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The Baeksang Nominations That Weren't

Updated: Apr 17

It's Baeksang Arts Awards season again, and as always, the k-drama fan universe is in a mix of celebration over the nominations and anger over perceived snubs. With over a hundred dramas vying for just five spots per category, it's inevitable that many favorites will be left off the nominee list. And since it's a free world, every fan is at total liberty to agree or disagree with the panel of industry experts who came up with this year's list.



With all due respect to the nominees, here are some of the dramas and actors that could have been contenders this year.


The 60th Baeksang Arts Awards will be announced in Seoul on May 7, 2024, at 5PM KST.


 

BEST DRAMA


D.P. 2


D.P. (Deserter Pursuit) returned for a second season two years after winning Best Drama, Best Supporting Actor (Cho Hyun-chul), Best New Actor (Koo Kyo-hwan) and earning three other nominations at the 58th Baeksangs in 2022. While sophomore seasons often disappoint, we felt this military drama raised the stakes and came back even stronger. Read our full review here.


Queenmaker


Netflix's female-driven political drama is intelligent, fast-paced, packed with powerhouse performances (more on those below), and loaded with relevant social commentary, so we're surprised it didn't receive a single nomination. Regardless, we still think it's one of 2023's best k-dramas. Read our full review here.




 

BEST ACTRESS


More than any other category this year, we feel this one is the most competitive with so many strong performances.


Kim Tae-ri, Revenant


At the top of our list is Kim Tae-ri (Twenty-Five Twenty-One) as Gu San-young, an office worker who gets possessed by a vengeful spirit. She's incredible to watch as she subtly shifts her character between her ordinary self and her possessed version. The fact that viewers can tell when she is possessed or not without the use of loud cues is a testament to how skillful she is as an actress and how in command she is of her physicality. Read our full review of this masterful folk horror tale here.



Kim Ji-won, Queen of Tears


Queen of Tears was only halfway done when the nominations came out, which perhaps explains its absence from the Best Drama, Best Director, and Best Screenplay categories. The panel however, felt that Kim Soo-hyun's performance was already strong enough to merit a Best Actor nod — but not his leading lady's. We're keeping our fingers crossed that since this series straddles two award seasons, Kim Ji-won is recognized next year for bringing terminally ill heiress Hong Hae-in to life.



Kim Hee-ae, Queenmaker


Seven-time Baeksang winner Kim Hee-ae made her television drama comeback as the brilliant and ruthless fixer Hwang Do-hee. After being booted out by her chaebol bosses despite 10 years of loyal service, she joins hands with labor rights lawyer Oh Kyung-sook (Moon So-ri) to take them on in the next election for the mayor of Seoul. As always, this Daesang queen excelled in her role, bringing strength and humanity to her character. Maybe the judges just felt it's time to give chance to others?


Moon So-ri, Queenmaker


Equally matched with her co-star Kim Hee-ae, multi-awarded veteran film actress Moon So-ri (On the Verge of Insanity) brought her A-game to her portrayal of the unorthodox, outspoken labor rights lawyer Oh Kyung-sook.



Han Hyo-joo, Moving


Mothers have long been acknowledged as superheroes, but Lee Mi-hyun (played perfectly by Han Hyo-joo) IS a literal one. As a solo parent for most of the show, Han infuses her hardworking Mi-hyun with incredible maternal love and protectiveness, making her a superhuman in more ways than one. And when fellow veteran actor Jo In-sung steps into the show to tell the tale of their ill-fated romance, both actors make this couple a standout casting choice in a show already flooded with talent.



Nana, Mask Girl


Nana (My Man Is Cupid) goes dark and risqué as the transformed lead character in this Netflix thriller. She takes on a noirish femme fatale role who fights tooth and claw for survival, proving that the actress has serious talent beneath the pretty face.




Park Min-young, Marry My Husband


Park Min-young (Forecasting Love and Weather, Love in Contract) maintained a weight of just 37 kg. (82 lbs.) for her role as the terminally ill Kang Ji-won; but beyond the physical transformation, her portrayal of a scorned woman out for vengeance was a step way outside of her comfort zone and further proved she's more than just a rom-com queen. Even without a Baeksang nomination, there's no doubt Kang Ji-won will always be remembered as one of the stand-out roles of her career. Read our review of this addictive drama here.



Jeon Yeo-been, A Time Called You


Jeon Yeo-been convincingly pulls off the difficult task of playing dual roles in this time-slip drama. In it she plays present-day marketing executive Han Jun-hee who wakes up in 1998 and finds herself in the body of introverted high school student Kwon Min-ju. As she travels back and forth through time, she unravels the mystery behind her fiancé's disappearance and tries to prevent Min-ju's death.



 

BEST ACTOR


Lee Do-hyun, The Good Bad Mother


While he'll be missing the award ceremony anyway as he carries out his military service, it would have been nice to see Lee Do-hyun recognized for his heartbreaking portrayal of Choi Kang-ho, a cold-hearted rising prosecutor who loses his memory and mentally reverts to his childhood after a vehicular accident. See our review of the k-drama here.


Lee Dong-wook, A Shop for Killers


Only a few actors could pull off the duality of Jeong Jin-man's character as Lee Dong-wook did in A Shop for Killers. A caring uncle who keeps his concern for his niece low-key, and a cautious hitman who manages an online shop for murder, Jin-man has many interesting layers that get peeled away every episode, making him even more mysterious and compelling. Beyond perfecting his action sequences or gritty look, Lee Dong-wook should finally have been nominated for bringing a sense of gravitas to his role, showing Jin-man's inner struggle to reconcile what's left of his morals and the demands of his felonious job.


Ji Chang-wook, The Worst of Evil


Ji Chang-wook keeps testing his craft as he chooses more and more diverse roles. As an undercover cop who must make morally grave choices that puts his life and his family's life in danger, Ji Chang-wook proved that he could so easily shift from hero to villain and back in his most challenging role to date. Read our short review and recommendations here.


Kim Byung-chul, Doctor Cha


Kim Byung-chul really has a knack for playing annoying yet funny villains who you can't help but hate and weirdly love. It's what earned him a Baeksang for Best Supporting Actor in 2019 for the satirical high society drama SKY Castle, and we thought maybe he had another shot this year for his role as cheating surgeon Seo In-ho. Anyway, we're glad that his co-star Uhm Jung-hwa is up for Best Actress in her titular role in this heartwarming drama. Read our short review plus recommendations here.



 


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS


Song Ha-yoon, Marry My Husband


Song Ha-yoon totally made our blood boil as Kang Ji-won's two-faced best frenemy Jung Soo-min. She nailed every scene she was in, feigning innocence with her doe-eyed aegyo to gradually unravelling into an all-out unhinged villain. We can't help but wonder if the recent surfacing of her school bullying issue ruined her chances at what could have been her first major nomination.



Jang Hye-jin, Doctor Slump


Although she isn't even 50, Jang Hye-jin has breathed life into some of Korean cinema and k-drama's most memorable moms, including those in Parasite and Crash Landing on You. In this healing k-drama, she moved our hearts as Kong Wol-seon, who struggles with how to support her successful doctor daughter Nam Ha-neul (Park Shin-hye) through her battle with clinical depression. With her blend of humor and sensitivity, she adeptly communicated how the mental health of one family member affects their loved ones as well.


 

Did any of your favorites get left out? Sound off in the comments.

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