Curious to know who are the foreign fans’ favorite actors? The Korean Wave 2023 annual research report was released on March 10th and gives us all the details about Hallyu and Hallyu stars in 2022.
The Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE, an institution designated by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) has been working on this report every year for the past few years. In 2023, they broadened their spectrum by including more countries in their data. They interviewed 25,000 people between the ages of 15 and 59 from 26 countries from November 11 to December 7, 2022. Here are the countries included: USA, Brazil, Argentina, United Kingdom (UK), France, Turkey, Russia, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Australia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mexico, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kazakhstan.
In one part of the poll, the 25,000 respondents answered, “Who is your favorite Korean actor currently?” They chose their favorite Korean actor by writing (not selecting). Let’s find out their answers below.
Top 5 Foreign Fan Favorite Korean Actors
1. Lee Minho – 9.1%
Lee Minho dominates the rankings. No surprise here, as Top Hallyu Star has ranked #1 in this poll since 2018. He also has 9.1% of the overall responses, which is an impressive number (and a gap with #2)! This proves – yet again – that he is the most beloved Korean actor overseas.
With his filmography filled with hit dramas old and new (such as “Boys Over Flowers”, “City Hunter”, “The Heirs”, “The Legend of the Blue Sea”, “The King: Eternal Monarch”), he continues to constantly be on top. In 2022, he acted in the drama “Pachinko” and gained a lot of positive comments from the foreign press.
The actor is good at communicating with MINOZ (fandom) all over the world with his various social media accounts. His Instagram is one of the most followed, reaching 32.2 million followers (data as of March 13, 2023), and his Facebook has 28 million followers (data as of the same day). These numbers are constantly growing. His popularity can no longer be proven, and has been for years.
2. Gong Yoo – 2.7%
Gong Yoo has been a top star for years as well. All K-Drama fans must have watched “Coffee Prince” or/and “Goblin”. He also made a cameo in the popular Netflix drama “Squid Game” and was the lead actor in the 2021 Netflix original space drama “The Silent Sea”. Even with few dramas, he remains one of the favorite Korean actors abroad. This is the power of a Hallyu star!
3. Hyun Bin – 2.4%
It’s no surprise to see Hyun Bin here, as the Korean actor also stole the hearts of K-Drama fans old and new with hit dramas: “Secret Garden”, “Memories of the Alhambra” and “Crash Landing On You”. He is also popular in movies like “The Fatal Encounter”, “The Negotiation”, “Rampant” and more. Hyun Bin is one of the actors deep in fans’ hearts.
4. HyeKyo song – 2.0%
The only actress on this top 5 list, and it’s no wonder why. Song HyeKyo has been a famous Hallyu star for years, acting in the hit dramas: “Autumn in My Heart”, “Full House”, “Descendants of the Sun”, “Encounter” and more! The poll was taken ahead of the release of her new hit drama “The Glory”, so we can expect her to be even more popular in next year’s poll!
5. Lee Jong Suk – 1.5%
Lee Jong Suk is definitely one of the favorite actors of K-Drama watchers. Like the other four on this list, he has many hit dramas under his filmography including: “School 2013”, “I Can Hear Your Voice”, “Doctor Stranger”, “Pinocchio”, “W”, “While You Were Sleeping “, “Romance is a Bonus Book” and much more. After his discharge, he made his long-awaited big comeback with movies and the K-Drama “Big Mouth” in 2022, showing his good acting unchanged.
Top 5 Favorite Korean Actors by Country
If you want to access the original data, you can do so from page 94 of this pdf.
Note: In blue, you can find mentions of Lee Minho. In green, you can see the most recent popular actors (in addition to the “Squid Game” actors): Kim SeonHo, Han SoHee, Song Kang, and ASTRO’s Cha EunWoo.
Lee Minho is #1 in 22 countries (out of 26). In some countries, he received impressive love, with over 20% of responses in Indonesia and India and over 10% in South Africa, Malaysia, Vietnam, Turkey, UAE and Egypt. No wonder he is number 1 in the overall top 5.
Actors who were not in the top 5 but mentioned were: Suzy (12), Ji ChangWook (6), IU (5), Jun JiHyun (3), Song Kang (3), Song JoongKi (3), Son Ye Jin (3), Park ShinHye (2), Park SeoJun (2), Kim SooHyun (2), Ma Dong Seok (2), rain (2), Park Min Young (1), Park Bo Gum (1), Jang Keun Suk (1), Lee DongWook (1), Lee ByungHun (1), Kim HeeSun (1), Song JiHyo (1), Kim SeonHo (1), Han SoHee (1), and ASTRO’s Cha EunWoo (1).
“Squid Game” actors Jung HoYeon (4), Lee JungJae (11), and Gong Yoo (as a cameo) also took part in the poll. Bae Yong Joon (1) was mentioned only in Japan; the “Yon-Sama” syndrome is still going strong. Choi Ji Woo (1) was also mentioned in the Japanese top reuniting couple “Winter Sonata”.
While the survey responses are mostly Hallyu stars that have been known for years or “Squid Game” actors, some new names pop up! Rising actors and strong contenders to be the top No. 1 Hallyu actors: Song Kang, ASTRO’s Cha EunWoo, Kim SeonHo, and Han SoHee. Mention of them shows that they are receiving increasing interest. We can only hope for its next steps and future popularity.
It is interesting to see trends and actors who for years have received love from overseas fans. Is your favorite actor mentioned here? You can also share your opinions by commenting on your favorite country and actor.
If you want to read more about the data released in this survey, such as favorite dramas, idols and movies. Check out the articles below:
* Publication coming soon, please wait.