Dear kfangurl: What are some shows where a supporting character stole the show?

BE writes:

Recently in the US the great, great American television serial character actor Michael Kenneth Williams died (insofar as I can tell of a drug overdose, though the facts have been slow in coming) at the age of 54.

Just a flat out brilliant actor, Williams has had three especially memorable roles in HBO series.  But one especially stands out, the role of Omar, a kind of lone ronin bad ass, who lived out of his own moral code as a gay, shotgun carrying thief who stole from drug dealing gangs to make his living on the streets of Baltimore during the late nineties, in The Wire, a 5 season series that critics, and I as a watcher of television series, universally have acclaimed as one of the greatest if not the greatest such series ever produced.

While show features a large ensemble, and it would be hard to pin point any single actor as lead, therefore, Williams’ Omar was distinctly a support character, albeit imo the greatest antihero ever filmed.  It is hard to over emphasize what a signature role Williams enacted, except to say in the wake of his death, the outpouring of grief in response, focused in elaborate, admiring, and loving detail in large part upon his role as Omar, his superlative and unforgettable performance, and how its impact upon American culture has been universal.

I cannot myself remember any actor in film or serial drama in a supporting role so iconic; that is, in a drama so universally praised, a supporting character being universally its most memorable.  I wonder if in K drama you can think of any equivalent kind of performance?

Ok.. Here’s what I know..

Dear BE,

I’m sorry to say that I’m not familiar with the work of Michael Kenneth Williams, but it sounds like he was an amazing actor.

In terms of an Asian drama equivalent, I’m not sure if there is a drama that is universally praised, to be honest, since even the most well-regarded shows have their fair share of detractors. However, I’ve done my best to highlight what I feel are very memorable performances by supporting actors.

No lie; the more I thought about this topic, the more fantastic supporting actors with scene-stealing performances came to mind. Plus, there are lots of dramas that I have not seen myself as well, so if you have other great show-stealing performances to highlight, do share them in the comments!

SHOW-STEALING SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: MY TOP PICKS

These are my top picks, which I think might be closest to what BE is looking for, in terms an iconic performance by a supporting actor.

Chuno

Song Dong Il as Cheon Ji Ho

This might be the closest to what BE is looking for, I think, in terms of an iconic performance by a supporting actor, in a universally well-regarded drama. Honestly, if you’ve seen Chuno, you wouldn’t soon forget Song Dong Il’s turn as the inimitable Cheon Ji Ho. From his blustery idiosyncrasies to the deep pathos that he manages to express through it all, Cheon Ji Ho managed to steal pretty much every scene he was in.

Review is here, Open Threads are listed here.

Nirvana In Fire [China]

Ding Yong Hai as the Emperor

Nirvana in Fire is one of the best dramas I’ve seen, and the Emperor is a very memorable supporting character, thanks in large part to how Ding Yong Hai plays him. He’s layered and complex, and Ding Yong Hai infuses him with so much personality and nuance that I found the Emperor quite fascinating, despite not being a lead character.

Victor Huang as Prince Yu

Prince Yu is also a very memorable supporting character, in a show where there are multiple memorable characters, and this is also thanks in large part to Victor Huang’s portrayal of him. I’ve heard it said, that viewers going in blind to this show, were actually surprised to learn that Prince Yu wasn’t the main lead. That’s how much Victor Huang commanded the screen.

Flash Review is here, Open Threads are listed here.

Warrior Baek Dong Soo

Choi Min Soo as Sky Lord

Ahh. Warrior Baek Dong Soo is, objectively speaking, a mess of a show, honestly. There is so much that doesn’t make sense in this one, and yet, it manages to be an absorbing watch, with the right lens.

Choi Min Soo gives us THE most memorable performance of the entire show, with his rendition of Sky Lord, who’s complicated, compelling and also, apparently a little crazy, too. The intensity that Choi Min Soo delivers as Sky Lord, particularly in some of the more emotional scenes, is nothing short of arresting. I’d even say that Choi Min Soo’s performance is strong enough all on its own, to warrant a look at this show.

Review is here.

My Country

Jang Hyuk as Yi Bang Won

I kind of feel like the makers of this drama expected Jang Hyuk to steal the show. After all, you can’t cast a powerhouse like Jang Hyuk, and expect him not to outshine his younger, less experienced colleagues, who are the actual leads of the drama, right?

Jang Hyuk’s Yi Bang Won – along with his fan! – stole every single scene he was in, and made me root for a morally ambiguous character, all by the power of his charisma and intensity. Your interest in the main characters may vary, but it’s pretty much universally agreed that Jang Hyuk in this, is nothing short of spectacular.

Review is here.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

Oh Jung Se as Sang Tae

I really enjoyed It’s Okay To Not Be Okay as a whole, but Oh Jung Se is so flippin’ fantastic as Sang Tae, that he deserves an award. Oh Jung Se literally melts into the character of Sang Tae, so much so that I could easily believe that this was a person with actual developmental challenges, on my screen.

Oh Jung Se’s performance is so nuanced, so detailed, and so heartfelt – plus he makes it all look so natural and effortless too. Deserving of a standing ovation, truly.

Review is here.

OTHER SHOW- OR SCENE-STEALING SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

Here’s a sampling of other performances by supporting actors which I found very enjoyable. Some of these performances stole the whole show for me, while others don’t quite steal the show – but absolutely steal the scenes in which they appear.

All good stuff, which I wanted to give the quick spotlight to.

Crash Landing On You

Yang Kyung Won, Lee Sin Young, Yoo Su Bin and Tang Joon Sang as Captain Ri’s Puppies

Eee!! Captain Ri’s brood of soldier puppies were a personal favorite of mine, during my watch of the show. I just love how they pulled more than their weight in entertainment value, and essentially stole every scene they were in. My favorites are Yang Kyung Won and Yoo Su Bin, but the Puppies together was always a highlight.

Kim Young Min as Man Bok

In a show with such a sprawling cast, I thought Kim Young Min really stands out as Man Bok, the conflicted wire-tapping officer. He honestly doesn’t have a lot of screen time or dialogue to work with, but his arc, of struggling to reconcile his duties with his personal values, was so poignant to watch. Big kudos to Kim Young Min, for knocking it out of the park.

Jang So Yeon, Kim Jung Nan, Kim Sun Young and Cha Chung Hwa as the Village Ahjummas

The Village Ahjummas are like Se Ri’s equivalent of Captain Ri’s Puppies. I love their boisterous, gossipy, ultimately warm concern. They were a true highlight of my watch, too.

Review is here.

Flower Boy Next Door

Kim Seul Gi as the insomniac editor

It’s been years since I watched this show, and yet, I can’t forget Kim Seul Gi as our insomniac editor with the gigantic dark circles. 🤩 Kim Seul Gi doesn’t have a lot of screen time in this show, but she makes every second count. I still love Insomniac Editor to this day – and she’s such a small supporting character too!

Review is here.

Healer

Kim Mi Kyung as Ahjumma

To be clear, I don’t think Ahjumma stole the entire show, because I have serious heart-eyes for Healer himself, as well as the main loveline. But, I also have Big Love for Ahjumma, who is the coolest, gimbap-rolling, sweater-knitting hacker that a night courier could ever ask for. Kim Mi Kyung is fantastically deadpan and droll in this, and I would love for Ahjumma to have her own spin-off series – is how much I love her. 😍

Review is here.

Her Private Life

Kim Sun Young as Eom So Hye

I loved Kim Sun Young’s outing as the eccentric art gallery owner Eom So Hye. She manages to make So Hye terrible, yet entertaining; theatrical, yet not cringey. That’s skillz, and Kim Sun Young seems to manage it all so effortlessly. I loved the main romance in this (Ryan Gold! 😍), but Kim Sun Young as Eom So Hye was definitely a personal highlight as well.

Review is here.

Hotel Del Luna

Lee Do Hyun as the Captain

Lee Do Hyun literally stole the entire show for me, as the Captain who has a history with IU’s Man Wol. He doesn’t have a lot of screen time in this, but his Captain is the whole reason that I stayed with this one till the end. Lee Do Hyun does SO well with what he’s given, that I might have heart-eyes for the Captain forever. 😍

Review is here.

Mr. Queen

Cha Chung Hwa as Court Lady Choi

To be clear, Cha Chung Hwa didn’t steal the entire show for me, because I freaking love both Kim Jung Hyun and Shin Hye Sun in this. But, Cha Chung Hwa does capably steal just about every scene she appears in, and I have SUCH a soft spot for Court Lady Choi. Her wail of, “Mamaaa~” is such a great signature. 😂

Review is here.

My Roommate is a Gumiho

Kang Han Na as Hye Sun

While I very much enjoyed both Jang Ki Yong and Hyeri in this show, I have to say that I genuinely perked up every time Kang Han Na came on my screen as our ditzy bombshell of a sexy ex-gumiho. Who knew, that Kang Han Na could play an endearingly vacuous character so well? 🤩

Review is here.

Oh Hae Young Again

Ye Ji Won as Park Soo Kyung

Ye Ji Won’s almost always a scene stealer, and I find her outing as Park Soo Kyung particularly memorable. Soo Kyung is theatrical and more than a little bizarre, and yet, at the same time, Ye Ji Won gives us all these glimpses into her inner pathos as well. Really excellent.

Review is here.

Scholar Who Walks The Night

Lee Soo Hyuk as Gwi

I don’t think this is a very good show at all, but I have to admit that Lee Soo Hyuk’s outing as Gwi, our bad, very bad, sexy vampire with a smooth drawl, and a penchant for shirtlessness, was a bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming drama.

Flash Review is here.

Search: WWW

Lee Da Hee as Cha Hyun

Oh my gosh. I LOVE Lee Da Hee as Cha Hyun. She’s so many things at the same time – ambitious, outspoken, prickly, loyal, heartfelt, sweet, and fangirly – and Lee Da Hee makes all of those facets work so well together, without ever making Cha Hyun look like she has a multiple personality disorder. Cha Hyun is so amazing that she deserves her own show, is what. 🤩

Review is here.

Squid Game

Gong Yoo as Train Man

I’m throwing this in here, because Gong Yoo!! 😍😍 And also, while Train Man is more of a cameo than anything else, he does technically qualify as a supporting character. And everyone who’s seen Squid Game is talking about Gong Yoo as Train Man, so that qualifies as stealing the show, I think? 😉

Review is here.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In as Yeorim and Crazy Horse

I loved Sungkyunkwan Scandal both times that I watched it, but I have to say that objectively speaking, the main loveline does lean a little.. understated. It’s honestly the bromance between Song Joong Ki‘s delightfully flirty Yeo Rim and Yoo Ah In‘s broody-angsty Crazy Horse that steals the show. There’s arguably more intensity in this bromance, than in the main loveline – and I’m not even exaggerating.

Review is here.

Sweet Home

Kim Nam Hee as the Swordsman

Without going into spoiler territory, I just wanted to say that Kim Nam Hee launched a surprise attack on my heart as supporting character the Swordsman in our story, and I think I just might have come away from the show, liking his character the most.

Flash Review is here.

The King: Eternal Monarch

Kim Kyung Nam as Kang Shin Jae

If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you’d probably know that I was mostly quite underwhelmed by this show. The writing, the OTP, the general handling; there was just something about all of that, that didn’t really work for me.

BUT, Kim Kyung Nam as Shin Jae was my one consistent bright spot, during my watch. I loved Shin Jae, and cared so much, about what happened to his character. I think a lot of the credit goes to Kim Kyung Nam, for his heartfelt, nuanced interpretation of Shin Jae as a character.

Review is here.

The Secret Life Of My Secretary

Kim Jae Kyung as Veronica Park

How could I forget the iconic Veronica Park?!? 🤩

Kim Jae Kyung gives SUCH a memorable performance as Veronica Park. Kim Jae Kyung makes her OTT, vain and self-centered, and yet, also manages to make Veronica funny, adorable and all-around awesome. That’s quite a feat, in my opinion. Major props to Kim Jae Kyung for giving us an unforgettable character, with what looks like not very much effort at all.

Review is here.

The Uncanny Counter

Lee Hong Nae as Ji Cheong Sin

I loved this show and our main crew a great deal, but I have to admit that Lee Hong Nae is unforgettable as Ji Cheong Sin. Every time Lee Hong Nae showed up as Ji Cheong Sin, he commanded the screen, and I found him compelling from beginning to end.

Review is here.

Thirty But Seventeen

Ahn Hyo Seop as Chan

Ahh, I loved Ahn Hyo Seop as Chan. Such a wholesome, pure and altogether endearing character. This screenshot of Chan holding a chick, pretty much epitomizes the kind of caring (albeit simpleminded) person Chan is. In a show with a reasonably sprawling cast, I find that I have a specially big soft spot for Chan, and that has a lot to do with the wide-eyed, guileless way that Ahn Hyo Seop plays him.

Review is here.

Where Stars Land

Kim Kyung Nam and Lee Soo Kyung as the Security Couple

In all honesty, I don’t think this is a great show. BUT. Kim Kyung Nam and Lee Soo Kyung stole my heart as the very awkward, very adorable Security Couple. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that together, they formed the single brightest silver lining to my watch experience.

Review is here.

White Christmas

Kim Woo Bin as Mi Reu

In a drama world that’s populated with lanky, tall model types, Kim Woo Bin still manages to steal the show, even though his character Mi Reu enjoys relatively less screen time. I find his shock of red hair, and his chaotic brand of energy, quite unforgettable.

Review is here.

IN CLOSING

I hope you enjoyed this quickish spotlight on some fantastic performances by supporting actors! These actors are so talented; they definitely deserve a bit of extra love, I say. 🥰

Like I said earlier, if you guys have other outstanding performances by other supporting actors to highlight, please share them in the comments!

Thanks, everyone.

Smooches. ❤️

~kfangurl

I hope that was good food.. for thought? 😉

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!

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Yllejord
Yllejord
10 days ago

I feel like in every historical Lee Joong Ki was in he had had the show stolen from the second roles. Like in Arang it was the shaman, the grim reaper, that guy with his evil mistress, even the ancestral ghosts that only have one scene were more interesting than the main characters. In Iljimae it was Iljimae’s parents. Etc etc.
Special mention to Moon Embracing the Sun, where the young actors of the first half completely steal the show from the adult actors of the later half.

beez
18 days ago

Great list, kfg. I thought you missed someone but then, before I got to the end – there they were!
I would only add Kim Sung oh to this list without naming any drama in particular because he’s stolenn the show on every one that he’s been in.
On second thought, I will name a few:
– His quirky, loveable secretary in Secret Garden.
– When a Man Loves – His domestic mobster with a loyal heart of gold who makes housework look like every woman’s fantasy even though he’s batsh*t crazy and his loyalty to Song Seung heon causes him to even try to murder the female half of the OTP.
– Inspiring Generation – sexy no-good mobster loves good girl and sacrifices everything to do the right thing on the end.
– Fashion King (the movie) flamboyant gay fashion designer mentor.
– My Phone Sex Partner – the only true laugh -’til-you-guffaw moments in this romantic comedy is when he’s on screen.
– Warm and Cozy – the only interesting thing in the entire snooze fest.
– Doorlock (movie) he saves the heroine and the movie

spoiler
too bad he had to die

– Fight My Way – the adorable coach with the Eddie Munster bangs plus muscles.
– Love 119 – Why aren’t his roles larger????😭

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
17 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez 😂

phl1rxd
phl1rxd(@phl1rxd)
16 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – Kim Sung Oh! Love your Fight My Way description – solid gold! I have developed a real appreciation for him due to his enormous acting talent.

Kay
Kay(@kdramakisses)
20 days ago

So many fantastic actors listed here! Kdramas really have a lot wonderful supporting characters, and I look forward to seeing so many of them. Actors like Sung Dong Il, Choi Min Soo, Kim Mi Kyung, and Kim Seul Gi are a few of my top scene stealers. There are practically too many amazing actors in the world of kdramas to list though! 🙂

BE
BE
22 days ago

Hi K. I so plague you with endless such questions, I was taken quite aback to find you responding to this one, especially as its subject is someone from drama outside Asian drama. But hey, thanks, and I hope it has gotten folks thinking about this, as for myself, maybe cause I am an old fella and fantasizing about these young leads in their otp’s seems…um…a bit unseemly, even to me, I have to say one of the things I love most about K Drama is the character actors, on up to the second and third leads. Tell me Shin Goo or Lee Jung Eun is gonna be inna show, I will most certainly watch it. Sung Dong Il, yes indeed! Everyone here with whom I shared that wonderful group watch you hosted on Chuno knows good and well just how much Team Ji Ho I was rocking from the get go. Go Doo Shim (forget mom in My Mister, and go straight to Dear My Friends, unforgettable and all those hats!); and speaking of Dear My Friends, I will watch too anything I see with Na Moon Hee in it, and heck I enjoyed the heck out of Park Jae Joon in My Mister and Misaeng probably more than the lead he turned in on The World of the Married. And distinctly on and on.

But Michael K Williams as Omar in The Wire was something else again. He was great in other shows as well. His turn as Chalky White, the black Atlantic city depression era bootlegger trying to survive amongst the white political and gangster power players in Boardwalk Empire, by virtue of his street wise handle on both the black and white communities, the family patriarch with a morality starkly in contrast to what his gangsterism led him to perform, his meanness of temper, and then in the end the tossing it all away, wife, family, fortune, role in the gangster hierarchy for the love of a beautiful young singer half his age–just terrific, amazing! Or how as an older actor playing a prison wise old tough floor boss prisoners calling the shots among the prisoners, gangs, and guards alike, he gives the keys to the acting kingdom in a bit of egoless acting support of Riz Ahmed’s star making performance in the HBO Drama “The Night Of…” in which Ahmed plays a young, poor, naive Palestinian student living with his parents in New who gets caught up in the murder of a young woman who invites him into her house for a wild night of wild drugs and wilder sex, and is jailed, kept there for months, becoming hardened as a result, waiting for the trial in which he has been falsely accused of her murder, all the circumstantial evidence pointing against him. Williams died in his fifties, a tragic drug od, universally acclaimed by his colleagues as a great and gentle soul who gave his all to every role he had been given.
But Omar was something else. The Wire, for those of you unfamiliar with it, took the old tv police procedural format and used it to thoroughly explore the tragedy of the drug trade in the black communities of Baltimore, Md, looking at the gangs and the drug trade, the policing, the politics of city hall, the school systems, the white harbor longshoreman working class, and the fading and failing newspaper business. Thrown into to that world was this man, probably late twenties, early thirties, who cut quite the striking figure black doo rag, black long coat, black pants, his long black face with a knife scar running from forehead almost down to his mouth, always sporting a signature sawed off shot gun, making his living ripping off at shotgun point the toughest gangs for their ill gotten loot derived from largely addicting most of their neighborhoods with heroin, the badder the gang, the badder the gang leader–hey he was Omar, come and get him if you can. The strut, the bravado, and yet the tenderness with which he held the men he shared a bed with, the moral code of his own making by which he lived–an irresistable force of charisma. As I noted elsewhere below, the thing is with Williams and Omar, at first he was meant to be a secondary character in the show, but Williams put so much into his performance that by the third season…well, and since, all you have to say to anyone who watched The Wire is “Omar’s Coming…” and hey-yo… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmtuRRhtGQw

When I think of Williams and Omar, despite loving Song Dong Il in Chuno, unlike the The Wire in which Omar takes over, there is no question Chuno is the tragedy of the magnificent Dae Gil, however much I love Ji Ho. Show is distinctly Jang Hyuk’s. And while it is true Jang Hyuk in a supporting role owns My Country, show itself was nothing to write home about, far inferior to other Joseon origin story depictions, with a rather meh pair of young leads. Williams in The Wire is playing with several actors that have gone on to pretty big time careers as both lead and support actors in prestigious productions. If My Country were half of Six Flying Dragons, one might consider Jang Hyuk’s breathtaking performance in the same way I and so many view Omar.
On this list, I would probably say Oh Jung Se in It’s Okay to Be Okay, comes closest. Unlike Williams he has performed previously and been given kudos for his performances, but without a doubt, Sang Te, whom I do not really believe in show’s original conception was meant to be the force he became over the course of it, was/is/has been both an iconic character and a starmaking turn for the actor.

As I noted with Snow Flower, who quite correctly lists Kim Nam Gil for his haunted and haunting performance in Queen Seondeok, it strikes me that Go Hyun Jung’s Mishil–to repeat myself, THE greatest single sageuk villain ever–comes even closer as she so took over the show from the actual lead performers that some folks thought the show itself should have been titled, Mishil. But Go Hyun Jung was a star, lead actor going in. Her performance in what had been the biggest show in K Drama history to date, the mid 90’s blockbuster Sandglass had been nothing short of gobsmackingly great, even if her Mishil was even better.

I do think Yoo Yeon Seok as Goo Dong Mae did exactly what Williams did in The Wire as an actor playing in a highly well reviewed series with an extraordinary cast, including lead actors (Lee Byung Hun is an actor with an international reputation, an incredible range of lead roles under his belt, and phenomenal acting chops) with big reputations, character actors with resumes down to their legs. And as Snow Flower points out, Byun Yo Han is pretty darn phenomenal himself–Six Flying Dragons, Misaeng, Mr. Sunshine–the fella has range and the singular ability to grow as a character over the course of several episodes. And Kim Min Jung, albeit one has to take three showers after watching a single episode, pretty much walks away with several episodes in this year’s Devil Judge (she is much, much better, however in Mr. Sunshine, far more 3 dimensional). But again Yoo Yeon Seok came to Mr. Sunshine with a resume of his own.

Hey thanks K. Character actors, my cuppa tea. Sorry I am so late to this. Just been a couple of days since I could sit at a computer long enough for such a post. You are grand as always, and apologies for not being able yet to keep up.

Sara
23 days ago

I absolutely agree with Prince Yu! My fave character in NIF.

As others have mentioned, Choi Si-won in She Was Pretty was a scene-stealer for sure, much more so than the boring ML.

I’m also going to add Cho Seung-woo in Life to this list. Somehow he becomes like the ML even though he’s not! Such an interesting character.

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
20 days ago
Reply to  Sara

I enjoyed Life. I’m pretty sure Cho Seung-woo and Lee Dong-wook were both the MLs for this. He is the bigger star after all. The FLs are the secondary characters.

J3ffc
J3ffc
23 days ago

Before this post, I had zero interest in watching Flower Boys Next Door, but they got me just for having a character named “insomniac editor”, not to mention having her played by Kim Seul-gi….

For CLOY, I would have pegged scenes stolen by second leads Seo Ji-hye and Kim Jung-hyun, but then it occurred to me that that might be a category unto itself – second leads that outshine the main leads. A discussion with the good and bad examples of second leads – ones we love and then ones that we hate – would be fun.

And speaking of Seo Ji-hye, anyone watching Dr. Brain? I have a semi-open slot and it’s only on once a week, so I might try it out for the team since we have Apple TV for other things. Also because Lee Sun-kyung (also a scene stealer! Coffee Prince!)

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
22 days ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Kim Jung Hyun and Seo Ji Hye were a great couple in CLOY. I will never forgive the writer for the way she handled their story arc. Kim Jung Hyun also had a memorable supporting role in Rebel:Thief Who Stole The People.

JJ
JJ
20 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

@Snow Flower – I sooooo agree about their story arc in CLOY…..sigh,

JJ
JJ
20 days ago
Reply to  J3ffc

– we were just discussing Dr. Brain over on Patreon’ Drama Exchange Spoiler Free Zone. Would love to know what you think because were holding off until more reactions, reviews and episodes dropped 🙂

j3ffc
j3ffc
20 days ago
Reply to  JJ

Hey thanks! I’ve not had a chance to check it out yet but will bug on over as soon as I do.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
24 days ago

Lee Sung Min as Manager Oh Shang Shik in Misaeng! So layered, started as the typical burnt out, gruff salaryman and then evolved and grew into the wonderful boss who has your back. Loved his sometimes awesome, sometimes childish attempts to stand up for the bullied young newbies.

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
24 days ago

Agree with the mentions for:

  • Song Yoon Ah in The K2
  • The soldier boys and the wiretapper (can’t believe how so youthful he looks!) in CLOY
  • Lee Se Young as our rotting zombie AND One in Hwayugi (as the idle grandson of the absent shopkeeper; also in Arthdal Chronicles as the young Tagon)
  • Kang Ha Na in My Roommate is a Gumiho (she truly made this watch worthwhile)
  • Kim Nam Gil as Bidam in Queen Seondeok
  • Oh Jung Se – haven’t watched IOTNBO but yes to him in When the Camellia Blooms

For those not yet mentioned…

I have huge soft spots for these actors who were riveting and/or truly brightened up my watch in the few times they played as supporting leads:
Shin Sung Rok as the main baddie in My Love from the Star and I’m not yet sure as what in Vagabond (I’ve just started it). Let me just add that I loved his time-crossing thriller drama, Kairos, with Lee Se Young.
Son Ho Jun in My Secret Terrius and in Radiant/Dazzling
Lee Yi Kyung in Welcome to Waikiki and one episode of Hotel del Luna
Jung Hae In in While You Were Sleeping
Ma Deong Suk in the movies Along with the Gods and Train to Busan
Jo Jung Suk as a guest mermaid in Legend of the Blue Sea (people also sing praises for his The King 2Hearts supporting role)

Not exactly stole the show but yes to the scenes they’re in:
Oh Dae Wan as the detective in Room No. 9. This was an uneven watch but I rooted for him every time, especially with Kim Hee Sun. So much so that I ended up not hating him in his smaller role as a despicable loanshark in Marriage Contract.
Ji Soo in his early roles in Angry Mom, Doctors, and Moon Lovers

Absolutely, completely for:
Choi Min Soo in his one episode guesting in Faith (aka The Great Doctor). I LOVE Faith and this is my favorite work of Lee Min Ho as a romantic lead but the difference in acting and charisma was truly noticeable in that episode. Ryu Deok Hwan was also fantastic as the insecure King Gongmin.
Cha Seung Won as a slightly unhinged arsonist in Libera Me and as a bad guy with “principles” in the more recent Night in Paradise.
Hwang In Yeop in the high school drama True Beauty. It reminds me somewhat of Lee Jun Ki’s supporting role 15 years earlier in My Girl.
Oh, also Won Bin as the second lead in the old melodrama Autumn in My Heart

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
24 days ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

The funny thing about Song Yoon-ah being nominated for her role on The K-2 is that for me she was the primary lead in the show!

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
24 days ago
Reply to  merij1

Admittedly, I went there for JCW, but then I found her.

wonhwa
wonhwa
24 days ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

Oh Jung Se was great in Camelia, but I also loved Yeom Hye Ran as his lawyer wife (she was fantastic as Jo Seung Woo’s snarky secretary in Life as well).

beez
17 days ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

@Jiyuu – I’d forgotten about Lee Yi Kyung!👍👍👍

wonhwa
wonhwa
24 days ago

Probably the most dramatic example I’ve seen of a character showing up midway through and taking over a show was Kim Nam Gil’s Bidam in Queen Seondeok. Obviously he was intended to be important from the beginning, but I thing the writers had no idea just how just popular he was going to be, and you could see them suddenly reworking plot lines to accommodate it. As far as more traditional secondary characters go, I totally agree on Hacker Ahjumma, and I also loved Kim Mi Kyung as a bad ass cop in the screenwriter’s earlier Story of a Man (Park Ki Woong also does some serious scene stealing in that one as well). Other favorite side characters include Bae Soo Bin in both Jumong and Painter of the Wind, Han Ye Ri in Six Flying Dragons, and Lee Sang Yeob’s incredibly creepy serial killer in Signal.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
22 days ago
Reply to  wonhwa

Kim Nam Gil as Bidam in Queen Seondeok is one of a kind.

BE
BE
22 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

I will speak to this at length, but I would say while Kim Nam Gil in Seondeok as a supporting actor did create an iconic and memorable character, Go Hyun Jung’s Mishil, whom I have been led to believe was distinctly at first meant to be a supporting character, is probably even closer to what I am thinking of vis a vis Michael K Williams. In her case, however, she already had a starmaking role in Sandglass (and she is terrific in Sandglass), whereas Michael K Williams up till The Wire had largely been a music video dancer.

Elzbieta
Elzbieta
24 days ago

Please do not call Oh Jung Se a supporting actor. It’s Okey … had three leads and he was one of them! I am tired of people minimizing his role in this show.

BE
BE
22 days ago
Reply to  Elzbieta

I think in terms of what I was describing to K, Oh Jung Se quite fits the description. I do not think he was meant to be considered the lead actor in that show, he was ML’s addled brother, but his performance was such that it took on the imprimatur of a lead, similarly to MK Williams’ role as Omar in the Wire. There were other actors designated as leads, but Williams’ Omar so dominated the screen when he played against them, it is hard now in retrospect to think of him as anything but a lead actor in that show, even though at the beginning he was more likely considered a rogue support player.

JJ
JJ
24 days ago

Isnt Joon Hyuk Lee pretty much a scene stealer for whatever Show he might appear and delight us ?

I want to add another recent comedic duo ! Joon Hyuk Lee and Shin Dong Mi in Bossam always lit up the screen in their scenes together. How could we do without Court Lady Jo and Chun Bae ?!!!!

Ele Nash
25 days ago

Great list, kfangurl! Yes, yes and, er, yes to all these. Jang Hyuk’s Yi Bangwon (plus fan) is incredibly scene-stealing to the point it’s almost embarrassing to the rest of them 😍 and Kim Kyung Nam really was compelling in Eternal Monarch. Ah, I have a feeling Sung Dong-il steals every drama he’s in… You may be interested to know I’m watching Coffee Prince for the first time and, woah, Gong Yoo has not aged! Am smitten by Yoon Eun-hye 🤩

So I’d maybe add into the mix Song Yoon-ah in the pretty shaky K2, Lee Se-young in A Korean Odyssey (who makes just about the most scene-stealing adorable zombie ever), all the child actors in The Moon that Embraces the Sun… In fact, child actors often outshine the main cast 😊

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

@Ele – Couldnt agree more about Lee See Young in A Korean Odyssey!!!! She was fantastic 🙂

Ele Nash
24 days ago
Reply to  JJ

Yay! Wasn’t she? I could have watched her play that character indefinitely 😊

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

I so agree.

A Korean Odyssey Spoilerish

I was so bummed when she just suddenly disappeared. I was so heartbroken, literally. I wish they didnt do that to her. Sniffle.

Last edited 24 days ago by kfangurl
JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  kfangurl

@KFG – THANK YOU!!!I realized my mistake and went back to edit it and wouldnt let me edit 😭😭😭 Thanks so much for the Save! 🥰

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  kfangurl

@KFG – NAH! Speed was essential at this point for posting an open big spoiler. I know better! Thanks for the save. Edit any of my mistakes any time 🥰

Ele Nash
23 days ago
Reply to  JJ

A Korean Odyssey
Like so many of my favourite female kdrama characters, she deserved so much more 😭

ngobee
ngobee
25 days ago

Yes, great list – and a number of women among them! In addition, I felt the two monks in Vincenzo were in an inscrutable, unpredictable category of their own.

wonhwa
wonhwa
24 days ago
Reply to  ngobee

Yeah, the monks in Vincenzo were a hoot!

MC
MC
25 days ago

I love your list, and would only add Gu Dong Mae (Yeo Yeon Seok) in Mr Sunshine. His tortured villain was so and captivating, I was more interested in him than Eugene Choi actually, haha. A lot of his scenes with Ae Shin were electrifying despite honestly nothing much happening, just through the power of his longing… I still remember his performance though it’s been a while. What a change from the nice Chilbongie!

Ele Nash
25 days ago
Reply to  MC

So agree about Mr Sunshine – Yeo Yeon Seok and Kim Min-jung both stole the show for me 🤩

BE
BE
22 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

I loved so many support actors in show, large and small, but I am going to throw this out as well. Because the ensemble was so great, because Yoo Yeon Seok, Kim Min Jung, and Byun Yo Han were so great, folks tend to forget just how sensational Lee Byun Hung and Kim Tae Ri were. Say what one may about scene after scene, I will take the two of them, one at a time, at the scene on the bridge where Eugene Choi faces down the old potter (played, imo, in his most wonderful role by the excellent character actor Kim Gab Soo), all the while knowing he was in the crosshairs of the woman he was ready to sacrifice everything for, and then Ae Shin coming down to take the old man down to task for setting both of them up like that. Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Ri, not chopped liver!

MC
MC
21 days ago
Reply to  BE

Oh yes that’s true! I loved that scene too. I do forget that Eugene Choi was acted brilliantly too. The whole cast is amazing!

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
22 days ago
Reply to  MC

Byun YoHan in Mr. Sunshine was also outstanding!

MC
MC
21 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Haha yes true. The whole cast is amazing! Byun Yo Han is so different from who he was in Misaeng.

BE
BE
22 days ago
Reply to  MC

Yes on Goo Dong Mae. Was he 2nd ML or support? Yoon Yeon-Seok did indeed carve out an iconic character dominating the show, a well received show up and and down, upstaging excellent performances put in by the two main leads again and again, the two of them formidable performers themselves. it took me a long time to ever see YYS again in anything wherein I could forget Goo Dong Mae.

reaper
reaper
25 days ago

I can totally agree on Thirty but seventeen, Healer and It’s okay not to be okay.
I haven’t seen Nirvana in Fire, white christmas and chuno.
But the other characters listed are just meeeh. Even a bit annoying… but that is why tastes differ ^^

Medea
Medea
25 days ago

Great list! I would also add Byung-Hee from Shut Up Flower Boy Band. Such a magnetic character. He’s honestly the thing I remember most about the show though he wasn’t in much of it.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
25 days ago

And speaking of Chuno, there is also Seol Hwa! Kim Ha Eun plays the street smart entertainer with just the right mix of spunk, cynicism, and sadness. Her scenes with Jang Hyuk made my heart cry…

Ele Nash
25 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Oh yes, I agree!

BE
BE
22 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Chuno!

uyen
25 days ago

I was just going to say Kim Kyung Nam and Lee Soo Kyung from Where Stars Land and was affirmed to see them on your list lol! Honestly wouldn’t have minded if their storylines were a bigger part of the show and I loved them more than the main leads. Kim Seul Gi in Oh My Ghost probably doesn’t really count because her character is so central to the story, but I’m just waiting for her to have a lead in a standard length drama (rom-com with Kang Ha Neul???)

phl1rxd
phl1rxd(@phl1rxd)
25 days ago

Fangurl – you really nailed this fab-u-lous list, especially Sungkyunkwan Scandal as I also found the bromance unforgettable. That one scene where they were looking for YAI took my breath away. Really happy to see that you mentioned Lee Hong Nae in Uncanny Counter as yes, he commanded the screen (as I peeked through my fingers – so darn scary good!). 🤦‍♀️

I kept nodding my head yes as I was reading down your perfect post. Choi Min Soo is a certified scene stealer and his King Suk Jong role in the Royal Gambler was pretty epic and truly the only thing that kept me from dropping this drama like a hot potato.

While not pinpointing a specific drama, the only other addition I would add would be Jung Hye Sung in any drama she has ever been in. My attention is drawn to her every single moment she is on my screen. An underrated comedy genius who is just waiting for the perfect script. ⭐

Last edited 25 days ago by phl1rxd
seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
25 days ago

Wonderful, wonderful, stuff (list), kfangurl and thank you for the question, BE. Song Dong Il as Cheon Ji Ho was (is) awesome. He (and so is Oh Jung Se) is in Jirisan right now, which I have dropped after yesterday’s episode.

My all time fave is Lee Da Hee. She is very much the show stealer. I am watching Young Lady and Gentleman right now and her Scarlett would be absolutely eating it up 😊 Of course SK’s National Grandma is in the show playing a grifter (just awesome) and is popping up everywhere at the moment e.g. HCCC , Squid Game, Jirisan etc.

JJ
JJ
25 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@sean – why did you decided to drop Jirisan? I am getting ready to start YLG!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
25 days ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – I enjoyed the first two episodes, JJ. I was fully invested in how important Jirisan is in people’s lives, including past events and superstitions. Plus, I thought the awesome and totally unbelievable and breathtaking dramatic rescues would continue as a main focus. However, after eps 4 and 5, I found the story has turned into a “whodunnit,” which I feel undermines the show’s initial premise. I accept though, that my view may not be in keeping with others. The cinematography is fabulous, the acting is good – the writing, hmmm.

I hope you enjoy YLG. It really is delightful and some of the performances are a hoot 😎

Trent
25 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

I think you’re not wrong about it being a relatively conventional whodunit for the last couple episodes… I’m hopeful that it has wound that plot thread up and is ready to get back to more interesting material and head in more interesting directions. We’ll see (I haven’t given up on it yet).

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
24 days ago
Reply to  Trent

Cheers, Trent. The cast is too awesome not to have interesting storylines 😊

Shahz
Shahz
25 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

That is interesting Sean because the whodunnit/ paranormal element had me in the ” not sure camp”. And similar to you I would have preferred the story to have focused on the work that the Rangers do.

And just to extend a huge thank you for recommending On the Verge of Insanity. It is every bit as fantastic as you promised. I am on episode 10 waiting for the rest of the episodes to arrive and even managed to rope Jennifer into watching and although she struggled with the first few episodes she is very much invested !

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
24 days ago
Reply to  Shahz

Thank you for the huge shout out, Shahz. I am glad that both you and Jennifer are on board with On the Verge of Insanity. It is one show I wished did have a second season.

I have managed many rangers and emergency services in my time and grew up scrabbling up and down mountains, coming across ancient artefacts and rock art and so on. So, I just wanted to see something a bit more around how SK does these things. JJ and Trent may have just convinced me enough to have another looksee 😊

Shahz
Shahz
24 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Wow Sean that is some experience you have there! And love the thought of you coming across ancient artefacts. Oddly, enough I said to Jennifer on Patreon about how I really enjoyed the mundane elements of the show such as when they are washing their equipment.
Jennifer suggested that I adopt the X files lens and that has helped so I am still in but still in the” not so sure camp”.
And as for OVOI, I love the unholy trinity (ML, FL and second lead).

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
20 days ago
Reply to  Shahz

When I was a teenager, I was making my way up a creek near where we lived at the time and I came across aboriginal rock art depicting fish. Seeing something older than known ancient civilisations at the time rather than in a book or a museum was amazing. It was the impetus for me to go on and study anthropology initially.

Exactly re the mundane elements. That’s when I always realise we are more the same than what we think.

I’m a great X files fan, but that lens hasn’t worked for me on this occasion 😂 Speaking of which, if you get the chance, take a peek at Chimera. I think it’s the best kdrama thriller for some time.

Lol re the unholy trinity. They are delightful and are as bad as each other. No one could play the ML any better 😊

JJ
JJ
23 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@Sean – Over in Patreon, I shared I have done my fair share of rock and mountain climbing 🙂 I was sharing with everyone the one detailed that bothered me was cotton looking white tube socks. The professional mountain climbers would never wear cotton, at least the ones I knew!

Thats so cool you managed many rangers and emergency services. Now, I totally get why you left and I would agree. I wanted more focus on the rangers as well. Im still hanging in there hoping this wknd will turn things around!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
20 days ago
Reply to  JJ

I will drop in over at Patreon and make a contribution, JJ 😊 I am a great admirer of rock and mountain climbers. I will always watch a show that has mountaineering in it.

A little 0ver two years ago, I was filling in as a temporary CEO at a small local government that is in a category one bush fire zone. As we were gearing up for the bushfire season, I attended an early breakfast for the volunteer firefighters, which included testing all the fire fighting equipment and the fire attack vehicles (fire trucks etc). Anyway, as they were testing the latest acquisition (a small fire attack vehicle), some cheeky so and so said “Sean’s over there, do you think we can squirt him from here with the main fire hose?” Needless to say they acquired their target (as I was just within range) and everyone thought it was 😆 I took photos as I waited for the hosing to stop 😂

JJ
JJ
19 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@sean – Awesome! Would love your comments over on Patreon 🙂 Amazing stuff what rock and mountain climbers can do. Mad respect for them.

Hysterical story 😂😂😂😂 Thanks for sharing! “Waited for hosing to stop” 😂😂😂😂😂

BE
BE
22 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

sean–on the verge–a whisper in the grass! psst…best show all last summer. Tnanks again for that.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
20 days ago
Reply to  BE

Cheers, BE 😊🍺🥃

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@sean – Thank you for the explanation ! While I do agree with what you pointed about the Show up to this point, I am hoping it was all a set up for some upcoming great episodes as they laid the initial ground work.

Ill let you know about YLG as 50 episodes does seem intimidating!😳

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@sean – I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of Young Lady and a Gentleman! I laughed so much and just had a smile on my face enjoying this Show. And you are soooo right, Scarlett would have loved this Show so much. I can just see her glued to the TV. Made me laugh as I watched the first episode thinking about “Scarlett” loving this one 🙂 Thanks again!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
24 days ago
Reply to  JJ

That’s awesome, JJ. That is one of the great things about this show, you can’t help but smile. They also turn all the tropes on their heads. No dragging out of issues. The secondary couples are great too. I’m at ep 14 and Scarlett, as KFG would say, would be slurping it all up with her spoon. The supporting actors are putting on a treat 😊😂😊

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@sean – I just finished Jirisan Epi 6 and you might want to check it out just for the fact the seasons change to winter and the scenery looks amazing. 🙂

seankfletcher
seankfletcher(@seankfletcher)
24 days ago
Reply to  JJ

You know, JJ – I think it might just take a look 👀

MariaF
MariaF
25 days ago

Choi Si-won (Siwon) as Kim Shin-hyuk in “She was pretty”.

I thought Park Seo-joon’s acting made the ML too mean and too bland at the same time, while Siwon’s warmth and humor made his character just about perfect. I really hoped he’d win the FL over.

Shahz
Shahz
25 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

Absolutely this!!! I was going to say this same. I adore Park Seo Jeon so I am putting it down to the direction but Siwoon stole the show.

And I don’t really do second lead syndrome but I really thought FL should have been with Shin Hyuk as they just” got” each other.

reaper
reaper
25 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

Yes! Very true. I was a bit disapointed. Would have been a nice twist when FL ended up 2nd ML

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
24 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

Agree with this! Think it wasn’t Park Seo Joon’s acting, more the writing choices. He spent too much of the show being mean and temperamental, and show didn’t show enough of the growing connection between FL and ML to convince me. I also felt more chemistry between FL and 2ML!

JJ
JJ
25 days ago

@KFG – Park Gyu Young & Kang Ki Doong in Romance is a Bonus Book. Total scene stealers every time! PGY when she says “oh My Baby” about her purse 🤣🤣🤣 Every time I see that scene I laugh! She has excellent comedic timing and so does he! Love them 🥰

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
25 days ago
Reply to  JJ

I was going to post that just about the entire cast of Romance is a Bonus Book qualifies.

But in particular, Kim Yoo-mi as super austere senior manager Go at the book publishing company. (Or president or whatever her title was.)

Then that surprising night club scene! Classic!

Then her turnabout towards Dan-i near the end of the show.

She was really quite a show thief.

JJ
JJ
25 days ago
Reply to  merij1

– My inclination was to write down the whole cast as well!!! I decided though to go with my favorite comedic duo. I am so glad you brought up the whole cast though 🙂

The Club scene was stellar. And then back at her place 🤣

Shahz
Shahz
25 days ago
Reply to  merij1

Loved that club scene!

Shahz
Shahz
25 days ago
Reply to  JJ

I am laughing thinking about that scene now🤣

JJ
JJ
24 days ago
Reply to  Shahz

@Shahz – Hysterical. 🤣

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
25 days ago

“I’m Cheon Ji Ho!!!”

A great list, KFG.

Woo Do Hwan gave a scene-stealing performance in Save Me.

JJ
JJ
25 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

YES! I agree. Great List!!!!