Most Korean actors are versatile. They try their best to switch it up from time to time. But some have taken it to such great lengths that it’s like they have a split personality on screen. Here are some actors who’ve played both Patience Ozokwor and Chioma Chukwuka-like roles.
His role as the naive intern who turned out to be the evil mastermind in Vincenzo still has me shook nearly two years after, mostly because I’d never seen him play a role like that. He’s usually the charming male lead who acts gruff but has a soft heart, like in Dream High, Bring It On Ghost or his super cheerful character in Secret Royal Inspector Joy. All I know is I’ll be looking extra hard at whatever character he chooses to play next.
Kim Da Mi
If she’s not one of your favourite Korean actresses right now, you don’t like good things. Kim Da Mi knows how to switch things up. She can be a super feisty genius sociopath, like in Itaewon Class, or a fearless evil spirit (or whatever that was) in The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion, who murders her rival, Choi Woo-shik (her romantic love interest in Our Beloved Summer). Whew, can’t she do it all?
Park Bo Geum
Based on his cute face alone, there are some roles you won’t expect to see Bo Geum play, but I laugh in “original ekun egbere”. If you’re like me, you fell in love with him after watching him play Taek, an internationally renowned genius Baduk player, in Reply 1988. He was the quietest of all his friends and the baby of the group. Then I watched him play the cunning and emotionless serial killer who was also a lawyer in Hello Monster. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but he’ll always be cute Taek to me sha.
Lee Dong Wook
When he plays evil Patience Ozokwor characters, I expect it; he looks evil. But when he’s nice, my chest starts to pain me. For a grim reaper in Goblin, he was super adorable, and I was even rooting for him. Then I saw him in Strangers From Hell, where he plays a dentist who was a little too friendly. He turned out to be a psychopathic murderer, and my heart actually rested because it made sense. Have you ever met a nice dentist? Don’t watch Strangers From Hell if you have a weak heart o.
Uhm Ki Joon
When this man plays a villain, you’ll find yourself praying to God for all the people who find his trouble. But when he’s the victim, he’s so cute and sweet. One of his sweeter roles was as Kang Oh-Hyuk, a teacher who believed in all his students, in Dream High. He fought for them even though they nearly gave him a heart attack and made him lose his job. So when you meet his character in Penthouse
I wouldn’t usually list Lee Seung-gi as someone with range because most of his characters feel the same. He’s usually funny, light-hearted and doesn’t take things too seriously, even when he’s on the brink of death — watch My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, King 2 Hearts Gu Family Book and A Korean Odyssey. That changed in Mouse, where he played a police officer who turned out to be a psychopathic serial killer. It doesn’t help that it was based on a true story (I still have shivers thinking about it).
Ji Sung is the king of versatility. In Kill Me Heal Me, he played Cha Do Hyun, a character with seven alter egos, including a teenage girl. He has the funniest facial expressions that keep you laughing even in serious scenes, but he can also switch it up. In Devil Judge, he was so unsympathetic, I wanted to slap him through my screen. That’s how you know an actor is good at his job.
Jo Jung Suk
If you were introduced to Jo Jung Suk in Hospital Playlist, you’ll assume he’s the sweetest and funniest actor. He was a great, super-friendly dad who made silly jokes. But in Hit-And-Run Squad, he played a stinky rich and arrogant race car driver. Like a rich Nigerian, his character assumes he’s above the law. I’ve since chosen to unsee that character, but I’m proud of his range still.
Kim Go Eun
When you see Kim Go Eun in a movie, you expect tears. But in Monster, she played an aggressive and weird character who wanted nothing more than revenge for her sister’s death. And she deserved a standing ovation for her role in Pretty Women because, wow. What a deceit. I can’t wait to see her play a proper villain though.
Kim Hyun Joo
My queen, the original IT girl, Kim Hyun Joo, has spent years showing us what versatility looks like. She makes you forget any character she’s played before the one on your screen. In I Have A Lover, she played twin sisters separated at birth. One was a super cold and apathetic lawyer, and the other, a sweet and funny pregnant woman. In the Watcher, she’s a ruthless and manipulative lawyer who doesn’t understand team spirit at all. If she’s not winning, what’s the point? Then you see her play a terminally ill woman in Fantastic and wonder if she’s Chioma Chukuwka’s twin because, why are you crying buckets of tears every second?