Since the 1970s Korea has been celebrating Children’s Day as a national holiday. On May 5, parents get a day off work and children have no school. They usually spend the day together and celebrate by going on picnics and visiting amusement parks and zoos. We’re celebrating Children’s Day with our favorite cute and talented characters who brighten up our lives even if we only see them on screen.
Kang Pil-gu in When the Camellia Blooms (2019)
“Why should a first grader like me be the one protecting you, Mom?” Kang Pil-gu (Kim Kang-hoon) knows all too well that he should just be enjoying baseball and arcade games like most kids his age. Instead, he finds himself standing up for his mother Oh Dong-baek (Gong Hyo-jin), a constant target for the gossiping town ahjummas because of her status as a single mother. Despite his protests though, he can’t help his overprotective nature, and goes above and beyond what a young child should do for a parent’s happiness. Guarded and understandably a little possessive of his mom, it's a joy to see him warm up to Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul), Dong-baek's eager and loving suitor who eventually becomes part of their little family.
Sung Jin-joo in Reply 1988 (2015) Little Kim Seol was only 6 when she captured our hearts as the youngest resident of Ssangmun-dong, almost always shown with a delicious snack in hand. Her interactions with her brother Sun-woo (Go Kyung-po) gave us better insight into the boy's loving, caring nature, and her scenes with on-screen mother (Kim Sun-young) showcased the widow's deep love for her children and the sacrifices she made to provide for them. Some might argue that she was a living prop, given that the child actress barely had any lines. While this might be somewhat true, her addition to the cast still lent an element of authenticity to the show, and was a welcome addition to any scene that she was in.
Jung Seo-yoon in The Guest (2018)
Not all child actors make their mark in k-dramaland via cuteness and joy. Some, like the gifted Heo Yool, immediately take on roles so demanding and difficult that makes us wonder just exactly how much talent can be held in a small body. In fact, her role as Seo-Yoon in Episode 8 and 9 of The Guest was so convincing that the show made sure to announce that they had mental health professionals monitor her closely during filming.
Jung Seo-yoon is a child who might just be a future "mudang," or a shaman. She claims to see violent ghosts around her, making one of the leads—a reluctant shaman himself—worry for her. As Seo-yoon oscillates between being a genuinely confused child and a young medium on the verge of possession, her outbursts become so genuinely disturbing that in a show filled with exorcisms and hauntings, her scenes are not only truly terrifying but incredibly memorable as well. As the extent of her "gift" is revealed, we are left amazed at how she's blindsided all of us, and reminds everyone that true evil often comes in the unlikeliest of forms.
Uju in Hospital Playlist (2020)
Lee Woo-joo (Kim Joon) or Uju is the apple of his father’s eye, divorced surgeon Lee Ik-jun. Uju has a penchant for egg drop sandwiches and acrostic poems. He can be adorably formal when he’s got something in mind and knows exactly when to turn on the charm. He’s got an aunt who dotes on him, his father’s friends who adore him, and even a “mother-in-law” who can’t get enough of him. This well adjusted, self-possessed little guy can light up any room with his smile (not to mention steal scenes from his veteran co-stars!)
Yoo-na in Legend of the Blue Sea (2016-17)
Wise beyond her years, Seo Yoo-na (Shin Rin-ah) becomes mermaid-turned-human Shim Cheong’s (Jun Ji-hyun) friend. Yoo-na is shy and insecure around her peers because she is often teased about not being wealthy and not having a father. Childlike Shim Cheong eventually draws Yoo-na out of her shell and gives her the confidence to be herself. In turn, Yoo-na helps ground her adult friend by teaching her what it means to be human and accepting her unconditionally. This plaintalking little girl with a big heart tells it like it is and helps those around her grow up gracefully.