The popularity of K-Drama actors have constantly been threatened by scandals or rumors, whether they turn out to be accurate or not. The tide of public opinion is so strong that it can quickly destroy a celebrity’s reputation, sometimes with no chance for recovery. However, a few actors have triumphed over the odds and turned their careers around.
Here are five K-Drama actors who have triumphantly turned around their careers and managed to get over their scandals.
1. Song Joong Ki
Song Joong Ki’s divorce from Song Hye Kyo back in 2019 shocked their legion of fans worldwide, barely two years after they tied the knot. The Descendants of the Sun’s lead stars cited personality differences as their reason for splitting up.
A few months later, in 2020, Joong Ki was again the subject of a controversy over his alleged relationship with a lawyer. His agency and the lawyer’s law firm have denied the rumor. He has survived both scandals and moved on to star in his smash K-Drama hit Vincenzo. He also has an upcoming movie Bogota and another K-Drama, The Youngest Son of a Conglomerate.
2. Lee Byung Hun
Lee Byung Hun had several controversies in the past, but there are two that stood out as the most talked about scandals he was involved in. In 2009, his ex-girlfriend Kwon Mi Yeon filed a civil lawsuit against him for tricking her into a sexual relationship with the promise of marriage. She demanded compensation worth ₩100 million KRW (about $74,600 USD) for mental damage, but the charges were later dropped.
In 2014, He was blackmailed for ₩5.00 billion KRW (about $3.73 million USD) by singer Dahee of the K-Pop girl group GLAM and model Lee Ji Yeon in exchange for not releasing online a video of him making sexual jokes while drinking with them. It was later revealed that the incident was intentional and pre-planned, and both Dahee and Lee Ji Yeon were sentenced for their crime.
Despite all the scandals, though, Lee Byung Hun’s career has flourished. Among his latest and most memorable works were Mr. Sunshine and Squid Game.
3. Kim Seon Ho
On October 17, 2021, a woman claiming to be the ex-girlfriend of a certain “Actor K” alleged she was coerced into getting an abortion while they were still together. Rumors circulated that the actor referred to was Kim Seon Ho, and despite the lack of evidence, Seon Ho’s endorsement brands have slowly pulled out advertisements featuring him. Kim Seon Ho issued a public apology through his agency SALT Entertainment for disappointing his supporters and causing trouble to his co-stars and staff involved in the production of K-Drama Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha.
A few days later, the ex-girlfriend reissued a statement saying that they had some misunderstandings, but he apologized for them, and she was sorry for causing unintentional damage. Screen-captures of Seon Ho’s chat conversations with her surfaced later to prove it was she who suggested the abortion. Their acquaintances also came forward to refute the ex-girlfriend’s claims, thus clearing Kim Seon Ho’s name.
Kim Seon Ho is acting again and is part of the play Touching the Void, a story based on the 1988 book of the same name written by mountaineer Joe Simpson. The play runs from July 8 to September 18, 2022.
4. Song Seung Heon
In 2004, Song Seung Heon was accused of trying to dodge military enlistment by submitting tainted urine samples to suggest he was unfit for military duty. He apologized and ended up enlisting, finishing his full enlistment term. He took a two-year break after being discharged in 2006 and returned in 2008 through the K-Drama East of Eden, for which he won a Daesang at the MBC Drama Awards.
Since then, Song Seung Heon has revived his career and appeared in numerous K-Dramas, among them Black, Voice 4, When a Man Loves a Woman, and Saimdang, Light’s Diary.
5. Kim Ji Hoon
In 2013, Kim Ji Hoon was heavily criticized for sharing with Nylon Magazine that his guilty pleasure was disobeying traffic laws and not getting a violation ticket. Last year, he was again under fire for being seen watching an illegally downloaded episode of Home Alone, an exclusive on HBO Max, which is unavailable in South Korea. He apologized through his agency and promised to “work harder to become an actor who is more careful about his actions.”
Despite these controversies, Kim Ji Hoon is still going strong in his career. He is best remembered for his roles in Flower of Evil and Money Heist. He is slated to star with Go Won Hee in a new Netflix series entitled Love War.