On December 31, 2021, Cine21 released the names of Korean actors to look forward to in 2022. The survey results were assessed by 62 Korean entertainment officials based on 14 categories such as trends, impressive content or works, talent, Korean Wave influence, and more.
Here are the 24 most anticipated Korean male actors according to the industry experts:
1. Koo Kyo-hwan
Koo Kyo-hwan is known for his role in Peninsula (2020) and Deserter Pursuit (2021). He won a number of awards in 2021 including “Best Actor of the Year” for Deserter Pursuit and Kingdom: Ashin of the North at the Cine 21 Awards and Kino Light Awards. He also got a “Popular Star Award” at the 2021 Blue Dragon Film Awards for his role in the award-winning film, Escape From Mogadishu.
In 2022, it has been confirmed that he will work with Move To Heaven star, Lee Je-hoon, in an action film, Escape. Filming is expected to begin in the first half of the year.
2. Lee Byung-hun
The award-winning veteran actor, Lee Byung-hun, who appeared as the Front Man in Squid Game, is currently filming his new drama series with Shin Mina, Our Blues. It is expected to be released through TVN and Netflix in the first half of the year.
Squid Game has also confirmed its second season and currently in process for its production with Netflix.
3. Lee Jung-jae
Lee Jung-jae was named as Gucci’s global male brand ambassador after Squid Game became a worldwide hit. He won several awards in 2021 including “Daesang Actor of the Year”, “Fabulous Award”, “Hot Trend Award” at the Asia Artist Awards (AAA). He was also selected as the 2nd “TV Actor of the Year” alongside Shin Mina at the 2021 Gallup Korea and took 4th place at the 2021 Kino Light Awards.
Internationally, he was nominated for his performance in Squid Game at the 2021 Gothan Awards, 2022 Critics’ Choice TV Awards, 2022 Golden Globe Awards, 2022 Independent Spirit Awards, and 2022 AACTA International Awards.
4. Yoo Ah-in
2021 was a busy yet rewarding year for Yoo Ah-in. He gained much recognition for his work in the film, Voice of Silence. He won the “Best Actor” award at the 2021 Blue Dragon Film Awards, Baeksang Arts Awards, Fantasia International Film Festival, Buil Film Awards, and Asian Film Awards.
He also got the “Daesang Film Actor of the Year” and “Asian Celebrity Award” at the 2021 Asian Artist Award (AAA). He took 2nd place in the “Best Actor of the Year” for his role in Hellbound in the 2021 YTN.
Yoo Ah-in’s upcoming projects include the films The Match, High Five, and Seoul Vibe. He is also expected to appear in the series, The Fool of the End.
5. Kim Woo-bin
After recovering from nasopharyngeal cancer, Kim Woo-bin is finally coming back to the small screen through the TVN drama, Our Blues, which will be released in the first half of the year. It also stars his long-time girlfriend, Shin Mina, but since it’s an omnibus series, they won’t appear together in the same episode.
6. Jung Hae-in
Jung Hae-in continues to amaze the audience with his acting skills and great visuals from Deserter Pursuit to Snowdrop. A second season for Deserter Pursuit has also been confirmed.
7. Im Si-wan
The Run On star, Im Si-wan is anticipated for his performance in the mystery-drama, Tracer. It will premiere on January 7th through MBC and WAVVE.
8. Son Seok-gu
Son Seok-gu appeared in the 2021 series, Deserter Pursuit and Jirisan. He is anticipated to appear in the upcoming TV series, My Liberation Diary, through JTBC and in the film projects, The Roundup, Virus, and Dreams.
9. Song Joong-ki
After a successful 2021 with the award-winning projects Space Sweepers and Vincenzo, Song Joong-ki is anticipated in another drama in 2022 entitled, The Youngest Son of a Conglomerate, through JTBC and expected to appear in a film, Bogota.
In 2021, he received several awards including “Best Actor” for Space Sweepers at the Chunsa Film Art Awards, “Actor of the Year” at the Brand of the Year Awards, “Outstanding Korean Actor” for Vincenzo at the Seoul International Drama Awards, and “Popular Star Award” at the Blue Dragon Film Awards. He also took 2nd place for “Actor of the Year” at the 2021 Kinolights Awards.
Moreover, he was recognized through the “Presidential Commendation Award” at the 2021 Financial Services Commission and ranked #1 in the Drama Actor Brand Reputation with a brand reputation index of 8,800,00 for May 2021.
10. Park Seo-joon
The Itaewon Class star, Park Seo-jun, is anticipated in the upcoming international film, The Marvels. He is also busy working for his local films, Dream and Concrete Utopia.
In 2021, he took 14th place in the list of Forbes Korea Power Celebrity.
11. Teo Yoo
Teo Yoo won the “Best New Actor” for his role in Vertigo at the 2021 Blue Dragon Film Awards and was part in the list of 2021 Man of the Year in GQ Korea.
He is anticipated to appear in the Hollywood film, Past Lives, and in the Netflix series, Love To Hate You.
12. Wi Ha-jun
Wi Ha-joon was a breakout star in 2021 through the global hit series, Squid Game. He is a part of the ongoing series, Bad and Crazy and anticipated to appear in the upcoming TV series, K Project and Little Women.
13. Kim Soo-hyun
The award-winning and highest paid Korean actor, Kim Soo-hyun, never disappoints to impress the audience with his brilliant skills in acting. His work in the 2021 remake series, One Ordinary Day, gained much attention for its high quality production and excellent acting.
In 2021, he took 20th place in the list of Forbes Korea Power Celebrity.
14. Jo Jung-seok
The well-loved singing doctor in Hospital Playlist, Jo Jung-Seok, is anticipated to appear in the upcoming film, Nation of Happiness.
In 2021, he won the “Advertisers’ Choice Great Model Award” at the Korea Advertisers Association, “Best OST” for Aloha at the Golden Disc Awards and “Best OST” for I Like You at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
He also ranked #2 in the Drama Actor Brand Reputation with a brand reputation index of 4,461,798 for September 2021 and recognized at the 2021 Taxpayers’ Day with the award, “Presidential Commendation”. In the list of Forbes Korea Power Celebrity, he took 37th place.
15. Park Jung-min
Park Jung-min is known for his film work in 2020, Deliver Us From Evil, where he won the “Best Supporting Actor” at the 2021 Blue Dragon Film Awards, Baeksang Arts Awards, and Chunsa Film Art Awards. He also appeared in the 2021 Netflix Series, Hellbound. He is anticipated to appear in the upcoming film, One Victory and Smuggler.
16. Song Kang-ho
Song Kang-ho is a veteran actor best known for his work in Parasite (2019) which was recognized at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2020, he took 6th place in the list of New York Times Greatest Actors of the 21st century. In 2021, he won the “Grand Prize Daesang” for his role in Parasite at the Golden Cinema Film Festival.
He is expected to appear in the upcoming films, Emergency Declaration, Fifth Column, Broker, One Victory, and The Spider’s House.
17. Lee Minho
Lee Minho has been active lately with his YouTube channel, Lee Minho Film, as an Executive Producer and Creative Director. He is anticipated to appear in the upcoming series, Pachinko, which will be released on Apple TV+
He took 16th place in the list of 2021 Forbes Korea Power Celebrity and included in the brand value rankings for actors on December 28, 2021.
18. Park Haeil
Park Hae-il is known for his works in the blockbuster films such as the War of the Arrows (2011), A Muse (2012), and The Last Princess (2016). He appeared in the 2021 film, Decision To Leave.
19. Lee Hak-joo
Lee Hak-joo is known for his role in the 2020 hit series, The World of the Married, and in 2021 Netflix series, My Name. He is also a part of the ongoing JTBC series, Artificial City.
20. Kim Seonho
After a successful TV series in 2021, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Kim Seonho was named as the number one “TV Actor of the Year” by Gallup Korea. During its run, he dominated the weekly rankings of the most buzzworthy drama actors as well as topped the various polls and surveys. He also ranked #1 in the Drama Actor Brand Reputation with a brand reputation index of 5,551,730 for September 2021 and 7,201,577 for October 2021. He also entered the brand value rankings for actors on December 28, 2021.
At the 2021 Seoul International Awards, he won the “Character of the Year” for his role as Han Jipyeong in the 2020 drama, Start-Up. He also won the “Most Popular Actor” award at the 2021 Baeksang Arts Awards, two more popularity awards at the 2021 Asia Artist Awards (AAA), and took home the “Trend Icon Actor” and “Male Multi-tainer” awards at the 2021 Brand Customer Loyalty Awards. KBS also gave him the “Popularity Award for Entertainer” for his outstanding participation in the variety show, 2 Days and 1 Night. Moreover, he ranked 31st in the list of 2021 Forbes Korea Power Celebrity.
It was also reported that Kim Seonho ranked #1 among the Korean celebrities who was most searched in Google Philippines and #1 most searched male actors in Singapore.
Kim Seonho is currently filming for his movie debut, Sad Tropics, which is much anticipated to be released in the second half of 2022.
21. Ma Dong-seok
Ma Dong-seok is an American-Korean actor known for his various works in TV series and films including Train To Busan (2016).
He is expected to appear in the upcoming film, The Roundup.
22. Ahn Bo-hyun
Ahn Bo-hyun is one of the hottest rising Korean actors who appeared in the hit series, Itaewon Class, Yumi’s Cells, and My Name.
He will appear in the upcoming film, 2 O’clock Date, with Yoona and in another TVN series, Military Prosecutor Doberman.
23. Ryu Jun-yeol
The Reply 1988 star, Ryu Jun-yeol, appeared in the 2021 series, Lost. He is expected to star in the upcoming films, Alien and The Owl.
24. Choi Woo-shik
Choi Woo-shik won the “Director’s Award” for his role in the ongoing series, Our Beloved Summer, at the 2021 SBS Drama Awards. He is anticipated to appear in the upcoming films, The Policeman’s Lineage and Wonderland.