The Korean entertainment industry is simply blessed to have an actor as versatile and charismatic as Kang Ha Neul, a.k.a. Baeksang Arts Awards' Best Actor awardee for 2020 (yup, he beat Park Seo Joon and Hyun Bin!). Having gained recognition in his early 20s for his theatrical work, the 30-year-old star has proven that he can portray a range of different roles across genres. Sure, he's got the face of a leading man, but he also has the legit acting chops to match. An emo high schooler, a romantic prince, a dorky policeman, and more—you name it, he's done it! Below, check out his must-watch dramas and films. P.S. He has too many good titles to choose from!
Welcome to the world of the ultra-rich kids of Jeguk High School. In The Heirs, Kang Ha Neul plays snarky wisecracker Lee Hyo Shin, the head of the school's broadcasting club and best friend of bad boy chaebol heir Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho). Beneath his confident exterior, though, Hyo Shin struggles to live up to his father's legacy of being one of the country's most influential lawyers.
Get ready for a riot 'cause this one's one wild ride! Twenty is a coming-of-age comedy about three best friends who, as the title suggests, turn 20 years old and get into a series of misadventures. Kang Ha Neul plays the role of the nerdy Kyung Jae who's a bit awkward around girls. Starring alongside him is fellow The Heirs alum Kim Woo Bin and 2PM member Lee Jun Ho.
In Like for Likes, we see Kang Ha Neul in a cutesy romantic comedy role. The film is about three couples whose relationships are shaped through the usage of social media. Ha Neul stars as deaf songwriter Lee Soo Ho who falls for a woman (Esom) he meets at the Japanese restaurant he frequents. Choi Ji Woo and Yoo Ah In are among the film's cast members.
Whose heart hasn't been scarred by this epic sageuk romance drama? Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo is arguably the project that put Kang Ha Neul into household name status when he played the kind-hearted Eighth Prince Wang Wook. His leading lady in the drama is Go Ha Jin (IU), a woman from present-day Korea who magically transports to the Goryeo Dynasty. Lee Joon Gi plays the mysterious and intimidating Fourth Prince Wang So.
You'll be able to see a deeper and more dramatic Kang Ha Neul in the crime film New Trial. Based on South Korea's infamous Iksan murder case, New Trial tells the story of Jo Hyun Woo, a 15-year-old boy who was wrongfully accused of murdering a taxi driver. Ha Neul plays the older version of Jo Hyun Woo after spending 10 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
An action-comedy film starring Kang Ha Neul and Park Seo Joon? We're all for it! Midnight Runners revolves around two young policemen-in-training (Ha Neul and Seo Joon) who aren't the best students in their police academy. Being polar opposites, the two don't become friends until after they undergo a test of friendship. Things look optimistic for them—that is, until they both witness a kidnapping.
Kang Ha Neul's comeback drama after getting discharged from military service was a sure hit when it aired in 2019. When the Camellia Blooms looks like your regular 'ol rom-com but there's actually a dark twist to it. The drama stars Gong Hyo Jin as the strong and independent single mom Dong Baek who runs a bar called Camellia. Ha Neul's character is Hwang Yong Sik, an offbeat and peculiar policeman who falls in love with Dong Baek at first sight.
8. Forgotten (2017)
You'll see a different side of Ha Neul in the 2017 dark thriller film Forgotten, wherein he plays Jin-seok, whose brother seemingly returned as a different man after being abducted. We won't reveal the plot further so as not to spoil you, but trust us when we say that it's a must-watch movie that makes a case for Ha Neul's acting prowess (FYI, it's currently streaming on Netflix).
*This story originally appeared on Cosmo.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.