[PICK] Korean Movies with Actors’ Playful Transformation

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Actors’ fresh attempts are one of the big reasons for our movie choices. No matter how good the acting is, we get tired if he or she plays similar characters over and over again. Therefore, actors showcase “customized” performances that suit the character in each project while expanding their spectrum by challenging new materials and genres. Among all the colorful transformations, we look back at the ones that presented us with the most playful and whimsical laughs.


Honest Candidate (2020)

Credit: Next Entertainment World

Honest Candidate, which gifted Ra Mi Ran her first best actress award at the Blue Dragon Film Awards, is a film that highlights Ra Mi Ran’s comedy acting. She pulls off the ironic situation that happens when a congresswoman and an expert liar is unable to lie ahead of the election with her deft performances, allowing the audience the waves of laughter. Of course, the reactions of her fellow actors are also excellent. Especially, the transformation of Kim Mu Yeol, who mostly played heavy and strong roles, catches the eye. He turns into a clumsy aide Park Hee Chul who throws his body for his boss, and his acting is so refreshing that I wonder why he didn’t try such a character before. As the news about the sequel production has been confirmed, we will once again be greeted with Kim Mu Yeol’s “struggle” comedy.


Hot Young Bloods (2013)

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

Hot Young Bloods is a movie where we can see the new sides of Park Bo Young and Lee Jong Suk. Lee and Park become a playboy and a school delinquent, respectively, and unravels a romance scandal that takes place at a high school in a rural village in Chungcheong-do in the 1980s. First, Park Bo Young breaks away from lovely and innocent images and shows off her tough charisma by spitting out abusive language with cold eyes. On the contrary, Lee Jong Suk catches the eye with his sly acting. As befits his reputation of being a “Casanova,” he approaches girls with come-hitter looks without hesitation but turns into a coward in front of tough kids, giving a big laugh.


The Plan Man (2013)

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

It revolves around an anal-retentive man who is fixated on planning out every detail of his life, even the time he goes to a convenience store, unintentionally stepping into an unplanned life when he is rejected by his crush. Jung Jae Young plays Han Jung Seok, who believes himself to be an ordinary man but is eccentric in other people’s eyes, and provides unexpected laughter with his unique “serious” images. Han Ji Min takes on the role of Yoo So Jung, a free-spirited woman who pushes him into the world of chaos, and delights us with an impromptu and easy-going appearance instead of her usual innocent and graceful looks. You can also check out her exceptional singing.


The Dude in Me (2018)

Credit: The Contents On, Merry Christmas

With an unexpected accident, a gangster and an outcast high school boy find their souls in each other’s bodies. The Dude in Me is a comedy film that gives a lot of fun under the theme of “soul swapping.” Former B1A4 member Jinyoung naturally digests both Dong Hyun – a high school student before soul swapping and a middle-aged gangster after soul swapping – and pleases the audience with flawless performances. Park Sung Woong, another main character of the changed soul, plays a key role in comedy. At the time of his first appearance, we can’t help but feel deja vu of many other works, but after turning into a timid high school student, he leads the second half of the movie pleasantly with his frightened and intimidated expressions.


Keys to the Heart (2017)

Credit: CJ Entertainment

A washed-up boxer, a younger brother with Servant syndrome, and a terminally ill mother. The overall setting and the storytelling are full of cliches, but the actors’ shining performances are everything. Park Jung Min, who plays Jin Tae with Servant Syndrome, works hard on the character with his unique sincerity, and Youn Yuh Jung can turn the “obvious” tears into scalding tears as In Sook, the mother of the two brothers who have lived as strangers. And of course, we can’t miss Lee Byung Hun, who returned with a humane and sloppy character after a long time. Breaking away from his charismatic images, Lee adds to the fun and the emotions of the play with his friendly and simple choices.


Familyhood (2015)

Credit: Showbox

Familyhood centers around the fuss that begins when top star Joo Yeon, who has fully enjoyed her single life, declares a fake pregnancy to recover her popularity. It’s not Kim Hye Soo‘s first comedy movie, but it’s refreshing to see her surprising transformation. Kim, who starred as an immature, self-centered top star, gives off an irresistible charm with her cheerful and lively tone, and her chemistry with Ma Dong Seok, her old friend and her stylist, is the definition of “jolly.”


Mutt Boy (2003)

Credit: Show East

Mutt Boy is a movie that allowed Jung Woo Sung to deviate from his “youth star” images. He plays Chul Min, who is known around town as “mutt boy,” and naturally showcases the daily life of a lazy and awkward young man that lives in a daze. In his performance, Jung Woo Sung, who emerged as an icon of youth through Beat and City of the Rising Sun, is nowhere to be seen. From shaggy hair and dirtied clothes to bent posture and idiotic expressions, Jung Woo Sung has successfully transformed into a friendly neighborhood guy. Of course, no matter how messy he gets, his shining visuals are always awe-inspiring.


Edited Hong Hyun Jung: K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.

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