[PICK] Korean Child Actors Who Are On Their Way to Becoming A-Listers

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

It’s never easy to give up an ordinary teenager’s life and concentrate on acting. Even if you have outstanding acting skills, you might be trapped in your images as a child actor, or you may have to give up on your privacy to pay the penalty of fame. Or, you may feel frustrated too early in age if you don’t get satisfactory results despite all the efforts you put in. Today, we will look into child actors who have successfully overcome these hardships and grew up to be prominent actors, as well as their best works.


Yeo Jin Goo �” The Moon Embracing The Sun, Hwayi: A Monster Boy

Credit: Lotte Entertainment, tvN

When we talk about child actors, Yeo Jin Goo cannot be left out. He made his debut with the 2005 film Sad Movie and has continued his acting career ever since. And the 2012 drama The Moon Embracing The Sun certainly became a turning point in his life. He played the childhood days of Lee Hwon (Kim Soo Hyun) and was much loved for his delicate emotional performances. In particular, his low, deep voice, which became his trademark, perfectly matched with the character, receiving favorable reviews. Then in 2013, Yeo Jin Goo took one of the lead roles in director Jang Goon Hwan’s Hwayi: A Monster Boy and showed a more mature acting. Although playing the character was never easy since the story featured violent content like kidnapping and murder, the actor’s in-depth portrayal of a boy becoming a monster received rave reviews. Last year, Yeo Jin Goo led two dramas, The Crowned Clown and Hotel Del Luna, to success.


Kim Hyang Gi �” The Queen’s Classroom, Along With the Gods

Credit: Showbox, Lotte Entertainment

Kim Hyang Gi, who started acting when she was just 29 months old, has appeared in so many projects that she once said that she thought of the filming sites as her own playground. And to her, The Queen’s Classroom is one of the most meaningful projects as an actor. At the time, her delicate performance touched viewers’ hearts as she proudly confronted her teacher and classmates despite their persecution. The 2017 film Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds became the work that started a new chapter in her career. She took on the role of tender and kind guardian Duk Choon and showed perfect teamwork with Ha Jung Woo and Ju Ji Hoon, leading the movie to surpass 10 million viewers. After the success of Along With the Gods series, Kim Hyang Gi mostly starred in films, continuing her sweeping upturn.


Kim So Hyun �” Who Are You: School 2015, Love Alarm

Credit: MBC, Netflix

Kim So Hyun, who debuted when she was just 6 years old, saw the light of day when she played the childhood days of Yoon Bo Kyung in the drama The Moon Embracing The Sun. And 2015 was the year when Kim So Hyun’s growth stood out. She took on her first lead role in KBS drama Who Are You: School 2015 and flawlessly played a double role in OCN drama Reset. She sympathetically portrayed Eun Bi and Eun Byeol in different situations, proving her accumulated acting prowess. Then in 2019, she starred in the Netflix original series Love Alarm and played Kim Jo Jo, challenging her first youth romance drama. Kim So Hyun, who enjoyed the original webtoon, received positive responses at home and abroad, boasting a high “synchro rate” with the character. Thanks to the popularity of the work, it will soon return with season 2.


Kim Yoo Jung �” The Moon Embracing The Sun, Love in the Moonlight

Credit: CJ Entertainment, tvN

Kim Yoo Jung, a role model of many child actors, is 21 years old veteran actress with more than 16 years of acting experience. She has numerous projects that could be considered her best works, but if we have to pick one, it would be The Moon Embracing The Sun, just like Yeo Jin Goo. Playing the childhood days of Yeon Woo, Kim Yoo Jung received much love for her heartbreaking romance with Yeo Jin Goo at the time. In particular, she left a deep impression with her elegant appearance and rich emotional acting beyond her age. In 2016, she successfully broke away from images as a child actor and stood as a solid actress when she took on the role of a male-dressed woman Hong Ra On in the novel-based drama Love in the Moonlight. In the beginning, many showed concerns over her young age, but she overcame it with her excellent performance and portrayed a sweet romance with Park Bo Gum, leading the work to a huge success. Kim Yoo Jung, who recently wrapped up Backstreet Rookie, will return to the big screen with the mystery thriller The 8th Day’s Night.


Yoo Seung Ho �” The Way Home, Master of Study

Credit: POP Entertainment, tvN

Yoo Seung Ho, the nation’s younger brother and icon of “growing up to be stunning,” was never embroiled in any gossip of controversy since his debut, pleasing the fans. If we have to choose his best work from his child actor days, it’s undoubtedly the 2002 film The Way Home. He starred as Sang Woo, a 7-year-old boy who throws tantrums at his grandmother and received much love for his lovely and adorable acting. Then in 2010, he took his first drama lead role in the drama Master of Study and took off his model student images by playing the charismatic rebel, Hwang Baek Hyun. Since then, Yoo Seung Ho has shown solid performances in various projects and is currently preparing for his next film.

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