9 Veteran Idols Who Have Also Built Up Strong Acting Careers
It’s no secret that a number of idols have successfully tried their hand at acting over the years. In fact, we dedicated an entire article to K-drama actors who we almost forgot started out as idols. But what about the veteran idols who have built up an impressive acting career while still promoting with their respective groups? There are quite a few idols who have done just that, and it’s time we give them the credit they’re due.
Whether these actors are currently active as idols or have turned their attention to more dramatic pursuits, they’ve each captured our hearts both on-stage and on-screen. Here are nine veteran idols who have built up a solid acting career.
1. B1A4’s Jung Jinyoung
As a member of B1A4, Jung Jinyoung has been capturing fans’ hearts for the past 10 years, and he’s been making small-screen appearances for nearly as long. But it wasn’t until 2015 that he captured the hearts of drama lovers all over the world with his role of Jung Poong San in the rom-com drama “Warm and Cozy.” From there, he went on to seal his position as one incredible actor with his role as the woefully overlooked second lead in the 2016 historical romance drama “Love in the Moonlight.” Jung inyoung has appeared in a number of projects since then, including “The Dude in Me” and “Wind-bell.” More recently, he starred alongside fellow idol-turned-actor, Krystal, in the crime-mystery-rom-com drama “Police University.”
Watch the first episode of Jung Jinyoung’s drama “Wind-bell” here:
2. f(x)’s Krystal
Speaking of Krystal, it would be utterly remiss of us to make a list such as this one and not add her to it. Debuting in 2009 as a member of the idol group f(x), Krystal has won the hearts of K-pop fans the world over for more than a decade. Making small appearances in dramas less than a year later, Krystal first captured our attention in 2013 with her role in what, at the time, was the wildly popular teen romance drama “Heirs.” The next year, she starred alongside three more idols-turned-actors: INFINITE’s Kim Myung Soo (L), Hoya, and Rain, in the rom-com drama “My Lovely Girl.” Sharing the screen with such eye-catching male leads, Krystal proved that she’s more than capable of holding her own in a leading role. Since then, Krystal has continued to prove her acting prowess, taking roles in a number of dramas including “Bride of the Water God,” “The Player,” “Search,” and of course, “Police University.”
Watch the first episode of Krystal’s drama “Police University” here:
3. INFINITE’s Kim Myung Soo (L)
Mentioning both Hoya and Kim Myung Soo already, it was difficult to choose which idol to feature here, but ultimately Myung Soo won out. Debuting as a member of the idol group, INFINITE, back in 2010, Myung Soo has been making appearances in music videos, reality programs, and actually made his acting debut only a year later, in the Japanese drama, “Jiu – Special Investigation Team.” He appeared in the high school rock band centered drama “Shut Up Flower Boy Band” a year later and has been an active actor ever since. Starring in a number of dramas including “Miss Hammurabi,” “Angel’s Last Mission: Love,” and “Meow, the Secret Boy,” Myung Soo has proven time and time again that he is an absolutely worthy addition to this list.
Watch the first episode of Kim Myung Soo’s drama “Meow, the Secret Boy” here:
4. miss A’s Suzy
Having first caught our eye in that fantastically idol-filled high school drama “Dream High,” way back in 2011, miss A’s Suzy has often impressed us with her chops as an actor, especially in her more recent roles. Her role as Noh Eul in the 2016 drama “Uncontrollably Fond” certainly made us sit up and pay attention, but it wasn’t until watching her shine in the 2020 drama “Start Up” that we truly forgot that she was anyone other than her endearing, strong-hearted character, Seo Dal Mi. If we’ve learned anything from watching Suzy over the years, it’s that like a fine wine, her acting continues to get better with age.
Watch the first episode of Suzy’s drama “Uncontrollably Fond” here:
5. MBLAQ’s Lee Joon
Taking small acting roles prior to his debut with MBLAQ, it would seem Lee Joon was destined to steal our hearts both on stage and on screen. Debuting as an idol in 2009, he played the teenage iteration of Rain’s character, Raizo, in the neo-noir martial arts film “Ninja Assassin.” Making cameo appearances in a number of dramas including “History of the Salaryman” and “Pinocchio,” it wasn’t until 2014 that Lee Joon really captured our attention as Choi Dae Han in the 2014 drama “Mr. Back.” Of course as more than a few of us have a weakness for vampires, we couldn’t resist him as the blood-thirsty detective in the 2016 drama “The Vampire Detective.” At the same time, he was also irresistible as the much sweeter idol searching for his father in the 2017 drama “My Father is Strange,” which only serves to prove that Lee Joon is more than capable of handling a wide variety of roles. With his ability to capture hearts, no matter what role he takes, we always look forward to seeing which character he’ll play next.
Watch the first episode of Lee Joon’s drama “My Father is Strange” here:
6. 2PM’s Taecyeon
Truly one of our all-time favorite idol actors, there was no way Taecyeon could be left off of this list. Though not the only member of 2PM to turn his attention towards acting, Taecyeon certainly deserves some attention for his acting prowess. Another idol to first capture our attention in the 2011 drama “Dream High,” Taecyeon has gone on to prove that watching him on-screen is guaranteed to delight. He did a phenomenal job in the 2013 drama “Who Are You,” and the ghost-filled 2016 drama “Bring it on, Ghost.” Then again, he was great in pretty much every role he was in, including “Save Me,” “The Game: Towards Zero,” and even as the antagonist in “Vincenzo.” Though if we’re being honest, we have to admit that we much prefer him as a hero as opposed to a villain. This is probably why he’s so lovable in his currently airing drama “Secret Royal Inspector & Joy.”
Watch the first episode of Taecyeon’s drama “Secret Royal Inspector & Joy” here:
7. Girls’ Generation Sooyoung
Another idol who took a minor film role before officially debuting is Girls’ Generation’s Sooyoung. Though her first acting role may not have been memorable, she has certainly made up for that fact by appearing in a number of memorable films and dramas since then, including “My Blooming Life,” “Man Who Sets the Table,” and “Tell Me What You Saw.” Though she has an increasingly impressive number of titles to her name, two of our favorites are the role of Seo Dan Ah she played in the sports-centered drama, “Run On,” and the role of the completely fantastic anti-fan reporter, Lee Ahn, in the recently aired Viki Original, “So I Married The Anti-Fan.”
Watch the first episode of Sooyoung’s drama “So I Married The Anti-Fan” here:
8. g.o.d’s Yoon Kye Sang
Debuting as a member of one of the most popular idol groups of the early 2000s, g.o.d’s Yoon Kye Sang turned his attention towards acting in 2004. Yoon Kye Sang first caught our attention in the 2008 drama “Who Are You?” but that was by no means the last time he did so. Appearing alongside Gong Hyo Jin in the 2011 rom-com “The Greatest Love,” we were again enamored by Kye Sang’s performance as the reluctant doctor thrown into a glittering world of celebrities and fame. As much as we love a good rom-com, it’s undeniable that Yoon Kye Sang shines just as brightly, if not even more so, in his more serious roles, such as those in the webtoon-inspired drama, “Last,” and the 2017 action-thriller film, “The Outlaws.” It’s really hard to decide which side of Yoon Kye Sang is most enjoyable to watch, so there is no need to even try. What’s for sure is that we’re very much looking forward to his reunion with Seo Ji Hye in the upcoming romance drama, “Kiss Sixth Sense.”
Watch the first episode of Yoon Kye Sang’s film “The Outlaws” here:
9. SHINHWA’s Eric
Saving what may actually be the best for last, is none other than SHINHWA’s Eric. Debuting as the leader of the idol group back in 1998, he and his fellow bandmates began making cameo appearances in films in the early 2000s. Appearing in a handful of films and a number of dramas including “Phoenix,” “Discovery of Love,” and “The Barber of Seville,” our absolute favorite Eric role has to be that of Park Do Kyung in the 2016 drama, “Another Oh Hae Young.” Everything about that drama was fantastic, and Eric’s part only made it that much better. More recently, he appeared in the Viki Original, “Eccentric! Chef Moon,” which was also fabulous, but his role in “Another Oh Hae Young” will always be one of the best.
Watch the first episode of Eric Mun’s drama “Another Oh Hae Young” here:
So which idol-turned-actor do you love most? Let me know in the comments below!
Leah is a freelance writer who has spent the past decade lost in the Wonderland that is Asian pop culture and entertainment.
Currently watching: “Jirisan,” “Young Lady and Gentleman,” “Happiness,” and “Now, We Are Breaking Up”
All-time favorite dramas: “Master’s Sun” and “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God”
Looking forward to: Gong Yoo making more than just a drama cameo appearance and the release of ONE OK ROCK’s next full-length album