[Actor Spotlight] Jo Boa
The next actor featured in our spotlight series is Jo Boa. Born in 1991 in Daejeon, South Korea, Jo Boa is relatively new to the scene. She debuted in the 2011 daily drama I Live in Cheongdam-dong, and then landed a major role in tvN’s 2012 drama Shut Up Flower Boy Band. Jo has had a steady succession of dramas since then, often in a secondary or supporting role.
Though she has headlined smaller dramas before, the currently airing SBS drama My Strange Hero feels like Jo Boa’s induction into full-fledged leading lady status. She stars opposite Yoo Seung-ho, and the drama is definitely making the most of her spunk and energy. Jo Boa has an incredibly expressive face, and when you pair that with her comedic timing, you get hilarious results. Jo also has this innate sassiness that enlivens her characters. While that sassiness and energy has resulted in some type-casting in roles that fit her “minx-like” image, Jo Boa surely has a long career ahead of her, with plenty of time to expand her range, and break out of any type-casting.
Here are some highlights from Jo Boa’s drama career, followed by her full filmography.
Shut Up Flower Boy Band (2012)
Shut Up Flower Boy Band is a favorite drama of mine, and was (in my humble opinion) the best of tvN’s “Oh! Boy” trilogy from a few years ago. The story followed the teenage rock band Eye Candy, and Jo Boa, a student at their school. She became the muse of Lee Min-ki’s character, but also had a wonderful loveline with star Sung Joon’s character. Shut Up Flower Boy Band had the strange ability to steamroll your heart with its tale of teenage angst, first love, and the power of music as creative expression. Jo Boa lucked out when she landed this breakout role with only one drama on her resume at the time. Her performance as the wealthy heroine who had fallen on hard times and found a soul mate in Sung Joon was pitch perfect.
Surplus Princess (2014)
This cheeky drama, rudely cut down by tvN during its run, was fun, wacky, and introduced me to Song Jae-rim (Win!). Jo Boa starred as a sassy mermaid in this trippy remix of The Little Mermaid. She became human to win the heart of Song Jae-rim’s character, who she was completely over the moon for, but met with many a hiccup on her journey to love. Ohn Joo-wan, Nam Joo-hyuk, and Kim Seul-gi were some of the humans she roomed with in the “surplus house,” full of struggling job seekers. Surplus Princess was high on satire, social statements, parodies, and puns, but in the end didn’t fare well with tvN. This was a fun role for Jo Boa though, and despite low ratings she was a great as the smitten and driven (yet totally clueless) heroine.
The Man Living in Our House (2016)
While not the strongest of dramas, The Man Living in Our House had a great start, and a fun cast of Soo-ae, Kim Young-gwang, Lee Soo-hyuk, and Jo Boa. The story was full of past secrets, chaebol greed, some serious gangsters (Woo Do-hwan shout-out!), and a lot of dumpling making. The heroine, played by Soo-ae, returned home to find Kim Young-gwang was her new stepfather — and things just got more complicated from there. Jo Boa played a bratty, conniving flight attendant who was quite the diva — but was also strangely likeable. Her character mainly existed to stir things up for our leads’ love triangle, but I have to say she played one of the rare second lead female antagonists whose performance I actually enjoyed all the way through. Also, she and Soo-ae’s vibes are so different that it was interesting to see them on screen together (I’m a big fan of both, so it was fun casting for me).
Temperature of Love (2017)
Ah, Temperature of Love. With a leading couple like Yang Se-jong and Seo Hyun-jin, who cares for second leads? While Kim Jae-wook put up a good fight and performance as the second lead male, Jo Boa as the female second lead clawing her way to Yang Se-jong was a bit on the tiresome side. Both second leads went to some extreme K-drama-only lengths to win the heart of their beloved, but for me, Jo Boa’s character was dull and predictable (and kinda needed a smack). Maybe that’s because it was basically a blander version of the character she had just played in The Man Living in Our House? Regardless, stir the plot her character did, and Jo Boa could definitely play the sassy second lead in any drama.
Jo Boa’s full filmography:
This drama was Jo Boa’s acting debut. She appeared in several episodes of this JTBC daily drama about a family living in a decrepit building in the famous wealthy neighborhood.
Wonderful high school drama full of heart, teen angst, and rock music (see above).
Also known as Koisuru Maison, Jo Boa had a supporting role in this Japanese drama about a collection of international students living in a Korean boarding house.
Jo Boa played a supporting role in this Choi Seung-won sageuk about a Joseon-era veterinarian.
Cheeky, quirky, and meta-strong (see above).
Jo Boa’s first film and a rather name-making Lolita-esque artsy erotic thriller.
Side role in the popular weekend drama starring Eugene and Lee Sang-woo. Jo Boa won a Popularity, New Actress, and Best Couple award with Choi Tae-joon.
Jo Boa stars with Kim Kang-woo and Park Hee-soon in her first crime/action drama about a missing persons unit. Good for her on changing it up.
Second go at the webtoon-turned-web drama series starring Kim Yoo-jung.
Weekend revenge drama starring Kang Ji-won and Sung Yu-ri, with Jo Boa as a chaebol princess.
Jo Boa played the strangely likable needy second lead drama queen (see above).
Jo Boa played the rather unlikable needy second lead drama queen (see above).
One-episode KBS drama special starring Jo Boa and Sohn Ho-joon in this story of a match-seeker and a match-maker.
Weekend drama with strong female characters that wasn’t afraid to explore social issues — Jo Boa plays a young pregnant girl who winds up living with her boyfriend’s mother during her pregnancy.
Currently airing SBS drama starring Jo Boa and Yoo Seung-ho in a bit of a comedy-revenge-romance fusion story.