South Korea is known for K-pop and its high-quality movies and dramas starring South Korean actors and actresses. Koreans are constantly creating films for their domestic market rather than showing mainly Hollywood-produced television series and movies on television or cinema.
This creates many opportunities for amazing and handsome Korean actors and actresses to rise to stardom. New artists are always rising to fame, but this list is for the best of the best.
Here are our picks for the best South Korean actors.
- 1 Popular Actors in South Korea
- 1.1 Famous Korean Actors in K-dramas
- 1.2 Famous Korean Actors in Movies
- 1.3 Famous Korean Actors in Hollywood
- 2 Wrap Up
Popular Actors in South Korea
Below are the most popular Korean actors known for their superb performance in playing their roles in Korean dramas and movies.
Famous Korean Actors in K-dramas
This list covers actors who are mostly known for their roles in Korean dramas.
Lee Min Ho (이민호)
K-drama: Boys Over Flowers, City Hunter, The Heirs, Personal Taste, Legend of the Blue Sea, The King: Eternal Monarch
Movies: Gangnam Blues
Lee Min Ho shot to stardom overnight when he began starring in the popular K-drama Boys Over Flowers, a remake of Japan’s Hana Yori Dango. The actors who played the roles of the other F4 members were Kim Hyun Joong, Kim Bum, and Kim Joon.
Lee Min Ho enlisted for mandatory military service in March 2018 and was discharged in April 2019. After this, Lee Min Ho worked on more dramas and reprised his title as one of the top actors in Korea of all time.
Kim Soo Hyun (김수현)
K-drama: My Love from the Star, Dream High, Moon Embracing the Sun, It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
Movies: Secretly Greatly, The Thieves
While Kim Soo Hyun was already a household name in South Korea by the time My Love from the Star hit the TV, it was this K-drama that made him known worldwide.
This Korean actor is one of Korea’s most known Hallyu stars, and he is consistently ranked as one of Korea’s best and most popular and handsome Korean actors. He has also recorded some songs for the dramas he has starred in.
The popular South Korean actor also starred in other high-rating Korean series and took lead roles in films like Secretly Greatly.
So Ji Sub (소지섭)
K-drama: Oh My Venus, Cain, and Abel, Sorry I love you, Master’s Sun, My Secret Terrius
Movies: Be With You, The Battleship Island, Always
Since the mid-1990s, the actor has been a familiar face on South Korean TV screens. In 2002, the actor rose to fame when he starred in the Korean series Glass Slippers, and I’m Sorry, I Love You. So Ji Sub also gained recognition and won the grand prize in MBC Drama Awards in 2018 for his performance in the Korean drama My Secret Terrius.
Apart from being an actor, he has also released several hip-hop singles and albums. He has also published a magazine for his fans called SONICe that highlights his art.
Lee Jong Suk (이종석)
K-drama: School 2013, While You Were Sleeping, Pinocchio, W Two Worlds, Doctor Stranger, Romance is a Bonus Book
Movies: As One, V.I.P., Hot Young Bloods
Park Bo Gum (박보검)
K-drama:Reply 1988, Love in the Moonlight, Encounter, Record of Youth
Movies: Runway Cop, Twinkle-Twinkle Pitter-Patter, Seo Bok
Korean actors are known for their versatility, and Bo Gum is no exception. This handsome Korean actor initially wanted to be a singer but changed his career path to be an actor.
He debuted as an actor in 2011 and is still active in this field. His most recent K-drama was Record of Youth in 2020. He was also known for his leading roles in the South Korean series, namely Love in the Moonlight and Encounter.
Hyun Bin (현빈)
K-drama: Worlds Within, Secret Garden, My Lovely Sam Soon, Memories of the Alhambra, Crash Landing On You
Movies: A Millionaire’s First Love, The Fatal Encounter, The Negotiation, The Swindlers, Rampant
Next is Hyun Bin. He has been viewed as one of the brightest and most handsome Korean actors among the South Korean audience ever since his heartwarming performance in the South Korean series called My Lovely Sam Soon.
Versatility in projects and acting abilities is something that Hyun Bin is especially known and acknowledged for. His most recent drama was Crash Landing On You, with his then co-star, now wife, actress Son Ye Jin. This drama has gained immense popularity worldwide.
Ji Chang Wook (지창욱)
K-drama: The K2, Healer, The Empress Ki, Warrior Baek Dong Soo, Suspicious Partner, Melting Me Softly, Lovestruck in the City, Backstreet Rookie
Movies: Fabricated City
Ji Chang Wook has played roles in different South Korean dramas, from action and romance to historical dramas. This handsome Korean actor had first grown popular when he played the leading role in Smile Again.
The mandatory military service in South Korea didn’t hinder the actor from continuing his acting career. He started his service in 2017 and was discharged in 2019. In the same year, he was back to acting in the romantic-comedy series, Melting Me Softly.
Kim Woo Bin (김우빈)
K-drama: Uncontrollably Fond, School 2013, The Heirs
Movies: Twenty, Friend: The Great Legacy, The Con Artists
Kim Woo Bin is a Korean actor who started as a model. He had his acting debut in the South Korean series White Christmas. He also starred in the popular drama The Heirs.
In April 2017, Kim Woo Bin was appointed as an honorary ambassador for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. However, he was eventually pulled out from the role as he was ongoing treatment for his cancer. This was diagnosed back in May 2017. Since then, Kim Woo Bin hasn’t appeared in any roles on television but remains well-known due to his past acting roles.
Park Seo Joon (박서준)
K-drama: Itaewon Class, What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, Fight for My Way, Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, She Was Pretty, Kill Me, Heal Me
Movies: Concrete Utopia, The Divine Fury, Midnight Runners, Chronicles of Evil
Dubbed the “Master of Romantic Comedy,” Park Seo Joon has starred in several high-rating romantic comedy series.
His first appearance in the entertainment industry was in Bang Yong Guk’s music video for Remember. Park Seo Joon then appeared in different TV series in South Korea, and soon after, he starred in the South Korean series She Was Pretty. He was also known for his great chemistry with his leading actresses in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim and Fight For My Way.
In the Korean series, Hwarang, he also starred with several Korean actors, namely Park Hyung Sik, BTS’ V (Kim Taehyung), Do Ji Han, and Choi Min Ho. His most recent drama series was a drama based on a Korean webtoon entitled Itaewon Class.
Cha Eun Woo (차은우)
K-drama: True Beauty, Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung, Gangnam Beauty
Movie: My Brilliant Life
This South Korean actor can be a great definition of versatility in the industry. Apart from being a handsome Korean actor, he’s also a singer, a host, a model, and part of the South Korean boy band, Astro. His real name is Lee Dong Min (이동민), but he’s known through his stage name, Cha Eun Woo.
Apart from the K-dramas that he starred in, fans can also watch Eun Woo in previous episodes of the TV program Master in the House. He is now one of the rising South Korean actors and is considered the most handsome Korean actor by some other personalities in the industry.
Lee Seung Gi (이승기)
K-drama: Brilliant Legacy, My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, The King 2 Hearts, Gu Family Book, You’re All Surrounded, A Korean Odyssey, Vagabond, Mouse
Movie: Love Forecast, The Princess and the Matchmaker
Lee Seung Gi is one of the top Korean actors and started his singing career when he was scouted in 2004 and began his acting career in 2006. He has been consistently visible in the South Korean entertainment industry either as a singer, actor, or host since he started his career, apart from when he began his mandatory military service in 2016.
As one of the actors who starred in the best Korean dramas, it’s not surprising that Lee Seung Gi has won and been nominated for countless awards, including Forbes Korea. He had also been paired with several South Korean actresses, creating great chemistry for each pairing. This makes him popular with both Korean and overseas viewers.
Kim Seon Ho (김선호)
K-drama: Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Start-Up, Catch the Ghost, Welcome to Waikiki 2, Two Cops, Strongest Deliveryman
Korean actor Kim Seon Ho has risen to stardom through the TV series Start-Up. In 2021, he played the main role in the South Korean drama Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha alongside actress Shin Min Ah. He plays the character of Hong Dusik, who is a guy with several jobs that everyone in the village knows. He was also one of the members of the popular Korean variety show 2 Days & 1 Night.
The actor was involved in controversy in October 2021, shortly after the success of his most recent K-drama. With this, he was removed from several projects that he was supposed to be in. However, Seon Ho remained to cast in the movie Sad Tropics, and it appears that he will solely focus on this movie for now.
Famous Korean Actors in Movies
In this list, we have just entailed some of Korea’s acting industry’s brightest and most critically acclaimed male South Korean actors. However, so many capable actors are working in the business, with new handsome Korean actors breaking into the industry every week.
Gong Yoo (공지철)
K-drama: Coffee Prince, Big, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
Movies: Train to Busan, Seo Bok, A Man, and a Woman
Gong Yoo might be a familiar name and face to the worldwide audience due to the insanely popular zombie film Train To Busan. However, he has been popular among South Korean fans for more than a decade since he starred in the popular K-drama Coffee Prince.
Most recently, this South Korean actor played the leading role in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, better known as Goblin. However, this is different from the popular mythical creature in Korea. This series is among the most famous Korean dramas in the recent history of South Korean TV. He is also well-known for his product endorsements both in South Korea and the international market.
Ju Ji Hoon (주지훈)
K-drama: Princess Hours, Kingdom, Hyena
Movies: Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days, The Spy Gone North
Since Joo Ji Hoon took the lead role opposite Yoon Eun Hye on Princess Hours in 2006, South Korean fans have been crazy about him. Although he has only appeared in about a dozen movies and less than ten dramas to date, his performances have always continued to be top-notch.
His career derailed quite early on, in 2009, due to drug charges, but his acting chops have since managed to convince South Korea to fall in love with him all over again. He most recently starred in the 2019 horror-thriller series entitled Kingdom. Fans are excited for the release of its third season.
Won Bin (원빈)
K-drama: Autumn In My Heart
Movies: Mother, The Man from Nowhere
Won Bin has been one of Korea’s celebrity sweethearts ever since his appearance in Autumn In My Heart.
Although, even in 2019, he has one of the highest name recognition of all Korean actors, he has actually only acted in a handful of movies and TV series. His last project was nearly a decade ago.
There has not been word of when we would have the pleasure of seeing him again in a movie or K-drama project.
Song Seung Heon (원빈)
K-drama: Autumn In My Heart, My Princess, Black, Player, The Great Show
Movies: Fate, A Better Tomorrow, Obsessed, Wonderful Nightmare
Song Seung Heon did not start as an actor. In fact, he began his career as a model for a brand of jeans, then was introduced to the entertainment industry through the sitcom Three Guys, Three Girls. His film debut happened in 1999, but he rose to stardom through the Korean TV series Autumn in My Heart alongside Song Hye Kyo and Won Bin.
He took a break in the industry when he had to serve in the military in 2004. He was then discharged in 2006 but chose to remain on low profile until his comeback in 2008.
Choi Min Sik (최민식)
Movies: Oldboy, New World, The Admiral: Roaring Currents, Heart Blackened, Forbidden Dream, I Saw The Devil, Lucy
If you have yet to see Oldboy, you might want to pause this article and watch this masterpiece. Oldboy is also the role that Choi Min Sik is the most known for, though it is far from the only role he has acted in. He is often thought to be among Korea’s most talented Korean actors and is also among the most critically acclaimed.
Ahn Sung Ki (안성기)
Movies: Fine Windy Day, Paper Flower, The Divine Fury, Revivre
Although Ahn Sung Ki may be an unfamiliar name to our younger generation, this Korean actor has been the darling of the older generation for decades now, ever since he debuted as a child actor in the 1960s.
He has been dubbed the “National Best Actor” and is, in general, seen as one of Korea’s most respected Korean actors. Although he is already well into his 60s, he’s still making appearances in movies.
Famous Korean Actors in Hollywood
Apart from the roles that they have played in Korean television, these actors have also exhibited their talent in Hollywood.
Lee Joon Gi ( 이준기)
K-drama: Flower of Evil, Lawless Lawyer, Criminal Minds, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, The Scholar Who Walks the Night, Gunman in Joseon
Movies: The King and the Clown, Fly, Daddy, Fly, Virgin Snow, Never Said Goodbye, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Lee Joon Gi is one of the most talented Korean actors, as he is also a singer, dancer, and model. His first leading role was in the movie The King and the Clown in 2005. Up until now, Joon Gi is still very popular and is considered a top Hallyu star for his popularity even outside South Korea. He is also leaning toward action and historical genres in his recent projects.
Lee Byung Hun (이병헌)
K-drama: Mr. Sunshine, Iris, All In, Beautiful Days, Squid Game
Movies: Inside Men, Terminator Genisys, The Magnificent Seven, G.I. Joe series, The Man Standing Next, Emergency Declaration
Lee Byung Hun might already be a familiar face to you from the Hollywood movies Terminator Genisys, The Magnificent Seven, and the G.I. Joe series alongside different Hollywood stars. However, he has also been actively working in South Korean movies and dramas, all the way up until today. Lee Byung Hun has also made an appearance in the popular Netflix series Squid Game.
Despite having also appeared in the news due to scandals, Lee Byung Hun is regarded in South Korea as one of the most talented Korean actors.
Song Joong Ki (송중기)
K-drama: The Innocent Man, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Descendants of the Sun, Arthdal Chronicles, Vincenzo
Movies: Penny Pinchers, A Werewolf Boy, The Battleship Island, Space Sweepers
This handsome Korean actor has risen to fame in the Korean drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal. This series made Joong Ki known, and he eventually starred in big South Korean series popular worldwide. This includes the dramas Werewolf boy, Descendants of the Sun, and Vincenzo. He also recently starred in the film Space Sweepers.
In 2017, Joong Ki was married to his co-leading star in Descendants of the Sun, actress Song Hye Kyo. However, the two got divorced in 2019.
On January 2023, the Korean actor announced his marriage and the pregnancy of his wife.
For other great resources related to the Korean language, check out our pages on how to learn Korean and how to speak Korean, the most commonly used Korean words that you should learn first, helpful Korean phrases you’ll need to learn, and Korean Sentence Structure.
Which of these Korean male celebrities is your favorite? Do you perhaps like Lee Min Ho or Lee Jung Suk the most? Or maybe there is someone you think should be on this list that isn’t? Let us know in the comments below!
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