6 Korean Actors and Actresses Rising to Fame in 2021

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Have you been watching all of the newest K-dramas of 2021? Then perhaps you’ve seen some of these glamorous Korean actors and actresses rising to fame!

Actors and Actresses in Korean Dramas

Watching the beautiful acting in Korean dramas is always a plus—especially when your favorite Oppas and Unnies are on screen! And it’s always fun to see new actors and actresses rising to fame! Their abilities have definitely made me consider acting before, but it’s much harder than it seems. It takes a lot of focus, determination, mindfulness, and of course, skill and talent. Sadly, actors and actresses could have all of these qualities and still not be well-known for years on end. 

But, as long as they work hard to achieve their ultimate goals, rising to fame will come along the way! So with that in mind, does it take a long time for actors and actresses to rise to fame? Well, it depends—everyone has their own experiences and life stories.

Some begin acting when they’re very young, so they’re lucky if their acting career takes off immediately. For others, some end up getting supporting roles in several dramas before receiving a main role. However, since the K-drama industry is still considered small, these actors and actresses are bound to find their time in the spotlight eventually! With that, let’s take a look at six Korean actors and actresses rising to fame.

Han So Hee

The actress rising to fame, Han So Hee

Courtesy of @xeesoxee on Instagram

Han So Hee was born on November 18, 1994 in Ulsan, South Korea. Many fans know her as Han So Hee, but her birth name is actually Lee So Hee. When she became an actress, she chose to switch her last name, which many other actors and actresses also do. Before beginning her acting career, Han So Hee starred in SHINee’s music video for “Tell Me What To Do” in 2016. But only a year later, the young Korean actress made her way into the K-drama industry. 

Follow Han So Hee on Instagram @xeesoxee

Han So Hee’s Acting Debut

In 2017, Han So Hee made her acting debut in SBS’ Reunited Worlds with a supporting role. Soon after, the actress rising to fame gained a few more supporting roles before hitting her breakthrough. JTBC’s The World of the Married (2020) was Han So Hee’s ticket to rise in fame.

Her antagonist role was one that many fans disliked, especially because of her character’s sassiness and manipulativeness. However, her ability to perform this character well really demonstrates just how talented she is! 

Han So Hee’s Most Recent Drama

Han So Hee’s role in Nevertheless, is her first primary lead role in a drama since The World of the Married just last year. Nevertheless, (2021) is a 10-episode romantic drama that aired on JTBC and streams on Netflix. Yoo Nabi (Han So Hee) is majoring in sculpture in university, and enjoys the idea of love, but is still healing from her first relationship.

When she meets Park Jae Eon (Song Kang), another student in her department, she slowly falls for him. However, Yoo Nabi gets caught in a love triangle between flirty Park Jae Eon and her childhood friend, Yang Do Hyeok (Chae Jong Hyeop). 

If you’re a fan of the romance genre and love triangles, definitely check out Nevertheless, on Netflix

Chae Jong Hyeop

The actor rising to fame, Chae Jong Hyeop

Courtesy of @chaejh_ on Instagram

Chae Jong Hyeop was born on May 19, 1993 in Seoul, South Korea. When he was in middle school, he actually studied in Thailand for a year, then South Africa for about three years. While he was in South Africa, he took up modeling, but it didn’t take off very well.

Instead, he went back to Korea to become a model—a pretty successful one at that! However, being in South Africa also allowed him to realize that acting was something he wanted to pursue. And so, that’s when our actor rising to fame finally debuted in the 2016 romantic melodrama, Webtoon Hero Toondra Show Season 2

Follow Chae Jong Hyeop on Instagram @chaejh_

Chae Jong Hyeop’s Acting Debut
Chae Jong Hyeop in Hot Stove League

Chae Jong Hyeop stars in Hot Stove League (2019)

At 23 years-old, the Korean actor rising to fame made his debut in Webtoon Hero Toondra Show Season 2 as King Sejong from the Joseon Dynasty. Ever since his debut in 2016, he received roles in web-series until he reached his breakthrough role in 2019.

Chae Jong Hyeop started gaining lots of attention with a supporting role in SBS’ sports drama, Hot Stove League. He did take a break in 2020, but he came back even stronger in 2021, starring in three dramas this year!

Chae Jong Hyeop’s Most Recent Dramas

Earlier this year, the actor rising to fame starred in JTBC’s Sisyphus:The Myth (2021) with a supporting role. This Netflix drama centers the life of Han Tae Sul (Cho Seung Woo), who tries to uncover the mystery behind his brother’s death.

Meanwhile, Kang Seo Hae (Park Shin Hye) is a woman from the future who goes back in time to help Han Tae Sul. Chae Jong Hyeop’s character is a former restaurant worker who admires Kang Seo Hae, a woman from the future. His role in Sisyphus: The Myth, however, is completely different from his two other roles from this year. 

Over this past summer, Chae Jong Hyeop starred in Nevertheless, (2021) alongside Han So Hee and Song Kang. In this romantic drama, Yang Do Hyeok (Chae Jong Hyeop) becomes involved in a love triangle. He tries everything he can to spend time with Yoo Nabi (Han So Hee), the girl he loved since he was young… But he has to compete against Park Jae Eon (Song Kang), as they’re both after her love. 

Chae Jong Hyeop also starred in TVING’s 2021 web-series, The Witch’s Diner, which also streams on Viki. This dark fantasy drama portrays a desperate woman, Jeong Jin (Nam Ji Hyun). She unexpectedly crosses paths with a witch, Jo Hee Ra (Song Ji Hyo), who helps Jeong Jin get revenge. Chae Jong Hyeop stars as a high school student, Lee Gil Yong, who works at Jo Hee Ra’s diner at night. 

Watch the trailer for The Witch’s Diner below!

Moon Ka Young

The actress rising to fame, Moon Ka Young

Courtesy of @m_kayoung on Instagram

Moon Ka Young was born on July 10, 1996 in Karlsruhe, Germany and moved to South Korea when she was 10 years old. The Korean actress is not only fluent in Korean, but also in German! She even revealed in an interview with Elle Korea that her phone language is still set in German. The actress admits it’s comforting and it’s also her way of practicing and remembering the language. 

Follow Moon Ka Young on Instagram @m_kayoung

Moon Ka Young’s Acting Debut
Moon Ka Young in Tempted

Moon Ka Young stars in Tempted (2018)

Moon Ka Young made her debut at a young age and debuted as a child actress in 2006. That year, she starred in the film, To Sir, with Love, and the drama, Fallen Angel, Jenny. However, her first lead role in a drama was in Mnet’s Mimi (2014) when she was still 17 years old.

Her roles in Tempted (2018) and Welcome to Waikki 2 (2019) also helped her become an actress rising to fame. But these days, she’s well-known for her role as Im Jukyung in the Webtoon to K-drama adaptation of True Beauty!

Moon Ka Young’s Most Recent Drama

True Beauty (2020-21) is a 16-episode Korean drama that aired on tvN and streams on Viki with a standard subscription. This drama follows the coming-of-age, slice of life, and romantic journey of Im Jukyung (Moon Ka Young). As a new student at Saebom High, Im Jukyung has the chance to start over again. Her past insecurities may get the best of her, but her new friends help her become more caring and confident. But when she meets Lee Suho (Cha Eun Woo) and Han Seojun (Hwang In Youp), things become complicated… Did someone say “love triangle”?

This actress rising to fame sure has a lot of great works under her belt! We can’t wait to see what she does next~

Watch the trailer for True Beauty below and stream it on Viki!

Nam Da Reum

The young actor rising to fame, Nam Da Reum

Courtesy of @namdareum_mom on Instagram

Nam Da Reum was born in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea on June 13, 2002. And yes, he’s only 19 years old (globally)! He started off his career at the age of seven, when someone offered his mom a job for him… And we’re grateful she accepted the offer!

Follow Nam Da Reum on Instagram @namdareum_mom 

Nam Da Reum’s Acting Debut
Nam Da Reum in Boys Over Flowers (2009)

Courtesy of @namdareum_mom on Instagram

The young actor made his debut in Boys Over Flowers in 2009 as the young Joon Ji Hoo. After his debut, he believed that it would only be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that he wouldn’t continue with acting.

But, of course, that’s not true at all! The young actor rising to fame also starred in a variety of dramas as the young version of the lead character. Perhaps you might recognize him as the young Han Ji Pyeong from Start-Up (2020)? 

Nam Da Reum’s Most Recent Dramas
Nam Da Reum in Doom at Your Service (2021)

Nam Da Reum stars in Doom at Your Service (2021)

This year is a great one for Nam Da Reum, as he begins rising to fame even more. Earlier in the year he made a recurring cameo in Doom at Your Service as Tak Dong Kyung’s (Park Bo Young) young acquaintance. He received a leading role in The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim, which aired on Kakao TV and streams on Viki with a standard subscription.

This mysterious drama centers the life of Ga Doo Shim (Kim Sae Ron), a high school student who is fated to become a shaman. But when she meets Na Woo Soo (Nam Da Reum), he suddenly gains the ability to see ghosts and spirits, too. Together, they work to defeat the threatening evil spirits that loom around. 

Watch the trailer for The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim and stream it on Viki!

Jeon Yeo Been

The actress rising to fame, Jeon Yeo Been

Courtesy of @jeon_yeobeen on Instagram

Jeon Yeo Been was born on July 26, 1989 in Gangneung, Gwangwon-do, South Korea. When she was a university student, she studied Broadcast Entertainment at Dongduk Women’s University, where she began acting. However, five years after she graduated, she finally made her debut! 

Follow Jeon Yeo Been on Instagram @jeon.yeobeen

Jeon Yeo Been’s Acting Debut
Jeon Yeo Been in Save Me (2017)

Jeon Yeo Been stars in Save Me (2017)

In 2015, the actress was scouted out and made her debut in the film, The Treacherous. The Korean actress then made her television debut in OCN’s Save Me (2017), where she starred alongside future Vincenzo (2021) co-star, Ok Taecyeon. The actress rising to fame once vowed to herself that if she wasn’t successful in acting by her 30s, she’d drop it and move on. Luckily, it didn’t come to that, especially since she received a role in Vincenzo (2021) as one of the leads!

Jeon Yeo Been’s Most Recent Drama

Jeon Yeo Been started off her acting career slowly; however, her past roles were always memorable! This year, she starred as the leading lady in Vincenzo, alongside Song Joong Ki and Ok Taecyeon. The dramedy (drama and comedy) aired on tvN and streams on Netflix.

When a member of the Italian mafia, Vincenzo (Song Joong Ki), flees to South Korea, he creates an elaborate plan. There, he meets Hong Cha Young (Jeon Yeo Been), a passionate lawyer at Babel Group. After a series of tragic and chaotic events, the two team up and take down those who get in their way. But I can’t forget to mention how amazing Jeon Yeo Been and Song Joong Ki’s off-screen chemistry is! 

Watch the trailer for Vincenzo below and stream it on Netflix!

Kwak Dong Yeon

Korean actors and actresses rising to fame

Courtesy of @kwakdongyeon0 on Instagram

Kwak Dong Yeon was born in Daejeon, South Korea on March 19, 1997. But when he turned 13 years old, he moved to Seoul by himself to pursue his career in the arts. He then made his debut at 15 years old in KBS2’s My Husband Got a Family with a supporting role. 

Follow Kwak Dong Yeon on Instagram @kwakdongyeon0

Kwak Dong Yeon’s Acting Debut

In 2012, Kwak Dong Yeon earned the award for “Best Young Actor” at the Korea Drama Awards. This was following his role in the highly successful television series, My Husband Got a Family. Four years later at age 17, the actor rising to fame received a role—one responsible for his breakthrough! KBS’ Love in the Moonlight (2016) was Kwak Dong Yeon’s key to his rise in popularity, as he starred alongside Park Bo Gum.

Soon after, the young actor began gaining even more recognition for his supporting roles. In 2020, he made a cameo in the popular drama, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. He portrays a young man with a manic disorder that easily captures the viewers’ attention with his character’s emotional revelation.

Watch this moving scene below, but don’t forget to grab a couple tissues!

Kwak Dong Yeon’s Most Recent Drama

This year, Kwak Dong Yeon came back with an even more exciting project. In the hit drama, Vincenzo (2021), the Korean actor rising to fame portrays Jang Han Seo, Babel Group’s young chairman. He seems to be arrogant and entitled at first… Until the truth behind his behavior is revealed. However, his character is one you’ll grow to love, along with his bromance with Vincenzo (Song Joong Ki)! Kwak Dong Yeon may not be the lead character in Vincenzo, but he sure stole all of our hearts.

Watch Kwak Dong Yeon’s video with The Swoon below and watch him in Vincenzo on Netflix!

Who’s Your Favorite Actor or Actress Rising to Fame?

This year has brought many exciting Korean dramas—ones with Korean actors and actresses you’ll quickly grow to love (if you haven’t already!). I really enjoyed seeing these six Korean actors and actresses thrive in the industry, and I can’t wait to see where they go next! Want to see more from these amazing artists? Follow them on Instagram and be sure to support their dramas on Viki and Netflix

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