Some K-drama and Korean movie characters are hard to portray. To make a role remarkable, an actor has to ~completely transform~ into a different person. And this doesn't just include the spectrum of emotions they need to show—sometimes, they have to master a certain field to make their acting even more convincing.
We rounded up 15 Korean actors who had to learn a new skill for their role:
1. Song Joong Ki
Song Joong Ki has shown us that he can take on diverse characters, from a werewolf boy to a special forces captain. But according to him, the hardest role he has played so far is a mafia consigliere in Vincenzo. Joong Ki did not travel to Italy to film some scenes for the series (thanks to CGI) but he did have to learn how to speak Italian! He said in an interview that he's never spoken Italian in his entire life and that he's actually more scared of his Italian teacher than the drama's director, LOL. The verdict of the people from Italy? Vincenzo Cassano did a great job. Bravo!
2. Shin Hye Sun
In the 2019 drama Angel's Last Mission: Love, Shin Hye Sun was cast as a ballerina who became blind due to an accident. For this particular role, the actress enrolled in ballet lessons the moment she was chosen for the series. Despite her hectic schedule, she still attended her classes even while she was filming the drama! She also did rigorous activities prior to her ballet lessons like pilates. Not only that, since Hye Sun is a blind ballerina, she "attended art installations that mimicked the experience of living with blindness to understand her character’s point of view," per Soompi. Talk about dedication!
3. Song Kang
Just like Hye Sun, Song Kang went through intensive ballet training for his coming-of-age drama, Navillera. He spent six months learning the art and although the movements were technical, Song Kang said that he actually enjoyed it. Fun fact: His appa (father) was a gymnast! This just means that being artistic runs in their blood and Song Kang is willing to put more effort to polish his skills. Daebak!
4. Kim So Yeon
Remember the epic piano scene in The Penthouse where Cheon Seo Jin played the instrument furiously after her father died? Kim So Yeon was *required* to practice a piano piece and so she learned the skill for two and a half months! It might be a short period of time but she definitely understood the assignment. In fact, people are now calling her as South Korea's Joker because of that clip! On why she decided to learn how to play the piano, So Yeon said that she wants to give that scene justice. #QueenBehavior
5. EXO's D.O.
We all know that EXO's D.O. can act, sing, and dance—but did you know that he can tap dance? In the movie Swing Kids, D.O. transformed into a North Korean soldier and had to practice tap dancing, which he said is far from the choreography he's used to as a K-pop idol. He did this for five months and the result was outstanding! D.O. shared that his EXO members kept telling him that his tap dancing is so noisy but he did it anyway because he had to practice. We can only imagine their reactions, haha! And oh, did we mention that he learned the North Korean dialect and had to shave his head for this role?
6. Hong Seung Hee
Rising actress Hong Seung Hee played the role of Yoon Na Moo in Move To Heaven, the perky and reliable friend of Han Geu Ru (Tang Joon Sang) who lives next door to him. She's also a part-time diver at her BFF's favorite aquarium. To prepare for this project, Seung Hee went all the way to the province of Jeju just so she can obtain a certification in scuba diving! With her commitment, we're pretty sure that this actress will go places. <3
7. Lee Jong Suk
In Doctor Stranger, Lee Jong Suk showed that he's not only the best K-drama kisser but he's also excellent in action stunts! Our Sukkie can drive a car (he has a collection of them so...) but it's a different case when it comes to two-wheeled motor vehicles. That's why he learned how to drive the motorcycle for a specific chase scene in order for him to get a license. Filing this under more reasons to love Sukkie!
8 and 9. Jeon Mi Do and Kim Dae Myung
To destress after a long day, the Hospital Playlist barkada would hold band practices after work. And yes, the actors played their musical instruments for real! While some are already familiar with them, Jeon Mi Do and Kim Dae Myung took lessons for their band IRL. Mi Do sat down for an interview and shared more about this: "We started filming the drama late fall last year, and I started practicing playing the bass in summer. Kim Dae Myung started taking piano lessons in spring. We all practiced on our own, and then we finally got together to play. We had sessions before filming started, and we met up often." Will we run out of reasons not to love this squad? Nope, never.
10. SHINee's Minho
K-pop-idol-slash-actor Minho starred in the 2012 K-drama To The Beautiful You as Kang Tae Joon, a handsome high jump athlete who was caught in an accident. If you were amazed by the SHINee member's sports skills here, that's because he trained with a pro! According to an Osen article, he was coached by Kim Tae Young, a former national high jump athlete. Paired with Minho's innate athletic talent and focus, we weren't surprised when it was reported that he trained for only less than two months!
11. Kim Ji Won
Kim Ji Won never fails to impress us with her stellar acting throughout the years—but for her most recent project, she left us speechless. The actress has aquaphobia (or fear of water) and she revealed this in an episode of Running Man. Furthermore, she said in an interview that she remembered crying during a Descendants Of The Sun retreat when someone pushed her into the water as a joke. Despite this, Ji Won overcame her fear and filmed her surfing scenes in Lovestruck In The City. Watch this video of Jiwonie and feel like a proud mom:
12. Lee Je Hoon
For his role as an underground MMA fighter in Netflix's Move To Heaven, Lee Je Hoon had a *drastic* transformation. Some of his scenes require him to be shirtless and to achieve a certain body figure, he exercised really hard for four months prior to the drama's filming. The 37-year-old once mentioned that he worked out six times a week without fail because he wanted to show his peak as Cho Sang Gu! He even came to the point where he thought that he was already overdoing it. We're just here to say that your efforts are all worth it, Je Hoon!
13. Park Gyu Young
Park Gyu Young's most notable drama character is in It's Okay To Not Be Okay and this was followed by her role in Netflix's Sweet Home. Here, she plays the tough Yoon Ji Soo, an aspiring musician. To prepare for her stint, Gyu Young learned three things: First, she took bass guitar lessons for three months. Second, she went to action school. Third, she "practiced hitting balls with screen baseball" since her role uses a baseball bat as a weapon. One word: Wow!
14. Shin Min Ah
Ah, our Shin Min Ah. How can we forget her as the adorable gumiho in My Girlfriend As A Gumiho? 10 years after. she changed into a completely different persona (the range, you guys!) in the mystery thriller Diva as Lee Young. Because her scenes in this movie were mostly shot underwater. Min Ah had to go through rigorous training. She did felt a lot of pressure but since she wanted to challenge herself, she trained as a diver for four months before the filming started! She also had to prepare herself emotionally since Lee Young is a quite a complicated character.
15. Kim Min Jae
You'll probably remember Kim Min Jae as Nurse Park Eun Tak in Dr. Romantic. In the same year, he made another unforgettable role in the series Do You Like Brahms?. ICYDK, it's a K-drama about classical music students and how they reach for their dreams and fall in love. Min Jae is a genius pianist in this show and he said that it was really hard playing the piano. The pressure was there and so he practiced playing the instrument all day except during lunch and dinner. Omo! He also practiced even when he doesn't have to film. Kim Min Jae = commitment personified.
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