Breakout Stars of 2020

The K-dramaverse is filled with talented shining stars. The competition has always been tough and outshining the established names is always a challenge. But this year, some stars are just destined to finally get their spotlight. Our list varies from rookie actors who seem to be unpolished gems we discovered to seasoned theatre/movie actors who brought their A-game to another medium. All of them have reached a new height of popularity this 2020.

Maknae’s Choice

Jeon Mi-do – Hospital Playlist as Chae Song-hwa

Jeon Mi-do is already an established name in the world of theatre in South Korea. This year, she had a breakthrough in another medium through the series Hospital Playlist. Her theatre experience is so palpable in her flawless portrayal of Chae Song-hwa. She was natural in her role and it really fits Shin Won-ho PD’s directing style.

Kwon Na-ra – Itaewon Class as Oh Soo-ah

There’s this generation of actresses that I totally didn’t know were idols before. Case in point: Yoo Eun-hye, Hwang Jung-eum, Seo Hyun-jin. I only found out about it because some sunbae told me they debuted in an idol group. Come 2020, I am that sunbae. That person who’s seen the transition of these current trending actresses from their idol days into their now-current actress image. I’ve known Kwon Nara in Hello Venus and I am really quite surprise there are K-drama fans that haven’t seen her (and even Suzy) in their idol days (and omg, I’m getting older). I may be Team Yi-seo in Itaewon Class but I just really have to acknowledge Nara in this series. Nara has been getting acting roles for quite some time now but it was in Itaewon Class that her full potential was finally noticed. In fact, her next role after IC is the female lead role opposite another idol-turned-actor Kim Myung-soo in Secret Royal Inspector. Hopefully, through this role she’ll complete her transition from singer to actress.

Kim Seon-ho – Start-Up as Han Ji-pyeong

Similar to Jeon Mi-do, Kim Seon-ho is already well-known in the streets of Daehak-ro. He’s been in theatre for years before he debuted in 2017. Since then, he has been getting good roles. And with his role as Han Ji-pyeong in Start-Up, his name finally catapults into the ultimate trending list, particularly with the international fans. It is also my gateway to finally notice this charming actor, who my friends have been clamoring about for years already.

p.s. you all should really watch him in “2 Days and 1 night“. I may have noticed him first in Start-Up but it was in this variety show that I became a fan. He’s real self – the feeble-hearted variety rookie – is more charming than any of his roles yet. So yes, I’m also wishing hard to dramagenies to bless uri Seon-ho-jjing a good follow-up drama next year. 

The Frown Crown

Han So-hee – The World of the Married as Yeo Da-kyung

My favorite bitch. Han So-hee as Yeo Da-kyung will forever be remembered by the K-drama fans worldwide for being our most hated mistress of 2020. We were all glued to our screens every weekend when The World of the Married was still airing. While the whole world was busy being gripped by a new pandemic, we were all preoccupied by our common hatred for Han So-hee’s character. LOL. Home quarantines weren’t a problem for someone so invested in watching Da-kyung’s life fall apart. I can watch her suffer all day. We all hate what 2020 did to us, but to Han So-hee? This is her year.

Kim Da-mi – Itaewon Class as Jo Yi-seo

This TV rookie is a Chungmuro veteran. She’s already an established movie star with numerous acting awards in her three year old career, and I couldn’t be more proud when she won the 56th Baeksang Arts Awards for Best New Actress for TV. I hope she’ll continue doing more small screen projects. Anyway, I never had the chance to express how much I liked Itaewon Class for being ~that relevant drama~ we all needed at the start of the tumultuous 2020. And IC’s best asset (excluding PSJ, of course) was its very reliable manager, Yi-seo. She may be a sociopath, but at least she knows what she wants. Kim Da-mi’s acting was memorable and deserving of all the hype.

Jeon Mi-do – Hospital Playlist as Chae Song-hwa

I haven’t heard of Jeon Mi-do before Hospital Playlist, and for her to be selected as the only female main cast in this Shin-Lee comeback project just meant one thing – she must be real good. I could trust the tandem of Writer Lee and Shin PD with my life, and I won’t ever doubt their casting choices. Jeon Mi-do was a breath of fresh air in this very star-studded drama, and yet she managed to shine in her own light. Song-hwa is everybody’s dream girl. And even though Hospital Playlist teased us with her end game all season long, I think Jeon Mi-do was able to distinct herself from being just the ideal doctor-girlfriend of ~someone~. She can be your daddy long legs if you need to, or someone who’ll remind you to move quickly because winter is coming. She’ll eat you leftovers, or buy you drinks. I can’t think of anyone perfect for the role of Song-hwa than Jeon Mi-do. She’s like a blank sketchbook waiting to be filled with memorable scenes that will be imprinted on our minds for a long time.

Busy Ahjussi’s Faves

One of the many challenges that facing K-drama fans is to be able to stick with a certain “bias.” Every year, a rookie or an actor who-has-always-been-there-why-I-didn’t-notice-him-before suddenly gets catapulted in the limelight and everyone’s list of their sought-after celebrities is never the same again. For 2020, here are my top three bias-wreckers or this year’s breakout stars:

Kim Seon-ho – Start-Up as Han Ji-pyeong

I think it would be a mortal sin not to include our puppy-eyed Kim Seon-ho in the list. The actor has been in the drama scene for quite a while but his role as Han Ji-pyeong in Start-up really cemented his reputation as the one to look out for in the years to come. While a lot of credits can be given to the drama’s writer for creating such a rich and beautiful character, Kim’s portrayal just made Han Ji-pyeong someone we all cannot help but root and love even if I’m on #TeamDosan.

Kim Ji-hoon – Flower of Evil as Baek Hee-sung

Unlike Kim Seon-ho, the next actor in the list has been in the drama industry for decades – weekend drama royalty, Kim Ji-hoon. Kim Ji-hoon surprised everyone this year when he breathed life into psycho-killer Baek Hee-sung in the drama Flower of Evil. The character is a far cry from his usual roles of rich, snobbish chaebol we always see (and sometimes get tired of) in weekend shows. The role is certainly out of Kim Ji-hoon’s comfort zone but the risk-taking has truly paid off as his character as one of the villains we won’t easily forget – even though we wanted.

Park Hae-joon – The World of the Married as Lee Tae-oh

Last but not the least is character actor Park Hae-joon who played the most-hated husband in dramaland to date. Park Hae-joon has also been very active in acting in dramas for years, playing support characters we would miss a lot of time. Personally, I’ve been checking him and had always thought of him as someone who would be good at playing kind and upright characters. So it was a revelation when Park took on a two-timing bastard in The World of the Married. A lot of people would praise Kim Hee-ae and Han So-hee for their convincing performances in the drama, which I approve of, but Park Hae-joon deserves as much applaud. I think I have to see him in a new role very soon because his face still makes my blood boil. Sorry, ahjussi!

Tipsy Musings

Jeon Mi-do – Hospital Playlist as Chae Song-hwa

The stars indeed align for thespian Jeon Mi-do this year, from being a nugu in the K-Drama scene to starring in one of the most successful series in 2020. What I appreciate most about her performance was how she made Chae Song-hwa endearing yet real at the same time. I don’t exactly know how to explain this, but she gave me the feeling as if Song-hwa is a real person, someone I know, a breathing and living creature and not just a K-Drama character.

Kim Yong-ji – The King Eternal Monarch as Myung Na-ri and Tale of the Nine Tailed as Ki Yu-ri

Kim Yong-ji is definitely one of the scene stealers in the K-Drama world this 2020. And if having two trending dramas in one year is not proof enough, I don’t know what is. Her performance in both The King Eternal Monarch and Tale of the Nine Tailed is commendable. Personally, I can’t wait for the day when she’ll lead her own drama. And if not’s too much to ask, with Kim-bum, maybe? Kekeke.

Hwang Min-hyun – Live On as Go Eun-taek

I don’t even need to explain this. Having uri Minhyun in a series is a dream come true for me already. And as a LO⅄E, I couldn’t be more proud of him. His performance is praiseworthy, especially considering that this is his first drama. The future looks more than promising for him and my heart couldn’t be more excited.

Just dropping this visual bomb for y’all. Click right! ❤

Bonus: Seo Woo-jin – Hi, Bye Mama as Cho Seo-woo

Well, I just want to have an excuse to include this gender-bending cutie here. Who wouldn’t?

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