2020 has been an incredible year for Korean dramas, especially with Netflix venturing more into originals, and bringing on older dramas onto the platform, effectively expanding the horizon for international viewers of K-Dramas. Some of these actors have had numerous roles but were still relatively obscure to the general public. Here are 8 Korean actors who found the perfect role and became household names in 2020.
The certified scene-stealer playing the titular dual roles of Jo Yeong and Eun Sup in ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’ was truly a cultural reset. ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’ received incredible adoration overseas and a majority of it was owed to Woo Do Hwan’s brilliant acting and his dynamic (read: bromance) with Lee Gon. He was already widely popular in South Korea for his varied roles in dramas and films alike, but his fan base extended on a global scale after ‘The King: Eternal Monarch.’
2020 was truly Park So Dam’s year with her role in the film ‘Parasite’ winning big at the Oscars and her breakthrough drama role in ‘Record of Youth.’ Through both the roles, she portrayed very different characters, which are a testament to her acting range and unmatched skill. Park So Dam has always had the unbelievable talent of embodying whatever role she’s playing. Critics and fans alike, worldwide acknowledged this to the fullest in 2020.
Ju Ji Hoon has long been one of the most prominent actors in South Korea. However, he truly made a name for himself on the global stage with ‘Kingdom.’ With the completion of the second season to ‘Kingdom,’ Ju Ji Hoon had established himself as a force to be reckoned with on a much larger scale. ‘Kingdom’ proved to be so popular, both critically and commercially, that it also grabbed a spot on the ‘New York Times’ Best International Shows of 2020’ list.
Han So Hwee’s portrayal of Yeo Da Kyung in the record-breaking, smash-hit drama ‘The World of the Married’ elicited incomprehensible feelings in viewers, ranging from hate to pity to respect or the lack of it. However, no matter how viewers felt towards this character, one thing was certain: Han So Hwee’s position as an emerging top star was now cemented. She quite literally became a household name overnight and her ability to match steps with the wonderful Kim Hee Ae was truly worth high praise.
Oh Jung Se and Seo Ye Ji
Speaking of the New York Times’ Best International Shows of 2020, another Korean drama that found a place in the list was ‘It’s Okay To Not Be Okay.’ Kim Soo Hyun is already widely known as a top Hallyu star, but the true heroes of the show that truly shone in the eyes of the global audience were the characters of Ko Mun Young and Moon Sang Tae, played by Seo Ye Ji and Oh Jung Se respectively. Oh Jung Se is one of the most versatile and talented actors in the industry, but he was also criminally underrated. This was until his incredible performance as Sang Tae in ‘It’s Okay To Not Be Okay’ which finally brought him the adulation he deserved. Similarly, Seo Ye Ji has long been known for carefully picking her projects regardless of whether it’s commercially lucrative or not. Her innate talent as an actor finally received the veneration she always deserved through her role as Ko Mun Young.
Kim Dami’s role as Jo Yi Seo in ‘Itaewon Class’ was truly iconic in every sense of the word. She was much more than a female lead or a love interest in the drama and was more for a protagonist, walking shoulder to shoulder with Park Seo Joon’s Sae Ro Yi. Kim Dami is known for playing powerful, strong women who are at the center of their universe, and it was about time that the world knelt before her talent.
Wrapping up the list is the one and only Kim Seon Ho, whose inclusion demands no explanation. Kim Seon Ho’s Han Ji Pyeong in 'Start-Up' launched a movement of appreciation for the actor and his penchant for charming people with a single smile. Kim Seon Ho has been a significant actor for quite some time in the industry, but the amount of love, awe, and accolades that he received from his character Han Ji Pyeong is bigger than ever before. This glory is what he has always deserved and we thank 2020 for bringing it to him.