K-dramas that turn Hyun Bin, Son Ye Jin, Song Hye Kyo, Song Joong Ki, and more into stars

Before reaching their “super star” status of the moment, many actors and actresses had to struggle to establish their names.

Prior to becoming huge stars, actors and actresses like Hyun Bin, Son Ye Jin, Song Hye Kyo, Song Joong Ki, Gong Yoo, Lee Min Ho, and more, also have their “breakthrough roles”, and below are the works that amplified their popularity. 

Hyun Bin – “Secret Garden”

Released in 2010, the K-drama “Secret Garden” created a sensation both in and outside of Korea, serving as a launching pad for its cast members to become beloved stars. In particular, Hyun Bin became a phenomenon, with popularity all across Asia. On the other hand, “Secret Garden” embraces a classic “Cinderella story” but with the twist of body swap between male lead Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin) and Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won).

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Hyun Bin in “Secret Garden”

Thanks to “Secret Garden”, Hyun Bin became the only male actor to receive a Daesang at Baeksang.

Gong Yoo – “Coffee Prince”

“Coffee Prince”, which brought a breath of fresh air in 2007, turned Gong Yoo into a prominent star of Korean showbiz. With the actor’s charming and captivating acting, the romance between coffee shop owner Choi Han Kyul (played by Gong Yoo) and tomboy Go Eun Chan (played by Yoon Eun Hye) was brought to life. 

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Gong Yoo in “Coffee Prince” 

Gong Yoo has since marked his name with a series of successful works, including the mega hit “Goblin”

Lee Min Ho – “Boys Over Flowers”

With its astounding popularity, “Boys Over Flowers” basically brought Lee Min Ho to fame overnight, and turned him into one of the most sought-after actors in Korea. Despite having been broadcasted since way back in 2009, “Boys Over Flowers” remains a classic for drama fanatics even now.

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Lee Min Ho in “Boys Over Flowers”

Now, Lee Min Ho is a top star both in Korea and around the world, with various notable projects such as “City”, “The Heirs”, and most recently, “Pachinko”.

Song Joong Ki – “Descendants of the Sun”

Premiered in 2016, “Descendants of the Sun” became a global sensation, and has since been adapted in many countries. However, it’s impossible to deny that Song Joong Ki, as the male lead, was a pillar of the show, making it so immensely popular. Prior to “Descendants of the Sun”, Song Joong Ki has already gained certain recognition, but he turned into a super star after it. 

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Song Joong Ki in “Descendants of the Sun” 

In addition, alongside “Descendants of the Sun”, Song Joong Ki has proven his acting capabilities through various complex roles in “The Innocent Man”, “A Werewolf Boy”, “Reborn Rich”, and many more.

Lee Jun Ki – “Iljimae”

When it comes to brilliant emotions and acting versatility, Lee Jun Ki is considered one of the top male actors in the Korean acting industry. One of the first dramas that firmly established his name is “Iljimae”, which recorded an impressive viewership of 31.0% for the final episode, and an overall average rating of 23.2%.

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Lee Jun Ki in “Iljimae” 

The drama helped Lee Jun Ki win three awards Netizen Popularity Award, Top 10 Stars, Top Excellence Award: Actor at the 2008 SBS Drama Awards, as well as earned a nomination for Best Actor at the 2009 Baeksang Arts Awards, turning him into an A-list star.

Throughout his career, Lee Jun Ki prefers complex psychological dramas, with notable works including “Moon Lovers”, “Flower of Evil”, and “Again My Life”, among others.

Lee Jong Suk – “I Can Hear Your Voice” & “School 2013”

Lee Jong Suk initially tried his hand at modeling, before gaining some attention with a supporting role in “Secret Garden”. In 2013, however, he acquired a “double hit” with the K-dramas “I Can Hear Your Voice” and “School 2013”, thus becoming overwhelmingly popular across Asia. 

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Lee Jong Suk in “I Can Hear Your Voice”

The actor has since tackled various genres, receiving high praise from critics and winning over audiences with his soulful acting. His fame and talent have been proven over many years of effort, with 22 awards and hit works like: “Pinocchio”, “While You Were Sleeping”, “W: Two Worlds”, “Doctor Stranger”, and so on.

Son Ye Jin – “Summer Scent”

In 2003, Son Ye Jin rose to fame for her leading role in “Summer Scent”, part of the 4 iconic K-drama classics themed around love in four seasons. In the drama, the “nation’s first love” plays Hye Won, a girl who receives a heart transplant from her late boyfriend. The actress successfully depicted a summer portrait filled with pure sunlight, with her acting performance managing to move generations of viewers. 

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Son Ye Jin in “Summer Scent”

After two decades, Son Ye Jin still maintains her A-list star status despite not taking on too many projects. Some of Son Ye Jin’s notable works include: “White Night”, “A Moment to Remember”, “The Negotiation”, “Crash Landing on You”, and most recently, “Thirty Nine”

Song Hye Kyo – “Autumn in My Heart”

“Autumn in My Heart”, also part of the 4 season-themed K-drama classes, was released in 2000 and became a major hit at the time. Rising to stardom thanks to the huge success of this work, Song Hye Kyo continued to certify her reputation as a top actress through works such as “Full House”, “Descendants of the Sun”, and most recently, “The Glory”

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Song Hye Kyo in “Autumn in My Heart”

In “Autumn in My Heart”, Song Hye Kyo assumes the role of female lead Eun Suh (Yoon), who experiences an emotional romance filled with various struggles. Even after 23 years, the drama is still considered a representative work in Song Hye Kyo’s filmography.

IU – “My Mister”

“My Mister”, which aired in 2018, is the project that helped IU make a breakthrough in her acting career and gained recognition from the public. Portraying Lee Ji An, a young woman who endures many hardships in life, including a big debt and the responsibility of caring for her sick grandmother, IU made viewers tear up as they sympathized with her character.

IU in “My Mister”

Through “My Mister”, IU gave a powerful response to criticism over her acting skills and proved that she’s an actress who always tries to renew her image and challenges complicated characters. Apart from her successful singing career, IU is also known for her performances in various popular dramas, such as “Hotel del Luna”, “Moon Lovers”, “The Producers”, and so on.

Bae Suzy – “Uncontrollably Fond”

“National First Love” Bae Suzy made headlines when she decided to co-star with Kim Woo Bin in the 2016 drama “Uncontrollably Fond”. Suzy received favorable reviews for her excellent emotional eye acting in crying scenes. At that time, drama fans praised Suzy for her passion in trying to act different kinds of characters and challenge new images.

Suzy in “Uncontrollably Fond”

Above are the dramas that marked the turning point in the acting career of the actors and actresses who are leading the Korean film industry. Many years have passed, yet they still remain appealing to the public, even the young generations.

Source: K14

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