9 rising 'It' stars in Korean entertainment

9 rising 'It' stars in Korean entertainment

Singers, actors, models and variety show talent, these nine young entertainers are the next batch of Korea’s multi-tasking superstars

If you have watched any Korean television in the last five years, you may realize that it's impossible for a Korean entertainer to survive prime time with just one skill alone.

No, these days, actors sing, singers act, and all celebs moonlight as comedians on variety shows, until you can't remember who was originally what anymore. 

This is especially true of the younger generation of entertainers, for whom the lines are often blurred from their very debut. And although it can be quite painful to watch a K-Pop idol trying to deliver lines with solemnity in a period drama, there are a number of up-and-coming celebs who multitask with flair and ease.

Here are nine rising "It" stars who haven't quite made it to big time hallyu just yet, but don't have that much further to go.

Korean EntertainmentSong Joong-ki graduated from music show MC to movie star.

Song Joong Ki 

Arguably the biggest breakout star of teen period drama “Sungkyunkwan Scandal," Song Joong-ki’s perfect skin and pretty boy looks have garnered him the title of "Kkot Joong-ki" (Flower Joong Ki) among fans. The 25-year-old's greatest asset is that he can actually speak intelligently about his projects, which is a rare trait among his fellow pretty boy entertainers. 

A long-time MC of KBS Music Bank, he held his own against the most seasoned of comedians in variety show "Running Man," which he recently left to star in an upcoming movie with Han Ye Seul "Many a Little Romance." He also provided the voice of main character Blu in the 3D animation movie "Rio," set to be released in theaters on July 28. 

Korean EntertainmentYoo In-na has the firm backing of her YG Entertainment colleagues Big Bang and 2NE1.

Yoo In-na 

Yoo (29) shot to popularity with her distinctively sweet airhead laugh in the sitcom “High Kick Through the Roof,” and went on to receive positive review after positive review for her performances on "Secret Garden" and various comedy shows. Currently the MC of SBS's weekly entertainment news program, she recently showed that she is protagonist material in the MBC hit romantic comedy "The Greatest Love." 

Having trained for years hoping to become a singer, Yoo showed off her dulcet tones in project group Humming Urban Stereo's digital single "You, that day," earlier this year. 

Korean entertainment Nuna fans are avidly awaiting Yoo Seung-ho's coming-of-age.Yoo Seung-ho 

Dubbed movie star So Ji-sup’s younger twin brother, this child star’s gorgeous looks have only gotten better through the years. And although the 17-year-old still looks like growing pre-teen, his acting chops have landed him brooding roles alongside much older female actresses, while his singing skills had him singing alongside K-Pop songbird IU in a recent CM song. 

Watch for him in new SBS drama "Warrior Baek Dong-soo," which will begin airing on July 4. 

Korean entertainmentShe might not come off as the brightest in the business, but Han Sun-hwa does know how to gain attention with her looks and moves.

Han Sun-hwa

Famous for her dumb blonde role in a now-defunct idol variety show, 20-year-old Secret member Han Sun-hwa is becoming the go-to-girl for modeling and acting.

Recently chosen as the new makeup model for The Skin House, this K-Pop singer's clear skin and penchant for cute expressions are paying off in endorsement deals. She is slated to star with Jeong Joon-ho in a new movie called "Little Hero." 

Korean entertainmentIs there anything Kim Soo-hyun can't do? Kim Soo-hyun 

Praised for his acting as country bumpkin Sam-dong in “Dream High,” as well as for his vocal performance, Kim Soo-hyun (23) is proving himself to be a true triple threat –- performing his single “Dreaming” on music shows while continuing to pursue modeling, and of course acting. 

He began filming an action movie titled "The Professionals," with stars Jeon Ji-hyeon, Lee Jeong-jae and Kim Hye-sook this week, cinching his newly-arrived A-list status.   

Korean entertainmentLee Jang-woo is causing many a female heart to flutter with his take-charge ways on "We Got Married."

Lee Jang-woo 

Eun Jung’s new "husband" on reality show “We Got Married”, Lee (25) initially gained popularity among the older crowd thanks to his role as the villain in drama “Smile, Dong-hae.”

Singing experience from SM Entertainment's project group 24/7 and serious acting chops both pale in comparison to the surprisingly bossy charisma that he has taken on in his newlywed role. 

Korean entertainmentYoo Ah-in isn't shy about showing some attitude. Yoo Ah-in 

Thanks to his breakout role as the tough and tragically romantic Moon Jae-shin in the teen-oriented period drama “Sungkyunkwan Scandal,” Yoo Ah-in (24) has quickly become the younger man that nuna fans are obsessing over. He is currently filming "Wandeugi," a movie based on a novel about a poor and rebellious student. 

What drives the nuna fans wild though, is his "real" personality. While shooting "Launch My Life" reality show with Mnet on fashion, he received massive attention for his brusque and brutal opinions, for swearing and telling people to "piss off" left and right. 

A beautiful person with actual personality? We call that refreshing. 

Korean entertainmentIU, the girl-next-door with the big voice.


Although she debuted in 2008, it was not until late 2010 that this teensy teen shot to nationwide superstardom.

IU's three-octave-hitting song "Good Day" from her third mini-album, “The Real,” produced an all-kill on online charts as well as winning no. 1 on various music shows.

The 19-year-old donned a fatsuit in her role as Pil Suk in “Dream High” and sang duets with every samchon in the Korean singing scene (including a dead one in a SK Telecom commercial, via CGI) but it is her down-to-earth personality showcased in reality shows that shooed her in as Korea’s cutest and most sought-after “little sister.”

Although her first figure-skating performance on Yuna Kim's reality show "Kiss and Cry" fell flat and possibly earned her the first anti-fans of her young career, IU is quickly bouncing back, with her moves improving rapidly week after week. 


Korean entertainmentA pretty face, but with a story behind it. No worries, he told it himself. Hwang Gwang-hee 

Brace yourselves for the most blunt and funny idol in the K-Pop industry.

While most celebrities try hard to avoid the topic of plastic surgery, 22-year-old ZE:A member Gwang-hee took a different approach.

Not only did the K-Pop idol list his own surgeries on various television shows, but also made suggestions to fellow stars, and is being met with hilarity wherever he goes. On SBS variety show "Strong Heart," he blabbed that he had to redo a surgery when his nose collapsed after he winked.

If this doesn’t make you want to look up his profile, we don’t know what will.


Ji Eun Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea but spent most of her life in Alabama. She is currently finishing up her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University.

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