From veteran actors like Cha Seung Won all the way to rising hot stars like Lee Sung Kyung, some of Korea’s highest demand actors and actresses first launched their careers in the show biz with modeling careers. Let’s take a look at some of the actors who successfully transitioned from modeling to acting.
1. Cha Seung Won
Cha Seung Won can be seen as the first to walk the model-to-acting track. He debuted as the 18th generation of models in 1988, and eventually debuted as an actor in the 1997 sitcom “New York Story.”
2. Lee Jung Jae
Lee Jung Jae debuted in 1993 as a CF model for a popular chocolate brand, “Chocolate Crunky.” He launched his acting career that same year, appearing in the movie “Young Man” and then the drama, “Feeling.”
3. So Ji Sub/Song Seung Hun
So Ji Sub and Song Seung Hun both debuted as CF models for the famous jean brand, “Storm.” They were the firsts to model for the company, which became known for launching the careers of the hottest celebrities. The handsome duo also debuted together in the same sitcom, “Three Men, Three Women,” in 1996.
4. Kim Sun Ah/Han Go Eun
Kim Sun Ah and Han Go Eun both competed in the Korean Super Elite Model Contest in 1995– Han Go Eun won the competition. Kim Sun Ah would go on to debut in the drama “Marble.” in 1997. Han Go Eun debuted two years later in the drama “City of the Rising Sun.”
5. Kim Ha Neul
Kim Ha Neul also debuted as a CF model for the jean brand “Storm” in 1996. She debuted as an actress in the movie “Bye Joon” in 1998.
6. Kim So Yeon
Kim So Yeon debuted as a model in 1994 after placing first in the Miss Binggrae Beauty Pageant Competition. Her acting debut was that same year in the drama ‘Dinosaur Teacher.”
7. Gong Hyo Jin
As a student in modeling school, Gong Hyo Jin emerged in the public eye through her appearances in CFs for soft drinks, snacks, and more. In 1999, she launched her acting career, starring in the second installment of the “‘ movie series.
8. Kang Dong Won
Kang Dong Won was scouted by a modeling agent on the street when he was a college freshman in 2000. He was a highly-sought model on a global scale, walking on fashion show runways of luxury brands like Gucci, Hugo Boss, and more. He debuted in 2003 appearing in the drama “Country Princess.”
2002-2003 F/W Seoul Collection Kim Seo Ryong
9. Kim Min Hee
Kim Min Hee was cast off the street as a model for a fashion magazine when she was in high school. She debuted as a CF model in 1998, then eventually debuted as an actress in the second installment of the popular “School” series in 1999.
10. Shin Mina
The actress debuted as a model in 1998, becoming the first-generation model for the popular teen magazine, “Kiki.” She debuted as an actress starring in the 2001 drama “Beautiful Days.”
11. Kim Hyo Jin
Kim Hyo Jin was casted as a model while wandering Dong Dae Moon shopping center when she was only in middle school.
12. Jo In Sung
Jo In Sung debuted as a model in 1998 for the clothing brand “Ziozia.” He’s one of the famous graduates of the popular “School Series,” debuting in the third installment in 2000.
13. Lee Min Ki
He started modeling since high school and garnered national attention with his unique fashion sense. He continued modeling even after establishing his acting career. He debuted as an actor in the short episode series “Drama City” in 2004.
14. Lee Soo Hyuk
Lee Soo Hyuk debuted as a model walking the runway of designer Jung Wook Jun’s “Lone Costume” fashion show in 2006. He’s walked the runways of South Korea’s top fashion brands. He appeared in several music videos before ultimately debuting as an actor in the 2010 film “The Boy from Ipanema.”
15. Kim Young Kwang
Kim Young Kwang was the first Asian model to walk the runway of the high-end brand “Dior Homme” He launched his acting career in 2008 as the drama “The World they live in.”
16. Kim Woo Bin
Kim Woo Bin was a shopping mall model and walked the runway in the 2009 S//S/ Seoul Fashion walk. He debuted in 2011 in the drama “White Christmas.”
17. Lee Sung Kyung
Lee Sung Kyung started her modeling career after competing in several modeling competitions She placed 11th in the 2008 local Super Model Contest and 5th in the International Asia Pacific Super Model Contest in 2009. Lee Sung Kyung’s first acting role was in the 2014 film “It’s Okay, That’s Love,” where she garnered attention for her love line with Lee Kwang Soo.
18. Lee Som
Lee Som placed first in the 2009 MNet modeling competition program, “Check It Girl.” She starred in several music videos before she officially debuted as an actress in the 2011 drama “White Christmas.”
19. Lee Jong Suk
Lee Jong Suk debuted as a model in 2005 on the runway at Seoul Fashion Week. At just 16 years old, he was the youngest male model to participate in the event. He also went on to debut as an actor in “School 2013.”
20. Lee Kwang Soo
Lee Kwang Soo perhaps garnered the most attention for his comical personality on “Running Man.” But he’s also a model-turned-actor! He debuted as a model in 2007, then got his first acting role in the 2008 sitcom “Here He Comes.”
21. Nam Joo Hyuk
Nam Joo Hyuk debuted in 2013 as a model for the SONGZIO Homme Spring/Summer 2014 collection. In 2014, he appeared in the music videos of fellow YG Entertainment artist Akdong Musician, and made his acting debut with a supporting role in the tvN drama The Idle Mermaid.
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