This year, I decided to single out some wonderful ensemble performances in Korean drama from 2023. Sometimes it takes an entire cast to come together to help make a show so good, or even elevate a show beyond what it would otherwise end up being.
Cast of Moving
Disney+’s Moving is absolutely one of the best K-dramas of the year. And a big part of that is its amazing ensemble and truly all-star cast. Seasoned veterans like Ryu Seung Ryong, Han Hyo Joo, Zo In Sung, Kim Sung Kyun, Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Hee Won lead an incredible ensemble cast. That includes young talented actors like Lee Jung Ha, Go Youn Jung and Kim Ho Doon who immediately endear you to their characters. And that goes a long way to quickly establish a connection with them and the world that is being introduced. The vibrant world that the series builds is full of interesting and endearing supporting characters as well. Some who you would never expect to gravitate toward by the end of the series. And it’s all thanks to the perfect pairing of writing and performances from this cast.
Cast of Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938
I singled out Lee Dong Wook and Kim Bum for their excellent performances as the angsty brothers of the series. But they also lead a strong ensemble that features a wide array of fun and interesting characters. Season one veterans Hwang Hee, Kim Yong Ji, Kim Soo Jin, Kim Jung Nan and Ahn Kil Kang return and easily pick up where they left off with their playful banter and chemistry. But Kim So Yeon and Ryoo Kung Soo are a big part of this season’s central plot. And that is the childhood friendship between Lee Yeon, Hong Joo and Mu Young.
The nostalgia of childhood friendship and bonds is told with such care and attention that it is not hard to connect with the story. And the performances and chemistry of Lee Dong Wook, Kim So Yeon and Ryu Kyung Soo (as well as the young actors portraying the younger versions of the characters) really go a long way to make their intricate and colorful story truly come alive. It is a wild ride throughout the twelve episodes for them. But it all leads to some wonderfully satisfying and sincere moments.
Cast of Taxi Driver 2
With a procedural series like Taxi Driver, the cases of the week sometimes live and die with the performances of the guest cast who are part of those stories. Thankfully, Taxi Driver has had some great guest actors who help to bring those weekly stories to life. But it our Rainbow Taxi friends played by Lee Je Hoon, Kim Wui Sang, Pyo Ye Jin, Jang Hyuk Jin and Bae Yoo Ram who are always the highlights. Their chemistry is a big part of what makes the series so fun and enjoyable to watch. And they delivered once again with season 2. Meanwhile, Shin Jae Ha was able to effortlessly fit in with the core group and then flip the switch halfway through when all things were revealed. Just an excellent cast that helped to elevate an already solid series.
Cast of Oasis
KBS’ Oasis got off to a strong start, but by the end I felt like they left a lot of story potential on the table. Nonetheless, the strong cast led by Jang Dong Yoon, Seol In Ah and Choo Yeong Woo helped to elevate the flawed, but still engaging series. The three talented young actors along with a cast full of drama veterans including Kim Myung Soo as the emotionally tortured father of Jang Dong Yoon’s Doo Hak and the always charismatic Jin Yi Han as the dangerous right-hand man Oh Man Ok.
Their performances throughout the series are what make its final episode work. One particularly stunning sequence in the finale and the incredible performances that were part of it are worth the price of admission to Oasis. They make your investment in the 16 episodes worth it. Just truly amazing performances in that final sequence and final episode that really carry the series to what is a reasonably satisfying and breathless conclusion.
Cast of Strong Girl Nam Soon
Strong Girl Nam Soon may not have gotten everything right. But one thing they did get right was its cast. When you say “ensemble,” look no further than the cast of this series. Breakout actress Lee Yoo Mi is joined by K-drama icons Kim Jung Eun and Kim Hae Sook as well as Ong Seong Wu, Lee Seung Joon, Han Sang Jo and Kim Ki Doo. Guest actors such as Seo Yi Soo and Ahn Tae Rin who play younger Nam Soon as well as Mongolian actors Tserenbold Tsegmid and Batsumiya Batdorj add some wonderful heart to the sometimes wild and crazy shenanigans. And a large supporting cast help to fill out the colorful world of this unique family. But it is Byeon Woo Seok’s villainous turn that is a standout from this full cast. And together, the cast helps to do the heavy lifting, pun intended, to make up for the series’ shortcomings and ultimately make it a fun ride.