From left to right, Kpop Idols in Dramas and Films: IU in “My Mister”; Cha Eunwoo in “My ID is Gangnam Beauty”; Joy in “The Liar and His Lover”; and Suho in “Student A”
There’s nothing more relaxing after a long day than being able to get into comfy clothes and binge watch an amazing drama or film. If you frequently watch Korean dramas or Korean films, you might have noticed something with the actors… there are a lot of KPop idols in dramas and movies.
And that’s not to say it’s a bad thing. Not at all. In fact, I enjoy watching dramas and movies that have KPop idols acting in them. Especially if I know the idol, it brings a sense of familiarity to a show that you can’t get otherwise.
If you also like watching dramas/movies with idols or if you’re just curious about which idols also act… I’ve compiled a list of fourteen kpop idols (female and male) that act in dramas, movies, and/or musicals. As a result, you might find something new to watch!
Female Kpop Idols in Dramas, Movies, or Musicals
Firstly, Lee Jieun, known as IU, is a Korean singer who debuted in 2008 under Kakao M. The singer first started acting in 2013, five years after her debut, starring as the lead role in the drama “You are the Best!” Throughout her singing and acting career, IU has surely made her way to the hearts of fans and proven that she’s talented in more than one thing.
Dramas she’s starred in:
“My Mister” (2018; 16 episodes; directed by Kim Wonseok)
To sum up most of it, this drama follows the story of three males and one female (IU) who are each going through their own struggles in life. By working together, they slowly start to figure things out together. IU plays Lee Jian in the drama.
“Hotel del Luna” (2019; 16 episodes; directed by Oh Choongwan)
This fantasy drama takes place in a strange hotel tucked away in Seoul that’s been around for quite literally forever. IU plays Jang Manwol, the CEO of the hotel, who was cursed and forced into staying at the hotel because of it. Things at the hotel start to change when a new manager is brought in.
2. Suzy (Miss A)
Next, Bae Suji, primarily known as Suzy, debuted with Korean girl group Miss A in 2010 under JYP. She first started acting in 2011 with the TV series “Dreaming High.” She’s not only worked on various styles of dramas, but she has also worked on multiple films throughout her acting career.
“The Sound of a Flower” (2015; directed by Lee Jongpil)
This is a historical film that tells the story of a woman doing everything she possibly can to sing and perform on stage as a pansori singer when, during the time period of the film, women were not allowed to. Suzy plays Jin Chaseon, the lead female character.
“Architecture 101” (2012; directed by Lee Yongju)
Love and heartbreak follows many people throughout life. Certainly, this film tells the story about two people who fell in love, experienced heartbreak, and then met again years later. In short, throughout the film, there is past and present-day characters. Suzy plays the past Yang Seoyeon, showing the love story that blossomed from the architecture class the main characters shared in college.
“Ashfall” (2019; directed by Lee Haejun and Kim Byungseo)
This eye-catching action film follows the havoc that ensues after Mt. Paektu—a volcano that sits on the border of China and North Korea—erupts suddenly. Suzy plays Choi Jiyoung, the lead male’s pregnant wife who is left alone in Seoul when he is sent off to work on something involving the volcano.
3. Yoona (Girls’ Generation)
Im Yoonah, known mostly as Yoona, is one of the members from the famous Korean girl group Girls’ Generation. Firstly, she debuted in 2007 under SM Entertainment. Later, Yoona gained acting attention through the television series “You Are My Destiny,” published in 2008. After that, her acting career grew immensely with her roles in popular dramas.
“Love Rain” (2012; 20 episodes; directed by Yoon Seokho)
This Korean drama grew particularly popular outside of Korea. It follows the love stories between two families. The first in 1970 and the second in present day.In other words, there is a “past” couple and and “present” couple. In 1970, the couple ends up separating and falling in love with other people. Years later, their children end up meeting and possibly creating their own love story that their parents couldn’t. Yoona plays both Kim Yoonhee (the mother) and Jung Hana (Yoonhee’s daughter).
“The K2” (2016; 16 episodes; directed by Kwak Junghwan)
When things are tough, it seems that love shines its way through. Following this same notion, this drama shows the love story between a former soldier, who was framed for a murder he did not commit, and the hidden child of one of the presidential candidates, who the soldier is meant to be protecting. Yoona plays Go Anna, the hidden child.
4. Joy (Red Velvet)
Park Sooyoung, known as Joy, debuted with popular Korean girl group Red Velvet in 2014 under SM Entertainment. Following her debut, Joy did a lot of solo work with acting. She took part in multiple dramas and television series that subsequently gave her a lot of recognition.
Some of the most popular include:
“The Liar and His Lover” (2017; 16 episodes; directed by Kim Jinmin)
Joy plays the lead female character, Yoon Sorim, who’s exceptionally talented in singing. Throughout this drama, it follows the connection of music and love between two people, one who brings a bit of a twist to things because he’s living under a hidden identity.
“Tempted” (2018; 32 episodes; directed by Lee Donghyun)
To sum up dramatically, this is a drama that shows the way love changes, hurts, or blossoms throughout different instances. In other words, it shows the true mess that love can bring. Joy plays Eun Taehee.
5. Naeun (Apink)
Son Naeun is one of six members from the Korean girl group Apink. She debuted in 2011 under the company Play M. Not too long afterwards, she made her acting debut in 2012 in the historical drama “The Great Seer.” After this, Naeun starred in many other dramas and films.
A couple being:
“Cinderella with Four Knights” (2016; 16 episodes; directed by Kwon Hyukchan and Lee Minwoo)
This drama is about a college student who ends up living in a mansion with her stepmother (who doesn’t really like her) to watch over the three heirs of a popular family (who live in the mansion). Naeun plays Park Hyeji, the neighbor and friend of one of the heirs—who she also happens to be in love with.
“The Most Beautiful Goodbye” (2017; 4 episodes; directed by Hong Jongchan)
This heart wrenching drama is about a mother who is diagnosed with cancer. Because of this, her family starts to become closer. Naeun plays Chaeyoung, the love interest of the mother’s son.
6. Nara (Hello Venus)
Kwon Nara, though she has legally changed her name to Kwon Ah-Yoon, debuted in 2012 as part of Hello Venus, a group born from the collaboration of Pledis Entertainment and Fantagio Music called Tricell Media. Nara’s first major role in acting occurred in 2017.
Her most popular dramas included:
“My Mister” (2018, 16 episodes; directed by Kim Wonseok)
Like IU, Nara also starred in this drama. She plays Choi Yoora, the love interests for one of the other characters.
“Itaewon Class” (2020; 16 episodes; directed by Kim Sungyoon)
This drama has quickly become one of the most talked about dramas of 2020 (so far, at least). This drama follows the life of an ex-convict who just wants to open his own pub and correct the wrongdoings done to him throughout his life. Because of this, him and his workers experience a lot of troubles trying to stay afloat in the business world. Nara plays Oh Soo-ah, one of the female leads and love interests of the lead male character.
Male KPop Idols in Dramas, Movies, or Musicals
1. Cha Eunwoo (Astro)
Lee Dongmin, professionally known as Cha Eunwoo, is from the male kpop group Astro, debuted in 2015 under the Fantagio company. However, unlike most idols who started their acting careers after their debut, Eunwoo actually made his acting debut in 2014—though, this role was just a cameo.
Some of his important dramas:
“Hit the Top” (2017; 32 episodes; directed by Yoo Hojin, Cha Taehyun [Ra Junmo], and Kim Sanghoon)
This drama bends reality with time travel. It follows a famous idol that time travels from the year 1993 to 2017, where he discovers that he disappears in 1994. Because of this, he spends his time in 2017 trying to find out what happened to him. Eunwoo plays MJ, a supporting role in the 2017 idol company.
“My I.D. is Gangnam Beauty” (2018; 16 episodes; directed by Choi Sungbum)
Tackling the subject of self-confidence and self-love, this drama is about a college student who has to learn how to love herself even after getting plastic surgery. Further, this drama tackles the concept of “natural” beauty versus “fixed” beauty. Eunwoo plays Do Kyungseok, the lead male character that helps the college student gain confidence in her looks through his blunt character and his romantic feelings for her. In other words, Kyungseok helps teach the lead female how to love herself by loving her.
2. Xia (JYJ)
Kim Junsu, known primarily as Xia, debuted in two different groups: in 2003, he debuted in the group TVXQ, and in 2010, he debuted in JYJ. During the same year as his JYJ debut, Xia made his debut in musicals—his first musical being “Mozart!” He’s mainly acted in musicals throughout his career.
The more recent musical he’s acted in:
This musical is based on the legends of King Arthur and his sword. Xia was one of the few idols casted to play the part of King Arthur.
3. V (BTS)
Kim Taehyung, known by his stage name V, debuted with the male kpop group BTS in 2013 under BigHit Entertainment. He made his debut with acting in 2016. However, he has yet to be in anything else (most likely due to a busy schedule).
“Hwarang: the Poet Warrior Youth” (2016; 20 reg. episodes and 4 special episodes; directed by Yoon Sungsik and Kim Yeonjo)
This is a historical drama that depicts a group of people—called Hwarang warriors—who are trying to stop the power of the nobles. V plays Suk Hansung, the youngest member of the Hwarang group.
4. Dokyeom/DK (Seventeen)
Lee Seokmin, known by Dokyeom or DK, is a member of the boy kpop group Seventeen. He debuted with his group in 2015 under Pledis Entertainment. He’s only recently begun to act, however, debuting in a musical in 2019.
Like Xia, Dokyeom also acted in this play. He was one of the other idols casted to play the part of King Arthur.
5. Suho (EXO)
Kim Junmyeon, mostly called Suho, debuted with the group EXO in 2012. They debuted under SM Entertainment. Because of his idol status, Suho got his start on variety shows with the rest of his group members. But, he slowly transitioned into dramas and films, making his debut on the screen in 2016 with the indie film “One Way Trip.”
A couple other notable works:
“The Universe’s Star” (2017; 6 episodes; directed by Kim Jihyun)
In short, this is a quick supernatural drama that tells the love story between a female grim reaper and a singer. Suho plays Woojoo, the singer.
“Student A” (2018; directed by Lee Kyungsub)
In short, this is one of the more heart wrenching Korean films that I have seen—I found myself holding my breath by the end of it. It talks about the delicate topic of suicide and, subsequently, tells the story of how two people (one a middle school student and the other seemingly already, or nearly, graduated from high school) help each other through their difficulties. Suho plays Jaehee, the older of the two people, who is actually a friend that the other had met through online games. Because they met through online games, they were shocked when they met.
6. Onew (SHINee)
Lee Jinki, known more so by his stage name Onew, debuted in 2008 with male kpop group SHINee under SM Entertainment. His first appearance as an actor came in 2010, when he played a cameo role.
A notable drama he’s starred in:
“Descendants of the Sun” (2016; 16 reg. episodes and 3 special episodes; directed by Lee Eungbok and Baek Sanghoon)
This drama depicts a love story that blossoms between the leader of a Special Forces unit and the trauma surgeon when they’re assigned to a war-torn country. Onew plays Lee Chihoon, one of the medical services team members in the drama.
7. Hyungsik (ZE:A)
Park Hyungsik debuted in 2010 as a member of the ZE:A group under Star Empire. Then, in 2013, he debuted in the group ZE:A FIVE. His acting career began just before his second debut, in 2012 with the drama “I Remember You.”
Some of the more popular dramas he’s been in:
“Hwarang: the Poet Warrior Youth” (2016; 20 reg. episodes and 4 special episodes; directed by Yoon Sungsik and Kim Yeonjo)
Similarly to V, Hyungsik starred in this drama. But he plays Sammaekjong, the young and distrustful king who secretly becomes a Hwarang warrior.
“Strong Girl Bong-Soon” (Also called: “Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon”; 2017, 16 reg. episodes and 1 special episode; directed by Lee Hyungmin)
Firstly, this exciting drama follows the story of a girl born with superhuman strength. Secondly, she somehow becomes the bodyguard of a rich heir. As they get closer, they find their relationship going farther than that of work. Hyungsik plays Ahn Minhyuk, the rich heir.
8. Junho (2pm)
Lee Junho made his idol debut in the group 2pm in 2008 under JYP. His acting career started in 2013, when he took part of the thriller Korean film “Cold Eyes.”
“Memories of the Sword” (2015; directed by Park Heungsik)
Overall, this historical film follows the story of a young girl who is trying to get revenged for what happened to her father. Junho plays Yul, someone who is skilled in sword fighting.
“Just Between Lovers” (Also called: “Rain or Shine”; 2017; 16 episodes; directed by Kim Jinwon)
This emotional drama follows the story of two strangers who are connected by a tragedy from years before. Junho plays Lee Kangdoo.
Overall, do I have any recommendations from this list?
Most of these dramas, movies, and musicals are fantastic! However, I’m sure anyone would have a few favorites.
Personally, my highest recommended dramas include “My I.D. is Gangnam Beauty” and “Itaewon Class.” Both of these dramas steer a bit clear of the overly stereotypical actions and reasoning. Granted, a few cliche things happen, but these dramas do it so naturally I hardly even noticed!
As for the KPop idols in these dramas, I really enjoy Cha Eunwoo’s acting. Overall, he does an amazing job playing Kyungseok throughout the entire drama. Nara also plays her role very well (as seen by how frustrated she was able to make me while I watched it…).
Moreover, as for movies… I recently watched the movie “Student A,” that stars Suho from EXO. When I tell you that this movie sticks with you long after you’ve watched it, I mean it. The topic is heavy in it, but it’s done so well in storytelling that you hardly feel the weight of it at all. Of course, Suho really did an amazing job at portraying the character he was in. So that helped a bit.
In conclusion, give these dramas/movies/musicals a look if you haven’t yet.
What about you?
Have you seen any dramas/movies/musicals with KPop idols in them? What about the KPop idols themselves, any that you particularly like the acting of?
Further, if you would like to look into a few more dramas (without KPop idols, just korean dramas in general), check out our Dramas page!