Korean Actors – Famous Movie & K-Drama Stars in the South

Last Updated on October 20, 2021 by 90 Day Korean
90 Day Korean - Illustration of film reels in popcorn

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 the television or cinema.

This creates a lot of 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.

90 Day Korean - Illustration of film reels in popcorn

Famous South Korean Actors

Below are the most popular South Korean actors known for their superb performance in playing 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

Image of Korean actor Lee Min Ho

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 which, he worked on more dramas and reprised his title as one of the top South Korean Actors 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

Image of Korean actor

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 South 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

Image of Korean actor So Ji Sub

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 had 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.

Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 90 minutes!

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

Image of Korean actor Lee Jong Suk
Lee Jong Suk is a South Korean actor who started as a model. He was the youngest male model ever to participate in Seoul Fashion Week on his debut in 2005. He usually takes up leading roles for romance series and has been nominated and won awards for his performance. Lee Jong Suk also recently finished his military service in January 2021.

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
Image of Korean actor Park Bo Gum
South 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 up to date. 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, RampantImage of Korean actor Hyun BinNext, there’s 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 the actor is especially known and acknowledged for. His most recent drama was Crash Landing On You, which gained huge 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 CityImage of Korean actor Ji Chang WookJi 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 ArtistsImage of Korean actor Kim Woo BinKim Woo Bin is a South 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 in 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

Park Seo Joon

Dubbed as 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. He has then appeared in different TV series in South Korea, and soon after, he starred in the South Korean series “She Was Pretty.” His most recent drama series was a webtoon-based drama entitled Itaewon Class. 

Cha Eun Woo (차은우)

K-drama: True Beauty, Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung, Gangnam Beauty

Movie: My Brilliant Life

South Korean actor Cha Eun Woo 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. Cha Eun Woo

Apart from the K-dramas that he starred in, fans can also watch Cha Eun Woo in previous episodes of the TV program Master in the House. He is now one of the rising South Korean actors and one of the most handsome Korean actors.

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 has started his singing career when he was scouted in 2004 and began his acting career in 2006. He has been consistently visible in the 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.

Image of Korean actor Lee Seung GiAs 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 Korean actresses, creating great chemistry for each pairing. This makes him popular for both Korean and overseas viewers.

South Korean Movie Stars

In this list, we have just entailed some of Korea’s acting industry’s brightest and most critically acclaimed male Korean actors. However, so many capable actors are working in the business, with new handsome Korean actors breaking into the business 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

Image of Korean actor Gong Yoo

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, ever 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, or better known as Goblin, 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 in the international market.

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

Image of Korean actor Song Joong Ki

This handsome Korean actor has risen to fame in the Korean drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal. This series made Joong Ki known and 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.

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

Image of Korean actor Ju Ji Hoon

Ever 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 in 2021.

Won Bin (원빈)

K-drama: Autumn In My Heart

Movies: Mother, The Man from Nowhere

Image of Korean actor Won Bin

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

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. 

Lee Byung Hun (이병헌)

K-drama: Mr. Sunshine, Iris, All In, Beautiful Days

Movies: Inside Men, Terminator Genisys, The Magnificent Seven,  G.I. Joe series, The Man Standing Next, Emergency Declaration

Image of Korean actor Lee Byung Hun

Lee Byung Hun might already be a familiar face to you from the Hollywood hits Terminator Genisys, The Magnificent Seven, and the G.I. Joe series. However, he has also been actively working in South Korean movies and dramas, all the way up until today.

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.

Choi Min Sik (최민식)

Movies: Oldboy, New World, The Admiral: Roaring Currents, Heart Blackened, Forbidden Dream, I Saw The Devil, Lucy

Image of Korean actor Choi Min Sik

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

Image of Korean actor Ahn Sung Ki

Although Ahn Sung Ki may be an unfamiliar name to our younger generation, this South 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.

If you liked this, check out our page to know more about Korean dramas and Korean films. 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 South Korean actors are your favorite? Do you perhaps like Lee Min Ho or Lee Jung Suk the most? Or perhaps there is someone that you think should be on this list that isn’t? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo Credit: BigStockPhoto, Yeonhab, Naver Movie, Soompi, Starhaus [CC BY 2.0 kr (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/kr/deed.en)], LG전자 and LGE [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], ILCHIRI and SSG BLOG (Shinsegye official) [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], Kinocine at Korean Wikipedia and Petr Novák at Wikipedia and Kinocine at ko.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

    269 replies to "Korean Actors – Famous Movie & K-Drama Stars in the South"

    • Avatar for Ashram Ashram

      I Cant believe Jo In Sung is not on the list he’s one of the A-lister actors in korea /award winning actor plus all his dramas were received well not just dramas all his films were blockbuster not a single flop on it . And to top it all he’s one of the highest paid actors in Korea.

    • Avatar for XYZ XYZ

      I would also add Kim Seon – ho and Yeo jin Goo and park hyung- sik.
      They are like really famous actors internationally.

    • Avatar for Frida Frida

      Please include Jang Hyuk in your list. He’s a very versatile actor.

    • Avatar for Pamela Pamela

      I would add Lee Dong Wook , Yeo Jin Goo & Kang-Ho Song.

    • Avatar for Name* Name*

      Song Joong Ki. I saw him in vincenzo it was very appreciated and it was good too

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        That’s great! Thanks for the recommendation. ^^

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.