There’s just something irresistible about K-dramas that is hard to pinpoint. There’s nothing like the thrill of a stunning performance as an episode closes on a cliff-hanger, the intensity of a heartbreaking confession, or the endless laughter after an incredibly comedic scene.
K-dramas are famously known to attract the ladies–far more than the gents. And more often than not, it’s the actor that really makes the K-drama shine.
Everyone has a scene that’s seared into their memory, a moment of breath-taking acting that really proves just how well a performance ties together plot and production. Inevitably, though, how attractive an actor is also plays a significant role in their popularity.
But acting is serious business in South Korea, you won’t make it by just your looks and celebrity status alone. Stars rise to fame because of a combination of their talent, charm, looks, and their drive – these are the well-known ingredients to success in an industry as cut-throat as acting.
With the power to capture the hearts of audiences in Korea and worldwide, here’s a short list of some of the hottest Hallyu actors right now.
- Park Seo-joon
Maybe it’s his looks, maybe it’s his abs and height, or maybe it’s his boyish charms, but at just 32-year-old, actor Park Seo Joon has captured the hearts of millions worldwide and is considered one of the most popular Korean actors of his generation. Just check his Instagram page, he has over 18 million followers!
Known for his incredible range, Park made his entertainment debut in 2011 in a music video, and went on to lead many popular dramas, including Itaewon Class, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, Fight For My Way and She Was Pretty. Park is an incredibly versatile actor, able to portray a variety of different characters, often the most ordinary of them, and always executing them with poignant emotional depth and presence. You may have missed this, but the actor also made a cameo in Parasite.
And this looks like just the beginning! In June 2021, it was announced that Park has joined the cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe film, the Marvels, which will be released in November 2022.
- Hyun Bin
You may have first heard of him in “Crash Landing on You”, but this 38-year-old actor’s career has spun decades. Ever since his breakout performance in MBC’s 2005 series “My Lovely Sam Soon,” Hyun Bin has received international attention for his outstanding talent. Most recently, his role as a proficient (if awkward) army captain Ri Jeong-hyeok in tvN’s “Crash Landing on You” has boosted his already large fanbase.
His long career is exemplified by the large variety of projects he’s done, from fantasy series and romantic-comedies to historical thrillers and crime dramas. Hyun Bin’s career is studded with feature films and TV series, with numerous notable awards and nominations under his belt. Who wouldn’t swoon with Hyun Bin on their screen?
- Kim Soo-hyun
Currently the highest paid actor in South Korea and a household name, Kim Soo Hyun first gained recognition for his leading role in a high-school drama, Dream High, back in 2011. Since then, the 33-year-old actor has appeared in Forbes Korea Power Celebrity List, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia List, has taken home four Baeksang Arts Awards, two Grand Bell Awards, and one Blue Dragon Award.
Kim found his passion for acting, ironically, when he was sent to take acting classes by his mother during his school years in order to overcome his introverted personality. It was meant to be, it seems, because the actor has enraptured us with some of K-drama’s best works. This includes his performance as King Lee Hwon in Moon Embracing the Sun back in 2012, which is one of the highest rated K-dramas in South Korea television history, a 400-year-old alien in My Love From the Star, an aspiring prosecutor in The Producers, and an orphaned caregiver working in a psychiatric hospital in It’s Okay Not To Be Okay. On top of television, Kim also starred in top-grossing films such as The Thieves and Secretly, Greatly.
Kim is set to star in One Ordinary Day, set to be released later in 2021, a television drama about the South Korean criminal justice system based on the British television series Criminal Justice.
- Lee Dong-wook
Though Lee Dong-wook was propelled to freedom for his irresistible performance in a romantic-comedy, the actor excels at fantasy dramas. From his noteworthy second lead role in “Goblin” to his most recent performance in “Tale of the Nine Tailed,” Lee Dong-wook captures the hearts of viewers everywhere with his iconic smirk.
Renowned for his charm, the prolific actor also often hosts award ceremonies or variety shows, capturing the hearts of viewers everywhere with his easy laugh. Currently, he’s one of the hosts of JTBC’s newest variety show, “The Sea I Desire,” whose first guest was Blackpink’s Rosé.
- Park Bo-gum
The youngest, but one of the most influential of the list, 28-year-old heartthrob Park Bo Gum is known for his diverse range of roles. From a genius Go player in Reply 1988, a psychotic young lawyer in Hello Monster, a mischievous Joseon Crown Prince in Love in the Moonlight, to a struggling model-turned-actor in Record of Youth, many say that the genius of Park is in his deep empathy, tenacious work ethic, and humility.
Unlike his cookie-cutter image, Park has had his fair share of hardships, from losing his mother at a very young age, growing up poor, to getting rejected by multiple agencies before landing his big break. But he never fails to wear his heart on his sleeves. This is probably why audiences love Park Bo Gum so much, and it’s in his ability to connect with people. To top it off, he’s a talented singer, too!
Park was the youngest artist to be named Gallup Korea’s Television Actor of the Year, and is also the first ever actor to top South Korea’s Power Celebrity list by Forbes Korea.