K-dramas have long been a gold mine for new talent to shine and gain popularity in South Korea and beyond – just look at Gong Yoo (Goblin), Kim Soo-hyun (My Love from the Star) and Song Joong-ki (Descendants of the Sun): one drama series catapulted them to international fame and opened doors to more silver screen offers. Making the leap to major motion pictures has magnified their star power, and they proved their mettle in carrying bigger productions with these starring roles. Here are the five best movies these heart-throbs have made.
1. Gong Yoo in ‘A Man and a Woman’
Ah, our favourite Lonely and Great God has long possessed a certain je ne sais quoi – he is known for a soothing sotto voce, besides his height and great features – so when he achieved a new level of global fame that eclipsed his previous success in TV series Coffee Prince, his fate as South Korea’s biggest star was sealed. He is also a box office magnet, with hits such as Train to Busan and A Man and A Woman. We recommend the latter, in which Gong Yoo co-starred with Jeon Do-yeon and tells a heartbreaking tale of a couple who embark on a love affair after a chance meeting in Finland.
2. Jung Woo-sung in ‘Remember You’
No stranger to headlining box office hits, Jung is a household name in South Korea. Accomplished thespian Jung has gone from strength to strength - from silver screen hits Reign of Assassins and Beat to small screen glories Athena: Goddess of War and Padam Padam. Out of his greatest hits, we pick a psychological thriller in which Jung shone as an amnesiac who wakes up every day with no memory of the past.
3. Song Seung-heon in ‘Obsessed’
Who can forget Song Seung-heon’s mesmerising turn in Autumn in My Heart with co-star Song Hye-kyo? So many tears were shed over this prize-winning TV drama in the noughties that we can declare that was when the Hallyu wind began to blow across the globe. We are delighted to see Song back in Obsessed, in which he plays a colonel back from the war who is suffering from post-traumatic disorder and stuck in a loveless marriage. He then meets co-star Lim Ji-yeon and they strike up a love affair that is alas, short-lived.
4. Kim Soo-hyun in ‘Real’
Kim Soo-hyun got his big break on the small screen with hit drama series My Love From The Star, and he has been seen on a host of major campaigns ever since. Following on is Real, a dystopian noir-action film in which Kim takes on a role of a “problem solver” and casino owner. He has been praised for this derring-do and for taking on a role that defied expectations.
5. Song Joong-ki in ‘The Battleship Island’
Reporting to Sergeant Song! How hard can that be? As the TV series Descendants of the Sun swept the globe in 2016, Song was at the helm with co-star Song Hye-kyo, who is now his wife. Song has moved to the silver screen with extraordinary success. His latest action romp takes him to war again, this time with a huge budget to The Battleship Island. Song plays a freedom fighter in a story set during Japanese colonisation in Korea. Six million tickets reportedly sold in South Korea when the film opened in cinemas.