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[Actor Spotlight] Yoo Inna

This week’s spotlight is on Yoo Inna, whose new rom-com Reach of Sincerity just premiered on tvN. The role is not only her follow-up to the 2016 hit The Lonely Shining Goblin, but famously reunites her with her Goblin co-star Lee Dong-wook.

Born in 1982 in Seongnam, South Korea, Yoo Inna’s story as an actress and entertainer is quite an inspiring one. She started her career as an idol trainee, and though she trained for over a decade in several different agencies, Yoo Inna struggled to debut. It wasn’t until she decided to try acting in 2009 that she finally found her niche. When asked about her career and changing courses after so many years, Yoo Inna had a wonderful quote: “Even a compass, which is supposed to tell you which direction to go, wobbles before it finds its true course. I hope young people aren’t too scared of facing the wobbles along the way, because they’re a natural part of the journey.” After her debut, Yoo Inna also became successful as a DJ, and the host of TV shows like Get it Beauty.

Here are some dramaland moments from Yoo Inna, followed by her full filmography.

 
Queen In-hyun’s Man (2012)

Sageuk fusion dramas are, to me, either a complete success or complete failure, and Queen In-hyun’s Man was the former. It took the best elements of both stories/eras and made a sandwich that Subway could only dream of. Queen In-hyun’s Man had the great concept of a mysterious talisman that brought Joseon-era scholar Kim Boong-do (played by Ji Hyun-woo) into present-day Seoul. There he met the struggling actress played by Yoo Inna, and it was all drama and intrigue (and romance!) from there on out. This drama was written by Song Jae-jung, famous for her wonderful, complex, and layered plots — but equally famous for ending them in ways that leave the audience a little let down (see: W–Two Worlds and Memories of the Alhambra). If you can unplug the technical side of your brain and instead fall in love with the concept, the time-slip romance, the wonderful chemistry of the leads, and the rich world of this story, Queen In-hyun’s Man is a delight through and through. And there will never be another hero quite like Kim Boong-do.

 
My Secret Hotel (2014)

Rather than cover The Lonely Shining Goblin here, I thought I would feature the lesser-known My Secret Hotel, which was Yoo Inna’s next role after her turn in the super successful You From Another Star. In My Secret Hotel, Yoo Inna played a wedding planner at a luxury hotel who had to deal with all kinds of chaos on the hotel grounds — dead bodies, ex-husbands, you name it. Sure, the drama lost its steam and was a little confused about what kind of story it wanted to tell, or even what genre it wanted to be. But all in all, I enjoyed this story of a divorced couple forced to interact again, and confront the things that went wrong in their relationship. Nam Goong-min is the second lead here, but I have to say I loved Jin Yi-han so much more as the ex-husband who’s planning marriage number two.

 
Reach of Sincerity (2019)

I didn’t see Goblin (I know…), but I was just as excited as the rest of dramaland for the reuniting of Reaper and Sunny! I enjoy both actors separately, and the setup in Reach of Sincerity sounded like a lot of fun: Yoo Inna plays our scandal-ridden Hallyu actress who is forced to give some method acting a go as she gets “real world” experience in a law firm, working for none other than Lee Dong-wook. Well, after watching the premiere episodes, I can safely say that Yoo Inna is golden as the ditzy star famous for her terrible acting. She can’t do so much as forward an incoming phone call, but she sure knows how to charm people with her charisma. The clash of both personalities and worlds is shaping up nicely, and the law firm is full of strong, quirky characters that kind of give off a Let’s Eat feel for me. Here’s hoping the drama plays on the actors’ strengths, and keeps up with the hilarious parodies and meta as the plot starts to unfold.

 
Yoo Inna’s full filmography:

  • High Kick! Through the Roof (2009) [Drama]
    Like many others, Yoo Inna got her start debuting on this famous sitcom.

  • Secret Garden (2010) [Drama]
    Yoo Inna has a supporting role as Ha Ji-won’s BFF and roommate.

  • Fair Love (2010) [Film]
    Ajussi romance (there, I said it!) with Ahn Sung-ki and Lee Hana.

  • Birdie Buddy The Fair Love (2010) [Film]
    UEE leads in this drama about a girl that wants to be a professional golfer, and Yoo Inna plays her friend.

  • The Greatest Love (2011) [Drama]
    One of the few Hong Sisters dramas I haven’t seen yet — this one stars four strong leads: Yoo Inna, Gong Hyo-jin, Cha Seung-won, and Yoon Kye-sang.

  • Little Black Dress (2011) [Film]
    A story of four friends (played by Yoon Eun-hye, Park Han-byul, Cha Ye-ryun, and Yoo Inna) and their struggles in life and love. Sometimes a LBD can help.

  • Queen In-hyun’s Man (2012) [Drama]
    Yoo Inna and Ji Hyun-woo are star-crossed lovers in this fusion sageuk (see above).

  • Love Fiction (2012) [Film]
    A novelist with writer’s block (played by Ha Jung-woo) meets and falls head over heels for Gong Hyo-jin.

  • You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin! (2013) [Drama]
    IU plays the eponymous heroine, and her real-life bestie Yoo Inna has a supporting role as her older sister.

  • Potato Star 2013QR3 (2013) [Drama/Cameo]
    Yoo Inna cameos in this drama starring Ha Yeon-soo and Yeo Jin-gu about a mysterious asteroid hitting Earth.

  • You From Another Star (2013) [Drama]
    Is frenemy a good word to describe Yoo Inna’s character in the smash hit You From Another Star? Kudos to Yoo Inna for taking on a role where she would be juxtaposed with Jun Ji-hyun, which takes some serious courage in my books.

  • My Secret Hotel (2014) [Drama]
    The hotel could have had more secrets, but I’ll take the story of a cute divorced couple instead (see above).

  • The Secret Message (2015) [Web Drama]
    Nice little web drama starring T.O.P. (a.k.a. Choi Seung-hyun) of Big Bang (*fangirl moment*) and Japanese actress Ueno Juri. Other favorites like Yoo Inna and Lee Jae-yoon have small (and awesome) roles here.

  • One More Happy Ending (2016) [Drama]
    Drama about the members of an early girl group (played by Jang Nara, Yoo Inna, Yoo Da-in, and Yoo In-young) who are now in their thirties and living very different lives.

  • The Lonely Shining Goblin (2016) [Drama]
    Though recently dethroned in terms of rating records, this drama won’t be dethroned in viewer’s hearts, for sure. Yoo Inna and Lee Dong-wook played the ill-fated second lead couple and left an armada of “ships” behind them.

  • Top Star Yoo Baek (2018) [Drama/Cameo]
    Yoo Inna did a voice cameo for this Kim Ji-suk drama about a narcissistic top star. This one is on my marathon list!

  • Reach of Sincerity (2019) [Drama]
    They had me at the ultra cheesy Descended From the Sun parody, and Yoo Inna’s commercial re-enactments (see above).

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I LOVE HER.

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i second that!

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Honestly what a lovely quote!

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It is also very true.

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And it also gives even more depth to her character in Reach of Sincerity- maybe she could see her real self in the case of that ex-trainee. Those ten years must have been hard for her.

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In had the very same thought about that.

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I meant that I had that very same thought when I read that. I really need to edit more before I hit the send button.

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예쁘다

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Yoo Inna could narrate How to Open A Box and I would replay that audio million times😂, she has such a lovely and soothing voice💖. And she's so pretty, guhhh my hearteu💘. I enjoyed her character in Secret Garden, she's hilarious but quite evil in The Greatest Love, so heartbreaking and poetic in Goblin (gosh, if only Grim Reaper/King didn't do that to her family and her too😭, I would have shipped them wholeheartedly). I am enjoying her current drama Reach of Sincerity so much, pure fluff (not sure that thought still stands after ep 4's ending though*shudders), just what I needed now. Yoo Inna, hwaiting! 😎

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I’m thoroughly enjoying her turn as the innocent, but sincere, and very adorable Hallyu has-been. I can’t believe she’s in her late 30’s. She plays this part young and it suits the character. I really liked her in QIHM and, of course, the only Sunny I could ever imagine is her in Goblin. Hers and Lee Dong-wook’s chemistry is everything.

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I really like this actress, almost as much as I love Jung So-min and Jang Na-ra.

I have enjoyed each of the dramas she has appeared in except for "Secret Message" which I found hugely disappointing. I loved her as Kim Sun (Sunny) in Goblin. That is where she became another one of my favorites. She has done well with all of her roles including those where she is an antagonist- someone we are supposed to dislike.

I think that she has actually stepped it up another notch in "Reach For Sincerity (Touch Your Heart)". I am just loving her character there. I have finally started to appreciate Lee Dong-wook more in this show- but it may be because of Yoo In-na as much as anything.

My advice on Goblin: Do not watch it until you are ready for something truly deep and very serious. Goblin is the drama equivalent of Great Literature rather than a light entertainment. Do not get me wrong- it is entertaining too- you certainly will not be bored. What I am saying is watch it when you can give it the attention that it deserves.

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I thought I didn't need another reason to love Yoo Inna but then I read that quote and it GOT me. She's so wise and just a terrific person and actress.

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There is something so cute and sparkly and precious about her. Like a tiny little gem. I love her so much.

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Like her! she has excellent comic instincts and works for her.

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Aw, my favorite unni. 💕💕
I fell for her charm in My Secret Hotel, which is probably the only good thing out of that messy thriller-romcom. And then I proceed to marathon almost all of her dramas. She has the bubbliest voice that makes her radio program extra nice to listen to despite my rudimentary korean.

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It's hard for me to explain Yoo Inna's appeal... she's just perfect lol

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I saw Yoo Inna on Secret Garden, You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin!, You From Another Star, Goblin and now Touch Your Heart. From all these, she played different roles and I thought (and think) she is a great actress. But I think she is underrated...Maybe it's because she's not a natural beauty like, for example, Song Hye Gyo or Jung Ji Hyun? But she has lot of talent and I hope she continues to have lead roles in dramaland! She has lots of potential (loved her mean-girl part in You From Another Star and Lee Soon-shin).

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MY MOM!!!!

i love her. i will never watch goblin for the whole cast but i love sunny and grim reaper. i don't think she's phenomenal but i think she shines in the role esp w LDW as a counter-part (who isn't great either) but her light comes through.

she's got great timing and a lovely face and she's just so so pleasant. i love that quote! i feel like we're so lucky to see her as an actress. and she is perfect in romcoms. i think if she got more and more experience outside of the kinda roles she plays she would be great too. and i just know she can do anything to make us have fun and love her. i really appreciate her i guess. ever since greatest love! btw you should totally watch it. idk how it would hold up on my Misogyny Meter but i know back then i loved it and loved her and iirc was pretty progressive

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the "isn't great" comes off harsher than i meant. i don't think he is a good actor but the types of roles like these are good and he has good comedic timing as well. i just love seeing them together lol im not a fan of his but i love their chemistry *____*

anyway she's in soooo many good dramas and she's a great dj too hahhha

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Right, I also hope she would choose other roles! I would like to see her in other roles, that's why I was excited when she took the role in One More Happy Ending (not being a former girl group though but she's adorable there).

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I wrote this before, I love Yo In Na. She is pretty and talented. She just needs the right roles to highlight it.

The first drama I saw her was Secret Garden. I hadn't realized how soon after her debut that was. Many people from that drama became famous long after including Lee Jong Seuk. Her side loveline was cute.

My Secret Hotel was not a good drama but I loved her wardrobe in it.

She had a cute noona romance with one of the it boys of 2018 Ahn Hyo Sub in One More Happy Ending.

Like for many in Goblin her story with Lee Dong Wook was the loveline I was interested in (but than again this isn't atypical for this screenwiter. I felt the same way in Descendents.)

I totally missed (or forgot) the voice came in Top Star Yoo Baek.

I am loving her in Reach of Sincerity so far. She is conveying both the hilarity and sadness of her character really well and I hope this leads to more good leading roles for her.

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She is honestly charm itself. <3 I’m amazed at how she can make each character she plays so ineffably likeable and human! And her quote about finding her way is just lovely.

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beautiful beautiful woman. she owns my heart.

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Listen. Y'all know Yoo In Na is forever my lady. I just love her and I feel her absence from Dramaland is always very noticeable. Really glad she's back. She's so funny and fierce and gives her roles that extra something and bright, winning charm. I even like her in roles where she's the "mean" second lead as she imbues her character with a sense of vulnerability that makes me want to root for her too. She's great! And soo cute! And her co-stars always look like they are having a great time with her. Always rooting for her!

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She's honestly one of the few actors that I would try and watch her works even if it's not my cup of tea.
I think her work ethic is admirable, it's difficult to know what to do next after a setback and have the courage to try again.

Her chemistry with yi-han was the best part of My Secret Hotel. Even though the drama lost its way, I'm glad I watched it. The soundtrack and styling was awesome too.

She always adds a little something (MSG) to her characters so I'm glad she is finally being recognised as a great actress.
Hopefully touch your heart will give her room to experiment and have fun!

Thank you for the spotlight, can you tell I'm a huge fan lol 😉😆

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Now this song is in my head....https://youtu.be/UigowdR6itI

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What voice cameo in Top Star? How did I miss this???

I burst out laughing at your *fangirl moment* @missvictrix. Thank you for this article. I remember I tried My Secret Hotel and 5 minutes in a corpse fell through the roof. I chickened out. 😆

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aw i really liked that compass quote lol

queen in hyun's man is one of my top favorite dramas and will forever hold a special place in my heart lol. that story, the characters, the ost was just so good *insert sobbing face

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love her quote and I really enjoy watching her play her characters
though the show she usually picks are not my favorite genre
Yoo Inna is so quirky and adorable!
I can't wait to watch her and Lee Dong Wook together again <3

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IU and In-na met on the set of "You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin!", they were apparently room mates through the run of the series, but their friendship didn't start until after the cast had split up and IU started missing her old roomie. When ask what it was about In-na that drew IU to her, IU quipped it was because In-na is such an *idiot*. This spoken deadpan into the camera with In-na right next to her.

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I would just like to mention that IU and Yoo Inna met already in 2010 while participating in a variety show named Heroes. They also appeared on a show named Win Win in 2012 when they talked a lot about their friendship and each other (this is when Yoo Inna said IU is like a mountain god). 'You're the best Lee Soon-shin' aired in 2013, when they had been close for a while.

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She played Sunny so well in Goblin. A perfect mix of cool and kind. And she's a delight in Reach of Sincerity.

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I love her so much. To me she is one of the most unpretentious, natural actors in K-dramaland right now. I always get the impression she loves her job and just turns up to work for the sheer fun of it (I could be completely wrong about it, but that's what it feels like when I watch her act). She's also one of those actors who has chemistry with every single person, and never fails to bring energy into what might otherwise be quite a dull scene. Queen In-hyung's Man is one of my all-time faves (also because of Ji Hyun-woo, whom I adore as well) and I'll never get tired of re-watching it.

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I liked her very much in You from Another Star. And I was so hoping for Hwi Kyung to see how much she loves him. But my wishes never come true! :(

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