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10 years of Baeksang’s Best Leading Actors: Lee Jun Ho and Kang Ha Neul stood out amid seasoned actors

Past winners of Baeksang’s Best Leading Actor in Drama are mostly experienced faces, with few exceptions. 

During the past 10 years, the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards crowned 10 different names as Best Leading Actor in Drama. Most of them are seasoned faces with phenomenal acting, so it’s all the more spectacular when a young actor is honored. Here are the 10 Best Leading Actors of Baeksang Arts Awards in the last 10 years. 

2013: Son Hyun Joo

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Before being crowned the Best Actor at Baeksang, Son Hyun Joo was already named as a Daesang winner in the 2012 SBS Drama Awards. This is after “The Chaser” boasted brilliant acting performances, and actor Son Hyun Joo shined spectacularly.  Thanks to this series, the actor also nailed to other grand prizes from the K-drama Star Awards and the Korea Broadcasting Awards. 

2014: Cho Jae Hyun 

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The 50th Baeksang Arts Awards selected Cho Jae Hyun as its Best Actor for his performance in the historical hit “Jeong Do Jeon”, which received both critical acclaim and public attention. This result came in accordance with the audience’s anticipation, so it’s no surprise that the actor also got nominated for the Grand Prize Daesang at the 2014 Korea Drama Awards. Cho Jae Hyun’s victory was even hailed as the most convincing one of the last decade. 

2015: Lee Sung Min 

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Once again, Baeksang called an experienced name for its Best Leading Actor, and this time it was none other than actor Lee Sung Min. Like “The Chaser”, “Misaeng: Incomplete Life” was also a feast of talented cast, and Lee Sung Min’s experience, portrayal, and delivery rightfully earned him this best actor title. A year later in the tvN10 Awards, the actor also surpassed many other strong faces to win Best Actor there. 

2016: Yoo Ah In

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After 3 years of seasoned winners, Yoo Ah In made a great breakthrough by winning the 2016 Baeksang’s Best Actor with a sensational performance in “Six Flying Dragons”. The historical hit, which was both critically and commercially successful, allowed Yoo Ah In to win this prestigious title before even entering his 30s. Now, Yoo Ah In is among the most respected actors in Korea, and “Six Flying Dragons” remains as his most outstanding series. 

2017: Gong Yoo

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The 2017 Baeksang was an intense battle for Best Actor in Drama, with Gong Yoo and Han Suk Kyu neck-to-neck in their respective works “Goblin” and “Dr. Romantic”. While they were worthwhile opponents, Gong Yoo managed to come out on top, and netizens could not complain. “Goblin” basically became a cultural sensation, and Gong Yoo couldn’t have performed better in this hit series. 

2018: Cho Seung Woo

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13 years after winning Baeksang’s Best Actor in Film at the age of 25 via “Marathon”, Cho Seung Woo snagged the title in Drama as well, this time via the investigation series “Stranger”. Brilliantly-written with amazing acting, “Stranger” was an undefeatable work. Despite having to go against strong competitors in Chun Ho Jin and Kim Sang Joong, Cho Seung Woo once again brought home a convincing victory. 

2019: Lee Byung Hun 

Lee Byung Hun

As one of the top actors on the Korean screen, Lee Byung Hun cemented his standing by winning the 2019 Baeksang’s Best Actor Award. Via his portrayal in “Mr. Sunshine”, Lee Byung Hun’s name was called for the fourth time to become the winner of this prestigious title. Even more impressive, the year’s competition was insane, with super powerful faces like Hyun Bin, Kim Nam Gil, Lee Sun Kyun, and Yeo Jin Goo. 

2020: Kang Ha Neul 

Kang Ha Neul

Kang Ha Neul made history as the first actor born in the 90s to win Baeksang’s Best Actor. Earning such an honor was the result of Ha Neul’s ample effort and determination. While not overwhelmingly popular in terms of commercial works, the actor’s role in “When The Camellia Blooms” clearly proved his abilities to the Korean audience. 

2021: Shin Ha Kyun 

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While the competition for Best Actress of 2021 was regarded as “boring”, the opposite could be said about the actor’s side. To become the 2021 Baeksang’s Best Actor, Shin Ha Kyun had to surpass familiar names like Uhm Ki Joon, Lee Jun Ki, Song Joong Ki, and Kim Soo Hyun. While Shin Ha Kyun’s project “Beyond Evil” was not a big commercial hit, it was surely a masterpiece with the highest quality script and acting there are. And of course, Shin Ha Kyun’s performance in this series was one for the history books. 

2022: Lee Jun Ho

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When Lee Jun Ho’s name was called as Baeksang’s latest Best Actor, some netizens complained that he couldn’t have surpassed Lee Jung Jae and Kim Nam Gil. However, they could not refute his impact and perfect portrayal in “The Red Sleeve”, and so Lee Jun Ho convincingly became the first idol-actor to ever win Best Actor at the prestigious Baeksang.

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