Following the influx of acting-dols, the K-drama scene has seen a rise in visually appealing thespians, in the form of model-turned-actors.
Although models crossing over to the acting field is not a recent phenomenon – pioneers such as Jo In Sung, Cha Seung Won and Gong Yoo have set high standards, a new generation of model-actors have been stealing the show on our TV screens.
While they each have their unique features and characteristics, the one thing these head-turners have in common is their glorious height (180cm and above) and charming good looks.
Not just handsome faces, these multi-talented chaps including Kim Woo Bin, Lee Jong Suk and Sung Joon, have proved that they can actually act, through high ratings, good reviews and numerous casting opportunities.
Read on to find out more about these popular model-turned-actors, and the roles we would love to see them take on next.
Kim Woo Bin
Notable roles: Park Heung-soo in School 2013, Choi Young-do in The Heirs
At the age of 20, Kim Hyun-joong (Kim Woo Bin’s real name) made his debut on the runway in 2009, and has since walked at major events such as Seoul Fashion Week. The 187cm-tall charmer’s acting vibes were first triggered during the filming of commercials. “In the course of [picking up acting], I found myself experiencing the same thrill and enthusiasm that I felt when I walked on the runway for the first time,” he chimed.
Under a new stage name, Woo Bin officially set foot into the acting world with mystery drama White Christmas and sitcom Vampire Idol in 2011. Despite landing a supporting role in popular series A Gentleman’s Dignity, the 25-year-old actor’s real big break came when he joined the star-studded cast of School 2013 and The Heirs last year.
His well-loved bromance with co-star Lee Jong Suk, increased exposure on TV, as well as his bad boy image (think Park Heung-soo and Choi Young-do) opened new doors for the model-turned-actor. Woo Bin’s silver screen debut in Friend 2 was met with positive reviews from both the audience and his seniors.
What we’d like to see him try next: Shed that angsty image and play a character that is closer to his real-life goofy personality. In case you haven’t heard, this lad’s a G-Dragon fanboy.
Hong Jong Hyun
Notable roles: Moo-jin in Dating Agency: Cyrano, Oh Tae-soo in Her Lovely Heels
Hong Jong Hyun kickstarted his modelling career in 2007, via a competition called “MVIO Show”. A regular face on Korean runways, the 182cm-tall heartthrob was soon casted in several dramas and films, including Oh! My Lady and A Frozen Flower.
As his popularity rose, Jong Hyun’s screen time correspondingly increased, judging from his meaty role in Dating Agency: Cyrano and first male lead character in Her Lovely Heels. Last year, the 24-year-old co-hosted fashion programme Style Log with fellow model-turned-actor Lee Soo Hyuk, showing off their sartorialist instincts on the show.
Jong Hyun hit another milestone when he was invited to join We Got Married, a reality-variety show where (usually A-list) celebrities pair up as virtual couples, alongside Girl’s Day member Yura this year.
What we’d like to see him try next: Known to be an introvert, it’d be great to see Jong Hyun play something completely out of character – wild, wacky or maybe even a pabo (“fool” in Korean).
Lee Jong Suk
Notable roles: Go Nam-soon in School 2013, Park Soo-ha in I Hear Your Voice, Park Hoon in Doctor Stranger
In 2005, Lee Jong Suk became the youngest male model to walk the runway of Seoul Collection fashion show at the age of 15. After some minor acting stints, the aspiring actor finally starred in his debut drama Prosecutor Princess in 2010. That same year, he scored a supporting role in the highly rated drama Secret Garden where he gained attention for his boyish good looks and natural acting skills.
His role as Go Nam-soon in School 2013 propelled him to stardom, and from then on, Jong Suk became a household name in Korea as more drama, movie and commercial offers came knocking on his door. At the same time, the 25-year-old thespian has also nabbed several major acting awards in Korea for his sublime performance in I Hear Your Voice.
Within the few years that he has entered the acting world, Jong Suk is now often named alongside A-listers such as Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun, which not only symbolises his popularity, but also a recognition of his abilities.
What we’d like to see him try next: Did you know that Jong Suk prepared to debut as an idol group member before he became an actor? It’d be cute to watch him accomplish that, in a drama.
Notable roles: Hyun Sang-hee in Lie to Me, Kwon Ji-hyuk in Shut Up Flower Boy Band, Jung-hoon in Can We Get Married?, Gon in Gu Family Book
Having watched Sung Joon in various leading roles, it made us wonder: Why didn’t he venture into acting earlier?
Blessed with an eye-catching physique and mesmerising deep baritone, the 187-cm tall chap started out as a model before making his acting debut in White Christmas three years ago. Sung Joon’s subsequent work in Shut Up Flower Boy Band and Can We Get Married? continued to impress the audience, while his character Gon in period drama Gu Family Book showcased his versatility as an actor.
Currently starring in romantic comedy Discovery of Love, Sung Joon is well able to hold his own against veteran actors Jung Yu-mi and Eric Mun.
What we’d like to see him try next: Given how good (and well suited) he had looked in Gu Family Book, we really don’t mind watching Sung Joon in another period drama.
Lee Soo Hyuk
Notable roles: Yoon Soo in White Christmas, Soo-hyuk in Vampire Idol, Yoo Jin-woo in High School King of Savvy
After making his model debut at reknowned Korean designer Jung Wook-Jun’s Lone Costume fashion show in 2006, Lee Soo Hyuk has since walked the runways of the nation’s biggest events and graced the covers of magazines including GQ, Bazaar and Elle.
Following his participation in the music videos of several girl groups (such as 2NE1’s “It Hurts”), the 184cm-tall chap was featured on several TV series such as White Christmas, Deep Rooted Tree and Vampire Idol in 2011. Steadily amassing a huge fanbase, Soo Hyuk joined a new agency Star J Entertainment this year, and was cast as the second male lead in romantic comedy High School King of Savvy.
What we’d like to see him try next: Soo Hyuk’s unique facial features have a special draw that grows on the audience. It would be refreshing to see the 26-year-old actor lose that standoffish facet and take on a light-hearted role for a change.
Ahn Jae Hyun
Notable roles: Cheon Yoon-jae in You Who Came from the Stars, Park Tae-il in You're All Surrounded
Anyone (or anything, in fact) related to blockbuster drama You Who Came from the Stars was the talk of the town in Korea and across Asia last year. And that includes Ahn Jae Hyun who acted as Cheon Yoon-jae, Cheon Song-yi’s astrology-obsessed younger brother.
The 27-year-old kicked off his showbiz career as a fashion model in 2009, before he got casted as a “handsome delivery man” on variety show High Society two years later. Besides starring in several music videos (such as Sistar19’s “Gone Not Around Any Longer”), Jae Hyun was not a big name until You Who Came from the Stars.
Since then, he has landed that coveted hosting gig at popular music show M! Countdown and picked up a new role in You're All Surrounded, where he acted alongside Cha Seung-won and Lee Seung Gi.
What we’d like to see him try next: Instead of the laidback characters that he has played so far, how about a serious role (complete with suits and ties) for Jae Hyun the next time round?