Korean actors age like fine wine and they’re indeed treated that way. This does not only refer to 40-something actors that are still playing lead roles but veteran senior actors that have been acting for decades and still appear as our favorite grandpa/grandma or the villainous CEO of a business empire. Either way, age has never been a cause for loss of work in the K-Drama industry. As a matter of fact, K-Dramas themselves are beginning to tell the stories of people of this age, in their 40s, 50s, or even more than that as yes, they are the main focus of the narrative. Take ‘Dear My Friends’ for example. The drama starts off with the protagonist thinking out loud: "Who would buy books about old fogeys?" As the drama shows us, quite a few! While it may seem like the K-Drama industry focuses on fresh-faced leads and young love, that is not always the case. Stories about the mature generation need to be told and are actually told way more than you’d think. ‘The World Of The Married’ led by veteran actress Kim Hee Ae, focuses entirely on a mature married couple that faces crises and is one of the highest-rated dramas ever. Even in K-Dramas where they aren’t the leads, the story does not just make them a type character who’s there for comic relief or to fill up a blank space. ‘Record of Youth’ is actively tackling this issue in the form of the immense respect given to the narrative of Sa Hye Jun’s grandfather who still wants to find his own way in life, forge his own path, first for himself and then for anybody else. The drama handles this as beautifully as possible and we’re left empathizing with a 70-year-old man with dreams just like our own.
Oftentimes, the characters that leave the strongest impression on us are hardly ever the leads and it is no coincidence that it is the older characters that bring us the most touching moments, and even the toughest life lessons are brought to us gently with their caring words.
Some of K-Drama’s finest veteran actors that are perhaps more memorable to us include Sung Dong-Il who has over 37 films under his belt and over 40 K-Drama roles. He has also been cast in ‘Jirisan’ set to be led by Ju Ji Hoon and Jun Ji Hyun – both of whom are 38 years old. Considering the grave subject matter of the upcoming drama, there is no doubt that veteran actors like them would be able to pull it off to complete and overwhelming success. Sung Dong-Il has brought us some of the most lovable characters as his namesake Sung Dong-Il in 'Reply 1997' and 'Reply 1988', teacher Kim Wi Hwa in 'Hwarang' and Han Sae Sang in 'Miss Hammurabi' as well as some of the scariest characters like Ma Dae Young in 'Legend of the Blue Sea.'
Kim Mi Kyung is perhaps the sassiest and the coolest grandmother in the whole wide world. She proved her cool quotient when she played Min Ja, the hacker extraordinaire in 'Healer'. She has appeared in an overwhelming 70 dramas and awed us in every single one of them. You would have to be a real novice in K-Dramas to not recognize her instantly just by her voice. She is all set to appear in ’18 Again’ coming soon!
Kim Young Ok is known all over the world as Nation’s Halmeoni and for good reason too as there is, nor was nor can be any halmeoni cuter than her. She played Lee Min Ho’s grandmother in both ‘Boys Over Flowers’ and ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’, Seo In Guk’s grandmother in 'Shopaholic Louis', Oh Ssang Boon in 'Dear My Friends', Deok Sun’s grandmother in 'Reply 1988' and basically every best grandmother ever!
Tied for the best ahjumma ever post is Hwang Young Hee, Nam Gi Ae, and Kim Sun Young. All of them are utterly gorgeous and always display masterful acting no matter what. All of them are memorable despite being “supporting” characters. As a matter of fact, the K-dramas they star in would never be able to reach the success they have achieved if it wasn’t for these very characters.
On the other end of the spectrum, the best ahjussis of the K-Drama world are almost always played by Ahn Nae Sang, Kim Won Hae, Woo Hyun, Jung Hae Kyun, Choi Won Young, and Yoo Jae Myung. They’ve all played varied characters of different genres.
Sometimes the villain (the chilling portrayal of Yoo Jae Myung in 'Itaewon Class') and sometimes the adorable dad (the submissive father in 'Strong Woman Do Bong' Soon played by Yoo Jae Myung) are only some examples of the incredible range they show. Ahn Nae Sang is still ever so handsome and Choi Won Young even played the lead in the recent drama ‘Mystic Pop Up Bar’ but he has also played a psychopathic killer in 'Hello Monster'.
Similarly, Jung Hae Kyon could be comfortably oscillating between an evil CEO or a doting Dad on any given day. Woo Hyun is perhaps the best father one could be as seen in 'Extraordinary You' and 'Fight My Way'. Kim Won Hae is absolutely unforgettable in any role he takes on. After all, who can forget his double role in 'Strong Woman Do Bong Soon'?
As such, it is pretty clear that these veteran actors are what keep your favorite K-Drama floating and they deserve just as much love, if not more, than the main leads!