Korean Actors Who Ceaselessly Rock Their “K-Drama Oppa” Status
If there is one cute necessity surplus that has not been neglected in this world, that would be having talented Korean actors.
For the thriving K-Drama fan base, followers are blessed with a plethora of Korean actors gifting sweet and superb television series.
Keeping a career longevity for Korean actors is considered a hard feat owing to its thriving industry. Moreover, maintaining bankable status means almost perfecting your public figure facade. Hence, being embroiled in a scandal greatly affects an actor. On that premise, the stakes are high to keep the reliability as an artist.
If we group the Korean actors to the generations they belong, there will be three batches which are predominantly active since the Hallyu breakthrough in early 2000.
We have the 40’s, the 30’s, and the 20’s generation of active Korean actors, who grace the small and big screens in the last few seasons.
Among these batches, the 30-ish to 40-ish actors have built a stable reputation. Consequently, it enables them to compete with the “flower boy” generation of Korean actors housing Park Bo Gum, Lee Jong Suk, Park Hyung Sik and more.
Interestingly, for newer fans of Korean dramas, they know of Gong Yoo because of Goblin. Contrary to older fans who loved him because of Coffee Prince. Through this special feature, we pay homage to the magic of enduring Korean actors through the years.
These notable actors have been reinventing themselves to portray characters that spanned over 10 to 15 years. These perennial favorites have portrayed memorable chaebol, doctor, prosecutor, detective, and even supernatural roles with vigor.
Lee Byung Hun
All In – Iris – Mr. Sunshine
Making his return in Korean television landscape with acclaimed Mr. Sunshine in 2018, Lee Byung Hun made his fans happy for the long nine years of waiting. The actor, who has over 20 years of successful films under his belt, last worked on 2009 spy series, Iris.
Cha Seung Won
City Hall – The Greatest Love – Hwajung
Innately adept in varied genres, Cha Seung Won delighted drama fans with his much-awaited drama comeback in top-rating City Hall, one of the seven dramas creatively penned by star writer Kim Eun Sook. His follow-up rom-com has had him worked with another popular writers, Hong Sisters, in The Greatest Love. Raking in high numbers and online rave, Cha is a testament of “ajussi appeal” that holds true for married actors who can still weave mesmerizing romantic moments for the audience.
Ji Jin Hee
Dae Jang Geum – Dong Yi – Misty
Acknowledged when it comes to historical productions, Ji Jin Hee’s most recent series tackled realistic themed romance. From Dae Jang Geum to Dong Yi, he made another resounding hit in 2018’s melodrama Misty.
Jang Dong Gun
All About Eve – A Gentleman’s Dignity – Suits
When Suits aired last year, I was excited not because of Park Hyung Sik, but because of Jang Dong Gun. The dashing veteran actor has an illustrious career in film and television.
Although rarely gracing the small screen in the last decade, Jang was a household name due to his active TV projects in the ’90s. From iconic romance drama All About Eve, his comeback drama after 12 years proved his swoon-worthy reputation in A Gentleman’s Dignity.
Song Seung Heon
Autumn In My Heart – My Princess – Black
Known for his affecting melodrama roles, Song Seung Heon has shifted to hero-centric roles which effectively made use of the deep trench that his acting range can navigate to. His drama portfolio includes an array of genres that the actor has worked on with conviction.
Save the Last Dance For Me – Kill Me Heal Me – Defendant
Celebrating his 20th year since Kaist, Ji Sung has had a string of well-received dramas which solidified his hitmaker status. He alternates romance and critically-acclaimed projects to boost his artistic value.
Successful Story of a Bright Girl – Fated to Love You – Tree with Deep Roots
One of the most accomplished actors who can work well as main or supporting male leads, Jang Hyuk’s acting range also reflects flexibility. From light to comic and serious characters, he can rise to challenge the role given to him.
READ: 35 Benchmark Korean Romance Dramas You Should Have Watched By Now
So Ji Sub
Phantom – The Master’s Sun – My Secret Terrius
Proving his unwavering charisma, So Ji Sub patiently worked on his top actor status with diligence. The result earned him well-loved dramas that enjoyed impressive ratings and online rave. Moreover, he joins the group of actors who effortlessly drive fan affection in the last 20 years.
Green Rose – Empire of Gold – The Flower in Prison
Marking a stellar catalog since his resurgence in 2009, Go Soo has been lauded for his sound portrayals in his most recent television series.
Myungwol the Spy – Discovery of Love – Another Oh Hae Young
A representative of actor with idol roots, Shinhwa’s Eric has been delighting drama followers with remarkable romance stories in the last ten years.
Hello My teacher – Coffee Prince – Goblin
Hitting the jackpot with 2016 hit series Goblin, Gong Yoo easily slips as a recurring favorite loved by different generations of female fans. He has scored magnanimous knockout series and movies in the last 15 years.
Jo In Sung
What Happened in Bali – That Winter the Wind Blows – It’s Okay That’s Love
Also belonging to the group of actors with balance representation in film and television is Jo In Sung. Carefully choosing projects, his works highlight relatively difficult interpretation of characters which he was able to nail with flying colors.
Kim Rae Won
Attic Cat – Love Story in Harvard – Doctor Crush
When not passionately scouring the waters for a big fish catch, Kim like the rest of his batch mates alternates small and big screen activities. Stringing nine consecutive well-received dramas has said a lot about his star power.
Lee Dong Wook
My Girl – Scent of a Woman – Touch Your Heart
Mostly showcasing his presence in the television landscape, Lee Dong Wook extended his reach by engaging in a few variety shows. From his classic rom-com My Girl, he has been the go-to actor for romance themed stories.
Lee Jin Wook
I Need Romance 2 – Nine – Voice 2
Lee Jin Wook takes turns between romance and crime series, and is lucrative in doing so. His last eight dramas were consistently applauded despite a quick controversy which he was involved with.
Ha Suk Jin
The Legend of the Witch – Drinking Solo – One Percent of Anything
Regularly showing off his brainy self on Monday nights at Problematic Man, Ha Suk Jin has a few family drama and sitcom favorites under his belt. His fan service remake of One Percent of Anything is a personal favorite.
My Lovely Samsoon – Secret Garden – Memories of the Alhambra
If you are a new K-Drama fan, then you would probably recognize Hyun Bin for his mind-blowing AR journey in Memories of the Alhambra. But for older fans, he is known with classic rom-coms My Lovely Samsoon and Secret Garden. In the last three years prior to his Alhambra comeback, he has been slaying the box office.
Joo Ji Hoon
Princess Hours – Mask – Kingdom
Strengthening his film actor value, Joo Ji Hoon landed triple hits last season in the big screen. Crossing over to the small screen, the first season of Netflix series Kingdom has also gained immense rave from fans. Stay tuned for its sequel.
Lee Joon Gi
Il Ji Mae – Moon lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo – Lawless Lawyer
Praised for his combat stage presence, Lee Joon Gi immerses impeccably to his roles, gaining a lingering recall for the audience. His association with period and crime dramas speaks about his superb renditions in the aforementioned genres.
Ji Hyun Woo
Invincible Lee Pyung Kang – Queen In Hyun’s Man – Bad Thief Good Thief
After completing his military service, Ji Hyun Woo reflects an overloaded schedule streaking seven dramas in the last five years. Additionally, he has worked across the three big networks and one cable channel for these ventures.
Song Joong Ki
Tree with Deep Roots – Nice guy – Descendants of the Sun
Currently filming 2019’s highly-anticipated series, Arthdal Chronicles, Song Joong Ki never looked back after the massive hit Descendants Of The Sun. As one of the most in-demand actors, fans clamor to see him actively pursue projects since The Battleship Island.
Choi Jin Hyuk
Emergency Couple – Tunnel – Devilish Joy
It took Choi Jin Hyuk seven years of small and supporting roles before he landed his first male lead. Interestingly, he is one actor who seems to have powered his dramas to a recognizable popularity.
Yoo Ah In
Jang Ok Jung Living in Love – Six Flying Dragons – Chicago Typewriter
Touted as eccentric and talented, Yoo Ah In has built a reputation of opting for emotionally challenging roles that young actors would usually evade. The multi-talented actor portrayed the role of a famed novelist in tvN’s Chicago Typewriter, a complementary allusion to his real life freelance writing contributions.
Yoon Shi Yoon
Baker King – Flower Boy Neighbor – Grand Prince
Dong Gu of 1 Night 2 Days may look clumsy as a regular of KBS’ popular variety show, but his dedication to dramas he starred in is always well-felt. Six dramas of six varying genres in the last three years is deemed impressive for the hardworking actor Yoon Shi Yoon.
Lee Seung Gi
My GF is a Gumiho – The King 2 Hearts – A Korean Odyssey
Before his television return for Vagabond, the multi-faceted artist actively participated on variety show and music.
Lee Min Ho
Boys Over Flowers – City Hunter – The Legend of the Blue Sea
One of the very few actors who has acquired a solid drama roster. Lee’s uncanny ability to star in hit K-Dramas is a mixture of getting stellar script along with his dedicated character immersion. Ten years since landing his first male lead in Boys Over Flowers, his succeeding dramas were constantly met with huge fan following.
Kim Soo Hyun
Dream High – The Moon that Embraces the Sun – My Love from the Star
In terms of emotional grasp, Kim Soo Hyun has always made his drama characters lingering. Because of that, the audience expects a lot from his selected projects.
Jung Il Woo
49 Days – Flower Boy Ramyun Shop – Cinderella and the Four Knights
Barely getting off from finishing his alternative military service, Jung Il Woo boards SBS’ period drama Haechi. He consistently proves his versatility by mixing historical dramas and contemporary ones.
Jang Geun Suk
You’re Beautiful – Jackpot – Switch Change the World
Gifting us a television treat as the leader of fictional television band A.N.JELL, Jang is on a mission to portray variety of characters that will be remotely connected to how he drew his previous roles.
Bridal Mask – Good Doctor – Yong Pal
In terms of years of experiences, Joo Won is the maknae among this set of featured Korean actors. However, it does not mean he is less special. He only needed two supporting roles to get his first starrer. From then on, his succeeding dramas were mostly well-acknowledged. He has yet to appear in a cable network series.
Ji Chang Wook
Empress Ki – Healer – Suspicious Partner
The year 2020 marks Ji Chang Wook’s tenth anniversary in securing his very first main lead in Smile Dong Hae. The ensuing ten dramas featured the actor’s versatility to work on an array of themes and genres.
Seo In Guk
Reply 1997 – I Remember You – The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
There is no Seo In Guk drama that disappoints. Coming from a music artist, it is considered a compliment to see him grow as an actor right before our very eyes.
READ: K-Drama Review: “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” Painfully Threads An Unforgettable & Life-Affirming Romance
Park Seo Joon
She Was Pretty – Fight For My Way – What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?
Would you believe that Park Seo Joon is the maknae in this featured batch of Korean actors? Park has pressed forward with engaging dramas capitalizing on amusing rom-com stories loved by fans.
There you go folks! Hope you enjoyed looking back on how much these actors have grown as much as how I felt nostalgic reminiscing their good old classics.
Photo sources: KBS, SBS, MBC, OCN, Netflix, tvN, jTBC, TV Chosun
ABOUT THE WRITER
abbyinhallyuland reads and sleeps a lot when she is not traveling. Her calendar reminders are mostly K-Drama broadcast schedules and birthdays of her favorite Korean actors. Promoting K-Drama watching as stress therapy is her life advocacy. She is fond of Spencer Reid, Gregory House, Kenshin Himura, Starwars saga, Haruki Murakami and Hunter x Hunter.
Recommended Korean Dramas: Reply 1988, Nine, Misaeng, Gaksital, Discovery of Love, Because This is My First Life, Descendants of the Sun, My Love from the Star, Healer, Punch, You’re Beautiful, Coffee Prince, Princess Hours, The Greatest Love, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, City Hunter, and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.