The Fangirl’s End of Year Countdown – Breakout Performances of 2017

Usually when we start our End of Year review posts we jump straight into our favorite actors, actresses, kisses, etc.  But there were so many exceptional performances from less known actors, that we feel our breakout list is the perfect way to start off this series of articles.  So come join us as we share our (and hopefully your) favorite breakout performances of 2017!


Chae Soo Bin – I know that Chae Soo Bin has been around for a few years but I really think 2017 is the year she came into her own as a leading lady.  She blew me away in Rebel Hong Gil Dong.  And while I didn’t love Strongest Deliveryman, that was more due to the story and not her acting.  Chae Soo Bin will be starting her third drama this year, I’m Not a Robot,  in the next few weeks. Crossing fingers that her natural chemistry with her leading man will include Yoo Seung Ho.  If she can pull that off than Chae Soo Bin might even make my favorite leading lady list which is a pretty impressive feat in itself.

Woo Do Hwan – The voice, the angsty glances, the sexy lips.  What is there not to love about Woo Do Hwan and his  amazing performances of 2017?  Woo Do Hwan stole the limelight in both the psychological thriller Save Me and the revenge drama Mad Dog from more experienced actors.  I think this was just the beginning of a very successful acting career.


Jung Hae In – Actors may work for years before the public suddenly notices them and thinks they are new. Our puppy cop Woo-tak from While You Were Sleeping fits here nicely. (Funny to think that in a show with Lee Jong Suk someone else is the puppy.) Jung Hae-in has done well before, but not caught such interest. He was in Bride of the Century as the main character’s blonde pop-star brother, and was one of the Three Musketeers.

Kim Min Jae – Last November I noticed Kim Min-jae as an earnest young nurse in Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim and a month later was surprised to see him turn up in another drama running at the same time. He was the young misguided king in Goblin. Both of these shows ran through January 2017 so they make the cut here. Min Jae was completely different in the two shows. I must admit that I enjoyed him more in RDTK; what a tragic turn for our young puppy nurse. I was not surprised he got a more leading role in The Best Hit this summer.


Nam Ji Hyun- She’s suddenly become the It Girl with Shopping King Louie and Suspicious Partner.  I noticed her a few years back in Angel Eyes, and felt like she should have played both the younger and older character.  She’s the definition of cute, approachable and pretty without appearing aware of it.  I like that she’s got a great comedic side, but she can also be serious.  I’m really hoping to see her in a rom com soon.

Ahn Jae Hong-Our favorite big brother from Reply 1988 seems to have become very popular. This year he starred in Fight My Way as one of the leads, and I loved and hated his character, Kim Joo Man.  While Ahn Jae Hong has been in several movies, he has only branched into dramas in the last 2 years beginning with Reply 1988.  His everyday good looks and boy next door charm make him the perfect best friend or second lead.


(Kmuse listed ones I could totally steal! But thankfully this year was full of breakout performances.)

Kim Jung Hyun- He didn’t steal the show in Rebel, it would have been a hard task to do with the cast he was acting with, but he definitely caught everyone’s attention as Mori. I remember IMing Kmuse and saying he looked familiar and I couldn’t shake it. Then we realized he was Na Ri younger brother In Jealousy Incarnate. He shot to stardom because that drama was his debut and less than a year later he became the lead in School 2017.  He stole my heart completely as the not so tough Tae Woon, affectionately referred to in my circle of friends as Tae Swoon.

Kong Seung Yeon -I started watching Circle for Yeo Jin Goo, but ended up falling in love with Bluebird. I also happened to find My Only Love Song right around the same time and her character contrasted so drastically with the one in Circle that I thoroughly enjoyed the difference. She was able to pull off a very strong character in Circle that was both mysterious and down to earth. Then she was this loud mouthed brat in the cute time travel drama that won me over completely. She’s going to play opposite Seo Kang Joon in a summer drama and I’m really looking forward to it.

Karie the Maknae:

I’m going to have to bow out of this category. I don’t know enough about any Korean actors and actresses to judge who has had a spectacular break out. Next year, though, I will DEFINITELY have some opinions.

Kdrama Jen:

Woo Do Hwan – Amber covered my #1 breakout actor of this year: Woo Do Hwan. Yeah, yeah. I know we shouldn’t repeat, but…I have to for this one. He absolutely stole the show for me in Save Me and again in Mad Dog. He reminds me of a combination of Kim Woo Bin and Ji Soo. I think he has the ability to show a range of emotions and play a variety of characters. I binge watched all of Save Me and all of the currently airing episodes of Mad Dog because of him. I definitely think we will be seeing more of him!

Kim Min Kyu: The cutie in the Because it’s My First Life coffee shop is played by Kim Min Kyu. I am not putting him here because he is an exceptionally strong actor, but I have heard a lot of buzz in my discussion groups and among blog readers about how adorable he is, so I am including him here. He definitely caught my attention in Because it’s My First Life. He was “a member of the swim team” in School 2015, and is also in Meloholic, a drama I have not watched yet. With his sweet smile that goes from innocent to dangerous in seconds, I predict we will be seeing more of this young actor.

Gong Myung: As the second lead in Revolutionary Love, I kind of love the way he manages to convey how tortured he feels inside with a stoic face and pain-filled eyes. He was also in Bride of the Water God. While I did not love that drama, I thought Gong Myung showed acting potential. He also has a special place in my heart as a member of 5urprise, the group that also has Seo Kang Joon. I have a soft spot for these boys after seeing them perform live a couple of years ago. Let me just say…I think they should stick with acting. Keep your eye on Gong Myung. I think his star is rising.

This concludes the list of actors we will be searching out in the future.  Who was your breakout actor/actress of the year?  Tell us in our comments and be sure to check back over the next five weeks as we release our End of the Year lists.

Til next time,

The Fangirls

Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

7 thoughts on “The Fangirl’s End of Year Countdown – Breakout Performances of 2017

  1. I didn’t even know Gong Myung was in 5urprise until yesterday…interesting how all 5 guys are actors from that group.

    Does Kim Sunho count as breakout star from Strongest Deliveryman? Cause he left a big impression on me…he was so good as spoiled chaebol with good heart underneath.

  2. I agree with everyone’s choices. Chae Soobin has been a favourite of mine for a while so I’m glad she’s making a name for herself now. Kim Jung Hyun definitely made his mark as Mori, I remembered him in Jealousy Incarnate but it was Mori that made me learn his name. I still have gifs from his School 2017 role, he was so adorable. All. The. Time!

    I second Jenny13’s comment. Kim Sunho was great in Strongest Deliveryman. I think a lot of it was just his character but he played it well. Also, Solomon Park as the murdering teenager in Lookout. Again, his character was solid but he pulled it off spectacularly. He had that creepy psycho smile down pat.

  3. Kim Min Kyu is in a short webdrama based on a webtoon called We Are Peaceful Brothers. It is on Youtube with subtitles. Killer dimple!

  4. I think Shin Hye-sun might be having her break out year. She has a long list of supporting roles, but this year she Is getting some name recognition and more prominent parts, starting with Five Children and Forest of Strangers. She doesn’t fit into the typical actress catagories of cute or sexy, so her impact must be made with talent. Even when her characters are annoying or wrong-headed, they are vunerable and humanly flawed. She has the lead in My Golden Life and is tearing my heart with her performance, putting layers on the oh so familiar downtrodden Candy.

  5. My personal fav breakout role is Jang Ki Yong who is currently playing the absolutely swoon worthy and super hot second lead in Jang nara’s Go Back Couple. That drama is also in my opinion the best drama of the year, it makes you laugh and cry and swoon and cry again every single episode! Yes, It’s that touching and heartfelt, and Jang Ji Yong is making everyone follow him willingly to the SL sinking ship! It’s like I know it will be titanic but dammit I’m goin down with it anyhow.

    Of course who can resist puppy Woo Tak (Jung Hae In) so he’s also another great breakout star for me this year. I enjoyed Do Hwan in Save me and find him to be the one with the greatest acting potential in all the “newcomers”. Seriously Taecyeon was like a boring uninteresting doormat next to Do Hwan in Save me!

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