This post is dedicated to who I think should (and hopefully will) be upcoming Korean drama stars. Because, hey, I adore the current crop quite a lot, but army beckons the men (do you think the producers will weep hardest for Kim Rae Won, Lee Junki, or Joo Ji Hoon?) and you can always have more awesome kdrama heroines.
So, here is Dangermousie's List of Upcoming Kdrama Stars, in order, from most likely/wanted, down. Also, only newbies are on the list - no more than a couple of dramas, tops, and no more than one lead (thus people like Park Hye Jin and Lee Ji Ah are out).
1. Kim Bum
(19 years old)
Shock of shocks, right? That Lee Min Ho is not occupying the number 1 spot? How come? Well, I enjoy Kim Bum in Boys Over Flowers, but there is no question that BOF is a Lee Min Ho show, all the way. Kim Bum's number 1 spot is due not to me being a squealing teen swept into BOF mania - I am not a teen and when I first noticed him, BOF wasn't even cast yet. No, the reason Kim Bum is occupying the Number 1 spot is due to his role as the younger version of the protagonist in the behemoth East of Eden (hmmm, he is part of the two biggest dramas of the year. Good for him!). Out of the enormous cast, it was actually this totally unknown to me kid, who swept me away. Actually, I think he was my favorite actor of the bunch in the entire drama, quite a feat. But it's his rage, helplessness, fear, and love of the family, that really made me love Dong Chul so. In fact, much as I adore Song Seung Heon, when it was time for the character to be grown-up, I was actually disappointed - emotionally the person who hooked me was Kim Bum. It almost feels like a waste to have him in the cotton candy that is BOF - I am quite looking forward to him getting older and starring in some awesome and dark dramas, a la Mawang.
2. Lee Min Ho
(21 years old)
surprised that the lead of Boys Over Flowers is on this list? Sometimes kdramas cast unknowns as leads and sometimes that pays off in a huge way and a star is born. Just look at Goong, which made stars out of both Yoon Eun Hye and Joo Ji Hoon. And BOF, happily, proved to be another such a story - it's a dream drama really: internet mania, huge ratings, and a star in the making. Lee Min Ho has it all - he is tall and good-looking (of course, what kdrama star is not) but he is also an amazingly charismatic actor, who can be funny and emotional by turns, OTT and subtle when the role demands. Did I also mention sexy? I think half the drama-watching world is in love with him now, which is YAY!
3. Jung Il Woo
(21 years old)
In all the internet furor over BOF, online people are rather overlooking another success story of the season: the somber, elegiac Iljimae - despite its excellent writing, subtle acting, and (thankfully) good ratings. A period story of revenge, justice, and loss, Iljimae stars the 21-year-old Jung Il Woo, who has the deadly combination of almost feminine elegance of look, not feminine at all fighting prowess as the lead, and quite wonderful emoting ability. Sort of like Asian Legolas, only emo. Shockingly, this version is about 20 times better than the earlier one, starring the very famous Lee Junki. Jung Il Woo's excellence in this is quite impressive. I cannot wait to see more of him!
4. Lee Yeon Hee
(21 years old)
Yup, definitely a rising star. In fact, some might consider her already almost made, what with her being one of the female leads in East of Eden. Her character is one of my favorites - fun and angsty by turns, someone who has to grow up and grow up she does. She is still an uneven actress but she is improving by leaps and bounds, and she has oodles of charisma and chemistry with Song Seung Heon (who she is rumored to be dating in real life) which helps. Oh, and she is gorgeous. I see a bright future for her.( Numbers 5-10 are here. You know you want to peek )