K-Drama Actors and Actresses with Adorkable K-Pop Pasts

It’s hard to come by a K-Drama these days that doesn’t have at least one K-Pop idol as part of the cast. What was once a rarity has now become the norm. However, there are a group of established actors and actresses that you may (or may not) be surprised to know got their start on stage with matching outfits, choreography, and epic hair. Let’s enjoy a blast from the past, and maybe learn something new!

First victim, actress Jung Ryeo Won.

Stunning actress Jung Ryeo Won is actually the inspiration for this post. I just happened across an old photo (bottom right) of Chakra, the girl group she joined at the surprisingly “old” age of 19 in 2000, and knew there would be a lot of fans who didn’t know about her glory days in an idol group.


Yoon Eun Hye, affectionately known as YEH by her international fans, needs no introduction. She was part of one of the early girl groups, Baby VOX, known to be edgier than their peers, S.E.S and Fin.K.L.


Everyone fell in love with Ji Hyun Woo as the dashingly smart and adorable scholar Kim Boongo Do in last year’s hit, “Queen Inhyun’s Man.” His real-life relationship with costar Yoo Inna was a fangirl’s dream come true, but did you know he was also part of the Korean rock band, “The Nuts?”


Hwang Jung Eum‘s wide-eyed, innocent look has her playing many roles that befit her image, but check her out as a member of the girl group Sugar with her long cornrows and sexy image.


Before there was IU, there was Jang Nara as Korea’s sweetheart. She was one of the original Hallyu success stories with a successful career in China as well. I’m currently watching her in the drama “School 2013,” which is simultaneously warming and breaking my heart with each episode. Definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of high school dramas. Fun fact – she’s related to Girl’s Day’s Minah!


The dashing Yoon Kye Sang has been acting for years, but I first re-noticed him in 2011 when he was in one hit after another, starting with “The Greatest Love” as the adorably stiff doctor, followed by “High Kick: Revenge of the Short Legged” and the intense film “Poongsan.” Look at that baby face and those unfortunate highlights as a member of JYP‘s first boy group, g.o.d.


Lee Hee Jin has been popping up in a lot of supporting and cameo roles (“The Greatest Love,” “Big,” and “Monstar,” to name a few), but she got her start alongside Yoon Eun Hye in the group Baby Vox as well.


Eugene has had a successful career as both a film and television actress, but she first started breaking hearts as the “visual” of SM‘s original girl group, S.E.S.


Everyone knows Hyori as the bombshell, but Sung Yuri was actually the “visual” of their group, Fin.K.L, DSP‘s first girl group.


Ok, I knew that Noh Min Woo was a member of TRAX, SM’s rock boyband, but I had no idea what I was in store for when I looked up his old photos – enjoy!


Park Soo Jin seems to always play the girl you love to hate, playing the female antagonist in the memorable shows “My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox” and “Flower Boy Next Door.” She got her start with fellow actress Hwang Jung Eum in the girl group Sugar.


Last but not least, we have Eric Mun, who has had great success as both an actor and a singer, and is the only person on this list to still be an active “idol” with the longest running group in K-Pop, the legendary Shinhwa.

Out of the current crop of idol-turned-actors, who stands out as having the potential to have a long and successful acting career? My pick would be Park Yoo Chun, who has very quickly established himself to be a legitimate leading man. I’m also enjoying Seo In Guk in “Master’s Sun,” but loved him more in “Answer Me 1997.”

Share your picks in the comments below! Here’s a short list to get you started:

  • UEE, Jaejoong, Changmin, Yunho, Infinite L, ZE:A Siwan, Kara Han Seung Yeon, Super Junior Kibum, Lee Hong Ki, Yoona, Sooyoung, Yuri, Sulli, Minho, Suzy, Jung Yong Hwa, Jung Eun Ji, Doojoon, Chansung, … 


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