Drama

K-Pop Idols and Their Dramas

Warning: May contain minor spoilers for dramas discussed below.

INTRODUCTION

Tea: Hi, I’m Tea and I’m a K-pop stan! Let me tell you how I became one. When “Gangnam Style” by PSY was released in 2012, it was a big hit in my country. It was so famous! I liked it, but that was about it. Then 2020 came along with the COVID pandemic, and I had lots of free time during the quarantine to watch anime. In August 2020, at the beginning of the school year, I became addicted to TikTok (I still am, but not as badly anymore!). It was on TikTok when I saw “Dynamite” by BTS being released. I loved that song, started listening to their other songs, and became a member of the BTS Army. After that, I found out that there are other K-Pop groups like BTS. I became a fan of Blackpink, Twice, EXO, Red Velvet, Big Bang, Stray Kids, and the list goes on and on. So, basically I am a multistan.

My favorite boy groups: BTS, Stray Kids, EXO, and ASTRO.

My favorite girl groups: Twice, ITZY, Red Velvet, and STAYC.

Cho Na: Prior to my Asian dramaland adventure starting in the mid of 2019, I had never listened to any Korean song. So I had no clue about K-pop. After I started watching K-dramas, little by little I learned about Korean actors who are also K-Pop idols. However, until now I am more a drama OST fan than a K-Pop fan. Almost in every drama I watched, I found an OST song that became my favorite that I played for days in a-loop.

K-pop groups are classified into generations based on the year of their debut. The classification below is based on Wikipedia:

Boy groups: First Generation (1992 – 2002), Second Generation (2003 – 2011), Third Generation (2012 – mid 2017), Fourth Generation (late 2017 – present).

Girl groups: First Generation (1997 – 2002), Second Generation (2006 – 2011), Third Generation (2012 – 2017), Fourth Generation (2018 – present).

K-Pop Idols and Their Dramas

South Korea is known for having a lot of talents, with innumerable K-pop idols taking on acting roles. If you are curious to know which other dramas your favorite K-pop idols acted in, below is a list of K-pop idols that we have watched in dramas they starred in.

IU 

Lee Ji Eun, stage name IU,  is a second generation K-Pop singer, songwriter and actress. Her stage name is derived from the phrase “I and You”, symbolizing that people can become one through music. She has received numerous awards and recognition in music that make her the most influential solo artist in the Korean entertainment industry.


Besides singing and writing songs, IU has played in numerous dramas and movies, debuting in Dream High (2011). Her most awarded roles are in Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016), My Mister (2018), and  Hotel del Luna (2019). Since we only watched the latter drama, we will only talk about it.

In Hotel del Luna, IU played the role of the owner of the legendary hotel that only serves ghosts. Her character, Jang Man Wol, has been cursed to manage the hotel because of a crime that she committed a long time ago. The hotel caters to the dead and has been bound to her soul. She meets Goo Chan Sung (Yeo Jin Goo), whose father made a deal with her in exchange for his life: that his son will work for her in 20 years.

Tea: I’ve put this drama on hold. The four episodes I saw were enjoyable, but I couldn’t get through them. I will start watching it again when I have time. This is also my first drama featuring IU. It’s hard to see that anyone else could play the role of Jang Man Wol better than IU. She played her role perfectly.

Cho Na: Same as Tea, I first (and only) saw IU in this drama. Unlike Tea, though, I finished watching it. In my opinion, IU could bring up the mysterious Female Lead’s multifaceted characters flawlessly. But I was more enamored with Jang Man Wol’s 100+ outfits. My favorite is the classic Audrey Hepburn look. If you watched the drama, you know what I’m talking about. Which one is your favorite?
Only a small collection of Jang Man Wol’s extravagant outfits. Click on the picture to see more!


Ok Taec Yeon

2PM in 2021

Ok Taec Yeon, or Taecyeon, is the main rapper of the K-pop second generation boy band 2PM. Although he is currently under  51K agency that exclusively manages his solo career, Taecyeon is still an active member of the group.
The singer-actor started his acting career in Cinderella’s Sister (2010). Compared to his teammates, he is the most active in acting, notably with main roles in Dream High (2011), Bring It On, Ghost (2016), Save Me (2017), and Vincenzo (2021).
Cho Na: I first saw Taecyeon as a part-time exorcist in Bring It On, Ghost. However, I am most impressed of his role in Vincenzo. Despite of the drama’s plot flaws, Taecyeon convincingly brings up Jang Jun Woo, a happy-go-lucky, dumb, and naive intern with a secret identity I cannot spoil you further.

Jang Jun Woo after his iconic first appearance riding an electric scooter.
The latest 2PM’s release “Make It” (June 2021), a tale of love at the first sight despite of the catastrophe. The MV is amusing.

Kim Se Jeong

Kim Se Jeong, or Sejeong, is one of the former members of the third K-pop generation girls groups I.O.I (2016 – 2017) and Gugudan (2016 – 2020). Sejeong started her main role acting debut in School 2017 (2017) that won her awards as Best New Actress in the 2017 KBS Drama Awards. She also won an award in her next main role in I Wanna Hear Your Song (2019).

Tea: In her latest drama, A Business Proposal (2022), Sejeong played as the Female Lead Shin Ha Ri, a food researcher, who agreed to go on a blind date pretending to be her best friend, not knowing that her blind date is actually the handsome young CEO of the company she works for: Kang Tae Moo (Ahn Hyo Seop).

This show may be unbelievable, but I totally emptied my head and just watched and laughed out loud. The drunk scene of Ha Ri and her best friend Young Seo, and the “Samantha and Rachel” scene made me laugh my guts out, haha. The drama also has an adorable second lead couple. Sejeong is truly an actress and her chemistry with Ahn Hyo Seop is overflowing. Sejeong acting skill is *chef’s kiss*. She also sang the OST song “Love, Maybe”.

Cho Na: Although I also watched Sejeong’s newest drama Tea mentioned above, I was actually more impressed with her kick-ass role in The Uncanny Counter (2020), where I watched the singer actress for the first time. There she played as Do Ha Na, a demon hunter who can sense the locations of evil spirits, and is also able to read memories of others through physical touch. I made a GIF clip on Ha Na fighting the bad guys, borrowed from my recap article on the drama. Sejeong contributed the OST song “Meet Again”.
A Business Proposal

The Uncanny Counter

Doh Kyung Soo

EXO in 2018, a complete member photo before the group’s hiatus due to member’s mandatory military service and the departure of the only Chinese member Lay Zhang from SM Entertainment, the agency that manages the group’s activities. In June 2021, EXO released their latest mini album with the main track “Don’t Fight the Feeling”.
Doh Kyung Soo, stage name D.O., is a member of the popular South Korean boy group EXO, that is considered being the starting point for the third generation of K-pop groups. Apart from the EXO group’s activities, D.O. has also starred in various television dramas and movies. He started his acting debut as a supporting role in the award-winning movie Cart (2014). He did not win any awards for the movie, but D.O. has won awards for his acting skills in dramas It’s Okay, That’s Love (2014), 100 Days My Prince (2018), and his movies Unforgettable (2016), My Annoying Brother (2016), Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days (2018), and Swing Kids (2018).

Tea: I watched D.O. in the idol drama EXO Next Door (2015). The short drama tells about four guys, Chan YeolD.O., Se Hun, and Baek Hyun, who moved into the house next door to Ji Yeon Hee’s (Moon Ga Young) house. To her surprise, they turn out to be the members of her favorite boy band group EXO, who took a break from touring. Not only does she live next door to them, she also gets to interact with them daily. Since it is an idol drama, I wasn’t expecting top-notch acting or a fantastic story line. I was interested simply because it was EXO, lol.

Cho Na: I watched two of his dramas and two of his films. Although he appears expressionless and doesn’t smile much, D.O. can show various interesting facial expressions. In 100 Days My Prince, he is the cold and demanding Crown Prince Lee Yul. Having survived an attempted assassination, Lee Yul experiences a temporary amnesia and is unaware of his royal identity. The arrogant Lee Yul changes to the naïve and clueless commoner Na Won Deuk. He also meets Hong Shim (Nam Ji Hyun), who must marry or face punishment from officials, thanks to the new law passed by none other than the Crown Prince himself.

D.O. doesn’t contribute any song for this drama, but his group mate Chen sang the beautiful OST “Cherry Blossom Love Song”.

In Hello Monster (2015), although only as a supporting role and is overshadowed by the charismatic lead actors, D.O. could carry out a psycho inmate role with his calm demeanor, cold killer look, and smirk, while delivering creepy lines.

100 Days My Prince

Hello Monster

Cha Eun Woo 

On May 16, 2022, ASTRO released their latest album with title track “Candy Sugar Pop”, before their member MJ enlisted in the mandatory military service.
Cha Eun Woo, born Lee Dong Min, is a member of the third generation K-pop boy band ASTRO. Together with his group mates, he started his acting debut in their mini idol drama To Be Continued (2015). But not after the popular youth drama  My ID Is Gangnam Beauty (2018) that Eun Woo got recognition as an actor and won awards. He also won awards in his other dramas Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (2019) and True Beauty (2020).

Tea: Eun Woo is one of my favorite idols. My favorite song from ASTRO is “Just Breath” sang by Jin Jin and Rocky. His drama My ID Is Gangnam Beauty tells about college student Kang Mi Rae (Im Soo Hyang) who changes her entire appearance with plastic surgery, because throughout her childhood she gets bullied constantly for her appearance. When she begins university, she meets Eun Woo’s character Do Kyung Suk from their middle school days.   True Beauty and Sweet Revenge  (2017) are his other dramas that I have seen. 

Cho Na: I have seen the actor in four of his dramas. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is the first one I watched, so his character Prince Yi Rim left a special impression on me. In the drama, Goo Hae Ryung (Shin Se Kyung) is an intern to become a palace historian, during Joseon era when women’s life was restricted. One of her tasks is to record Prince Yi Rim’s activities. As a prince, he lives a sad and secluded life. He longs to be free, and his only relief is his hidden identity as Maehwa. I don’t want to spoil who Maehwa is, just watch this touching sageuk. I actually cried with Prince Yi Rim during the scene in the GIF below.

You can listen Eun Woo’s sweet soothing voice in the OSTs of the dramas we watched:

  • “Rainbow Falling” in My ID Is Gangnam Beauty
  • “Please Remember” in Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung
  • “Love So Fine” in True Beauty
My ID Is Gangnam Beauty

Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung


 Yook Sung Jae 

Yook Sung Jae, or Sungjae, is a South Korean singer, and songwriter from the third generation K-pop boy group BtoB. Aside from his group’s activities, he acted in TV series, debuted as guest characters in several shows, and then as the main role in Plus Nine Boys (2014). Since then Sungjae has played in more dramas, notable the award winning Who Are You: School 2015 (2015), The Village: Achiara’s Secret (2015), and Goblin (2016). 

Cho Na: Besides Goblin, I have also watched Sungjae in Mystic Pop-Up Bar (2020), in which he also contributed the OST song “Love Resembles Memories”.
In February 2022, after completing their military duties, BtoB made their first comeback as a full group with their new album with title track “The Song”.
As the spoiled and rebellious young chaebol heir Yoo Deok Hwa in Goblin.
As Han Kang Bae in Mystic Pop-Up Bar who has the supernatural ability to make people confess the truth by making physical contact with them.

Park Hyung Sik, Choi Min Ho, and V in Hwarang (2016)

Park Hyung Sik, or Hyungsik, is a member of the South Korean second generation K-pop boy band  ZE:A that is now on indefinite hiatus. Starting his acting career as guest roles in 2010, the singer actor has starred in award winnings dramas and movies, the most notable is Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017). In Hwarang, Hyungsik played as the young and distrustful King of Silla, who disguises himself.
Choi Min Ho, or Minho, is a member of the South Korean second generation K-pop boy band SHINee. Starting his acting career as guest roles in 2008, Minho is awarded for his acting in To the Beautiful You (2012). He is also popular for his roles in time travel drama Somehow 18 (2018), and of course, Hwarang. His role, Kim Soo Ho, in this drama is a spoiled young and playful aristocrat, and skilled in swordplay.
Kim Tae Hyung, stage name V, is a member of the most influential South Korean third generation K-pop boy band BTS. Hwarang is the first and only drama that V has acted in. He played as Seok Han Sung, the youngest member of the flower knights’ group. Han Sung has a warm personality and gets along with everyone. He is also a bright and innocent boy who carries a heavy burden as the last aristocrat of his clan. 
Cho Na: For me, what I remember the most in Hwarang is their iconic sword dance. If you haven’t watched the drama yet, click the above link to watch the dance. On that scene, you will notice the difference between the K-pop idols like Hyungsik, Minho, and V, and the other three non K-pop flower knights characters, played by Park Seo JoonDo Ji Han, and Jo Yoon Woo. Click on the right GIF for behind-the-scenes special.
Accompanying the dance is the OST “It’s Definitely You” sung by V and Jin from BTS. Hyungsik also contributed to the drama OST with “I’ll Be Here”.

Choi Bo Min and Lee Na Gyung in Shadow Beauty (2021)

Shadow Beauty tells about a high-schooler Koo Ae Jin (Shim Dal Gi), who is bullied at school. Her abusers don’t know that she is secretly Genie, an internet celebrity whose life they envy and aspire to. Things get complicated when someone discovers her internet identity. Also, a girl who resembles the photoshopped Genie transfers to her school, and lets everyone think she is Genie. 

This drama has two main leads that are K-pop idols. The first is Choi Bo Min, who plays the class president Kim Ho In. He prefers to blend into the crowd, but out of concern for Ae Jin he is forced to take a stand. Choi Bo Min, or Bomin, is a member of South Korean third generation K-pop boys group Golden Child. He has acted in several dramas, notably in 18 Again (2020), as the twins’ friend Seo Ji Hoo.

The second is Lee Na Gyung, who plays as the newly transfer student Sun Mi Jin, the fake Genie. Lee Na Gyung, or Nagyung, is a member of South Korean fourth generation K-pop girl group Fromis_9. She has acted in two short idol dramas with her group members.

TeaThe ending was different from what I expected. I haven’t heard of either of the idols so I can’t say a lot about them, but in my opinion, their acting is good.
Choi Bo Min as Kim Ho In
Lee Na Gyung as Sun Mi Jin

Golden Child in 2021

Fromis_9 in 2022

Are you a K-pop fan? Do you watch your idol’s dramas and movies?

If you’re not a K-pop fan, what do you think about the K-pop idols who act in dramas or movies? 


AcknowledgementsThank you to the editors who edited this article. Credits: All images are linked to their sources, otherwise they’re taken from the respective drama page on MDL. Self-made GIFs from scenes/clips of The Uncanny Counter, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung, Goblin, and Hwarang.
Edited by: devitto (1st editor)
kdrama
kpop
park hyung sik
exo
lee ji eun
d.o.
shinee
yook sung jae
choi min ho
bts
cha eun woo
kim se jeong
ok taec yeon
btob
golden child
doh kyung soo
i u
2pm
astro
kim tae hyung
choi bo min
lee na gyung
fromis_9

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