Park Shin Hye is one of the most popular Korean actresses today, and she boasts of an impressive treasury of dramas which only proved her acting prowess. If you’re still not up to speed with her work, here are the top 7 choices to get you started!
1. Stairway to Heaven (2003)
Audiences first fell in love with Park Shin Hye when she landed the role of Han Jung Suh or the young counterpart of Choi Ji Woo.
This classic tear-jerker circles around the relationships formed within a stepfamily. Jung Su is a quiet, resilient teen who had to endure the mistreatment of her evil stepmom and jealous stepsister. She develops a special friendship with Cha Song Joo (Kwon Sang Woo), having shared the pain of losing a loved one—Song Joo’s father died in an accident, while Jung Suh’s mom succumbed to eye cancer.
When her father remarried to an actress named Tae Mi Ra (Lee Hui Hyang), things didn’t go so well for Jung Suh. Turns out that her stepsister, Han Yoo Ri (Kim Tae Hee) is jealous of her and is willing to go to any lengths to turn her mom against Jung Suh. In a classic Cinderella-esque drama, Jung Suh learned what her stepmom was really like when she assaulted her while her dad was away.
Adding salt to injury, the mischievous Yoo Ri thwarts Jung Suh’s plan of studying abroad with Song Joo, who ends up leaving for America Alone. Mi Ra then steps in to have Yoo Ri win the affections of Song Joo who is the heir of the family fortune.
2. Tree of Heaven (2006)
Park Shin Hye’s acting chops, apparently worked its magic in heavy dramas, and she left fans spellbound in this third instalment of director Lee Jang Soo’s Heaven trilogy. However, this time around, Shin Hye takes on the lead role as Hana, a cheerful and idealistic teenager who falls for her stepbrother, Yoon Seo (Lee Wan). Unwilling to go against the taboo of being in this kind of relationship, Hana packed up and left for Tokyo.
Two years pass and Hana realises that she still holds feelings for Yoon Seo. Him, on the other hand, has grown to be a hardened young man who became a mafia leader in Tokyo; and all this time he has been protecting her without her knowledge.
As their paths crossed again, the question lingers if they will still end up together in spite of it all, or if their love would give way to social standards.
This series takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that concludes with a big twist that truly tugs at the heartstrings.
3. You’re Beautiful (2009)
This cult classic gender-bender catapulted Park Shin Hye into Hallyu superstardom. She plays Ko Min Nyeo, who dresses up as her twin brother, Ko Mi Nam, and joins a popular boy band to help him out of a difficult situation.
The siblings grew up in an orphanage after the death of their father. Years later, Mi Nam becomes a music idol, while Min Nyeo sets on becoming a nun. Mi Nam successfully auditioned for the musical band, A.N.Jell, but he had to leave for the US in order to correct his botched plastic surgery.
Mi Nam’s manager, Ma Hoon Yi (Kim In Kwon), approached Mi Nyeo and asked her to pose as her brother for a month until he recovers. Apprehensive at first, she eventually agrees since this was also a good way to find their mom.
Upon joining the group, Min Nyeo meets the members which include the arrogant Hwang Tae Kyung (Jang Keun Suk), the gentle Kang Shin Woo (Jung Yong Hwa) and the high-spirited Jeremy (Lee Hong Gi). Initially, Tae Kyung was against the idea of another addition to their group, so he made Min Nyeo’s life difficult, although the other two gave her a warm reception.
While she was trying her best to keep up with this act, she was also trying to navigate the feelings she started to feel for Tae Kwang. When the secret was out, the boys can’t help but fall in love with her. One one hand, she also discovers her mother’s past, which was somehow connected to Tae Kyung.
4. The Heirs/ The Inheritors (2013)
This drama is the Korean equivalent to CW’s Gossip Girl, and it boasts of a star-studded cast. It tells the story of Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) and Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye), who met for the first time in America completely by accident. Kim Tan is the son and the heir of a large company in Korea, while Eun Sang is the daughter of a housekeeper.
When things went bad for Eun Sang’s sister, who she was looking for in the US, she ended up stranded with nowhere to go. Fortunately, she is taken in by Kim Tan, but, little did they know that her mom is actually the housekeeper in Tan’s home in Korea.
Thanks to Tan’s father, she was able to attend the prestigious Jejuk High—considered the second home to Seoul’s richest teenagers. Eun Sang had to pretend that she is “new money,” so that the other students wouldn’t know that she was poor. The plot thickens when she gets caught in the crossfire of Kim Tan’s and his ex-bff, Choi Young Do’s (Kim Woo Bin) feud.
What made things even get more complicated is that Kim Tan has fallen in love with Eun Sang. The problem is, he is already engaged to Yoo Rachel (Kim Ji Won) who is also an heiress.
5. Pinocchio (2014)
In this slice-of-life drama, Park Shin Hye teamed up with K-drama heartthrob, Lee Jong Suk. Their chemistry was undeniable as they play a couple that evolved from teenage interest to an adult relationship hinged on mutual love and support.
It starts when a young Ki Ha Myung (Lee Jong Suk) experienced a family tragedy at a young age when his father died in a factory explosion. When his body was not found, the media sensationalized the story, using him as the scapegoat. Because of this, their family was ridiculed which pushed Ha Myung’s mom to suicide by jumping off a cliff taking him with her. Fortunately, he survives the jump and was saved by a man who had trauma-induced memory loss.
By some strange turn of events, the old man took Ha Myung in his care and believed that he was his older son Choi Dal Po, who actually passed on three decades ago. Ha Myung went along with it, so it came as a shock to the old man’s younger son when he came home with his daughter Choi In Ha (Park Shin Hye). Little did they know that In Ha’s mother, who was already divorced from her dad, was actually the reporter with blood on her hands for the death of Ha Myung’s mom.
Fast forward to many years later, both found their way to the world of news reporting. This was an interesting career choice for In Ha since she struggles with Pinocchio Syndrome, which means that she breaks into a fit of hiccups every time she lies. This condition caused her the rejection of her very own mother because she thinks that someone with this type of problem will be useless in the newsroom.
Ha Myung and In Ha now both have a personal vendetta against the same woman, but in the process, they learned the importance of being a true reporter. They come to realize that protecting the truth was their calling; but not without a spark of romance.
6. The Doctors (2016)
This drama was heavily promoted prior to its release as the first drama where Park Shin Hye will play a “bad girl.”
Prior to becoming a physician, Yoo Hye Jung (Park Shin Hye) was first a rebellious teenager whose father left her. She was angry at the world and was always acting out. Then she meets Hong Ji Hong (Kim Rae Won), a teacher at her new school who eventually becomes her mentor. He soon becomes a doctor, and after Hye Jung witnessed his expertise and dedication, this encouraged her to turn her life around from being a frequent delinquent.
After losing touch for more than a decade, the two meet again since both are now working in the same hospital. Turns out, Hye Jung is a neurosurgeon starting her first day at Gookil Hospital, while Ji Hong has become a surgeon himself. The two picked up where they left off, but their rekindled closeness did not escape the jealous eyes of Jin Seo Woo (Lee Sung Kyung), also a neurosurgeon in the same hospital.
This story also revolved around revenge when Hye Jung sought retribution against the person she blames for her grandmother’s untimely death. Towards the end, she also learned how to forgive, especially when it came to her father.
7. Memories of Alhambra
Adventure, love, fantasy, and action, Memories of Alhambra is a genre-bending series with all the right elements to keep you on the edge. It’s also the very first K-drama that adopted the concept of augmented reality, and it does so in a very thrilling and inventive way. It’s even more entertaining to witness top-notch graphics.
It all starts when financier Yoo Jin Woo (Hyun Bin) receives a cryptic message about a groundbreaking AR game that brings to life medieval battles in Alhambra. However, the young genius behind it disappears before Jin Woo can purchase the right to this game, instead, he meets his sister Jung Hee Joo (Park Shin Hye) who is a hostel owner.
Jin Woo finds himself in grave risk with some suspicious characters wanting a piece of the AR invention, by whatever means possible. Also, gunning for that team is Jin Woo’s ex-wife, a business rival, and a professor intent on taking revenge
As Jin Woo and He Joo set off on a desperate search for the missing game developer, the two begin to develop a slow-burning relationship. Together, they get entangled in mysterious incidents, and the line between the real world and AR starts to blur.
So, what are you waiting for? Choose among these stories, and find out for yourself why Shin Hye’s magnetic presence won the hearts of many k-drama fans.