Best Korean Actresses of All Time

Silhouette of a glamorous woman in a red dress with a film camera pointing at her

Much like with actors in Korea, there are also a fair amount of actresses that are loved, adored, and respected by the viewing audience.

In some aspects, these Korean actresses may even be held in a higher regard than their male counterparts. Whether it’s a movie or a drama, there are always new actresses coming in to capture hearts.

However, there are some Korean actresses that will rise above all others, over and over again, and below we pay tribute to a few of them.

Silhouette of a glamorous woman in a red dress with a film camera pointing at her

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Joon Ji HyunPicture of Joon Ji Hyun

Recommended to watch in: My Love from the Star

Joon Ji Hyun was already Korea’s darling ever since she starred in the drama My Sassy Girl.

However, when she starred in the hit drama My Love from the Star, she immediately rose into international fame.

If she already wasn’t of such status, she is most definitely among one of Korea’s highest rated drama actresses now.


Park Shin HyePhoto of Park Shin Hye

Recommended to watch in: You’re Beautiful

With her youthful and beautiful look, Park Shin Hye has not only received fame through her acting chops but become memorable through her appearance as well.

She’s one of the best paid actresses in Korea, and it’s no surprise as she is constantly appearing in the most popular dramas, especially ones geared towards younger audiences.

In addition to her acting skills, she is also a talented singer.


Song Hye KyoPhoto of Song Hye Kyo

Recommended to watch in: Descendants of the Sun

She’s one of the highest ranked celebrities among all genders in Korea, including non-acting celebrities as well.

Through her appearances in several well-received dramas and movies, she has risen to triple A status throughout Asia.

Her latest drama, Encounter, finished broadcasting in 2019.


Ha Ji Won

Recommended to watch in: Phone

As one of Korea’s most versatile actresses, it is no wonder that Ha Ji Won has become so popular and famous.

She has received several awards for her roles, both movies and dramas.

Like many other Korean actors and actresses, Ha Ji Won has also dabbled in music, having even written some of her own songs.


Shin Min AhPhoto of Shin Min Ah

Recommended to watch in: My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox

Another incredibly versatile actress, Shin Min Ah and her fresh look shine in both comedy and more serious work.

Although she started her career as a model, and is still a familiar face in several ad campaigns all around Korea, it is the last decade’s hit dramas such as My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox and Oh My Venus, that she is especially known for.

There is at least one movie starring her coming out this year.


Ku Hye SunPhoto of Ku Hye Sun

Recommended to watch in: Boys Over Flowers

Much like Lee Minho, Ku Hye Sun also rose to both domestic and international fame through the hit drama Boys Over Flowers.

To keep up with the momentum, she has continued to star in dramas actively ever since.

On top of acting, Ku Hye Sun is also well-versed as a singer-songwriter, director, amongst other artistic endeavors.


Bae SuzyPhoto of Bae Suzy

Recommended to watch in: Dream High

Although Suzy originally rose to fame as an idol member of the girl group Miss A, she has made herself an even bigger name through her acting.

Having appeared in more than 10 television dramas to date, she has become one of Korea’s most sought after actresses.

Despite gaining momentum in acting, she has continued earnestly to work as a singer and an idol as well.


Gong Hyo Jin

Recommended to watch in: It’s Okay, That’s Love

Over the last 20 years, Gong Hyo Jin has appeared in more than 20 movies and in nearly as many TV dramas.

She is undoubtedly one of Korea’s best liked actresses, especially when it comes to stars of romantic comedy.

On top of a great career in film and TV, she has also taken her talent to theatre.


Yoon Eun HyePhoto of Yoon Eun Hye

Recommended to watch in: Lie To Me

Despite the fact that Yoon Eun Hye has spent the past few years laying low, she has long been one of Korea’s most popular actresses.

She made her debut as a member of the group Baby VOX, but has mainly worked as an actress since 2005 when her contract ended.

She shot to fame with the almost back to back popular dramas Princess Hours, Coffee Prince, and My Fair Lady, cementing her legacy among Korea’s best actresses early in her career.


Lee Young AePhoto of Lee Young Ae

Recommended to watch in: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

While Lee Young Ae wasn't seen in a film or a drama for a long time since starring in the movie Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, she has continuously been regarded as one of Korea’s best paid and most popular actresses. Especially among the slightly older population.

She is so highly regarded that she even became the first Korean actress to ever be invited as a member of the jury for the International Berlin Film Festival.

Lee Young Ae finally returned to TV in 2017, and to the big screen a year later.


Choi Ji Woo Photo of Choi Ji Woo

Recommended to watch in: Winter Sonata

Choi Ji Woo might be a slightly unfamiliar name to our younger readers, however she has a long and steady career behind her, starting in the mid-90s.

And she is most definitely not a stranger to those who watched dramas in the early 2000s, starring first in Winter Sonata, and then in Stairway To Heaven right after.

Throughout her career, she has won several acting awards.


 

While this list details some of the best Korean actresses of all time, it certainly leaves a lot of room for more to be discovered. Who are your favorites right now? Who do you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Photo Credit: BigStockPhoto, Soompi.com, Mipijin, kimetc (et cetera) and Yoon Min-Hoo [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], tenasia10 [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], KIYOUNG KIM from Seoul, South Korea [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

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