The Wonderfully Talented Child Actress, Kal So-won
In the Korean entertainment industry, most of the popular stars and leading roles are usually handed over to the adults. Though most films and dramas are rated 13+, safe for teens and above to watch, you don’t see a lot of child stars make it big in the industry. When they do, however, they make it a lifelong career that has their names up there with all the adult stars, such as the case of Kim Sae-ron, Kim Yoo-jun, Yeo Jin-goo and more. As those child actors start growing up, it is now up to the child actors of today to fill in the gaps of the roles they have left behind, one of them being Kal So-won.
Most might recognize her from her breakthrough debut in Miracle in Cell No. 7, as the leading lady playing the role of Lee Ye-seung. Some might also know her as ‘Little Park Shin-hye’ as the elder version of Lee Ye-seung, in the movie played by Park Shin-hye, as well as Kal So-won playing the child version of Park Shin-hye’s character in the drama Doctors. Are you curious about the roles Kal So-won has played throughout her career? Well, wait no more as we dive into Kal So-won’s brilliant performance over the years!
Her Breakthrough in Miracle in Cell No. 7
Before her official debut, Kal So-won has starred in several works beforehand, but it was not until her role in Miracle in Cell No. 7 that her name really blew up. Kal So-won stars as Lee Ye-seung, the daughter of a wrongly convicted prisoner that has to essentially grow up in a prison cell with the help of her father’s inmates and the prison guard in charge of her father’s cell. The story is heartfelt and touched the heart of viewers, while Kal So-won’s acting as the daughter that unconditionally loves her father is just the cherry on top.
The work also introduced the nickname of ‘Little Park Shin-hye’ into the mix, as Lee Ye-seung’s older self was played by Park Shin-hye. At that point, Lee Ye-seung rounded up all of her father’s old inmates and managed to serve justice for her wrongly convicted father, that had to go through a death sentence for something he didn’t do. This became the initial start of Kal So-won’s career.
Kal So-won in K-Dramas
My Daughter Geum Sa-wol
After the success of Miracle in Cell No. 7, Kal So-won went and appeared in the drama, My Daughter Geum Sa-wol, as the titular character, Geum Sa-wol, when she is still a child. The story revolves around three best friends, Sa-wol, Hye-sang, and Oh-wol, who grew up in the same orphanage. Sa-wol, as it turns out, is biologically the daughter of a wealthy businessman, the man who was supposed to adopt Hye-sang. This led to the reveal of the intricate ties between the three best friends and the upper-class society that they are now dragged into. However, when Sa-wol ended up being brought into the family as well, Hye-sang starts tormenting, blame shifting and burying the truth, to make herself the better daughter. As the story goes, her web of lies gets bigger and bigger and becomes harder to control.
Compared to her previous, more lighthearted works, Glamorous Temptation covers a more steamy and darker storyline. The drama revolves around a young woman by the name of Choi Kang-hee, who learns from her whistleblower Dad that honesty is not something to put above all else. Soon after her marriage, she is met with crushing debt that she has no ability to repay yet, through a series of events, she finds herself on track in joining the top wealthiest 1% and makes a deliberate effort to uncover their misdeeds and hypocrisy. Her efforts reveal limitless greed and lust for power fueled by the pursuit of money and profits. Kal So-won stars as Hong Mi-rae, the daughter of Choi Kang-hee, who is unfortunately dragged into the dark world her mother has entered, filled with secrets, backstabbing and love triangles.
After her stint in Glamorous Temptation as the angelic daughter of a not-so-angelic main character, Kal So-won once again plays into the tropes of a heartwarming main character, who she plays the child version of. Not only that, the adult version is once again played by Park Shin-hye, cementing her ‘Little Park Shin-hye’ image. This time the two star in the drama Doctors, that tells the story of Yoo Hye-jung, a headstrong girl in high school with a prickly, gangster personality. Due to her many childhood scars, Hye-jung keeps her heart closed towards other people yet, she changes after meeting her mentor Hong Ji-hong, played by Kim Rae-won, who inspires her to become a compassionate doctor.
Park Shin-hye and Kal So-won synergized in their role as Yoo Hye-jung, as they managed to capture her fiery yet compassionate personality, something she only shows her grandmother and her mentor, Hong Ji-hong. Although her screentime was short, you cannot deny her uncanny resemblance with Park Shin-hye and how she fleshed out the character of Yoo Hye-jung.
The Legend of the Blue Sea
Legend of The Blue Sea is one of the biggest projects Kal So-won has ever starred in, playing the child version of Jun Ji-hyun’s character, Shim-cheong, a mermaid who was destined to be the soulmate of Heo Jun-jae, Lee Min-ho’s character. The storyline goes back and forth between the two soulmates meeting in their past lives and the two meeting again in the present, having to deal with the mermaid mythos that Shim-cheong brings and the hustler lifestyle of one Heo Jun-jae in the modern world. Kal So-won is prominently featured in the flashback sequences as the past live version of Shim-cheong meets with the past version of Heo Jun-jae. She even had to go through quite extreme shooting conditions for the underwater scenes she had as a mermaid.
A Korean Odyssey
A Korean Odyssey is Kal So-won’s most recent work on television, starring as the child version of Oh Yeon-seo’s character, Jin Sun-mi. The epic drama is a retelling of the classic Chinese Journey to The West novel, with a modern twist but familiar characters, such as Lee Seung-gi’s Son Oh-gong and Cha Seung-won’s Woo Ma-wang. The story revolves around a promise that is made between Son Oh-gong and Woo Ma-wang that was made hundreds of years ago, but has implications in the present world through the existence of Jin Sun-mi, a girl that was promised protection by Son Oh-gong without him realizing it. The drama was fantastical with a lot of out of this world elements, something new for Kal So-won’s portfolio.