The only time we really see a Korean celebrity speaking English is during a random scene in a K-drama where the actor has to engage in conversation with someone who speaks English. Sometimes the pronunciation is pretty flawless, and sometimes it’s not so perfect. Regardless of this, we’re pretty forgiving because English isn’t their first language. I mean, it’s not easy being bilingual! That’s why it’s always a pleasant surprise when you come across a random clip or video online with a Korean celebrity speaking English. It’s even more impressive when said celebrity is pretty darn fluent! Here are 13 Korean actors and actresses who you might not have known are good at English.
I bet you’ll be surprised at how good Choi Woo Shik‘s English is. Choi Woo Shik and his family moved to Vancouver, Canada when he was in grade 6. He went to school in Canada until he was 21 years old, and then moved to Korea to pursue his acting career. Choi Woo Shik has admitted that he was more comfortable speaking English in high school, but is now more comfortable speaking in Korean. Check out this interview of him on “Star English”!
Watch Choi Woo Shik’s 2017 drama “The Package” here:
Park Min Young has never really showcased her English skills in her K-dramas, which is probably why many of us didn’t know she could speak English! Park Min Young was an exchange student in high school and was able to learn English while she was a student overseas. She even has an English name, Rachel (for those of you who follow her on Instagram, you probably already knew this)!
Here’s a small glimpse into her English skills:
Catch her in the drama “Her Private Life“:
3. Han Ye Seul
If you’re like me, you probably had no idea that English is actually Han Ye Seul‘s first language. Her Korean is so flawless that you would have never guessed it! Han Ye Seul, whose English name is Leslie, was born and raised in Los Angeles. She actually graduated from college in the States and then moved to Korea where she pursued her modelling career!
Here’s a clip of her doing an interview for Reebok:
Catch Han Ye Seul in “Big Issue“:
This may be an obvious one as Lee Byung Hun has been in several Hollywood films, showcasing his English skills. The cool thing about this particular actor is that he never actually lived in the States, but instead studied it on his own! He’s also pretty fluent in French as he graduated from university with a degree in it. So impressive!
Check out this interview of him when he starred in “G.I Joe Retaliation”:
Watch Lee Byung Hun in the classic K-drama “Iris“:
Shin Se Kyung is another actress who has never lived in the States, but has proven to display some seriously good English skills! She’s never really showcased her English until recently when she was on the show “Pocha Beyond Borders.” Who knew! Check out this clip:
Catch Shin Se Kyung in “Black Knight“:
6. Lee Seo Jin
Lee Seo Jin has been able to utilize his English speaking skills several times in various variety shows throughout the years. He’s helped the grandpas find their way around various tourist spots on “Grandpas Over Flowers,” and he’s also used it to teach English to various people when he was on the show “Talents for Sale.” Lee Seo Jin was able to learn English when he went to school in the U.S. He even graduated from New York University with a degree in business!
You can hear Lee Seo Jin speaking English in the drama, “Wonderful Days.” Here’s a clip”
Don’t miss Lee Seo Jin in the variety show “Youn’s Kitchen 2“:
7. Cha In Pyo
Cha In Pyo followed his parents to the U.S. and went to school there until he graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He currently lives in L.A. with his wife, Shin Ae Ra, and their children. Cha In Pyo’s English skills have come in handy throughout several roles in his acting career, but if you want to hear him speak it pretty consistently, check out this YouTube interview:
Check out his acting skills in “Behind the White Tower Remastered,” a remake of the 2007 hit series:
8. Kang Sora
Kang Sora impressed viewers with her amazing English when she appeared on the series “Incomplete Life.” When asked how she learned the language, she explained that she grew up watching a lot of Disney animations and has always studied English as a hobby.
Here she is interviewing the makers of the Disney movie “Brave”:
Watch Kang Sora in “My Lawyer, Mr. Joe“:
9. Bae Doona
Bae Doona never actively tried to learn English, but it came rather naturally. This actress is not only a star in South Korea, but she’s made a big splash in Hollywood with her performances in “Cloud Atlas,” “Jupiter Ascending,” and the series “Sense8.” With all the experience she’s had in Hollywood, Bae Doona was able to acquire English as her second language and became pretty darn good at it!
Here’s a clip of her interview for the movie “Cloud Atlas”:
See Bae Doona in the K-drama “Matrimonial Chaos” here:
10. Kim Ji Suk
Kim Ji Suk often gives off goofy and comedic vibes. Although he’s often portrayed this way, he’s actually quite intelligent. Kim Ji Suk went to school in England for middle school and high school, which is where he learned English. He even received a degree in teaching for English and German! Here’s Kim Ji Suk briefly showing his English in the K-drama “Personal Taste”:
Don’t miss Kim Ji Suk in “20th Century Boy and Girl“:
11. Ahn Hyo Seop
Many of us were surprised when we first heard Ahn Hyo Seop display his English abilities when he was featured on “Flower Boy Bromance” with Jackson of GOT7. It was even more surprising to find out that he’s actually Canadian! Ahn Hyo Seop was able to pick up English when his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada when he was quite young. He ended up moving back to Korea after some time in order to pursue his dreams of becoming a celebrity. And aren’t we glad he did!
Here’s a clip of him speaking English in his most recent drama, “Abyss”:
Watch him in the drama “30 But 17” here:
12. Gong Yoo
Gong Yoo has never actually gone overseas to learn English, but people have been impressed with his pronunciation on several occasions. Remember his excellent American pronunciation of “play store” on “Goblin“? Gong Yoo has claimed to study English on his own time and it has obvious paid off!
Check out his Louis Vuitton commercial:
Catch Gong Yoo in “Goblin“:
13. Jung Ryeo Won
Jung Ryeo Won was born in Korea in 1981, but moved to Australia when she was about 11 years old. She continued to go to school in Australia, which is where she garnered her English skills. She even graduated from Griffith University with a business degree. Talk about having both beauty and brains! Here’s a clip of a little glimpse into her speaking English on the show “Yoana House.”
Watch Jung Ryeo Won in “Wok of Love“:
Hey Soompiers, are there any other Korean actors or actresses you know of who are fluent in English? Let me know in the comments below!
binahearts is a Soompi writer whose ultimate biases are Song Joong Ki and BIGBANG. She is also the author of “K-POP A To Z: The Definitive K-Pop Encyclopedia.” Make sure you follow binahearts on Instagram as she journeys through her latest Korean crazes!
Currently watching: “One Spring Night,” “Hotel Del Luna,” and “Search: WWW”
All-time favorite dramas: “Secret Garden,” “Goblin,” “Because This Is My First Life,” “Star In My Heart”
Looking forward to: Won Bin‘s return to the small screen
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