One of the things that has impressed me about K-Pop’s idol system is that it has developed some truly talented actors. They remind me of performers during the Golden Age of Hollywood, when entertainers were trained to sing, dance and act.
Two highly-acclaimed K-Dramas — “SKY Castle” and “Memories of the Alhambra” — featured young K-Pop stars in strong co-starring roles. In the former, SF9’s Chani (né Kang Chan-Hee) put in a stellar performance as a high school student framed for murder. In the latter, EXO’s Chanyeol (né Park Chan-Yeol) played a terrified teenage game developer.
I’ve already talked about how so very good Kim Tae-Hyung (V of BTS) was in “Hwarang.” Here’s a look at some other notable Korean dramas with stellar acting by idols:
Who: Do Kyung-Soo (D.O., EXO)
K-Drama: “It’s OK, That’s Love“
Why: In this stellar 2014 K-Drama that tackles mental illness, the role of a high school student, Kang-Woo, was integral to the storyline. Left in the hands of a less skilled actor, the part could’ve turned into a cliche. Instead, D.O. more than held his own against his veteran co-stars, Jo In-Sung and Gong Hyo-Jin. With just a glance, he conveyed the sorrow his character felt. Viewers wanted to protect Kang-Woo from the beating he would get back at home and cheered him on in his quest to become an author one day. I’m not gonna lie. My heart could barely handle it when it was revealed who Kang-Woo really was (or wasn’t, depending on your perspective). This series is one of only a handful of K-Dramas that I consider being a perfect drama, and D.O. played a big role in my assessment.
Who: Bae Su-Ji (Suzy, Miss A)
K-Drama: “While You Were Sleeping”
Why: Netizens seem to love picking apart Suzy’s acting, but this isn’t “Dream High,” when the then-teenage star had to hold her own against Kim Soo-Hyun. Let’s be honest: That’s not an easy feat for even the best actors. Since then, Suzy has matured into a likable and nuanced leading lady. Her chemistry with Lee Jong-Suk is strong here and she did a great job portraying a journalist who isn’t quite sure how to deal with the dreams (or nightmares) that eerily come to life during her waking hours.
Who: Henry Lau (Henry; formerly with Super Junior-M)
K-Drama: “Oh My Venus“
Why: Some people found Henry to be cloying in this series, but I thought he was adorable and added a nice kick of cuteness. Henry is one of those performers who I find delightful. He has a knack for comedy — which I already knew from all his variety show appearances — and knows how to play to his audience. His role here as an English-speaking sidekick could’ve been a throwaway, but he made it his own. He also had a few powerhouse scenes where he had to show a more serious side and it was an impressive change of pace.
Who: Choi Min-Ho (Minho, SHINee)
K-Drama: “Medical Top Team“
Why: One of the things I find appealing about Choi is that he’s not afraid to take risks with his choices. The SHINee star is building quite the acting resume, with roles as a poet warrior (“Hwarang“), a high school student dealing with the suicide of a classmate (“Somehow 18“) and an idealistic doctor in “Medical Top Team.” Though his role here isn’t as flashy as some of the other characters he has played, he’s convincing and engaging.
Clearly, this is just a short list of some of my favorites, which are available to watch on KOCOWA. Let me know some of your recommendations in the comments section below because I am always looking for a good K-Drama to dig into.
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