Top 13 Korean actors in Hollywood: Park Seo Joon, Ma Dong Seok, BACKPINK’s Jennie, Han Hyo Joo, more

The Korean entertainment industry has become a global phenomenon in recent years as Korean actors in Hollywood captivate audiences worldwide with its rich and diverse content. Korean actors have garnered Hollywood acclaim, showcasing their talent across various genres in both television and film. From the gripping suspense of Squid Game and the heartwarming romance of Crash Landing on You to blockbuster movies like Train To Busan and the historic Oscar-winning masterpiece Parasite, the industry has left an indelible mark.

What makes this era even more remarkable is the increasing presence of Korean actors in Hollywood. Renowned stars like Lee Byung Hun, who ventured into the G.I. Joe franchise, Ma Dong Seok and Park Seo Joon, making their mark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Bae Doona’s standout performance in Cloud Atlas have not only caught Hollywood’s attention but have also become integral parts of international projects. 

Even K-pop sensation BLACKPINK’s Jennie made her acting debut in the much-anticipated HBO series The Idol, sharing the screen with global talents like Lily Rose Depp and The Weeknd. As South Korean artists continue to make waves on the global stage, it’s an exciting time for both the industry and fans alike. Here’s a glimpse into the remarkable journey of Korean celebrities who have successfully made Hollywood ventures, leaving an indelible mark on the world stage.

Here are 13 such Korean actors that are renowned in Hollywood as well

1. Park Seo Joon

Park Seo Joon, a prominent Korean entertainment industry figure celebrated for his remarkable performances in K-dramas, made an exciting leap into Hollywood. Widely recognized as one of the biggest actors in the K-drama realm for his performance in dramas like What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?, Kill Me Heal Me, Itaewon Class, and more.

Park Seo Joon confirmed his participation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, exciting fans eagerly anticipating his Hollywood debut. He made his Hollywood debut with playing Prince Yan of Aladna in the MCU film The Marvels. The announcement ignited widespread excitement, marking a significant milestone in Park Seo Joon’s career and adding another distinguished name to the growing list of Korean talents making waves in Hollywood.

2. Ma Dong Seok

Ma Dong Seok, known as Don Lee, has emerged as one of South Korea’s most successful actors, garnering international acclaim for his roles in hits like Train To Busan, Derailed, and The Bros. In a notable Hollywood foray, he joined the star-studded cast of the 2019 Marvel blockbuster Eternals, portraying the character Gilgamesh alongside A-listers like Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Kit Harington.

A surprising facet of Ma Dong Seok’s journey is his background – having lived in Ohio and holding American citizenship, making him a Koran-American actor in Hollywood and adding an intriguing layer to his versatile and globally recognized career in the entertainment industry.

3. Bae Doona

Bae Doona, a trailblazing South Korean actress with a career spanning over two decades, has not only achieved success in Korean cinema with hits like Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and The Host but has also earned the prestigious Golden Crown Order of Cultural Merit from the South Korean government for her exceptional contributions to entertainment and art.

Venturing into Hollywood, Bae collaborated with the Wachowskis on projects such as Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, in addition to starring in the Netflix series Sense8. Her recent work includes standout performances in the Netflix period zombie thriller Kingdom, the crime thriller Stranger, and The Silent Sea.

4. BLACKPINK’s Jennie

BLACKPINK‘s Jennie made her much-anticipated Hollywood debut in 2023, appearing in the HBO television series The Idol under the stage name Jennie Ruby Jane. Despite the show facing criticism and cancellation after its first season, Jennie‘s portrayal of Dyanne, a backup dancer and confidante to the pop star Jocelyn (played by Lily-Rose Depp), garnered praise.

Notably, a widely circulated clip of Jennie in the series garnered significant attention, even outviewing the show’s premiere on HBO. Jennie’s foray into Hollywood marks an exciting new chapter in her career, showcasing her versatility and talent beyond the realm of music.

5. Rain

Rain, also known as Jung Ji Hoon, has seamlessly conquered both the music and acting realms, earning global recognition. The acclaimed artist rose to prominence with seven albums, 28 singles, and memorable concerts, even performing at the iconic Madison Square Garden to a sold-out audience.

Transitioning to Hollywood, Rain debuted in the 2008 action comedy Speed Racer with the Wachowskis, followed by headlining his film Ninja Assassin in 2009. His dedication to his craft was evident as he underwent rigorous stunt training for over six months, earning him a 2010 MTV Movie Award. With subsequent roles, including the 2014 action thriller The Prince alongside Bruce Willis, Rain’s Hollywood journey continues to captivate audiences, leaving them eagerly anticipating his future endeavors on the big screen.

6. Han Hyo Joo

Renowned in South Korea, Han Hyo Joo boasts an impressive repertoire of films like Masquerade, Cold Eyes, Love 911, and The Beauty Inside, establishing her as a household name. Her stellar performances extend to notable series such as Heaven & Earth, Iljimae, Brilliant Legacy, and Dong Yi.

Han Hyo Joo’s global breakthrough came with the American TV series Treadstone, intricately linked to the popular Bourne film series. In this Hollywood venture, her exceptional action scenes, intense sequences, and remarkable physical transformation captivated audiences alongside co-stars Jeremy Irvine, Tracy Ifeachor, Omar Metwally, and Brian J. Smith, solidifying her presence on the international stage.

7. Lee Byung Hun

Lee Byung Hun has seamlessly navigated both Korean and American entertainment realms since 2009, earning global acclaim for his exceptional acting prowess. Renowned for his stellar performances in Korean films like Inside Men, I Saw the Devil, and A Bittersweet Life, Lee Byung Hun captivated audiences in the international hit Squid Game as the enigmatic Front Man.

His Hollywood journey commenced with the 2009 film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, where he portrayed the formidable villain Storm Shadow, reprising the role in the 2013 sequel. His Hollywood ventures include Terminator Genisys, Misconduct, The Magnificent Seven, The Fortress, and Keys to the Heart, solidifying his status as a globally recognized actor.

8. Claudia Kim

Claudia Kim earned her Hollywood stripes by portraying scientist Helen Cho in the 2015 blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron. Her versatility shone further as she embraced the role of Nagini in the massive franchise Fantastic Beasts.

Prior to her Hollywood ventures, Claudia Kim showcased her talent in Korean dramas like The Fugitive: Plan B and Monster, the latter delving into themes of revenge and identity transformation after a tragic car accident. Claudia Kim’s seamless transition from Korean dramas to iconic Hollywood franchises underscores her international appeal and ability to take on diverse and impactful roles on the global stage.

9. Steven Yeun

Steven Yeun, born in South Korea and raised in Canada before settling in the U.S., has become a notable figure in Hollywood. Widely recognized for his pivotal role as Glenn Rhee in the TV series The Walking Dead, Yeun’s versatility shines through in his diverse performances. Beyond television, he has showcased his comedic talent with appearances in sketch comedy shows like I Think You Should Leave and lent his voice to the animated series Invincible.

His groundbreaking role in Minari earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, making him the first Korean American actor to receive such a prestigious honor. Steven Yeun’s Hollywood journey is marked by both critical acclaim and a commitment to portraying a wide range of characters across different genres.

10. Jung Ho Yeon

Jung Ho Yeon, propelled to global fame by her breakout role in the hit series Squid Game, has seamlessly transitioned to Hollywood. Beyond her impressive debut in the Netflix sensation, she made waves in The Weeknd’s music video Out of Time and secured a role in the upcoming A24 movie, The Governesses, sharing the screen with Lily-Rose Depp.

Set to portray one of three rebellious governesses leading students to sensual adventures, Jung Ho Yeon’s Hollywood journey extends further with a role in Alfonso Cuarón’s thriller series Disclaimer alongside industry luminaries like Cate Blanchett and Sacha Baron Cohen, solidifying her presence on the international stage.

11. Jun Ji Hyun

Jun Ji Hyun, also known as Gianna Jun, stands as one of the highest-paid Korean actors with a flourishing Hollywood career. Her breakthrough came with the 2001 romantic comedy My Sassy Girl, propelling her to Hallyu stardom. Noteworthy projects include Il Mare, Windstruck, The Berlin File, and TV series like My Love from the Star and The Legend of the Blue Sea.

Jun Ji Hyun entered Hollywood with the lead role in Blood: The Last Vampire (2009), showcasing martial arts prowess and earning critical acclaim. Her international endeavors continued with the 2011 historical drama Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, demonstrating her versatility on the global stage alongside Hugh Jackman and Li Bingbing.

12. CL

Lee Chae Rin, also known as CL, initially gained fame as a singer and rapper in the renowned girl group 2NE1. Transitioning to a solo music career, she achieved the distinction of becoming the first Korean female solo artist to secure a spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 music chart.

Beyond her musical accomplishments, CL ventured into Hollywood with a role in the film Mile 22, portraying the character Queen alongside and produced by Academy Award winner Mark Wahlberg. Her foray into Hollywood not only underscores her multifaceted talents but also cements her position as a globally recognized artist.

13. Lee Joon Gi

Lee Joon Gi, celebrated for his captivating performances in projects like The King and the Clown, My Girl, Iljimae, and Flower of Evil, has left an indelible mark on the Korean entertainment industry. His impressive acting skills have garnered numerous accolades from prestigious awards such as the Korean Film Awards, Grand Bell Awards, and MBC Drama Awards.

Lee Joong Gi’s Hollywood journey commenced with a dazzling entry in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the sixth installment of the iconic series, where he showcased exceptional martial arts skills in his role as the antagonist. His special appearance added a captivating dimension to the commercially successful 2017 movie, further solidifying his international appeal.

In conclusion, the global recognition and success of Korean actors in Hollywood mark an extraordinary era in the entertainment industry. From Lee Byung Hun’s mysterious presence in Squid Game to the versatile performances of stars like Park Seo Joon, Ma Dong Seok, and Bae Doona, the Korean wave has swept across international screens. BLACKPINK’s Jennie and Jung Ho Yeon’s recent forays into Hollywood further emphasize the industry’s expanding reach. These actors not only bring their exceptional talent but also contribute to the diversity and richness of global content. As South Korean artists continue to make a significant impact, the world eagerly awaits the next chapters of their Hollywood journeys.

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