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7 K-Drama Actors Who Made a Successful Comeback After Military Service

Despite being away from the limelight for too long, their fans welcomed them with open arms!
7 K-Drama Actors Who Made a Successful Comeback After Military Service
IMAGE Netflix
ILLUSTRATOR Bacs Arcebal
Despite being away from the limelight for too long, their fans welcomed them with open arms!

Military service is mandatory for South Korean male citizens, so it's pretty common for actors—even the most popular ones—to enlist in the middle of their shining careers and put their stardom on pause. Making a comeback after getting discharged, however, could be a nerve-racking experience due to the natural fear of being forgotten; after all, military service usually lasts for about two years. Meeting expectations after being away for so long is another concern as well, so picking up your career from where you left off is certainly no easy feat.

That said, some actors did manage to succeed with their first project after military service. Despite their two-year hiatus from show biz, their loyal fans welcomed them and their official K-drama comeback with open arms. Check them out below:

1. Kim Soo Hyun in “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay”

PHOTO BY Netflix
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It's Okay to Not Be Okay is the hottest new K-drama of the season, where Kim Soo Hyun portrays Moon Gang-tae, a kind but weary psychiatric caregiver who takes care of his autistic older brother Sang-tae (Oh Jung Se). He bears a heavy burden on his shoulders and also deals with the trauma of losing his parents. Featuring a unique storyline, jawdropping fashion moments, plus the sizzling chemistry between Kim Soo Hyun and Seo Ye Ji, It's Okay to Not Be Okay continues to grow in buzz and popularity.

Watch it on Netflix.

2. Lee Min Ho in “The King: Eternal Monarch”

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As one of the biggest Hallyu stars, Lee Min Ho’s comeback was highly anticipated. He picked a big project penned by hit drama writer Kim Eun Sook and acted alongside Goblin star Kim Go Eun. The premise of the drama, which mostly revolved around parallel worlds and time traveling, attracted the viewers and further captivated them with Lee Min Ho’s flawless portrayal as an emperor. The King: Eternal Monarch was well-watched all over the world. 

Watch it on Netflix.

3. Song Joong Ki in “Descendants of the Sun”

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Song Joong Ki made the smart choice of portraying a captain in the special forces right after getting discharged from the military. From one soldier uniform to another, he, alongside his ex-wife Song Hye Kyo, achieved great success in top-billing Descendants of the Sun, which was a major hit worldwide. It tells the love story between a doctor and a captain while they encounter near-death experiences. DoTS was well loved domestically and internationally, so much so that the drama set in Taebaek was remodeled into a tourist attraction.

Watch it on Netflix.

4. Im Si Wan in “Strangers from Hell”

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The former ZE:A member made a bold return in the chilling K-drama series Strangers from Hell, where he plays a much darker role compared to his previous dramas. Coming from a small town, a guy in his 20s moves to a cheap dormitory where he meets creepy neighbors (including a villainous Lee Dong Wook) and witnesses mysterious occurrences. Im Si Wan’s portrayal received great praise from viewers for this challenging role and for his impressive acting chops.

Watch it on Netflix.

5. Kang Ha Neul in “When the Camellia Blooms”

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Kang Ha Neul portrays an adorable, good-natured police officer who falls in love with a single mother in When the Camellia Blooms. His character is a true gentleman who not only cares for Dong-baek but also wholeheartedly respects her despite the society’s negative prejudice. He showcased his diverse acting prowess in this drama and it won him the Best Actor trophy at the 56th Baeksang Arts Awards!

Watch it on Netflix.

6. Lee Seung Gi in “A Korean Odyssey”

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Lee Seung Gi is well known for being a multi-hyphenate: a host, actor, and singer. Following his military service, the star returned with a drama written by the famous Hong sisters. In A Korean Odyssey, viewers especially enjoyed his chemistry with Cha Seung Won who he acted with in his last drama before military service. Such a cute reunion! He was also paired up with leading lady Oh Yeon Seo.

Watch it on Netflix.

7. Ji Chang Wook in "Melting Me Softly"

PHOTO BY Melting Me Softly/TVN
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Ji Chang Wook was deeply missed when he enlisted for the military, and his fans clamored for his return! For his K-drama comeback, the Korean heartthrob chose Melting Me Softly, where he played the role of a variety show PD whose body was accidentally frozen for 20 years due to an experiment gone wrong. He acted alongside Won Jin Ah, who served as her leading lady in the drama.

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