Kwak Dong-yeon (곽동연)
We have yet to see the limits of Kwak Dong-yeon's ability to effortlessly draw viewers towards his characters. Many were appalled when he appeared as the repulsive Babel Group chair Jang Han-seo in Vincenzo (2021). Towards the end of the crime/dark comedy series, however, they rooted—even wailed—for the dongsaeng (younger brother) starved of affection. From where could a 23-year-old have drawn such deep, layered emotions?
Photo from HanCinema/The Star
Birthday: March 19, 1997
Since he was 13, he has been decisive and mature. He moved to Seoul alone to be an artist, becoming the Kokoma Band (Little Kids’ Band) vocalist and lead guitarist. He then shifted to acting, working and studying until he graduated from the School of Performing Arts Seoul in 2016.
His acting career was off to a good start: He received a Best Young Actor award upon debut at 15 in 2012’s most popular weekend family drama My Husband Got a Family, a lead role in the rom-com Adolescence Medley (2013), and a Best Young Actor nomination in the Japanese-era series Inspiring Generation (2013).
At 19, he got his big break when he played Kim Byung-yeon, the skillful swordfighter and Head of the Royal Guard of the Crown Prince (Park Bo-gum) in the popular youth historical show Love in the Moonlight (2016). His portrayal was so riveting and endearing that he earned not only Best New Actor nominations, but also the nickname “Gat Byung Yeon” (“gat” sounds like “God” and refers to his character’s conical hat).
At 23, his three-episode cameo in the tvN gothic romance series It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) as a neurodivergent patient with exhibitionism was so memorable that his most iconic performance in Vincenzo was not a total surprise.
His medium of expression encompasses music, TV, film, variety, theater, and web shows. In fact, last year, he played a South Korean soldier named Man Cheol in the comedy film 6/45 and was one of the cast members in the mega-k-variety Young Actor's Retreat. In the TVING supernatural thriller Monstrous, which premiered in the 2021 Cannes International Series Festival, he portrayed troublemaker Kwak Yong-joo. He appeared as the convicted scammer Jerry in the Disney+ legal thriller Big Mouth and starred in the comedy series Gaus Electronics as an inadvertent troublemaker in a marketing office.
At 26, being young or acting in supporting roles has not restrained his talent. He reunites with Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won in the upcoming tvN romance k-drama Queen of Tears.