6 Underrated Korean Actors In Their 30s Who Need More Love

Ever heard the phrase “always a bridesmaid, never a bride”? It used to describe someone who’s super close to the spotlight but never gets to actually stand under it. Given the current production climate with numerous dramas, web dramas, and small channel productions (like TV Chosun), it would seem that some actors should finally get the spotlight they deserve.

Yet there are those actors who remain perennially stuck playing second fiddle to the male lead. They’re either usually the villain or the second male lead who gets his heart broken (and in turn breaks all our hearts). Here are some of the most underrated Korean actors in their 30s:

1. Kwak Si Yang

You might know Kwak Si Yang as the hot, angsty character in “Alice,” the brooding antagonist in “Chicago Typewriter,” or as the sidelined second male lead in “Mirror of the Witch.” There’s clearly a trend among his past roles. The man simply hasn’t gotten enough lead roles, despite how good-looking he is. Look at that jaw, that stare, and those cheekbones! Plus, he’s already completed his army service so there’s no danger of fans having to wait two years for him. He’s a solid actor who excels at angsty roles, making him a smart choice for casting directors. Someone make this happen!

Catch him in “Alice”:

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2. Im Joo Hwan

To say Im Joo Hwan has been typecast is an understatement. Despite starting out in a lead role in the 2009 drama “Tamra the Island,” the man’s been more often relegated to the often-cartoonish antagonist. There are only too many examples of this. “Oh My Ghostess“? He was the villain. “The Game: Towards Zero“? He was the villain. “The Spies Who Loved Me?” He’s the villain. “Bride of The Water God“? Second male lead. The man is criminally underrated. Im Joo Hwan does have brooding down, but he also has a super cute smile.

Look at that! Who wouldn’t want to see this actor as a male lead more often? Like Kwak Si Yang, he’s also completed his military service and is a very safe bet for directors given his tried and true record in popular dramas, albeit as a second lead. Perhaps we should start a petition: Stop making Im Joo Hwan play serial killers!

Catch him in “The Game: Towards Zero”:

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3. Lee Joon Hyuk

Lee Joon Hyuk’s a bit of an anomaly on this list because he did get to play a lead role recently in “365: Repeat the Year,” a 12-episode drama that undeservedly got low ratings (it really was good!). Right afterwards though, he immediately returned to playing a supporting character in “Forest of Secrets 2,” and let’s just say he was gone for almost 80 percent of the show. Thus, the conclusion remains that Lee Joon Hyuk needs more love. His face is stunning enough, and he’s a brilliant actor, managing to make one of the most dislikable characters in “Forest of Secrets” surprisingly human and worth rooting for.

Plus he looks good with his hair up and down. That’s definitely worth noting. Lee Joon Hyuk’s also been stuck in more cerebral shows, primarily thrillers. Drama gods, please give this man a lead role in a rom-com!

Catch him in “365: Repeat the Year”:

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4. Song Jae Rim

Oh, Song Jae Rim, the second male lead in “Clean with Passion for Now” and “I Wanna Hear Your Song” – when will this talented man get his big break? K-drama fans are well familiar with his striking looks after his stint on “We Got Married.” He certainly has the talent to back it up. Yet, the man remains generally stuck playing second fiddle to the male lead. His most recent drama was a year ago too. We need more Song Jae Rim onscreen!

Catch him in “I Wanna Hear Your Song”:

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5. Lee Ki Woo

Lee Ki Woo is the second male lead in “Flower Boy Ramyun Shop” who didn’t end up with the girl in the drama but did in real life (although the pair unfortunately broke up after six years). He did get his first lead role in “Doctor Detective,” but the drama was not hugely popular. It’s always concerning when a good actor finally gets a big break, only for ratings to potentially affect their chances of another role. It’s quite a shame because Lee Ki Woo has fantastic acting chops and quite the body.

Plus he’s a whopping 193 centimeters (approximately 6 feet 3 inches). Look at that height! Imagine him bending down towards a shorter female lead in a rom-com. Wow, I’d pay his salary just to watch that. The man completely deserves more chances as a main lead.

Catch him in “Doctor Detective”:

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6. Lee Soo Hyuk

Finally, we come to Lee Soo Hyuk and his stunning vampire-like features. It’s only fitting that he played a vampire in “The Scholar Who Walks the Night.” What’s not so fitting are the numerous antagonistic and second male lead roles he’s been offered since then. It’s almost as though someone looked at his face and decided it was only good for one thing: second lead roles. Whoever made that decision isn’t the best at casting.


Lee Soo Hyuk’s features are certainly striking but they aren’t the sum of his ability as an actor. He has great emotional range and can be extremely cute or sexy when the occasion arises. Plus, like every actor on this list, he’s completed his military service, is unmarried, and therefore a marketable choice as a male lead. Let’s hope 2021 is his year!

Catch him in “Born Again”:

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Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram and feel free to ask her anything!

Currently Watching: Lost Romance,” Tale of the Nine-Tailed,” “I’ll Go to You When the Weather is Nice,” “Another Oh Hae Young
Looking Forward to: “Mr. Queen

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