Kpop idols are constantly training both before and after debut, making them multi-talented icons that easily steal people’s hearts. But aside from dancing, singing, and rapping, many idols take a liking to acting, and some had even successfully established themselves as well-known actors and actresses. So, here are top 7 Kpop idols who are recognized for their acting careers rather than being Kpop idols.
1. D.O (EXO)
D.O, also known as Do Kyungsoo, is perhaps one of the most successful Kpop idols in acting. His acting is on par with the most experienced, and he is by far the only idol-turned-actor to have won a prize at the prestigious ‘Blue Dragon Film Award’ – an outstanding feat for even the most senior actors.
He started out playing minor roles in ‘Cart’, ‘It’s Okay that’s Love’, and ‘Hello Monster’ – where he received praises from critics and was nominated for various awards.
In 2016, he landed leading roles in feature films ‘Pure Love’ and ‘My Annoying Brother’, followed by ‘Swing Kids’ and ‘Along with the Gods’ the next year, charming all cinemagoers. The idol was also constantly reinventing his image with different types of roles, going from modern to historical dramas in ‘Be Positive’ and ‘100 Days My Prince’.
With such diverse filmography, D.O will always be recognized as a stellar actor with mad acting skills.
IU is among the most popular idols to the Korean public, but her acting career also doesn’t fall short. Starting with a leading role in the hit drama ‘Dream High’, IU started making appearances in commercial series like ‘Dream High 2’, ‘You Are the Best!’, and ‘Bel Ami’. She soon got her first historical role in 2016 ‘Moon Lovers’, but it was here that the idol got criticized for ‘stiff expressions’ and ‘awkward, unnatural performances’.
However, the audience was soon praising IU for her role in ‘My Mister’ – where she accurately portrayed a struggling woman who was losing hope under the adversities of life. Her acting abilities was proven even further when she took on 4 different characters in Netflix’s ‘Persona’, and later as guesthouse owner Kang Manwol in the widely successful ‘Hotel de Luna’.
The idol will make her debut on the cinema screen this year with ‘Dream’ – a sports comedy film that also stars Park Seojoon. IU is the epitome of success in both her musical and acting careers.
3. Cha Eunwoo (ASTRO)
Right after debuting in Kpop group ‘Astro’, Cha Eunwoo had made headlines for his good looks. The idol soon landed his first acting role in the web drama ‘My Romantic Some Recipe’, followed by multiple supporting roles in ‘Hit the top’, ‘Sweet Revenge’, and ‘Top Management’.
In 2018, Cha Eunwoo got his first leading role in ‘Gangnam Beauty’, and continued to play the lead in 2019 ‘Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung’. While these roles had brought him popularity, the idol was under immense backlash for his poor acting skills. According to netizens, Cha Eunwoo “was acting with his nostrils” and “his expressions were the same in every scene”.
However, the idol-actor was not one to give up. In the 2020 drama ‘True Beauty’, viewers agreed the idol’s acting had improved noticeably, and that Cha Eunwoo had successfully brought their favorite character to life. Eunwoo is still actively promoting with his group ASTRO in their newest comeback, but for many fans, he’s an actor before an idol.
4. Bae Suzy (missA)
Started out as the main vocalist of the monster rookie missA, Suzy was once criticized for her chubby looks. However, she soon changed the public’s opinion: her role in the famous series ‘Dream High’ and later the movie ‘Architecture 101’ had shot the actress to fame, giving her the title of ‘The Nation’s First Love’.
She later got her first leading role in ‘Gu Family’s Book’, and since then has constantly starred in popular series like ‘Uncontrollably Fond’, ‘While She Was Sleeping’, and most recently, ‘Start Up’.
For the melodrama ‘Uncontrollably Fond’, Suzy’s acting was deemed “uncontrollably bad”, but the actress had redeemed herself in the action series ‘Vagabond’. Netizen believed that she had improved considerably, and her acting and action scenes were super ‘natural’. Now, Suzy is more known for her acting compared to her musical releases.
5. Yook Sungjae (BtoB)
BtoB is a group familiar to the Korean public with amazing vocal power. But the youngest member Yook Sungjae is more known for his acting roles. The idol made his television debut in the famous ‘Reply 1994’ as a supporting character, and soon got his first leading role in 2014 ‘Plus Nine Boys’.
He rose to fame as the second lead of ‘School 2015’, where the audience is convinced by his emotional acting, and since had never fallen out of spotlight with outstanding performances in ‘The Village: Achiara’s Secret’, ‘Goblin’, and ‘Mystic Pop Up Bar’.
Despite his popularity, Yook Sungjae never ceased to work hard. Netizens only have good words for his acting, saying ‘he felt more like someone who has always been an actor’.
6. Yoona (Girls’ Generation)
Debuted as the center of the legendary girl group Girls’ Generation, Yoona was well-known for her gentle and ‘actress-like’ beauty. The idol’s acting career started with a minor role in ‘Two Outs in the Ninth Inning’, and her very next role in ‘You Are My Destiny’ was a career breakthrough. She won Best New Actress at KBS Drama Awards and Baeksang Arts Awards with the role, and since then had starred in various television projects, including ‘Cinderella Man’, ‘Love Rain’, ‘Prime Minister & I’, ‘The K2’, ‘The King in Love’ and most recently, ‘Hush’.
But the idol-actress was not only a household name to the TV audience. She is also familiar with cinemagoers through two film works: the action-filled ‘Confidential Assignment’ and disaster-comedy ‘Exit’, both of which are among the highest-grossing films in South Korea.
7. Park Jinyoung (GOT7)
This idol is a bit different from other Kpop idols in the list: he actually started acting 2 years before GOT7 was even formed! Before his idol debut, people knew of Jinyoung as the handsome JYP trainee who played minor roles in ‘Dream High 2’ and ‘When a man falls in love’. His popularity sky-rocketed after the debut of Kpop sensation GOT7, but even then, the idol still slowly perfected his acting with supporting roles in ‘This is My Love’, ‘Dream Knight’, and ‘Legend of the Blue Sea’. 2017 was Jinyoung year of breakthrough with two major roles – in the webseries ‘Magic School’ and cinematic film ‘A Stray Goat’, making him one of the rare idols who successfully breached into Korean movies.
Since then, Jinyoung’s career is on the way up: he continued his promotions with GOT7, but still acted in a variety of series like ‘He is Psychometric’, ‘When My Love Blooms’, and ‘Devil Judge’.
The brilliant idol-actor has also been confirmed to join the cast of ‘Yumi’s Cell’ – the anticipated adaptation of a famous Korean webtoon.
So, that’s 7 among many Kpop idols who are getting recognition as actors and actresses. Were you impressed by any of them? Are there other idols that should be added to the list?
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