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The New Breed of Korean Actors

Submitted by on August 22, 2010 – 9:26 pmNo Comment

The New Breed of Korean Actors

The new breed of Korean actors is unlike any other generation of Korean actors you might be familiar with.  Gone are the stereotypes of Asian businessmen, immigrants, and emperors and raised in their stead are a whole host of new personas, including superheroes, villains, slackers and (of course) the boy next door.  So who are these new up-and-coming Korean Actors?  Read on to find out!

John Cho

Though his name is John Cho, most fans scream “Harold!” whenever he appears as he is one-half of the eponymous duo of Harold & Kumar, a sort of classic standard bearer in the world of stoner comedy films.  Though most people recognize him from his stints as Harold and various television gigs (including Ugly Betty, Flash Forward and How I Met Your Mother), the thing that amazes most of his fans is the fact that he is 38 years old (he looks about half his calendar age, if you ask us).  Another tidbit that may pique your interest: Cho spent the early part of his career teaching English in West Hollywood, CA after earning his BA in English from the University of California Berkeley.  Truly, a man of many talents.

Daniel Dae Kim

To fans of ABC’s (now retired) megahit Lost, Daniel Dae Kim is Jin-Soo Kwan.  It is, after all, the role with which he is most identified.  But it is hardly the only thing he has done in his long career: after graduating from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program, Kim appeared on a whole host of television shows to bolster his resume, including NYPD Blue, All My Children, Beverly Hills 90210 and even Seinfeld. But it was Lost that made him a household name in America, as he demonstrated week after week that he could play a complex man in a subtle and powerful manner that few actors on television ever accomplish.  Currently, he is finishing work on an upcoming Hollywood feature, An Adjustment Bureau, alongside Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.

Kang Dong-Won

There’s just something oh-so-sweet about South Korea’s resident heartthrob Kang Dong-Won.  Maybe it’s his impish smile or maybe it’s those puppy dog eyes.  Whatever it is, it has women all across South Korea and Japan (and the rest of the world, come to think of it) swooning at the sight of this model-turned-actor.  But Kang is more than just a pin-up.  He has the acting chops to match, proving in many of his recent films a willingness to take risks and play characters few in his position would dare to go near.  Case in point:  his role in Lee Myung-Se’s M was that of a grotesque character, something no one expects an international model to play.  But critics and audiences have taken notice and given him the appreciation that he so richly deserves.

Song Seung-Heon

Song began his career primarily working as a model for the Korean denim brand STORM.  But soon producers and directors began calling when it became apparent that he was capable of doing much more than just looking great in a pair of jeans.  He started his career playing small roles in Korean sitcoms and dramas, soon graduating to more meaningful roles like his film debut Calla, which earned him a fan following spanning all across Asia.  He is also acclaimed for his performances in Korean dramas such as Summer Scent and Autumn Fairy Tale.

Kwon Sang-Woo

Kwon Sang-woo is a natural charmer – just look at him!  He has the swagger of a man with the innocence of a boy, a deadly combination that has garnered him legions of fans from South Korea and Japan to the Philippines.  Like many actors, he began his career as a model, but soon found he could play the role of a charmer better than just about anybody out there.  His roles in My Tutor Friend and Stairway to Heaven bolstered his popularity, as did his turn in Once Upon A Time In High School.

Joo Ji Hoon

Joo Ji Hoon is the guy everybody likes and wants to be friends with – and more.  Like many of his contemporaries in South Korea, he started out as a model, working for such major labels as Calvin Klein, Levi’s and Reebok before hitting it big on screen.  His role as Prince Shin in Princess Hours made him something of a sensation across much of Asia, as he played a vain and aloof prince forced into marriage with an ordinary girl (guess what happens at the end?!).  He has also had a few brushes with the law, including a 2009 charge of illegal drug use.  Luckily, he escaped with his freedom and reputation intact.

Kim Rae-Won

Ask just about any girl in South Korea and you will hear passionate testimony about how Kim Rae-Won is the ultimate crush and the ideal guy.  Funny, charming and irresistibly cute, he has the ability to make the audience believe anything, especially when he is romancing a young starlet on screen.  It might surprise fans, then, to learn that Kim actually wanted to grow up to be a basketball player, a dream he had to abandon when he hurt his ankle tendon while playing one day.  He may have had to switch career paths in a moment of disappointment, but fans across the world are grateful that he did.  His charm and likability are second to none.

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