Skip To Content

    25 Popular Korean Actors Who Originally Started Their Careers As K-Pop Idols

    Are you a fan of Astro and have you seen all of Cha Eun-woo's dramas?

    1. IU (Lee Ji-eun)


    What K-pop group they're from: IU is a solo artist.

    Whether she's singing for sold-out stadiums around the world or portraying a young woman who is accidentally transported back in time to the Goryeo dynasty in Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, IU is more than just our ~celebrity~. She is a true, one-of-a-kind star whose talent and charm know no bounds.

    Where you can watch them: Hotel Del Luna, Persona, My Mister, Bel Ami, You Are the Best, Dream High, and The Producers.

    2. Cha Eun-woo


    What K-pop group they're from: Astro.

    It makes complete sense that Eun-woo, coming from a group named Astro, would become a star both onstage and on the silver screen. It doesn't matter if he's performing with his fellow band members at a concert or playing a creative prince in Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung; Eun-woo's performances are always so fantastic, you'll want to watch them ~all night~ long!

    Where you can watch them: True Beauty, My ID is Gangnam Beauty, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung, Revenge Note, and The Best Hit.

    3. Do Kyung-soo


    What K-pop group they're from: Exo.

    Every member of the group Exo has a superpower, and I honestly believe that Do Kyung-soo uses his ground-controlling powers to give such grounded, powerful performances onscreen. It doesn't matter if he's portraying a seemingly coldhearted prince in 100 Days My Prince or an enthusiastic yet emotionally fragile teen in It's Okay, That's Love; there's a gentle authenticity to each of his characters that is just out of this ~universe~.

    Where you can watch them: 100 Days My Prince, Swing Kids, and It's Okay, That's Love.

    4. Im Yoon-ah


    What K-pop group they're from: Girls' Generation.

    For over a decade, Yoon-ah has been winning the hearts of fans across the globe with her outstanding performances both onstage and onscreen. From the shy politician's daughter in The K2 to the determined and regal San in The King Loves, Yoon-ah has the unique ability to take each role she's given and imbue it with wit and class. If you've never seen Yoon-ah act before, well, welcome ~into the new world~.

    Where you can watch them: The King Loves, The K2, Prime Minister and I, and Love Rain.

    5. Park Jin-young


    What K-pop group they're from: Got7.

    Got7's first album was titled Got It? And I can confirm that Park Jin-young does indeed have the "it" factor. The 26-year-old actor and singer has made a name for himself with a growing collection of passionate and at times goofy characters. They're the kind of characters that you can't help rooting for, mostly because of his earnest portrayals. There's something about Jin-young's acting skills that cannot be explained — he's just ~magnetic~.

    Where you can watch them: He Is Psychometric, When My Love Blooms, The Legend of the Blue Sea, My Love Eun Dong, and Dream High 2.

    6. Rowoon (Kim Seok-woo)

    MBC TV

    What K-pop group they're from: SF9.

    The name SF9 stands for "Sensational Feeling Nine," and just like his group's name, Rowoon definitely injects sensational feeling into each of his acting roles. While he typically portrays the ~good guy~ in dramas, Rowoon always brings a secret softness and level of understated maturity to his characters that easily steals the hearts of viewers in every show he's in.

    Where you can watch them: Extraordinary You, Where Stars Land, About Time, School 2017, and Click Your Heart.

    7. Bae Suzy

    SBS TV

    What K-pop group they're from: Miss A and solo artist.

    With a prolific career as an actor, solo artist, and member of the phenomenal K-pop group Miss A, Suzy is a legend in her own right. From a punchy reporter in While You Were Sleeping to a hardworking CEO with a dream in Start Up, she is such a good actor that she can make any character down-to-earth and relatable. Trust me, it doesn't matter if she's playing a ~bad girl / good girl~, Suzy is fantastic in any role!

    Where you can watch them: Start Up, Vagabond, While You Were Sleeping, Uncontrollably Fond, Dream High, Big, and Kangchi, the Beginning.

    8. Im Si-wan


    What K-pop group they're from: ZE:A.

    No two roles that Im Si-wan has undertaken — as an actor or a singer — have ever been the same. Whether it was a dramatic concept for one of ZE:A's music videos or stepping into the role as the analytical sprinter–turned–sports agent Ki Seon-gyeom in Run On, Si-wan has the uncanny ability to take on any role and ~breathe~ new life into it.

    Where you can watch them: Run On, Misaeng, Strangers From Hell, Triangle, The Attorney, The King Loves, and The Moon Embracing the Sun.

    9. Joy (Park Soo-young)

    MBC TV

    What K-pop group they're from: Red Velvet.

    We need to talk about what an absolute joy Joy is! Her acting style is quite a lot like her group Red Velvet's concept: She can portray sweet and innocent characters one second, and then dark and mysterious ones that keep you on your toes the next. Although she's only been a part of two dramas thus far (and made cameos in a few more!), watching Joy flex her acting skills with each new role she takes on is pure ~happiness~.

    Where you can watch them: The Liar & His Lover and Tempted.

    10. Suho (Kim Jun-myeon)

    MBC / Naver

    What K-pop group they're from: Exo.

    As the leader of Exo, Suho often has to take on a more serious role within the group. It's in his acting roles that his hilarious nature really shines through, especially as the haughty CEO in Rich Man, Poor Woman and as a magical pastry chef in How Are You Bread. Suho is currently completing his military enlistment, but ~let's love~ and support him in both his acting and singing careers when he returns later this year!

    Where you can watch them: How Are You Bread and Rich Man, Poor Woman.

    11. Yook Sung-jae


    What K-pop group they're from: BtoB.

    In addition to being "born to beat" as a member of the K-pop group BtoB, Yook Sung-jae is also BtoA: born to act. The 25-year-old first caught my attention in Goblin as the cheeky, technologically savvy Yoo Deok-hwa, and then again as the lonely, kindhearted Han Kang-bae in Mystic Pop-up Bar. Either of these roles could've fallen flat, but as an actor, he brings a sense of curiosity and joy to each one that makes them brilliant. Believe me when I say that Sung-jae's performances are so good, he'll have you saying, ~Wow~.

    Where you can watch them: Mystic Pop-up Bar, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, and Who Are You.

    12. Seo In-guk


    What K-pop group they're from: Seo In-guk is a solo artist.

    Seo In-guk made his debut as a solo artist on the reality competition show Superstar K but has since transformed from a singer into a leading man after knockout performances in some of the most popular K-dramas of the last few years. From the boisterously bubbly heir Louis in Shopaholic Louis to the mysterious yet amicable Moo-young in The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, Seo In-guk's emotional performances always feel genuine. No matter what role he's in, Seo In-guk has the ability to ~shake it up~ and deliver incredible performances.

    Where you can watch them: Reply 1997, Shopaholic Louis, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, I Remember You, Master's Sun, King of High School, Squad 38, The King's Face, and Love Rain.

    13. Kwon Na-ra


    What K-pop group they're from: Hello Venus.

    If you're new to the world of K-dramas, then your first glimpse of Kwon Na-ra's impeccable acting skills likely came through the popular K-drama Itaewon Class. If you loved her as the confident Oh Soo-ah in that show, then you'll definitely appreciate her talent as the bold, quick-thinking prosecutor Cha Yoo-jung in Suspicious Partner. Whether she's playing a ~mysterious~ character or a bubbly one, Na-ra can do it all!

    Where you can watch them: Itaewon Class, Doctor Prisoner, Your Honor, and Suspicious Partner.

    14. Ok Taec-yeon


    What K-pop group they're from: 2PM.

    What time is it? It's Taec-yeon time. The 32-year-old rapper from the legendary K-pop group 2PM is known for his dynamic performances onstage and on television. Whether you've seen him as the tough yet sweet Jin-guk in Dream High many years ago or the goofy yet mysterious Jang Jun-woo in Vincenzo now, Taec-yeon's performances are so good, you'll watch them ~again & again.~

    Where you can watch them: Vincenzo, Bring It On, Ghost, Save Me, The Game: Towards Zero, Assembly, Dream High, and Cinderella's Sister.

    15. Choi Min-ho


    What K-pop group they're from: Shinee.

    Whoa, where did all of this flaming charisma come from? Shinee's Min-ho, of course! When he's not shining onstage with his members, Min-ho can often be found portraying chivalrous warriors onscreen, like in Hwarang and Illang: The Wolf Brigade. Confident and cool in every role, Min-ho is such a wonderful actor, you'll definitely find yourself pressing ~replay~ on all of his films!

    Where you can watch them: Illang: The Wolf Brigade, The Battle of Jangsari, Because It's the First Time, To the Beautiful You, Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, and Medical Top Team.

    16. Kim Se-jeong


    What K-pop group they're from: Gugudan, I.O.I.

    Honestly, Se-jeong is such a breath of fresh air. From portraying a bright-eyed, optimistic high school student in School 2017 to becoming a hardened demon hunter in The Uncanny Counter and making me laugh so hard that I teared up on the detective show Busted, she has so much range and charm that there is truly nothing she can't do. ~If only~ she could be in every show!

    Where you can watch them: The Uncanny Counter, Busted, I Wanna Hear Your Song, and School 2017.

    17. L (Kim Myung-soo)


    What K-pop group they're from: Infinite.

    If he isn't already, L is an actor who deserves to be on your radar. Not only is he a member of Infinite (who should also be on your radar if you haven't listened to them yet), but he's also had powerful performances in multiple popular K-dramas, including Miss Hammurabi and Angel's Last Mission: Love. He's known for his cool yet sensitive roles, and believe me when I say that there are honestly no ~bad~ performances in L's filmography!

    Where you can watch them: One More Time, Meow, the Secret Boy, Angel’s Last Mission: Love, Miss Hammurabi, The Time We Were Not in Love, My Lovely Girl, Cunning Single Lady, and Master's Sun.

    18. Jung Jin-young


    What K-pop group they're from: B1A4.

    Although he's currently serving in the military, Jin-young has left not only a vast collection of flawless, self-composed songs for fans of B1A4 but also fantastic acting performances to catch up on. Whether it's as the hardworking realist Seo Do-hyeon in My First First Love or the studious Kim Yoon-sung in My Love in the Moonlight, Jin-young adds depth to each of his characters and makes their struggles ring true. I can't wait to see what he does next when he returns after completing his service next month...~like a movie~, perhaps?

    Where you can watch them: My First First Love, Wind Bell, The Dude in Me, and Love in the Moonlight.

    19. Seohyun (Seo Ju-hyun)


    What K-pop group they're from: Girls' Generation.

    In addition to being a solo artist and the maknae (youngest member) of Girls' Generation, Seohyun has shown off her serious acting chops over the years. Her emotional range in shows like Private Lives and Time is honestly unparalleled and delivered with such brilliance and vulnerability. If you've never seen Seohyun in action before, then ~gee~, you're in for a treat!

    Where you can watch them: Private Lives, The Good Thieves, and Time.

    20. Park Hyung-sik


    What K-pop group they're from: ZE:A.

    No matter what film or television role he's in, Park Hyung-sik has this innate quality about his acting that just makes you pay attention to him wherever he goes. And that stretches to every role he plays; he could be an awkward inventor, like in Juror 8, or a smug, sweetheart CEO in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, and he is still in command of each and every scene he's in. It's a unique talent, and it's partially what makes Hyung-sik nothing short of ~spectacular~ in every role he plays.

    Where you can watch them: Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, Suits, Juror 8, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, High Society, and The Heirs.

    21. V (Kim Tae-hyung)


    What K-pop group they're from: BTS.

    Okay, hear me out. He may have had only one role as an actor thus far, but I believe that V deserves a spot on this list because he absolutely crushed it as Suk Han-sung in Hwarang. Not only did he navigate his character's heartbreaking backstory well, but his cheerful acting also brought a lot of joy and levity to the show. I personally can't wait to see what roles he takes on next, because it seems like acting is just in his...~DNA~!

    Where you can watch them: Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth.

    22. Krystal Jung


    What K-pop group they're from: f(x).

    Krystal is a true gem! The f(x) member is known for her penchant for playing strong, complex, and compassionate women who are unafraid of a little ~danger~ if it means achieving their goals in the end. But it's Krystal's superb acting that makes these characters believable; she always brings a delicate balance of elegance and grit to every role she undertakes, be it the goddess of water in The Bride of Habaek or a senior lieutenant in Search.

    Where you can watch them: Heirs, The Bride of Habaek, Prison Playbook, More Than Family, Search, The Player, and My Lovely Girl.

    23. Choi Soo-young


    What K-pop group they're from: Girls' Generation.

    "Girls' Generation, we won't stop!" Soo-young is the third member of the renowned K-pop girl group to make this list, and for very good reason: Her acting is phenomenal. Whether you've been a fan of hers since she hit the acting scene in 2008 or are just getting to know her now as the calculating CEO Seo Dan-ah in this year's Run On, Soo-young's acting is masterful and precise. If ~you think~ you're ready to dive into her filmography, you definitely should!

    Where you can watch them: Squad 38, Run On, Man Who Sets the Table, Tell Me What You Saw, My Blooming Life, and the soon-to-be-released film New Year Blues.

    24. Choi Si-won

    MBC TV

    What K-pop group they're from: Super Junior.

    If we're talking about K-pop idols who are also fantastic actors, then we need to talk about Choi Si-won. The Super Junior singer has appeared in a plethora of dramas and films since his acting debut in 2005, but he is best known for his roles in shows like Revolutionary Love, SF8, and She Was Pretty. Trust me, after watching one of his dramas, you will not be ~sorry, sorry~ that you did!

    Where you can watch them: Revolutionary Love, SF8, My Fellow Citizens, She Was Pretty, and Oh! My Lady.

    25. Ong Seong-wu


    What K-pop group they're from: Solo artist, Wanna One.

    Ong Seong-wu may have made his debut in the K-pop group Wanna One, but you'll wanna watch all of his dramas when you see how talented an actor he is. Over the last two years, the actor and now-solo artist has shown off his versatility by appearing in roles ranging from the lonely exchange student in Moment of Eighteen to the emotionally unavailable photographer Lee Soo in More Than Friends. Just like ~gravity~, Ong Seong-wu will pull you in with his powerful performances and his hilarious high jinks.

    Where you can watch them: More Than Friends and Moment of Eighteen.

    Who are your favorite K-pop idols who are also actors? Let us know in the comments.

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form