The cast of “Moon Lovers” after 6 years: Ji Soo lost everything after school violence scandal, Nam Joo Hyuk rises to the top
6 years after “Moon Lovers” aired, its cast are facing vastly different fates, with some seeing strong surges in career while others lost it all.
In 2016, the release of K-drama series “Moon Lovers” managed to become a hot topic across Asia. While the series did receive a fair share of criticism, it is still undeniably a successful historical series on the international grounds. Now that 6 years have passed, the cast of “Moon Lovers” have also undergone vast changes, with some skyrocketing in the acting industry, some plummeting, and one even seeked death due to an irredeemable scandal.
Ji Soo – the heart fluttering second lead that led a scandalous past
The 14th Prince Wang Jung, played by Ji Soo, is among the most loved characters in “Moon Lovers”, due to his honorable personality and silent love towards the female lead. After “Moon Lovers”, Ji Soo continued to play various second male lead roles who never earned the heart of his beloved, to the point he got nicknamed the nation’s second lead. Via various famous projects, including “Strong Woman Do Bong Soon”, “My First First Love”, and many more, Ji Soo was regarded as a promising actor, who never really reached peak popularity. It was not until the highly-invested historical work “River Where The Moon Rises” that Ji Soo finally gained huge attention, however he was soon stripped of all of it due to past controversies.
In particular, a wave of exposing past bullies in the entertainment industry struck Korea at the time, and Ji Soo was among the celebrities named. 3 anonymous accounts accused the actor of being a school bullying in the past and exposed his drinking, smoking, and even attempts of sexual assault while underaged. Eventually, Ji Soo had to post an apology letter, where he admitted to everything except the sexual claims. He ended up being canceled by the net, and had to pull out of “River Where The Moon Rises”, before disappearing to enlist. For now, the actor has got no new activities, and it’s likely that his entertainment career is as good as gone.
Nam Joo Hyuk – Unstable career, accused of betraying his old agency, slowly reviving
In “Moon Lovers”, Nam Joo Hyuk played the 13th Prince Baek Ah, who had such a tragic romance, the audience bawled their eyes out whenever he appeared. Right after the 2016 series, Nam Joo Hyuk nailed both the hit “Weightlifting Kim Bok Joo” and a co-star girlfriend – actress Lee Sung Kyung. However, they have separated, and Joo Hyuk had no dating rumors ever since. His next ventures weren’t too successful, with the 2017 K-drama “Bride of The Water God” harshly criticized by Korean audiences, and him winning Best New Actor at the 2018 Blue Dragon Film Awards thanks to “The Great Battle” being regarded as unworthy by netizens.
Despite showing certain improvements in the last few years, Nam Joo Hyuk’s acting skills are said to be rather unstable. According to netizens, the actor delivered his characters well in the 2019 series “The Light In Your Eyes” and the 2020 film “Josée”, only to plummet again in the 2020 series “Start Up”. To make it worse, some also accused the actor of betraying his past agency YG Entertainment, for leaving the company after YG supported him with all their might. At the moment though, Nam Joo Hyuk has earned the love of netizens again with his portrayal of the male lead Baek Yijin in the hit 2022 series “Twenty Five, Twenty One”, and people are praising his outstanding visuals at the actor’s latest appearance in Dior 2022 Fall fashion show.
Jo Min Ki – lost everything due to sex controversy
Playing King Taejo in “Moon Lovers” is actor Jo Min Ki with over 20 years in the industry, who was also well-known for previous hits like “Queen Seon Deok” and “East of Eden”. The seasoned actor was also a respected university professor in Korea, but this didn’t last for long. In February 2018, the #MeToo movement, which unveiled sexual predators, started to gain hype in Korea, and Jo Min Ki was accused of harrassing numerous female students. In the end, the actor admitted to everything, resigned from his professorship, and was found dead in March 2018. Forensics showed that the once prestigious actor took his own life.
Hong Jong Hyun – Average career, shined as the villain but flopped as the protagonist
When “Moon Lovers” first aired, Hong Jong Hyun fell behind his co-stars in terms of fame. However, with an outstanding performance as one of the series’ villains, the actor managed to make a deep impression. Unfortunately, he did not live up to this boost, and in the past 6 years hasn’t nailed any noticeable work. In 2019, he starred as the male lead of the famous weekend drama “Mother of Mine”, but was completely overshadowed by the female lead. In the next 2 years, Jong Hyun performed his mandatory military service, discharged in 2021, yet has not made any new mark ever since.
Kang Han Na – Working her way up from memorable supporting and second lead drama roles to a lead role
Playing Princess Yeon Hwa in “Moon Lovers”, Kang Han Na captured viewers’ attention with her graceful beauty and charismatic acting performance. Over the years, she left a good impression with her scene-stealing portrayal of second lead female characters in successful dramas such as “Familiar Wife” (2018), “Start-Up” (2020), “My Roommate is a Gumiho” (2021). This year, she was cast in her first small-screen lead role in historical drama “Bloody Heart” in which she plays a woman who has to become a queen for the sake of survival. The drama recently premiered to a promising start and favorable reviews. “Bloody Heart” promises to be Kang Han Na’s first major breakthrough that will land her more drama lead roles in the future.
Jin Ki Joo – An underrated muse of the Korean screen
Jin Ki Joo was not a familiar name to the audience when “Moon Lovers” was broadcast. She had her first career breakthrough by leading a drama for the first time in 2018 with “Come And Hug Me”, followed by supporting roles in successful series and movie in the same year, “Misty” and “Little Forest”. Her performance in the critically acclaimed film “Little Forest” helped her earn various nominations for Best New Actress at prestigious acting awards, including Baeksang. In 2020-2021, Jin Ki Joo starred as lead in the weekend drama “Homemade Love Story” and took home several Excellence Awards for her acting.
Seohyun – Gradually shutting down the stereotype against idol actors, showing bold image transformation in lead roles
With her outstanding visuals, Seohyun did a good job transforming into princess Woo Hee in “Moon Lovers”c even though at the time, her acting was not highly appreciated. In 6 years after “Moon Lovers”, Seohyun has proved her great improvement in acting and effort to get rid of the prejudices against an idol-turned actor through works such as “Bad Thief, Good Thief” (2017), “Time” (2018), “Private Lives” (2020). In 2022, Seohyun had a surprisingly bold transformation by leading the BDSM-themed “Love and Leashes”, showing off her maturity in both image and acting. Currently, Seohyun is preparing for her next drama comeback in the upcoming fantasy rom-com “Jinxed at First”.
Baekhyun – Taking a break from acting to focus on his singing career
The cutest and childish 10th prince Wang Eun played by EXO’s Baekhyun is considered the comic relief character of “Moon Lovers” but suffers a sad ending. After challenging himself in acting with his first TV drama role through “Moon Lovers”, Baekhyun decided to completely concentrate on his singing career. Baekhyun is a successful idol both as EXO’s main vocalist and a soloist, but fans still hope to see actor Baekhyun again. Currently, Baekhyun is fulfilling his military service.
Kang Ha Neul – From second lead roles to Baeksang’s Best Actor
After playing the second male lead role, 8th Prince Wang Wook in “Moon Lovers”, Kang Ha Neul has made significant strides in his career within the past 6 years. He constantly landed leading roles and affirmed his acting talent through “Midnight Runners” (2017), “Forgotten” (2017) and “When The Camellia Blooms” (2019). He excellently won “Best Leading Actor in TV” for his brilliant acting in “When The Camellia Blooms”. After “When The Camellia Blooms”, Kang Ha Neul appeared in two movies “Waiting For Rain” and “The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure”. Currently, he is preparing to return in his first drama in 3 years, “Trees Die on Their Feet”.
IU – Moving past the “nation’s little sister” image to become a real mature actress
IU once received mixed reactions to her acting when “Moon Lovers” was released, with viewers claiming the role is too challenging for IU to take on. However, over the last 6 years, IU has improved her acting by an incredible amount and proved herself to be a talented actress with a mature image. She received 2 nominations for Best Actress at Baeksang for her role in “My Mister” (2018) and “Hotel Del Luna” (2019). This year, she will have her movie debut in 2 highly-anticipated films, “Broker” and “Dream”. Both promise to bring IU’s recognition as an actress to the next level.
Lee Jun Ki – Unchanged top-tier acting skills
Without doubt, the soul of “Moon Lovers” is 4th Prince Wang So portrayed flawlessly by Lee Jun Ki. Within the last 6 years, Lee Jun Ki has continued to deliver excellent acting performances in a variety of genres. From “Criminal Minds” (2017), “Lawless Lawyer” (2018), “Flower of Evil” (2020), to the ongoing drama “Again My Life”, Lee Jun Ki never fails to stun audiences with his transformation into difficult roles. In particular, “Again My Life” is currently exploding with popularity.