It is no longer unusual today to see K-Pop idols crossing over to acting. With their influx in a different aspect of the entertainment industry, some observers have looked upon idols acting with skepticism and negativity. Many believe casting popular idols in dramas and films is only a tactic to gain viewership but does not add value.
However, past and recent work by acting idols Im Siwan and Lee Joon are changing the negative perceptions.
ZE:A‘s Im Siwan is now referred to as a classic example. He did not receive much attention when he debuted, and started appearing in dramas as early as 2010 in cameo roles along with his group. It was not until he appeared as the younger version of a supporting character in the 2012 ratings hit “The Moon that Embraces the Sun” that he broke into the mainstream. With his graceful appearance and suitable acting skills, he was able to win over and impress drama audiences. He followed this up with playing the younger version of the series villain in “Equator Man” in 2012 and played the lead in “A Bit of Love” in 2013.
From acting on the small screen, Im Siwan made a successful leap into the big screen, playing one of the leads in the box office hit “The Attorney.” The film went beyond 10 million viewers on its cinema run, achieving the top spot in the box office for the first week of January 2014. Im Siwan’s role as a student activist Park Jin Woo in the film required him to act in torture scenes, in which viewers noted his nuanced performance.
Im Siwan is currently back on TV, starring in MBC’s Monday-Tuesday drama “Triangle” alongside Lee Bum Soo and JYJ’s Jaejoong as the youngest of three brothers who has no memory of his past after being adopted into a wealthy family.
Another idol-actor breaking the boundaries is MBLAQ‘s Lee Joon. The idol started acting very early on, appearing as the young version of the character played by Rain in the 2009 film “Ninja Assassin.” After the film came dramas “The Jungle Fish 2” for 2010 and “IRIS 2” in 2013, playing supporting roles.
Lee Joon, however, broke through with a lead role in the 2013 film “Rough Play,” directed by Kim Ki Duk. In the film, he played a nameless actor Oh Young, who dreamed of becoming a star. By a stroke of luck, he becomes a success overnight and was led into the dark side. While most idols are limited in roles they play in consideration of their image, Lee Joon made a bold move by taking on “Rough Play.” He had bed scenes and body exposure in the film, but had also shown his growth as an actor. The film is popular with both critics and audiences, cementing Lee Joon’s status as an acting idol.
He is currently starring in the tvN cable drama “Gap Dong,” as an inmate of a prison psychiatry hospital and who works as a barista upon his release. His character is described to have a seemingly kind smile, but is actually indifferent to the suffering of others, which adds to the eerie atmosphere of the crime-thriller drama.