PICK: 5 Best Korean Movies That Highlight Evil Transformations in Actors

korean movie villains

Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Yu Jin Kim


Discovering unknown aspects of actors is one of the pleasures of watching a movie. In particular, when a seemingly kind face transforms into a villain and reveals a cold side, it provides a new shock to viewers and draws them further into the show. Audiences can experience such joy in The Roundup: No Way Out, which has become a representative South Korean superhero movie. Here, Lee Jun Hyuk, known for his gorgeous looks, captivated viewers as he bulked up his physique and appeared as the villain who stands against Ma Dong Seok’s powerful fists. Moreover, the pure-looking star Kim Seon Ho will be taking on the role of the ‘mad chaser’ and showcasing a new side of himself in his upcoming movie, The Childe. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at five actors who impressively transformed into villains.

Unlocked (2023)  – Yim Si Wan

Yim Si Wan is considered one of the most successful actors who transitioned from being an idol singer. He kicked off his acting career in 2012 with Moon Embracing the Sun, and received much praise for his role in the 2014 drama Incomplete Life. He then made efforts to break free from his pretty boy image and explored a variety of roles through works such as The Merciless (2017) and Tracers (2022). Recently, he has amazed audiences by fearlessly taking on villainous roles in two films. In particular, in the film Unlocked, he left a chilling impression by playing the character Jun Young, who hacks into people’s lives by simply acquiring a phone from the street. Despite his kind and innocent appearance, his villainous acting appalled viewers more than any other criminal, as he nonchalantly enjoys committing crimes.

Project Wolf Hunting (2022) – Seo In Guk

Project Wolf Hunting, which garnered global attention for its screenings at prestigious film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival, is a rare hard-core slasher movie in South Korea. The film features brutal slaughter scenes throughout its entire 120-minute running time. It follows a group of criminals being escorted by a police force on the cargo ship Frontier Titan from the Philippines to South Korea, where they face an extremely dreadful situation. Seo In Guk captivated viewers with his portrayal of the sinister criminal Jong Doo, whose body is covered in tattoos. Jong Doo’s brutality really stands out in the confined environment in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and Seo In Guk’s transformation made a strong impact as he portrayed a completely different image from his previous roles.

The Call (2020) – Jeon Jong Seo

Jeon Jong Seo made a surprising film debut with director Lee Chang Dong’s Burning in 2018 and showcased her unparalleled film presence as an actress in her second movie The Call. The movie revolves around two women from different time periods who become connected through a simple phone call, leading their lives to take unexpected turns. Jeon Jong Seo plays Young Sook, a woman from the past who knows her horrifying future and unleashes her madness. To embody her character, the actress reportedly drew inspiration from Billie Eilish‘s expressions in her “Bad Guy” music video, infusing the story with intense tension. Jeon Jong Seo’s dedication paid off as she received much praise and love for her role, ultimately winning the Best Actress Award at the 57th Baeksang Art Awards.

The Witch : Part 1. The Subversion (2018) – Choi Woo Shik 

Choi Woo Shik, who still retains a youthful baby face, showcased a different side of himself by taking on the role of a mysterious man who disrupts the life of Ja Yoon (played by Kim Da Mi) in the movie The Witch. He portrayed a unique villain by depicting a psychologically complex character with a dark childhood and mischievous qualities. In an interview during the film’s release, he mentioned, “I think I’ve been playing similar characters for the past seven years.” To bring the character to life, he revealed that he drew inspiration from the guilt-free character Alex in the film A Clockwork Orange (1971).

The Negotiation (2018) – Hyun Bin

The Negotiation generated a lot of interest prior to its release as it marked the first collaboration between Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin. As the title suggests, the film tells a story that revolves around a negotiator and a hostage-taker engaging in a high-stakes negotiation. Rather than focusing on flashy spectacles, the film skillfully portrays the intense dynamic between the two characters. Departing from his usual upright image, Hyun Bin plays Tae Goo, the most notorious terrorist in history, and shares great chemistry with Son Ye Jin, who stars as Tae Yoon. Additionally, his character adds charm as a mysterious figure with unknown motives. The two actors reunited once again in Crash Landing on You (2019) and their on-screen relationship blossomed into a real-life couple following the conclusion of the drama.


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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