Meet the New Kings of Hallyu

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Lee Min Ho. Lee Jong Suk. Kim Soo Hyun. Kim Woo Bin. What’s in common among all these boys? They’re the new representatives of Hallyu for the new generation.

*Note, this is coming from Star News. While I don’t dispute the article’s claims that these are the hottest actors of this generation, I didn’t come up with the list myself.

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The previous generation of Hallyu was led by Bae Yong Joon, Song Seung Hoon, Lee Byung Hun, Jang Dong Gun, and Won BinRyu Si Won and Park Yong Ha were also big favorites in Japan. Man, this is the generation that I knew and started with. I’m not that old, but I feel old now. After all it was this generation of Hallyu that introduced me to Korean dramas, sucking me in with their soulful eyes and statue-like acting. I did not study well because of you damn fine men!

But they got older. And I didn’t find all of them to be that much better actors (save for Jang Dong Gun and Won Bin), so I let them go.

And now for the 2010s we have a new leader of the pack. Predictably enough it’s Lee Min Ho, who graced the screens with Boys Over Flowers and never quite left a single girl’s consciousness for long. His star just kept rising ever higher until Heirs came out and BAM! he was the most popular guy in all of Asia. And China. China’s big. He was the first Korean star to appear in a Chinese Lunar New Year TV special, where he sang Meteor Garden’s opening theme song “Qing Fei De Yi” with Harlem Yu, who sang the original theme song. It was sung in both Mandarin and Korean.

I don’t really like the folksy rendition of this song because the original was so good. Anyways, 700 million people watched him. Yeah, he’s popular.

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Next up we have Kim Soo Hyun, whose star is rising ever higher with My Love From Another Star. This guy is brilliant. I love the maturity and subtlety in his acting. Moon that Embraces the Sun, Dream High, and his recent film “Secretly Greatly” all helped cement him as one of the fastest rising stars of Hallyu. He’s becoming crazy popular in China as well. (Popularity in China seems to be the standard measurement for overall popularity and influence in Hallyu.) He and Kim Tae Hee attended the Cosmo Beauty Awards in Shanghai and won the ‘Dream Icon’ award, and has ranked number 1 on Baidu’s list of “Actor of the Day”. For those unaware, Baidu is China’s version of Google.

Kim Soo Hyun also had a fan meeting tour throughout Asia, visiting Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. In the Japan one alone, 5000 fans attended. Crazy.

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Lee Jong Suk has been on the rise thanks to his role in I Hear Your Voice. Just like the others, he’s got a growing fan base in China and Taiwan. This past month he visited Taiwan, Singapore, and China (and got sick) for fan meetings all around Valentine’s Day, and was greeted by hundreds of fans at the airport once he got through immigration. Crazy.

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As for Kim Woo Bin, he shot to popularity thanks to Heirs. Riding a bit on the Lee Min Ho fame here, eh? I don’t mean to detract his own stardom though. Gentleman’s Dignity, To the Beautiful You, and School 2013 all helped put him on people’s radars, but he was the ultimate bad boy in Heirs. His fan meeting in Hong Kong had 1700 attendees and he will continue on to other places in China, Taiwan, and Thailand. And let’s not forget his upcoming trip to Australia for a “Running Man” episode! 

Of course – there’s also Jang Geun Suk, who has reached crazy levels of fame in Japan and is uniquely popular just as Bae Yong Joon was in that country. Park Shi Hoo is also quite popular in Japan and China, so it’s no wonder he’s making his slow comeback through a Chinese film first. I think Jang Geun Suk has reached this stratospheric level of fame where he’s so odd that no one else can match him in popularity. He’s more like Bae Yong Joon than Kim Hyun Joong in my opinion, who if he had continued acting more consistently year after year might have become a king of Hallyu by now. Right now I think he’s famous, but more because of his image than anything else. Personally, every time I see him I’m like, “Hey, it’s The Face Shop guy!”

I think Lee Min Ho, Kim Woo Bin, Lee Jong Suk, and Kim Soo Hyun all deserve the title of being the next best actors to represent the Hallyu wave. They’re solid actors who are likely to have a long and prosperous career ahead of them. They won’t be easily forgotten for a long time to come. Even with the army enlistment date looming near.

sources: youtube, star news

 

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