Japan Trying to Schedule a Byun Woo Seok Fan Meeting After Success of Lovely Runner and Industry Insider Claims He’s the Biggest New K-actor Popularity Rise Since Gen 1 Mega Stars Bae Yong Joon and Won Bin

Hahaha, omg sorry but this article is starting to veer into absurd hyperbole territory. It’s been all of two months since Lovely Runner aired and finished and male lead Byun Woo Seok is legit the breakout star of the drama and having the biggest career moment of his life. All great! He’s off right now for his sold out June month of fan meetings starting in Taipei, then Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, Singapore before returning for his Seoul meetings. A news article this week revealed that Japanese promoters are trying to schedule a Tokyo fan meeting for him before the summer ends because he’s also super popular in Japan right now thanks to LR. A marketing and branding professional in the Japanese industry claimed that Byun Woo Seok is the biggest new K-actor to become popular that fast in Japan since the Gen 1 super stars twenty years ago Bae Yong Joon, Won Bin, Song Seung Heon, and Lee Byung Hun during the days of Winter Sonata, Autumn in My Heart, and Beautiful Days. I think the issue with articles like this is that it’s equating a current high level of buzz with what is confirmed to be top star level actors for the past decades which just sounds a stretch too far.


Japan Trying to Schedule a Byun Woo Seok Fan Meeting After Success of Lovely Runner and Industry Insider Claims He’s the Biggest New K-actor Popularity Rise Since Gen 1 Mega Stars Bae Yong Joon and Won Bin — 55 Comments

  1. A drama that barely reached 6% drama causes.. How easy is it for guys. Glad hyeyoon is working on a female centric drama next she needs do stop with her good luck charm in making these guys famous.

    • What do you mean by “easy”? His agency working hard and more than KHY’s, you can’t call it “easy” for him just because her agency does a small part of his agency work.
      About her previous co-stars, don’t know about Rowoon, but Lee Jae Wook become popular after two seasons Alchemy of souls, not after EY.
      And popularity as IT boy/girl is one thing, but recognition as big/hallyu actor/actress is another.
      Without any hate, I doubt BWS considered as hallyu actor right now, or got recognition enough for awards nominations.
      He needs next drama to show himself.

      • He actually does have Hallyu star status right now. All scripts for actors in their twenties and thirties are going to him. He is the top pick for everyone right now means others only get dramas after he rejects the scripts. His agency is also very clear that they will choose his next project very carefully and only the best will be chosen. He’s definitely a massive Hallyu star at the moment and he will definitely pick his next drama or movie opposite a star writer, director and actor combination. He doesn’t have to carry his next drama either since a top female lead like IU, Suzy or Kim Ji won can do that instead and if he picks a OTT drama then he doesn’t have to care for ratings only on vitality.

      • @Cinnna
        Hmmm, maybe you’re right, and he’s hallyu actor already.
        Just for me it means a little more than popularity, but actor’s charisma as well. I didn’t watch LR yet, but watched Record of youth and Soulmate, and can’t say that he was remarkable there (still don’t know if this was because of him or because of characters he played).
        I’m wondering about him because I saw some other popular actors/actresses which career was vanished in vain after one popular role. Anyway, I need to see LR before judje.
        Your words a little convinced me. BWK has a good agency, which really cares about him and about his career, so I’m looking forward for his next project choose.

      • @Olesya1 I also watched him in Record of Youth and agree he was really nothing special there. His character is Soulmate was mostly ancillary to the two best friends. I feel like the character of Sunjae was just the defining role that fit him perfectly. The directors also spent A LOT of time helping him in LR. Director Yoon basically told him where his exact hand placement should be for a lot of the romantic scenes. He also put in a lot of hard work to make his role believable. The chemistry with his costar was also pivotal. It was almost like all the stars aligned and everything fell into place all at once for this project. His sincerity and hard working nature has also gained him a lot of fans. I really liked the drama, the chemistry of the main couple, and he seems like a lovely person, but I do think the jury is still out on his acting for me.

      • @Soph
        I read comments about director’s work with BWS, but didn’t watch bts so don’t know how serious this was. Since I watched QOT bts, and director Jang Young Woo also helped actors, discussing with KJW and KSH how they need to speak, to look at eachother etc, every scene was discussed at rehearsal, and I didn’t thought much about it.
        But agree with you, for me this is also one of the reason I want to watch next BWS project after LR to understand, if he can act good in other conditions.

    • the OG Reply (1997) also reached only 6 percent, like that one LR is on a cable channel and is a youth drama which I think are considered successes if they cross 4-5 percent. It’s been reported on soompi that the pre-orders for the Lovely Runner soundtrack are the highest for any drama ever.

      and a “female centric” drama isn’t going to be any improvement for Hyeyoon if all it means is an untalented female idol will be the one taking advantage of her hard work to try and get famous, instead of a male one.

      • But reply 97 was yeaaaarss ago when tvn just started. Nowadays, tvn’s high rating is above 10%, under it, just so so. Old dramas in non cable tv got 50% back then, now even 10 is hard to achieve. Good for a tvn, as a cable tv they got 20% something for QoT.

        LR is a gem since it targeted the young audiences. With social media, they could share anything and LR team knew it well. The same with BWS’s company, they’ve worked hard for it and get what they deserve. No complaint.

      • @Yui 6 percent for Reply in 2012 was the highest cable drama ratings of all time .

        I’m seeing tvn dramas from 2020 called hits for scoring 5 percent as their highest rating even with big name stars and writer, LR with neither has a higher rating than that and much more online buzz.

      • LR was a Mon-Tue drama as well, which generally doesn’t garner as many audiences on air. tvN is still posting about LR, opening more pop up stores, so they definitely consider it a hit. Also, the fact that a fake group from that show is top 10 on Melon charts, and entering Billboard 200 is quite a feat.

    • I never understand these comments bemoaning men having it easier on Byun Wooseok’s posts.

      That’s only the case because it’s women who make guys like him famous whereas we don’t support female celebrities in the same way. For example, he has 4 million more followers than Kim Hyeyoon and all his songs from the show are charting. That’s the doing of his eager female fans…

      What companies want to see at the end of the day are money and results. If a male celebrity can give them both, he’ll naturally get offered more opportunities over his female colleagues.

  2. I usually watch kdramas late/way after they ended so I miss all the craziness when it comes to huge buzz projects. Glad I got to experience it live this time completely by chance just because I needed something light after some heavy work projects so I started it on its second week lol It’s quite fun to follow the after effects, and also so interesting that LR barely crossed 6% – I think this is the most unique aspect of this drama’s phenomenom

  3. LOL his agency working overtime a little too much. But I guess milking the cow while they can is the way to go, no matter how extremely exaggerated. Might not be very smart of them long term but hey, if it works today, I say great marketing.

    • the buzz is undeniable rn but BWS’s next 1-2 acting projects will be what shows whether he’ll go the way of Lee Jongsuk vs the way of Yoo Yeonseok (none of whose subsequent projects lived up to his Chilbongie hype)

      (I mention these two because they broke out in the same year btw – 2013)

      • What if he’s not even going the YYS way. At least YYS reserved enough grace by being recognised as a good movie actor prior to Reply. I don’t think BWS has that to fall on. Because from what I’ve seen of BWS during his emotional scenes is ummm…. I’m afraid if he is going to headline a series next we will see him going the way of a third person; Ahn Jae Hyun. Him in Blood was brutal.

      • Ahn Jae Hyun had never delivered a hit performance or character before that though, and certainly not as lead.

  4. I think these journalists need to stop bringing his new popularity for clickbait articles.
    Don’t know if this is bad for him, but not good either.
    Articles like this do nothing but bringing controversies. I didn’t even watch LR yet, but still wanted to complain that this article is too much. This is how it working.

    • It has the same effect on me lol
      Haven’t even watched LR but all these articles seem like overkill and are only working on killing the hype. Gives me second hand embarrassment for him. Makes him come off as arrogant with barely anything to back all these claims up

  5. I really like BWS but these kind of clickbait articles with hyperbolic comparisons are so unfair to him and will just annoy people.

    Actually, if I was a young actor hoping to have a long serious career in acting I wouldn’t even want to be compared to Bae Yong Joon as his acting career had no longevity. Yes, I know he was super famous, led the Hallyu Wave and made a lot of smart business decisions which made him very, very rich but he became more of a personality than an actor after he hit big with ‘Winter Sonata’. He only made two more films and one drama and retired to count his millions and focus on his businesses.

  6. they’re saying the initial level of interest he’s generating is reminiscent of the initial level of interest those stars generated. he is today where these big stars were two decades ago when they were just rising stars themselves. they are not saying bws is as big as the current versions of them.

    • Agree! The article didn’t even state that BWS is as popular as the current big stars nor is the drama listed as a hallyu wave, but the breakout of him seems to be as big as when the big stars broke out back then because not only is he popular in Korea but also outside of it. BWS worked a long way from playing secondary roles to villians to where he is today so IDK why KHY also keeps getting mentioned with him when it’s Korea themselves releasing these articles. They both worked hard OK. He might as well not work AT all like Won Bin if expectations are too high, might as well cap it now haha.

    • Indeed. Once again, many people commenting here don’t really comprehend what they are reading. As you said, the article compares moments in time, not overall careers or worth.

  7. Lovely Runner appeals to a narrow range of viewers, but the level of frantic devotion it has achieved among young women has been phenomenal. It reminds people of the first generation of Kdramas back in the early 2000s with its undeviating focus on pure love in defiance of fate/destiny, so I would not be surprised if Japan fans are loving it as they have loved the early Kdramas. With all this recent veering into Netflix-type themes, Kdrama has been neglecting where it has always charmed people in the first place, pure love dramas. I am glad Lovely Runner has been able to fill in this void (despite a somewhat sluggish second half). BWS is crazily hot not just in Korea but here in Taiwan as well. When he landed at Taipei airport more than 1000 fans came out to welcome him, the biggest gathering of fans within the last few years even when you count Kpop idols. His fan meet tickets sold out the very first second box office opened, with more than 50,000 people waiting to buy 1500 tickets. I agree his next project is the key but K news has been reporting that all new scripts nowadays with the male lead in his 20s and 30s go to BWS first.

  8. I mean he is popular with fans in 20/30s range but not all ages while the others were popular with all viewers. They also had the highest tv rating which honestly Lovely Runner isn’t there for sure. I feel these articles are bad for him if his next project doesn’t meet expectations. Let’s see if his popularity will continue as we know, most fans are 3 month fans until the next breakout drama. He is definitely the IT boy currently but will we still talk about him after 10/20 years.

    • the entire viewer scene is different since the advent of streaming, 20 percent ratings was easier to get 20 years ago than now so in strict ratings terms they aren’t comparable (though 6 percent is a really good rating on a paid channel like tvN)

      forget 20 years, the question is whether we’ll still be talking about him in 2-3 years. That’s usually enough time to tell whether the hype has translated to anything solid or just petered out into averageness like it did for many before him, right now it’s been barely two weeks since Lovely Runner ended so it’s understandable they’re taking their victory lap.

      • I would say over 8-9% being really good and over 15% being a drama everyone all ages know about. Lovely runner didn’t even reach 6%, avg 4%. I said it’s good but not a comparison with other dramas mentioned. Saying this as a fan of the drama, their audience reach is not the same.

      • Start Up which some people consider a hit and had a big name writer (ie she cost ₩₩₩) was a relatively recent (2020) drama that also got people making a huge fuss over the male actor.

        Lovely Runner has higher ratings than that and certainly cost less plus has more buzz. By any standard it’s a hit, not an all-generation ratings smash like Queen of Tears but high enough that its Korean streaming numbers pushed tving higher than Netflix for the first time ever and its OST pre-orders are now apparently higher than any drama ever recorded. LR may be a trend to “only” 20s and 30s viewers but those viewers are a coveted advertising demographic and actually spend money as we’re seeing – it’s not mainly teenagers buying those fanmeet tickets.

      • @Royal We What’s interesting is that according to TVing’s data, it’s actually the 30s and 40s demographics that make up the biggest chunk of the LR viewers. 20s comes in third behind the two of them. A lot of people seem to think it’s something that has only resonated with the teens and young adults, but the data says otherwise.

        Start-up is a good comparison, only bc LR has exceeded it in every way. Their ratings aren’t all that different, but it’s important to remember that Start-up underperformed while LR has clearly over performed. KSH also “broke out” through Start-up but BWS’s break out has already had a much bigger impact in pop culture than his ever did.

        People using the ratings to undermine LR’s popularity are missing the point. LR’s popularity is special and unique BC it had relatively lower ratings. the fact that it’s so wildly popular in spite of its ratings, not bc of it, is something that has confounded the industry. execs and production companies are taking notes as TVN cooks up ideas to milk the brand for all its worth by releasing merch, scriptbooks, the ost, even going so far as to thinking about opening pop-up stores overseas. It’s a sign of changing times, so we’ll have to see how the industry adjusts.

      • If you want to compare LR and its popularity WFKBJ is the best comparison. This was another tiny drama on MBC with single digit ratings going up against the behemoth that was LOtBS but it entirely and completely overshadowed the latter in buzz and popularity. NJH and LSK created a huge craze back then especially since they got caught dating just a month later and the whole “Do You Like Messi?” line remains iconic till this day. The ost for WFKBJ were as popular as DOTS and charted high on melon. Every once in awhile comes a small drama with zero expectations that just blows up overnight. What it ultimately boils down to is good writing and chemistry. For a romcom chemistry is everything and it’s not just about throwing together two attractive people and expecting it to stick it’s about putting together two actors who share good synergy and watching them bloom into their characters. Nonetheless BWS has made a character that define him for the rest of his life and he will forever be remembered as RSJ even decades later.

  9. Take it they mean the level of frenzied popularity. The thing is, there is no equal comparison, nowadays actors/celebs can depend on social media for things to go viral. Back in those days, there were only forums and magazines and such. So things tend to go super trendy/viral these days very quickly and fall off after awhile. Those dudes above had some sort of longevity at least in their careers, which is something that can’t really be said about bws at this moment. Not sure if his agency or some random reporter is writing about all these but… not too great to be making all these leaps in comparisons when he hasn’t really proven his acting chops in any way. Sunjae was not a complicated role to play tbvh, and appeals to a very narrow demographic of mostly female fans and shippers. I saw snippets of his taiwan fanmeeting where he was in some dress or sth dressed up as a “baby girl”, absolutely cringey and embarrassing, but I guess his fans are the sort that like those kinds of things?

    • he was dressed as cardcaptor sakura, a beloved anime that many people grew up with. you don’t have to shit on something just bc women like it. that’s much more cringe and embarrassing tbvh.

    • Yeah. it’s a false equivalence. No way you can compare a Korean actor from the early 2000s to now. Kids now don’t realise how hard it was to even watch Kdramas or get news about actors back in the 2000s. That’s why the reach and power of the hallyu wave was so remarkable.

      LMAOOOOOOOOO I saw that outfit and I seriously thought he must of lost a bet or something to be wearing that but apparently it was a random clothes challenge where he picks random number and has to wear the corresponding gag outfit. Not sure what the other gag outfits were but the staff should have made the options less embarrassing but still funny like a superhero or a vegetable or something rather than a magical girl costume. I get it was just for fun but out of context it’s a bit cringey.

    • I was at that fan meet and everyone just loved that outfit. He was disarmingly sincere and has none of the airs of celebrities. Comedy is actually a part of his acting charm and this just shows he doesn’t take himself or his recent fame too seriously.

      • @eva: Thanks for sharing your perspective as an attendee. I’m happy you enjoyed the fan meeting and the fans loved everything (including that costume). He does seem very personable, genuine and hardworking.

  10. With this huge popularity, im afraid it will be a burden later with his new projects. Stay grounded and humble. Talent is important, but attitude is needed.

  11. I think people should stop these buzz articles – it does the guy no service. I like him but he’s not the breakout of the generation by any means now. The drama itself is lovely, sweet and had a buzz with a certain population segment but it was no massive hit, neither was his character so solidly acted that it dropped glasses or won respectable acting awards. It’s impt that he enjoys the moment and also plan for solid hits along the way. 1-2 more dramas like that will then make it a string of solid performance – for now it is what it is. Any further buzz derails rather than support this man’s career because the content is ridiculous. Bae HK during winter sonata, Kim Soo Hyun during moon embrace the sun, etc they were massive hits like even the grandma on the street knew the kid or had his poster at home LOL that is the kind of breakout you are comparing with.

  12. Actually Lee Min Ho got very high level of popularity back when BOF aired.
    BWS has achieved popularity of newer actors like Park Shi hoo or Lee Jun Ho level.

    I think it’s being written more because he didn’t get much success for past few years and it’s unexpected too.

  13. Agree with everyone above that whoever is writing these hyperbolic articles is not doing him any favors. They’re just making the expectations too high. Just let him enjoy his success and be on his merry way. No need for this constant comparison to other greats of the past.

  14. It’s great if he can get more work to make more money. Japanese YEN is doing so poorly, he may well look into going to Hollywood like Lee Santa !! LOL… Promoting in Japan is a joke.

  15. we are actually talking about Hallyu status right now so this means popularity OUTSIDE Korea as well as inside. None of the young actors or the dramas they starred in for comparison achieved the kind of popularity overseas that Lovely Runner or BWS is enjoying now. And this, I believe, is largely because Lovely Runner is going back to the pure love theme (with a time slip twist) that has always made Kdrama so endearing to overseas audiences.

    • Yes to that pure love theme! I also like that the storyline did not involve an annoying, conniving 2nd female lead who gets in between ML & FL. 2nd ML was a hoot! So glad the screen writer and director did not make him into the annoying kind that uses dirty tricks to win FL over. And kudos to the actor for playing the role well. It helps that he’s got the mischievous look to match the personality. No complaints about veteran actors/actresses. They were all very enjoyable to watch.

    • @Eva Viki confirmed that Lovely Runner was the most-watched 2024 drama on their platform and that was 2 weeks before the drama even ended. Both Kim Hye Yoon and Byun Woo Seok are being greeted by huge crowds of fans when they head to other countries (in KHY case it was Bali, there were even a crowd of fans waiting for her late at night when she arrived).

      They’re Hallyu stars now for sure, anyone claiming it’s just Korean teens and 20s girls behind their popularity is in denial.

  16. I’m just happy for this actor. He has improved comparing to his role in Record of Youth. He picked the right script. It’s evident he prepared and put in much effort for this role and made Sunjae character his very own. Great chemistry with his costar on and off screen. Laid back, easy going personality, and always a smile on his face, it’s no wonder fans are multiplying. The stars are very much aligned in his favor. He should bask in the glory, enjoy the moment, and make the most of every opportunity given to him.

  17. It must be so scary for him. This new success is more about how his character was the most green flag than about his acting. He was good in this role and for the first time made an impression but I get the feeling that it’s because the character and him are very similar.

  18. I am happy for his success and I enjoyed him in his past dramas and movie. I have not watched Lovely Runner though. Taking a break from watching dramas but just this is a bit too much comparing him to well established actors and the like. Why can’t he enjoy his own success and rise and not have to throw in other names in the mix. That seems to be the problem here. No need to do that. They’re trying too hard to prove his popularity. Let it speak for itself.

  19. The article conveniently omits Park Bogum’s eqaully astronomical rise to stardom back in 2016, which would have brought them to mention both being costars in 2020 Record of Youth, which was in the same timeslot and the first episode’s rating was higher than LR’s highest, as well as mentioning his little screen presence and mediocre acting in it. He lucked out with LR but he needs an equally charming character and a co-lead as charming and talented as Kim Hyeyoon for his next drama to cement his success.

    • park bogum’s omission is glaring, but i’m genuinely curious about why people seem so intent on discrediting byeon wooseok for his work in LR. yeah, the character itself is charming, and probably, anyone who is not a terrible actor would have done well in the role. but bws took this highly likeable role and turned it into a pop culture phenomenon. yes, he benefitted from having an exceptional co-star who elevated his performance, but he’s still the one who did all the heavy lifting in making ryu sunjae what he is today. this goes both ways anyway, as a weak sunjae would have no doubt made sol a less compelling heroine.

      and you know that people can improve right? what does his performance in Record of Youth being mediocre have to do with his honestly excellent performance in LR other than the fact that he’s grown immensely since then? it’s not the negative framing that you think it is.

      jury’s certainly still out on whether he’ll be able to replicate this success, but let’s not take away from something he has already achieved while we wait.

      • I don’t know how long he’s been in the industry but I read he’s already 33, which is relatively older than the top actors he’s been compared to when they broke out. If you look at all the A-listers today, most, if not all broke out in their early 20s. They had the star factor and did not need that one special role for people to say, yup this guy is in it for the long run. One example is when Kim Soo Hyun played the younger version of the male lead in Will It Snow for Christmas, people were already intrigued by him without even knowing his name. The CEO of his then agency said they knew he would become a big star one day. If BWS’s acting was lackluster or people didn’t notice him before, more are inclined to believe it was everything that aligned in LR for his breakout and not necessarily because he is THAT good.

      • @mimi my feelings exactly. He of course benefited hugely from having KHY as a costar but despite his age, he made an interesting and charming Sunjae at all ages (even if I think it did show sometimes, I treated it as an understandable part of having the same actor play both a teen and a 20something).
        I do remember how bleh he was in Record of Youth but surely it’s to his credit that he improved so much??? and did it by taking on smaller roles which speaks well of his work ethic as an actor. At least he’s not complacent and didn’t get to his current status from projects just falling in his lap like so many idols do.

  20. I honestly don’t get the comparison of him with Bae Yong Joon. I raced Winter Sonata because of BYJ’s charisma and undeniable chemistry with Choi Ji Woo. But I dropped LR after a few eps. Although FL’s acting was impressive in LR and the OTP had very strong chemistry, I don’t see the level of BYJ charisma in BWS, not visually nor acting wise. Sorry fans!

    On top of that, I believe Winter Sonata has appealed to a wider audience than Lovely Runner. I was already out of school for a long time when watching Winter Sonata the first time in 2014 or so. But I immediately fell in love with the story and attracted to BYJ on screen. Can’t speak of the same thing at all about LR and BWS though. Well, it may be just my personal preference but it may also be the voice for many Kdrama fans.

    I have no idea of Korean drama rating measures either. Is 6% A LOT? That doesn’t appear high to me though. Weren’t there many series on paid TV channels in the Kdrama history also easily getting this much of rating?

    Could all the buzz around LR be just media hype that could be easily manipulated, not real popularity?

  21. His acting is nothing gauge in loverly run.. It’s all Kim Hye yoon show for sure for me which showing abig range of emotion in this drama. I don’t know about his popularity but his char in LR is swoon worthy but lack depth so it’s okay to act the way he did because a better actor will be waste in this kind of roles.

    I think i’m hoping too much with the drama givrn the buzz. The drama has so much potential instead of looking for more substance and become meaningful, the writers went never ending roallercoaster road with so much fan service and fairy tale like story. I actually exhausted watching this in one go and if not for hye yoon great performance I wouldn’t go that far. She is majestic in this drama.,

  22. I have only watched BWS in 3 roles –
    Joseon Flower Crew, where he did an admirable job of portraying the character and added to the overall finish of the drama;
    Strong Girl Namsoon, where I thought he blew every other actor away and I refused to watch the rest after they killed him off;
    Lovely Runner, where, in my opinion, he nailed it.

    I have seen some of the press and he is definitely at k-pop idol status at the moment. He seems like a very genuine, sincere and kind person, and I have enjoyed his acting, so I wish him much continued success.

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