Over five years, there are going to be characters that you were moved by more than others. Come join The Fangirls as they share some of their favorite and most memorable performances of the last five years.
Kim Nam Gil – Hot Blooded Priest – This turned out to be one of my all-time favorite Kim Nam Gil characters. Not only was Kim Nam Gil able to showcase his comedic abilities, but his action sequences were top notch.
Shin Sung Rok – Last Empress – Anytime you have this horrible and selfish character, and you still find yourself rooting for them, you know you are watching something special. Such was the case of Shin Sung Rok in The Last Empress. I hated him, loved him, and wanted him to overcome his evil ways.
Kim Da Mi – Itaewon Class – It was very hard to pick between her performance here and her performance in The Witch Part 1. In both cases, she was able to make a regular character jump off the screen and become epic.
Jang Hyuk – My Country – Jang Hyuk played the power-hungry prince aiming for the throne in this drama, and it was wonderful watching him be so ruthless. And he had a sexy fan. Nothing beats a sexy fan.
Lee Kyu Hyung – Prison Playbook – Loony was one of those timeless characters that will remain in my mind even if another ten years pass. He went from a side character to the heart of the drama in sixteen brilliantly written episodes.
Karie the Maknae
Kim Soo Hyun – It’s Okay Not to Be Okay — One of my strongest requirements for an actor that I will follow forever is that they cry well. If I don’t cringe when they break down, but instead feel my heart breaking with them, I’m a fan for life. Kim Soo Hyun did this for me in It’s Okay Not to Be Okay — he was so strong, and so loveable, and my momma bear heart just went out to him. I’ve liked him in previous dramas, but this was the turning point.
Jung In Sun – Terius Behind Me – Any actress who can portray a mother with ALL the facets of motherhood — playfulness, love, frustration, and a strong determination to keep her children safe — at Jung In Sun’s age will win my respect every time. I loved her in Circle, but in Terius Behind Me, she became a capable woman who took the lemons life threw at her, lined them up, and made THEM make themselves into lemonade.
Lee Joon Ki – Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo – As one of my first dramas, Scarlet Heart holds a special place in my drama memories. Most of all, it was my introduction to the incredible ability that Lee Joon Ki has to portray a character that is, by turns, cold and fierce, yet warm and vulnerable when he feels safe, and believably in love while still embroiling himself in heartless politics to keep his throne safe. I was an instant fangirl, and still am.
Zhu Yan Man Zi – Unrequited Love – The reason I stick with Chinese school romances is for gems like Unrequited Love. Zhu Yan Man Zi’s performance was astounding — she gave her character a stillness that resonated with me and made me sympathetic to her dilemmas, even as she kept all of her emotions inside. I would willingly watch her in another drama with fantastic depth, because I know she could handle it and make me love her character.
Jang Ki Yong – Come and Hug Me — This was a hard drama to watch because there were not a lot of happy moments, but it sold me on Jang Ki Yong’s acting ability like nothing else. He had the same stillness that I admired in Zhu Yan Man Zi, and an implacable determination to see the right thing done and to protect what was precious to him. He sold me on Na Mu’s feelings and helped me continue with the story, even though I was anxious for him the entire time. He definitely qualifies as an eye actor — I found myself watching his eyes time and time again to see what he was feeling. He is phenomenal. I’ll slide a kudos to Kim Kyung Nam in here too — they were amazing together as the conflicted brothers who were doing their best to overcome their father’s legacy in their own way.
MiataMama: This was the toughest narrowing down of choices yet!
Yeo Jin Goo – The Crowned Clown – I am not a huge fan of historical dramas, and usually have to pace myself through them alongside several contemporary stories. BUT, watching Yeo Jin Goo act in his dual roles as the Clown Ha Sun and the King Lee Hun was amazing!! (Honestly, I felt like he took on a third character, as he played the Clown impersonating the King.) Throughout the story his acting was brilliant and he made this drama mesmerizing to watch week after week!
Jang Ki Yong – Come and Hug Me – My heart ached for Na Moo, every single episode – this drama was incredibly intense! Jang Ki Yong did a stellar job in this role – he was so emotionally battered and bruised and broken, yet tender and courageous. Because the acting was so raw and heartfelt, Na Moo’s story wrecked me from start to finish. Even still, I would gladly go through the rollercoaster of emotions to watch the story over again!
Lee Jong Suk – W: Two Worlds – I don’t think there’s a better actor to play a manga character come-to-life than Lee Jong Suk! I absolutely loved him as Kang Cheol from the webtoon world of W. His visuals and charisma were definitely on point. But it was how he shifted back and forth from confident fictional character to tentative misplaced character in the real world, that was most engaging. I’m not sure if it’s possible to fall for a fictional character twice over, but here I am!
Lee Joon Ki – Flower of Evil – Hands down, I think this was Lee Joon Ki’s best performance to date. The tension he brought each week as flipped from loving husband and father Baek Hee Sung to emotionally cold and calculating Do Hyun Soo was incredibly intense. He is an excellent ‘eye actor’ and his ability to evoke such polar emotions really made this drama memorable and exciting from start to finish.
Hyun Bin – Crash Landing On You – Hyun Bin is my longtime Kdrama first bias and his role as stoic North Korean officer Ri Jung Hyuk is one of my absolute favorites. His blend of honorable man-in-uniform combined with his tender artistic soul had me swooning weekly as I watched this drama. I cheered, I cried, I laughed, I swooned – this character was the perfect hero and I loved every minute he was on screen!
(There are WAY more standout performances, but I thought I’d balance the scales, and highlight some of the amazing women from the last 5 years).
Jeon Mi Do – Hospital Playlist – This actress came out of nowhere for those of us who do not frequent Korean musicals. She played one of the most down to Earth and relatable female leads, who also had a bit of a superhero feel to her. The fact that her specialty is singing on stage, and she played a tone-deaf character who loved performing, was just icing on the cake. I am so happy there is a season two.
Kim Nam Joo – Misty – Women are getting roles with more layers, but none as layered and rich as Go Hye Ran. She was allowed to have faults and walk the line of ethical morality and we still cheered for her every step of the way. This actress played every nuanced facet of her personality with perfection. I also want ALL of the clothes that Kim Nam Joo rocked in this drama.
ALL the moms – Reply 1988 – I don’t know if there has been a set of women that better display the trials of being a mom and trying to raise humans that will one day be decent adults. They made me laugh, cry, and yearn to live on the same block as them.
Gong Hyo Jin – When the Camellia Blooms – I know Hyo Jin’s acting isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but she is one of my FAVORITE actresses and this role was perfect for her. She was a soft spoken single mom, who seemed to let people run all over her, but as the show progressed, she really stood up for herself, and her son. She also knew how to love people, and forgive when it was necessary.
Kim Hye Ja – The Light That Left Your Eyes – Kim Hye Ja was completely convincing as the younger female lead. Her character made me laugh and gave me so much joy. My heart bled for her and her family at the end of the drama. She deserves all the awards.
Bonus, because I can’t leave him out
Oh Jung Se – It’s Okay to Not Be Okay – Oh Jung Se immersed himself in this role and really took the time to care about the community he was representing. He won the audience over and made every one of us fall in love with Moon Sang Tae. I hope he wins for best actor, and not just side character, because he deserves it.
Clkytta: Wow, how can I even…
Jang Ki Yong – Come and Hug Me, I know it’s already on the list, but he just gutted me here. This is one of my favorite dramas, and it’s because of the stellar acting. He made me cry multiple times.
Choi Woo Shik – Ho Goo’s Love (Fool’s Love) there is a reason why this is in my top 5 dramas of all time. Ho Goo is one of those characters that we rarely see, Choi Woo Shik’s not physically strong, nor is he especially handsome (Don’t get me wrong, he’s totally handsome, but not in the usual leading man way). He’s cute and goofy and he owns this role. No matter if he is facing down a rapist, or bouncing a baby on his knee, he makes us love him.
Seo Ye Ji – It’s Okay to Not Be Okay will go down in my drama list as one of the best dramas I’ve watched. I loved how Seo Ye Ji showed us a strong female character who was also scared, lonely, and confused. This was not a Candy character, this was someone who was flawed and they didn’t try to fix her.
Ji Sung – Kill Me, Heal Me was completely groundbreaking and Ji Sung played ever role like it was his only role. I can’t say enough about how his portrayal of someone with multiple personalities affected me. Instead of portraying the character as a joke, he made the watcher feel compassion.
Telzeytalks: I’m going with my favorite comic performances, because we all need a little fun and lightness in our lives.
Lee Yu Ri and Uhm Ji Wan – Spring Turns to Spring – I’m going to start by giving you two for the price of one! I don’t think you could separate their performances. It is a body-swap drama, in which a restrained, retired actress and a loud, obnoxious reporter would sneeze and suddenly turn into the other person, who they would then have to impersonate. Hijinks ensue.
Kim Min Jung – My Fellow Citizens – She made a lasting impression as a lady mob boss, Park Hoo Ja, who has taken over for her sick father. Her orders never quite get fulfilled the way you think they will, and she is not really as heartless as she thinks she is.
Jang Dong Yoon – The Tale of Nokdu – He took fandom by storm as Jeon Nok Du, the flower boy who dresses up as a woman to get into a widow’s village. I will admit that the comedy petered out half way, but at the start he was hilarious. His fan dance lives on in fame however; everyone needs to see it.
Nana – Into the Ring – The story of Goo Se Ra, a woman who has made more complaints to the city government than anyone else. A woman who can never keep a job because she nitpicks and keeps correcting her boss. A woman who decides to run for city office because at least she will get a paycheck. What could go wrong?
Namgung Min – Chief Kim – This is a low-key comedy about a crooked accountant who is brought into a big company to cook the books for them. However, a couple of incidents cause him to sympathize with the ordinary person and he starts to act independently. Nothing seems to faze him at all.
Be sure to comment on the post to be entered in our DWASOK anniversary giveaway! We will be celebrating all week with new posts celebrating the last five years so be sure to check back tomorrow for some more great memories.
Here is to five more,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi