This was a great year for Korean drama actors that I really liked. There were also a few surprises as well. Some actors I just sort of passed off and then BAM, I see them in a drama and became impressed with them. Here’s my list of top KDRAMA actors in 2015.
DRAMA TO WATCH: Heard It Through The Grapevine
Also known as: Heard It as a Rumor / I Heard a Rumor
Genre: Family, drama, romance, black comedy
Broadcast network: SBS
Broadcast period: 2015-Feb-23 to 2015-Jun-02
Lee Joon rose in popularity in his former idol band MBLAQ with this aloof persona and the body visuals (ABS, okay?). He kept acting while active with them, but it wasn’t until he left MBLAQ (I still don’t want to talk about this) that he had the wonderful chance as a lead in a family drama with a bit of dark comedy in Heard It Through The Grapevine. He played a teenager from a prominent family who gets his high school girlfriend pregnant (played by the amazing Go Ah Sung). She just happens to be from a family just making ends meet. Together they fall furiously in love. Testing their boundaries within the families and in life. Joon plays his character so well. He’s a passionate person. He’s smart. Most of all, he grows in the role. It’s a great arc to see this teenager become a man. For myself, a long time fan, I was beyond impressed.
Watch Heard It Through The Grapevine on VIKI.
I have gushed about Sassy Go Go a few times here and I mention Ji Soo quite a bit. He sort of came out of nowhere when he was cast in Angry Mom. He just held his own as a broken young man. What I don’t think any of us expected was his chemistry with Kim Hee Sun. He played it naturally and I think that is what people responded to. When Sassy Go Go came around, he was cast again as broken young man, but make no mistake, he played it even better. The drama tackled abuse and self harm with Ji Soo’s role and he did it so well. They also paired him with Lee Won Geun as his best friend. That bromance has easily become one of my favorites in all of the Korean dramas I have seen. It made me weep and it made me burst with happiness.
Watch Sassy Go Go on VIKI.
I know some people had an issue with Lee Sang Yoon’s character in this, but I understood why he was so irritatingly childish at times. For me, it was time that there was a sort of submissive role for a man in a drama that was about a woman finally standing up for herself. Now being able to act like that with the glorious Choi Ji Woo was the hard part, but Sang Yoon does it well (and those dimples!). By the end of the drama, you almost forget he was kind of a pest and I’m definitely over that shit show drama Angel Eyes he did. Ugh, now that I’m reminded of that, I might need to rewatch parts of Twenty Again right now just to make sure I can forget that properly and just beam over Sang Yoon again. We need reminders sometimes.
Watch Twenty Again on DRAMAFEVER.
I know Park Hyung Sik has been acting for a while, but I actually paid a little more attention to his fellow ZE:A band member Im Siwan. Then I saw him in The Heirs and thought he was kind of cute with his silliness. Actually that whole drama depended on cuteness a lot, but it did put him on my radar. When High Society started, I began to think differently. He looked older and was more handsome than I expected. His chemistry with Sung Joon was great, too. What set him apart though, were his scenes with Im Ji Yeon. In fact, most of the time I wanted to see them rather than the leads. That says something right there and I liked the leads! His next move is a historical installment of the “Flower Boy” series from the Oh!Boy Project (Flower Boy Ramen Shop, Flower Boy next Door). I can’t wait.
Watch High Society on VIKI.
I don’t have to talk that much about how much I adore Siwon as an actor, but I will! He really excels at charm and having the ability to bring it down when he needs to. Sure he did some action dramas and they were fine, but I think She Was Pretty just proved that he can fit certain roles better than others. The thing with this particular role is that you didn’t quite expect him to fall into second lead syndrome*, but he did just ever so slightly. What was strange for me was that while I did like the leads, Siwon just added so much in his role that I felt like they had to taper his time off because he just stole every scene. From his facial expressions to his devil-may-care attitude, he just did it well. He’s currently in the army and I’m just so proud of him ending this chapter of his career on a high note.
Watch She Was Pretty on VIKI.
I have loved Joo Ji Hoon for years because of Goong and his super hot and cocky film roles in The Naked Kitchen & Antique Bakery. Then he got into some shit and went to the army. When he did come back, the networks were obviously hesitant, but I think his management knew how to handle him and he’s been pretty active for years in both TV & film. I never had a real chance to catch up on him because, well, I didn’t make time for his work. Then came Mask. This campy melodrama has all sorts of craziness and yet I just adored Ji Hoon in it. Yes, it had ALL the tropes, but it worked really well and I have to hand it to him acting alongside Yun Jung Hoon and not being lost in the shuffle.
Watch Mask on VIKI.
Here’s the thing with Kyung Ho, Heartless City will always be one of my favorite noir dramas and I will always love his real life bromance with fellow actor Yoon Hyun Min. When they were slated to be in Falling with Kim So Yeon, I was already sold without caring about the storyline. It’s a good storyline, though. Kyung Ho went from a heartless (heh) businessman to a fumbling man trying to figure out his feelings that were borne from a heart (heh, again) transplant. Yes, stay with me here, it is more than that. It’s a story that touches on how sometimes love can transcend in unexpected ways. It may be fictional, but seeing Kyung Ho go through various new emotions while seeing his previous persona fade away is great to watch.
Watch Falling For Innocence on VIKI.
Choi Woo Sik
DRAMA TO WATCH: Fool’s Love
Also known as: Ho Gu’s Love / Ho Goo’s Love / Fool for You
Genre: Romance, comedy
Broadcast network: tvN
Broadcast period: 2015-Feb-09 to 2015-Mar-31
I don’t know if I’m just hormonal or what, but the photo in this post has Woo Sik with a cute toddler and that pretty much sums up all my feelings about him in this drama. He went from working as a supporting cast member in Pride and Prejudice to being a lead in Fool’s Love in a matter of a few weeks. He didn’t miss a beat. His role as a foolish young man in love with his childhood crush is complicated by the fact that she’s a single mother. The best part was seeing how selflessly his character decides to be a father figure. It’s done in a believable way and there’s just something terribly sweet about that.
Watch Fool’s Love on DRAMAFEVER.
I was a little conflicted with adding Soo Hyuk here because he impacted two dramas pretty significantly and has basically turned into the second lead kind of guy. Nothing wrong with that, but he’s getting really good. Aside from that, for most of Valid Love he was smoldering, but I found the story lacking. I sort of felt the same with Scholar, in which he played (not his first time as one) a vampire named Gwi with reckless abandon. He did evil well though. And I think that was one of the main reasons why I picked it instead of Valid. There’s something about Soo Hyuk that oozes of charisma and I would love to see him as a lead in a cable drama in 2016. Yes, a cable drama because an actor like him shouldn’t be limited to broadcast networks.
Watch Scholar Who Walks The Night on VIKI.
Any actors you loved this year? Comment below or tweet me @cherylfornia!
OhKDRAMA is a column exploring Korean dramas and then some. Regular posts Tuesday and Friday.
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*second lead syndrome – when the second lead, usually a male, is favored by viewers more to get the main female lead. The chemistry is so strong between the main and second leads that even though we know it is not likely they will end up together, we all just live in denial about it.