South Korea never expected to bring phenomenal pop-culture hits and successful dramas to dominate the global stage the way it has now. Little by little, it made its way to top charts and international stardom.

People started to love Korea and its culture, from its dramas to its songs. Actors and singers alike are loved and adored for their beauty and talent. Because of the widespread popularity of the K-wave, idols have also been venturing into the film industry, showcasing their acting skills. The best example for this is IU, who played the lead role in Scarlet Heart: Goryeo, and Miss A’s Suzy, the main cast in Uncontrollably Fond.

Talented actresses who are new in the scene are also taking the stage like Lee Sung-kyung, who starred in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo, and Kim Go Eun, who played the Goblin bride Ji Eun-tak in the Guardian: The Lonely and the Great God.

Now that the Korean Wave is already flourishing worldwide, let’s have a run-down of the most loved and sought-after Korean actresses of all time — from the very initiators of the Hallyu Wave until today:

1. Choi Ji-woo

Choi Ji-woo (최지우) is a 41-year old South Korean actress known for her effective portrayals on TV of tragic heroines with a pure and innocent image. She is best known for her roles in the melodramas Winter Sonata (2002) and Stairway To Heaven (2003), both credited as one of the initiators of Korean Wave abroad.

Recently, she played the role of a disgraced-manager-turned-attorney in MBC’s series Woman With A Suitcase and as a Goddess in the web-drama series 7 First Kisses. She is currently a cast member of tvN’s Candy in my Ears – Season 2.