10 Hallyu Stars

The Korea Times, the nation's first English daily, turns 57 on Nov. 1. The TOP 10 Series, which will feature the biggest news stories, scandals, events, figures, surprises and memorable moments in the coming weeks, in celebration of the anniversary. The series will allow our readers to revisit these moments of the past. Current and former staff members of the oldest English daily selected the Top 10s through internal meetings, online surveys and advice from outside experts. If you have differing opinions, let us know by email (editor@koreatimes.co.kr).

1. Bae Yong-joon

Actor Bae Yong-joon, 35, affectionately called "Yonsama" by his fans, topped the poll for hallyu star of the year. The actor rose to hallyu stardom in 2002 after the drama "Winter Sonata" drew devoted fans in Asia, and continues on today. Bae currently stars in the blockbuster drama, "Taewangsasingi" ("The Four Guardian Gods of the King", "The Legend"), which is recording high ratings in Korea and will be broadcast in some 90 countries around the world.

2. Rain

Singer Rain, 25, boasts his strong fan base in Asia as he places second in the poll. The heartthrob singer-turned-actor whose real name is Jung Ji-hoon, is also noted for acting in the drama "Full House", which was highly popular in Korea and around Asia. The hallyu star previously ventured out on a world concert tour and is now set to make his debut in Hollywood with the movie "Speed Racer".

3. Song Seung-heon

Born in 1976, actor Song Seung-heon started his career as a model. Song is noted for his role in Korean dramas like "Autumn in my Heart" (2000) and "Summer Scent". Discharged from military service last November, Song plans to hold a large-scale project in Japan to mark the 10th anniversary of his debut. Song will hold a fan meeting at the Saitama Super Arena on Feb. 16 next year and will release a photo DVD on Jan. 25.

4. kwon Sang-woo

Actor kwon Sang-woo, born in Daejeon, South Korea in 1976, became popular through his movie, "My Tutor Friend" (2003) and the television drama "Stairway to Heaven", (2003-2004). In the latter, he co-starred with another hallyu actress Choi Ji-woo. Before becoming an actor, he worked as a model. Kwon is also renowned for his muscular body shape.

5. Yoon Eun-hye

Yoon Eun-hye is one of the hottest young stars in Korean entertainment. A former member of girl group Baby V.O.X., Yun shot to stardom in her debut role as an ordinary girl-turned-royal-princess in the "Princess Hours" in 2006.

The 23-year old actress followed it up with "The Man of the Vineyard", and most recently, "Coffee Prince". She is reportedly one of the highest paid actresses in television, commanding 20 million won per episode.

6. Choi Ji-woo

Choi Ji-woo won fans throughout Asia for her heartbreaking roles in popular dramas such as "Winter Sonata", "Stairway to Heaven" and "Beautiful Days". Female fans both adore and envy Choi because of her roles alongside heartthrobs kwon Sang-woo, Bae Yong-joon and Lee Byung-hun.

Japanese fans even call her Princess Ji-woo. The 32-year old actress might have faltered with her recent drama "Air City", but expect her to bounce back with another romantic drama in the future.

7. Boa

Pop superstar Boa continues to reign in Korea and Japan, nearly seven years after her debut. It is hard to believe Boa, who has released five Korean albums, five Japanese albums and 23 Japanese singles, will only turn 21 this year.

There are concerns that Boa's popularity may be waning, after her last Japanese album failed to equal the success of her previous albums. Boa is reportedly preparing for her 6th Korean album.

8. Song Hye-kyo

Song, the sweet-faced actress of the international hit "Autumn in my Heart", cast off her girlish image when she played Lee Byung-hun's love interest in the blockbuster drama "All In". They made headlines when they publicly announced they were a real couple. Recently, she shined in the film "Hwang Jin Yi" and graced the cover of Korea's Vogue magazine ? a first for a Korean actress. Her hallyu power is reflected in the customized "Song Hye-kyo bag" by luxurious French brand Celine.

9. Hyun Bin

Women fell in love with Hyun Bin through his role as a modern-day prince charming in the phenomenally popular "My Name is Kim Sam-soon", which is now airing in even Israel. The TV series won him various awards at the 2004 and 2005 MBC drama awards.

The 25-year-old is loved for his down-to-earth charm and theboy-next-door appeal. He has recently starred in the movie "A Millionaire's First Love".

10. Lee Young-ae

Lee awed audiences near and far as a bright and cheerful court lady in "Jewel in the Palace" ("Dae Jang Geum"). Time only seems to do justice for the 36-year-old beauty. Lee was dubbed "melodrama queen" for her roles in such films as "One Fine Spring Day" and "Last Gift", but sent a shockwave throughout the country for her unforgettable role in director Park Chan-wook's "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance". As a hallyu megastar, she is the ambassador for Hallyu Expo in Asia.