Most South Korean celebrities begin their training to join the entertainment industry at an early age. They mainly debut before they have even turned 20. Some actors are also known to have switched from other fields such as singing or modeling to acting, but they all started pursuing their dreams of acting well in their mid-20s or even later. Here are the top 10 actors and actresses who debuted surprisingly late in K-dramas and television.
1. Hwang In-Youp
Hwang In-Youp started his career in the modeling industry. He made his on-screen acting debut in the web series “Why” as one of the lead characters at the age of 27. He also played roles in other K-dramas such as “True Beauty,” “The Sound of Magic” and “18 Again.” Despite his real-life age, he is known to play the compelling roles of high school teenagers in his dramas.
2. Jung Hae-In
Jung Hae-In is a famous South Korean actor who officially debuted with the drama series “Bride of the Century” in 2014. He was 26 years old at the time and had only decided to pursue his acting career while serving in the military. He most recently starred in the hit K-drama “Snowdrop” opposite K-pop idol Jisoo of “Blackpink”.
3. Ahn Jae-Hyun
Ahn Jae-Hyun made his acting debut when he was 26 years old. He starred in the series “You from Another Star” which kickstarted his career as an actor in 2013. He previously worked as a model. He is most known for acting in the genre of rom-com. His most famous K-drama to date is called “Cinderella and the Four Knights.”
4. Sung Hoon
Sung Hoon is a Korean model and actor who made his on-screen debut in 2011 by starring in a television series. He had previously worked only in music videos. He was 26 at the time of his debut. His most famous role is in the K-drama “My Secret Romance” as the male lead.
5. Lee Ji-Ah
Lee Ji-Ah made her acting debut by starring in a fantasy drama called “The Legend” in 2007. She was 29 years old during the drama and went on to play numerous groundbreaking roles. She is also a part of the cast of the hit K-drama series “The Penthouse.” The Penthouse is one of the most globally known K-dramas that ran for three seasons.
6. Song Kang
Song Kang made his debut in 2017 when he was 23 with a supporting role in “The Liar and His Lover.” He has since starred in various famous K-dramas. He was dubbed the “Netflix boy” due to his popularity through the streaming service. “Love Alarm” and “Nevertheless” are among his most notable performances. He also starred in K-dramas “Forecasting Love and Weather,” “Sweet Home” and “Navirella.”
7. Yoo In Na
Yoo In Na started off her training to become a K-pop idol but eventually quit when she could not keep up with the choreography. She then switched to acting and made her debut when she turned 28. She is recognizable from her roles in “Touch Your Heart” and “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.”
8. Jo Jung-Suk
Jo Jung-Suk originally started his acting career as a theatre artist. He was in his mid-20s when he worked in theatre. He didn’t make his acting debut on television till he was 31 years old. He most recently acted in the K-drama “Hospital Playlist” which became an international hit soon after its release.
9. HoYeon Jung
HoYeon Jung is a Korean model and actor. She made her acting debut recently with the hit Netflix series “Squid Game” in 2021. She was 27 years old when she played the groundbreaking role of Kang Sae-Byeok. Her performance even won her the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.”
10. Gong Yoo
Gong Yoo, who was also a guest appearance in “Squid Game”, made his debut as an actor in 2011. He starred in a TV series called “School 4” when he was already in his 30s. He was born in 1979, making him roughly 32 years old around the time of release. He is one of the most prominent artists in the Korean entertainment industry. He has performed in numerous K-dramas and movies that were hits.