[Guest Blogger Week] Hallyu Know?: Rise of the Actor Idol

[Guest Blogger Week] Hallyu Know?*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

by Tanya of Hallyu Know?

Kpop idols have always been billed as an all-force talent. Yes, they are well known for their musical skills, but also their faces and physiques that allow them to model, giving them the ability to sell products and gain endorsements. That just leaves one thing: acting.

BEAST's Yong Jun Hyung in "Monstar."
BEAST’s Yong Jun Hyung in “Monstar” (2013).

Idols who choose to act are not a new phenomenon, but last year we saw a huge spike in the number of productions that were willing to take on idol actors, most in prominent roles. In 2013, there were over 40 K-Dramas that star idols in some role as opposed to the handful that aired just 5 years before, in 2008. That number easily doubles if you take into account idols in movies and musicals.

B1A4's Baro and Tiny G's Dohee in "Reply 1994" (2013).
B1A4’s Baro and Tiny G’s Dohee in “Reply 1994” (2013).

So why the sudden spike in numbers? Many would argue ratings, however historically dramas that star idols tend to do poorly in ratings. This is not necessarily because the idols can’t act, although there are those who try and fail, but rather because many new dramas lack sufficient plots and interesting scripts, drawing criticism from viewers and netizens worldwide. Eventually one has to question why major entertainment companies allows their idols to continue.

2PM's Taecyeon in "Who Are You?" (2013).
2PM’s Taecyeon in “Who Are You?” (2013).

The answer is simply, exposure. Idols who are not particularly strong in acting can stick to roles that will keep them in a familiar setting, such as those based around music like Dream High (2011), What’s Up (2011), and Monstar (2013). They will gain experience in the field, fans of their music will watch, and they will probably gain a few new fans who may not be familiar with their music. Ultimately it will serve as a test as to whether or not they should continue acting and those who succeed are allowed to pursue more prominent, serious roles in dramas that are completely unrelated to the music.

SHINee's Minho in "Medical Top Team" (2013).
SHINee’s Minho in “Medical Top Team” (2013).

And I say let them. Acting is just one more skill that can be gained or, in the case of several leading actors, like Eugene and Yoon Eun Hye, become their job of choice, should their idol group disbands for any reason. It can be a break from their otherwise strenuous music schedule or even just a way to pass the time while they wait for their next comeback. I, for one, am happy to support them in whatever fields they choose. After all, you can never have enough when it comes to your biases.


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