Ok Taec-yeon might’ve first made his mark as a member of the Korean idol group 2PM, but in recent years, he has become one of the bigger known South Korean actors on the scene. Born in Korea, he immigrated with his family to the United States as a boy, and by the time he was 17, he was preparing to go back to Korea in order to train as an idol. In 2008, he was selected to be a member of 2PM after appearing on a reality television show hosted by the group’s company, and 2PM would later become one of the top Korean pop groups of their generation. Several of the members have now gone on to become successful actors.
But Ok wouldn’t simply just be an idol. He made his acting debut in 2010 after appearing in Cinderella’s Sister, but made a mark after being cast in Dream High. The years after Dream High would see Ok in a plethora of roles, but from 2016 onwards, something changed. After appearing in Hey Ghost, Let’s Fight, he continued picking excellent roles, especially after starring in the Song Joong-ki drama Vincenzo and completing his required military service as a Korean citizen. While we wait for his next big role, here are his best movies and television shows so far.
12 XO, Kitty
XO, Kitty was the follow-up to the popular American movies based around All the Boys I Loved Before by novelist Jenny Han. The protagonist in this is Kitty, the younger sister of the main protagonist of the films. After falling in love with the boy she meets at the top of Namsan Tower in the movies, Kitty makes a slightly insane plan to study abroad in South Korea to meet him. She lands a scholarship and moves to Seoul, but many different problems await her romantically, socially, and emotionally when she arrives in Korea. Ok Taec-yeon makes a guest appearance as a Korean celebrity.
One of Ok’s earlier roles in his acting career, Assembly came out in 2015. Jung Jae-young leads the show as Jin Sang-pil, who, after working at a company for over 20 years, finds himself in a situation unlike anything he has experienced before. Everyone he works with has been laid off, and when he decides to fight against this decision, he gains traction for his abilities to speak on issues.
He becomes elected as a member of the National Assembly, but because he comes from a blue collar background and has no training as a politician, he struggles to enact change. But when he meets someone willing to help him, he can make dreams become reality.
10 Hansan: Rising Dragon
Director Kim Han-min has become well-known in South Korea for his film trilogy on the Joseon-era military general Yi Sun-sin, and Hansan: Rising Dragon is the second installment in the trilogy. This film is set in 1592, as the Japanese are arriving in Busan and are preparing to fight against the army led by Yi Sun-sin.
After kidnapping some local soldiers, he comes to realize the extent of the Korean army and what is coming, and they assess their ultimate goal: taking over Joseon and then moving into Imperial China. At the same time, Yi Sun-sin will not go down without a fight, and that’s going to be one entertaining one, that’s for sure.
9 Secret Royal Inspector & Joy
Kim Hye-yoon and Ok Taec-yeon star in Secret Royal Inspector & Joy, which is a historical romance drama that serves as a time capsule back into the Joseon Dynasty. Ok is Ra Ian, who works as a public service worker but actually just wants to run a dumpling shop instead of doing this kind of work.
Together with a woman who believes that divorce should be allowed, which is unfathomable in a Confucian society during the Joseon era, they’re going to team up and fight against the corruption in the government and its politicians.
8 House of the Disappeared
Released in 2017, House of the Disappeared is an underrated entry to Ok Taec-yeon’s filmography. The protagonist of the movie is a woman who was arrested for the murder of her husband, but she didn’t actually do it.
25 years have passed in the meantime, and when she is finally freed from jail, she ends up coming back to the home where the tragedy took place. She realizes it’s in her hands to figure out what really happened that day, but first she needs to figure out what happened to her son, who has been missing ever since.
A 2022 release, the story behind Blind is this: a police detective, who works in homicide, finds himself as the prime suspect behind a case of serial killings. In order to prove his innocence, he is going to try and find who the real culprit is, but along the way, he meets others who have also been falsely accused of crimes.
Together, they’re going to combine their efforts and get down to finding out the truth of their situations, creating a completely new path for them and their lives. Ok Taec-yeon stars with Ha Seok-jin and Jung Eun-ji.
6 Dream High
The drama Dream High was iconic when it first came out, and is one of the main shows when one thinks about the Korean genre of school dramas. The show also starred several big actors today, including Bae Suzy, Ok Taec-yeon, and Kim Soo-hyun.
Set in a high school, a group of students attending all have the dream of eventually becoming Korean pop idols. Throughout their time in school, they learn the ins and outs of making music and dancing, but, because they’re teenagers, feelings are going to get away at certain times during the show.
5 Wonderful Days
Lee Seo-jin and Kim Hee-sun star in Wonderful Days, which aired on Korean television in 2014. Over the course of 50 episodes, the series tells the story of Kang Dong-seok, who, after leaving his small town, moved on to greener pastures despite not getting along with people in his path.
But after many years, he ends up coming back to his hometown, and he reconnects with the people who he grew up with and his family. When he meets his first love again after all of these years, sparks fly between the two, leading them down a completely different path than what happened in their youth.
4 Bring It On, Ghost
Adapted from a webtoon, Bring It On, Ghost imagines what would happen if the female lead, a high school student who died in a traffic accident, meets a man who can see ghosts. He works as an exorcist and uses his abilities to his advantage, but when he meets this girl, she realizes that he might be able to find out why she’s stuck in the mortal plane.
Together, they begin to uncover the secret as to why she died and he can see ghosts, and they partner up when they realize they can help each other even more than expected.
3 Save Me
2017’s Save Me has an all-star cast with Ok Taec-yeon, Seo Yea-ji, Jo Sung-ha, and Woo Do-hwan. After a girl, Im Sang-mi, moves from Seoul after her father goes bankrupt with his business, she’s going to realize the countryside is ripe for predatory practices with cults. When her family becomes involved with one, she is sucked into a world she can’t escape from.
But after three years pass and when she sees a former classmate, she tells him to save her. This kickstarts the series’ main plot, which is trying to take down this cult and its influences in this rural town.
Heartbeat is the Korean drama world’s newest take on vampire and fantasy stories, as Ok Taec-yeon portrays Seon Woo-hyul, a half-human and half-vampire who ends up in a predicament. He’s been spending his years ruminating on how he has been unable to become a human due to a minor detail, but now he’s living with a human woman who doesn’t seem to have much of a heart herself.
But as the two end up living together even longer, it will thaw the ice in the hearts, forcing them to cope with their emotions and even find love along the way.
Song Joong-ki stars in Vincenzo, which might be one of his most iconic roles yet. He is Vincenzo, who, as a youth, was adopted by an Italian family and ended up in the mafia. After his adoptive brother tries to kill him in a power struggle, Vincenzo returns to Seoul, where discovers his buried gold is hidden in a building, and to get it, the building needs to be torn down completely.
But, as it turns out, returning to South Korea is going to open an entirely new can of worms for Vincenzo, as he now is stuck in the middle of a completely new power struggle.