The 18 Best K-Drama Female Performances Of 2022

Perhaps what sets the groundwork for a memorable and outstanding performance is working with the right writer who creates the character and the right director who oversees the actor translate the subject from the screenplay onto the screen. We think that it is in choosing the right story that best highlights an actor’s craft.

This year, several good Korean dramas have emerged across streaming platforms and many actors have caught the attention of viewers for their outstanding performances and powerful onscreen presence.

From legal to crime to sageuk to fantasy to melodrama to comedy to romance, here are 18 Korean female actors who we think were exceptional in bringing their given character to life and making it one of the most engaging and memorable of the year, so far:

1. Park Eun-bin in Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)

Woo to the Young to the Woo! What is not to love about this iconic character in Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)? It appears to be one of the most challenging Korean drama roles of the year and Park Eun-bin slayed her most striking and best performance yet. She rises to the top anew and the drama’s popularity is a booming number that shows her acting capability is not limited to romance or sageuk. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this extraordinary girl named Woo Young-woo grows up with a high IQ, is able to memorize the books of laws, and has a special love for whales, dolphins, and gimbap. She exercises her extraordinary skills as a lawyer in various cases while overcoming discrimination from society. Actress Park Eun-bin displayed extraordinary acting through her speech, gait, mannerisms, as well as eye expressions plausibly impressive enough for Attorney Woo to be the most memorable and inspiring one of the year.

Genre: Legal
Writer: Moon Ji-won
Director: Yoo In-shik
Network: ENA, Netflix

2. Seo Yea-ji in Eve (2022)

Not every actress can pull off a dark role with such power in facial expression, vocal, and gesture but Seo Yea-ji emerges as one of those few who can slay it and not afraid to take the risks. Her drama comeback, Eve (2022), is such an intense show on power trip and revenge, which demands a performance of double identity—Lee La El who is emotionally trapped in tormenting trauma and the fake Kim Sun Bin who psychodramatically befriends her enemies with her wit and charm—seeking revenge by blood and death. Besides the interesting storyline, plot twists, and strong characters, Seo Yea-ji’s performance is on a screen-shattering level of intensity. She has always been amazingly talented but in this drama, she delivers a roaring power in illustrating the character’s pain and fury through her detailed acting—proving once again that she is indeed one of the best talents in South Korea.

Genre: Revenge, Thriller, Romance
Writer: Yoon Young-mi
Director: Park Bong-seop
Network: tvN, Viu

3. Kim Tae-ri in Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022)

Baeksang Actress winner, Kim Tae-ri is notably perfect as the bubbly and highly optimistic Na Hee-do in Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022). Despite being in her 30s, she managed to portray an adorable young student and fencing prodigy who speaks her mind with charisma and candor—her funny, confident, and strong-willed personality just engagingly burst through the screen. It is interesting to note that she has an adorable charm that makes you root for her fun-loving character, which could not have been pulled off by others. She amazingly performed this brave girl role who has experienced significant loss and rejection in life yet chooses to face another day with a renewed focus on achieving her dreams. Kim Tae-ri stole everyone’s hearts by her outstanding performance and has shown that she is indeed one brilliant Korean actress.

Genre: Romantic, Slice of life, Coming of age
Writer: Kwon Do-eun
Director: Jung Ji-hyun
Network: tvN, Netflix

4. Bae Suzy in Anna (2022)

Anna (2022) is a story about a woman who lives a life full of lies resulted from her fascination of being on top in terms of status, education, wealth, and favor from people. To earn a life worth living, she uses someone else’s name and credentials, enters a university as a licensed professor, and marries a rich businessman. Bae Suzy managed to capture this psychologically thrilling character—Lee Yumi becoming Lee Anna—and carried her role outstandingly into her performance. The drama’s central figure’s personality, which is a psychological conundrum, elevated actress Suzy’s craft into a more freely expressive and dauntless work, making her one of the best performances of the year.

Genre: Mystery, Psychological
Written and directed by: Lee Zoo-young
Network: Coupang Play

5. Kim Go-eun in Yumi’s Cells (2021-2022)

Perhaps Kim Go-eun in Yumi’s Cells (2021-2022) presents one of the most heartfelt performances of the year. She played a relatable character who goes through all kinds of relatable emotions—heartbreak, sadness, misery, avoidance, letting go, and moving on from her past relationship with Goo Wong—confusion, suspicion, hope, and growth with her new relationship with Yoo Babi—as well as courage and excitement as she ventures into a new career as a writer while blooming into a more empowered woman, discovering self-love and taking risks. The drama’s character may seem simple but Kim Go-eun’s portrayal of various emotions was something any woman could emotionally relate to—a performance that is not exaggerated nor lacking, but presenting the right amount of emotive expressions. In fact, her performance earned her the Best Actress award at Blue Dragon Series Awarda in July 2022.

Genre: Psychological, Romance
Writers: Kim Kyung-ran, Kim Yoon-joo
Director: Lee Sang-yeob
Network: tvN, TVING, iQIYI

6. Kim Hye-ja in Our Blues (2022)

Not all actors can perfect a silent acting that speaks volumes with imaginative insight. Kim Hye-ja in Our Blues (2022) is a commendable performance, dominating outward calmness and quietude but raging emotions inside. This veteran actress totally owned and lived the character of Kang ok-dong, the old mother of Dong Seok who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Her character appeared to be not speaking most of the time but it is worth noting that you would feel her breathing the life buried in pain and whose eyes looked empty and lonely. Even though she looks outwardly passive with her emotions towards her son, she still quietly breathes deep love for him. To follow her story will pinch your heart as well as teach you valuable lessons on motherhood. More so, there is a sense of moving power in silence that you will be impressed for the great actress that Kim Hye-ja is.

Genre: Slice of life
Writer: Noh Hee-kyung
Director: Kim Kyu-tae
Network: tvN, Netflix

7. Kim Min-ha in Pachinko (2022)

We are aware that Pachinko (2022) is an American series but we want to include the Korean actress, Kim Min-ha for her surprisingly amazing performance as Sunja, which is not an easy role assignment. In this series, the young actress was raised to a difficult level of acting that requires the boldness to immerse one’s self in the dark game of chance and survival and convey with all heart and soul what Korean women immigrants experienced and endured in the 1920s to 1940s. Kim Min-ha was exceptional in portraying innocence for love, a woman’s pain for rejection, the horrors of survival, the overwhelming feeling of having a decent meal, as well as the guts and resilience to live underprivileged in a foreign country. She totally fit and exceptionally slayed her role as Sunja. She’s a jewel who emerges anew as one of the best talents from South Korea.

Genre: Historical
Writer: Soo Hugh
Directors: Kogonada and Justin Chon
Network: Apple TV+

8. Kim Hye-soo in Juvenile Justice (2022)

Juvenile Justice (2022) is a teenage-crime series that follows a female judge who sets high standards on the law of justice and her strong passion for juvenile cases. She displays a strong conviction that regardless of age, an offender needs to see how harsh the law can be and must pay the consequences of their sinful acts. This tough and sharp judge would have been humdrum without actress Kim Hye-soo’s prominently arresting performance, done with a blend of conscientious control, fierce stance, and solid commanding voice. She earned a Best Actress nomination at Baeksang Arts Awards in May 2022 as her talent incredibly stands out in this series, proving once again that she is indeed a top-tier Korean actress.

Genre: Crime, Legal
Writer: Kim Min-seok
Director: Hong Jong-chan
Network: Netflix

9. Lee Jung-eun in Our Blues (2022)

Our Blues (2022) is the year’s drama that introduces several top actors who played various relatable stories. One of them is Lee Jung-eun who displayed incredible talent in living the life of Eun-hui, a single woman who is everybody’s reliable friend in the island of Jeju. Lee Jung-eun has done an amazing job in fulfilling her multiple compelling roles in the drama—a dedicated friend, a hardworking businesswoman and market vendor, a simple and passionate woman who lives comfortably in a simple house. While she looks after the needs of beloved people around her, she also deals with her own life challenges and burdens that add heart and soul to the series. It’s the way she unleashes her sense of craft and translates her role assignment realistically—making the character believable. Actress Lee Jung-eun uniquely illuminates through the screen.

Genre: Slice of life
Writer: Noh Hee-kyung
Director: Kim Kyu-tae
Network: tvN, Netflix

10. Lee El in My Liberation Notes (2022)

Yeom Gi-jeong in the reflective series, My Liberation Notes (2022) is the eldest of three sibings whose family lives in a quiet countryside. She works in the city of Seoul and struggles with her younger siblings from their daily exhausting long travel. She also pities herself for not finding the perfect mate by her own set of high standards. Nearing forties, she boasts and takes an oath to love any man she encounters. Actress Lee El played this comedic but sentimental role with a blast of amusement through her realistic acting. She is an ace at representing Gi-jeong who is loud, frank, and takes you on a pedestal of sparkling laughter, at the same time moves you on the edge of tears as she conveys her heart’s frustrations and self-discoveries.

Genre: Mystery, Slice of life
Writer: Park Hae-young
Director: Kim Seok-yoon
Network: JTBC, Netflix

11. Im YoonA in Big Mouth (2022)

A few episodes into the crime-thriller series, Big Mouth (2022), and actress Yoona already displayed solid acting skills as the fearless wife of a third-rate lawyer who gets mistaken as the top swindler called “big mouse”. You will be drawn to her character that embodies competitive spirit and willpower as she lurks beneath the twists and turns of her husband’s case.

Genre: Noir, Legal, Crime
Writer: Kim Ha-ram
Director: Oh Chung-hwan
Network: MBC, Disney+

12. Kim Yun-jin in Money Heist: Korea Joint Economic Area (2022)

Kim Yun-jin stood out as one of the best performances in Money Heist: Korea Joint Economic Area (2022), who played as Seon Woo-ji, the Korean counterpart role of Raquel in the Spanish series, La Casa De Papel. She seems to hold this dominant visual appearance with a constant sense of fierceness and performance marked by prowess and considerable virtuosity.

Genre: Heist, Crime
Writers: Ryu Yong-jae, Kim Hwan-chae, Choe Sung-jun
Director: Kim Hong-sun
Network: Netflix

13. Shin Mina in Our Blues (2022)

It is worth noting that one of the most memorable events in Our Blues (2022) is Shin Mina’s riveting portrayal of clinical depression. She has thoughtfully conveyed what it feels to be in the inner depths of emotional darkness—blanking out, gripped by anxiety and remnants of pain, loudly screaming in silence—often misunderstood. You will be moved by her performance of intuitiveness and your innerthoughts penetrated by enlightenment.

Genre: Slice of life
Writer: Noh Hee-kyung
Director: Kim Kyu-tae
Network: tvN, Netflix

14. Jeon Mido in Thirty-Nine (2022)

Jeon Mido in Thirty-Nine (2022) delivered one of the best performances of the year, reveling in a role that deals with a complicated relationship and battles with terminal cancer—with focus on microexpressions and balanced emotions. She led the audience on a realistic emotional journey, displaying quiet strength and dauntless bravery amid suffering and being terrified.

Genre: Friendship, Romance, Slice of life
Writer: Yoo Yeong-ah
Director: Kim Sang-ho
Network: JTBC, Netflix

14. Kim Ji-won in My Liberation Notes (2022)

Kim Ji-won is particularly notable in her element as an introvert woman in My Liberation Notes (2022). She scores at interpreting the character of Yeom Mi-jeong who is quiet, reserved, and constantly seeks freedom from the mundane. She put a sense of excitement into the year as she introduced self-wholeness in the form of someone’s worship. You will be drawn to her amusing personality and at the same time insightful innermost thoughts that only Kim Ji-won could have portrayed best as Mi-Jeong.

Genre: Mystery, Slice of life
Writer: Park Hae-young
Director: Kim Seok-yoon
Network: JTBC, Netflix

16. Son Ye-jin in Thirty-Nine (2022)

It takes mastery in acting to convey sentiments throughout your body and Son Ye-jin in Thirty-Nine (2022) delivered one of the most heartfelt scenes in Korean dramas this year. She played as Cha Mi-jo, an adopted girl who is raised in a wealthy family and grew up as a beautiful and intelligent dermatologist. Amid internal conflicting anxieties, she finds comfort in the company of her friends, and protects them at all costs. She has this potent presence whenever on screen, making it nearly impossible to keep your eyes off her.

Genre: Friendship, Romance, Slice of life
Writer: Yoo Yeong-ah
Director: Kim Sang-ho
Network: JTBC, Netflix

17. Kim Se-jeong in A Business Proposal (2022)

Kim Se-jeong has set the bar high as an actress for romantic comedy—lively, engaging, and refreshing. She played as Shin Hari in A Business Proposal (2022) who goes on a blind date to replace her friend, only to find that she’s meeting the CEO of a company where she works. Undoubtedly, she delivered one of the most memorable and entertaining performances of the year, “The one on the left is Samantha and the one on the right is Rachel. I spent a whopping ten million won a piece on these babies.”

Genre: Romantic, Comedy
Writers: Han Sul-hee, Hong Bo-hee
Director: Park Sun-ho
Network: SBS, Netflix

18. Jung So-min in Alchemy Of Souls (2022)

Jung So-min’s character in Alchemy Of Souls (2022) seems to be charmingly intriguing as she portrays two individuals—a powerful assassin named Nak-su whose soul is shifted inside an equally powerful blind daughter named Mu-deok—working as a maidservant and at the same time teacher of Jang Uk. She delivers these roles with her own charm, humor, and bravery that keep you bonded with the character and glued to the series.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Historical
Writers: Hong Jung-eun and Hong Mi-ran
Director: Kim Seong-yoon
Network: tvN, Netflix

Copyright: KORB Blog 2022