Make way for the K-drama queens of 2020! If you’re a K-drama fan, you’d be aware that there is a long list of talented female artists in Korea today. However, we’ve narrowed it down to the top ten that made waves the past year. Check to see if your favorite made the cut!
Park Shin Hye
Park Shin-hye is one of the most recognizable faces of 2020. Whether you are new to the K-drama scene or a hardcore binge-watcher, it’s possible that you came across her top-rated TV dramas and box office hit movies. Armed with the gift of creating great chemistry with every actor she’s paired with on top of her undeniable charisma, Park Shin Hye is one of the most prolific and popular k-drama actresses of her generation.
She was launched into stardom in her supporting role in the drama Stairway to Heaven. She is known for her lead roles in well-received dramas such as The Heirs and Pinocchio which got her into Forbes list of “40 Most Powerful Celebrities” in Korea. Fans also loved her as Dr. Yoo Hye-jung in the 2016 medical drama Doctors.
For 2020, Shin-hye skipped the K-drama scene but starred in two movies, #Alive and The Call. Due to her global appeal and Hallyu influence it didn’t take long for companies to recognize her clout. It was recently reported that she became the face of Visa and first Korean celebrity to endorse Visa global payment networks.
Kim Tae Hee
Kim Tae-hee is one of most-loved actresses in Korea and one of the most gorgeous faces to grace Korean television. She’s been a bright star in the industry for the last two decades.
Her captivating features is what landed her a modelling job when she was scouted by an advertising executive while riding the subway. From there, she began appearing in TV commercials and print ads before she debuted in the 2001 drama series, Last Present. But it was the 2003 drama, “Stairway to Heaven” that shot her to stardom locally and abroad.
After a five-year hiatus Kim Tae-hee made her TV comeback in 2020. She took a break from the limelight since her marriage to Rain and the birth of their 2 children. But fans eagerly waited and welcomed her return with open arms, and she never failed to impress with her distinctive acting chops in Hi Bye, Mama. The Netflix drama tells the story of a mother who passed away due to an unexpected accident, but was given a chance to return to her family for 49 days.
Son Ye Jin
Dubbed as Korea’s ‘queen of melodrama,’ Son Ye-jin is one of few Korean actresses to enjoy enduring box-office appeal on both the small and big screens. But 2020 has proved to be a pivotal year for the 39-year-old when she gained widespread international fame for her role as Yoon Se-ri on Crash Landing on You. Playing across Hyun Bin, who enjoys superstar status himself, both created a love team that had many hearts swooning for star-crossed love stories. This was so popular that it also became the “gateway drama” for the uninducted.
As the show gained a lot of traction, fans became more interested in the life of its lead actress. However, Ye-jin was no stranger to fame. She made her debut in 2000 with a supporting role in the film Secret Tears. But she became known for her role in the 2003 film The Classic and 2004’s A Moment to Remember. Her fandom started with the massive support of male fans, but she eventually started to gain female supporters with more stable ticketing power.
With over 3 million followers on Instagram, Ye-jin treats her fans to sneak peeks into her life. WIth her massive following, she eventually gained new notoriety as a fit inspo and a beauty influencer. If her 2020 success was not enough, she made bigger news this year when it was confirmed that she is dating Hyun Bin.
Kim Go Eun
Go-eun mostly worked on movies more than the small screen. She debuted in 2012 in the movie, “A Muse” where she sweeped a total of nine awards. With a slew of successful projects under her belt, fans were looking forward as she made her way to the small screen.
Her foray into K-dramas started with the 2016 series, “Cheese in the Trap,” which was a success in its own right. But it was her second drama “Goblin” that made her famous worldwide owing to the positive response audiences have with the series. An unconventional beauty, Go-eun is not one to shy away from roles that challenge her acting range and that is why her popularity soared at the turn of the decade.
Seo Ye Ji
Alongside dreamy co-star Kim Soo-hyun, Seo Ye-ji was the summer breakout face of South Korean drama in 2020 thanks to her role in the Netflix hit “It’s Okay Not to Be Okay.” The series had a lot of audiences tuning in during its successful run because it explores a unique plot that revolved around mental health. Seo Ye-jii plays the role of Ko Moon-young, a character who suffers from antisocial personality disorder.
After her popularity gained new heights in 2020, she has received a lot of attention from brands who were drawn by her elegant image. Many have grown to appreciate her wardrobe style in the show making her a fashion inspiration as she showcases famous and local brands.
Park Min Young
With one of the most charming faces in Korean TV, Park Min-young is definitely a captivating presence because she is beauty personified. She rose to fame in the historical coming-of-age drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and she has since starred in many series like City Hunter, Glory Jane, A New Leaf, Healer, Her Private Life and more. But it was in her role in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim that her feminine style and vibrant personality really shone through. Her palpable chemistry with co-star Park Seo-joon was so convincing that many fans started believing that they were in an actual relationship.
In 2020, Min-young starred in the JTBC series, When the Weather Is Fine where she plays an unemployed cello teacher. The drama resonated with fans because it showed flawed characters who couldn’t express how they felt because they lacked the courage. Whether it was, “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” or “Don’t leave me,” the characters were too scared to speak up.
With an acting career that extends for more than a decade Park Min-young has received many acting awards and nominations. But this 35-year-old’s talent isn’t limited to just acting; she also has a flair for hosting and is not one to shy away from comedic roles. But with a face like that, she was bagging CF projects left and right.
To touch base with her fans, Park Min-young is one of many Korean celebrities who ventured into vlogging through their own YouTube channel.
Lee Sung Kyung
Lee Sung-Kyung was called the “Gigi Hadid of South Korea” thanks to her beautiful aesthetic, tall figure, and signature hazel eyes. She was an ulzzang (“good-looking”) model before she made her mark in the entertainment industry as an actress. She only started acting in 2014, but she has already grown into one of Korea’s biggest TV stars.
Even though she’s an obvious stunner, what charmed fans to Lee Sung-kyung is the fact that she does not shy away from unconventional roles. She proved this in her hit coming-of-age TV series, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo. She transformed into an awkward teenager, which she played so naturally, which is why it’s the role that was a hallmark performance throughout her career.
In 2020, Sung-kyung starred in the second season of the hit medical drama Dr. Romantic 2, playing Cha Eun-jae, a skilled cardiothoracic playing alongside Ahn Hyo-seop as her leading man. As a much anticipated second season that took a long four years after its first installment, it proved to be a strong sequel. Fans were drawn to the strong chemistry Sung-kyung developed with Ahn Hyo-seop in their slow burn romance throughout the series.
Park So Dam
Park So-dam has forged a strong acting career in movies. However, before she was able to gain mainstream success, several rejections first brought her to indie films wherein she starred in over a dozen of them. Park So Dam shot into international stardom after the movie Parasite became a global phenomenon in 2019.
So-dam played Jessica in the Oscar-winning film. She is the 29-year-old clever daughter of the brilliantly deceptive Kim family. Her character even went viral on social media for that iconic doorbell song, now coined by the internet as the “Jessica Jingle.”
For 2020 So-dam made the news again as she joins the stellar line-up of the Netflix K-drama “Record of Youth” which also stars heartthrob Park Bo-gum. Here she plays another ambitious young woman. Instead of a con-artist, she plays makeup artist An Jeong-ha.
Park’s appearance does not conform to Korea’s typical beauty standards, but she has always stood her ground and has stayed away from plastic surgery—which may have also added to her charm. She may not be your average female lead, but the success of her latest drama series is a testament to her talent.
Jo Bo Ah
Jo Bo-ah had an interesting 2020 when she starred in two successful TV series in Forest and Tale of the Nine-Tailed. The young actress made her screen debut in 2011 in the daily sitcom I Live in Cheongdam-dong. However, she rose to fame after leading the Korean dramas Shut Up Flower Boy Band and The Idle Mermaid. She also won several awards for her role in the KBS2 series All About My Mom. In 2014, she made her film debut playing Ha Young-eun in the romantic thriller Innocent Thing.
No stranger to fantasy drama, Bo-ah sparked curiosity when Tail of the Nine-Tailed made it big. She played the role of a television producer with an inclination for the supernatural. Having to come face to face with otherworldly beings, Bo-ah’s pushed her to do action scenes. She also displayed impressive chemistry with Lee Dong-wook which also earned her the Netizen Popularity Award at the KBS Drama Awards 2020.
Bae Suzy may charm audiences with her girl-next-door image, but this 26-year-old’s career is a force to be reckoned with. From being a former K-pop star, Suzy’s foray into acting has proven that her name can shine even brighter.
Suzy’s breakout role was in the 2012 movie, Architecture 101. Her character and her outstanding portrayal made her an “icon” for unrequited love, and for that she was given the nickname, “nation’s first love.” From there, she had a slew of movies and dramas over the years which showcased her growth in acting.
In 2020 she graced the small screen as she played Seo Dal Mi in tvN’s Start-Up, a role that fit her like a glove. The 16-episode series that revolved around the struggles of creating start-up companies was such a big hit that a wave of interest also followed its main cast members. Suzy was no stranger to the limelight and the glaring attention from locally and abroad as she is one of the most recognizable faces in Korean pop culture today. Might we add that she is also a CF (Commercial Film) queen clinching over 14 deals in 2013 alone!
For her role, Suzy claimed that she was drawn to participate in Start-Up because it came with a fresh storyline. But more than that, people were also curious about the love story between the three main characters. At the height of its popularity the show earned a huge following even among international fans, but it also polarized audiences between #TeamDoSan and TeamGoodBoy. Right in the middle of it all is Suzy’s character on whom people are waiting on to see with whom her heart really beats for.
Suzy’s career is something to be envious of because at such a young age, she is a successful actress, pop star, and a sought-after endorser.