Drama enthusiasts have been absolutely spoiled this year by high quality productions with excellent acting from a crop of evergreen rookie actors.
Many less-prominent actors and actresses eclipsed TV screens in their roles; even giving their proven A-list co-stars a run for their money.
Popular high school dramas, sageuks (historical genre) and tear jerking melodramas acted as a trampoline to the top of drama land for this year’s breakout talents.
OH!Press sets out a list of ones to watch in 2016.
Park Bo Gum
Bo Gum’s performance in I Remember You raised eyebrows across Korea with his exceptional acting. His on-screen presence simply catches captures one’s attention and takes the feels to another world. Reply 1988 was a good casting as he stroke when the fire is still burning. He also followed the footsteps of Lee Hyun Woo and Kim Woo Bin by MC-ing on a music show to further gain popularity.
Ryu Joon Yeol
Ryu Joon Yeol’s cool and masculine aura explodes on screen in such a way where viewers are compelled to admire him. In his first main role as Jung Hwan in Reply 1988, he is winning fan’s hearts with his raw acting. He offers more than the average set of facial expressions, as he employs this intense yet mesmerising gaze, which drives fans crazy. He’ll be turning 30 next year and he destined for plenty more lead roles in 2016.
Lee Won Geun
Flourished in his main lead role in Sassy Go Go, co-starring A-Pink’s Eunji. Won Geun made his debut in the 2012 drama, Moon Embraces The Sun and has since starred in a few supporting roles. However, this flower boy has plenty of potential with handsome looks, a killer eye smile and great acting chops. He has convincing chemistry with most of his co-stars too. There is a lot to like about Won Geun and he’ll be a star of the future.
Ji Soo has proved to be an automatic choice for bad boy, rough type roles but he’s really just a softie. Starring in two high school dramas; Angry Mom and Sassy Go Go with ‘brother from another mother’ Lee Won Geun, Ji Soo was the ultimate scene-stealer. He’s got a truckload of charisma. Plus, his crying scenes are some of the best – it’s damn hard not to exert painful tears with him. His rise to male lead status should come soon.
BTOB’s Yook Sungjae
2015 has been the year of Yook Sungjae. He’s been the most active out of BTOB members; taking on drama projects, singing gigs and romancing Red Velvet’s Joy on WGM. But it was his breakthrough outing on teen hit Who Are You: School 2015 that consolidated his spot on everyone’s radar. He outshined fellow rising actor Nam Joo Hyuk with his fresh acting and ability to charm his way to viewers’ hearts. He was also praised for his turn as a police officer in The Village: Achiara’s Secret, co-starring Moon Geun Yeong. His acting only has upside once he takes aboard more good roles in the future.
Girls Day’s Hyeri
The girl has been heavily criticised for her terrible acting in the past. She had the majority of viewers scared for her casting in Reply 1988. There were many doubts but when the director said he wrote the character, Duk Seon revolved around Hyeri; he was right. She has done the series justice and has shined in her role. While her fellow co-stars often steal the spotlight because of their stronger acting and characters, she’s been acting out of her socks to change preconceptions about her ability. Hyeri’s acting has significantly improved and she’s one actress to watch out for, especially if she’s casted for a rom-com.
Kim Seul Gi
Seul Gi has been around for a while but she’s really rose to the occasion this year. She has come really far since her hilarious portrayal of a panda-eyed webtoon manager in 2013’s Flower Boy Next Door. In 2015, she starred as a sex-craved yet flawed ghostess in Oh My Ghost and a quirky, time-jumping student in Splash Splash Love. One of her strengths is being a comedic on screen but she’s actually got quite a talent for acting. She’s able to portray an array of complex emotions and make the viewer feel comfortable by watching her acting. She is a pocket rocket that’s just shot up into the galaxy and has the world ahead of her.
Lee Yoo Bi
It was a big ask for Lee Yoo Bi to act in her first ever leading lady role alongside one of Korea’s best actors in Lee Jun Ki. Before The Scholar Who Walks At Night, Yoo Bi already had impressive outings in Nice Guy, Gu Family Book and the hit film, Twenty but expectations were rather low. A few actresses rejected the role before going to her. While the drama was focused on Jun Ki’s hot vampire character, Yoo Bi did her best to provide justice to her casting. Overall, her acting was pretty decent considering her character wasn’t well written. It would be exciting to see Yoo Bi taking more challenging roles like this in 2016.
Lim Ji Yeon
The second leads in melodrama, High Society stole the show from UEE and Sung Joon. Film actress Lim Ji Yeon’s sincere acting and electrifying chemistry with Park Hyungsik saved the drama from being a complete snooze fest. High Society was Ji Yeon’s first ever drama role but she already made a name for herself as Song Seung Heon’s leading lady in the film, Obsessed. She doesn’t rely on her pure aura to attract viewers because her skills are very impressive for a rookie. She’s a natural and should be on many directors’ casting lists in 2016.
Yoon So Hee
Yoon So Hee is a gorgeous actress of half-Korean, half-German descent. She’s starred in many supporting roles but her bright persona literally lights up the TV despite limited screen time. Her role in one of 2015’s best romance dramas, My Love Eun Dong, as the 23-year-old Eun Dong was her breakthrough. Her unforgettable performance in the former has led to her recently being casted in tVn’s 2016 production titled Memory, starring Lee Sung Min and 2PM’s Lee Junho. Given that So Hee continues to improve on her solid acting in memorable roles, it won’t be too long until she is casted as a female lead.