Two actors really impressed viewers this year with their breakthrough performances. Choi Jin Hyuk and Lee Da Hee attracted attention with their portrayals in popular dramas that immediately led to challenging new roles.
Choi Jin Hyuk, who began his career on the KBS talent reality show "Survival Star Audition," had a series of small roles in dramas such as "Pasta" and "Hometown Legends" before earning a bigger role in "It's Okay Daddy's Girl." He starred in "I Need Romance" and "Ms Panda and the Hedgehog," but never became really popular until he played Wol Ryung the mythological creature known as a gumiho in "Gu Family Book."
He was a convincing and attractive romantic lead but it was his portrayal of the dark haunted side of Wol Ryung and the character's tragic desire to sacrifice immortality for true love that helped the actor's popularity to skyrocket.
The attention he received after that drama made him cry.
"I was moved to tears because of how many calls I got after the drama," said Choi, whose success also led to him being cast in the film "God's Trick" with Jung Woo Sung.
Maybe he needed a darker character to impress audiences with. That may be why he was cast as Lee Min Ho's older brother Kim Won in "The Heirs." With his icy exterior and insecure side, Kim Won is as complex a character as his younger brother.
Lee Da Hee was also an actress who worked steadily but did not quite make it big until her performance as Prosecutor Seo Do Yeon in the drama "I Hear Your Voice." She transitioned into acting after a career as a model, which began by her winning the 2002 Super Elite Model Contest. She appeared in several dramas, mostly comedies, including "Birdie Buddy," and "Royal Romance." But she hit her stride as Seo Do Yeon, a character whose life is spent in the pursuit of justice while her own life turns out to be based on a lie.
After that role people began to recognize her in the street.
"It was the first time since my debut that a stranger recognized me as a celebrity," she said.
And it happened at just the right time.
"I badly needed a turning point in my acting career. I tried many times to get the role I wanted on 'I Hear Your Voice' and finally my perseverance paid off," she said.
Now she is playing another character whose cool demeanor disguises her vulnerability. She is Shin Se Yeon, the heiress chosen to marry Ji Sung in "Secret." She's a character who does not seem to be affected by those around her. And yet she is desperate for love.
The year is not over yet so another performance may yet overshadow theirs. But for now, these two actors really made this year their own.