[PICK] Korean Movie: Top Male Actors These Days and Their Best Works

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

“Start-up” actors are all the rage? I’m not talking about the actors in the drama. I’m referring to young actors who have “started” their uptrend as leading actors and who have “upped” their charms amid generational shifts in the small screen. Looking at their recent performances and their best performances in the past, I look forward to their next moves.


Nam Joo Hyuk �” Start-Up & Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo

Credit: tvN, MBC

Nam Joo Hyun plays Nam Do San in Start-Up, presenting viewers with heart-fluttering moments. He looks simple-minded and naive on the outside, but burns his passion towards his goal with killer coding skills and is also brave in front of love. Nam also delivered the sparkling energy of youth in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo. Taking on the role of Jung Joon Hyung, a swimmer who suffers from trauma, Nam faithfully portrayed a person who slowly moves forwards by overcoming his painful wound, gaining sympathy from viewers. His romance with Lee Sung Kyung that goes from friends to lovers, is also eye-catching.


Kim Sun Ho �” Start-Up & 100 Days My Prince

Credit: tvN

Kim Sun Ho, also known as “idol in Daehakro,” is now spreading as “second lead syndrome.” He is currently appearing in Start-Up as Han Ji Pyong, the head of the venture capital team, and draws a person who is both a cold-headed businessman and a warm-hearted man who never forgets his lifesaver, receiving favorable reviews as “all-time second lead.” This is not the first time he started second lead syndrome. In 100 Days My Prince, Kim showed off his charm as an attractive second lead. He played the role of Jeong Jae Yoon, the most brain-sexy man in the Joseon Dynasty, and showed his wit in solving the mystery with his brilliant brain. His bromance with Crown Prince Lee Yul and his love for Hong Sim also added to the play’s vitality.


Kim Min Jae �” Do You Like Brahms? & Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency

Credit: SBS, JTBC

In Do You Like Brahms?, Kim Min Jae played pianist Park Joon Young and carefully portrayed the pain of the youth, making a leap forward as a rising star. His romance with Park Eun Bin drew enthusiastic responses by carefully building up the affectionate and fluttering emotions. And Kim Min Jae’s charm wasn’t completed overnight. In Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency, he portrayed Ma Hoon, a matchmaker who falls in love with the King’s woman, with a variety of images that go back and forth between delicacy, roughness and sweetness, capturing the hearts of female viewers. Not only did Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency gave Kim Min Jae a stage to prove himself, but it also became a stepping-stone for many young actors: Record of Youth‘s Byeon Woo Seok, Love Revolution‘s Park Ji Hoon and To All The Guys Who Loved Me‘s Seo Ji Hoon.


Lee Jae Wook �” Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol & Extraordinary You

Credit: KBS, MBC

Recently, Lee Jae Wook has been coloring the small screen with pink on Wednesdays and Thursdays. He plays his first lead role in Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol as mysterious guy Sun Woo Joon and shows off his charm of “softy boyfriend.” The sight of him being blunt to Goo Ra Ra, who borrowed money from him, on the outside but worrying and caring for her on the inside creates a “ticklish” excitement. If Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol highlights Lee Dae Wook’s pure and kind images, Extraordinary You presents his “cool guy” charms. He played Baek Gyung, whom Eun Dan Oh had a crush on for 10 years, and gives off the charm of a bad man who you cannot hate. He was later seen regretting his actions and moving straightforward for his love, starting “second lead syndrome.”


Lee Do Hyun �” 18 Again & Hotel Del Luna

Credit: JTBC, tvN

In 18 Again, Lee Do Hyun proves his worth by playing 18-year-old Hong Dae Young, the name Go Woo Young took after returning to his prime day. He was said to be “rediscovered” with the work as he flawlessly digested an intricate storytelling of a middle-aged man in a high school student body with his fresh visuals and deft performances. He portrayed the 37-year-old head of the family who has more regrets and sorriness for his family with his ripened acting, making the drama’s fun and emotions come alive. Lee also showed a solid presence in Hotel Del Luna. He played the role of Go Chung Myung, the Captain of the Guards who shared heartfelt love with Jang Man Wol that goes beyond the difference in social standing, leaving behind a heartbreaking love story.

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