Now that it’s 2023, all eyes are turned to what the new year will bring to the world of entertainment. In this article, we are highlighting Korean actors to look forward to based on comeback, anticipation for a new role, trends, impressive works, Hallyu wave influence, and more. Here are 17 Korean actors to watch for the year:
In alphabetical order.
Byun Yohan impressed with his role as a Japanese admiral in the box office hit Hansan: Rising Dragon (2022), which earned him the “Best Supporting Actor” at the 2022 Grand Bell Awards and Blue Dragon Film Awards. This year, we will see him in a drama series, playing the second main character, Kim San, who is an elite student from the Korea Military Academy. He meets a new friend known as Uncle Sam-sik who shares the same vision as he does for the country. It is anticipated how he will perform in a friendship drama and how his chemistry with the movie star Song Kang-ho will turn out on the small screen.
We’ve seen Choi Woo-shik portray a nobleman in the film The Witch: Part 1, The Subversion (2018), a son whose family struggles for money in the award-winning film Parasite (2019), and a free-spirited building illustrator and lover in SBS’ Our Beloved Summer (2021-2022). He brings new excitement to fans as he was cast to play a dark hero in Netflix’s crime-thriller series, Murder DIEary (2023), a webtoon-based drama of the same name by NOMABI that won a special Korea Content Award from the Korean Creative Content Agency in 2011. He will portray a college student who murders people with a record of criminal deeds, becoming a dark hero, and is anticipated to display more of his talent and versatility as an actor.
After displaying an impressive performance playing dual roles—Naksu, the elite warrior, and Jin Bu-yeon, the powerful priestess, in tvN’s Alchemy Of Souls (2022), Go Youn-jung becomes one of the rising and anticipated young actors of her generation. This year, we will see her play a new character who possesses superpowers in Disney+ star-studded series, Moving (2023). The superhero drama revolves around teenagers who try to hide their superpowers from people and their parents who try to hide their painful past, showcasing the superhuman powers of speed, strength, the ability to fly and more in a battle against powerful dark forces that threaten multiple generations across different eras.
Han So-hee is definitely among the talented and versatile female actors in her generation. Whatever role she plays, she gives it her best shot, fearless and confident. She took the challenge and gave an impressive performance as the mistress in JTBC’s The World Of The Married (2020) and displayed action skills in Netflix’s My Name (2021). In 2023, she explores a different genre and fans are excited to see her perform in Netflix’s thriller-horror series, Gyeongseong Creature, alongside top actor Park Seo-joon. Set in the spring of 1945, she will play a specialist in finding missing people who is skilled at all sorts of machinery such as guns and knives and we will see her fight fiercely against a strange creature.
Singer-actor Hwang Minhyun showed impressive growth playing the introvert and genius mage in tvN’s Alchemy Of Souls (2022). This year, we will see him in the new mystery-romantic series, Useless Lies (2023) with the young veteran actress, Kim So-hyun. He will play Kim Do-ha, an innocent man who hides himself from the world after being framed for murder, meeting a woman who has the supernatural ability to hear lies, and the only person who believes that he is innocent. Fans are excited to see him present this drama character onscreen.
We’ve seen Ji Chang-wook play a lonely magician in Netflix’s The Sound Of Magic (2022), an ex-convict in KBS’ If You Wish Upon Me (2022), and portray various roles in several romantic-comedy dramas with excellence. The new year brings excitement for fans as he will portray a character that will show more of his talent as an actor and perhaps several action scenes in Disney+ series, The Worst Of Evil (2023). He will play a police detective who investigates a gang leader and a massive criminal organization involved in an illegal drug trade between South Korea, China, and Japan. Fans can’t wait too see him in this crime-action series and how he will bring awe as a detective.
Kim Jung-hyun impressed with his roles in tvN’s hit series Crash Landing On You (2019) and Mr. Queen (2020), and fans are more than excited for his drama comeback through MBC’s Kokdu: Season Of Deity (2023), a story that follows a death god or cursed grim reaper named Kkok-du who comes down to the earth every 99 years to punish humans and lead the dead to the afterworld. It raises anticipation as Kim Jung-hyun will play a double character, a grim reaper who enters the body of a human and starts working as a visiting doctor. The fantasy drama is set to premiere on January 27, 2023.
In October 2022, it was confirmed by Salt Entertainment that Kim Seonho received an offer to play the Crown Prince in the new historical series, Hash’s Shinru (2023) and is positively reviewing it. The main casting has not been confirmed yet but it is already gaining massive attention among fans who have been eagerly awaiting for his drama comeback. The story is based on the web novel of the same name written by Yoon Yi-soo who will also pen the drama’s script that is set during the reign of King Sejong, depicting the fate of Joseon under the leadership of crown prince Lee Hyang, a genius scientist who loves the stars. Kim Seonho will also appear on the big screen for the first time in the action-noir film, The Childe (2023), is currently filming a new movie Tyrant, and set to meet his international fans though his first Asia tour.
What’s next for Lee Jae-wook after the hit series Alchemy Of Souls (2022)? After captivating the audience with his notable role as the powerful Jang Uk, the rising actor is scheduled to meet his international fans for his first Asia tour, which is happening this year. He was also cast to play in a new series, Royal Loader, a story about the power struggle of a chaebol family, depicting the match between the dirty spoon and the golden spoon. It is not yet revealed on what role he will portray but the drama is set to start filming this year and fans are already excited to see him play a new character.
Top star Lee Joon-gi who has shown a wide acting spectrum in various impressive projects, was cast to play the adult version of Eun-seom in the much-awaited second season of the epic fantasy series, Arthdal Chronicles. The follow-up story is set more than a decade later when Tagon’s Kingdom of Arthdal and Eun-seom’s Ago Union will face an inevitable great war. Lee Joon-gi is known to be skilled at martial arts and fans are excited to see him display action and battle scenes with Tagon, as well as his chemistry with actress Shin Se-kyung who will play the adult version of Tanya.
After taking home several awards for his performance in MBC’s hit series, The Red Sleeve (2021), Lee Jun-ho is set to play a rom-com character and fans are more than excited to see his charms in JTBC’s new series, King The Land (2023). He will play an elegant chaebol heir who cannot stand fake smiles, meeting a total oppossite, a bright hotel employee whose job is to smile for customer service to be played by Yoona. Fans anticipate his on-screen chemistry with the actress and how he will captivate people’s hearts again with this new role. It was also reported that he will have a special appearance in Netflix’s series, Celebrity, a story that explores the world of popularity and the dark side that surrounds fame including money, power, desires, as well as fears and pains.
Moon Sang-min became one of the newest K-drama heartthrobs in 2022 for his impressive visuals and promising performance as Grand Prince Seong-nam turned Crown Prince in tvN’s Under The Queen’s Umbrella (2022). He carried an irresistible charm onscreen, captivating hearts with his height and deep voice that fans anticipate his next projects this year. It was reported that the rookie actor received several offers for advertisements from brand companies and in talks to co-lead with Jeong Jong-seo in Wedding Impossible, a story about an opposed marriage and clashing desires. He will also be playing one of the students who fight against unidentified objects ahead of the CSAT for extra points in the upcoming sci-fi-thriller series, Duty After School.
After two years, talented actress Shin Hye-sun will finally return to the small screen through tvN’s See You in My 19th Life (2023) and fans can’t wait to see her performance again. She will play a woman with an extraordinary ability to recall her past lives, whose 18th life was cut short due to a tragic accident so she sets out to reconnect with a man he met in the past in her 19th life. Shin Hye-sun impressed with her performance as a queen who has the soul of a man trapped inside her body in tvN’s hit series, Mr. Queen (2020) and fans are excited to see her breathe a new drama character and make it iconic again.
Song Kang-ho’s return to the small screen after 32 years is drawing high anticipation among viewers. The award-winning movie actor was cast to play an uncle who survived Korea’s turbulent times in the early 1960s in the upcoming drama Uncle Sam-sik. The story depicts the friendship of two men who have the same dream of transforming Korea to an industrial economy and the audience is already excited to see Song Kang-ho present his character from the script onto the screen with his brilliant skills. He will also star in the upcoming film, Cobweb, and play a movie director who is obsessed with the desire to re-film the ending of the movie “Cobweb”, which was filmed in the 1970s, and make it into a masterpiece.
Woo Do-hwan impressed the audience with his excellent performance for a dual role in SBS’ The King Eternal Monarch (2020), and fans are excited to see his official return to the small screen after his military duties. This time, he will portray a lawyer who takes revenge against the perpetrator who caused his parent’s death but eventually, transforms into an attorney with a heart for people in MBC’s webtoon-based drama, Joseon Lawyer (2023). We will also see him in Netflix’s upcoming action-noir series, Bloodhounds, a story that follows the lives of three young adults who try to get out of debt and try to escape as they become entangled in a criminal organization.
Actor Yang Se-jong who was discharged from his military duties in November 2021, is set to bring charms once again in Netflix’s upcoming series, Doona! (2023). Fans are excited to see him play Won Joon, a college student who moves into a new apartment. There he meets a beautiful lady who lives downstairs and happens to be a celebrity idol, retiring from her career to pursue studies. Besides his acting skills, fans are also looking forward to his onscreen chemistry with Bae Suzy, who will be playing Lee Doona.
2022 was a great year for talented singer-actress Yoona as she won the Best Supporting Actress at the 58th Grand Bell Awards for her performance in the box-office film, Confidential Assignment 2: International (2022) and the Top Excellence Award for Actress in a Mini-series in MBC Drama Awards for her role in the hit crime series, Big Mouth (2022). She brings excitement and anticipation anew for fans as she is set to portray a rom-com character in the upcoming series, King The Land (2023). She will play a bright hotel employee whose job is to smile for customer service and who is transferred to the VVIP business lounge of King The Land, a dream location for hoteliers, meeting the chaebol heir. Fans are excited to see her rom-com performance and onscreen chemistry with Lee Junho.
By Team KORB.