BY Adrienne Stanley | Dec 10, 2015 02:23 PM EST
2015 was marked by the phenomenal silver screen performances of actors Lee Min Ho, Kim Woo Bin, and Yoo Ah In, who transformed from drama stars to bonafide leading men of the Korean box office.
Lee Min Ho struck gold with his breakout movie role as Kim Jong Dae, a scrappy hustler in the gritty crime noir, "Gangnam 1970."
Renown for his portrayal of spoiled, prep school guys who fall in love with plain, downtrodden girls in "Boys Over Flowers" and "The Heirs," he was literally thrown into the muddy depths of the action realm of his film debut in the '70s crime flick.
His on-screen rival in "The Heirs," Kim Woo Bin, was synonymous with surly characters like Choi Young Do and the slyly cynical cat burglar Ji Hyuk from "The Con Artists," before he tackled the role of a post-high school horndog in "Twenty."
With "Twenty," the 26-year-old model-turned-actor demonstrated his potential as a hilarious performer whose comedic timing is fitting of sketch comedies like "SNL Korea."
By stepping out of their comfort zones, both Lee and Kim defied naysayers who had boxed them into the trapping of teen idols whose luster could fade as they aged, lest they attempt to take on meatier roles.
Yoo Ah In was familiar with criticism that he may have reached his prime with "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" and "Punch." The disastrous ratings of the 2012 series, "Fashion King," prompted headlines that his star power may have faded, but his willingness to shed his boy-next-door image would have a huge payoff.
He followed the success of JTBC's 2014 series, "Secret Love Affair," with an off-kilter role in "Thread of Lies," before stunning audiences as Jo Tae Oh, a horrific conglomerate heir, in the 2015 Ryoo Seung Wan blockbuster, "Veteran."
Yoo continued the momentum of "Veteran" with his notable delivery of the Crown Prince Sado in the critically-acclaimed period film, "The Throne."
Byun Yo Han emerged from obscurity through his supporting role in tvN's hit office drama, "Misaeng." In 2015, he delivered a compelling film performance in "Socialphobia," as Ji Woong, a young man who leads a mob of forum users down a slippery slope as they investigate the mysterious death of a despised internet personality.
He followed "Socialphobia" with the starring role in the romantic comedy, "Ex-Girlfriend Club," which yielded lackluster ratings. However, his appearance in the series eluded to his potential as a leading man of drama and film, with a bright future.
What were your favorite breakout film performances of 2015? Are you looking forward to seeing future projects from Lee Min Ho, Kim Woo Bin, Yoo An In, and Byun Yo Han?
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