The following stars are now offered leading roles in the hottest mini-series, but they all got their start in the humblest of places – playing the prodigal youngest son in weekend dramas.
Weekend dramas, as well as daily dramas and morning dramas, are less well-known outside of South Korea compared to weekday mini-series but are often hugely popular within the country due to its target demographic of older women. Since their themes are largely about family, weekend dramas typically have a large cast, meaning that rookie and up-and-coming actors have the chance to make a name for themselves.
Here are six actors who launched their Korean entertainment careers this way:
What mom wouldn’t love to have Park Bo Gum as a son-in-law? Currently Park Bo Gum is winning hearts all over again as a part-time worker on JTBC’s “Hyori’s Homestay 2” and is still riding high off his lead roles in “Moonlight Drawn by Clouds” and “Reply 1988.”
Before he got his big break, however, he played supporting roles in films like “Blind,” “Runway Cop,” and the drama “Bridal Mask.” His first big role was in 2013 in the weekend drama “Wonderful Mama,” playing the playboy youngest son Go Young Joon. His mom in the drama? Veteran actress Bae Jong Ok! The fresh-faced young actor went all-out for the part, including filming scenes with dancing and singing trot music.
Another trendy actor currently starring in a reality program – tvN’s “Youn’s Kitchen 2” – Park Seo Joon is familiar to many viewers today as a rom-com lead. His most recent hit was “Fight My Way” but has tugged heartstrings in “Hwarang,” “She Was Pretty,” and as a supporting actor in “Kill Me, Heal Me.”
Nevertheless, it took him a few years to work his way to that kind of success. His debut was technically in 2011 in the music video “I Remember,” but he then appeared in “Dream High 2” in 2012. In 2013, he appeared in the weekend drama “Pots of Gold” as the third son Park Hyung Tae. In that show he shared a love line with actress Baek Jin Hee, who has also since moved on to great things.
He will next be appearing in the tvN rom-com “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?”
If weekend dramas offer a chance for rookie actors to make a mark, this is also true for idols looking to break into a whole new field. Park Hyung Sik debuted as part of the boy group ZE:A in 2010 but began to make a name for himself as an actor in 2012. He got roles in several drama specials and played some minor parts in “Nine: 9 Times Time Travel” and “Heirs,” but it wasn’t until the 2014 weekend drama “What Happens to My Family?” that he showed that he was serious about his new career.
He will next be appearing in the Korean remake of American legal drama “Suits.”
Singer-turned-actor Seo In Guk has also done his time as a youngest son.
Unlike the others on this list, Seo In Guk became successful quite early on in his acting career. He made his debut as an actor in “Love Rain” in 2012 and later that same year landed the lead role in the major hit “Reply 1997” and the weekend drama “Rascal Sons.”
While it was undoubtedly his success in “Reply 1997” that snagged him lead roles in “I Remember You” (which also starred Park Bo Gum!) and “Shopping King Louie,” his role as the playboy son who gets divorced within three years because of his antics in “Rascal Sons” helped build up the respectable filmography that got him where he is today.
Though currently completing his mandatory military service, Ji Chang Wook is one of the rare actors who made his mark in both the action and rom-com genres.
He made his debut in musical theater and began appearing onscreen after 2006. In 2009 he played the younger brother in “My Too Perfect Sons,” who was forced to raise his best friend’s daughter despite being just 20 years old. The drama went on to achieve great ratings and launched Ji Chang Wook to bigger and better things like “Empress Ki,” “Healer,” and “Suspicious Partner.”
Arguably one of the biggest names in Hallyu today off the phenomenal success of “Descendants of the Sun” (co-starring his now-wife Song Hye Kyo), Song Joong Ki has long been beloved for his boyish good looks as well as his acting talent.
It makes sense, then, that he once played the innocent but kind youngest son in the 2008 weekend drama “My Precious Child.” His character, Jang Jin Ho, supported his first love as her manager when she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.
Song Joong Ki went on to make a name for himself in the period drama genre with “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” and “Tree With Deep Roots,” though he became a familiar face through his role as one of the original cast members on the variety show “Running Man.”
Can you name any actors playing youngest sons today that have potentially huge careers ahead of them?