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Idol stars struggle with acting debuts
by | June 1, 2009 | 55 Comments


Yoon-ah, Park Su-jin

The following article looks at pop singers who make the jump to acting and kind of falls into the “No duh” category with its statement of the obvious. But I think the topic is interesting, even if the article is overly simplistic. (It could have been a more persuasive piece if it had looked at more examples, for instance.) As a jumping-off point, it does the job, given how many idol stars are trying to make the leap into acting careers these days, some with more success than others.

Idol stars: “Breaking into acting isn’t easy”

Singing, dancing, those idol pop stars who seemingly can do everything do have one thing that’s difficult to accomplish: capturing the hearts of drama fans. Young stars who frequent variety and music programs freely are finding their attempts at acting met with a bitter cup mixing both joy and sorrow.

Girls’ Generation’s Yoon-ah built on her sizable popularity from the drama You’re My Destiny to secure a lead role of the miniseries Cinderella Man. However, this 21st-century retelling of the “Prince and the Pauper” tale is facing complete defeat in the Wednesday-Thursday battle.

The broadcast is heading toward its finish, but the viewership ratings is stuck at 8%. It features Hallyu star Kwon Sang-woo and Yoon-ah, but it’s earning a score that’s even worse than documentaries.

Yoon-ah has somewhat reduced the level of acting criticism from her earlier days as “Sae-byuk” [in You're My Destiny]. But the problem is the unpersuasive story development and her unclear character.

MBC’s sageuk series Queen Seon-deok is enjoying popularity with a first-episode rating of more than 16%. However, the actress playing Maya, Park Su-jin, who started in the girly pop group Sugar, is facing a beating with acting criticism. Viewers have tagged her with the “bad acting” label for her problems in pronunciation and inadequate expression of emotions.

Despite her smallish role, she’s being denounced soundly as she is compared to veteran actresses Go Hyun-jung and Lee Yo-won.

Idol stars being criticized for their lack of acting skills is nothing new. During the broadcast of Boys Before Flowers, Kim Hyun-joong was constantly troubled with reproach for his acting. And while critiques have died down to some extent, these idols’ sunbaes like SES’s Eugene, Baby Vox’s Yoon Eun-hye, Chakra’s Jung Ryeo-won, FinKL’s Sung Yuri and others had to suffer through harsh acting debuts to eventually make it to where they are now.


Han Hyo-joo with Lee Seung-gi

There are some exceptions to the misfortunes that befall some idol stars, such as Lee Seung-gi, who earned the nickname “Heo-dang” in 1 Night 2 Days. He’s risen as the immature and difficult second-generation chaebol Sunwoo Hwan in the SBS drama Brilliant Legacy, which is set to break through the 30% ratings mark. He’s advanced beyond singing and variety programs in 1 Night 2 Days, with his success coming not because of his popularity, but dependent upon his acting. When seeing his bad-tempered Sunwoo Hwan picking on Go Eun-sung (Han Hyo-joo), his previous image as a ballad singer and wacky variety-show character disappears entirely.

Pop-culture critic Bae Kook-nam says, “When attempting a drama role, singers must in the end be evaluated on the basis of their acting skills.”

Like I said, the article kinda paints the picture with a wide brush. I can kind of see how someone like Yoon-ah was cast in a leading role, given the popularity of SNSD and You’re My Destiny; I just think Cinderella Man was a bad choice in general. And Lee Seung-gi reminds me of an all-around performer who has screen presence and can make the transition fairly smoothly, not unlike Lee Ji-hoon, perhaps.

But I kind of have to wonder why someone like Park Su-jin keeps getting cast in high-profile projects when she gets slammed with criticism every time, whether it’s in trendy stuff like Boys Before Flowers or sageuks like Queen Seon-deok. In contrast, I can see casting Kim Hyun-joong for his image despite his all-too-limited skills, but Park Su-jin doesn’t even have much screen presence. I suppose Sung Yuri suffered through many years of similar critique before pulling herself up in the eyes of the viewing public, but sometimes you wonder why they keep getting these roles over more talented new actors.

Via Mk.co.kr

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55 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Annie

    lee seunggi is awesome :) <3

  2. Samsooki

    How much of it is acting, and how much of it is the story and the dialogue and the directing? I’m just throwing that out there. It isn’t always the actor’s fault, if the dialogue and the directing, editing and the writing make the character completely one-dimensional.

    That said, acting is hard hard hard. It might be the most difficult thing to “fake” and so people with less talent cannot be hidden for long, even if they have good co-stars, nice costumes, makeup, and technical directorial wizardry.

    But still, I do want to add that whether a drama succeeds or fails does not just depend on the skill of the acting, but on the souls of the people who are trying to become the characters. And this means that acting performance alone isn’t and shouldn’t be the only determination that goes into whether an actor is picked for a role. Sometimes, a certain person just might be “suited” to play a certain character, even if the person is less experienced in the world of acting.

    I know that many dramabeans denizens and I will disagree about Sung Yuri, but I haven’t really found that her acting to be so poor as to warrant the amount and tenor of the criticism leveled against her. Going back and searching threads, it seems that quite a few ppl seem to dislike her with a passion. Maybe it is because I’m not so knowledgeable about her origins from FINKL and how she did in her early work. Or maybe it’s because I’m not so knowledgeable about what it means to be a good actor/actress, or maybe it’s because I’ve only seen maybe two dozen k-dramas total in my life, a small fraction of what others have seen.

    But, whatever the reason, my impression of Sung Yuri’s work in Snow Queen and in Hong Gil Dong is very positive. I think she did a fine job in both. She may not have the range of a YEH (pop star baby vox alum), but she’s definitely not a bad actress.

    In my opinion, Sung Yuri is an example of a successful transition from music to television drama, although it is that her talent (good, but not great) will give her the same shelf-life that more talented actresses might have, as the cute pretty faces of the pop idols fade and only talent, however much or however little, remains.

  3. Elena

    I found Park Su-jin’s acting in BOF confusing – she just didn’t fit -
    I didn’t see Snow Queen, but I liked Sung Yuri in HGD – and I agree, the direction is critical for any kind of success.

  4. snuffythemonkey

    I think the smooth transition of singers into actors depend on their ability to flesh out their characters that captures the audience. I would think that they have a harder time winning the hearts of viewers because of the initial skepticism that they would face based on the fact that they were/are singers. This could also be said about models who become actors. They get their fair share of criticisms if not more.

    @2 Samsooki: “Sometimes, a certain person just might be “suited” to play a certain character, even if the person is less experienced in the world of acting.” This is true but I would venture to say that it is sort of type casting don’t you think? They have a certain image that helps audiences buy into their on screen characters because they correlate and I guess this is why they’re cast in certain roles.

  5. deeta

    Park Sujin was pretty painful in BOF. I had no ounce of sympathy for her character, built from all around stony and annoying acting.

    Lee Seungki, I’ve been wondering about actually. I’ve seen too many comments slamming his acting in Brilliant Legacy, but I just didn’t see what was wrong. So yes, he’s not an awesome actor by a mile, but he’s adequate to fulfil his character’s requirement. There are some awkward moments here and there, but in general, I think he pulls Sunwoo Hwan pretty well. There are some displays of subtleties in his acting once in a while, that kinda surprise me. He’s definitely a cut above other newly turned singer-actor.

    ETA: I saw a bit of One Fine Day and I was completely turned off by Sung Yuri. She’s improved in Hong Gil Dong, but I guess not as much as Yoon Eun Hye did, going from Goong to Coffee Prince.

  6. mookie

    I’ve just started watching Queen Seon-Deok, I can’t agree more on Park. She is amateurish at best, and in a saguek, it stuck out like a sore thumb even more than her forgettable turn in BoF. And the first thing that struck me is ‘why was she casted?!?!?!’ At least I find Sung Yu-Ri pretty even if her acting was very lacking when she started out to warrant her roles. (@Samsooki, you did watch her best works… Try watching Thousand Year Love. I must say the criticisms maybe harsh, but not unfounded.)

  7. Alyssia

    I was quite surprised at how Lee Seung Gi is doing. COnsidering it’s only his second drama and it’s lead role, i was nervous at first. But seeing the fans reaction to his acting, he’s doing pretty well. He seems so shy on variety shows. I hope for more luck for him in the future. He’s such a talented guy he deserves it.

    As for Su Jin, i dont know why people are even bashing her. Her roles in dramas are so minor. Most of them are not even important. She’s trying to learn more by taking small roles. It’s not like she’s the lead and her acting just make the series all bad. That’s rather unfair to her when people compare her to veteran actresses who have been around for more than 10 years.

    I feel most of the time Idol are casted as leads when they have no previous acting history, it’s a definitely about production wanting to create more popularity for the drama. Perfect case being Son Dambi being casted as lead for “dream” when she never acted before. But sometimes we overlooked it bc they are too cute.

  8. Samsooki

    @6 mookie-

    “you did watch her best works… Try watching Thousand Year Love. I must say the criticisms maybe harsh, but not unfounded.”

    Well, be that as it may, almost every actor has movies or dramas in which they wish they could have done a better job, especially with early roles (and some with later roles, as they just mail in their performances to get a paycheck). And when they do a poor job, or you can tell when they don’t care anymore, they are ripe for criticism.

    So, I have no problem with people criticizing acting performances, especially where warranted, but part of the problem that I see is that once a label is attached, it is hard to see past it even if the criticism is no longer warranted for a particular role. Calling Sung Yuri a pop star turned actress, when it has been years since her days with FINKL, is a little bit unfair. Yoon Eun Hye’s career has also had ups and downs, and people rightfully criticized her for her uneven performance in Goong (although I liked it a lot), but when YEH is talked about, few mention the fact that she came out of Baby V.O.X.

    I never saw One Fine Day or Thousand Years of Love, so I can only judge her based on what she did in Snow Queen (appropriately played, even well played, with a lot more heart that many give her credit for) and Hong Gil Dong (a bit uneven, but again, with a lot of heart and spirit, despite the limitations of the character and the dialogue).

  9. mookie

    My opinion on whether an artist can act or not is very simple. It’s a talent that u r either born with it or not.

    For Sung YuRi, she’s not born with it (imo), so when she geared towards acting , I do think criticisms r fair if she really was lacking (and I must say not just a role or 2, I do find her acting not watchable till SQ). True, she did improve to good in SQ or sufficient in HGD, but for me, she’ll never blow my mind away with her acting. So yes, I labeled her, I did it not out of bashing though, after I’ve watched her thro the years I think I’ve earned a right of a judgment. I’m more than happy she’s improved (both for her career and as an audience) but acting is a gift that can’t be acquired just by hard work and experience. Examples of actors that will forever be stuck with a label for me off topic is Kim Tae Hee or SSH, Cest la vie. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, just not nec as actors, and if they ever get any revered acting awards down the road, I’ll still be shocked.

    Same with Kim Hyun-joong or Park Su-jin… it doesnt matter how small a role they r in. When it’s that gratingly bad, it’ll still stand out in a bugging way and yes, labels got stuck, sometimes not the most fair, but we also have to consider the other side of the coin when they got roles in the first place because of reasons other than their acting talent. Their fame or higher profile got them roles, and the maybe harsher criticisms as well. It’s all fair game imo.

  10. 10 mzpakipot

    I didn’t like Sung Yuri’s acting in Prince’s first Love, but from what everyone’s saying she’s improved tremendously. Might give her a chance by watching her in HGD.
    Yoon-ah’s acting in CM is actually not bad, i think it’s her chemistry with KSW made it hard to watch her..age-wise..

  11. 11 JiHwan

    “but sometimes you wonder why they keep getting these roles over more talented new actors.”

    Connections. A strong supporter.. and Money. Doesn’t it kind of remind you of “On Air.” When Cherry was suppose to receieve the lead role through blackmail and bribery (I don’t remember this drama all that well, so do correct me if I’m wrong).

  12. 12 Bina

    i agree with samsooki that its not always the actor fault since

    “the dialogue and the directing, editing and the writing make the character completely one-dimensional”

    comes into play …

    even though thats the case i still never liked yoona… lol

  13. 13 amy

    I agree with you. I don’t think the article was fair on Kim Yoon-ah because having a low rating doesn’t mean that she failed as an actor. Rating is influenced by many things.. A drama can be really good and well acted but receive low rating as we’ve seen in many dramas. I’ve only seen her act in You’re my Destiny and 9end2outs and I thought she was okay. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that she was a singer when I first saw her in 9end2outs..

    I don’t mind singers getting a big acting role as long as they fit in nicely with the given roles, but I can’t deny that I tend to give a harsher look at singers acting for the first time. If they’re surprisingly good, then I would be impressed.

    @ Mookie, I agree with you that actors need talents they’re born with to some degree. People like SSH, Cha In-pyo and Kim Tae-hee.. ugh, don’t even get me started. I won’t dislike them as long as they didn’t act. Many singer-turned actors are superior actors than these three.

  14. 14 yumi-chan

    Money.
    The end.

  15. 15 Jo

    I love Seung-gi, he’s absolutley the sweetest in ! NIght 2 Days (best variety show ever!!!). Mein gott, I hope that show never ends.

  16. 16 Lisa

    This article is way too simplistic. Young actors..or rather new actors are not going to be as good as seasoned veterans, regardless of whether they are from a pop group or a model, a student, whatever. granted there will be some young actors who will have more training (say they are majoring in theatre at univ. or something). Are some pop idols turned actors horribly bad….yes of course, so are some regular actors. there are plenty of actors that have been in gobs of movies whose acting drives me crazy.

    that said I think that if anything idol turned actors probably get heaps more critiscm because no matter how big or small the role, they are a high profile face and will have people nitpicking there every move. you have to start somewhere. so long as they work at it and are growing I say the more the merrier.

  17. 17 CyNurse

    Park Su Jin is just so forgettable. At least Eugene and Sung Yuri (and even Yoon-ah) all have pretty faces to start with.

  18. 18 asianromance

    i think young idol actors get the short end of the stick because they start off in more noticeable roles rather than being the classmate or the neighbor or the coworker who shows up for a total of 20 minutes in the entire drama. They tend to get put in as the lead or the second lead right away- with the producing banking on their popularity as singing idols. Though i agree park su-jin is a mystery to me. I don’t think that many people heard of or liked Sugar- though i think their voices were pretty decent. They were together for like 3 years and only had like two or three music videos. What do the drama productions gain from having her in their dramas if there are better actresses out there or more popular idols-wanting-to-become-actresses.

    about Sung Yuri: didn’t she say that she didn’t really understand acting and immersing oneself into a role until she did Hong Gil Dong or something like that? Though her new project seems boring to me, I’m curious to see how she does with her new knowledge about acting. I agree that Sung Yuri won’t probably ever become an actress that will consistently wow the audience with her acting, but she has charm and she has reached the level of acting that many can call good, even if it’s not awesome. (yes, mookie, she was awful in Thousand Years Love- which makes me so proud of her good acting in hong gil dong)

    • 18.1 dramalover

      Well, when the producers have idols acting as the lead or second lead, I believe it is a big risk since they themselves don’t know if the idols can act or not. If the idols can act well, it will really add much bonus to the overall quality of the drama, as the show has both quality acting and popularity, which leads to high ratings. That’s why ‘Reply 1997′, with the main casts who are first time actors but who know how to act, can enjoy so much success.

      But if the idols can’t act, it is almost a definite thing that the drama will go downhill, and the idols will pull the drama down. We all see *ahem*from ‘Fashion King’.

      ‘Dream High’ has reasonable ratings because of the idol-filled cast (which lead to stellar support from fans) and the decent OST. To be honest, the only ones who can act decently are the 2 teachers and Kim Soo Hyun (who is, fortunately, the lead, hence pulling the overall acting quality up). The others have much to brush up on, sadly.

  19. 19 E

    I have to agree about Lee Seung Gi…even when he’s singing his OWN song in the drama…it doesn’t seem like it’s ‘SeungGi’ the singer…it really seems like “Sun Woo Hwan’

    I really enjoy watching him and Han Hyo Joo in 찬란한 유산…I rarely watch dramas that revolve around family drama and this one is just really blowing me away.

    I think YEH has done the transformation probably the best…I don’ t think it has necessarily to do with her acting chops but more the projects she pick. That’s really what propelled her to stardom.

    I find that Sung Yuri relies a lot on her looks and although she has improved…she still seems stiff to me.

  20. 20 Taohua

    About Sung Yuri…my two first dramas that I watched with her, Thousand Years of Love and Prince’s First Love were pretty bad. Both dramas had pretty good main actors (So Ji-sub in TYOL and Chae Tae Hyun in PFL), but I wasn’t able to finish both of the series b/c of Sung Yuri and Kim Nam Jin. I actually tried, really tried to finish Thousand Years of Love and couldn’t. I fast-forward through the whole thing—but also the storyline was full of too many holes and it had really vague characterizations. So until I watched Hong Gil Dong, I avoided everything with her in it. To be fair, she’s improved a lot.

    Also when you compare her with YEH, in my opinion I think YEH is a much better actress. And the thing is YEH has proven multiple times that her series will do well (Goong, Coffee Prince, Vineyard Man), so it makes sense on a certain level that audience is less critical of her than Sung Yuri. Though I think as others have mentioned it may be because YEH is really selective about her roles.

    @Samsooki
    I agree w/mookie you really should try to watch Thousand Years of Love, just to understand why we/the audience is so hard on Sung Yuri. At least one episode or two (I’m guessing my reaction to this series is similar to the one you had about Sweet Spy). And like I said you will be amazed at much she has improved. I really did enjoy her role in HGD.

  21. 21 hanjanman

    My problem with idol-turned-actors are those that are given lead or major roles without any acting experience whatsoever or have not even tackled a minor role yet. The first time I have encountered this was with Kang ta in Loveholic. That was one of the most painful things I have ever watched on television. Mercifully, I haven’t seen him in anything else after that and he’s now tucked away in the military for two years so we won’t be seeing him anytime soon. I risk the wrath of more ‘mature’ idol fangirls/boys here but not one of the Shinhwa members should have been given acting roles. And yes, that includes Eric Moon. Yes, he was alright in Super Rookie but that’s just it, alright. In every role he plays he always seem angry. Don’t get why some of you rave about him because when he’s supposed to be playing comedy or angsty, his expression is almost always, angry. Maybe I’m just not a fan, just like most of you are not a fan of Sung Yuri. For me, Sung Yuri is alright . Same as Eric Moon is alright in Super Rookie, I guess.

    One worrying development for me is Kim Hyun Joong. Watching him in BOF is like going through the horrors of Kang ta in Loveholic all over again. I hope the big tv networks treat him the way they’ve done Kang ta, steer clear of him on future drama projects. Variety programs yes, dramas no.

  22. 22 karen

    agreed with hanjanman..keep KIm Hyun Joong out of the drama arena. If the production companies want to bank on his popularity as SS501 member, give him cameo roles at least for the next 10dramas, another 5 dramas as supporting cast before giving him the main lead role. but if he is not cut out as an actor, 20 supporting roles is not going to help either. He needs to know how to act. Korean version of BOF would have been the best of all if not for the rocky script and raw acting from Kim Hyun Joong.

    The main problem with some newbies/all-rounder wannabe is they want to try when they know that they are not up to par yet. They do not think of the end results. They only want to make their profile looks good.

    Some newbies/all-rounder wannabe do show results but not everyone is capable of it. I have to agree that Lee Seung Gi is 1 of the very few who could do well in singing, acting and variety show. He sang ballads well, passed his 1st acting(in 7 Princesses-at least he was natural,no exaggeration in acting) and is part of the popular 6-members team in 2DN1. Now only into his 2nd drama, Brilliant Legacy(Shinning Inheritance), what more can i say. I think Kim Hyun Joong should get some singing/acting advice from his junior, Lee Seung Gi. (i wonder who enter the entertainment industry first, Lee Seung Gi or Kim Hyun Joong?)

  23. 23 bjharm

    A lot depends on luck or perhaps skill in picking the right acting role as your first. I do not think a heavy dramatic role would be a good pick for any pop Idol, a light comedic role would be the ideal and a good back up cast to fill in any lack of acting skill on their part. So they can get confidence and learn the basics of acting.
    I remember Jang Nara who said she was very doubtful in trying to be an actor as well as a singer as she lacked confidence in doing both well, but she totally lucked out with scoring the role of ‘herself’ in Non Stop 2. So she was able to learn the skills and gain confidence to take on other acting roles.

  24. 24 thunderbolt

    Park Su-jin was a joke in ep 1 of Queen Seondeok with her whisper-soft voice and stilted delivery, but watch her in ep 2 and you’ll see a dramatic improvement. Give her time.

  25. 25 capricious

    I am one of those minorities(?) who don’t understand why people are not appreciating Sung Yuri. Perhaps, her acting skills are lacking, but i personally think so far she has been in roles that suit her, which is great, and that she played those roles and made they seem real. So i really have no complaint. i have yet to see her in an inappropriate role – a role that is too big for her to play with her capability. and i’m also in the minority who don’t understand the same people are raving after Yeon Eun Hye, when i think her acting skill is just as good or bad (however you want to see it) as Sung Yuri. and she, like Yuri, has all been lucky in landing on roles that fit her to a Tee. The only difference is that Eun Hye’s dramas are hits while Yuri’s are less so. But as actresses, I believe they both have been improving, along with the fact that both have been really adorable on screen, playing their characters. Sung Yuri’s breakout roles is probably as Yinok in Hong Gil Dong, even though like I said, I thought she was fine in her other roles as well, but Yi nok character is just hard to play in my opinion, and yet she did very very good and made me love the character so much, so that’s why that’s her best performance yet. As for Eun Hye, I was madly in love with her role in Coffee Prince. Her Goong days can’t even be compared to this.

  26. 26 lynette

    I think it’s harder for female idols to make successful transformation as actresses compared to male idols.

    I’m not a fan of Sung Yuri’s acting, but I can acknowledge that she did improve in Snow Queen and Hong Gil Dong. I dont understand why a lot of people are still so harsh on her when there are waaaay more idol stars like Yoon-ah and espescially a lot of male idols that are so terrible that their acting makes me cringe.

    As for Yoon Eun Hye, she went through hell just to get the recognition that she deserves as an actress. She worked really hard to earn it. I remember when she was picked for Goong there were people outside of MBC doing protests just to get her off the lead role. It’s also a well known fact that Lee Dong Gun was offered the Prince Shin role and he said he’d only accept if they take Yoon Eun Hye off the cast. Obviously, they didn’t cater to his demands because PD Hwang was determined on picking Yoon Eun Hye. He said he knew she was perfect for the role, the first time he saw her…and boy was he right!

    I think what really sets Yoon Eun hye apart from other singer turned actress, is that she gives life to all her characters and she doesn’t rely on famous lead actors to make her mark. All her male co-stars were not famous but she was able to create good chemistry and bring out the best in them, which is why her dramas are all huge success. She’s proven that she can hold her own, when her drama “The Vineyard Man” had to go up against Jumong, her drama was one of the few who managed to make it to double digits.

    Also, she really immerses herself in her roles and does months of research to really get to know her character.

    Maybe if some of these idols/aspiring actors have enough grit, determination and kepp their ego in check they’d make it too someday. Afterall, Rome wasn’t built overnight.

  27. 27 mookie

    I disagree with Eric (I’m not his fangirl) being in the same category as others. He was alright when he started while seriously many others were not, he was not the most bugging even when I hated Phoenix, but amidst the bad bad lines, he had a screen presence that with better material/directing he can still be promising, he did graduate to SUPERB in QSS. It’s such a great performance, as in I’m not sure anyone else can do it better, he did shut up many critics and catapulted himself to more than a sufficient actor. I do think YEH’s performance in Coffee Prince also secure herself enough respect. But others like SYR, who’s a lot of grounds to make up with her back to back to back bad to mediocre performances (ie not alright), a merely good/adequate showing here or there is not going to do it. Can I picture other actresses being BoRa in SQ? I can. Will another actress have terrific chemistry with KJH, I bet many fellow fangirls/boys here will secretly think they can have perfect chemistry with Mr Kang. That’s basically y ppl can still be harsh on her. Many of us really feel like sitting thro either Thousand Yr Love OR Prince First love let alone both would’ve earned us the right to be forever harsh on Miss Sung. I do, but I’ve already been nice.

    The prob I have with many actors wannabe is exactly even when they r playing roles that suit them, they still come up lacking/unnatural/stiff. Yes, they r trying hard, we should give them time or chance(s)…but we r wasting our time also watching their learning curve not going anywhere. eg Mr Kim HyunJoon. For me, the Korean HYD has no potential being the best even not accounting how bad his acting as Guy2 was….it was some eye rolling writing and directing( honestly no drama can be good without, a guilty pleasure maybe but nth more) and JanDi was a very cringe-worthy pathetic damsel when imo a feisty Makino is most crucial in HYD, even a perfect LMH cant negate the bleh.

  28. 28 jayey

    Aside from LSG (cute!), perfect example of idol-turned-actors who was successful in doing so… Jung Ji Hoon aka …we all know who he is. Sang-doo, anyone? Forget Full House which made him super famous, his acting in Sang-doo was more than good for a newbie. And his character was not an easy one. Instead of acting as someone younger, he acted as someone older. That’s already a challenge right there. :)

    YEH was okay in Coffee Prince. The popularity of the drama helped her acting get recognized also. As for SYR, it’s still not very good, but I hope it’s getting there.

  29. 29 Blossom

    Which episode of Brilliant Legacy was the screenshot taken from? I desperately need to know. Can someone pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaassssseeeeeeeeee tell me?????

  30. 30 fraulein

    I havent seen Brilliant Legacy but I’ll take the fans’ words that Lee Seung gi is good in it, i’ll be waiting for it to come to singapore

    I personally feel that acting is an ability you either possess or you dont. I agree and disagree with hanjaman – watching Kim Hyun-joong and Kang ta in BBF and Loveholic respectively was (and still is) painful for me. I don’t know if time will make them better actors. The same applies to Gu Hye-sun, dont get me wrong, I like BBF as a guilty pleasure but I think none of the BBF cast possesses real acting chops, they are good at over-acting.

    I might get flamed for this but don’t even think big hallyu stars like Won Bin, Kwon Sang-woo, Kim Tae-hee, Bae Yong-jun and Song Hye-gyo can act that well. The naturals to me are : Kim Sun-ah, Rain (surprisingly), Song Kang-ho, Kang Ji-hwan and Jeon Do-yeon.

  31. 31 cathy

    Agree , Yoona acting skill is so poor ,destroying her character . KSW is
    great as always , poor KSW , had to pair with such a untalented , pretty but
    not cute nor charming .
    BOF Actors are ok except blond handsome actor with poor acting skill .
    Singing is different from acting , look is different from talent . I am very tired
    of poor acting actors , actresses , they are spoiling K dramas .

  32. 32 mookie

    ^ Whether KSW is great as always because of his acting is up for debate. He’s decent at best, but overacting in most of his works. I did watch a tiny bit of CM, frankly Yoona was not bugging me, his attempt on being a youngster was more absurd. All in all, I’m not a fan of either.

    @Fraulein, I do agree with most on your lists, except Rain… he’s quite good an actor, but your list has some of the greatest, he doesnt belong there when he hasnt shown me one convincing ‘natural’ kiss in character. And considering A Love to Kill was 2 years after Sang Doo, I can’t help but wonder if his good job in SangDoo is the real deal or a fluke. He’s promising as an actor, but no way he screams natural to me when I consider his onscreen kisses couple of the worst I’ve seen.

  33. 33 nadine

    MEH Eric’s acting is not great for me. I still didn’t like any of his series and yes that includes QSS. He is eyecandy though, so I sat through all of his series.

    Yoon-ah oh Yoon-ah i dont think I’ll ever be able to admire any of her future works after her awful acting in You Are My Destiny. It was just so painful to watch, it felt as if I was watching a horror movie. Her dead expression throughout the whole drama almost killed me. I was hoping that maybe towards the end, I’ll see some improvement on her facial expression, but no, the dead expression was consistent. I dont know whether that’s the new acting style nowadays.

    Kim Hyun Joong was pure comedic relief for me in BOF because his acting was so ridiculously bad.

    Sung Yuri, I watched all of her dramas. Thousand Yrs of Love and Prince First love as gotta be her worst drama…but she was just sooooo beautiful so i just had to watch it (hahaha shallow I know). I am still not impressed with her acting. She’s improved a bit in SQ and HGD but whenever I see Sung Yuri act, I always observed that there’s still that stiffness left. Maybe she needs to let go more. Her acting is so controlled, it doesn’t look natural.

  34. 34 kdramafanatics

    agreed with mookie. in no ways is Rain in the category at all. His acting is just ok, nothing spectacular about it. it’s pretty clear that fraulein is a fan of Rain.

  35. 35 Samsooki

    It’s a little late for this thread, but at some point, I’d like to get into the acting qualities of Rain, Eugene, SY, YEH, Eric Mun, and so on.

    I’ve seen Rain only in Full House, Eugene only in Save The Last Dance, SY in SQ and HGD, YEH in Goong / CP, and Eric Mun only in Super Rookie, oh! and Jang Nara in My Love Patzzi and Success Story of a Bright Girl.

    Of all the acting performances listed above, I’d have to say that Rain’s job in Full House was the most uneven (almost bi-polar? was that how the character was supposed to be?), but the others were quite good, at the very least I wasn’t bothered in the slightest by them being cast, despite me knowing who they were before I saw the drama.

    I’d rank the performances like this:

    Former Pop Stars as Drama actors/actresses.

    1. YEH – CP (pretty clear choice)

    2. SY – HGD (very, very good)

    3. SY – Snow Queen and YEH – Goong (tie)

    5. Eric Mun – Super Rookie (but this doesn’t mean he did a bad job! I thought he did well, but not in the top 4 above), and Eugene – STLDFM (again, I thought Eugene did a fine job), AND Jang Nara (My Love Patzzi – a totally underrated performance, and I am prepared to debate this point with many examples.) (tie).

    8. Jang Nara (Bright Girl). This was a terrible drama, but it wasn’t Jang Nara’s fault I don’t think. Her performance and expression of her character was quite compelling, but the drama story and surrounding cast and plot lines and directing was really really bad. Just counting her performance, all I can say is, not as bad as Rain in Full House.

    9. Rain – Full House.

  36. 36 Samsooki

    Also, I totally agree, it could very well be that I will be very annoyed by SY if I watch Thousand Years of Love and/or Prince’s First Love. Then maybe I will see what other people are saying, but I don’t see why I have to do that. If Thousand Years of Love is a poor drama, then why do I have to watch it?

    As I said above, the majority of actors have done roles they aren’t proud of, either early in their career (just not very good) or late in their career (just mailed it in). Either way, if I can avoid watching those movies / dramas, then I will. Why watch Rocky and Bullwinkle, the movie, just so that I can see how DeNiro totally sold out?

    It may well be that SY is not as good of an actress as others. In fact, I can almost guarantee that to be the case. But, if I can avoid the bad dramas, and watch only the good ones, then I can still enjoy SY and Eric Mun’s performances and not have to worry about where they are in the pantheon of pop stars turned actors.

    I think SY did a great job in HGD, and she did a very underrated job in Snow Queen, and Eric did a perfectly fine job (and more) in Super Rookie. Maybe they will never match those dramas again, maybe they were only suited for those roles, but that won’t stop me from praising them for liking what they did.

  37. 37 mookie

    ^ Very valid. Of course you can praise good works, I do appreciate her improvements in SQ and HGD. But when u asked us why we have a much harsher opinion on Miss Sung’s acting, those works have the answers. I must say how bad she was in those 2 (and she’s basically an unobtrusive piece of pretty wood for me in OFD) lingered way way longer than I can appreciate her in her effective performances. Liking her is one thing, but being excited with her as an actress in every and any thing she does is more how say Jeon Do Yeon gets her living. We just can’t bunch them in the same category.

    I do think when we want to make an assessment of someone’s acting, we should give them chances, yet on the other hand it’s only fair in not just considering one particular work, but a range. Again, QSS was my fav of that year, I’m in love with the PD. So although I’m not impressed with Eric in Super Rookie, now I have another good opinion on his acting.

  38. 38 Christine

    Interesting article, thank you for translating <3

    Lee Seung Gi is doing really, really well in Brilliant Legacy imo. Such an adorable drama and he really does have a lot of charisma onscreen. And the fact that he’s really handsome helps 8D. Multi-talented~! His voice is gorgeous too.

    I don’t think Yoona is as bad as people make her out to be, tbh. She’s always gonna be saddled with that idol image thing, but she works hard and I can see her improving. :)

  39. 39 Samsooki

    @mookie,

    “Again, QSS was my fav of that year, I’m in love with the PD. So although I’m not impressed with Eric in Super Rookie, now I have another good opinion on his acting.”

    I would watch QSS, but I have been scared off due to the “intensity” factor. Given how intense k-dramas can get…. this could be a problem. JB says its intense, other people have said it is intense, and that’s enough for me to wait until I’d like more stress in my life (LOL).

    To me, Super Rookie was fun. I wasn’t so impressed with any of the actors or the acting in it. But it was very watchable, it was fun to watch, and the ending was a very happy one, and so for us it was well worth picking up Super Rookie. When we wanted to watch something simple and interesting and fun, Super Rookie did the job and so I am thankful for Eric Mun’s job.

  40. 40 mookie

    @Samsooki,

    QSS….is by the same PD of MNIKSS (dangling another carrot) ie, even if it’s stressful to watch (not for me), it’s some good drama we won’t get anywhere else.

    Yes, it’s dramatically intense, but not overwrought. There’s no usual comforting Kdrama cliches. At the end of it, I do think it was brilliant in striping bare what love could be, but it’s not just the destruction we got to see, we saw how things we thought had fallen apart beyond repair somehow reconstruct. The drama was hopeful in the sense that all the characters were in a better place at the end of it and in some form of happiness/contentment with their lives. I was surprised how fussily good I felt with the ending.

    What’s most intriguing for me, is I don’t think most ppl will ever have the exact experiences of those characters, but the emotions r so genuinely believable.

    I did pop it in, rewatched it during some rainy days. It does take a certain mood to enjoy.

    Again, I apologize for the OTness. ;)

  41. 41 bjharm

    Re 33
    Yes I remember Thousand Years of Love really hated the lead guy Total Jerk without the normal redeeming features that make you like other total jerks [as almost all korean leading men seem to be] in other tv dramas.
    But I totally loved Sung Yuri ..and yes it was only because she was so attractive like a fairy, and she was the only reason I watched { fast forwarded on} it.
    I must have bad taste because I liked Prince First love, even though it was full of classic K-drama set scenes, it fact I liked it so much I watched it more than once, or perhaps I simply liked Sung Yuri.
    Regard to Jang Nara’s Successful story of a bright girl, simply said a true classic and also every scene and theme from it has been copied and repeated endlessly since it was made back in 2002, and why, because it got almost 50% viewer rating.

  42. 42 cathy

    Sung yuri is very pretty actress but her acting skill in thousand years of love and Hong gi Dong are so bad , she’s unable to act at all , sorry to say this but this is my opinion .

  43. 43 amused

    Some idol stars acting are not that great and I honestly think that they should just stick with being a singer…isn’t that what they wanted to be in the first place? I find it amusing that people will complain and downright bash the singer on how their acting is boring or terrible, but they end up winning awards etc. Though, some have improved over the years and there are idol stars who can act and have the talent for it… I don’t understand why it’s the current trend. I’m a bit tired of seeing a former or current artist in so many dramas… i rather see up and coming new actors given the spotlight or ones that have been overlooked.

    Anyways…to the comment a couple posts up, I do agree that it might not be the actor and just probably the writing, or the way it was directed. There is probably a lot of different reasonings *shrugs*

  44. 44 thay

    i have to agree with the writer who said that seung gi’s acting is impressive. he really portrays Sun Woo Hwan character very well and makes the transition from bad boy image to good boy image very smoothly in that drama.hope he can improve his acting skills and always success in everything that he does.

  45. 45 atsirk

    Lee Seung-gi=AWESOME!!!
    I love Sun Woo-hwan soooo much :)

  46. 46 abby

    what a ugly show you have…………………

  47. 47 wow

    I love Lee Seunggi’s acting in Shining Inheritance (Brilliant Legacy), his singing performances, his variety show performances (Strong Heart, 2Nights1Day). I think he’s a multitalented star! His transition from being an actor to a singer to a variety show comedy man is awesome :)

    And I do agree with @E’s comments about Lee Seunggi, even when he’s singing his own song on the kdrama Shining Inheritance, he sings it as his character SunWoo Hwan instead of as his real self :) which is obviously hard to do.

    I think that Lee Seunggi has proven everyone that he’s a star who can do anything and everything well :D

  48. 48 Nisca Lee

    its a bit doom for yoona SNSD in the world of acting..
    but for me the Super Junior has prove that idol star can be talented as well,
    as part of their member where active in acting ( Kibum, Heechul & Siwon)
    some make a big hit in musical theatre ( Heechul, Kangin, Sungmin & Yesung),
    its all about talent and hard work not about how they’ve been label as..

  49. 49 Retta

    hmmm ok ..gonna really irritate the heck out of most people here…my apologies up front. The Korean F4 were all handsome etc etc….but they all seemed to be first timers on the screen…given I had watched Japanese version FIRST…it will always be my favorite. As far as Kim Hyun-Joong havent seen him in anything but BOF and considering the role..I always felt it wasnt much to work with anyway and they all were a little “stiff” bad writing etc….but hey it was an enjoyable waste of time. Since he is cute…as are the others..I’m hoping with time and maturity they will flesh out..
    After all TOP didnt do much but look stoic and kill…not too bad. I am willing to give KHJ that much.
    Athena…I wished they would have brought back the second lead actress…as a lead..she impressed me the most from IRIS.

  50. 50 kate09

    Is Yoona an actress? She bored be to death in Cinderella Man. She should do more high-school kinda dramas..how about trying out for Bae Yong Joon’s drama..”Dream High”. It’s sort of like a Glee type of drama…she should be in it. That would very much work for her..indeed!!

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