Not all idols who want to act get the chance to do so, nor are they always good. And that’s completely ok because they can already sing, dance, and rap. It almost wouldn’t be fair if they were also talented in acting! But this past year, there was a fair share of idol actors who really gave it their all in their respective roles and showed that they are multi-talented. Here are 11 idol-turned-actors (in no particular order) who gave performances that can be considered this year’s best.
Disclaimer: No December 2020 dramas are included in this list.
WINNER’s Kang Seung Yoon made his drama debut in the sitcom “High Kick 3,” but it wasn’t until his role as Jean Valjean in “Prison Playbook” that people really hailed him for his acting technique. This year, Kang Seung Yoon was able to show his artistry once again through the role of In Gun Wook in “Kairos.” In this particular role, viewers were pleasantly surprised to see Kang Seung Yoon really show the desperation and baggage his character has had to carry throughout his life. Kang Seung Yoon is taking on some challenging roles and proving himself as a capable actor!
Check out “Kairos” below:
Whilst Jinyoung is known as the adorable singer in GOT7, he first debuted as an actor in “Dream High 2” and appeared in various dramas throughout the years while being active as an idol. This past year, he had the privilege of acting alongside veteran actors Yoo Ji Tae and Lee Bo Young in the romance “When My Love Blooms.” He played Han Jae Hyun, the younger version of Yoo Ji Tae’s character.
The best part about Jinyoung in this role was his soft gazes and romantic expression, along with his intense personality that made his acting so versatile and enjoyable to watch. Jinyoung has proven that with every role he takes on, he’s not only a talented idol but also an accomplished actor.
Catch him in the first episode here:
Krystal starred in the OCN military drama “Search,” and through her role of Son Ye Rim, she really stepped out of the traditional roles she had taken on in the past. Son Ye Rim is strong, defiant, intelligent, and not afraid to kick some ass, which Krystal so perfectly portrayed in the series.
On top of this, she also starred in the heartwarming film “More Than Family” as a university student who gets unexpectedly pregnant. It’s a heartwarming, funny, and witty story about love and dealing with life when it gives you lemons. The characters that she took on this year were so dynamic that it earned her a spot as one of this year’s best idol actors.
Watch the first episode of “Search”:
4. Yook Sungjae
This past year, Yook Sungjae starred in JTBC’s “Mystic Pop-Up Bar” as the innocent and sensitive Han Kang Bae, who has the ability to see dead people. He starred alongside Hwang Jung Eum and Choi Won Young, and despite starring alongside well-known actors, he was able to hold his own and shine in his role.
Yook Sungjae has a knack for really becoming his characters and is continuously complimented on his effortless acting abilities. He enlisted in the military shortly before this series premiered, but we’re looking forward to seeing which project he takes on when he’s discharged!
Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun has had a solid list of K-dramas she’s been in during her career as a K-pop idol and actress. This past year, she starred in JTBC’s “Private Lives” as the daughter of a family of con-artists. The role was a stark contrast from the roles that she has played in the past. Cha Joo Eun in “Private Lives” is a badass girl who isn’t afraid to get what she wants, even if that means breaking some (minor) laws. It was refreshing to see Seohyun in this type of role as she really shed her good girl image. The transformation impressed viewers and it only showed her maturity as an actress. Looking forward to seeing her in more roles like this one!
6. Ong Seong Wu
Ong Seong Wu has only been in two K-dramas and one film so far, but his acting career is a promising one. Ong Seong Wu was praised for his acting skills in a short film, and his debut role in “Moments of 18” only solidified the fact that he has natural talent. This past year, he starred in “More Than Friends” as Lee Soo, a boy who has loved the same woman since high school. 10 years later, the two meet again and Lee Soo is still in love with her. The love and affection this character shows for the girl he loves is immense, and Ong Seong Wu was able to portray it perfectly.
Watch Ong Seong Wu in “More Than Friends”:
7. Kwon Nara
Kwon Nara was originally part of the girl group Hello Venus, but after they disbanded last year, she has been going full force into acting. This year she starred in the hit JTBC drama “Itaewon Class” and is also set to star in another drama this month called “Secret Royal Inspector.” Kwon Nara as Oh Soo Ah in “Itaewon Class” put viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions, as she was able to make us feel sympathy, anger, remorse, and joy for her character. The complexity of her character couldn’t have been easy to portray, but Kwon Nara showed her wide range of emotions so effortlessly!
8. Lee Jin Hyuk
This was a big year for Lee Jin Hyuk as he debuted in the K-drama world through the MBC series “Find Me in Your Memory.” He played the romantic and straightforward Jo Il Kwon who falls head over heels in love with Kim Seul Gi. The role of Il Kwon suited him perfectly and it was almost impossible to tell that it was his debut. There’s only more opportunities to come as he’s already confirmed to be in another drama next year called “Dear M.” We’re looking forward to seeing his infectious smile once again on the small-screen!
Check out “Find Me in Your Memory” here:
9. Kim Myung Soo (L)
Kim Myung Soo (L) starred in “Meow, the Secret Boy” as Hong Jo, a cat who becomes human when he’s around the woman he loves. The premise is a unique one. How is someone supposed to act like a cat? Yet Myung Soo was able to overcome this and really prove that he can take on any challenge when it comes to acting. He made viewers sympathize and have compassion for his character, who is so alone in the world. Myung Soo’s talent in this particular drama lies in his innocent but loving gaze as well as the sparks of jealousy he gets when the woman he loves talks to other men. And it’s a major bonus seeing him in that cozy knitted sweater throughout the whole series; it really makes you want to cuddle with him to keep warm!
Watch L as a cat in “Meow, the Secret Boy” here:
Taecyeon can be considered an OG idol as he is a part of the group 2PM. In his long career as an idol, Taecyeon has starred in many K-dramas, movies, and variety shows. His gift lies in taking on roles that are not that conventional and carry unique story lines. If you take a look at the history of his character, he’s played an aspiring singer, an exorcist, and a detective. This past year in “The Game: Towards Zero,” he played Tae Pyeong, a character who has the ability to see how someone will die just by looking into their eyes. Taecyeon’s versatility in choosing roles has made him an enjoyable actor to follow.
Check out “The Game: Towards Zero” here:
Minhyun is a member of the K-pop group NU’EST and is also a former member of the group Wanna One. He previously had a role in a movie back in 2016, but this past year was monumental for him in his acting career as he was able to take on the lead role of Go Eun Taek in JTBC’s “Live On.” Although the drama is still airing, Minhyun is already showing glimpses of his natural talent. One scene in particular that had fans swooning is when he confessed his feelings to the girl he liked. The straightforwardness and conviction in which he conveys his emotions was so believable and enough to make your heart skip a beat. We’re looking forward to seeing more of you in the future, Minhyun!
Start watching “Live On” now:
Hey Soompiers, which of these idol-turned-actors is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!
binahearts is a Soompi writer whose ultimate biases are Song Joong Ki and BIGBANG. She is also the author of “K-POP A To Z: The Definitive K-Pop Encyclopedia.” Make sure you follow binahearts on Instagram as she journeys through her latest Korean crazes!
Currently watching: “How Do You Play?” and “True Beauty”
All-time favorite dramas: “Secret Garden,” “Goblin,” “Because This Is My First Life,” “Star In My Heart”
Looking forward to: Won Bin‘s return to the small screen
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