K-Pop Idols Whose Talents Shine In Historical K-Dramas
When they’re not serenading us with their soulful voices, idols mesmerize us with their overflowing talent the moment they show up on the small screen. Whether it’s romance, action, or thriller, they channel their best acting skills and blow our minds in the process. One of the most compelling genres where they successfully leave us in awe every single time has got to be sageuk or historical dramas. These idol actors and actresses immerse themselves in symbolic historical eras and give a charismatic and piercing portrayal of their characters, all while effortlessly rocking their hanboks.
Here are 17 K-pop idols who starred in historical dramas.
Warning: spoilers for the dramas below!
1. Apink’s Son Naeun in “The Great Seer”
“The Great Seer” tells the story of a seer (Ji Sung) who makes use of his gift to become a geomancer. The power he holds gives him a great advantage as a King maker, which helps direct the future of Korea during the fallout of the Goryeo era and the rise of the Joseon dynasty.
Son Naeun made her acting debut as the younger self of Hae In, a healer who falls for the seer. The idol was highly complimented for her portrayal of the role. She showed great wits and adaptability in mastering the younger version of the character, especially since the main role of Hae In was played by veteran actress Kim So Yeon.
Catch the first episode of “The Great Seer”
2. Suzy in “Gu Family Book”
Combining romance, action, and fantasy, “Gu Family Book” is about Choi Kang Chi (Lee Seung Gi), a half-man, half-beast who is looking for an ancient book to help him get rid of his gumiho form and become fully human. Serving as the female lead, Suzy played the role of Dam Yeo Wool, a skillful martial arts instructor. She was once saved by Choi Kang Chi when she was young, and a relationship is ultimately built when they cross paths again.
To get into character, Suzy left her gentle image behind and transformed into a tomboyish and strong warrior. This badass side vividly showed in her sword-handling skills and her attitude as a whole.
Catch the first episode of “Gu Family Book”
3. 2AM’s Im Seulong in “The Fugitive of Joseon”
This historical thriller tells the story of a royal physician (Lee Dong Wook) who is desperate to find a remedy for his ill daughter. He finds himself ambushed in an assassination attempt to poison the crown prince, and he ends up fleeing the palace in order to save both his and his daughter’s lives.
Im Seulong starred in this drama as the crown Prince Lee Ho, who leads a restless life because of the death threats he keeps getting since the day he was born. Seulong’s take on this role was a full success, with his poise and composure shining through his performance.
Catch the first episode of “The Fugitive of Joseon”
4. Highlight’s Yoon Doojoon in “Splash Splash Love”
“Splash Splash Love” is a fantastic two-episode sageuk about Danbi (Kim Seul Gi), a high schooler who time travels to avoid taking a math test. She finds herself in the Joseon Dynasty and becomes a confidante of King Lee Do (Yoon Doojoon). As they start developing feelings for one another, they get separated in the past only to find their way back to each other again in the present.
Yoon Doojoon’s character is initially conveyed in a tsundere-like manner, but he gradually warms up. He even granted us giggles with his amazement/confusion when exploring futuristic items brought by Danbi, which highlights his duality as an actor.
Catch the first episode of “Splash Splash Love”
This coming-of-age historical hit introduces a love story that unfolds between Lee Young (Park Bo Gum), a bright and mischievous Crown Prince, and Hong Ra On (Kim Yoo Jung), a street-smart girl who disguises herself as a boy and eventually becomes a eunuch.
Cast as Lee Young’s childhood best friend, Jinyoung plays the role of Kim Yoon Sung, a charming and composed scholar in whom Hong Ra On always seeks comfort. This marked Jinyoung’s first historical drama, and his acting skills were highly commended thanks to the refreshing and appealing signature he added to his character.
Catch the first episode of “Moonlight Drawn by Clouds”
Introducing another time-travel historical drama — IU portrays a 25-year-old woman from the 21st century who finds herself transported to the Goryeo dynasty during a total solar eclipse, thus being reborn in the body of Hae Soo. Trapped in this new world, she is caught in a love triangle with the kind Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul) and the intimidating Prince Wang So (Lee Joon Gi), with an intense rivalry for the throne unraveling between the two princes.
IU is known for taking on versatile roles, and her emotional depiction of her character in this drama did not go unnoticed as it touched the hearts of many viewers.
EXO’s Baekhyun joined the cast as Wang Eun, one of the royal family’s princes. He was able to prove his acting skills by enacting the glee and playfulness of his character, which he carried out until the end.
Another idol actor who joined the lineup was Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun in her first historical role. She played Woo Hee, the last princess of Baekje, who has avenging intentions towards the imperial family but falls for the 13th prince (Nam Joo Hyuk).
9. GOT7’s Jinyoung in “The Legend of The Blue Sea”
“The Legend of The Blue Sea” tells the tale of a fated love that transcends time between a witty conman (Lee Min Ho) and a mermaid (Jun Ji Hyun). Mainly set in the modern world, flashbacks of the lead characters from the Joseon era tell the story of their past lives in parallel.
GOT7’s Jinyoung played the younger counterpart of the main lead Heo Joon Jae and his past self Kim Dam Ryung. Despite being brief, this role is another valuable addition to his growing cinematography. The way he delivered his emotions in momentous scenes especially stood out, leaving the audience in awe of his raw talent.
Catch the first episode of “The Legend of The Blue Sea”
Set in the Kingdom of Silla, this drama tells the story of an elite warrior group by the name of Hwarang, created by Queen regent Jisoo to protect Silla’s future king and break the power of the nobles. One of the knights who join Hwarang is none other than Queen Jisoo’s own son and heir to the throne, Sammaekjong, played by Park Hyung Sik. Being the target of multiple assassinations attempts leads Sammaekjong to hide his identity from his fellow peers.
While being part of a star-studded cast, Park Hyung Sik captured souls with his character. He evolves from being mysterious and rather naive in the beginning to being downright powerful and self-assured by the end of the series.
Minho is also one of three idol actors that joined the set. He played Kim Soo Ho, a flirty character with a chivalrous side who devotes his life to be a Hwarang. His passionate acting gave his role an undeniable charisma that would have anyone swoon.
The last idol to join the Hwarang family is BTS’s V, also known as Kim Taehyung, in his first acting role. His warm and bubbly personality lights up the screen, and he makes great use of it to hide the constant burden he feels during his journey. V became one with his character and was highly applauded on his rendition by his fellow cast and the general public alike.
Catch the first episode of “Hwarang”
13. INFINITE’s L (Kim Myung Soo) in “Ruler: Master of the Mask”
“Ruler: Master of the Mask” is yet another sageuk that takes place in the Joseon dynasty. Crown Prince Lee Seon (Yoo Seung Ho) is fighting a mischievous organization that controls the nation’s water supply, and thus the country as a result. In his first-ever historical role, INFINITE’s L starred as a butcher’s son born into the lowest social class, whose cleverness allows him to become king later on.
Playing this role behind a mask was challenging for the actor, as his facial expressions weren’t fully visible. That didn’t stop L from giving a stellar performance as he focused on the rest of his body language to convey his emotions, which resulted in a fair share of overwhelming scenes throughout the drama.
Watch the trailer for “Ruler: Master of the Mask”
14. 2PM’s Chansung in “Queen for 7 Days”
As stated in the title, this drama tells the tragic tale of a short-lived love story between King Jungjong (Yeon Woo Jin) and his wife Queen Dangyeong (Park Min Young), who was dethroned after seven days.
Chansung landed the role of Seo Noh, the King’s best friend and personal bodyguard. Despite the fact that this was his first time enacting a historical character, Chansung’s elaborate portrayal allowed him to nail his role and impress the production staff in the process.
Catch the first episode of “Queen for 7 Days”
15-16. ZE:A’s Im Siwan and Girls’ Generation’s YoonA in “The King Loves”
“The King Loves” deals with yet another complicated love triangle that takes place between Wang Won (Im Siwan), a monarch; Wang Rin (Hong Jong Hyun), his childhood friend and bodyguard; and Eun San (YoonA), a noblewoman. Im Siwan played the role of the strong-willed Crown Prince Wang Won, who is of mixed heritage.
Im Siwan dazzled with his embodiment of this character, and his pick for this drama as his last before enlisting in the military was undoubtedly an excellent choice as it left us with a role to remember.
Girls’ Generation’s YoonA played Eun San, the daughter of a wealthy nobleman and whose identity remains hidden in order to survive. Being the love interest for both the crown prince and his bodyguard, she reciprocates the feelings of Wang Rin at last, while Wang Won decides to let her go.
YoonA’s acting has improved remarkably over the years, and it greatly shows in this character. She pulled through the complicated nature of her relationship with both male leads and kept us on our toes until the very end with her confidence and maturity.
Catch the first episode of “The King Loves”
17. EXO’s D.O. in “100 Days My Prince”
This historical drama starred D.O. as Lee Yul/Na Won Deuk, a visionary crown prince who turns into a commoner after a serious accident costs him his memory. The amnesia does not strip him from his noble manners nor his wits and skills, however, which constantly put him on the villagers’ bad side. He finds himself married to Yeon Hong Shim (Nam Ji Hyun), a fierce and independent noble-born who gives up her title and hides her true identity from everyone in the village, including her husband.
Kyungsoo is often praised for bringing his characters to life with his sharp acting skills. Despite this drama being his first historical work, he did it justice and caught the attention of many viewers with his charismatic aura.
Watch this highlight of “100 Days My Prince”
Which idol do you think slayed their acting role in a historical drama? Let us know in the comments below!
Esmee L. is a Moroccan lively dreamer, writer, and Hallyu enthusiast.