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7 Must-Watch K-Dramas Starring Award-Winning Actress Kim So Yeon

From her iconic villain roles to her underrated TV series, this actress proves she’s not just any other kontrabida.
PHOTO: (LEFT TO RIGHT) THE PENTHOUSE/SBS, IRIS/KBS
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Kim So Yeon is Cheon Seo Jin of The Penthouse. At least, that’s for ~new~ K-drama fans like me (you know, those who started being fans just five or so years ago). The recently crowned Best Actress at the 57th Baeksang Art Awards delivered such a memorable performance in the makjang drama. You couldn’t help but loathe (and love that you loathe) her! And you can’t wait for her character development this coming June, when the third and possibly final season of The Penthouse will air.

But Kim So Yeon is so much more than Cheon Seo Jin. Over the years, she has taken on unforgettable kontrabida roles. She has also starred in underrated dramas that show her sweet side and diverse range in acting. Check out this list of Korean TV series starring the award-winning actress, Kim So Yeon, and where you can watch them:

Early Projects

1. All About Eve (2000)

Where you can watch it: YouTube (No subs)

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The plot: Two young and beautiful female news reporters vie for the top reporter spot in the TV network they work in. The pair have been rivals all their life, starting from when they were kids. From their childhood to their career and love life, Young Mi (Kim So Yeon) has been envious of Sun Mi (Chae Rim). So she tries to take away whatever she can, including her boyfriend (played by Jang Dong Gun).

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2. Iris (2009)

Where you can watch it: Netflix

The plot: South Korea’s National Security Service recruits two friends (played by Lee Byung Hun and Jung Joon Ho). Kim Tae Hee takes on the role as a member of that secret organization who scouted the two and captured their hearts. They eventually cross paths with a North Korean security officer (Kim So Yeon) who falls in love with the South Korean agent that shows her mercy. The thrilling action-romance revolves around the lives and battles of the agents from rival countries. Kim reprised the role in Athena: Goddess of War (a spin-off in 2010) and Iris II (2013).

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3. Prosecutor Princess (2010)

The plot: It’s almost like a Korean version of the Hollywood hit Legally Blonde. So Yeon plays an intelligent girl studying to be a prosecutor. She grew up struggling with obesity, so her mom strictly oversees her fitness routine until she loses about 50kg. She pursues her career and finds confidence in her looks as well as her skills. She also takes a chance on love in the process.

4. I Need Romance 3 (2010)

The plot: In this series, Kim So Yeon plays a fashion marketing director for a home shopping company. Tough experiences have made her guarded and cold-hearted, so she wasn’t really looking for romance. However, she gets into a love triangle with two men that melt her icy exterior.

5. Beating Again (2015)

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Viki

The plot: Jung Kyung Ho plays a man who gets into an accident that leads him to require a heart transplant. This experience reforms him from being a sociopath. His donor heart actually comes from the fiance of the role played by Kim So Yeon. When the two meet, they develop feelings for each other. But of course, their story takes twists and turns because of their past entanglements.

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Recent Projects

6. My Prettiest Daughter in the World (2019)

Where you can watch it: Viu, KBS World TV (YouTube)

The plot: A small beef soup restaurant owner raises her three daughters alone. The mom is played by none other than one of our favorite eommas and halmeonis in K-drama land: Kim Hae Sook. Her second (fictional) daughter in the drama is Kim Seo Yeon. She is a driven career woman who cares a lot about her mom. Her leading man in the drama is Hong Jong Hyun, whom you probably know as the Third Prince in Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. The drama touches on common family themes in Korea, such as avoiding marriage, divorce, and fertility.

7. The Penthouse (2020-2021)

Where you can watch it: Viu, iQiyi, GMA (Tagalog dubbed)

The plot: The richest families in Seoul live in the most sought-after apartment called Hera Palace. But with riches come greed, envy, and eventually, murders. Kim So Yeon plays Cheon Seo Jin, a vicious and highly ambitious soprano. For the past two seasons, she has achieved her dreams and fiercely protected her daughter by all means. In the coming season, we’ll see if she finally atones for the vile things she had to do for her goals. P.S. In this series, Kim So Yeon plays a villain but she’s also one of the lead actors, which is rare in typical K-dramas.

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Other Kim So Yeon Dramas To Watch:

Happy Home (2016) - where she stars with Lee Sang Woo, who is now her husband IRL

Secret Mother (2018) - where she plays the role of a mysterious “exam nanny”

Soonpoong Clinic (1998) - where she’s sisters with big showbiz names Song Hye Kyo, Lee Tae Ran, and Park Mi Sun