Up and Coming Korean Idol Actors and Actresses

We all know casting idols in dramas is often either a major hit or a major miss depending on the idol, the likableness of the character they play and the difficulty of the role. The parts they are cast in tend to fall flat and their acting abilities can be questionable at times. However, the idols in this list are idols who I think have proven themselves to have promising futures in acting (if they want to pursue it) and whose characters have stolen our hearts.

(I’ve limited this list to Korean idols because I’m not very familiar with idols from other Asian countries.)

Yook Sung Jae


Kpop Group: BTOB

Where You’ve Seen Him:  Plus Nine Boys, The Village: Achiara’s Secret Who Are You: School 2015 Goblin

Sung Jae may not be considered up and coming by some because he has been acting in guest roles since 2013 and scored his first main role back in 2014, however, I think that his last two roles have really solidified his position as an idol actor to keep an eye on.

Sung Jae stole all of our hearts and caused some major second-lead syndrome as the misunderstood and mistreated Gong Tae Kwang in School 2015. And most recently, he made us laugh endlessly as the spoiled rich boy (who may be more than meets the eye) in Goblin. I’ve seen many Kdrama reviewers say how pleasantly surprised they were by how well Sungjae acted in Goblin. I can’t wait to see which roles he’ll take on next!

Kim Se Jung


Kpop Group: Gugudan

Where You’ve Seen Her:  School 2017

I’m not gonna lie… I was extremely hesitant when I saw that Se Jung had been cast as the lead role in School 2017. It is her very first acting role and School is an extremely iconic series. I wasn’t sure how well she would perform, especially acting opposite someone six years her senior and with a few years of experience on him. I was surprised by how much I fell in love with Se Jung's character Eun Ho and how refreshing her portrayal has been. Her acting skills have exceeded my expectations plenty, and although she’s not perfect, she’s doing an incredible job considering it’s her first role! I hope to see her in more dramas in the future and I’m interested to see how much she will improve if she continues to act.

Kim Sung Joo


Kpop Group: Uniq

Where You’ve Seen Him: Magical Space-Time (China), The Liar and His Lover

Upcoming Roles: Live Up To Your Name, Dr. Heo

I think it’s safe to say that Sung Joo was a scene stealer in The Liar and His Lover. His character Shi Hyun stole all of our hearts from the very first episode and everyone was rooting for his sweet romance with Soo Yeon! It was not a role that had a lot of depth but the character had some surprisingly emotional scenes which I think Sung Joo handled very well.

Coming from a lesser-known group, I don’t know if many people knew that Sung Joo would be considered an idol actor, but I think playing the role of a band member was good for him since he got to bring some of his own experiences as an idol group member into the role. I’m not sure if I’ll be watching his upcoming drama but I hope he will continue to impress people and steal scenes! I love to see him getting so much love and attention.



Kpop Group: SHINee

Where You’ve Seen Him: Drinking SoloThe Guardians

Key has had a couple of guest roles over the years, but his first major supporting role came in 2016 with Drinking Solo. I didn’t end up watching the drama, but it seemed like his character provided some great comic relief.

Although still a source of comedic relief, his role as Kyung Soo in The Guardians was much more serious and I think Key really stepped up to the challenge. I loved Kyung Soo from the very beginning and think he was a huge contributing factor to the amazing team dynamic we all fell in love with when it comes to the guardian squad. I like the choice of roles he’s chosen to take on so far and I hope I’ll continue to see more of him in the future. I also wonder which Shinee member will jump onto the acting bandwagon next!

What did you think of these idols in their acting roles? Let me know in the comments below! Feel free to share some of your own favourite idol actors as well.

Comments (28)

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  • Reply
    joannesmith Aug 15, 2017 - edited

    Luv your choices. i am also tracking up and coming actors to keep an eye on. I think I'd add these:
    Jung Jin Young from love under the moonlight
    Kwak Dong Yeon also from love under the moonlight, in reunited worlds currently
    Lee Jong Hyun from My Only Love Song
    Shin Won Ho from Legends of the Blue Sea (Tae Ho character)

  • Reply
    palak Aug 15, 2017

    Key and Yook Sung Jae are so good at acting! And Se Jung has a lot of potential! <3

  • Reply
    Kimicub Aug 14, 2017

    Key is doing so well. Love the characters he plays

  • Reply
    Mint Aug 13, 2017

    I like Yook Sung Jae in Goblin! To add the list, I think I'd add 2PM's Junho because I was pleasantly surprised by his acting in Chief Kim. I didn't even know it's him until around ep 3 when I got curious of the actors. His character was very memorable (still my most loved character and drama of 2017!)

  • Reply
    Mikhal Aug 12, 2017

    I was expecting to see Krystal on the list tbh .. though she has a few years of experience already, it seems that only now people are starting to be fond of her and she receives much praise from the public

  • Reply
    sagwao_o Aug 12, 2017

    I really love Sungjae as an actor. I was also surprised for Sejeong since it's her first drama and she is doing well. I will also add to the list 2PM's Junho who really left a very good impression in Chief Kim.

  • Reply
    juvy Aug 12, 2017 - edited

    Jinyoung from GOT7 too! I hope he gets a lead role someday. He has the potential to be a great actor.

  • Reply
    HAVA-RAVA Aug 12, 2017

    Key and Sungjae for sure !

    I know he's not really up and coming anymore (imo) but Baro from B1A4 is maybe one of the best when it comes to acting skills !

  • Reply
    suju5 Aug 11, 2017

    Man i love them all <3

    SNSD's Seohyun is also doing great in her new drama as a main lead for the first time :)! She has improved a lot <3

  • Reply
    ParkYeoJin Aug 11, 2017

    I was surprisingly impressed by Key. I didn't have high expectations for him in Drinking Solo since it's my first time seeing him act. But he was so good in portraying his character and even more with Lookout (The Guardians). It was like he was born to play these roles. I am looking forward to his future projects. Also, for other SHINee members, Choi Minho, seemed to have grown into a great actor from his 'To The Beautiful You' days to 'Because It's The First Time'. His acting in the latter was quite good. Onew seemed to have embarked in acting from Descendants Of The Sun to now in Age of Youth 2 but I think he's acting is not yet that good but I'm sure he'll be able to develop them.

    I would like to add in the list as these are some of my fave idols-turned-actors as well:
    1. Park Hyung Sik (His acting is surprisingly at par with other actors like PBG and GY. I hope to see more from him. For a change, I think he'd do well with melodramas. But I have no complains if he is to continue acting in romcoms.)
    2. Ok Taecyeon (He seems to work out his roles well and deliver both comedy and drama well)
    3. Park Chan Yeol (His acting seemed to have developed since EXO Next Door. I think he looks perfect as Lee Soo-hyuk's younger brother with those facial features.)
    4. Cha Eun Woo (I can foresee a future from this guy. A romcom lead perhaps?)

    Love the list you've made. I definitely agreee with Yook Sung Jae. :)

  • Reply
    Bri Aug 11, 2017 - edited

    Absolute favorite of mine,
    Lee Joon (MBLAQ)

    • Reply
      ClaudiaKdramaFan Aug 11, 2017 - edited

      Lee Joon is not an upcoming actor, he has been in the acting scene for like 3 years, and he is a solid actor by now, specially after the high ratings of Father is Strange & all his positive acting reviews.

  • Reply
    Violet Aug 11, 2017 - edited

    Hwang Chan Sung from 2PM did AMAZING in Queen for 7 Days. I mean he has been acting for a while now but that role was absolutely amazing for him! It definitely really showed his acting skills in a more serious kind of way!
    Also, Cha Eun Woo from ASTRO may be up and coming?? He did really well in The Best Hit this year!
    Another also, Kai from EXO is starting to do acting now I mean idk if he's gonna become better than D.O. lol but hes trying so everyone support him! ~

  • Reply
    Lucy Aug 11, 2017 - edited

    My favorites are :
    L (Infinite)
    SungYeol (Infinite)
    Park Hyun Shik (ZE:A)
    D.O (EXO)
    Ok Taecyeon (2PM)

  • Reply
    totallyclueless Aug 11, 2017

    Always proud of Yook Sungjae <3

  • Reply
    KingLouie Aug 10, 2017

    Kim Se Jung, loving her in School 2017 and can't wait a week to see her again.. i wish she does a lot of dramas so i might keep seeing her ...

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