The Next Big Thing: 5 Rookie Actors You Ought to Know

Won Bin. Hyun Bin. Min Ho.

These household names draw so much attention and acclaim you’re on first-name basis with them. And while we may tune into a K-drama for these big names, every so often we get actors in supporting roles or in smaller dramas that have a je ne sais quoi about them that even bad writing or a woefully undeveloped character can’t repress.

Here are five lesser known, up-and-coming actors you ought to know.


song jae rim surplus princess

1. Song Jae Rim

Although Song Jae Rim has been around for a few years, and his acting credits include some of the trendiest dramas of their respective years (“Secret Garden,” “Flower Boy Ramen Shop,” and “Moon that Embraces the Sun”) he has always been in supporting roles as the often seen-but-silent figure in the background. This year gave him a leading role in the much-anticipated “Surplus Princess,” which I think, at the very least, gave him exposure and allowed him to show off a greater range of his acting abilities. Where I think he shined the brightest was in this year’s “Inspiring Generation.” His incredibly nuanced portrayal of Mo Il Hwa goes to show what can happen when you give a supporting actor a well-developed character.

With his new stint on MBC’s “We Got Married” opposite Kim So Eun, I have no doubt we will be seeing a lot more of Song Jae Rim in leading roles in the future!

[tv]Thanks for supporting us by watching “Surplus Princess” on SoompiTV![/tv]


kang seo jun cunning single lady

2. Seo Kang Joon

Seo Kang Joon came out of nowhere to devastate noona hearts everywhere as the charming younger man in this year’s popular “Cunning Single Lady.” There are so many ways to play the second-lead, but Seo Kang Joon’s portrayal of free-spirited office worker at the beginning of the K-drama was enough to make any advocate for the main couple think twice. I didn’t really care for him as a corporate executive because where I think he does really well is in all these little moments between characters. There is such ease and naturalness in his acting that reduces everything dramatic or ridiculous that can be found in a scene to its simplest forms. And what remains are these moments between him and other characters full of disarming honesty.

You can find Seo Kang Joon on KBS’ weekend drama “What’s With This Family?” as well as on SBS’ Sunday variety show, “Roommate.”

[tv]Watch Seo Kang Joon in “Cunning Single Lady” on SoompiTV![/tv]

park seo joon witchs romance

3. Park Seo Joon

2014 has proved to be a fruitful year for Park Seo Joon, with two dramas under his belt, “One Warm Word” and “A Witch’s Romance,” and a nomination for best new actor (TV) for the Baeksang Arts Awards, he is proving to be a quiet force to be reckoned with. The noona drama, “Witch’s Romance,” is such a solidly good show, and part of that has to do with the brilliant performances and chemistry of the cast, including Park Seo Joon as the loving but wounded Yoon Dong Ha played against Uhm Jung Hwa’s Ban Ji Yeon. My personal favorite of his roles thus far, though, can be found in the underrated “One Warm Word” where he sizzles opposite Han Groo in this drama exploring the ups and downs of marital life.

Park Seo Joon is currently the host of his turn as KBS’ “Music Bank,” broadcasting every Thursday.

[tv]Watch Park Seo Joon in “A Witch’s Romance” on SoompiTV![/tv]

nam joo hyuk surplus princess

4. Nam Joo Hyuk

Before Nam Joo Hyuk even uttered a word on screen he had already drew the attention of young lovers everywhere in his turn as the male lead in Akdong Musician’s music video “200%” (a role reprised in subsequent MV “Give Love”). Known more for his looks and editorial spreads, 2014 found the newcomer model-actor as part of the supporting cast for his first K-drama ever, TVN’s “Surplus Princess.” This is a kid that doesn’t have much under his belt, but I think his role as Big was suitable for his first foray into acting, and I honestly liked what he did with his character. He’s a little green, to be sure, but he’s definitely got the appeal to be the next big thing. He needs to pick his next projects carefully, hopefully with character-driven dramas, so that he makes good on all the attention he’s been getting. “Surplus Princess” just wrapped its 10-episode run.

Nam Joo Hyuk can be seen as a cast member on JTBC Entertainment’s “I’m Going to School” on Saturdays.

LSH high school king

5. Lee Soo Hyuk

Speaking of model-turned actors…what to say about Lee Soo Hyuk? I used to not care about this vampire-looking model (back when the biggest thing about him was that he was part of G-dragon’s inner circle), but give a guy a few years, a couple of supporting roles, a switch of agency, and we have him turning heads for other reasons besides his interesting looks. For me, Lee Soo Hyuk in “King of High School” was the best and most surprising discovery of the year. He was delivering second-lead material in a decidedly un-second-lead way. It was a shame that the K-drama couldn’t give him more to work with in the end, but I know that I wasn’t the first or the last to be rooting for our rice cake ahjussi even over and beyond our main leads.

With that kind of captivating potential, I will definitely be checking out his upcoming K-drama, “Valid Love,” on TVN.

[tv]Watch Lee Soo Hyuk in “King of High School” on SoompiTV![/tv]

What do you think about our rookie actors? Think we missed a rookie actor? Let us know in the comments below!