Then and now: How K-drama's leading ladies like Son Ye-jin, Jang Na-ra, Song Hye-kyo were like

PHOTO: Twitter, Instagram/kyo1122

We're all familiar with our K-drama hunks whom we still burn for even after all these years.

But we haven't forgotten the lovely ladies of K-drama — some of whom were big stars back in the day — so let's take a look at how our favourite South Korean actresses have aged over the years.

Hint: They look pretty good.

Son Ye-jin, 39

  • Summer Scent

When she started, Ye-jin found great success in cinema with her roles in Chi-hwa-seon, Lovers' Concerto, and The Classic. However, she cemented her status as a Hallyu star when she scored the lead role in the 2003 TV series Summer Scent, opposite K-drama hunk Song Seung-heon.

  • Crash Landing on You

In her last TV project, Ye-jin reunited with a famous actor that she has worked with before — Hyun Bin. She played a South Korean heiress who, while paragliding, crash landed in North Korea and has a fateful encounter with Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin). Fun fact, the pair are currently dating in real life.

Ye-jin is also set to make her Hollywood debut opposite Australian actor Sam Worthington in the upcoming film The Cross, and will begin work on her new K-drama titled Thirty Nine next month.

ALSO READ: Son Ye-jin begins work on new drama Thirty Nine in August: Got time to marry Hyun Bin?

Jang Na-ra, 40

  • Successful Story of a Bright Girl

Na-ra may have started her showbiz career as a singer, but she gained fame on television for her cute image. She starred as the lead in the 2002 romantic comedy Successful Story of a Bright Girl. The success of the show and her hit song Sweet Dream only drove her star power up and the latter was used in My Love Patzzi, another romantic comedy she starred in.

  • Sell Your Haunted House

She still looks youthful after all this time but she has definitely shed her cutesy image for a more mature look in her most recent project, Sell Your Haunted House. In this 2021 South Korean television series, Na-ra plays an exorcist and the CEO of a real estate company that only deals in haunted properties.

Yoon Eun-hye, 36

  • Princess Hours

Eun-hye made her showbiz debut in 1999 as a member of the South Korean K-pop group Baby V.O.X. before moving into television in 2006 with the romantic comedy Princess Hours (Goong). She played an ordinary girl who becomes a crown princess due to an arranged marriage.

Her acting ability was called into question by fans of the Goong manhwa, but despite the controversy, the show saw great success across Asia.

  • Love Alert

Following the success of Princess Hours, Eun-hye scored the lead role on 2007's Coffee Prince playing a tomboy and the show was very well-received.

She continued being an active presence on both television and film, and sometime in 2015, she took a hiatus from showbiz. Eun-hye made her return in the 2018 romantic comedy Love Alert where she played a top actress embroiled in a scandal with a celibate doctor.

Han Ga-In, 39

  • Witch Yoo Hee

Ga-In made her start in commercials and a few dramas, but perhaps her most popular role was on Witch Yoo Hee, where she played the titular character who is judgmental and critical of everyone around her.

  • Mistress

After Witch Yoo Hee wrapped, Ga-In publicly criticised the director and writers for the poor quality of the drama. She then went on a three-year hiatus and appeared in advertisements.

She attempted her comeback in 2010 and starred in dramas like Bad Guy and 2012's Moon Embracing the Sun before stepping away from showbiz. In 2018, she returned to the small screen in the mystery thriller Mistress.

Song Hye-kyo, 39

  • Autumn in my Heart

Hye-kyo had some roles in South Korean dramas and sitcoms but her big break came with the 2000 drama Autumn in my Heart where she starred alongside Song Seung-heon and Won Bin. That show pioneered a trend in Korean melodramatic series and launched Hye-kyo as a Hallyu star.

Another notable show of hers is the romantic comedy Full House, where she played a scriptwriter whose house was sold to a famous actor (played by South Korean singer Rain).

  • Descendants of the Sun

Okay, this isn't Hye-kyo's most recent project (more on that in a bit) but it's her most popular show in recent times. Hye-kyo played a cardiothoracic surgeon who falls in love with a military captain (played by Song Joong-ki) and the pair even got married in real life. Sadly, they didn't last as they divorced just after two years of marriage. 

After Descendants, it seems that the actress took a break and returned to the small screen for the 2018 series Encounter. According to media reports, she is currently filming the drama Now, We Are Breaking Up.

ALSO READ: Then and now: How K-drama's biggest leading men like Hyun Bin, Gong Yoo, Ju Ji-hoon were like

bryanlim@asiaone.com