3 Male Rookie K-Drama Actors You Should Pay Attention To In 2023
Here are 3 rookie K-Drama actors who deserve your attention this year.
Every year, we are somewhat introduced to a new flock of K-Drama actors, with an innate ability to portray their characters in such a fine and intriguing light that immediately captures the interest of viewers and continues to do so, even after their series has ended. Notably, many rookie actors first come into the spotlight by portraying roles in various web dramas before progressing to TV and films, and some are also lucky enough to get their debut in a TV drama, however, regardless of the platform, their talent is what counts and often times, even with a cameo appearance or a supporting role, some rookie actors make such a visible impact that sparks a wave of interest and for some, serves as the catalyst for their meteoric rise as actors.
2022 gave us a ton of new and refreshing faces with budding talents that had us very excited for the future of K-Drama. At the same time, we have shed a spotlight on many of them, which you can read in the related post section at the end of this article. there are some rookie actors who may have just made their debut and have less than a hand full of work but have displayed a talent so impressive and chilling, they deservedly earned this recognition.
Here are 3 male rookie actors you should pay attention to this year.
1. Jung WooJin
Perhaps you’d wonder who this new actor is and the kind of work he is doing but fans of the KBS2 weekend drama “Three Bold Siblings” would immediately recognize him as the strong-willed, smart, dutiful, and handsome Jang JiWoo who is thrown into a precarious situation as his birth because one of the central topics of the series. As Jang JiWoo, Jung WooJin does an amazing job of portraying a character that tries to be his own person. He understands the difficulties of life and he doesn’t want that to phase him. He trusts in his abilities and his desire to work hard and do well. He is adventurous and curious about life. However, we can tell he craves something more. Right from the get go, he makes viewers understand that there is something missing, something that he is searching for, something that makes him so different from the rest of his family. And as the series progresses, we get to see that while his parents do give him love and affection, there is a missing link in their connection, and even though they tried to hide that he is not their son, through him and his expressions, viewers could already assume this as well.
Jung WooJin’s acting in this series immediately grips your attention. His style is very expressive and dare we say, he is one of the actors whose dialogue and delivery is not dull or too exaggerated in the series. He might be a rookie but he understands the fine line and takes viewers along on it. Even though at the beginning of the series, he doesn’t get as many scenes or lines, as the story progresses, and the plot switching to “finding out the truth about his birth”, he has become one of the key focus and as an actor, he is owning every spotlight and scene. He might be starring next to actors with many years of experience but in scenes together, he shows that his talents could very well match theirs and he deserves to be in the same space as them.
However, this drama is not his first work. He made his debut playing a cameo role in the 2018 thriller movie “Marionette”. However, it wasn’t until 2020 he would get his lead role in the web drama “Sometoon” alongside OH MY GIRL’s YuBin and Ki TaeHwa.
His role as No Woon, a character with a Tsundere-type personality, who tries to give his best in everything he does but doesn’t fully know how to express his emotions. His adorably boyish visuals may have first caught the attention of many viewers but as the story continues, his undeniable chemistry with his love interest and his charisma begin to shine through and lock in the interest of his character and his story. While like many web dramas, the series doesn’t fully give viewers much time and scenes to fully understand the characters, with his limited time, Jung WooJin made us understand (to an extent) No Woon and added him to the growing list of characters with the 2nd lead syndrome. His heart-fluttering scenes with YeJin made many root hard for them and hoped she would eventually pick him at the end.
In 2022, he continued to show his beautiful colors as an actor starring in two series “Three Bold Siblings” and the web drama “We Are Not Trash”. While we have expressively talked about his amazing portrayal of Jang JiWoo earlier, his delivery as Jin WuHyeok in “We Are Not Trash” is what really sells us on the fact that he is going to be one notable and renowned actor in the future.
Jung WooJin makes our hearts ache with his portrayal of Jang JiWoo, a teenager suffering from depression after the death of his mother, a death he blames himself for. He finds a sense of solace and comfort in his first love Shin JoHui (played by Park JungYeon) who also suffers from a mental health condition. The series aptly conveys the struggles that many teens face in society today, amidst trying to be normal and handle the pressure that comes with various situations and stages of life.
For Jung WooJin, we cannot emphasize how amazing his acting is in this series enough. His narration of his character’s painful condition and his unrelenting strive and struggle to become better will turn at your heartstrings. He builds a very strong connection between the character and the viewers. You do not just feel greatly sad for him, but also understand him as well. He breeds a sense of familiarity and relatability in his situation and actions. His is a story that needed to be told as there are many more Jang JiWoo in the world.
Again, stellar performances from a rookie actor, we excitedly wait to see him in many more dramas in the future, hopefully, he lands a role in a thriller series because he has a very strong and expressive range of emotions that make him the right fit for an actor who can carry that genre.
2. Lee ChaeMin
If potential had a face it would be Lee ChaeMin. The rookie idol is brimming with so much potential we excitedly wait to see him take on more opportunities and display the talent we know he has.
Unlike many rookie actors, Lee ChaeMin made his acting debut in the TV drama “High Class”. Even though he played a recurring role, his character wasn’t one without an impact as with his scenes, he held the attention of many viewers of the series. Playing the role of Secretary An, a dutiful and loyal staff of Nam JiSoo (played by Kim JiSoo), he served as her confidant and displayed a sheer willingness to do anything for her, even go to jail.
While his story was somewhat of a sad one, as it came off as misguided loyalty and love, he was still a character that many sort of expected an arc or development from. He didn’t say much but his expressions were enough to pique the interest of many in him, some of whom very well shipped him with his boss Nam JiSoo as their chemistry was simply incredible and the tension between them, so vivid.
From one impactful role to another, whereas in high class he didn’t get as much speaking line and had to rely more on his expressions and actions to create a sense of connection between his character and viewers of the series, with his next drama, he is provided with an ample amount of time and scenes that made many really notice and fall in love with him as an actor.
Playing the role of Lee JiHo in the sports-themed series “Love All Play”, he thrilled viewers with his delightful personality, witty comments, heartwarming romantic scenes, and chaotic banter with the rest of his badminton team. His character was lighthearted and warm and as an actor, he had a distinct appeal in this series. While the main leads were no doubt the central focus of the series, Lee ChaeMin also garnered much interest among viewers as well. With his impressive towering height, boyish good looks, and playful charms, he became an instant heartthrob and his popularity began to kick off following the end of the series.
His looks might sway the hearts of viewers but his acting is slowly proving to be the fire that makes their affection for him burn brightly.
A cameo appearance in the hit Netflix series “Alchemy Of Souls: Light and Shadows” became a viral moment as everyone began to beg the question “who is the alcohol delivery man?”
In our opinion, it seems Lee ChaeMin has a good sense of picking a script as right since his debut, his works have been great successes. His next supporting role would come in the ongoing rom-com drama “Crash Course In Romance”. In this drama, he plays the role of Lee SoonJae, a smart, warm-hearted, and responsible student who tries his best to study and go on the path created by his mother, even though it is against his true wishes. Despite it being a supporting role, he’s received an ample amount of screentime so far, just right enough for him to show off his impressive acting skills.
His character has an emotional depth to him and Lee ChaeMin is not lacking in its delivery. In some scenes, his vulnerability is so beautiful and pulling, he makes us empathize with his struggles in living life according to the dictation of his mother and the pressures that the situation imposes on him. While in others, he poses as a source of strength and charm. He is the quintessential high school heartthrob that everyone just easily falls in love with.
Despite it being a few episodes into the series, Lee ChaeMin with his acting is already making an impact and garnering tons of positive attention to him and we are excitedly tuning in to see him grow as an actor. One with perhaps the right skills to continue the growth of the industry.
3. Kim DongHwi
One of the many reasons we are grateful for “Missing: The Other Side 2” is the fact that it introduced us to Kim DongHwi. For many, like us, in his first scene, he might have been an unknown face but as the story progresses we were not just enthralled by his story but more especially by his acting. Playing the role of Oh IlYong, a young man who is a ghost from the Gongdan village who, unlike the rest of the deceased, has the ability to go back to the human world.
He joins forces with Kim Wook (Go Soo), Shin JoonHo (HaJun), and Jang Paseo (Heo JunHo) to solve the mysterious cases and find the bodies of the deceased residents in the village so they can properly ascend to the afterlife.
Kim DongHwi’s portrayal of a misjudged youth with a secret, who tries his best to help others, while also seeking help and guidance himself, was simply incredible. Even though we get to see the past of Oh IlYong and how he was a bad guy before his death (or coma), with the way he narrates his story, he makes us understand his actions then and root for him now. The whole series in its essence is beyond interesting and one with great rewatch value.
For Kim DongHwi, considering this was his first lead role, and his 2nd drama, he did a spectacular job. But then again, when you win the “Best New Actor” award at the “43rd Blue Dragon Film Awards”, with your debut film, you know that you are an exemplary talent.
Prior to this series, he had made his acting debut by playing a supporting role in the drama “Stranger 2”. His acting was also noteworthy there but we would say he really showed his color in the movie “In Our Prime”.
When a smart student realizes that his high school security guard is a math genius and could be his mentor, he stops at nothing to persuade him to do so, thereby forming a very unlikely but beautiful and touching relationship with him.
Kim DongHwi gave an impressive performance in this role. He was very emotive almost to a certain point where it felt overwhelming and exhilarating. His story took us on an emotional whirlwind as we followed diligently in hopes that there would be a very well conclusive and satisfactory ending. Asides from its gripping storyline and beautiful representation of Math in an art form, another element that makes this movie special was the chemistry between Kim DongHwi and veteran actor Choi MinSik. While the latter does play a significant part in making the scenes more wholesome, you cannot deny or ignore the presence of Kim DongHwi who amazingly complimented the energy of Choi MinSik.
“In Our Prime” is not the only film where Kim DongHwi has shown off his impeccable acting talents as he also starred in the thriller movie “Christmas Carol” released in 2022. Yet again, we were at a loss for words over his performance. Spectacular is the word that comes to mind when we think about his acting as Son Hwan in the movie and perhaps this is the feeling we will be affixing to all his future works as well.
With 2023 looking like a busy year for the rookie actor, with more scheduled dramas slated for release this year, we excitedly wait to see how expresses himself as an actor.
Which other rookie actor has caught your attention this year? Let us know in the comments section.