[K-Star’s Best Character] Jang Na Ra, an Actress Who Constantly Challenges Herself without Complacency

Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated Kim Hoyeun

Credit: tvN

Jang Na Ra, who marks the 20th anniversary of her debut this year, debuted in 2001 with the MBC sitcom New Nonstop. For the show, she played the clumsy college student who formed a romantic relationship with Yang Dong Geun, called “Guri Guri” at the time. Jang Na Ra’s song “Confession” played as the show’s soundtrack. So naturally, she gained popularity as an entertainer who excels in both acting and singing. In 2002, she met Cha Yang Soon of SBS’s Successful Story of a Bright Girl and rose to stardom instantly. Her character, who refused to rely on the male lead like in the typical Cindelrelall story, was incredibly well-received for the bright and cheerful personality. The series enjoyed a booming success, recording 41.4% ratings (provided by AC Nielsen) in the final episode. The early 2000s was the golden age of Jang Na Ra.

Credit: KBS

Afterward, she continued her busy career, starring in the TV series My Love Patzzi (2002) as Yang Song Yi and the film Oh! Happy Day (2003) as Miss. Gong. Since then, she made inroads into China and enjoyed tremendous success. Jang Na Ra, who mainly focused on her career in China since the mid-2000s, returned to Korea after six years with the 2011 series Baby-faced Beauty. For the project, the actress took on Lee So Young’s role, who overcomes the prejudice against woman’s age and wins both a successful career and love. Thanks to her younger-looking appearance, she received rave reviews that perfectly suited the character who lied about her age to get a job.

Even with a glance at her 10-year filmography, you can tell the path Jang Na Ra has taken as the top actress (Girl, Patzzi, Beauty, etc.). However, despite most of her successful work, she received criticism in her early career for always sticking to kind and obedient roles. Later on, Jang Na Ra once said in an interview that her goal as an actress is to “play the role that suits my age.”

Credit: KBS

With the 2017 series Go Back Couple, the actress broke away from her image as a “rom-com queen” and turned into Ma Jin Joo, a 38-year-old housewife whose self-esteem has fallen due to solo parenting. When she comes to a breaking point in her relationship with her husband, she finds herself a 20-year-old college student. Jang Na Ra received favorable reviews for his sympathetic portrayal and natural acting.

Then in 2018, she played Oh Sunny in Kim Soon OK’s SBS series The Last Empress. With the role, she showed off her unique jolly performance. And at the same time, she showcased a conflicting emotional performance as she goes against the imperial family of absolute power for revenge. In the office romance series VIP (2019), Jang Na Ra turned into Na Jung Sun, a deputy manager at a department store who works for the top 1% of VIP customers. The actress added elaborate psychological descriptions to the role, including flawlessly pulling off the line “Let’s go together. To hell.”

Credit: KBS

Jang Na Ra attempted yet another transformation as an exorcist Hong Ji Ah in the KBS series Sell Your Haunted House, which premiered earlier this week. She got rid of her lovely charm and put on cold eyes and tone. And for the first time since her debut, the actress challenges action scenes. Expectations are high on whether this new cold and beautiful exorcist will be able to hit the jackpot like the title.


Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.

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