Media Comparing Song Joong Ki and Kim Soo Hyun’s Rise to Popularity in China in Part to Acting Opposite A-list Noonas

It’s only a matter of time before the C-media started comparing Kim Soo Hyun and Song Joong Ki, thanks to the success of Descendants of the Sun in Korea and China the drama is securely regarded as the next You From Another Star. The degree of stickiness of DotS has yet to be seen since YFAS was huge for more than a year after it aired, but the skyrocketing popularity of the two male leads in those dramas have taken on the same path in China for sure. The comments and feedback from the live airing DotS in China is majority skewed towards Song Joong Ki and has boosted his name recognition and popularity there much like the same happened to Kim Soo Hyun thanks to YFAS.

The C-media isn’t attributing this male lead success solely to hotness and/or acting talent, the latest reports have been heralding the “A-list noona support factor” for pushing the two actors to super stardom in China – namely Jeon Ji Hyun in YFAS and Song Hye Kyo in DotS. It’s true that before the dramas aired the female leads were way more well known in China, and helped sell the drama there pre-airing. While the C-media is reporting on the noona factor, the K-media has pointed out a strong parallel the acting trajectory of Kim Soo Hyun and Song Joong Ki, from early days to getting a breakthrough playing Joseon kings to hitting it huge in a ratings breaking drama opposite an A-list older actress.


Media Comparing Song Joong Ki and Kim Soo Hyun’s Rise to Popularity in China in Part to Acting Opposite A-list Noonas — 71 Comments

  1. I got into K-drama after You Who Came From The Stars had been out for a while. I finally took the plunge and watched it and, while I enjoyed it, I never really got why it was so popular just based on the story. However, for me it was always about the actress. She really made that role hers and is probably the main reason I stuck it out.

    With regard to DOTS, I pretty much agree. She is popular for multiple dramas and being a beauty much in the way Kim Hee Sun is also very popular there. The actress gives these dramas a head start for sure. The happy part for SJK is he is done with military service whereas KSH will be heading off I would think in the next few years.

  2. I think they forgot to mention that both KSH & SJK have killer acting skills. I can’t say for YWCFS (I didn’t watch it) but SJK is basically carrying descendants and I’m sure KSH did more than his fair share for YWCFTS as well. Give those babies some credit too gawd! lol

  3. I think JJH is better at comedic roles while SHK kills melo and more romantic roles.
    SJK is a genius for finishing his army service then picking DOTS. KSH, YAI, LMH, and so many others will be leaving soon for the army and only he will be left as the major star. Smart guy he is.

    • Well, part of the reason SJK is done with military service is because he is older than the other 3. Don’t know if that is considered being smart just because he was born first. He does have the advantage now, but the other 3 also accomplished a lot in their career before their enlistment.

    • Yes, just like checki said, it’s not that SJK was smart, it was that he was required to leave way earlier than the 87ers and most definitely the 88ers. If LMH and KSH went ‘early’ then they wouldn’t have had Heirs and MLFTS. Both wouldn’t have had the massive following that thwy have now. And for KSH he wouldn’t have had the successive unending streaks of hits to his name. Same for YAI who was extremely successful last year.

      They are all so established now that even if they leave for two years, they’ll be perfectly fine when they come back. MLFTS and Heirs is so popular for literally 2 years and counting which shows the longevity of LMH and KSH in particular.

      • I would rather they do the military service when they’re young, just like Yoo Seung Ho. That way the actor can be more focus and build his career from young age without worrying that they’ll have to ‘disappear’ for two yrs later on. I hope yeo jin goo will follow YSH foot step though.

      • @Ms Penguin

        Except that YSH is a child actor with a long resume so him leaving to shed that child image and get the military over with was smart and worked well for him. KSH, YAI, LMH or even SJK for that matter arent in the same boat. They had to establish themselves as actors. The opportunities were there, why would they give that up when really, no one with a sane mind can believe that LMH/KSH leaving for two years would truly impact their careers in the long term. Sure, they’ll prob lose a few fans here and there, but their names are too established and solidified that as soon as they’re available for work, CFs, dramas, movies and fans will flock back in. None of this would’ve been possible if both went around 2010 because then, they wouldn’t have been the epitome of popularity and success as they are today.

      • Well, think about Hyun Bin whose drama Secret Garden was a huge hit before he was enlisted and he came back with an epic flop of Hyde, Jekyll, Me. An impdessive resume before enlisting doesn’t secure a successful career therafter. Scripts make difference.

      • Hyun Bin had what? 2 big hits? And both being almost 5 years apart? Nah, I don’t think that’s a good example. KSH and LMH have a cult following which can easily sustain a flop. At least for LMH that is very well the case because he had made a lot of missteps and still have that loyal fan following unlike Hyun Bin. As for KSH, I can’t say considering he has never had a mistep before. He basically succeeded in everything and anything he did after his debut as a lead. Literally all his movies and dramas did brilliantly in popularity and ratings and box office attendance. Seeing those records, I have every reason to believe KSH and LMH will be just fine unlike what happened to HB. Different careers, different fandoms and different paths.

  4. Knew both of them will be big when I first saw them on Will It Snow on Christmas. KSH as the young Go Soo and SJK as Nam Ji Hyun’s brother. You can see their potentials then and those potentials are being realized now. They are more than just a pretty face, they can really act.

  5. So far SJK has more colourful role. From a shameless flirt in SKKS, revenge gigolo in NG, earnest king in TWDR (my favorite performance of him even it’s short) and recently DOTS.
    KSH is good actor but sometimes just want him to shred his good boy and earnest persona in his character choice. Love to see him in different acting range.

    • KSH went from a complete accented country boy to a charismatic Joseon King to a thief to a North Korean spy. Then he became an alien only to take a complete u-turn as the uncool and totally a gullible rookie PD. Now he’s going to play a dark character in his new movie. The guy absolutely has variety in his roles.

    • @yoeda, I agree. Both are talented actors and my faves. But I think SJK’s drama gave him more space to shine through nuanced portrayal of subtle transitions of emotions while KSH is charismatic and his roles are more outward than emoting inward. Nice guy established SJK as a leading man to carry the weight of drama. But I became his fan after watching Deep Rooted Tree where SHK exhibted great caliber to depict a very intricate charater and he made me live through his struggles, his fears, and his courage as a young king in the tough Joeson era. To this point, I sorta admire SJK more than KSH. I yet have to see KSH portray roles with more sophisticated persona. How I love his charm in The Moon Embracing the Sun and his nerdy dorkiness in Producers. However, I think he is bland in popular MLFAS.

      • Couldn’t agree more! I used to love KSH and thought he can portray a variety of roles. But yeah… . something is missing. He can be intense but still bland. SJK, on the other hand can sweep us off our feet just through his eyes.

  6. The mediaplay that is been playing with SJK is honestly sickening and out of our reality. I have never seen such mediaplay in my life and I know alot use to be heavily mediaplayed but SJK has made mediaplay into fiction.

    You just can’t build people like LMH and KSH over one hit just like that and expect to be that huge because thats not reality. the few Holloywood superstars didn’t came in one night or disappear in one night. It takes some years to build a legit fandom and public recognition and nothing grows on trees without putting the hardwork in with the right concept and process you will also need alot of luck come your way.

    We really don’t have another KSH here first of all KSH build himself up while he was young and gained fandom that way and public recognition while trending thru in several years so you will likely won’t see them slip and regarding LMH I he has build such a strong base and large fandom that is ridiculous, so SJK won’t reach lmh’s popularity in this lifetime and none of the active k-celebrities can’t but someone who is young and builded up in the right way can achieve the level of LMH popularity and craze.

    Aside from that we have seen similar cases and where are they now because such things can’t be mediaplayed you really have to be build a visible base with fandom and public recognition on I-level and takes time and patience while trending for several years is acquired with many i-hits

    • um ok chill…..SJK has had nice guy and werewolf boy which were big hits as well so its not just 1 thing. there’s nothing that says he can’t reach that craze of LMH either…..

      • You haven’t read any of the mediaplay lately I guess. they are saying the chinese government is warning against SJK thats the level we have reached. Personally I have never seen this kind of mediaplay and being sincerely honest

    • Don’t take it too seriously, South Korea had two of their hottest Hallyu stars – LMH and KSH packing their bags off to military. They are big shoes to fill. Good luck to SKJ.

    • SJK has potential and success to back up this “media play”. He’s handsome and can act well. KSH and LMH are going to be gone for two years too, which is a huge thing.

    • you are quite delusional and ignorance of other actors that is not KSH or LMH. SJK been in this industry for years/decade, and he had been steadily building his resume much like the other two. If anything, it is LMH that luck out and got a one-shot from BOF. SJK been playing supporting roles and progress steadily to lead roles. He had Sungkyunkwan scandals that were a major trend, Wolf Boy which was a hit movie, Nice Guy was also a buzz. He was in Running Man as well. LMH and KSH is as big as they are in China not because the Chinese seen both of their steady climb but LMH is popular in China because of City Hunter, and KSH is because of MLFTS. Before MLFTS, LMH was the one-top Korean star but KSH was able to quickly ascend next to LMH because of one hit drama.

      Dont act like KSH and LMH has been around for years while SJK is a newcomer. He is as much/more veteran than both your beloved KSH and LMH

      • If you are talking about the China market, SJK was not very well known before DOTS, so he is considered a newcomer there.

      • How is Song Joong Ki more veteran than Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun? KSH debut a year earlier than SJK and LMH debut 5 years before SJK and he had many small roles before hitting jackpot with BoF. Out of all the main lead who played the BoF adaptions across asian, Lee Min Ho was the best. I’m not a bit LMH fan but his acting skill and versatile roles is impressive. KSH is not far less brilliant as an actor than any of them so there is no need for superiority here. It’s great that SJK is around while LMH and KSH enlist into the army bc what would Kdramaland be without any top Hallyu actors?

  7. Thank you for pointing this out. I have friends in China and Hong Kong and they say there isn’t that much buzz around DOTS and SJK there as the media make it out to be. Only those who regularly watch kdramas and those go on SNS know about them. The online video platform, iqiyi, that paid a fortune for the licencing rights have been spamming the SNSs tagging YWCFTS the day DOTS’s ratings exceeded the YWCFTS, claiming it is superior due to the higher ratings. They also create tonnes of online polls that target different fandoms to participant in with topics like, Which oppa has the best skills in picking up girls? Who is your current (fantasy) husband? Who is the biggest Hallyu star? People who participate in these polls to prove that their oppa is the best contribute to clicks to make is seem like DOTS is a huge hit.

    The people behind the mediaplay is actually hurting SJK more than helping him since they have been tagging him with almost all the big Hallyu and Chinese stars. This is pissing off all the fandoms and many people are turned off by the mediaplay that is being used to promote SJK there.

  8. I must admit that I was quite disappointed in SJK’s choice to take on a KES production as his return drama. For those who thinks he’s not deserving, the boy has been trying to build a career trying to attempt different roles. Sadly his pretty boy looks does hinder him from being taken seriously and taking this production puts him exactly where industry wanted him… typecast. Through the years, its very clear those who just do it for the money and who are those who are truly passionate about acting. I think that Lee Minho is one who has succumbed so much to the lure of the money that he’s now known more as a CF king than having work under his belt that he can be proud of. KSH proved his acting in Producers (at least for me) and his new movie shows his determination to try different roles which I really admire him for that. I just wish actors will be more diligent and leave a legacy for their craft rather than leave a reputation of being a Hallyu star that has TONS of cash but not a real production to be proud of. Milk Japanese money, milk chinese money. It gets a bit sickening after a while. Cos frankly NONE of those China productions with a Korean star ever works. Just fan service at best. My sincere hope is that YAI never does a KES production. He is to date the most credible star of this generation and was 2015’s most profitable star without having to achieve this through China or Japan. When his name is mentioned, its always his work that speaks for itself… creating Aiinshidae. Punch, Tough As Nails, Secret Love Affair, Sado, Veteran, Six Flying Dragons are all breath taking productions, maybe not all commercially successfully but the work itself is art. Hence … that why they are called artists and not commercialists. All that said I’m looking forward to SJK’s new movie. It should be better than the drama and should challenge his growth as an actor.

    • No one is where they are by being CF Kings and no one can turn into a CF king without any merit. So lets not look light upon acheivements YAI is where he is today because of his merit and the same for LMH. He wouldn’t have been where he is today if he didn’t expand Kdrama viewers into different regions and fans and also became Kdrama viewers Darling it’s because he delivers for them and satisfies them and didn’t happen out of the blue but he gained there trust with years of work. Lee Minho has established himself thru many International megahits such as Boys over flowers, City hunter and Heirs while average drama such as Faith and PT were also International hit. As I mentioned before his here with Merit and if anything YAI underachieved with his projects. It’s all about the audience at the end of the day and thats where LMH shines. There is no grounds to call out an actor you fullfils the audience needs

      • Underachieve? I think underrated is the perfect word. One thing for sure, YAI’s 2 movies are the top 10 Korea’s box office of all time.

      • @Aone: Underachieve my a$$. Yoo Ah In won 12 awards in 2015 alone, not to mention many awards he got since his first career in acting. He is the second youngest actor to win the Blue Dragon Awards, the first Korean actor under 30s who got into the ’10 Million Actors Club’ as the lead actor, and just 2 days ago he was awarded the Special Prize at the “Oscar of Asia” The Asian Film Awards. He is ahead of actors in his generation. In terms of income, he made the biggest income of all actor last year and is 2016 Forbes Korea 1st rank of all Korean actors.

      • @shaista, Forbes ranking is based on a number of factors including income, media exposure and industry reputation, not just income alone. In terms of income in actor category, YAI was 3rd, behind Kim Soo Hyun (1st) and Cha Seung Won (2nd).

  9. Song hye ko is not an A list actress in my book. She’s pretty but thats about it. She doesn’t temp me at all to watch anything she’s in. I started the 1st episode of DOTS just to check out my boy Song Joong Ki and I dont plan to continue watching it, I’ll just read the recaps. Jeon Ji Hyun, on the other hand, is an A list actress, I’d watch anything she’s in.

    • Borrow Hmmm’s words
      How is being an A-lister an opinion lol. She is or she isn’t. And she is, there’s actually zero room for argument

    • A-list or not is not depending on your single opinion. She is the one who got me into K-Drama. I have always watched the drama she was in and will always be until she stops the showbiz. So is she A-Lister based on my idea? NO! Public is the one who rate her as A-Lister or not…

  10. LMAO …. LMH’s fans will always want to defend their bias with mediaplay theory… HEIRS is an old story, just stop already. He is inactive currently and under radar. That’s why he is not so popular right now.
    Now Dots is taking korea and china by storm. 28% rating is insane at this era. SJK deserve all the credits cuz he can really act, plus he insanely good looking.
    I’m so glad SJK has dethroned KSH’s popularity in or outside korea. Its about time.

    • Let’s wait until after the drama finishes airing and see how CFs SJK gets before saying who he dethrones stall we? I think it’s unfair to compare SJK, who currently has a drama airing, with those who are quietly preparing for or currently filming a drama/movie.

      The table can and will turn around just like that once the other two have a drama or movie showing.

      Not saying SJK doesn’t have what it takes to make it big like LMH and KSH but saying he’s topping those two in popularity based on ratings of one drama that has only aired 6 episodes so far is a little premature. Even if his popularity is sustainable after the drama ends doesn’t mean all the other actors’ fans will fall off the face of the earth. Everyone will still have their supporters.

    • LMFAO at the ‘dethrone’ theory. Let’s see that hold some weight when it’s all over and done. And let’s see SJK achieve even half the stable and long-term popularity of KSH and LMH. SJK’s fans are somewhat delulu – who’da thought!

  11. I just realized why DoTS can’t surpass YFAS is because the female character itself.
    Do Min Joon is sure popular, but come on, his character is actually boring. Kim Soo Hyun is an eye candy moreover when put beside Jeon Ji Hyun. But character wise, Do Min Joon is not that dynamic or even interesting.
    While Joong Ki’s character Yoo Shi Jin is a fun, charming, and a lady killer. Not to forget, his dry sense of humor is the new source of life. What makes it even greater is that SJK success on making that character into a new level of swooning and charming, while in another hand that character may go awful and cringy.

    As for the female lead. JJH managed to bring Song Yi into an iconic character. Song Yi could but quiet annoying at times, she is selfish and she is arrogant, but she is fun and JJH manages to bring that into life and instead emphasized Song Yi’s goodness for the viewers.

    Song Hye Ko fortunately couldn’t do the same. Mo Yeon is sometimes annoying, and even when she shows her good trait–being brave and other things–we sometimes still remember her as annoying. SHK is plain and somehow lack of charms that is needed.

    As we remember Song Yi with her iconic scene, we can’t really remember Mo Yeon with anything..

    So it’s actually battle of Song Jong Ki and Shi Jin against Kim So Hyun + Do Min Jun and Jeon Ji Hyun + Song Yi. Maybe that will explain why DoTS can’t beat YFAS, or maybe not yet. Who knows SJK can show us another new level of his charms and simply wins over anything–anyone else.

  12. as SJK fan,I dont need him to be super duper popular or CF king or whatever.. just pick good project -I prefer movies- and I’ll be happy..
    DotS is so popular but for me the story itself is meh .. its not challenging for him.
    I hope he learn from YAI. That boy really picked good projects so far..

    • Movies. Then he could be like Kang Dong won. Just don’t hide yourself and come out only when you have projetcs like KDW.

    • What would get him more money? Don’t accuse me of being mercenary. I do hope SJK leads a very comfortable life with huge income cus I think his talents deserve it. In addition to getting good projects, I’ll also be happy to see he gets a lot of CF like Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun. Why not have both ways?

  13. Jeon Ji Hyun to me is not a A list actress. I have watched her movies and YWCFTS and didn’t like either that drama or her acting in it.

  14. Without question Jeon Ji Hyun and Song Hye Kyo are a huge part of the successes of their drama, and didn’t get nearly the praised they deserved. I’m glad someone is actually mentioning it. Both carry the drama just as much as their male leads.

    • I agree. Actually Chinese media credits a lot to SHK for the success of DotS. She actually attracted certain following to watch the drama. It’s just ppl did expect my man SJK would boost the ratings to such an explosion and becomes a new overnight senstion. SHK has been an established Hallyu star for a while and has her solid fandom base. I’m being honest and fair since I’ve never been her fan. She was actually more famous overseas than SJK before DotS was on air.

  15. For me that’s the least appealing thing about these dramas even though I like both the actresses….both beautiful. I would have loved it more if they had not been “noona ” ones. Still have not seen YFAS because of that. Will watch DOTS because of SJK who is a very good actor and to see what the hype is about …..

  16. SHK is a longtime hallyu star, and if you notice her project since Autumn tale, she always been in the great project and almost ever she’s in, the drama would be succesfull and have good ratings…like All in, Full House, Hotelier, Twtwb…JJH i didnt know her before YFAS…
    I watched “All in” (2003) for me thats 1 of the greatest Kdrama ever….
    Im sure thats the reason for putting SHK as an A list actress since she still for now as famous as 16 yrs ago and still been giving high rating for the drama shes in….
    I watched Dots surely because of her…SJK i watched him 1st time in Dots, i think ill become his new fans since his fit my princess so well on Dots….:)

  17. I really think it’s all pointless to argue or insist which actor/actress ranks # whatever by whatever the heck of ranking polls. Today somebody crowns popularity and CF income and awards. Sooner or later his/her status will be replaced by someone else. Nobody can defy age and sit on the throne forever young. Besides, there’re a great variety of dramas targeting at different audience. That’s why drama land needs all kinds of acting talents of different styles. It’s very foolish to say one actor is superior to another simply based on viewer’s personal preference. I’m a huge fan of Yoo Ah Inn. I didn’t skip any of his dramas so far except for Six Flying Dragon. For a foreigner like me who knows nothing much about ancient Korean court politics, SFD in my opinion was executed poorly and hella boring, unlike equally a historical C drama Nirvana in Fire. SFD to me is nothing but like a long series of documentary monologue. Others think highly of SFD and rave about it. However, I don’t see much intriguing drama substance in the series. Drama is an art of communication. In that sense, SFD is an epic fail in communicating incomprehensible ancient Korean court politics to general audience like me who has no much interest in Korean history. At the end of the day, a drama being good or not all depends on market force. What is considered an excellent drama may be nothing but a dosage of sleeping pills. LMAO. Drama fans are entitled to be self-assured that SFD is a better drama with more substance than DotS. (LMAO, even the comparison of different genres seems out of place bcos that’s like orange vs apple.) But no one can deny the fact that DotS slays the most recent K drama benchmark in many ways. Ppl can be critical of KES’ dramas being cheesy. Well, a lot of world-famous dramas are not less cheesier than KES’ scripts. Just name a few, Jane Austen’s British classics, the legendary American film Gone with the Wind, and even the most cringe worthy Titanic…However cheap you folks may think they are without depth, these dramas/films already have their own place in the drama history. I believe years later, K drama fans mostly would still remember MLFAS and DotS, but not SFD perhaps. I hope Yoo Ah Inn’s staunch fans wouldn’t take SFD as his signature work. LOL, if so, that just underestimates YAI.

  18. Song joong is the best even though he had a hard time in the movie industry he overcame it so you should praise him not the other way around…

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