background: Lots of fans think of him as a cutie-pie. To be fair, this nickname was popular some years ago, and doesn’t seem to be used as much these days.

Eric Nam

Nickname: Nation’s Boyfriend

Background: Probably because he’s so clean-cut, earnest and endearing?

Gong Yoo

Nickname: Kkongdaegari, Sodu, Dinosaur Head

Background: I honestly have no idea of the origins of these nicknames. I’m a terrible Gong Yoo fan, I know! If you know the answers, please share in the comments!

Hong Jong Hyun

Nickname: Jjong

Background: I honestly don’t know the origins of this, but it is pretty well-known that this is Hong Jong Hyun‘s nickname. I’m guessing that it’s an aegyo-tastic riff off the “Jong” in his name.

Hwang Jung Eum

Nickname: Screechy

Background: This is an unofficial nickname for sure, but in drama fan circles, most folks would know who you were talking about, if you referred to Hwang Jung Eum as “Screechy.”

This stems from the unfortunate recurrence of her delivering her lines in a shrill manner, particularly when the PD is going for a more comedic vibe.

To be fair, I do think she’s been directed to be shrill (vs. choosing that direction on her own), and we’ve also seen that she is perfectly capable of being non-screechy.

On the upside, in pretty much all the dramas involved, the shrillness tones down significantly once you get past the initial episodes.

Hyun Bin

Nickname: Binnie

Background: So this isn’t a very exciting nickname, but from the way the nickname is a very affectionate form of “Hyun Bin” we can tell just how fond the public is, of him.


Nickname: Nation’s Sweetheart, Nation’s Little Sister

Background: For her sweet, hardworking image.

Jang Hyuk

Nickname: Hyukie

Background: Like Hyun Bin, this isn’t a very exciting nickname either. But again, the affectionate form of his name goes to show how fond the fans are, of Jang Hyuk.

Jo Jung Seok

Nickname: Jojeol

Background: A nickname given by his childhood friends.

Jun Ji Hyun

Nickname: Nation’s First Love

Background: I believe this is because Jun Ji Hyun is one of the original poster girls of Hallyu. Her breakout role was as the titular girl in 2001 film My Sassy Girl, one of the highest grossing Korean comedies of all time.

Jung Hae In

Nickname: Milk Man

Background: Apparently this nickname was given because of his “superior genes,” though I don’t quite see the connection.

I’d imagine a bigger connection with his milky complexion, combined with the fact that he’s played sweet, gentle types in several dramas, like, One Spring Night and A Piece Of Your Mind.

Kim So Hyun

Nickname: Nation’s Little Sister, Queen of Child Actresses, Goddess of Historical Drama, Sageuk Goddess

Background: Pretty self-explanatory, as Kim So Hyun acted in a ton of dramas – particularly sageuks – as a child actress, and showed impressive acting chops through them all.

Kim Tae Hee

Nickname: “uhm-chin-ddal of the country” or The Perfect Daughter of Your Mother

Background: Admired most for her beauty (and therefore often quoted as a standard of beauty in various kdramas over the years), Kim Tae Hee is also very brainy, having graduated from the prestigious Seoul National University.

Everything a mother could want, basically.

Kim Woo Bin

Nickname: Dinosaur

Background: Kim Woo Bin himself says that he thinks he looks a bit like a dinosaur.

Kim Yoo Jung

Nickname: Sageuk Fairy

Background: Due to her having appeared in many sageuks, from the time she started out as a child actress.

Lee Jae Wook

Nickname: Puppy Seol

Background: A nickname given by fans. I’m not sure of the origins, but it’s possible that it’s because of his role as a sweet puppy type in Search: WWW, because his character’s name in that show, is Seol Ji Hwan.

Lee Min Ho

Nickname: Chemi-Shin. Also, Lee Min Hot.

Background: Chemistry god, because fans felt he had excellent chemistry with all his female co-stars. And then, Lee Min Hot, because, well, fans think he’s hot. 🔥

Lee Seung Gi

Nickname: Nation’s son-in-law. Also, Nation’s Uhm-Chin-Ah.

Background: He’s just the really smart, talented, clean-cut, good-natured type, which is why he’s the nation’s pick as an all-around perfect son-in-law.

“Uhm-Chin-Ah” roughly means “your mother’s friend’s brilliant son to whom you get compared,” ha.

Lee Sun Gyun

Nickname: The Voice

Background: He’s the owner of the most gorgeous, deep, velvety, smooth-as-butter voice in Dramaland.

Park Bo Gum

Nickname: Bogummy, Nation’s Boyfriend, Nation’s Crown Prince, Nation’s Man of Good Influence.

Background: Park Bo Gum’s just so sweet and charming, that he practically feels perfect, heh.

Apparently he’s the Nation’s Boyfriend because he’s just so charming, the Nation’s Crown Prince because of his easygoing and high-class image, and the Nation’s Man of Good Influence because of his kindness and politeness.

Park Bo Young

Nickname: PPo-Young

Background: I’m not sure of the origins of this nickname, but it’s quite possible that it’s an aegyo-tastic take on her name? Particularly since she’s so gifted at the aegyo?

Park Shin Hye

Nickname: Hacci, Alice, Randy-Shinhye (Randy Johnson Shin Hye)

Background: She got nicknamed Randy-Shinhye because her pose while opening a baseball game was reportedly as perfect as that of Randy Johnson (a famous MLB player).


Nickname: Nation’s Thief

Background: For stealing Kim Tae Hee’s heart and marrying her in 2017, lol. I’m pretty sure this is said tongue-in-cheek.

Seo In Guk

Nickname: Master of Kissing

Background: Seo In Guk’s known to kiss his leading ladies with feeling, which is where this moniker comes from. Here‘s some evidence from his first drama Reply 1997.

Heads-up that there are two separate kisses featured in this scene, and the second one is, uh, worth waiting for. 😉

Shin Min Ah

Nickname: Donald Duck

Background: Apparently this is because when she pouts, her lips resemble a cute Donald Duck.

So Ji Sub

Nickname: Sonic

Background: I’m not sure of the origins of the nickname “Sonic,” however, So Ji Sub did debut as a rapper under the stage name “G” or “G-Sonic.” That might be why?

Song Hye Kyo

Nickname: (the first) Nation’s First Love

Background: Song Hye Kyo starred in several seminal dramas, when Hallyu first starting making its mark around the world, such as Autumn In My Heart and Full House.

Autumn In My Heart, where she plays Song Seung Hun‘s first love, was a huge hit around the world. I believe this contributed greatly to how people saw her as the nation’s first love.

Song Seung Hun

Nickname: The Hand Towel, THT, Dish Towel (variation)

Background: Born of a Dramabeans podcast in which Javabeans called him sonsugeon (hand towel). Freudian slip?


Nickname: Nation’s First Love. Also, Nation’s Sweetheart.

Background: a title she gained from starring in 2012 film “Architecture 101.” I feel like people quite possibly see her as a new generation’s first love, since the original nation’s first love was Song Hye Kyo.

Uhm Tae Woong

Nickname: UhmForce

Background: A nickname born of his very intense performance in 2005 drama Resurrection (aka Rebirth).

Yeo Jin Goo

Nickname: Nation’s Little Brother

Background: From his years as an ubiquitous child actor.

Yoo Seung Ho

Nickname: Nation’s Little Brother. Also, Little So Ji Sub.

Background: Also from his years as a ubiquitous child actor. Plus, he’s still got that cute, boyish vibe, even though he’s now all grown up. As a child actor, Yoo Seung Ho had also gained attention for his resemblance to So Ji Sub.


I hope you guys enjoyed this little list that I managed to come up with!

If you know of more celebrity nicknames, feel free to share them in the comments below! I’m sure we’re all eyes and ears! 😉

Thanks, you guys.

Smooches. ❤️



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!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

@BE – Oh yes. If not for you, I wouldn’t know that Kim Chang-wan is a musician.

FYI – There’s a documentary about The Funk Brothers on Hulu.

2 years ago

@kfg – Yes, a panda. But at the risk of being corny & cringey, “bright” fits you as well. I know you’ve created a bright spot on the internet for us Verdicites. I’m cringing so hard. lol

2 years ago

@BE – You made me think of this – a song where the first half is instrumental yet most people are only familiar with the vocals that make up the last part of the song. 😉

2 years ago
Reply to  beez

@beez: Great intro, was part of the late sixties rock influence introduced by sloppier psychedelic bands that Motown slicked up and added violins to. Kim Chang Wan was famous for doing long intros too in the 70s, introducing that style in Korea. Also can’t help but say I feel the Curtis Mayfield influence on this. Just a spectacular piece of music. I was a bigger fan of the initial Temps iteration and David Ruffin whose only peers were Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, imo. And the Motown band, the largely unheralded by comparison with Stax Volt and Atlantic bands, the Funk Brothers, et al were just sensational on this. And how can you not love those hot pink outfits? Thanks beez, had not heard this in years, better than I remembered, thoroughly enjoyed.

2 years ago

I didn’t know many of these nicknames apart from a few. But it feels like most of them are a right match. Loved reading and re-reading this post 🙂

2 years ago

I didnt know any of these.

But I have to say Lee Sun Gyun as The Voice seems perfect.

I mean I am a dude but he still touches the funny place in my ear with that voice.

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

It is amazing however what a horrible singing voice the man has.

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

Nobody can have everything ^^

2 years ago
Reply to  Reaper

Ohhh the voice! I love his voice. Soooo smooth and velvety. Mmmm. I need to watch more of his shows for his voice!

2 years ago
Reply to  MC

Yes I only saw him in My Mister. So I also have plenty of stuff to watch with him in it ^^
I mean he is also an amazing actor. So it will be worth it

2 years ago

Your nickname round up is great fun, @KFG, but… oh, your photo picks. 🔥😅

2 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

That Shin Min Ah, lol.

2 years ago

@KFG – “Double-barrelled”? Does that mean a repeated name like Kai Kai?

And dare I ask to tell us what yours was (and its translated meaning or how you got it)?

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Fangurl – Ming Ming is adorable. Yes, it sounds like a name for a Panda.

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Ah doubly bright GurlK Fan Fan, I have two lifelong friends, one whose name is Arlene, who since she was a little girl and her older brother still an infant named her thus, has gone by the name Nene (pronounced knee-knee) and another whose name is Robin, but people love to call her Mimi, one woman in her seventies, the other in her sixties, and the folks, young and old alike, who love them say those names with great affection.

2 years ago

Wow! You got to this really fast!
I’d like to add a few

Song Seung heon is also known as Lashes & Brows for his incredible eyelashes that I think are so deserving that I think I’ll add a pic.

Giraffe = Lee Kwang-soo (one look at him is explanation enough) I won’t add the other cast members of Running Man who are known internationally by their nicknames since they’re not actors

“Kim Tae hee – The Perfect Daughter of Your Mother”
sounds like a description from an envious sibling 😆

Kim Woo Bin – Woobie

Rain – The Gateway Drug (at one time the majority of nations that weren’t familiar with Kdramas found them while searching for more of his music or more info about him

I personally refer to Jang Hyuk as “Blinky” (and sometimes “Hyuk-a-buck” because I actually had a cousin whose name was Huckabuck and I have no idea what his real name is. I think it is James or something equally as mundane.)

I didn’t recognize Chun Jung Myung or Hying bin from the pictures!

2 years ago

Lotta national sweethearts here. Personally, I think Humphrey Bogart would call Shin Min Ah “Dimples.” As in why don’t you come over here Dimples and shake that tail of yours? I do get a kick out of Hyukie, the Hyukster, here at the KFG Hyukorama blogsite. Interesting names, but wouldn’t Ooey Gooey be an improvement on Dinosaur Head, as in “Oh that man! Ooey Gooey!” I kinda like Li Seung Gi’s nickname cause it reminds me of one of great all time American dance numbers, the mistitled, “Your [should be My] Mother’s Son in Law,” performed by a young Billie Holliday with the Benny Goodman band in 1933:

You don’t have to have a hanker
To be a broker or a banker;
No siree, just simply be
My mother’s son-in-law.
Needn’t even think of tryin’
To be a mighty social lion,
Sipping tea, if you’ll be
My mother’s son-in-law.
Ain’t got the least desire
To set the world on fire;
Just wish you’d make it proper
To call my old man papa.
You don’t have to sing like Bledsoe*;
You can tell the world I said so.
Can’t you see you’ve got to be
My mother’s son-in-law.

*Julius Bledsoe was a light opera singer, famous for his powerful and rich vocals, most famous for his rendition of “Old Man River,” from the show, Showboat.

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

The song really swings too. Billie Holliday was young when she sang it, and while she is more famous now for the seriously bluesy songs she performed as she got older, her delivery on this is the sweetest combination of earthy gusto and girly soprano all to the dance band bounce that ninety years later would still get folks out of their seats and onto a dance floor.

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – I searched YouTube & listened. Quite a rousing ditty. Thanks

2 years ago
Reply to  beez

An amazing composition really. The long bluesy intro, Goodman on clarinet, taking up at least half the song. I cannot think of any other song with such a construction. Then Billie chiming in with all that delicious, tasty zest, all that young womanly energy in her throat, her one of a kind vocal instrument, throwing out in tempo and with syncopation a mouthful of rhymes and alliterations, especially how she makes “proper” and “papa” into a perfect percussive punctuation. The young Lady Day.

The dance beat was called a Fox Trot (kind of abstract for us nowadays, but think of just what that conjures)–so American, a honky tonk, citified dance jazz beat waltz upgrade. People nowadays think of jazz as some sort of chamber music, but it is the river from which all American dance beats of the past hundred years originally derived. You can hear it all the way into IU’s kpop.

And IU’s other nicknames, to remain on topic, now that she is approaching thirty–from her fanbase: “The Queen.” And she has also been called “The Star of Stars” because of how other K Pop performers are often seen at her concerts.

Ah, also though not one of your major drama lead stars or squee-bee handsome fellows: the fine, often comedic, character K Drama actor Kim Chang Wan is sometimes called “The Father of Korean Rock and Roll.”

2 years ago

What a cute and fun post Fangurl! Out of all the photos above (great selection to be sure), Jang Hyuk and Shin Min Ah are the two that stand out to my eye as they are just drop dead gorgeous. My favorite nickame is Wang Kai’s – his fans call him Kai Kai. I even use this nickname sometimes when discussing him.

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Fangurl – it is really funny you mention that panda reference as my grand daughter received 4 stuffed pandas as a present last year and every one in the family voted names. Of course 2 of my 4 votes were Kai Kai and MCS. Kai Kai won but MCS was too long. 😅 We all call him Kai Kai.

Even if he is wearing grungy clothes Jang Hyuk is always, always a hot potato. He makes your heart skip a beat. I do love your choice. 💖

Ele Nash
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

and kfangurl, I feel I should point out in the drag scene, kai-kai is when two drag queen’s, well um, you know, hook up 🤣

PS We’re all stuck-y on Hyukie and I could listen to The Voice forever and after watching Shin Min-ah as adorable Gumiho goddess, she is henceforth only known to me by these wink gun-point emojis:
Easier nickname to act than to actually pronounce…

2 years ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Ele – I am cracking up over the Kai Kai drag queen reference. I had to look it up. I swear I learn something new every day.

2 years ago

I’ve seen in an interview, Gong Yoo said he might be called Dinosaur Head because his head is small compared to his body. 🙂

2 years ago
Reply to  KaiaRaia

I’ve also seen Monster as a nickname for Gong Yoo. I have no idea where that comes from.