6 Actors Who Are Celebrating Their 20th Anniversary In 2020
Today we’re celebrating a big milestone — actors who’ve been working in the industry for 20 years. These actors got their start some 20 years ago, whether it be through dramas, commercials or film, and all have been diligently working till this day. They all have outstanding filmographies and have starred in some of the biggest hits in K-dramaland. More impressively, all these years later, they’re still huge names and continue to churn out works that are critical and/or commercial successes.
Here are six actors — in no particular order — who are celebrating this big milestone this year, and two of their earlier and most recent hits:
“Stairway to Heaven” (2003-2004)
Kwon Sang Woo made his drama debut in 2001 with “Delicious Proposal.” Two years later, he shot to stardom after starring as Cha Song Joo in the hit melodrama “Stairway to Heaven,” alongside Choi Ji Woo and Kim Tae Hee (who also makes an appearance on this list). This is probably the most famous drama in Kwon Sang Woo’s filmography, and for good reason. “Stairway to Heaven” was part of the epic Hallyu wave of that time and has affected K-dramaland profoundly, making way for all the tear-jerking, amnesia-involving, epic-love-story dramas to come.
Watch “Stairway to Heaven”:
“Delayed Justice” (2020)
This currently-airing SBS drama is based on the true stories of a lawyer-journalist duo who successfully obtained retrials for wrongly convicted men. Kwon Sang Woo stars as Park Tae Yong, a public defender who became a lawyer with only just a high school diploma. Coming from a lowly social background himself, he makes sure to defend those who are mistreated or face malicious prosecution. He hides his insecurities with confidence and bravado, and he uses these qualities to fight against the system. Alongside him is Park Sam Soo, a reporter who has a knack for writing articles that can deeply move his readers.
Watch “Delayed Justice”:
Kim Tae Hee
Kim Tae Hee became hugely popular after “Stairway to Heaven,” but it wasn’t until “IRIS” that she won her first ever acting award. This sleek action-thriller stars Kim Tae Hee alongside the also hugely popular Lee Byun Hun. She’s the expert profiler who recruits him, the elite soldier. “IRIS” saw both a huge critical and ratings success during its run and still has a major following even today. Just play Baek Ji Young’s “Don’t Forget” and you’ll draw out all the “IRIS” fans.
“Hi Bye, Mama” (2020)
Kim Tae Hee’s newest drama will most likely have you bawling your eyes out with its heartfelt themes of family and sacrifice while also interweaving some lighter moments in between to keep you from getting too dehydrated. Kim Tae Hee is absolutely wonderful (and dare I say even more nuanced than before) as Cha Yu Ri, a mother who dies not long after giving birth to her daughter. Five years later, she’s given a chance to come back into the world of the living where she tries to reunite with her husband and daughter.
Yoo Seung Ho is only 27 years old and yet he’s on a list that’s celebrating 20 years in the industry! The very talented young man first started out in commercials before heading to both the big and small screens. Naturally, as a child actor, his earlier roles often involved playing the child versions of the main male lead. In 2015, after completing his military duties, he starred in the buzzy “Remember” alongside Park Min Young. Yoo Seung Ho starred as Seo Jin Woo, who happens to have hyperthymesia, a condition akin to having perfect memory. He played the role so well — capturing all the desperation and devastation of losing his father to Alzheimer’s — that it won him multiple awards and nominations.
Yoo Seung Ho plays Dong Baek, a cop with the supernatural ability to read one’s mind in this thriller of a drama. “Memorist” is an intense and twisty ride, where one second the good guys are tracking down this one murderer, and the next second, the murderer themselves get murdered. The action and storyline will keep you on the edge of your seat, and you’ll find yourself gasping along with the characters when the twists unfold. The very enjoyable cast is the cherry on top in this very fun ride.
“King’s Doctor” (2012)
After being active in film and theatre for over a decade, Cho Seung Woo made his highly anticipated small screen debut with “King’s Doctor,” where he won the Daesang (Grand Prize) for his performance. This is a historical drama that takes a fascinating look at a humble veterinarian who works his way up to become the royal physician. It’s filled with beauty, history, and culture, all delivered by a sublime cast.
Watch “King’s Doctor” here:
“Forest of Secrets 2” (2020)
Cho Seung Woo doesn’t actually have many television roles under his belt, but the few he has done have always been critical successes. This includes the 2018 part-medical-part-political drama “Life” and the two seasons of “Forest of Secrets.” The recently-concluded season two is set two years after the events of (the superb) season one, where a power struggle erupts between the Prosecutor’s Office and the National Police Agency. Despite the ongoing conflict between their respective agencies, Hwang Si Mok (Cho Seung Woo) and Han Yeo Jin (Bae Doona) continue to choose to be partners-in-crime when it comes to exposing crime and the corrupt.
“A Love to Kill” (2005)
Shin Min Ah has been in plenty of cult favorites, including “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” and “Arang and the Magistrate,” but one of her earlier successes is the melodrama “A Love to Kill.” Rain stars as Kang Bok Gu, a skilled fighter who decides to take revenge on his brother’s ex-girlfriend, Cha Eun Suk (Shin Min Ah), after the brother tries to die by suicide. He becomes Cha Eun Suk’s bodyguard (she’s a fledging actress), and woos her just like how his brother did before. However when the two actually develop feelings for each other, everything becomes a little too complicated. This is the kind of soapy drama reminiscent of that era and really shines a light on the dramatic chops of both Rain and Shin Min Ah.
Watch “A Love to Kill”:
“Chief of Staff” (2019)
After starring in consecutive rom-coms, Shin Min Ah traded in her bubbly image for a more intense one for her latest drama “Chief of Staff,” a political thriller that dives into the grey world of politics. It centers itself around politicians and their dedicated aides, including Jang Tae Joon (Lee Jung Jae) who becomes a cop-turned-politician after he realizes how corrupt the justice system is. However, after he embarks on his own political journey, he is faced with the dilemma that he can’t always keep his hands clean if he wants to reach his goals. Then we have Kang Seon Yeon, (Shin Min Ah) a lawyer-turned-assemblywoman who is in the opposing party, yet has personal relations with Jang Tae Joon. This is a thought-provoking thriller with plenty of intrigue and suspense, bolstered by a superb cast. As of date there are two seasons (both aired in 2019), each consisting of 10 episodes.
“My Name Is Kim Sam Soon” (2005)
Fun fact: Jung Ryeo Won actually debuted as a singer in a 00’s girl group called “Chakra.” After the group disbanded a few years later, she transitioned into being a full-time actor, where her breakthrough came via the massively popular “My Name Is Kim Sam Soon.” Jung Ryeo Won plays Yoo Hee Jin, the ex-girlfriend to Hyun Bin‘s Hyun Jin Heon. And while she’s not the main female lead (Kim Sun Ah stars as the titular Kim Sam Soon), she still leaves quite the impression as the first love who’s only fault is trying to rekindle her failed relationship.
Watch “My Name Is Kim Sam Soon”:
“War of Prosecutors” (2019-2020)
“War of Prosecutors” is a charming drama that focuses on a team of ordinary prosecutors who deal with the average, less flashy cases. Unlike other legal dramas, the average-ness gives this drama a more grounded, slice-of-life vibe and also allows more time to really develop the characters and build their relationships. Jung Ryeo Won plays Cha Myung Joo, a prosecutor who was earning a name for herself in Seoul before suddenly getting transferred to a quiet district branch. Her more intense work style contradicts that of Lee Sun Woong’s (Lee Sun Gyun) more laid-back approach, which creates a confrontational relationship between the two.
Watch “War of Prosecutors”:
Which actor have you been following the most? And which of the yesteryear shows do you recall the most fondly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!