In the vibrant world of Korean dramas, 2023 was a year brimming with stellar performances that captivated audiences. From the magnetic presence of Song Joong Ki to the depth of Kim Seon Ho’s portrayals, actors like Nam Joo Hyuk, Park Seo Joon, and Lee Do Hyun brought characters to life, leaving indelible marks on the year’s dramas. Whether it was Song Kang’s compelling roles or Lee Dong Wook’s impactful performances, each actor displayed versatility and skill, elevating the storytelling of their respective series. From romance to thriller genres, these actors offered nuanced portrayals, showcasing their dedication to their craft. As the year comes to an end, the question remains: who among these exceptional talents stood out as the quintessential K-drama actor of the year? Cast your vote and celebrate the outstanding contributions of these gifted performers in shaping the K-drama landscape in 2023.
Here are the top 10 South Korean actors who are the nominees for this poll:
1. Lee Do Hyun
In 2023, Lee Do Hyun continued his ascent, captivating audiences with diverse roles. He showcased his prowess in The Glory, pairing up with Song Hye Kyo in a Netflix drama by writer Kim Eun Sook. Reuniting with Go Min Si in Reincarnation Romance, a unique web series, underscored his versatility. His choice of Death’s Game as his final pre-military project affirmed his commitment to director Ha Byung Hoon, building on their collaboration from 18 Again. Lee’s relentless dedication to multifaceted characters cemented his status as a promising talent, leaving an indelible mark on the Korean entertainment landscape.
2. Park Seo Joon
In 2023, Park Seo Joon continued his dynamic career, diversifying across different genres. From portraying a soccer player turned coach in the sports film Dream to his role as Prince Yan of Aladna in the MCU’s The Marvels, his versatility shone brightly. Additionally, his involvement in the disaster-thriller film Concrete Utopia showcased his commitment to diverse storytelling. Park’s foray into Hollywood marked a significant milestone, adding a global dimension to his repertoire and solidifying his status as a versatile actor exploring multifaceted roles across different cinematic landscapes.
3. Song Joong Ki
Song Joong Ki‘s recent ventures display his artistic range remarkably. In Reborn Rich, his portrayal of a character seeking retribution within a conglomerate family captivated audiences, making it the year’s highest-rated series. His latest film, Hopeless, showcased at Cannes, delves into the gritty world of crime, where he plays Chi Geon, a character intertwined with a teenage boy seeking hope amid violence. This neo-noir thriller presents a gripping narrative and demonstrates Song’s versatility in portraying complex roles. Both projects highlight his ability to immerse himself in diverse characters across television and film, cementing his stature as a multifaceted and sought-after actor.
4. Nam Joo Hyuk
Nam Joo Hyuk continues to shine in the spotlight with his recent works, showcasing his evolving talent. In Twenty-Five Twenty-One, his portrayal of Baek Yi Jin amid the 1998 IMF crisis earned acclaim for encapsulating youth’s essence, garnering the ‘Joohyuk’s Pain’ phenomenon. His film Remember highlighted his ability to evoke empathy, portraying a young man aiding an Alzheimer’s patient in seeking revenge. With the drama Vigilante, adapted from a Naver webtoon, Nam embodies a police student moonlighting as a secret vigilante, promising another intriguing chapter in his diverse and impactful acting career.
5. Lee Junho
Lee Junho‘s remarkable journey as an actor soared with his role in The Red Sleeve, where his portrayal of Crown Prince Yi San garnered accolades, including a Top Excellence Award. Breaking barriers, he made history as the first idol actor to clinch Best Actor at the Korea PD Awards and the Baeksang Arts Awards. His groundbreaking wins continued at the Apan Star Awards and the Asia Artist Awards, securing Top Excellence and the prestigious Grand Prize. In 2023, Junho took on another lead role in the romantic comedy King the Land, starring alongside Im Yoon Ah, promising yet another exciting chapter in his thriving acting career.
6. Song Kang
Song Kang continues to shine as a leading figure in the Korean drama scene, earning the moniker Son of Netflix due to his prominent roles in Netflix series. His diverse performances in hits like Sweet Home, Love Alarm, and Nevertheless propelled him to global recognition, with these dramas ranking among the most-watched K-dramas worldwide. In 2022, he further showcased his talent in the JTBC drama Forecasting Love and Weather, starring alongside Park Min Young, before returning with Sweet Home Season 2 and My Demon in 2023. As Song Kang consistently delivers compelling performances across various genres, his presence remains a driving force in captivating audiences, solidifying his status as a sought-after actor in the industry.
7. Lee Dong Wook
Lee Dong Wook continues to captivate audiences with his versatile performances across diverse genres. In his latest works, notably Bad and Crazy and Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938, he takes on compelling lead roles, showcasing his depth and range as an actor. From supernatural dramas to thrilling mysteries, Lee Dong Wook consistently delivers impactful portrayals, keeping viewers engaged with his charismatic presence and nuanced acting. Additionally, his ventures into hosting, including his own talk show, Wook Talk, further highlight his multifaceted talent and enduring popularity as an entertainer, solidifying his position as a respected figure in the Korean entertainment industry.
8. Cha Eun Woo
Cha Eun Woo‘s recent ventures showcase his expanding repertoire and growing influence in the entertainment industry. His contributions to the soundtrack of The Villainess Is a Marionette and his role as a Navy officer in Decibel underline his versatility across music and film. Additionally, his portrayal as an exorcist priest in the TVING drama Island demonstrates his ability to tackle diverse and challenging roles. Moving into 2023, Cha’s involvement in webtoon-based dramas like A Good Day to Be a Dog and his musical contributions signify his continued evolution as an artist. His groundbreaking recognition with the Global Icon Award at the MTV Video Music Awards Japan further cements his status as a trailblazing talent on a global scale.
9. Ji Chang Wook
Ji Chang Wook‘s recent works showcase his enduring presence and diverse roles in Korean dramas. From his compelling performances in Melting Me Softly, Backstreet Rookie, and Lovestruck in the City, he’s exhibited versatility across various genres. His latest ventures in The Sound of Magic, If You Wish Upon Me, The Worst of Evil, and Welcome to Samdalri highlight his continuous commitment to diverse and engaging storytelling. Ji Chang Wook’s consistent presence in popular dramas underscores his ability to captivate audiences with nuanced portrayals, further solidifying his position as a sought-after actor in the Korean entertainment industry.
10. Byeon Woo Seok
Byeon Woo Seok’s recent projects underscore his rising prominence in both film and television. His notable performances in dramas like Moonshine and Record of Youth established his versatility, earning him accolades like the Best New Actor award. Stepping into leading roles, his portrayal in 20th Century Girl garnered acclaim, solidifying his standing in the film industry. The film’s success further propelled his career, leading to another prominent role in Soulmate, showcasing his evolving prowess. He then captivated audiences in the television series Strong Girl Nam Soon with his compelling portrayal, showcasing his depth and versatility as an actor, cementing his position as a rising star in the Korean entertainment landscape.
Pick your favourite actor from the poll enlisted below: