The Korean Drama industry is a worldwide phenomenon. People from all over the world keep getting hooked on dramas produced in South Korea and a broad variety of subtitles are added shortly after a new episode comes out.
But what are some international projects done by our favourite Korean celebrities?
We compiled a list to broaden your view!
Yoona, member of Girls Generation, is a name every KDrama and Kpop fan has heard before. Besides being a highly successful singer, she gained international attention for her stunning beauty and acting skills–having acted in 8 different dramas since her debut in 2007 is a high number that not many idols can compete with.
What many fans may not know is that one of her lead roles was in a Chinese drama called God of War, Zhao Yun/ Chinese Hero Zhao Zi Long. The drama aired between the third of April and the 31st of the same month in 2016 and had a total of 60 episodes.
The drama revolves around Zhao Zi Long, a Chinese military general who lived in the late Han Dynasty. He stands out with his courage, charisma and fighting skills, but suddenly gets caught up in a love triangle with Xia Hou Qing Yi, who is played by Yoona, and another great warrior.
For anyone searching for action, romance, war and history all at once, this is a great choice outside of the Korean drama industry!
Being a 2PM member who is from a Thai-American background, you’d expect him in an international drama by now. And while he unfortunately did not act in an American or Thai drama yet, he was the main lead in the Chinese drama One and A Half Summer.
Zhang Hao, portrayed by Nickhun, is a Chinese-American who travels to China to study and search for a girl whom he fell in love with at first sight. The drama focuses on his campus life in china and his development as a person.
There are 27 episodes in total, and the drama aired between the 23rd of June and the 2nd of July in 2014. The genres are ones also common in South Korea, having romance, school and youth as its focus, so if you’re into these this is a drama that is worth checking out!
Jiyoung, a former member of KARA, left the group in early 2014 to pursue a career in acting and focus on her studies. She actively restarted her singing and acting career in 2015 and debuted on the Japanese music market in 2016.
While KARA was really active and well known in Japan, and even had their own Japanese drama called URIKARA with all the members featuring, Jiyoung already had a main role in the Japanese drama Koisuru Maison: Rainbow Rose in 2012.
She rejoined the Japanese acting industry in 2014, and her supporting roles include Jigoku Sensei Nube, Higanbana- Womans Crime File and Tamiou.
Her main roles are Sochira no Sora wa, Donna Sora desu Ka?, Higanbana – Keishicho Sosa Nana ka, Life is… and her most recent one, Osaka Kanjousen Part 2. Whoever misses Jiyoung and is willing to consider looking outside of the box, this is worth the shot.
Park Shin Hye
Park Shin Hye is one of the most successful Korean actresses in the industry. She made her screen debut in 2003 where she portrayed the younger version of the female main character in the highly successful Korean drama ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Six years later, her acting as the female main protagonist alongside Jang Geun Suk in ‘You’re Beautiful’ was her breakthrough in the industry. Since then, her career skyrocketed, and many aspiring actresses strive to be as well known as her.
Besides acting in many outstanding Korean dramas, she was also part of a Taiwanese drama that aired in 2011! Hayate the Combat Butler is about a man who has a huge amount of debt, and to get all the money back in a short amount of time, he tries to kidnap a wealthy girl, played by Park Shin Hye. Unfortunately, he ends up saving the girl from a real kidnapping and is offered a butler job to protect her from these kinds of incidents from now on.
This drama has 20 episodes and has the genres comedy, romance and manga. For every Park Shin Hye fan, this is an absolute must!
Rain, his original name being Jung Ji Hoon, is one of the most experienced people in the Korean entertainment industry. He debuted in 2002 and made it big in the industry when releasing the single ‘Its raining’ in 2004. Since then, he’s a name that can’t be missed out when talking about Kpop. He also collected his fair share of acting experience, starting from his breakthrough in the 2004-released drama ‘Full House’.
While being a highly respected person in Korea, he was also part of some international projects. He acted in a Chinese drama called ‘Diamond Lover’ which focuses on a young woman who suffers due to her unattractive appearance. He was also part of the Special Cut Version which had only 24 episodes instead of 68.
Two Hollywood movies complete his list, one being ‘Speed Racer’ which aired in 2008 and was based off the Japanese anime series ‘Speed Racer’; and the other one being ‘Ninja Assassin’ which was released in 2009 and made him the first Korean person to ever win an MTV award.
Make sure to check these out if you haven’t already!
Ku Hye Sun
Another Korean actress who made it big in the drama industry is Ku Hye Sun. She is best known as Geum Jan Di, the female protagonist of Boys over Flowers, which is one of the most well-known Korean dramas outside of the country.
She was also part of a Taiwanese drama production called ‘Absolute Boyfriend’ in 2012. The drama is based off a Japanese shojo manga and focuses on a girl (played by Ku Hye Sun) unlucky in love. Through some events, she accidentally made the man of her dreams without realizing the consequences of it and the viewers follow her on this new and confusing path.
This drama aired between the 8th of April and the 1st of July in 2012, with a total of 20 episodes and shows another side of Hye Sun that many fans might not know! Make sure to watch it and fall in love with Hye Sun once again.
Donghae is a part of Super Junior who’s has been around for more than 10 years now. He made his acting debut in early 2006 where he starrred in Super Junior’s horror documentary Mystery 6, and had his first main role in the drama It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl in 2010.
Alongside fellow bandmate Siwon, he also starred in a Taiwanese drama based on the Japanese manga Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura. Skip Beat, also known as Extravagant Challenge is about revenge. Gong Xi, the female lead of this drama, gives up her career to support her romantic interest and lifelong friend Bu Po Shang (played by Donghae). Once he actually gets famous, he drops Gong Xi and reveals that he only used her for fame.
In order to get the revenge, Gong Xi wants to become more famous than him and joins an entertainment company herself. In that process, she meets the famous actor Dun Helian (played by Siwon) and an evil yet highly clever plan starts to form in her mind.
This drama aired from the 18th of December till the 1st of April 2012. There are 15 episodes in total, with one being an hour and ten minutes long.
If you enjoy manga and K-pop, this is a perfect choice since it combines both of these awesome things!
The next person on the list is Choi Siwon, who was already mentioned above. Just like Donghae, he is part of Super Junior. He has acted throughout his whole career as a singer, including many international projects just like Skip Beat that was mentioned earlier. But there are also many other non-Korean projects that Siwon appeared in.
His Hong Kong-Chinese projects include Helios (2015), a crime-thriller movie where an international team has to find an mass destruction weapon that was stolen, To The Fore (2015), a sports drama that focuses on different people and their passion for cycling, A Battle of Wits (2006), an action-war drama based on a Japanese novel and ‘Dragon Blade’ (2015), a historical action film starring Jackie Chan, which was released in American movie theaters.
He was also part of a Chinese drama production and acted as the main character of Fall in Love with you again where a young woman can travel back in time to change her current life.
Anyone who’s looking for action and a certain thrill to keep things interesting, this should be great!
Seungri, the maknae of Big Bang which is one of the most famous groups in South Korea (if not in the world), has not acted that much during his long career as a singer.
But since he is very active in Japan even outside of song promotions, he was also part of a Japanese drama!
Yubikoi- Kimi no Okuru Message was released in 2013, starting on the 4th of December and ending at the 19th of February of 2014. Its genres are comedy, romance and drama and it has a total of 12 episodes. The plot focuses on young adults and the influence of text messages surrounding their daily life.
With many of us relating to this topic, this is sure fun to watch!
BoA, considered as the “Queen of Kpop”, is best known for her incredible dancing skills.
Debuting in 2000 at only 13 years of age makes her one of the longest active members of the Kpop scene. Since she debuted as a solo singer, she didn’t focus much on her acting career. Her first main role in a Korean drama was just last year in My Wife is Having an Affair this Week.
With that in mind, it’s even more incredible that she starred in the Hollywood drama Make your move in 2013. SM Entertainment co-produced this dance movie and there is also a fair share of SM singers featured on the soundtrack, including SNSD, f(x), TVXQ and the Jung Sister together with Kris.
BoA plays Aya, the female main dancer alongside Derek Hough, a famous ballroom dancer. The story line follows the path of these very different yet similar people and their passion for dancing.
If you’re into good dancing and love a romantic, yet action loaded movie, this is exactly the thing you’re searching for.
Song Qian, or better known under her stage name Victoria, is a member of f(x), a group that debuted in 2009 under SM Entertainment.
While mainly Krystal and Sulli (ex-f(x)) are known for their acting skills, Victoria has actually been acting just as much as these two since 2012.
The only difference is that all her movie projects are centered on the Chinese and Taiwanese drama industry! Reason is probably her Chinese heritage with her birthplace being in Qingdao, China. In total, she has acted in over seven dramas and three movies.
Her Chinese dramas include Beautiful Secret (2015), Ice Fantasy (2016) and A Life Time Love (2017). Three of her Chinese dramas are yet to air: The Chronicles of A Town Called Jian (October 2017), The First Love of the Man Who Was Thousand Years Old (2018) and Endless August (2020).
Meanwhile, her Taiwanese drama is called ‘When Love Walked In (2012).’
Her Chinese movies are My Best Friend’s Wedding (2016), Wished (2017), City of Rock (2017) and Legend of the Ancient Sword (2018).
All these dramas have over 30 episodes, some even up to 60! So, If you’re determined and willing to commit, these might be a great choice!
Ji Chang Wook
Ji Chang Wook, a Korean actor we all have heard of, rose to fame after being part of the main cast of the daily drama series ‘Smile Again.’ Since then, he became an unerasable part of the Korean drama industry, especially after the hit drama ‘Healer’ which made fans all over the world fall in love with him.
But unknown to many, he was also part of the Chinese production for the drama ‘Whirlwind Girl 2’, which has a total of 36 episodes that aired last year. It centers around Qi Bai Cao, who tries to find her path in martial arts again after her previous mentor passed away. She gets help from a mysterious man (Ji Chang Wook) during her journey and finds new joy in the well-known martial arts.
Since Ji Chang Wook entlisted earlier this year, and many fans mourn the lack of his beautiful face on-screen, this is a great choice that many might not be aware of! Be sure to watch it.
Lay is another artist under SM Entertainment on this list.
He is part of EXO, and technically the last Chinese member left in the group. That’s probably why he has acted in several international projects!
He made his on-screen debut as a lead actor in the Chinese movie ‘Oh My God!’, and continued to star in many Chinese movie productions such as Royal Treasure, The Mystic Nine Side Story, Flowers Bloom in February, Kung Fu Yoga and The Founding of Army. He was also a frequent cast member in many dramas, including To Be a Better Man, The Mystic Nine, Operation Love and The Golden Eyes.
While many missed Lay on the promotions of the recent EXO comeback, he has been busy in China, and for everyone who misses him, you should watch one of these many great options!
What are your favorite international projects that started an K-Idol in it and what projects did we miss?
All photos not owned by Kdramabuzz
All the information in this article is taken from:
- Organize, Discuss, Discover Asian Dramas & Movies. (n.d.). Retrieved November 08, 2017, from https://mydramalist.com/