Updated: Oct 6
For Valentine's Day, we at GwenchaNoona decided to gift our followers with 14 profiles of our favorite Hallyu leading men. Here, we compiled everything because we know they're fun to read, re-read, and swoon over again and again.
Although he is now officially spoken for by Son Ye-jin, we still can’t help but swoon at the sight of Hyun Bin. Standing majestically tall at 6’1” (185cm), with broad shoulders, impeccable bone structure, luscious hair, and killer dimples, his looks can put Greek gods to shame.
But it isn’t just his exquisitely sculptured looks that have won over legions of fans and kept him on the Hallyu A-list for 18 years and counting: his longevity may be attributed to his range as an actor—taking on roles as varied as a prickly hotelier (My Lovely Sam-soon, 2005), to a young mathematical genius (Snow Queen, 2006), to a suave gigolo in Seattle (Late Autumn, 2011), to a chaebol with a split personality disorder (Hyde, Jekyll, Me, 2015) to a devilish hostage taker (The Negotiation, 2017)—as well as his quiet and dignified mystique. His most iconic roles as an arrogant chaebol who occasionally swaps bodies with a poor stuntwoman (Secret Garden, 2010) and as an upright yet inner softie North Korean soldier (Crash Landing on You, 2019) earned him not just international adulation but two Daesang (Grand Prize) Awards.
On top of being one of South Korea's most bankable television and film actors and commercial endorsers, Hyun Bin is also a successful businessman and seasoned property investor and developer. In 2016, VAST Entertainment, the talent agency he had set up only three years prior, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kakao M, one of South Korea's largest media companies, and his family holdings corporation has several prime real estate investments around Seoul. Not one to keep his wealth to himself, he is known to give generously to charity--last year, he was one of the first celebrities to quietly donate to the country's efforts to battle the coronavirus. No wonder his girlfriend, Son Ye-jin, calls him her "good person".
Watch out for his devastating visuals in the upcoming films The Point Men with Hwang Jung-min and the sequel to Confidential Assignment, which has just started production.
One partakes of Gong Yoo like one swirls a very fine wine on the tongue: Breathe in to appreciate the details of his perpetually tousled hair, the kind eyes, and the buttery voice… and then exhale and step back to study his merits that go beyond the first impression.
We fans may love his looks, but we also sincerely appreciate his substantial body…. of work. His talent and incredible charm have been credited with luring non-k-drama fans with the massively popular Coffee Prince (2007) and Goblin: The Lonely and Great God (2016), and for bringing to screen several important stories in Asian cinema: Silenced (2011), Train to Busan (2016), The Age of Shadows (2016), and even the controversial Kim Ji-Young: Born 1982 (2019).
It must have been such a tricky thing to pull off—striking a balance between the commercial and the artistic—but Gong Yoo is the rare actor that has done this consistently and successfully for over a decade. And like fine wine, he’s just gotten gloriously better with age.
Gong Yoo will be in two sci-fi features to be released this year: the AI movie Seo-Bok (with Park Bo-gum) and the dystopian k-drama The Silent Sea which you can read about here.
Had he succeeded in becoming a professional bowler back in 2016, the world would have never become aware of the absolute stunner that is Kim Soo-hyun. Thankfully, bowling’s loss has become one of Hallyu’s—and our hearts’—greatest gain.
Kim Soo-hyun most recently starred in the hit drama It’s Okay To Not Be Okay (2020) as a nurse whose baser instincts simmered beneath his remarkably restrained exterior—which could be a phrase that aptly describes this man’s mystique. Beyond the doe eyes and sharp jawline lies a sensuality that is both raw yet refined, and an appeal that often toes the line between the everyday and the ethereal.
Yet beyond the pretty, his depth and finesse as an actor are also well known, ever since he starred in the teen musical drama Dream High (2011). He then steadily rose to superstardom after his hit dramas Moon Embracing the Sun (2012) and My Love From the Star (2013), winning awards and even featuring in both soundtracks. He has also done well for himself in the movies, featuring in both box office hits and art films. It was only a matter of time before all that hard work would make him Korea’s highest paid actor in 2020. And if the accolades weren’t enough, this beautiful man with the soulful eyes also proved that he has the heart to match—Soo-hyun also recently donated 100 million won to support low income families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kim Soo-hyun is set to appear in the tvN drama That Night, an adaptation of the British series Criminal Justice, later this year.
Dreamy yet down-to-earth. Endearingly boyish but manly at the same time. He is equally believable as a rugged, everyday man and as a snobby, conglomerate heir. Park Seo-joon is a study in contrasts, with an army of fans ready to become scholars.
Park Seo-joon has been charming audiences both at home and overseas since his first television drama Dream High 2 (2012). And it’s not hard to see why he is called the “master of romantic comedy” with his swoon-worthy good looks, dazzling smile, and believable chemistry with all of his leading ladies. (Admit it, you’ve rewound a few of those confession scenes. We won’t judge you.)
This hardworking actor spends as much time preparing for his roles as he does keeping fit. The result is hard to miss. His finely sculpted figure is the stuff of women’s dreams, and men’s fitness goals. You simply cannot fake this gold standard of palpable sexiness and raw masculinity.
Off-screen, he has built a reputation for being gallant towards co-stars, and fostering genuine friendships with his fellow celebrities. His real life shy and sometimes introspective persona is just as appealing as his dashing on-screen characters. The combination of sincerity and sexy has given him massive global appeal, and has likely launched the imaginations and creations of many a fanfic writer worldwide.
The phrase “too good to be true” comes to mind when the topic of Yoo Yeon-seuk is brought up. The six-and-some foot tall actor bagged his first role without needing to pass his resume around, as part of the impressive ensemble cast of the critically-lauded film Oldboy in 2003. After a five year hiatus, he returned to the industry with a degree in Film Arts tucked firmly under his equally-firm biceps. The next few years would keep the swoon-worthy actor busy, taking on roles both in film, and on television. He also graced the theater stages, flexing his acting chops (along with his actual muscles) in diverse roles, most notably as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Itch. (Noona tip: do a quick image search, thank us later in the comments section.)
It was in his role as the charmingly disarming second lead Chilbong in 2013's Reply 1994 that audiences truly began to take notice of his talents (and his near-perfect features). He has since worked almost non-stop, juggling movie projects, dramas, and the occasional variety guesting.
Whether he’s playing a dreamy doctor (Doctor Romantic, Hospital Playlist), a seemingly-cold bandit (Mr. Sunshine), or a powerful leader of a nation (Steel Rain 2: Summit), you can be assured that the YYS will not disappoint.
How he found the time to learn to play multiple instruments, make his own furniture, cook, and dabble in photography only further proves that truly, he is “too good to be true.”
Yoo Yeon-seok can be seen in the recently concluded Hospital Playlist S2.
There is just something about Gummy that is so irresistibly charming that the only sane response is to fall in love.
Park Bo-gum is the breed of celebrity cut from textbook Hallyu cloth: he’s an accomplished working actor, a successful model, a musical theater graduate, and a devoted son. Yet it is what lies beyond his unusually striking features that make him truly fascinating. His calm personality, effusive warmth, and enviable friendliness all converge to create a squeaky-clean image that in the hands of other celebrities would simply be disingenuous and exceedingly difficult to maintain. At a time where Insta-celebs and young stars try to go viral by inciting one scandalous gig after another, Gummy has remained true to his wholesome, boy-next-door charm without struggle or compromise, and has succeeded wildly because of it.
With his kind eyes, lean build, and a jawline that could cut glass, one would think that he would be pigeonholed into easy, “good-looking” roles. Yet his beginnings in k-dramaland could not be more different. Taking on interesting starter roles such as a cello prodigy in Naeil’s Cantabile (2014), and a teenage psychopath in Hello Monster (2015) has set him up to be the kind of actor that can go beyond the mere pretty. His early work in the movies -- as a youth enmeshed in war (The Admiral: Roaring Currents, 2014) and as a boy caught in a gang vendetta (Coin Locker Girl, 2015) -- have also taught him to pay the difficult dues demanded from an actor, and ingrained a work ethic in him that has been lauded by peers and movie veterans alike.
In 2015, he became a household name when he played the genius Go player Choi Taek in Reply 1988, which earned him the moniker of “Nation’s Little Brother.” He then quickly moved on to become the “Nation’s Crown Prince” when he starred in the runaway historical hit Love in the Moonlight in 2016. Since then, the accolades have never stopped coming.
Yet among his many labels, it is the title of a real “good guy” that he is proudest of, bestowed on him by his closest friends (most notably BTS’ V and the gang from Reply 1988). Despite the ever-growing glare of the spotlight and the screaming throngs of fans, he still remains true to form: eternally unbothered, always amiable, and incredibly polite. Gummy is indeed precious proof that good guys don’t finish last. The good guys actually win, and win big.
Park Bo-gum is currently serving in the Korean military. His sci-fi film with Gong Yoo (Seo-Bok) was released in April this year.
When Captain Yoo Si-jin first peeked from behind hospital curtains to gaze at Dr. Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo) in the first episode of Descendants of the Sun (2016), an audible gasp reverberated across Asia. In that brief moment, millions were instantly drawn to the combination of intrigue, mystery and warmth emanating from his gentle face and expressive eyes. Over the next 15 episodes, a heady mix of Song Joong-ki’s gentle confidence, self-effacing humor, and sinister slant for combat—along with the undeniable chemistry he shared with Song Hye-kyo—proved to be irresistible for audiences who had long wished for a modern, sensitive male lead. Almost overnight, the boyish Joong-ki was catapulted from domestic heartthrob to global Hallyu superstar.
But way before that record-breaking k-drama, the smart (he holds a business degree from the elite Sungkyunkwan University) and athletic (he was a short track speed skater in high school) actor was already making hearts flutter. His charisma and comedic talent were on full display as a mischievous student in Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010), as well as in the heart-warming rom-com Penny Pinchers (2011). The following year, he proved he had serious acting chops behind all that charm, transforming into A Werewolf Boy (2012) and into a scorned lover seeking revenge in The Innocent Man (2012).
Naturally shy, and private, his co-workers all attest to how easy it is to get along with him. We see snippets of this fun-loving nature in his stint as the “brainy” and “enthusiastic” cast member of the hit variety show Running Man.
Millions of hearts broke when his marriage with Song Hye-kyo ended in 2019, but that hasn’t dented his star power. That year, we saw him shed his youthful looks, and buff up to portray the would-be hero of a mythic ancient city in The Arthdal Chronicles. Who else can still be that attractive when covered in dirt and with unwashed hair?
Yet despite the ups and downs of his career, Song Joong-ki remains focused and unfazed, with his trademark charm still radiating from every non-existent pore. From mischievous Running Man noona-killer to now as the Korean-Italian consiglieri Vincenzo, he continues to help set the standard for modern Asian masculinity that is all at once desired by women, envied by men, and set as the impossible standard by mothers everywhere for their future sons-in-law. You can watch him now in South Korea’s first space blockbuster, "Space Sweepers" (2021) and as the titular character in the new mafia-themed k-drama Vincenzo, both available on Netflix.