To play two roles in any project is a challenge for any actor. Those who are given the opportunity must know all the details of the two characters and make sure viewers can see the difference in them so that they don’t get confused. More importantly, they need to be convinced. This challenge is also a life-changing opportunity to score a high point in their acting career.
Among those who starred in popular Korean dramas, we shortlisted 12 actors and actresses who played two roles in the same series and left an indelible impression on viewers. Read on and see if your favourite made the cut!
Kim Seo Yoon – River Where the Moon Rises
This reinterpretation of a classic Goguryeo folk tale tells the story of Princess Pyeong Gang (played by Kim So Hyun) and On Dal of Goguryeo (played by Na In Woo). As a woman of power, Princess Pyeong Gang has devoted herself to the country and Queen Yeon, the mother of Pyeong Gang.
On the flip side, Kim So Hyun also played Yeom Ga Jin, a princess who turns into an assassin after a tragic event made her lose all her memories.. While in character, So Hyun impressed viewers with her action scenes as the killer. But she also nailed her portrayal of a strong, progressive leader by playing Princess Pyeong Gang. Unfortunately, the series suffered a sudden cast change when Jisoo, who played On Dal, had to step down from his role due to bullying issues. However, Kim So Hyun’s performance overshadowed that setback despite the re-shooting.
Seo Kang Joon – Are You Human?
Are You Human shows how a mother’s love knows no bounds. When scientist Oh Laura’s (Kim Sung Ryung) son was suddenly taken from her, she created an AI replica named Nam Shin (Seo Kang Joon) 1, II and II respectively. This was her way to fill the void. However, decades later, an accident causes her son to fall into a coma. It was also around this time when he was slated to take his spot as the heir to the conglomerate. So, to secure his spot, Oh Laura offers up the android, Nam Shin III.
Viewers enjoyed Seo Kang Joon’s exceptional performance playing the Android and human Nam Shins. Both characters have totally different personalities where each is supposed to be their own main lead in the drama. The robot Nam Shin III is a kind machine that accepts any kind of treatment he receives from the people surrounding him, which is a far cry from the real Nam Shin. With each role, Seo Kang Joon was able to deliver the nuances and smooth transformations.
Yoon Shi Yoon – Your Honor
A cruel twist of fate gave Han Kang Ho (Yoon Shi Yoon) the opportunity to step into his identical twin brother’s shoes as a prominent judge. Little did he know that this position came with surprising consequences. As a repeat offender, stepping into the world where justice was supposed to be served was overwhelming for him. Having lived in the shadow of his successful brother, Han Soo Ho, he was aware that he was less favoured by their mother. This pushed him to rebel and do whatever he wanted with his life.
Yoon Shi Yoon showed outstanding performance playing identical twin brothers. He was able to show perfect duality for these two roles, which he played very convincingly.
Park Bo Young – Oh My Ghost
Na Bong Sun, played by Park Bo Young, is a very shy and timid kitchen assistant in a restaurant. She does her best to get on the good side of her rude and abrasive boss, Chef Kang Sun Woo (Jo Jung Suk), but often finds herself in hot water. Her struggles were brought mainly by her ability to see ghosts. But things took a more interesting turn when she was approached by the ghost of Shin Soon Ae (Kim Seul Gi), who was seeking her help. Soon Ae was a virgin ghost who likes to seduce as many as possible as her way to move on. She possesses Bong Sun and starts to hit on none other than Chef Sun Hoo. As the story unfolds, so does the mystery behind Soon Ae’s death.
What is interesting about this drama is Park Bo Young’s comical transformation from a very clumsy and soft-spoken young woman into someone who’s confident and outgoing. She got her head spinning as people around her can no longer keep up with her changing personality. Like a true artist, Bo Young was able to deliver a phenomenal performance which made this drama one of the most memorable rom-coms you need to watch.
Lee Ha Nee – One The Woman
One the Woman is a comedy-drama about a corrupt prosecutor named Jo Yeon Joo (Lee Ha Nee), a corrupt prosecutor whose personality changed completely after waking up from a coma. Having grown up in a poor background, she hustled hard to get to where she is now. This upbringing made her a tough lawyer who is considered by both her allies and enemies as “one-of-a-kind”. Only, she’s not really all that unique, not in looks anyway. There is another woman who looks exactly like her. She was a rich housewife married to a family who was part of the top earners in the financial industry.
A mysterious car accident brought Jo Yeon Joo into a coma. When she woke up, she was mistaken for Kang Mi Na, the conservative chaebol daughter-in-law who holds a striking resemblance to her. This drama was Lee Ha Nee’s first time playing two roles in the same work. With an interesting and intriguing storyline, it is definitely one series that is worth watching!
Ji Sung – Kill Me Heal Me
This drama may be quite a throwback, but it’s still one that is worth visiting as it showcased Ji Sung’s talent to play different characters. This story revolves around Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung), who suffers from multiple personality disorder. That means he has five different personalities, complete with their own unique identity – ranging in age and sexes. To regain control of his life he enlists the help of a first-year psychiatric resident Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung Eum). But her twin brother, writer Oh Ri-on (Park Seo Joon), has other plans and tries to expose the truth.
If others are playing dual roles, Ji Sung took it to a whole other level for this series! But it was very entertaining to watch how he portrayed each character—be it an ahjussi, a bratty young girl, or a sensitive man in touch with his feelings. As it turned out, each of these personalities is a way to cope with trauma.
Song Joong Ki – Arthdal Chronicles
This fantasy drama is about heroes who write different legends in the ancient land of Arth. Headlining this project is Song Joong Ki, who takes on the role of twins Saya and Eun Seom. They were born between a blue-eyed and blue-blooded neanderthal and a human. In a series that consisted of three parts, Saya appeared at the end of part 1, ‘Children of Prophecy.’ He grew up hiding in Arthdal for 20 years. Meanwhile, Eun Seom eventually became the conqueror of Arthdal. The two characters with completely different personalities and backgrounds face each other in part 2, ‘the sky turning inside out rising land.’
As always, Song Joong Ki, delivered a compelling performance portraying twins, and breathing unique personalities into each of them. This also factored in the success of the drama that led viewers to clamour for a second season.
Yeo Jin Goo – The Crowned Clown
The Crowned Clown is a remake of the 2012 film Masquerade. It’s a story of a king in the Joseon Dynasty whose throne is in danger. To escape these power struggles, he plans to replace himself with a court jester who bears a very close resemblance to him. Yeo Jin Goo plays the clown Ha Seon, a free-spirited and warm-hearted young man who was approached by King Yi Heon to replace him.
The series gets even more exciting when the fake king Ha Seon develops a crush on Queen So Woon the moment the real king, Yi Heon, temporarily leaves the palace. The scenes where Yi Heon speaks to Ha Seon face to face always created tight tension, largely due to Yeo Jin Goo’s impeccable acting that makes the two characters look completely different. What is worth noting about his performance in this series is that he perfectly portrayed Yi Heon, the tyrant who lost himself to madness.
Hyun Bin – Hyde, Jekyll, Me
Hyun Bin fans also get to see their favourite Oppa in a dual role in Hyde, Jekyll, Me. The show follows theme park Wonderland CEO Gu Seo-jin (Hyun Bin), whose structured life was disrupted when his alter-ego emerges. Separate from his original personality, he transforms into a warm and compassionate person named Robin. This unusual twist started with an incident at Wonderland, where he comes into direct contact with the recently-returned circus master Jang Ha-na (Han Ji-min). All the excitement caused his heart to start racing and he almost transformed into Robin. To avoid this from possibly happening again, he makes the sudden decision to shut the circus down for good.
The psychiatrist who has been treating him, reached out to let him know that there’s a possible cure for his split personality. Dr Kang believes it is all related to an incident in his past – a time when he desperately needed to be saved and Robin—his alternate personality—was created for this purpose. Newer Hyun Bin stans will find a different side of the hunky actor in this psychological drama. It may be a far cry from the iconic Captain Ri, but it also showcased his versatile talent.
Chae Soo Bin – I’m Not a Robot
Kim Min Kyu (Yeo Seung Ho) is a young, rich man, who lives in seclusion due to a severe allergy that is triggered when he comes into physical contact with people. But he found an unlikely companion in a robot named Aji 3, which was actually a prototype that was sent to him to be tested, as a possible investor. However, before the robot is sent to Min Kyu to be tested it malfunctions and is severely damaged. With no hope of it being delivered on time, Professor Hong Baek Kyun (Um Ki Joon) hatches a plan. Since he based the design of the robot on his ex-girlfriend, Jo Ji-ah (Chae Soo-bin), he enlists her help to cover for him while the robot is being fixed. She reluctantly agrees to be a temporary replacement for Aji3 and is sent to Min-kyu’s house for the testing process. During this time, the pair form a unique bond, which causes undue concern for Min-kyu thinking he has fallen for a robot. He abruptly decides to erase the robot’s memory and get his life back to normal.
Beyond the romance that developed between the two lead actors, Chae Soo Bin’s ability to portray a robot and a real person was impressive. She delivered a comical performance as she tries to act like a robot while trying to hold back her growing feelings for Min Kyu.
Jun Ji Hyun – Legend of the Blue Sea
This fantasy romance drama is inspired by a tale about a mermaid in Eou Yadam, a collection of tales written in the Joseon Dynasty. The series revolved around the last mermaid on Earth who comes across a highly skilled con artist and learns to live among human beings. However, the relationship between these two actually goes back more than a decade to their previous lives.
Jun Ji Hyun plays both Shim Cheong, the mermaid in the present time, and her ancestor in the Joseon Dynasty, Se Hwa. This is the actress’ second work with writer Park Ji Eun, whom she met through her previous work, My Love From the Star. If anything, this drama showcased Ji Hyun’s serious and quirky side which made it one of the most popular K-drama rom-com to date.
Yoon Hyun Min – My Holo Love
In this Netflix series, Yoon Hyun Min flexed his acting skills by playing dual roles. It all started when Han So-yeon, who suffers from an inability to recognise faces (prosopagnosia). However, she carefully manages to keep her distance away from others to avoid any romantic entanglements, until she meets Holo, an AI hologram, who turns her life around. What made things interesting is that AI Holo was made in the image of its developer, Ko Nan Do. But, he has a totally different personality. While he watched So Yeon and AI Holo grow closer, he felt something that he never felt before.
Yoon Hyun Min considered this dual role a learning opportunity for him. Even though he finds it an exhausting exercise, he realised that it is a valuable experience. Caught in an interesting love triangle against another character which he plays himself, he had to pull a compelling performance to convincingly execute romantic rivalry.