7 Actors Who Made Their Original Acting Debut On Stage

An actor’s debut role is very important, as it can sometimes define the trajectory of their acting career. Most actors land their first roles in K-dramas, others get their opportunities in the film industry, and there are some who go for the theater. In fact, whether it’s plays or musicals, a handful of actors have actually made their original acting debut on stage. For the majority, this theatrical debut was definitely not a one-time thing, as their filmography expanded significantly afterwards.

Here are seven actors who made their original acting debut on stage.

1. Kim Seon Ho

Kim Seon Ho spent seven years of his acting career as a play actor from 2009 to 2016. He debuted in “New Boeing Boeing” and followed it up with 16 more plays before he kickstarted his acting career on the small screen with “Good Manager.” His popularity among viewers catapulted with his later roles in “Start-Up” and “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha.”

Watch Kim Seon Ho’s performance in the play “Memory in Dream”:

2. Jo Jung Suk

Jo Jung Suk has had a rich career as an actor, spending 14 years of it in theater since 2004 and later delving into K-dramas and movies starting in 2011. His first theatrical work is “The Nutcracker” while his latest is “Amadeus,” which he took on in 2018. Television-wise, the fantasy rom-com “Oh My Ghost” is one of his most successful works while his most recent project was the much-loved “Hospital Playlist” series. Back in 2008, he landed Best New Actor for his work “Organ In My Heart,” while he received Best Supporting Actor in 2009 for “Spring Awakening,” both at the Korea Musical Awards.

Watch Jo Jung Suk’s performance in the musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”:

3. Kang Ha Neul

Kang Ha Neul is one of the “It” actors that fans go crazy over, but what some might not know is that he too made his first acting steps through theater. “The Celestial Watch” was his first stage role, which he landed in 2006. As an on-screen actor, he focused on movie roles while still landing lead roles in a couple of dramas. “Forgotten” is one of his critically-acclaimed roles in film, while “When the Camellia Blooms” stands out in his recent K-drama roles. In 2018, he was nominated for the Best Actor category at the 2018 Yegreen Musical Award for his work “Shinheung Military Academy.”

Watch Kang Ha Neul’s performance in the musical “Shinheung Military Academy”:

4. Uhm Ki Joon

Uhm Ki Joon’s career on stage lasted nearly a decade before he turned to dramas. His debut role was in the stage play “Richard III” in 1995, followed by an overwhelming amount of musicals such as “Grease,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” and “Rebecca.” Some of his best known works in television include “Defendant” and “The Penthouse: War in Life.”

Watch Uhm Ki Joon’s performance in the musical “Rebecca”:

5. Jeon Mi Do

Known for her role in the series “Hospital Playlist,” Jeon Mi Do is in fact a theater actress who made her debut in 2006 with the musical “Mr Mouse” as well as the play “Liar 2” in 2007. She won Best Actress at the 2017 and 2018 Korea Musical Awards for her roles in “Sweeney Todd” and “Maybe Happy Ending,” respectively.

Watch Jeon Mi Do’s performance in the musical “Maybe Happy Ending”:

6. Kim Sung Cheol

Kim Sung Cheol has made a name for himself as a musical actor since 2014 with his debut role in “Puberty.” With his stage career going strong until today with works like “Death Note,” he expanded his filmography in parallel. His most recognized roles in films and dramas include “The Battle of Jangsari,” “Do You Like Brahms?” and the recent “Our Beloved Summer.”

Watch Kim Sung Cheol’s interview about the musical “Death Note”:

7. Park Hae Soo

Park Hae Soo is now a globally-known actor thanks to his role in the popular production “Squid Game.” But prior to that, he actually started out as a musical actor in the 2007 production “Mister Lobby,” and he followed that up with many musicals since. Other works that he’s known for include the drama “Prison Playbook” as well as the movie “Quantum Physics.”

Watch an overview of Park Hae Soo’s theater works:

Honorable mentions:

Joo Won: theatrical debut with “Altar Boyz” (2007); best known K-drama roles: “Good Doctor,” “My Sassy Girl,” and “Alice.”

Go Se Won: theatrical debut with “Le Passe-Muraille” (2006).

Choi Sung Won: theatrical debut with “Finding Mr. Destiny” (2007-2013); best known roles: “Reply 1988.”

Park Hee Soon: theatrical debut with “Art” (1990s); best known roles: “My Name,” “Beautiful World” and “All About My Romance.”

Are you familiar with any of these actors’ theatrical works? Let us know in the comments below!

Esmee L. is a Moroccan lively dreamer, writer, and Hallyu enthusiast.

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