8 K-Pop Idols Who Transitioned To K-Dramas

They started out as trainees and later pursued (and slayed in) their acting careers!
PHOTO: (LEFT) Instagram/dlwlrma, (RIGHT) Instagram/phs1116

Our favorite Korean drama stars give us a roller coaster ride of emotions with their acting skills. But did you know that some of them were initially known as K-pop idols? Most of them were either in girl or boy groups, while a few were solo acts who headlined as singers. Here are some idols-slash-actors that have become huge names in the Korean entertainment world because of their versatility.

1. Bae Suzy from miss A

If you've been watching K-dramas for a long time, you've probably seen Bae Suzy in Dream High (2011), where she played a student who aspired to be an idol. She probably applied a lot of her real-life experiences in the drama since she started as part of the group miss A under the entertainment agency, JYP.

One of her notable acting projects was as the lead in Uncontrollably Fond (2016) with Kim Woo Bin. Most recently, she starred (and slayed!) in While You Were Sleeping (2017) with Lee Jong Suk. In March 2019, Suzy left JYP and signed with acting agency Management SOOP. Watch out for Vagabond, her upcoming drama with Lee Seung Gi, in September 2019.

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2. Lee Hyeri from Girl's Day

Lee Hyeri debuted as the maknae (youngest member) of Girl's Day under Dream T Entertainment. The group was active from 2010 to 2016, took an almost two-year hiatus, made a comeback in 2017, but ended up disbanding in January 2019.

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In 2012, Hyeri made her acting debut and proceeded to take on some minor roles in various TV series. Then came her big break in the drama Reply 1988 (2015 to 2016) starring opposite Ryu Jun Yeol and Park Bo Gum. Recently, she starred in Entertainer (2016) and Two Cops (2017 to 2018), and her new drama Miss Lee is set to premiere in September 2019.

3. IU

After trying out for 20 auditions (and failing all of them!) and even getting scammed by fake entertainment agencies pre-debut, IU (whose real name is Lee Ji Eun) first trained to be in a girl group. However, she eventually made a solo debut as a singer under her agency, LOEN Entertainment.

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As if four studio albums were not enough to keep her busy (she even wrote some of her own lyrics), she starred in various dramas, too. She was in Dream High (2011) and The Producers (2015), and was then cast as the lead actress in the international hit Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016). Her most recent projects are My Mister (2018), Persona (2019), and the ongoing drama Hotel Del Luna (2019).

4. The girls from SNSD

The members of SNSD (or Girls' Generation) had diverse roots before becoming SM Entertainment trainees and talents. But all of them were talented and determined to break through Hallyu with their singing and dancing skills. Eventually, they formed a group that would be one of the biggest acts in South Korea.

Their international concerts, Korea and Japanese album recordings, reality shows, and guest appearances were enough to keep the girls busy. But some members still pursued their passion for acting. Right now, not everyone in the group is signed under SM, but they haven't disbanded yet. They're focusing on their solo careers, and some members have been cast as leads in K-dramas like Yoona in The K2 (2016), Sooyoung in Squad 38 (2016), Seohyun in Time (2018), and Yuri in Innocent Defendant (2017).

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5. Seo In Guk

This mysterious-looking guy's claim to fame was when he won the first season of Superstar K, a singing contest on cable TV music channel Mnet. After that, Seo In Guk recorded local chart-topping singles and released multiple albums.

In 2012, he made his acting debut with a supporting role and later on starred in the first installment of the nostalgic hit series Reply. After his appearance in Reply 1997, he appeared in various dramas like Master's Sun (2013) with So Ji Sub and Gong Hyo Jin, Hello Monster (2015) with Jang Na Ra, Choi Won Young, and Park Bo Gum, and Squad 38 (2016) with SNSD's Sooyoung. Most recently, he starred opposite Jung So Min in the drama The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (2018).

6. Yook Sung Jae from BtoB

Did you know that this charming guy is actually the vocalist of his K-pop group? Until recently, BtoB had been active in producing albums and singles under their label, Cube Entertainment. They've also done several concerts up until 2018. However, the military enlistment of some members forced the group to have a temporary hiatus, and Yook Sung Jae shined in various K-drama roles.

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During his early acting career, he played a minor role in Reply 1994 (2013) with Go Ara and Jung Woo. He got his break as the leading man in Who Are You: School 2015 with Kim So Hyun and Nam Joo Hyuk. If you've stuck to mainstream K-dramas, though, you probably know him as Deok Hwa, the adorable chaebol who calls Gong Yoo his samcheon in Goblin (2016 to 2017).

7. D.O. from EXO 

It's quite impossible for a K-pop fan in the Philippines not to know the boy band EXO. Even if they're not the main group you idolize, you've surely heard of them or their hit songs. Since they debuted in 2013, EXO has been a top talent at SM Entertainment and has become K-pop sensations all over the world.

While a few of the members have made acting debuts, too, D.O. (or Do Kyung Soo) has made a name for himself as a K-drama actor. He has even been cast in the box-office hit films like Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017) and Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days (2018). When it comes to TV dramas, he has starred with Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin in It's Okay, That's Love (2014), Hello Monster (2015), and Be Positive (2016). Most recently, he starred as the lead in 100 Days My Prince (2018), along with Nam Ji Hyun.

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8. Park Hyung Sik from ZE:A 

Park Hyung Sik debuted back in 2010 as part of the nine-member boy group under Star Empire Entertainment. During this time, his schedule was packed with both K-pop idol duties and acting stints. Although ZE:A has not officially disbanded, some members have joined different agencies already and are focusing on their solo careers.

The aegyo-filled Hyung Sik has starred in various dramas. He has played chaebol son roles in The Heirs (2013), High Society (2015), and—since a kingdom is like an ancient chaebolHwarang (2016 to 2017). Before he enlisted in the military in 2019, one of his latest projects was the Korean remake of Suits (2018). Of course, his most notable role is still as cutie pie Min Min with Park Bo Young in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017).

Honorable Mentions

  • BoA   an SM Entertainment artist who starred in Listen to Love (2016)
  • Rain – who started out as a JYP trainee and rose to fame when he starred in Full House (2004)
  • Joy from Red Velvet – who starred in The Liar and His Lover (2017) and Tempted (2018)
  • Uee from After School – who starred in My Contracted Husband, Mr. Oh (2018)
  • Choi Siwon from Super Junior – who gave everyone major Second Lead Syndrome in She Was Pretty (2015)
  • Sulli and Krystal from f(x) – who respectively starred in To the Beautiful You (2012) and The Bride of Habaek (2017)
  • Dasom and Bora from SISTAR – who respectively starred in He Is Psychometric (2019) and Doctor Stranger (2014)
  • Eunji and Na Eun from Apink – who respectively starred in Reply 1997 (2012) and Cinderella with Four Knights (2016)
  • Baekhyun from EXO – who starred as an adorable prince in Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)
  • V (Taehyung) from BTS – who stole hearts in Hwarang (2016 to 2017) and kept us wishing he (and other BTS members) would star in more K-dramas in the future
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