Idols have spent anywhere from months to years honing their skills in singing, dancing, and acting—so it’s no surprise that they would be great in many other entertainment fields, including theater. Their amazing stage presence not only light up concert venues; they dazzle on musical stages as well!
Here are 16 (and more!) idols who have found equal success as musical actors:
Kyuhyun (Super Junior)
Kyuhyun debuted in 2006 as the maknae and one of the main vocalists of 2nd generation legend Super Junior. He is one of the best active idol vocalists, so it’s no surprise that his voice would also captivate musical fans.
He made his musical theater debut in 2010 with The Three Musketeers. He was next cast as Frank Abagnale, Jr. in the Korean production of Catch Me If You Can. In 2013, he reprised his roles in re-runs of both musicals. Kyuhyun took on roles in Moon Embracing the Sun, Singin’ in the Rain, The Days, Robin Hood, Werther, and Mozart! from 2014 to 2016, before taking a break to fulfill his mandatory military service.
Upon completing his military duty, Kyuhyun resumed his musical career with The Man Who Laughs in 2020. He was cast in the main role as Gwynplaine, alternating with EXO’s Suho. In the same year, he reprised his role in Werther.
In 2021, Kyuhyun starred in the musical Phantom. He recently capped his performances as Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein, where he starred alongside VIXX’s Leo.
Watch Kyuhyun as he performs one of the songs from the musical in this live clip:
Ryeowook (Super Junior)
Just like his fellow SJ member, Ryeowook has been active both as an idol and as a musical actor. He made his musical theater debut in 2011’s Temptation of Wolves. The idol next took on the role of Troy Bolton in the Korean stage adaptation of High School Musical in 2013. Since then, Ryeowook has starred in several more productions—Goddess is Watching, Agatha, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time—before enlisting in the military in 2016.
Ryeowook jumped right back into his idol and musical actor career after being discharged from the military in 2018. He was cast in Flaming Sonata, Around Thirty, and Mary Shelley. His most recent musical is Fan Letter.
VIXX’s soft-spoken main vocalist, Leo, may look shy and reserved, but once the concert lights come on, he transforms into a powerhouse performer. The same happens whenever he’s on the musical stage.
Leo began his musical career in 2014 with the musical adaptation of the K-drama Full House. Since 2016, he has used his real name, Jung Taek Woon, when being credited in stage productions. Leo starred in five more musicals—Mata Hari, Monte Cristo, The Last Kiss, Elisabeth, and Marie Antoinette—all before his military enlistment in 2019.
In 2021, he took on the dual role of Henri Dupre and Frankenstein’s monster in the musical Frankenstein. The musical completed its run in early 2022.
VIXX’s “cute main vocal” Ken is one of the most active idol musical actors. He made his musical debut in the Korean adaptation of the musical Chess in 2015. Ken continued to show off his powerful vocals when he took on the lead roles in Cinderella, Boys Over Flowers The Musical, Hamlet, Titanic, Iron Mask, Jack the Ripper, Mefisto, Dracula, and Sherlock Holmes The Musical: The Lost Children.
His amazing talent and stage presence did not go unnoticed. In 2018, Ken won the Male Rookie of the Year award from the 12th Daegu International Musical Festival for his performance in the musical Hamlet.
Ken took a break from his idol and musical activities when he enlisted in the military in 2020. Upon his discharge, he was immediately cast as Arthur in Xcalibur. He recently wrapped up his performances in March 2022.
EXO’s leader is more than just an idol; he’s also a movie and television actor, as well as a musical actor. Suho made his theater debut in the 2015 hologram musical School OZ. He then took on the role of Crown Prince Rudolf in 2017’s The Last Kiss. In 2018, Suho was cast as Gwynplaine in The Man Who Laughs; he reprised his role in the 2020 run.
Suho completed his mandatory military service as a public service worker in February 2022. Will we see more of musical actor Suho soon? We sure hope so!
See Suho’s performance in the press call for The Man Who Laughs:
EXO’s oldest hyung, Xiumin, first got a taste of musical theater when he starred alongside Suho in School OZ. But he hit his stride in musicals when he starred in the army musicals Return: The Promise of That Day and Return in 2019 and 2020.
Post-military service, Xiumin was cast as Orpheus in the 2021 production of Hadestown.
But it seems that there really is no shortage of talent in EXO, as there are also other musical actors among the members! D.O was in the same army musical as Xiumin, Chen performed in the Korean adaptation of In the Heights, and Baekhyun starred in Singin’ in the Rain. Finally, Chanyeol led the cast in another army musical, Meissa’s Song!
Jo Kwon (2AM)
Singer, actor, and television host Jo Kwon is also a bona fide musical star. He made his theater debut as King Herod in the 2013 run of Jesus Christ Superstar. The following year, he took on a daring role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. He also starred in Chess, On A Starry Night, and Shinheung Military Academy.
Jo Kwon’s latest musical appearance was in 2020’s Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Watch his performance in the musical’s press call:
(f(x))’s Luna debuted as a musical actress in 2011 as Elle Woods in the Korean adaptation of Legally Blonde. She has since starred in several more Korean productions of Coyote Ugly, High School Musical, School OZ, In the Heights, Rebecca, The Last Kiss, Gone With the Wind, and Mamma Mia.
Luna also won a rookie award for her role in the musical Rebecca at the 12th Daegu International Musical Festival. Her most recent musical was the 2020-2021 run of The Days. She will make her Broadway debut in the new musical KPOP in late 2022.
Highlight’s main vocalist Yoseob also shines in musical theater, and has starred in eight productions so far. He debuted in 2011’s Gwanghamun Sonata. Following his first musical, he was casted in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Full House, Zorro, Robin Hood, Cinderella, and Those Days.
Yoseob’s latest musical is the 2021-2022 run of Something Rotten.
Seohyun (Girls’ Generation)
For Girls’ Generation’s maknae Seohyun, a career in musical theater was inevitable. She graduated with a major in theater acting from Dongguk University in 2014, and in that same year, was cast in Moon Embracing the Sun. She went on to star in the stage adaptations of Gone With the Wind and Mamma Mia.
Seohyun is also active as a film and television actress. Her most recent movies include the Netflix film Love and Leashes and Holy Night: Demon Hunters. She is also set to star in the upcoming KBS drama Jinx’s Lover.
Seohyun isn’t the only Girls’ Generation member to grace the musical theater stage. Her TTS sub-unit member, Tiffany, is also a musical actress! Tiffany starred in the 2011-2012 run of Fame and the 2021 run of Chicago. Former member Jessica also dabbled in musical theater, starring in the 2009-2010 and 2012-2013 runs of Legally Blonde.
JYJ’s Kim Junsu is another idol and musical powerhouse. Junsu is a much sought after musical actor, who is also nicknamed “the ticket power” because his musical performance dates sell out in minutes.
He starred in his first musical Mozart! in 2010, and has since reprised his roles in the production’s subsequent runs. He has also starred in multiple runs of Elisabeth, Dracula, Death Note, Dorian Gray, and Xcalibur.
His outstanding performances also earned him numerous awards in Korea.
Check out Kim Junsu’s performance in this brief clip from Xcalibur (2021 run):
B1A4’s main vocalist Sandeul is another accomplished idol musical actor. He made his theater debut in 2012 in Brother Were Brave. Since then, the idol has starred in eight more musicals: The Thousandth Man, All Shook Up, Cinderella, The Three Musketeers, Thirty Something, Iron Mask, Sherlock Holmes: The Missing Children, and 1976 Harlan County.
Infinite’s leader and main vocalist Sunggyu made his musical debut in Gwanghamun Sonata in 2012. His succeeding musicals include Vampire, In the Heights, All Shook Up, Amadeus, and Kinky Boots.
Sunggyu also starred in two army musicals: Shinheung Military School and Return: The Promise of the Day. He continues to be active as a musical actor until the present. His most recent production was the 2022 run of Xcalibur.
BTOB’s lead singer Changsub began his musical career in 2017 in the musical adaptation of Boys Over Flowers. Changsub also starred in Napoleon, Edgar Allan Poe, and Dogfight. 2018’s Iron Mask marked his final musical appearance before military enlistment.
In 2021, Changsub starred in three musicals: The Last Empress, Marie Antoinette, and Darwin Young’s Origin of Evil.
The first generation idol is one of the first to make their debut in musical theater. Bada made her debut in The Peppermint in 2003. Her next musical appearance was in 2007’s Tell Me on a Sunday. From 2007, she starred in eight more stage productions: Notre-Dame de Paris, 200 Pounds Beauty, Broadway on 42nd Street, Legally Blonde, Mozart!, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Carmen, and Gone with the Wind.
Ock Joo Hyun (Fin K.L.)
Ock Joo Hyun is another first generation idol who also makes waves in musical theater. She debuted in 2005 in the first Korean-language production of Aida in 2005, followed by the first Korean production of Chicago in 2007.
She is now more well-known as a musical actress, and remains very popular in the Korean musical scene. She has appeared in multiple productions of Aida, Chicago, The Count of Monte Cristo, Elisabeth, Rebecca, The Last Kiss, Mata Hari, and Wicked. Ock Joo Hyun also won multiple awards for her musical theater performances.
Bonus: There are also two more idols who have taken their first steps into musical theater! Former 2NE1 member Dara starred in the musical adaptation of the tvN drama Another Oh Hae Young in 2020. And, NCT member Doyoung took on the lead role in the 2021 run of Marie Antoinette.
There are more idols who are great musical talents, and it’s always great to see them explore new ways to hone their craft.
Which idol musical actor is your favorite?