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Kim Ji-won’s 8 Best K-Dramas, Ranked

April 20, 2024
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Kim Ji-won’s 8 Best K-Dramas, Ranked


Summary

  • Kim Ji-won’s performances in dramas like Queen of Tears and Fight For My Way showcase her range and sincerity.
  • Her portrayal of characters like Yoo Rachel in The Heirs and Choi Ae-ra in Fight For My Way are unforgettable.
  • Kim Ji-won’s nuanced acting in My Liberation Notes and Descendants of the Sun highlights her emotional depth and talent.



Though Queen of Tears has become one of the biggest K-dramas of the year so far, Kim Ji-won has a number of great performances under her belt that deserve just as much attention. Initially trained as a singer under the name JessicaK, Kim Ji-won changed career paths to debut as an actor in 2008. Since her acting debut in the sitcom High Kick 3, Kim Ji-won has continually proven that she excels in any genre as she continues to build on her already impressive filmography and deliver performances that only seem to get better.

From the deep and retrospective drama My Liberation Notes to the chaotic romantic comedy Fight For My Way, Kim Ji-won’s acting skills have range and sincerity. Kim Ji-won always shows real commitment to her roles, allowing her to deliver performances that continue to impress and become a part of several iconic K-drama couples with great chemistry. With this said, here are eight of Kim Ji-won’s best performances that are so good, a second watch is a must.


TV Show

IMDB Rating

Mr. Sunshine

8.7

Queen of Tears

8.3

Arthdal Chronicles

8.3

My Liberation Notes

8.2

Descendants of the Sun

8.2

Fight For My Way

8.1

Lovestruck in the City

7.6

The Heirs

7.5

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Kim Soo-hyun, Kim Ji-won and the cast and crew of Queen of Tears have provided some spectacular moments that make this K-Drama so memorable.



8 Mr. Sunshine (2018)

Kim Hui-jin

Kim Ji-won’s appearance in Mr. Sunshine alongside Descendants of the Sun co-star Jin Goo is impactful despite being limited. Kim Ji-won shows sincere and profound emotions as she portrays Hui-jin, the mother of Kim Tae-ri’s Go Ae-shin, who would later go on to become Mr. Sunshine’s female lead. Kim Ji-won’s scenes as Kim Hui-jin are fraught with tension as she quickly becomes caught up in a murder plot despite only having given birth the day before, and gives a great introduction to the world that this action-packed K-drama will soon delve into.


As Kim Ji-won’s cameo in Mr. Sunshine is only for a few minutes in the first episode of the series, it’s hard to compare her performance to the more significant characters she has portrayed throughout her career. Despite this, Kim Ji-won relishes the opportunity to layer her character with detail. Hui-jin’s love for her husband and daughter, yet resolution in the end that is quick to come is clear to see, and breathes to life Kim Hui-jin’s tragic end in a way that is exhilarating but devastating.

Mr. Sunshine
is available to watch on Netflix.

7 The Heirs (2013)

Yoo Rachel


Before Kim Ji-won dominated the screen in Queen of Tears’ as chaebol heiress Hong Hae-in, there was The Heirs’ Yoo Rachel, a high-school heiress with an attitude problem. Despite being in a cast full of strong personalities and big names such as Park Shin-Hye, Lee Min-ho and Kim Woo-bin, Kim Ji-won commands the screen, and it is clear to see how The Heirs became Kim Ji-won’s break-out success. Yoo Rachel may be an almost typical mean girl, but Kim Ji-won’s acting never edges into melodramatics. Instead, her performance is detailed and breathes sincerity into this Blair Waldorf-inspired character.

Though Kim Ji-won’s performance in The Heirs is well worth the success she gained from it, her deeper explorations into comedy and drama deserve an even bigger spotlight. However, this does not make Kim Ji-won’s performance in The Heirs any less iconic. Just from the way Yoo Rachel closes her pink phone case, which of course matches her lipstick, Kim Ji-won ensures that Yoo Rachel is always at the center of attention and is a character that is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry.


The Heirs
is available to stream on Netflix.

6 Arthdal Chronicles (2019)

Tan-ya

Arthdal Chronicles is Kim Ji-won’s first venture into fantasy K-dramas, with Arthdal Chronicles itself being regarded as the first Korean ancient fantasy drama. Though Arthdal Chronicles’ received a mixed critical reception with many likening it to Game of Thrones, Kim Ji-won flourishes as Tan-ya, a girl who is destined to destroy her country. As Tan-ya’s situation goes from bad to worse, Kim Ji-won’s portrayal of Tan-ya’s drastic character development is gripping and truly helps you buy into this universe, even despite the terrible CGI.


Kim Ji-won’s performance may have helped to set the tone for this drama and really drive forward the emotional heart of Arthdal Chronicles’ explorations into human nature, but she would ultimately not return for the show’s second series. Actress Shin Se-kyung would instead follow in Kim Ji-won’s footsteps as an older version of Tan-ya. Though it is a shame that Kim Ji-won was unable to continue to appear in Arthdal Chronicles as Tan-ya, the foundation that she gave to Tan-ya’s performance really helped to drive the show forward positively.

The first season of
Arthdal Chronicles
is available on Netflix, with the second season being available on Disney+


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5 Lovestruck in the City (2020-2021)

Lee Eun-oh/Yoon Seon-ah

Lovestruck in the City sees Kim Ji-won tackle a more complex character and layer together different elements that result in an incredible overall performance that can only be truly understood on a second watch. Lovestruck in the City diverges away from the traditional K-drama format, presenting a profound exploration into modern love and identity. Kim Ji-won’s Lee Eun-oh, who is also known as Yoon Seon-ah, has arguably one of the best storylines and characterizations in the series, which is largely thanks to Kim Ji-won’s portrayal.


Lee Eun-oh is a deeply insecure character, and through creating Yoon Seon-ah, is able to shed her old personality and live in a way she never thought she could. Kim Ji-won distinguishes between Lee Eun-oh and Yoon Seon-ah’s vastly different personalities effortlessly. However, as the edges between the lines begin to blur more and more, Kim Ji-won’s prowess as an actress truly shines. A second watch reveals evidence of the real Eun-oh’s personality in Seon-ah’s actions, and vice versa, making revisiting Kim Ji-won’s acting in Lovestruck in the City all the more enjoyable.

4 My Liberation Notes (2022)

Yeom Mi-jung


Yeom Mi-jung is Kim Ji-won’s most introspective character to date. Though Kim Ji-won often cites Mi-jung as the character who is closest to her own personality, it does not make her performance in My Liberation Notes any less impressive. My Liberation Notes is a much slower-moving drama than most, yet despite this, Kim Ji-won’s appearances always seem to fly by as she portrays Yeom Mi-jung’s quiet unhappiness with life and the unlikely relationship she forms with Mr Gu (Son Suk-ku).

Yeom Mi-jung’s words speak volumes more than her actions, as she prefers to keep to herself rather than express herself outwardly. Kim Ji-won conveys Yeom Mi-jung’s thoughts with ease, delivering her lines with delicate passion. However, it is when Yeom Mi-jung doesn’t speak that Kim Ji-won really flexes her acting talents. Kim Ji-won ensures that Mi-jung’s introspection is always well understood, even with a lack of dialogue, and helps to inform a story that is captivating and authentic.


My Liberation Notes
is available to stream on Netflix.

3 Descendants of the Sun (2016)

First Lieutenant Yoon Myeong-ju

It’s hard to think of K-dramas without thinking of Descendants of the Sun, and Kim Ji-won’s portrayal of the ambitious yet lovelorn First Lieutenant Yoon Myeong-ju definitely plays a significant part in that. The warmth that Kim Ji-won’s Yoon Myeong-ju brings to Descendants of the Sun enabled Kim Ji-won to win multiple awards for her role, including Excellent Actor in a Miniseries at the KBS Drama Awards in 2016. Thanks to Kim Ji-won’s commitment to each scene, Yoon Myeong-ju’s tenacious yet sincere determination is a joy to watch on screen.


However, it is when portraying Yoon Myeong-ju’s on-screen relationship with Seo Dae-young (Jin Goo) in Descendants of the Sun where Kim Ji-won is at her best, with many regarding them as one of the best second-lead K-drama couples in K-drama history. Myeong-ju and Dae-young’s relationship is fraught with complications, yet Kim Ji-won truly excels when bringing to life Yoon Myeong-ju’s emotional responses to her stern-faced partner. This has resulted in Yoon Myeong-ju and Seo Dae-young’s most heightened scenes often being created by idols and actors alike, showing just how impactful Kim Ji-won’s acting can be.

Descendants of the Sun
is available to stream on Netflix.


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2 Fight For My Way (2017)

Choi Ae-ra

Kim Ji-won’s outstanding performance as Choi Ae-ra in best friends-to-lovers K-dramaFight For My Way leaves many impatiently awaiting her return to the romantic comedy genre. As Choi Ae-ra, Kim Ji-won makes bolder choices than she ever has done before in her career, and her complete immersion into her character results in a performance that is not only effortless, but also hilarious. Kim Ji-won’s prowess in comedy is evident in every scene, and leaves the audience always wanting more.


Though Kim Ji-won carries each scene with ease, her energy alongside co-star Park Seo-joon is electric. The way Kim Ji-won and Park Seo-joon bounce off each other’s performance is incredible to watch, leaving the audience completely sold on the idea that Choi Ae-ra and Ko Dong-man (Park Seo-joon) have been chaotic best friends for decades and always anticipating their next moments together. It’s a true shame that Kim Ji-won has not dipped her toes more into the realm of comedy, but Choi Ae-ra will always remain a shining jewel in her work.

Fight For My Way
is available to stream on Netflix.


1 Queen of Tears (2024)

Hong Hae-in

Despite an incredible career and a range of powerful and captivating performances under her belt, Kim Ji-won’s performance as Queen of Tears’ Hong Hae-in is the crowning achievement in her career so far. Queen of Tears sees Kim Ji-won flex her dramatic and comedic abilities in more ways than one, making the audience laugh and cry in the same episode as the chaebol heiress Hong Hae-in. However, it is in the use of subtle micro-expressions that Kim Jiwon’s acting reigns supreme.


In the hands of another actor, Hae-in could have remained cold and callous, yet, thanks to Kim Ji-won, her facial expressions are so easy to read that the audience can almost see exactly what Hae-in is thinking at all times. Kim Ji-won has also proved countless times in her career that she is very capable of delivering emotionally intimate scenes, yet in Queen of Tears she exceeds her own reputation as Hong Hae-in. Every scene Kim Ji-won is in is a treat for the audience, leaving no doubt that Hong Hae-in is her best performance to date.

Queen of Tears
is available to stream on Netflix.



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