3 Male Korean actors who gained fame from webtoon K-dramas
Webtoon K-dramas have become a hot commodity with many becoming hits on platforms like Netflix, and Disney+’s Moving, but over the years a few male Korean actors have become princes of the genre.
Some of the most well-loved K-dramas were first webtoon storylines like What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim. With the growing success of the Hallyu waves and the globalization of K-dramas, webtoons have become the backbone of live-action adaptations.
K-drama fans have noticed a select number of male Korean actors who have risen to the ranks of on-screen stardom thanks to their roles in webtoon K-dramas. Fans can likely think of a few right off the top of their heads.
One of the actors first got started as a K-Pop idol in Astro before diving into acting, another actor has done a majority of his K-drama work for Netflix. Another actor gained immense praise for his emotional portrayal in Weak Hero Class 1.
Song Kang is nicknamed the “Son of Netflix” for a reason
Male Korean actor Song Kang started his career in 2017 as part of an ensemble cast for a K-drama based on a manga, not a webtoon.
When it comes to Netflix K-dramas, Song Kang was accurately titled the “Son of Netflix” as a majority of his hit roles were for the streaming platform. In 2019, he played Hwang Sun-oh in Love Alarm. It was one of the first global successes for Netflix in Korean entertainment. The two-season K-drama was based on the webtoon of the same name by Chon Kye-young. It focused on a romance storyline where a popular dating app dictates relationships and feelings. A hard-working high-schooler finds herself in a love triangle between a popular male lead and his friend.
In 2020, Song Kang took on another leading webtoon role in the highly acclaimed apocalyptic horror Sweet Home. The webtoon of the same name was created by Kim Carnby and Hwang Young-chan and broke records as one of the rare few K-dramas to be greenlighted for a second and third season simultaneously. It follows Song Kang’s character and building tenants as the world descends into an apocalypse of gruesome monsters.
Song Kang’s fame continued when he starred in two webtoon K-dramas in 2021. Written by Hun, the actor played a male ballerina in Navillera. He then played Park Jae-eon in Nevertheless about two college students and their journey into complex relationships. Both K-dramas were for Netflix.
Cha Eun-woo will star in the webtoon K-drama A Good Day to Be a Dog
Many know Cha Eun-woo as a member of the K-Pop group Astro before making his on-screen debut as a male lead in the webtoon K-drama My ID is Gangnam Beauty.
The 2018 K-drama was based on a 2016 webtoon of the same name in which Cha played the role of Do Kyung-seok. Its storyline focused on a female lead who underwent cosmetic surgery before going to college. In 2018, Cha starred in the cast of Top Management, inspired by a novel about idols.
After his role in Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung, Cha gained skyrocketing fame for his role in True Beauty. It’s a favorite in the teen romance genre, based on the original webtoon by Yaongyi. The storyline focuses on the female lead who has been bullied her whole life for her looks. When starting a new school, she uses makeup to become a goddess. She gets caught in a love triangle between the school’s top and cold student and the bad boy.
Fans praised Cha for his role as a young priest in TVING’s Island. Unlike his other works, Island was originally a graphic novel that was turned into a webtoon. Set in Jeju Island, evil forces threaten humanity. A young priest, a demon, and a special female lead find themselves with their fates intertwined.
Cha’s upcoming K-drama A Good Day to Be a Dog continues his webtoon streak. The October 2023 K-drama centers on a cursed female lead who accidentally kisses her coworker, activating her curse of turning into a dog.
Male Korean actor Park Ji-hoon is no stranger to webtoon K-dramas
Actor and idol Park Ji-hoon was praised by fans for his emotionally driven portrayal of Yeon Si-eun in the 2023 webtoon K-drama Weak Hero Class 1.
Park started his career in 2006, appearing in small roles before joining the cast of Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency. The 2019 historical K-drama is based on a novel, but in 2020 Park starred in Love Revolution. Its storyline was based on a popular Naver webtoon.
Soon after, fans were blown away by the near-perfect adaptation of the 2021 webtoon K-drama At a Distance, Spring Is Green. With bright bleached blonde hair, Park played one of the main characters Yeo Jun. The story followed Yeo Jun as a freshman at Myeongil University. While appearing to be put together, he has a side that no one knows about. He develops a friendship with a third-year student during a school project.
Gaining critical acclaim was Park’s role in Weak Hero Class 1. The original webtoon was published in 2018 written by Seopass and illustrated by Kim Jin-seok. It told the dark endless cycle of severe bullying in high school with Park as the character Si-eun. The character kept to himself until bullies took it too far. Having defended himself, Si-eun becomes a target of violence while developing his first friendships.