An 18-year-long career — which began when she was just 10 — allowed actress Nam Ji Hyun to step into the shoes of a reporter, lawyer, webtoon artist, and even a queen (amongst others). Needless to say, her filmography is quite exciting and extensive. If you’ve yet to be acquainted with her, here’s a look at a few popular titles she’s starred in.
Psychology major, nature enthusiast, and versatile actress Nam Ji Hyun has been around in the Korean entertainment industry since 2005. Titles like East of Eden (2008), Will It Snow for Christmas? (2009), and Angel Eyes (2014) defined her early years and allowed her to carve a space for herself in the world of acting. Since then, from ambitious lawyer to morally upright reporter — she’s been there, played that. Currently, she’s gearing up for the fantasy drama Hi Cookie, which tells the tale of a school that’s plagued by dangerous handmade baked delights that make people’s dreams come true. In it, she’s Choi Soo-young, a young woman who begins working at a factory to provide for her younger sister.
Reflecting on her choice of career, she told Financial Express, “It took me a long time to become the actor that I am today. I hope that when I look back on my life, I see that I have walked a long path.” In another interview with Forbes, she noted that she couldn’t think of any alternative options for herself, “I think I wouldn’t have gone far from the field of acting,” she said. “If I had not been an actor, I may have been a producer. I think I would enjoy producing dramas and movies because I love to watch and talk about them.” Needless to say, her passion for the industry she’s in is palpable. Whether you’re a seasoned fan hoping to get to know her better or a K-drama enthusiast on the lookout for their next watch, here are a few Nam Ji Hyun titles to consider.
Best Nam Ji-hyun dramas to add to your weekend watchlist
Directed by: Kim Geun-hong, Park Hong-kyu
Cast: Lee Yo-won, Go Hyun-jung, Park Ye-jin, Uhm Tae-woong, Kim Nam-gil, Nam Ji Hyun
Release date: 25 May 2009
Synopsis: In the kingdom of Silia, Deokman (played by Nam Ji Hyun) is born a twin and sent away from the palace to evade a dark prophecy. At the heart of this is Mi-shil (played by Go Hyun-jung) a royal concubine who’d stop at nothing to become the queen. Years later, Deokman (older, played by Lee Yo-won) returns to the palace and joins forces with her sister to claim what’s rightfully hers.
About the show: This drama marks one of Nam Ji Hyun’s most popular works as a child artist and truly made her a recognisable name across South Korea. She also bagged the Best Young Actress title at the 2009 MBC Drama Awards for her performance.
Shopping King Louie
Directed by: Lee Sang-yeob
Cast: Seo In-guk, Nam Ji-hyun, Yoon Sang-hyun, Im Se-mi
Release date: 21 September, 2016
Synopsis: A rich heir, big spender, and connoisseur of all things luxurious — Louis loses his memory. He meets the cherry Bok-shil (played by Nam Ji-Hyun) who hails from the countryside and is aghast at his spending habits. The latter teaches the former restraint, budgeting, and the magic of small joys. In the process, the two fall in love.
About the show: This drama marked Nam Ji Hyun’s first lead role and her stellar performance earned her the Best New Actress title at the 35th MBC Drama Awards. Not to mention, she found herself in national headlines. Reflecting on the entire experience she told Chosun “I was really nervous at first. I felt a huge responsibility as a lead actress. But I told myself that people are attracted to a cheerful personality and just tried to enjoy it and show the things that I can do well.” She further added, “After doing the series, I have more confidence in myself.”
Suspicious Partner/Love In Trouble
Directed by: Park Sun-ho
Cast: Ji Chang-wook, Nam Ji-hyun, Choi Tae-joon, Kwon Nara
Release date: 10 May, 2017
Synopsis: Prosecutor Noh Ji Wook (played by Ji Chang Wook) and his trainee Eun Bong-hee (played by Nam Ji-hyun) work together to solve a dangerous case. This, to clear the latter’s name, who’s been falsely charged as the murderer. Along the way, they uncover seedy secrets, cope with near-death experiences, and discover love.
About the show: The drama slowly climbed up the rankings to become a Hallyu stalwart. It earned Nam Ji Hyun an Excellence Award, Actress in a Wednesday–Thursday Drama at the 25th SBS Drama Awards as well. Comparing it to her previous projects, she told Korea Times, “In my previous work Shopping King Louie, I portrayed puppy love, and then I moved on to this grownup real romance through Suspicious Partner. I revealed my character as agonizing from love, becoming happy because of it and growing up. I’m relieved that viewers take me as a grown-up actress without feeling some alienation.”
100 Days My Prince
Directed by: Lee Jong-jae, Nam Sung-woo
Cast: Doh Kyung-soo, Nam Ji-hyun, Jo Sung-ha, Jo Han-chul, Kim Seon-ho, Han So-hee, Kim Jae-young
Release date: 10 September 2018
Synopsis: After an accident leads to memory loss, crown prince Lee Yool (played by Kyung-soo Do) leads an ordinary life. He crosses paths with the independent and confident Hong Shim (played by Nam Ji-hyun) who also happens to be the oldest bachelorette in the village. The two fall in love, with the prince working to recover his memory.
About the show: The show was a commercial success, propelling both Do Kyungsoo and Nam Ji Hyun to the headlines. The two also bagged the Best Couple Award at the 2019 Soompi Awards. Speaking to SBS about their chemistry, the actress said, “When D.O. and I were filming our scenes, we spent a long time talking together. I believe that helped us to look more natural on camera.” Elaborating on her character, she noted, “My character Hong Shim is very strong, honest, and brave. The relationship between Hong Shim and Won Deuk becomes different as Won Deuk starts becoming Lee Yul again. You will be able to notice subtle changes in their feelings towards each other as well.”
365: Repeat the Year
Directed by: Kim Kyung-hee
Cast: Lee Joon-hyuk, Nam Ji-hyun, Kim Ji-soo, Yang Dong-geun
Release date: 23 March, 2020
Synopsis: Ten people are given the opportunity to go back in time. This includes veteran detective Ji Hyung-joo (played by Lee Joon-hyuk) who goes back to the year before his partner was killed, webtoon artist Shin Ga-hyun (played by Nam Ji-hyun) who goes back to a time before an accident put her in a wheelchair, and psychiatrist Lee Shin (played by Kim Ji-soo) who reverses her life enough to save her daughter. However, mysterious things begin occurring.
About the show: The drama was well-received by both critics and fans. For her performance, Nam Ji-Hyun was given the Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Monday-Tuesday Miniseries at the 2020 MBC Drama Awards. In a press conference, as reported by Korea Herald, she echoed the thoughts of her co-star Lee Joon-hyuk who noted that the pace of the script made the show enjoyable. “I also thought the story unfolded very fast, which surprised me,” she said.
Directed by: Kim Hee-won
Cast: Kim Go-eun, Nam Ji-hyun, Park Ji-hu
Release date: 3 September, 2022
Synopsis: Three sisters — Oh In-joo (played by Kim Go-eun), Oh In-kyung (played by Nam Ji-hyun), and Oh In-hye (played by Park Ji-hu) — grow up in poverty. Each has her own ambitions. In-joo wishes for an ordinary life, Oh In-kyung is a motivated reporter with a strong moral compass, and Park Ji-hu is a talented student of art who often feels suffocated by her siblings. Their lives take a turn when they all get caught up in a major incident that puts them face-to-face against one of the richest families in South Korea.
About the show: The show was a commercial success, earning acclaim from critics. Speaking to Forbes about the drama, Nam Ji Hyun stated, “Although our plot is extremely dramatic, the characters that lead us through the plot are extremely realistic, as if they are actual people.” In another interview with Financial Express, she delved into her character. “In-kyung makes impulsive choices when faced with injustice, and I was not afraid to express that.”
“Although acting as In-kyung was difficult, it was an amazing experience for me. It’s not easy to meet a character who is rational and passionate at the same time,” she added before pointing to the similarities the two shared, “We both value our family over anything else. We could abandon our values for the sake of our family. Although In-kyung is much more persistent in protecting her values, I am rather persistent as well.”
Which of these Nam Ji Hyun shows are you adding to your watchlist?
All images: Courtesy Netflix