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7 Child Actresses Who Are Now K-Drama Leading Ladies

They practically grew up in front of the camera.
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/you_r_love, wow_kimsohyun

If you’ve been a longtime K-drama fan, then you’ve most likely witnessed how the careers of some of today’s leading ladies have unfolded through the years. From being promising child actresses to becoming lead stars in their own right, their journey has been nothing short of impressive. Here in the Philippines, we have famous actresses like Kathryn Bernardo and Judy Ann Santos who've been in the show business since they were kids; in Korea, they have Kim Yoo Jung, Park Shin Hye, and more K-drama leading ladies who also practically grew up in front of the camera. Check them out below!

1. Kim Sae Ron

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Kim Sae Ron was only nine years old when she appeared in her first movie, A Brand New Life, which earned international acclaim and was even showcased at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. The following year, she co-starred with Won Bin in The Man from Nowhere, which became 2010’s highest-grossing film in South Korea. Her first adult role as a leading lady was for Secret Healer (2016), in which she played a cursed Joseon-era princess.

2. Kim Yoo Jung

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Kim Yoo Jung’s first acting project was for a TV commercial back when she was only five years old. This adorable little girl then went on to appear in dramas such as The Great Queen Seon Deok and The Moon Embracing the Sun as the childhood counterpart of the female lead. Now all grown up, she has since transitioned to play leading lady roles herself, particularly in Clean with Passion for Now (2018) and in Backstreet Rookie where she currently stars alongside Ji Chang Wook.

3. Park Shin Hye

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Speaking of actresses who once played the role of the leading lady’s younger version, remember when Park Shin Hye played the young Choi Ji Woo in Stairway to Heaven? The then-13-year-old nailed it on the head and has since become a sought-after leading lady herself, starring in her own hit K-dramas such as The Heirs (2013), Pinocchio (2014), Doctors (2016), and Memories of the Alhambra (2019).

4. Kim Hyun Soo

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If you’re a fan of My Love from the Star, then for sure you remember the little girl who played the young Jun Ji Hyun. Kim Hyun Soo, who started as a child model, made her acting debut in the 2011 film The Crucible when she was 11 years old. In the 2016 youth mystery drama Solomon’s Perjury, the actress finally received her first lead role, portraying the class president who acted as the prosecutor in the school’s trial.

5. Nam Ji Hyun

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Little Nam Ji Hyun first appeared in the 2004 drama Say You Love Me, followed by other notable performances as a child actress in East of Eden, The Great Queen Seon Deok, and Giant. Often praised for her acting chops, Nam Ji Hyun is now a certified leading lady who’s an industry favorite in romantic comedies, such as Shopping King Louis (2016), Suspicious Partner (2017), and 100 Days My Prince (2018).

6. Kim So Hyun

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It’s impossible to create this list without the mention of Kim So Hyun, who started acting when she was only seven years old for a drama special titled Ten Minute Minor. Her most memorable role as a child actress was for Moon Embracing the Sun, which even landed her a Best Young Actress award. Now a full-fledged leading lady, her recent projects include starring in The Tale of Nokdu and Love Alarm.

7. Lee Se Young

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Lee Se Young began her career as a child actress in the 1997 drama The Brothers’ River, and is best known for the 2004 films When I Turned Nine and Lovely Rivals. Now 27 years old, the actress continues to add feathers to her cap, headlining dramas such as The Crowned Clown (2019), Doctor John (2019), and Memorist (2020).

This story originally appeared on Preview.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.

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If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.

And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.

Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.

Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”

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