The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary South Korean Actors of all time. This list of famous South Korean Actors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of South Korean Actors.
With an HPI of 58.44, Lee Byung-hun is the most famous South Korean Actor. His biography has been translated into 37 different languages on wikipedia.
Lee Byung-hun (Korean: 이병헌; born July 12, 1970) is a South Korean actor. He has received critical acclaim for his work in a wide range of genres, most notably Joint Security Area (2000); A Bittersweet Life (2005); The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008); the television series Iris (2009); I Saw the Devil (2010); Masquerade (2012); and Mr. Sunshine (2018). His critically acclaimed film Inside Men (2015) won him the Best Actor prize in three prestigious award ceremonies: 52nd Baeksang Art Awards, 37th Blue Dragon Awards and 53rd Grand Bell Awards. Lee has five films—Joint Security Area, The Good, the Bad, the Weird, Masquerade, Inside Men and Master—on the list of highest-grossing films in South Korea. Lee was Gallup Korea's Actor of the Year in the Film division in 2012 and in the Television division in 2018. In 2021, he appeared in a recurring role as the Front Man in the Netflix survival drama series Squid Game. In the United States, he is known for portraying Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) and its sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), and starring alongside Bruce Willis in Red 2 (2013). He portrayed T-1000 in Terminator Genisys (2015), Billy Rocks, a knife-wielding gunslinger, in The Magnificent Seven (2016), and the Front Man in Squid Game (2021). Lee was the first South Korean actor to present an Oscar at the annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Lee and Ahn Sung-ki were the first South Korean actors to imprint their hand and foot prints on the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
With an HPI of 57.76, Song Hye-rim is the 2nd most famous South Korean Actor. Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.
Song Hye-rim (Korean: 성혜림; 24 January 1937 – 18 May 2002) was a North Korean actress, best known for being the one-time favored mistress of Kim Jong-il.
With an HPI of 56.85, Gong Yoo is the 3rd most famous South Korean Actor. His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.
Gong Ji-cheol (Korean: 공지철; born July 10, 1979), better known by his stage name Gong Yoo (Korean: 공유), is a South Korean actor. He is best known for his roles in the television dramas Coffee Prince (2007), Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (2016–2017), The Silent Sea (2021), and Squid Game (2021), and the films Silenced (2011), Train to Busan (2016) and The Age of Shadows (2016). His stage name is a combination of his father's family name "Gong" and of his mother's family name "Yoo".
With an HPI of 55.51, Song Joong-ki is the 4th most famous South Korean Actor. His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.
Song Joong-ki (Korean: 송중기; born September 19, 1985) is a South Korean actor. He rose to fame in the historical coming-of-age drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010) and the variety show Running Man (2010–2011) as one of the original cast members. Since then, he has played a diverse spectrum of roles in the television series The Innocent Man (2012), Descendants of the Sun (2016), Arthdal Chronicles (2019), Vincenzo (2021), and Reborn Rich (2022), as well as the hit films A Werewolf Boy (2012), The Battleship Island (2017), and Space Sweepers (2021). Song was Gallup Korea's Television Actor of the Year in 2012 and in 2017. He was first included in the Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list in 2013 placing seventh, and subsequently ranking second in 2017, and seventh in 2018. The success of his TV series and film works internationally established him as a top Hallyu star in the Korean entertainment industry.
With an HPI of 55.41, Lee Jung-jae is the 5th most famous South Korean Actor. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Lee Jung-jae (Korean: 이정재; born December 15, 1972) is a South Korean actor and filmmaker. Considered one of the most successful actors in South Korea, he has received various accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Critics' Choice Television Award, six Baeksang Arts Awards, in addition to nominations for a Golden Globe Award and a Gotham Award. Aside from his acting career, Lee is also a businessman, having launched a chain of restaurants in Seoul, as well as founding several businesses including the development company Seorim C&D. He owns several of his businesses with fellow actor and close friend Jung Woo-sung.Born in Seoul, Lee debuted as a fashion model, then began his acting career on television, notably in the campus series Feelings (1994) and the drama Sandglass (1995). After his acting breakthrough in An Affair (1998), Lee's film career took off. He has starred in a variety of film genres, among them romantic films such as Il Mare (2000) and Over the Rainbow (2002), the Dogme 95 film Interview (2000), the melodrama Last Present (2001), well-known comedies such as Oh! Brothers (2003), action films The Last Witness (2001) and Typhoon (2005), heist film The Thieves (2012), crime thriller New World (2013), and period film The Face Reader (2013). He won Best Actor awards at the Blue Dragon Film Awards for City of the Rising Sun (1999), at the Fantasporto Director's Week for The Housemaid (2010), and at the Buil Film Awards for Assassination (2015). In 2021, Lee gained widespread international stardom and fame for his role as Seong Gi-hun, the main protagonist of Netflix's survival drama Squid Game. For his performance, he was nominated for numerous accolades, including the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama, the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, making him the first male actor from Asia and Korea to receive individual nominations in those categories across all four awards shows with his win for the latter two also making history. In December 2021, he was selected as Gallup Korea's Film Actor of the Year.
With an HPI of 55.37, Lee Min-ho is the 6th most famous South Korean Actor. His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.
Lee Min-ho (Korean: 이민호; Hanja: 李敏鎬, born June 22, 1987) is a South Korean actor, singer, model, creative director and businessman. He gained widespread fame worldwide with his role as Gu Jun-pyo in Boys Over Flowers (2009) which also earned him the Best New Actor award at the 45th Baeksang Arts Awards. His notable lead roles in television series include Personal Taste (2010), City Hunter (2011), Faith (2012), The Heirs (2013), The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016). In 2020 he starred in Studio Dragon's The King: Eternal Monarch, which grossed US$135 million. Apart from his television career, Lee featured in the first lead role in the film Gangnam Blues (2015). This was followed by his first China-produced film Bounty Hunters (2016), and the mini-romance-web-series Line Romance (2014), both collectively grossed US$51 million.The success of Lee's television series established him as a top Hallyu star; he is the most followed South Korean actor on social media. Lee became the first Korean celebrity to have a wax figure made in his image at Madame Tussauds, with figures being unveiled in Shanghai in 2013, and Hong Kong in 2014. He earns US$2.5 million from product endorsements alone.
With an HPI of 54.89, Kim Hye-ja is the 7th most famous South Korean Actor. Her biography has been translated into 15 different languages.
Kim Hye-ja (Korean: 김혜자; born October 25, 1941) is a South Korean actress and humanitarian. Best known to South Korean audiences as the archetypal mother figure in popular television series such as Country Diaries, What Is Love?, My Mother's Sea, and Roses and Beansprouts, Kim drew international critical acclaim in the 2009 noir thriller Mother. In 2019, she gained critical acclaim for her acting in The Light in Your Eyes.
With an HPI of 54.51, Hyun Bin is the 8th most famous South Korean Actor. His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.
Kim Tae-pyung (born September 25, 1982), better known as Hyun Bin, is a South Korean actor. He gained widespread recognition for his role in the 2005 romantic comedy TV drama My Name is Kim Sam-soon. Since then, he has appeared in leading roles in other successful television shows, including the romantic fantasy drama Secret Garden (2010–2011), fantasy drama Memories of the Alhambra (2018–2019), and romantic drama Crash Landing on You (2019–2020). Hyun Bin's popularity was further widened by starring in a series of box office hits: the action thriller Confidential Assignment (2017) and its 2022 sequel, as well as the crime thrillers The Swindlers (2017) and The Negotiation (2018). He was Gallup Korea's Television Actor of the Year in 2011. The success of Hyun Bin's works internationally established him as a top Hallyu star. He is among the highest paid and most influential actors in South Korea. Hyun drew praise from critics for his performance in melodrama film Late Autumn, which was screened at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival. Throughout his television and film career, he has been nominated for several iconic awards, including five at the Baeksang Arts Awards, and won various accolades for his acting recognition, including the Grand Prize (Daesang) for TV at the 47th Baeksang Arts Awards.
With an HPI of 53.83, Son Ye-jin is the 9th most famous South Korean Actor. Her biography has been translated into 37 different languages.
Son Ye-jin (born Son Eon-jin on January 11, 1982) is a South Korean actress. She rose to fame in 2003 for The Classic and Summer Scent, which were followed by the commercially successful A Moment to Remember (2004) and April Snow (2005). Her early roles in films garnered her the title "Nation's First Love" in Korea. She since has won various acting recognitions and acted in high-profile films including My Wife Got Married (2008), The Pirates (2014), the 2016 films The Truth Beneath and The Last Princess, and The Negotiation (2018). She has also acted in the successful television dramas Alone in Love (2006), Personal Taste (2010), Something in the Rain (2018), Crash Landing on You (2019–2020), and Thirty-Nine (2022). She has been included in Forbes Korea Power Celebrity 40 for four consecutive years 2019–2022.
With an HPI of 53.71, Song Kang-ho is the 10th most famous South Korean Actor. His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
Song Kang-ho (born January 17, 1967) is a South Korean actor. Song made his film debut in The Day a Pig Fell into the Well (1996), and came to national prominence with a series of critically acclaimed performances, including No. 3 (1997), Joint Security Area (2000), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006), and A Taxi Driver (2017). Song rose to international prominence for his performances in Snowpiercer (2013) and Parasite (2019), the latter of which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Picture. He was awarded Best Actor at the 75th Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Broker. In 2020, The New York Times ranked him #6 on its list of the 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century. He has been named Gallup Korea's Film Actor of the Year four times (2013, 2017, 2019 and 2020).
Pantheon has 347 people classified as actors born between 1926 and 2004. Of these 347, 333 (95.97%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living actors include Lee Byung-hun, Gong Yoo, and Song Joong-ki. The most famous deceased actors include Song Hye-rim, Choi Eun-hee, and Kim Jong-hyun. As of April 2022, 110 new actors have been added to Pantheon including Lee Jung-jae, Kim Hye-ja, and Kim Hae-sook.
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Which Actors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 13 most globally memorable Actors since 1700.