Ahjummas’ Picks Year-end Special: Best Actors and Actresses of 2019

K-dramaland is filled with outstanding talented actors and actresses. But every year, there would be clear standouts that deserve a shout out!

Here are the best of the best actors and actresses for 2019!

Maknae’s Choice:

Top 3 Actors of 2019

Joo Ji-hoon as Lee Chang – Kingdom


I’ve waited for Joo Ji-hoon’s small screen comeback for four years and it was worth it! This is not even my favorite genre but I genuinely liked it because of the superb acting and well-written plot. My first love in K-dramaland made my heart beat fast once again, albeit for a different reason.

Jang Dong-yoon as Jeon Nokdu – The Tale of Nokdu


Jang Dong-yoon has been in various supporting/second lead roles in recent years but this role cemented his spot on my “to-watch-out-for” K-actors list. He easily changed into his timid Lady Kim persona to rugged streetwise Nokdu. He really proved his versatility in this series.

Ahn Jae-hong as Son Beom-soo – Be Melodramatic


I’ve watched all of Ahn Jae-hong’s small screen projects and every time, he would devour his current character and leave his previous one behind. No traces left at all. He’s not the innocent Jung Bong nor the cheater Kim Joo-man anymore. In Be Melodramatic, he was completely the arrogant but real and lovable director Son Beom-soo. And this is why I think he deserves a spot in my top three list of best actors this year.

Top 3 Actresses of 2019

Jeon Yeo-bin as Lee Eun-jung – Be Melodramatic


For a drama like Be Melodramatic, one should look natural on screen. Like he/she isn’t acting at all. Everyone on Be Melo did a great job but Jeon Yeo-bin is a standout. It was probably because of the complex of her character arc, and Yeo-bin definitely delivered.

Yum Jung-ah as Han Seo-jin – SKY Castle


Out of my three top actresses, Yum Jung-ah’s character in SKY Castle is the only character I hate. That annoyance and irritation slowly became pity and I even rooted for her redemption. This seasoned actress stirred a lot of emotions throughout this series.

Gong Hyo-jin as Dong-baek – When The Camellia Blooms


It’s pretty obvious why Gong Hyo-jin is on this list. She kept on choosing good dramas and nailing each character every time. She’s on a goddess tier when it comes to acting skills, and I don’t think there would be another Gong Hyo-jin in K-Entertainment Industry.

Tipsy Findings:

Top 3 Actors of 2019

Lee Ji-hoon as Min Woo-won – Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung


Coming into the drama, I innocently believed that it’s a no-brainer that I will swoon over Cha Eun-woo and Cha Eun-woo only. But the K-Drama gods indeed have other plans. Lee Ji-hoon made the stoic and righteous Officer Min into an adorable sunbae. He showcased that he is a top-caliber actor in scenes where he courageously stood up for what is right but was still able to show pain in his eyes since the main antagonist is his father.

Ahn Jae-hong as Son Beom-soo – Be Melodramatic


Who would have thought that there will come a time that I will have butterflies in my stomach because of Reply 1988‘s Jung Bong, hahaha. This is a hard pick for me since I’m torn between him and one of my biggest K-drama crushes, Kang Ha-neul oppa. I don’t think any actor could bring to life Son Beom-soo the way Ahn Jae-hong did. The subtlety in his acting paired with the expression he makes are the perfect combo to make the character as annoyingly cute as possible.

Kim Byung-chul as Cha Min-hyuk – SKY Castle


Don’t get me wrong, all the SKY Castle ahjussis are worthy of an acting daesang. But Kim Byung-chul’s take on a father who’s overly obsessive with his children’s education just drew me in from the start. Despite how serious his character was supposed to be, this ahjussi was able to make him hilarious.

Top 3 Actresses of 2019

Bae Doo-na as Seo-bi – Kingdom


Bae Doo-na once again proved in Kingdom why she has numerous awards under her belt. Her method leans towards the natural kind of acting where it feels like she’s one with the character. She, time and again, proves that the leading lady doesn’t always have to be a damsel in distress or the quirky and adorable type.

Yum Jung-ah as Han Seo-jin – SKY Castle


This veteran actress definitely showed her experience in portraying the role of Han Seo-jin. From an over the top mom-witch combo to a pitiful wife, her expressions can change in the blink of an eye. I always admire actresses who can convey their feelings to the audience even in the absence of a dialogue, and Yum Jung-ah is undoubtedly one of them. She no less than made a strong and complex character relatable.

Shin Hye-sun as Lee Yeon-Seo – Angel’s Last Mission 

angel last mission love shin hyesun dancing

What I like most about Shin Hye-sun is her consistency in portraying Lee Yeon-seo’s character. From the start of the drama to the moments when she developed feelings for Angel Dan and up to finale, she kept intact the character’s attributes. She made Lee Yeon-seo realistic by developing her character well instead of introducing a new personality when the story turned the corner. Also, she has the gift of wrenching your heart whenever she shed tears.

The Frown Crown:

Top 3 Actors of 2019

Kim Nam-gil as Father Hae-il – The Fiery Priest


It was early this year when I had this major burnout from watching too many K-dramas. So right after The Fiery Priest‘s airing that’s when I decided to binge watch this drama because of Lee Honey. I love her and find her hilarious, so I jumped right into this series and man, it definitely cured my drama slump immediately! The drama was really so funny, and its awesome cast were in perfect comedic harmony. Never did I imagine that it would be Kim Nam-gil who would make me stay until the end of this drama. He was perfect as the thug-slash-priest Hae-il!! That’s why when I was thinking of my top actors for this year, he was undoubtedly my number one.

Kang Ha-neul as Hwang Yong-shik – When the Camellia Blooms


Well, who wouldn’t love Hwang Yong-shik? This innocent country bumpkin had the purest of hearts, always ready to protect Dongbaek. Kang Ha-neul was tailor fit to become Yong-shik and Yong-shik was fated to be for Kang Ha-neul. He definitely did an incredible choice in When the Camellia Blooms as his post-military comeback drama, not only for the material and the blockbuster ratings, but also for the unforgettable role of Yong-shik that would surely now be a classic for K-drama fans.

Joo Ji-hoon as Crown Prince Lee Chang – Kingdom


When Netflix announced that Song Joong-ki declined the role of the crown prince in Kingdom, I was really sad. But that disappointment was quickly replaced with satisfaction because of how Joo Ji-hoon took on the role. He was super good as the pampered Crown Prince Lee Chang, and I couldn’t wait how things will turn out with him and his shady ~trusty~ bodyguard Mu-yeong on Season 2!

Top 3 Actresses of 2019

Kim Hye-ja as Kim Hye-ja – Light in your Eyes


This halmeoni made me cry a good amount of tears while watching Light in Your Eyes I’m not even exaggerating. It’s the type of drama that would make you think twice of your past actions, and reassess your present efforts to give your parents a pretty damn good life just to make up for everything they have done for you. I wouldn’t spoil this drama because it’s that good, but definitely check out not only for the star power of the young bloods, Nam Joo-hyuk and Han Ji-min, but also for the superb acting of veterans Kim Hye-ja, Ahn Nae-sang, and Lee Jung-eun. Every scene will move you, make you fall in love, and even look back on your family’s relationship.

Kim Seo-hyung as Kim Joo-Young – SKY Castle


The blockbuster and critical success that this drama received this year was not just based on hype. The entire cast were commendable, but it was Kim Seo-hyung who left a dent in me that I will never forget. Every time I watch her as the exam coordinator Kim Joo-young, I felt this strange mental torture and anxiety, which made me realized I would never survive SKY Castle if given the chance. Kim Seo-hyung was perfect in living as Kim Joo-young seonsaengnim from her back story and life choices to the consequences of her wrong decisions.

IU as Jang Man-weol – Hotel del Luna

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Aside from the enormous costume changes and the fancy sets, Hotel del Luna was also another chance for IU to showcase her acting chops. IU made us all love the vulnerable yet vengeful Jang Man-weol so easily. We saw past her sufferings, and root for her in overcoming her centuries-long heartbreak. We laughed with her when she was slowly opening up her heart to other people, and cried with her when she let go of her past and forgive those who had hurt her.


<< 2019 Favorites: Maknae’s Choice
<< 2019 Favorites: The Frown Crown
<< Ahjummas’ Picks Year-end Special: Favorite 2019 K-drama Couple
<< Ahjummas’ Picks Year-end Special: Favorite Soundtracks of 2019
<< Ahjummas’ Picks Year-end Special: Breakout Stars of 2019

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