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25 Asian Actors Born in the 90s

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

Veteran movie stars are still going strong in Asia, but in recent years, we're also seeing the rise of a new generation of younger actors who were born in the 90s. From breakout sensations to former child actors coming into their own, these rising stars aged 25 and under may be young but they're already lighting up the big and small screens while attracting screaming fans, collecting accolades and dominating media headlines.

Here are 25 actors born in the 90s whom we expect to see a lot more of in the coming years!

1. Kang Ha Neul
Kang Ha Neul has a background in musical theater, which explains why he's often singing onscreen as well. After appearing in the idol series To the Beautiful You, he got his break in 2013 in the Mnet musical drama Monstar, which paved the way for a spot in the hot-topic hit The Heirs later in the year. His star has been firmly on the rise since with notable turns in the SBS melodrama Angel Eyes and the cable sensation Misaeng. Shifting focus to the silver screen, the versatile 25-year-old actor has already greeted audiences in three very different films this year – the hit youth comedy Twenty, the period saga Empire of Lust and the nostalgic musical blockbuster C'est Si Bon – and he's been cast in the title role of Lee Joon Ik's upcoming biopic on renowned poet Yun Dong Ju.

2. Choi Woo Sik
Choi Woo Sik doesn't have the classic looks of a K-Drama heartthrob, but sometimes the underdog comes out on top. Raised in Korea and Canada, Choi returned to his home country in 2011 to pursue acting and began appearing in supporting gigs on television, including the acclaimed series Special Crimes Force TEN. The boyish-faced actor soon drew mainstream notice playing one of Park Yoo Chun's royal guards in the 2012 series Rooftop Prince, and worked his way up the ladder with major supporting roles in Fated to Love You and Pride and Prejudice. Choi landed his first drama lead this year as the lovable underdog hero of Hogu's Love. Besides television, the 25-year-old actor has also ventured into film; he impressed in the coming-of-age indie Set Me Free and he's participating in Singapore auteur Eric Khoo's new project In the Room.

3. Miura Haruma
Having started his career as a child actor, Miura Haruma is now one of Japan's top young actors. His big break came in 2007 with his turn as the bleach-blond romantic lead of the hit Koizora. The role won him Best Newcomer at the Japan Academy Awards and cemented his status as one of the premier heartthrobs of his generation. Since then, he's taken on many varied challenges, including street-fighting in Miike Takashi's Crows Zero II, voice-acting in Space Pirate Captain Harlock, tackling Mandarin dialogue in Japanese-Chinese co-production Five Minutes To Tomorrow and playing a law student in search of the truth behind his lineage in box office smash The Eternal Zero (for which he was recognized again by the Japan Academy Awards). With his leading role in the film adaptation of the wildly popular manga Attack on Titan, Miura is set to become an even bigger star.

4. Cheney Chen
Model Cheney Chen Xuedong exploded onto the acting scene with his role in the 2012 box office juggernaut Tiny Times. Based on a series of successful novels, the youth melodrama was a massive hit in theaters and made a star of Chen, who played one of the film's male leads. The movie has since spawned two sequels, with one more on the way, and Chen has become one of China's hottest young stars, snagging lead roles in movies like Bad Sister and the Zhang Ziyi-produced Oh My God. Perhaps nothing exemplifies his rapid rise to stardom more than his being cast in The Great Wall, auteur Zhang Yimou's blockbuster production starring heavyweights Matt Damon and Andy Lau.

5. Ikematsu Sosuke
Remember the young boy who played Koyuki's son in The Last Samurai? That was Ikematsu Sosuke, and he is now 24 and all grown up enough to steal the spotlight from both Nishijima Hidetoshi and Kagawa Teruyuki as a cross-dressing serial killer in the crime thriller Mozu and to share the screen with Miyazawa Rie as her young lover in the critically acclaimed noir drama Pale Moon. While he hasn't found enough mainstream drawing power for a breakthrough blockbuster role yet, Ikematsu's eye for catching strong supporting roles in prestige projects like Our Family and leading roles in acclaimed indies like Love's Whirlpool makes him one of the most promising actors of his generation.

6. Sung Joon
Though he often plays older than his age, Sung Joon is the youngest of that rat pack of model-turned-actors who made their debuts in the 2011 KBS special White Christmas (the others: Kim Woo Bin, Lee Soo Hyuk, Hong Jong Hyun, Kim Young Kwang). He was also the first of the group to rise to leading man status in the 2012 cable youth drama Shut Up Flower Boy Band, following a major supporting role in SBS romance Lie to Me. Since then Sung Joon has built up a solid resume of romantic leads on cable (I Need Romance 3, Can We Get Married?) and second leads on network (Discovery of Love), along with some indie film cred (Pluto). The 24-year-old actor recently tackled his first antagonist role in Hyde, Jekyll, Me and takes on his first network leading role this season in SBS's High Society.

7. Kris Wu
For a while it seemed like Kris Wu was getting cast in a new movie every week. The 24-year-old idol-turned-actor jumped straight to leading man with his acting debut in Xu Jinglei's romantic feature Somewhere Only We Know. The film opened this February and grossed nearly 300 million yuan, announcing his arrival as a legitimate box office draw. Not that such confirmation was needed as by the time of Somewhere's release, the Chinese-Canadian star had already filmed another three movies: the melodrama Passion Heaven based on Zi Yue's novel, Guan Hu's gangster comedy Mr. Six and a cameo for Stephen Chow's Mermaid. He is currently shooting the youth romance Turns Out You Are Still Here with Crystal Liu, and is attached to Guo Jingming's star-stacked fantasy epic L.O.R.D., assuring that we'll be seeing a lot of Kris on the silver screen. All of this has happened in just a year.

8. Hongo Kanata
A former child actor who first gained popularity through the 2006 live-action Prince of Tennis film, Hongo Kanata has shown from a young age that he has a darker, mysterious side beneath the ikemen appearance through his angsty roles in Goth, The Blue Bird and Gantz. Recently, in Iwai Shunji's late-night drama Mysterious Transfer Student, he played a mysterious alien who turns humans into puppets that do his deed. Hongo's eccentricity was also used for good humor in television series Yowakutemo Katemasu, in which he played a flamboyant first baseman who desperately wants to be seen. He steps into blockbuster mode this year as he plays Armin Arlert in the live-action adaptation of Attack on Titan.

9. Nakamura Aoi
Entering the entertainment world at the age of 14 after winning Junon magazine's Superboy Contest in 2005, Nakamura Aoi is a young actor who has shown that he has both good looks and strong talent. Since making his acting debut in the stage version of Terayama Shuji's Pastoral: To Die in the Country, Nakamura has taken roles in high-profile television dramas like NHK's big-budget taiga drama Yae no Sakura and revenge mystery Alice no Toge while also tackling tough roles like the homeless university student in Refugees of Tokyo and numerous stage plays. Nakamura's choice of roles can be unpredictable, but that's what makes him all the more worth following.

10. Zhang Zhehan
Chinese TV mogul Yu Zheng isn't only a hitmaker – he's also a starmaker. More often than not, young actors picked to star in his massively popular soap operas end up gaining legions of fans and seeing their profiles rise precipitously. Formerly a contestant on the talent/variety show My Hero, Zhang Zhehan's ascent into stardom has been all but assured since he signed with Yu's production company. The 24-year-old has since had memorable supporting turns in several popular dramas, with 2014 being his most productive year yet. He appeared in five dramas last year, including The Palace: The Lost Daughter, Cosmetology High, The Romance of the Condor Heroes and Incisive Great Teacher. This year, he graduates to leading man status in the upcoming Legend of Ban Shu, a Yu Zheng production, naturally.

11. Jiang Jinfu
After catching eyes on the variety program Happy Camp, Jiang Jinfu, a Shanghai Theatre Academy student, landed one of the biggest debut vehicles a Chinese actor could ask for in the 2011 period epic Xuan Yuan Sword. As the bumbling hero of the fantasy series, Jiang shared billing with top stars Hu Ge and Cecilia Liu. Since that conspicuous start, he has been Tangren Media's go-to new-generation star with major roles in the studio's Scarlet Heart 2 and The Legend of Qin. At the same time, he's endeared himself to audiences with his boy-next-door image in works like the youth drama One and a Half Summer and the romcom One Night Surprise. Jiang is currently filming Tangren's new Liaozhai adaptation and will be seen onscreen soon in He Jiong's directorial debut and in the period series Small Town Adventures co-starring fellow post-90s actor Yang Yang.

12. Yang Yang
There aren't many actors who lay claim to being one of the faces of China's post-90s generation, but Yang Yang certainly can. The 23-year-old Shanghai native has been on a meteoric rise in the past few years, snagging progressively higher profile roles in big productions. In 2010, while still a student in the Classical Dance department of the People's Liberation Army Arts College, Yang was cast as one of the leads in the small-screen adaptation of The Dream of Red Mansions. After making his debut, Yang Yang co-starred in a succession of dramas, including Youth Melody, The War Does Not Believe In Tears and The Four, as well as the Alec Su-directed blockbuster The Left Ear. His star is set to rise even further as he takes on a fan-favorite lead role in The Lost Tomb, a mammoth seven-year television and film project based on a series of best-selling novels.

13. Sometani Shota
Ever since his explosive starring role in Sono Sion's Himizu won him a Best New Young Actor award at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, Sometani Shota has gradually become one of Japan's top young leading men. With a hugely diverse arsenal of roles and works that range from manga adaptations like Parasyte to mainstream blockbusters like Eternal Zero to arthouse fare like Ishii Gakuryu's Isn't Anyone Alive, Sometani has won over some of Japan's biggest directors with his unique deadpan persona that sets him apart from the usual ikemen. With over eight films coming this year alone, the busy 22-year-old actor's career is only beginning to blossom.

14. Lee Hyun Woo
Lee Hyun Woo started his acting career a decade ago and appeared in many a TV drama as a child and teen star, including Queen Seon Deok, Gye Baek and Master of Study. His biggest television role to date was in the 2012 manga-based youth romance To The Beautiful You, which, along with stints hosting weekly music programs, raised his popularity amongst younger and international fans. Since transitioning into adulthood, Lee has also transitioned into the film industry, appearing almost exclusively in movies in the last two years. He co-starred in the blockbuster action crowd-pleasers Secretly, Greatly and The Con Artists, and his new war drama Northern Limit Line opens in theaters in Korea next month.

15. Kamiki Ryunosuke
Despite being just 22 years of age, Kamiki Ryunosuke, with nearly two decades of acting experience, is a seasoned pro in the entertainment industry. At 12 years old, he was named Best Newcomer at the 2005 Japan Academy Awards for his starring role in Miike Takashi's The Great Yokai War. Since then, he has refused to slow down, taking on one varied role after another and cementing his status as one of the most well-regarded actors of his generation. Most recently, he starred in the award-winning The Kirishima Thing and received accolades for his supporting role in the TV drama Kazoku Game. He also showed off his action skills in what is arguably his most high-profile role to date, as fan-favorite character Seta Sojiro in the massively popular Rurouni Kenshin films.

16. Fukushi Sota
Since breaking out in one of his earliest roles as happy-go-lucky superhero Kisaragi Gentaro in the Kamen Rider Fourze series, Fukushi Sota has enjoyed a smooth ride to the top. Currently one of Japan's most in-demand actors, he has been incredibly busy in the past few years, taking on roles in popular productions like NHK morning drama Amachan and the film adaptation of popular manga Library Wars. With his youthful good looks, he has claimed the heart of many a fan and in the process, he has crafted a bit of a niche for himself as one of today's most prominent new-generation romantic leads. His romance leading man muscles have been getting a workout of late in works like Say "I Love You", Strobe Edge and the highly rated drama Kyo wa Kaisha Yasumimasu.

17. Yoo Seung Ho
Yoo Seung Ho was dubbed the "nation's little brother" after playing the bratty hero of The Way Home in 2002 at the age of nine. He's never strayed from the public eye or public favor in Korea since then, growing up gracefully from child star to teen pin-up to leading man. Though he's yet to find that representative work, he has plentiful experience on both the big and small screens, notably the film Blind and the dramas I Miss You, Master of Study and Operation Proposal, to name a few. Further cementing his beloved image was his decision to voluntarily enlist in active duty in 2013 and fulfill his mandatory army service early. Only 21 years old but already a 13-year veteran of the entertainment industry with army obligations out of the way, Yoo can pretty much do no wrong in South Korea. His first post-army project is Kim Dae Seung's period film Joseon Magician, which began filming earlier this year.

18. James Jirayu Tangsrisuk
In 2012, Thailand's Channel 3 was looking for one more actor to take a leading role in the station's massive five-part soap opera The Five Brothers about the lives of the descendants of a fictional royal family in the 1960s. That role of bespectacled third brother Khunchai Puttipat came to newcomer James Jirayu, who was not even 20 at the time and cast to play a reserved neurosurgeon in his 30s. James was launched into instant fame when the hit series aired in 2013. The rising star and perennial cover model has since built on his popularity with more heart-swooning turns in films and lakorns like Love to the Extreme, First Love, Timeline and the upcoming Beloved Loyal Wife.

19. Seo Kang Joon
Seo Kang Joon has achieved a remarkable amount of success in an astonishingly short amount of time. Since making his debut in the web series After School: Lucky or Not less than two years ago, Seo has shot to stardom at breakneck speed. He followed up the web series with small roles in Good Doctor and The Suspicious Housekeeper, and quickly graduated to second male lead in 2014's Cunning Single Lady. His profile was further boosted in the latter half of 2014 with his participation in the reality show Roommate. This year, he's made his biggest stride yet as one of the leads in MBC's big-budget historical drama Splendid Politics. With an acting career that grows more impressive by the day and a music project on the side (idol group 5urprise), the 21-year-old star is a force to be reckoned with.

20. Dong Zijian
If you're one of the few lucky audiences who had a chance to see the underrated 2013 Chinese youth comedy-drama Young Style (about a year in the life of a high school class preparing for the national college entrance exam), you know that Dong Zijian is a young Chinese talent to watch. 2015 is bound to be a breakout year for the 21-year-old actor, who just spent a week at the Cannes Film Festival as the star of Jia Zhangke's Mountains May Depart - in which his love scene with Sylvia Chang is already raising eyebrows. He will also be spending his summer promoting the Feng Xiaogang-produced youth comedy The Ark of Mr. Chow, in which he plays one of the members of a small elite class of young geniuses.

21. Nick Kunatip Pinpradab
In 2013, prolific Thai director Poj Arnon released Make Me Shudder, a high school-set horror-comedy that features a group of raucous, foul-mouthed teenage boys screaming and flailing their way through supernatural encounters. The film made stars out of its young cast of mostly newcomers, and as the film's main lead, Nick Kunatip Pinpradab has received a sizeable amount of that attention. His image as a (mostly) fearless bad-boy leader has earned him legions of adoring fans, and he has collaborated with his Make Me Shudder compatriots on three other movies, the most recent being Make Me Shudder 3, released this past March. With four hit movies under his belt and a steadily rising profile, Nick is proving to be one to watch.

22. Yamazaki Kento
After being discovered on the streets of Harajuku during his senior year of high school, Yamazaki Kento became a model for Pichi Lemon magazine. He quickly gained the adoration of the publication's teenage readers and soon branched out into acting. Despite being just a few years into his acting career, Yamazaki has already starred in three shojo manga adaptations – Love For Beginners, L DK and the upcoming film adaptation of No Longer Heroine – thus becoming somewhat of a go-to actor for swoon-worthy, princely characters. Currently co-starring in NHK morning drama Mare and with several other projects in the pipeline, Yamazaki's acting career is still picking up steam, so expect to see him in bigger productions in the near future, including the Death Note TV series.

23. Kao Jirayu La-ongamanee
Debuting at the age of five, Jirayu La-ongamanee, better known as Kao, appeared in many soap operas as a child like the classic Kaew Tah Pee, not to mention the King Naresuan feature series and the blockbuster Love of Siam. Taking on bigger roles as he grew older, Kao garnered his first Best Actor nomination at the Thailand National Film Association Awards for the 2009 horror Phobia 2 and headlined the 2010 TV adaptation of seminal novel Butterfly and Flowers. By age 16, Kao had become a box office force with starring roles in the youth blockbusters Love Julinsee and SuckSeed. Still only 19 years old, Kao is fresh off a Best Actor win for his turn as a lovelorn filmmaker in Chiang Kan Story, and he has plenty of time to grow into more mature roles while racking up experience in the Thai cinema staples of youth romances and horrors.

24. Yeo Jin Gu
Debuting as a child actor in 2005's Sad Movie, Yeo Jin Gu essayed the childhood backstories for countless TV and film protagonists as he grew up onscreen. The teen phenom exploded into a household name in 2012 with show-stealing turns in the dramas The Moon That Embraces the Sun and I Miss You. Since then, he's become a headliner in his own right, holding his own opposite older co-stars in the sitcom Potato Star 2013QR3 and the films Hwayi: A Monster Boy and Shoot Me In The Heart. At 17, Yeo is going through the growing pains phase of being too young for standard lead roles but too famous to be on the sidelines. So far, he's handling the transition just fine. Yeo is currently starring in the fantasy school drama Orange Marmalade, and he'll be seen on the big screen soon in the wartime comedy The Long Way Home. We'd call him Korea's next big star, but he's kind of already there.

25. Seo Young Joo
Like other Korean teen actors, Seo Young Joo is probably most recognizable to the general public for his child actor roles in dramas like Can You Hear My Heart and May Queen. Though not as well-known as some of his contemporaries, the 17-year-old earns a spot amongst Korea's top class of teen actors through arthouse accolades. In 2012, Seo's mature-beyond-his age performance as a brooding delinquent in the acclaimed indie Juvenile Offender made him the youngest ever recipient of the Best Actor prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. The following year, he appeared in Kim Ki Duk's notorious, censor-challenging Moebius, a dysfunctional family black comedy that went to disturbing extremes. At the age of 15, Seo had already taken on a daring role that most established actors wouldn't touch. If he's good enough for Kim Ki Duk, he's good enough for anything.

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Published May 28, 2015

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