Updated: October 9, 2022
This year, several good Korean dramas have emerged across streaming platforms and many female actors have caught the attention of viewers for their outstanding performances and powerful onscreen presence.
So far, here are 18 Korean female actors who we think were exceptional in translating the drama’s character from the script onto the screen, making it one of the most engaging and memorable of the year, so far:
1. Kim Go-eun in Little Women (2022) and Yumi’s Cells (2021-2022)
Kim Go-eun portrayed two different drama characters this year and is brilliant in both roles—a woman who easily compromises self and takes risks when it comes to money and family in tvN’s Little Women (2022) and a woman who ventures into new beginnings, discovering self-love and self-growth in TVING’s Yumi’s Cells (2021-2022). Whether she is Yumi or Oh In-joo, she stands out as one of the most notable and heartfelt performances of the year, translating the character’s story onto the screen and displaying the character’s emotions in a flawless, consistent manner. Her portrayal of various expressions in different scenes were non-exaggerated nor inadequate and that is something admirable about her.
2. Park Eun-bin in Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)
Woo to the Young to the Woo! Park Eun-bin rises to the top anew in ENA’s Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) 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 an impressive performance enough for Attorney Woo to be one of the most memorable and inspiring K-drama characters of the year.
3. Seo Yea-ji in Eve (2022)
Not every actress can pull off a dark role with wow factor in facial expression, vocal, and gesture. Seo Yea-ji emerges as one of those few who can slay it and not afraid to take the risks. Her drama comeback, tvN’s 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 to attain 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.
4. 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 tvN’s 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.
5. Jeon Yeo-been in Glitch (2022)
Jeon Yeo-been transforms into a nerdy woman who is obsessed in studying the extraterrestrial objects in Netflix’s Glitch (2022). Since childhood, she believes in these strange beings and has grown seeing them around her, feeling uncomfortable, anxious, and weird about herself. When her boyfriend suddenly disappears without a trace, she stumbles upon an old friend who helps her find solutions. Together, they discover occult practices and crimes, throwing Jeon Yeo-been’s character into a life-threatening situation. In this drama, she displays versatility and has obviously put pure dedication to bring her character to life.
6. Bae Suzy in Anna (2022)
Coupang Play’s 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.
7. Kim Min-ha in Pachinko (2022)
We are aware that the Apple TV+ 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.
8. Park Min-young in Love In Contract (2022)
Park Min-young has proven once again that she is a rom-com queen in tvN’s Love In Contract (2022). In this drama, she transforms into a woman who works professionally as a fake wife for men who need help on a contract basis while trying to set herself free from the shackles of the dark past. She displays her brilliant acting in both comedic and dramatic scenes—the way she delivers her lines and execute actions is astonishing to watch. Moreover, her beauty captivates everytime on screen. She’s such a drama goddess.
9. 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 tvN’s 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.
10. Kim Hye-soo in Juvenile Justice (2022)
Netflix’s Juvenile Justice (2022) is a teenage-crime series that follows a female judge who sets high standards on the law of justice with a 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. Her talent incredibly stands out in this series, proving once again that she is indeed a top-tier Korean actress.
11. Lee Jung-eun in Our Blues (2022)
tvN’s 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—making the character believable.
12. Lee El in My Liberation Notes (2022)
Yeom Gi-jeong in JTBC’s 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.
13. Jung So-min in Alchemy Of Souls (2022)
Jung So-min in tvN’s Alchemy Of Souls (2022) uniquely illuminates through the screen playing a triple role that is distinct from one another—a powerful assassin named Nak-su whose soul is shifted inside an equally powerful blind daughter named Mu-deok who happens to be the most powerful priestess named Jin Bu-yeon. Most of her performance was Mu-deok, the maidservant and teacher of Jang Uk, and delivered such role with her own charm, humor, and bravery that keep you bonded with the character and glued to the series. Everytime she transforms into Naksu or Jin Bu-yeon, you will be amazed at her ability to shift different roles. She’s the charm of the show and her eyes are great at acting, too.
14. Kim Yun-jin in Money Heist: Korea Joint Economic Area (2022)
Kim Yun-jin stands out as one of the best performances in Netflix’s Money Heist: Korea Joint Economic Area (2022). She played as Seon Woo-ji, the Korean counterpart role of Raquel in the Spanish series, La Casa De Papel, and seems to hold this dominant visual appearance with a constant sense of fierceness. She serves excellence with the given role from facial expressions to delivery of lines, convincing the audience that she is Seon Woo-ji.
15. Shin Mina in Our Blues (2022)
One of the most memorable events in tvN’s 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 inner thoughts penetrated by enlightenment. She’s a great actress.
16. Nam Ji-hyun in Little Women (2022)
Nam Ji-hyun in tvN’s Little Women (2022) serves as the strongest rock among the siblings—the most intelligent one who stands tall for what she believes and does not easily get swayed away by psychological traps. She played the middle daughter named On In-kyung who grew up with her great aunt and became a field reporter who is not afraid to take risks, “She has a strong sense of justice and is tenacious when it comes to doing the right thing.” Actress Nam Ji-hyun portrayed this role pretty well, a performance that doesn’t look like she is trying. She has pure talent.
17. Im YoonA in Big Mouth (2022)
A few episodes into the crime-thriller series of MBC’s 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. She is a tough shell on the outside, dealing with every villain she encounters. She raises her voice everytime she feels upset about her husband but holds the warmest heart in protecting and fighting for him. Actress Yoona did that amazingly.
18. Jeon Mido in Thirty-Nine (2022)
Jeon Mido in JTBC’s 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 yet displays quiet strength and dauntless bravery amid suffering and being terrified. She translated this character onto the screen with her amazing microexpressions and balanced emotions and led the audience on a realistic dramatic journey,
19. Kim Ji-won in My Liberation Notes (2022)
Kim Ji-won is particularly notable in her element as an introvert woman in JTBC’s 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.
20. Seo Hyun-jin in Why Her? (2022)
Seo Hyun-jin unleashes her sense of craft and incredibly translates her role assignment as a tough lawyer but deeply broken woman in SBS’ Why Her? (2022). She conveys power in everything that she does—in the way she walks, wears her dress, speaks her mind, responds to people, teaches her students, and handles her cases. At the same time, she exposes vulnerability in the face of old wounds and misery of the past. Simply put, actress Seo Hyun-jin nailed her performance and she definitely stole the show.
21. Son Ye-jin in Thirty-Nine (2022)
It takes mastery in acting to convey sentiments throughout your body and Son Ye-jin in JTBC’s 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.
22. 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 SBS’ 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.” She’s a stellar in portraying this comedic role.
23. Lee Se-young in The Law Cafe (2022)
Lee Se-young becomes a sanguine lawyer who resigns from the law firm to open her own cafe with the vision of counseling customers who need legal advice in KBS’ The Law Cafe (2022). You will be drawn to her amusing and fun personality that fights against injustice with her witty ideas and moved with tears as she works with compassion for people who need love. She is the most hilarious when she screams at the top of her lungs. Moreover, her chemistry and rollercoaster romance with Lee Seung-gi also brings charm to the show.
Copyright KORB Blog.