And since I did promise that this year I’d be introducing y’all to more of my, uh.. smaller? lesser? medium-sized? milder? (argh. I can’t decide which word works best. You guys know what I mean, right?) k-loves, I thought it fitting that I introduce you guys to Lee Jong Suk, whom I’ve got a big soft spot for.
My affection for Lee Jong Suk is slightly more dongsaeng-esque than all of my other featured k-loves so far, but I do sincerely think he’s pretty special, and special deserves a little bit of the loving spotlight, dontcha think?
Come appreciate this boy-man with me, y’all.
이바디 (Ibadi) – Hello Hollow (헬로할로)
I’m gonna hafta admit that the first two times that Lee Jong Suk actually graced my screen, I paid him practically no attention whatsoever. Oopsie.
The first time that happened was in early 2010.
I was completely smitten with Park Shi Hoo at the time and watched Prosecutor Princess solely for him. Twice. This, despite the fact that I didn’t think it was that great a drama, and that I found the OST much too in-yo-face and quite grating on the ears. Yessir, I had some major Park Shi Hoo fangirl love goin’ on.
Which is why I did a double take when I belatedly realized that Lee Jong Suk had been in this show. I was all, What? Really? Where??
The evidence speaks for itself, however, and I cannot deny that Lee Jong Suk was indeed in Prosecutor Princess, and that despite the fact that I had seen the show twice in its entirety, I hadn’t taken notice of him. At all. Eep.
I plead Temporary Park Shi Hoo Insanity. Plus, Han Jung Soo was cute too.
The second time I basically ignored Lee Jong Suk on my screen was in late 2010.
I was watching Secret Garden, and the whole Hyun-Bin-is-hawt effect had me completely and effectively unable to pay proper attention to anything and anyone else on my screen. That I managed to register that Yoon Sang Hyun was hilarious as Oska was a feat unto itself, really.
But, again, the evidence speaks for itself. Lee Jong Suk was indeed, in fact, in Secret Garden.
In my defense, it was a pretty minor supporting role. I do concede, though, that he was suitably angsty and totally looked the part of a broody, talented muso.
See? I actually noticed Jong Suk this time. Sorta.
Attention, Grabbed: School 2013
Ahhh.. School 2013. This is where Lee Jong Suk got my attention good and proper. I loved his portrayal of Go Nam Soon, so much.
Just looking at him here gives me the feels, all over again:
Lee Jong Suk played Nam Soon with such quiet sensitivity, managing to convey so much, even when his character said so little.
Jong Suk made Nam Soon the everyman’s hero, doing his best to live well, while working hard to make up for regrets tied to the past; putting himself out there to protect others; willing to throw everything away for what mattered most to him. All while looking like he was just quietly trying to shuffle through life while blending into the background.
How could I not like such an earnest, quiet boy-hero??
Of course, I was most blown away by the bromance between Nam Soon and Heung Soo (played pretty much to perfection by Kim Woo Bin).
I was completely invested in the bromantic arc of the show, and was thoroughly addicted to their story. I just couldn’t get enough of these two together.
How cute are they as a pair, right??!?
After the show’s final credits rolled, I was in unexpectedly serious Heung-Soon withdrawal, and went on to explore interviews and BTS clips of these 2 adorable boys together.
I was tickled pink by the knowledge that these 2 had become besties while filming School 2013, and I just loved watching them banter with each other in joint interviews. I eagerly lapped up all the bromantic goodness I could lay my hands on; interviews, variety appearances, BTS clips – I inhaled every tidbit that crossed my path.
As many of you know, that resulted in me walking away with an unplanned, humongous fangirl obse-, er, love for Kim Woo Bin, heh. Which put me firmly in Woobie-biased territory.
I did come away from all this with a big soft spot for Jong Suk, though. Coz of how wonderfully he portrayed Nam Soon. And coz, well, how could I not love Woobie’s bestie, right??
Swooned Out: I Hear Your Voice
With my soft spot for Jong Suk firmly in place, I just couldn’t not watch I Hear Your Voice when it came out later that year.
I was still very much in like with Nam Soon, and welcomed another chance to have Lee Jong Suk on my screen. Happily for me, I Hear Your Voice turned out to be a pretty cracky watch.
Another happy discovery? The fact that when Lee Jong Suk’s Soo Ha smiled, I felt like my screen was literally exploding with rainbows and unicorns.
Eeee! How cute is he, right? I just wanted to ruffle his hair and squish him and put him in my pocket. If my pocket could fit all 6’1 (1.86m) of him, that is.
I loved how Jong Suk played Soo Ha. With all-in intensity and vulnerability, wearing his heart on his sleeve.
I was very impressed with Lee Jong Suk and the way he handled difficult scenes. He was fully immersed in his character, and it showed.
Even more than that, I loved – like, really, really LOVED – Lee Jong Suk’s smitten faces.
Eeeeeee!!! And! Swoooonn.
I have a thing for smitten faces, and my top pick for Most Melty Smitten Face is Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince. Seriously, though, while watching Soo Ha going all melty over Hye Sung (Lee Bo Young), I squee-ed out loud and I felt like Soo Ha was giving Choi Han Gyul a serious run for his money. Which, for me, is a pretty huge deal.
Besides going melty over Soo Ha’s lovely smitten faces, I also happily discovered Lee Jong Suk’s sexy side.
I mean, when he delivered this kiss, I swooned. And of course, pressed replay about 5 or 12 times:
Nuthin’ boyish about that kiss; that was all man.
At the same time, my eyes happily discovered Lee Jong Suk’s shoulders, which looked very strong and manly all of a sudden:
Suddenly, with just this one drama, Lee Jong Suk firmly graduated in my mind, from sweet school-boy to swoony man-boy. A very significant transition indeed.
Thank you, Show.
Discovering Awesome: Interviews & Variety
I hafta admit, at first, I wasn’t really all that interested or motivated to check out Lee Jong Suk’s interviews and variety appearances. I mean, I enjoyed all the joint stuff I’d seen him do with Woobie, but with my Woobie passion – and hunger! – burning strong, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to check out more of Jong Suk’s stuff. After all, a fangirl with limited time has to prioritize, y’know ;)
But an intriguing comment by blog reader Asmi changed all that.
Here’s an excerpt of what Asmi said:
“I think I might actually legitimately have fallen in love with LJS. His real life personality doesn’t help either. Awkward, dorky, surprisingly candid, and often saying the “wrong” thing (as opposed to pulling from the set of “right” answers your PR manager hands you) and making interviewers uncomfortable, he’s just such a lovable piece of shit. But my favorite thing about him is definitely his passion for acting. Have you read any of his interviews? It’s both so beautiful and tragic when he talks about what acting means to him. Ahhh, this boy, he makes my heart hurt.”
My interest was piqued. Beautiful and tragic? Whatever did that mean?
I promptly delved into some Lee Jong Suk interviews, and I really liked what I found.
I really love when an actor can speak candidly in interviews and be interesting, instead of dishing out pre-manufactured politically correct textbook answers. And Lee Jong Suk does just that. He’s candidly thoughtful and interesting, and that’s rather similar to bestie Kim Woo Bin. Except Lee Jong Suk is a lot less measured, and has a propensity for stream-of-consciousness type answers, which basically results in him awkwardly and adorably putting his foot in his mouth. On a regular basis. GOLD.
While I can totally imagine Jong Suk’s management facepalming and headdesking their way through any of his interviews because of his tendency to say politically incorrect things, I feel that it is precisely this quality about him that endears him to his fans.
With Jong Suk, you never feel like you’re getting a polished-up, edited version of the truth. Instead, you always feel like he’s telling it like it is. Unfiltered and unadulterated. Just pure Jong Suk; unpolished, raw, transparent. And that’s pretty great.
I love that in Jong Suk’s stream of consciousness answers and musings, you never see an ounce of self-pride in his words. He’s always humble, giving others credit instead of basking in his own. And he’s always striving to do better, consistently looking at how he could’ve done better, rather than basking in what he did right. Such a purist, and so dedicated to his craft. Which is a quality that I really respect. I believe that it’s this very hunger to do better that will propel him to great heights.
Here are a couple of interviews that I enjoyed reading.
1. High Cut, August 2013: here
3. Yes! Magazine, April 2014: here
4. kdramastars.com, April 2014, where he talks about looks, dating and his new drama Doctor Stranger: here
Here’re a couple of snippets from the kdramastars interview:
About Park Hae Jin, his co-star in Doctor Stranger: “I was awed by his good looks and taste in fashion… Watching the recordings for each scene made me realize that Park Hae Jin was way too good looking. It made me feel inferior.”
About his ideal woman: “I am attracted to women I can learn from… I want a woman I will lose to and who moves my heart.” Thud. So, so sweet! ❤
And he’s such a purist, losing weight for his role in Doctor Stranger because he felt it made sense for someone who grew up in North Korea. Respect.
Aside from the Running Man episode where Jong Suk appeared with Woobie (episode 138), I hadn’t actually seen him in any other variety show.
Thanks to Asmi clueing me in, I decided to check out Lee Jong Suk’s Hwasin appearance with his I Hear Your Voice co-stars.
Despite the fact that he didn’t enjoy as much screentime as his co-stars, Jong Suk was completely endearing whenever we did get to see him, adorably sweating buckets whenever the focus was turned on him.
Jong Suk was super cute and so, so likable in his unique, slightly awkward, slightly gawky, completely honest and completely forthright way.
Like how he talked about not wanting to dress up or act cute while co-hosting with IU, yet couldn’t stop the gig coz “they” had decided amongst themselves. OMG, so politically incorrect, yet you can’t help but love him for being so upfront and honest. Gotta love how he bucks trends and rules left, right and center, without actually even trying to be a rebel!
I hafta say, even though the bits with Lee Bo Young and Yoon Sang Hyun were amusing too, I wanted more of Lee Jong Suk. More adorable, slightly clueless, blushing-like-crazy, sweaty-like-crazy Lee Jong Suk, with that super fresh, I-don’t-quite-know-whether-what-I’m-saying-is-gonna-get-me-in-trouble-but-oops-too-late-I-already-said-it quality about him.
A-dor-able. Seriously. ❤
Here’s the Hwasin episode with English subs:
For those who prefer alternative sources, you can check out this page.
Movie Moment: No Breathing
About a month or so ago, I watched No Breathing, mostly for Lee Jong Suk and Seo In Guk (of whom I am also pretty fond), and I thought they were both excellent in it.
It’s not a very complicated movie at all, but I just loved the heartwarming simplicity of it. And unlike so many k-movies that feel like a let-down at the end, this one ended on a great note, with enough closure to make me happy, and enough open-endedness to make one hopeful. I loved it.
As a bonus, we got lots and lots of shirtless eye candy, and Lee Jong Suk participated with gusto.
Not bad at all, particularly for someone so lean and lanky, right?
The Lee Jong Suk Paradox
Through all of this, I’ve come to a realization about Lee Jong Suk. He has extremely different facets to him, which can be like night and day. And yet, it’s all him.
Like, on the one hand, he is quirky and cute, like a little boy next door who just happens to be all gawky limbs and adorkable smiles.
You just wanna scrunch him when he’s like that.
And then on the other hand, he’s got this amazingly sensuous side to him that is downright uber sexy.
You can’t help but gulp a little and swoon at this version of him, right?
Can’t get enough? Here’s a little more Sensuous Jong Suk for ya, from his shoot for W Korea:
Faint. He can be so hawt.
I think that’s a really special quality about Jong Suk, that he’s got such diverse aspects to himself. He’s not pretending to be quirky cute. Nor is he pretending to be sensuously sexy. He’s, quite simply, both. And I dig that.
Visual Treats of the Lee Jong Suk Variety
..And I use the word variety on purpose.
Maybe it’s coz he started out as a model. And maybe it’s also coz he’s got such diversity to his personality. Lee Jong Suk’s quite the chameleon when it comes to photoshoots, as we see in this section.
Since that was my first impression of Lee Jong Suk, I thought we’d start here. With the boyish charm that just radiates from him and makes me look at him like he’s my cute little brother.
On a very different note, Jong Suk does pensive and broody very well too. So very different from his cute boyish side, right? It’s like he’s got an internal switch, almost. Boyish, off. Broody, on.
Quite different from the broody, and also distinct from the boyish, here’s Cheeky Jong Suk. You can totally see the glint of naughty in his eyes.
Again on a completely different note, here’s Ethereal Jong Suk. When he’s in this space, he’s often shown as rather delicate, quite androgynous, and very, very pretty. He almost looks unreal.
I love these nerdy glasses on Jong Suk. He totally looks the part of the adorable geek. And it’s totally in character too, since one of his favorite things to do when he’s not working is to stay at home, watch TV, and see if he can act along with what he sees on his screen.
So cute. So dedicated. So nerdy. Love.
Perhaps because Jong Suk does come across as rather quirky in interviews, he has a good number of photoshoots where the main concept is of the unconventional and offbeat variety. Here’s a small sampling of Quirky Jong Suk.
How is Smoldery Jong Suk different from Broody Jong Suk? He’s fiercer, is what.
I really love the intensity in Jong Suk’s eyes in this section. Such a strong, piercing gaze. Spellbinding.
Whether it’s a full-body shot or just a close-up of his face, Jong Suk is able to communicate a highly sensuous vibe.
I think it’s his eyes and lips. So luscious, so seductive and so alluring.
When Jong Suk combines his sensuousness with shirtlessness, you get a dreamy kind of sexy that feels almost unreal. Sure, he’s not as built or as ripped as a lot of the other k-men gracing our screens, but that sensuous quality makes up for a lot.
Plus, Jong Suk recently unveiled new abs that really look quite delicious.
And that back. Umph. I don’t quite know why, but I find that shot of his bare back very alluring indeed.
With such a chameleon behind it all, it’s no wonder that the candid shots of Jong Suk are eclectic and varied as well. He’s alternately thoughtful and cheerful; sleepy and bright; childlike and cool. So many different facets to just one person.
I just love that Jong Suk’s besties with Woobie, seriously.
They’re both thoughtfully candid, and full of substance, so I can totally imagine them hanging out and having deep philosophical conversations with each other, amid the kidding and horsing around.
I remember Woobie was asked if he felt jealous of Jong Suk when IHYV was on and sweeping the ratings, while he didn’t have a project on the air. Woobie answered that no, he didn’t feel jealous at all, and in fact, he is happy when Jong Suk’s projects do well. AW!!! How sweet is that?? ❤ I LOVE that about their friendship, that they cheer each other on, and are happy for each other when the other is doing well.
There’s a distinct purity in their affection for each other, untainted by jealousy, envy or a need to compete. It also shows a sense of self-assuredness in both of them. They both know that they each have a unique place in the collective consciousness of the k-ent industry, and there’s really no need to try to outshine each other.
I love, love, love seeing them hang out together, at work and at play. ❤
Amid all the different facets of Jong Suk that we get to see, I think the one that comes first and foremost to my mind, is Jong Suk all snuggly cuddly. He’s got a lovely soft quality about him that makes me think he’d be lovely and warm to cozy up to. Y’know, just for his stream-of-consciousness sharing and bashful chuckles.
All in all, Lee Jong Suk’s a pretty special kinda guy, isn’t he?
I love that he’s interesting, and talented, and different. I love that raw, transparent quality about him. I love how dedicated he is to his craft. And that’s why I’ve got such a soft spot for him.
Keep on being awesome, Jong Suk-sshi. You don’t have to be like everyone else. You’re pretty awesome just the way you are.