Ryu Seung-ryong (류승룡)
Updated: Nov 30, 2022
It is nearly impossible to traverse the landscape of k-drama and k-cinema without running into the memorable performances of Ryu Seung-ryong. If you ever cried in Miracle in Cell No. 7 (he's the incarcerated dad), or laughed out loud in Extreme Job (he's the lead detective), or screamed in terror at the zombiefest Kingdom (he's the evil vizier), then you've crossed paths with this incredibly prolific actor.
Since his theater debut at 15 years old, Ryu has grown to be one of the most dependable character actors in Korea. Name it, he's probably played it: gambler, refined gay man, brutal general, evil royal adviser, AND EVEN a North Korean officer. He's been in small, heartwarming movies, such as the recent Perhaps Love, but has also been part of the 2nd highest-grossing Korean film of all time (Extreme Job). In theater, he has EVEN played Willy Loman, the lead of the classic Death of a Salesman. No matter the scale or the challenge, one can always bet on Ryu to disappear completely into the role — and a big chunk of his professionalism and skill is credited to his theater training at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.
His trophy shelf must be overwhelmed by the number of awards he's won throughout his illustrious career; the latest of which is his Best Actor nod from the 21st New York Asian Film Festival where he was the "Best from the East" award for Perhaps Love. Prior to that, he's also taken home trophies for his performances in Extreme Job, Masquerade, Miracle in Cell No. 7, War of the Arrows, and Secret, to name just a few.
While he isn't very visible in k-drama (he usually just does cameos, the latest of which was in Jirisan), he is a stalwart icon in contemporary Korean cinema. We can't wait for him to come back in three films slated for release soon: Fifth Column, Bi-Kwang, and Jung's Ranch.