[PICK] Korean Films in Which Ex-Idol Actors Shine with Greatest Performances in Their Lives

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Jeon Gyeong Ju

There is a public prejudice saying that “ex-idol actors are bad at acting.” Indeed, it would be difficult a lot for those who are familiar with the stage to show remarkable acting skills both on the big and small screens in a single day. Nevertheless, there are several ex-idol actors who broke the prejudice with their own unexpected and fine performances. Let’s look at the seven ex-idol actors who overcame people’s negative preconceptions with so-called the “greatest performances in their lives.”


Suzy – Architecture 101

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Credit: Lotte Entertainment

Suzy, who was a member of Miss A, began her acting career as Ko Hye Mi in the teen drama Dream High and made her big screen debut with the melodrama film Architecture 101. She appeared as Seo Yeon, the lead female who takes architecture classes with Seung Min and stirs his heart, in Architecture 101. At first, it was hard for her to sympathize with Seo Yeon’s character. Suzy was eventually able to portray the role more naturally by reflecting her own honest self into Seo Yeon, rather than trying to fit herself into the role. Thanks to such efforts, the film made a huge success and Suzy earned the title of “Nation’s First Love.” She also reinforced her position as an actor by winning the New Actress in Film award in the film category at the 48th Baeksang Arts Awards.


Im Siwan – The Merciless

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Credit: CJ Entertainment

Im Siwan, who made his debut in show business as a member of ZE:A (also known as Children of Empire), is more familiar with the big and small screens than the stages. After debuting as an actor in his first drama Moon Embracing the Sun and gaining recognition for his potential, he showed impressive performances in every work such as The Attorney, Misaeng: Incomplete Life and the latest TV series Hell Is Other People. Above all, Im Siwan played the main character Hyun Soo, who intentionally approaches to Jae Ho (another lead male who’s seeking to become the No. 1 in a criminal gang), in the film The Merciless. The movie fans were captivated by his inseparable chemistry, which exceeded the degree of bromance, with Sol Kyung Gu.


Lee Joon – Rough Play

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Lee Joon, a former member of MBLAQ, expressed his strong will to an acting career as an aspiring actor before his debut as a singer. After debuting as the young Rain in Ninja Assassin, he was recognized for his acting skill by consecutively appearing in other films such as The Piper and Luck-Key. Lee Joon’s unprecedented transformation is especially outstanding in the 2013 film Rough Play. He intensely portrayed the role of Oh Young, a minor actor who’s recognized by no one and becomes a superstar overnight, by showing the process of the character’s downfall caused by his own obsession with desire. As a result, he proved that “Lee Joon is an actor” as the Korean original title (An Actor Is an Actor) of the movie suggested.


Jin Young – The Dude in Me

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Credit: Merry Christmas

Jin Young, who is a lead vocalist of B1A4, started his acting career with a small role in the drama and developed it step by step. He was finally cast for his first lead role on the big screen through the 2019 film The Dude in Me. Due to the narrative that two lead male’s souls switches with each other due to a sudden accident, Jin Young actually played two roles at a time. Freely passing through between the timid high school student Dong Hyun, who is bullied by school gangs, and the charismatic gang boss Pan Soo, he led the story by carrying out the two different characters excellently. Although he felt a lot of pressure as taking his first lead role in the movie, he successfully did the work of two people on his own. That’s why we’re looking forward to the future of the actor Jin Young.


Do Kyung Soo – Swing Kids

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It’s no exaggeration to say that Do Kyung Soo, also known as D.O. of EXO, is now a veteran actor because he has appeared in various movies and TV dramas. Since his big screen debut with the 2014 film Cart, he showed off his own presence in each of his works, including My Annoying Brother, Room No.7 and the Along with the Gods series, regardless of his lead roles or supporting ones. In particular, he did a superb performance in Swing Kids as great as many said, “the movie starts with Do Kyung Soo and ends with Do Kyung Soo.” Playing the North Korean soldier Rho Ki Soo, who is obsessed with tap dance, he led the story while perfectly pulling off both dance and acting. Despite of the difficulty of losing weight, he learned tap dance in person and passionately participated in Swing Kids by shaving his head for the role.


YoonA – Exit

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Credit: CJ Entertainment

Girls’ Generation’s YoonA, who had been continuing her acting career on the small screen since her debut in the 2007 series Two Outs In The Ninth Inning, made her big screen debut with the 2017 film Confidential Assignment. In this movie, she played a minor role, Yoo Hae Jin‘s unemployed sister-in-law, who made the viewers laugh out loud when she had a crush on Hyun Bin, an agent from North Korea, at first sight. After pre-heating the big screen with Confidential Assignment, YoonA played the role of Eui Joo, a banquet hall employee and a junior student who was Yong Nam’s old crush, and led the story with Jo Jung Suk. YoonA added fun to the film by performing enthusiastically from climbing actions to the crying and comic scenes. She was also nominated for the Best Leading Actress award at the 40th Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2019.


Park Hyung Sik – Juror 8

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Credit: CGV Arthouse

Park Hyung Sik, another member of ZE:A, first appeared in the short film Two Lights: Relúmĭno, but Juror 8 is practically his debut work on the big screen. After playing the role of a young entrepreneur, called as “Juror No.8”, who never gives up and finds the truth to the end with persistence, he was nominated for the Best New Actor category at the 40th Blue Dragon Film Awards. Park Hyung Sik is said to have blamed himself in an interview for shooting the same scene a whopping 27 times. Still, he makes us even more pleased since he never gives up and grows up after experiencing trial and error as his character in Juror 8 does.

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