Idols are often criticized for being one-dimensional actors, but one singer who subverts this expectation is IU, who has been steadily gaining popularity as a distinguished actress. Read on to look back at IU’s transformation in K-dramas!
“Dream High,” tells the story of six students at a music high school who share dreams of becoming K-pop idols. IU’s co-stars included Bae Suzy, Kim Soo-Hyun, 2PM’s Ok Taecyeon, and Jang Wooyoung, and T-ara’s Eunjung. This light-hearted campus drama captured many teenage viewers and K-pop fans' interest because of the themes of romance and dedication.
After “Dream High” came roles in “You are the Best,” “Bel Ami,” and “The Producers,” where IU was slowly building up acting experience and a reputation as a budding actress with great potential.
Scarlet Heart Ryeo
IU played the role of a 21st-century woman who is transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty during a total solar eclipse in “Scarlet Heart Ryeo.” As she is caught up with gorgeous princes played by EXO’s Baekhyun, Lee Joon-gi, and Kang Ha-neul, she must use her wits to prevent the familial atrocities recorded in history.
“Scarlet Heart Ryeo” is known to be the turning point of IU’s acting career, and her performance in this drama helped open doors for bigger lead roles to come!
“My Mister,” tells the story of three middle-aged brothers, who are stoic and bearing the weight of life’s hardship. IU takes charge of the role of a strong, cold woman in financial struggle and must learn to trust other people in order to heal her past scars.
“My Mister” is a very restrained drama with characters who bear great trauma underneath the surface. IU captures the difficulty of her character’s despair and shows the transformation across the course of the drama as she warms up to other people with her incredible acting skills!
Looking for something to put on your Netflix list? Check out “Persona,” a collection of four shorts, each with different directors and storylines, all starring IU. The first short is titled “Love Set,” in which IU must challenge her father’s fiance over a tennis match, which captures the feeling of unease and discomfort.
The second short is titled “Collector,” where IU’s character is likened to the “kumiho,” a nine-tailed Korean mythological fox who takes on the form of a beautiful woman to seduce men. “Collector” adds to the conversation about Korean society’s views on female empowerment and gender dynamics.
The third short is titled “Kiss Burn,” where IU acts as a playful country schoolgirl who engages in pranks against her friend’s oppressive father, bringing up themes of rural Korean existence.
The final short, “Walking at Night,” is centered around a late-night conversation between a deceased woman who committed suicide appearing in her former boyfriend’s dream. Not necessarily a tear-jerker, IU’s impressive acting in this final piece is philosophical and existential, which not many idol-actors can pull off.
Hotel del Luna
“Hotel del Luna” was the most viewed tvN drama of 2019, and it’s not hard for viewers to see why it received such high ratings. IU is the owner of a hotel devoted to serving ghosts who are fulfilling their unfinished business before they can move on to the afterlife or reincarnation. Due to IU’s great sins, she is bound to this hotel until she meets a human hotel manager who helps her resolve her curse.
She has improved so much as an actress over the years! What’s your favorite K-drama starring IU? Let us know in the comments below!