Lee Jun Ki is one of those actors that crept up on me over the years, slowly but surely.
When I consider how I used to feel indifferent about him, it still sometimes surprises me. Coz now I have a serious weakness for Lee Jun Ki, and he’s very firmly entrenched in my list of k-loves.
From who’s-that-guy-who-looks-like-he-stepped-straight-out-of-a-manga? to OMG-I-luff-him!-SQUEE!, I’ve certainly come a long way in my appreciation of Lee Jun Ki.
And today, I wanna tell you guys all about that.
Come squee, ogle and swoon with me, y’all. ❤
Before I jump into my journey of appreciating Jun Ki, can I just take a moment to say, how cool is it that he’s singing today’s song?? Enjoy the listen 🙂
MY JUN KI JOURNEY
Indifferent Beginnings: My Girl
When I first watched My Girl (2005), it was a casual sort of thing (it was airing on local TV, my mum was watching it, I decided she’d appreciate some company) and I didn’t enjoy it all that much. The fact that it was dubbed over in Mandarin using ubiquitous voices heard in Every Other Drama didn’t help. Of course, I changed my mind about the show some years later, but that’s another story.
What’s relevant to today’s post is that the only notice I took of Lee Jun Ki was that he was So. Pretty. Even prettier than lotsa girls, is what I was thinking. Plus, he totally looked like he simply stepped out of the pages of some manga, what with his sharp jaw-line, rosebud lips, killer cheekbones and appropriately slanty monolid eyes. And the hair – that was totally manga-esque, and I spent his screentime basically marveling at his real-life-ness.
I wasn’t terribly impressed with his acting, and after the show ended its run, had no urge to seek him out further on my screen.
A Slight Shift: Iljimae
Iljimae came along in 2008, and at the time, I was still wary of sageuks of any kind. But, I was also at the height of my Park Shi Hoo fangirl love, and decided that I had to watch anything and everything that Park Shi Hoo was in, sageuk or no.
Of course, my watch of Iljimae was heavily colored by my Park Shi Hoo fangirl lenses, but I did notice that Lee Jun Ki could be pretty cool when he was being badass. I rather liked it when intensity was blazing from his eyes and when he was demonstrating all his martial arts swordfighting prowess.
I didn’t appreciate his character’s rather OTT campy comedic side, though, and I was also rather aggravated by the ending of Iljimae (also something that I eventually changed my mind about, and also, another story). Which means that I walked away from Iljimae still feeling fairly neutral towards Lee Jun Ki.
Sitting Up: The King and The Clown
My mum, on the other hand, had an early appreciation for Lee Jun Ki, and told me that he was excellent in The King and The Clown (2005). So one day, on a whim, I decided to check out the movie, and I was impressed.
Lee Jun Ki’s role in the movie is demanding, intense and quite tragic, and I came away convinced that Lee Jun Ki was well worth keeping on my radar.
On a related note, I was also blown away by just how beautiful Lee Jun Ki looked, dressed to look like a woman.
Cool Jun Ki: Fly, Daddy, Fly
With Lee Jun Ki newly on my radar, I checked out Fly, Daddy, Fly (2006), and loved it.
Seriously. Such a heartwarming movie, and Lee Jun Ki gets to be so cool in it!
He plays an aloof and somewhat mysterious high-schooler, who doesn’t say much but coolly oozes swag:
And who turns out to be an excellent fighter with Awesome Fight Skillz:
I loved seeing Lee Jun Ki be so cool.
It sorta helped, too, that he was the tallest person in the entire cast, which just upped the cool factor.
Badass Spy-jinks: Time Between Dog and Wolf:
I heard some good things about Time Between Dog and Wolf (2007) – essentially, that it’s an engaging watch despite its poorer production values – and decided that I was curious enough to give it a go. And I really, really liked it!
Yes, the production values were on the low side and the show looked like Iris’ (2009) not-so-well-off cousin, but what the show lacked in polish, it made up for with heart. I felt nicely engaged by it and if memory serves, I marathoned the whole thing in a mere matter of days.
Lee Jun Ki had a pretty huge amount of scope to play with, given that his character takes on a variety of identities while undercover. Although I thought he went a little OTT at times, it was clear that Lee Jun Ki was really giving the role his all, and that impressed me.
I also really liked seeing Lee Jun Ki at his Badass Spy best. So cool.
We didn’t get any Lee Jun Ki on our screens in 2010 and 2011 thanks to his enlistment in the military, but while serious Lee Jun Ki fans probably cried over Oppa’s absence, I actually looked forward to what post-MS Lee Jun Ki might be like.
One of the things that I felt Lee Jun Ki lacked onscreen (relatively speaking), was a masculine, manly man sort of gravitas. Often, Lee Jun Ki’s boyishness would shine through many of his roles, and while it could be cute, I felt that it limited him as an actor.
On a fangirly note, I do prefer my men of the manly man variety. Heh, which you’ve probably already noticed by now.
I must say, the military did not disappoint. Post-MS Lee Jun Ki had oodles of new masculine, manly gravitas, and that made me a very happy camper indeed.
A New-Found Gravitas: Arang and the Magistrate
The first time we got to experience Lee Jun Ki’s new-found gravitas was in Arang and the Magistrate (2012), and I LOVED it. I loved him.
There was a new dignity and weightiness to Lee Jun Ki’s Eun Oh, and an onscreen restraint that I really, really enjoyed.
Not only is Arang an excellent show (watch it if you haven’t!), Lee Jun Ki is intense, charismatic and very handsome & swoony.
Coming away from Arang, I was a full-on Lee Jun Ki fan, and couldn’t wait to see more of him on my screen.
Action Awesome: Two Weeks
Thanks to competing drama interests and hectic Real Life demands, I was slow to check out Two Weeks, but when I finally did get around to watching it, I really, really liked it!
I enjoyed Lee Jun Ki’s restrained, layered, haunted performance as a man on the run, desperate to do at least one thing right in his life – to save his dangerously ill daughter, even if he died doing it.
It’s true that the romance and accompanying swoon factor in this show was kept to a bare minimum, but that didn’t affect the levels of awesome Lee Jun Ki brought to the show. And if you think about it, that’s a level of awesome that’s an accomplishment in itself, right?
I came away from this show totally in the mood for more Lee Jun Ki on my screen.
More Awesome: Joseon Gunman
Happily for me, Lee Jun Ki is currently burning up screens across dramaland as our titular Joseon Gunman.
I’m exercising self-control and saving up for a marathon, so no spoilers in the comments please! I’m just pleased as punch that I’ve heard so many good things about Joseon Gunman.
These glorious images, plus the premise, make me think that I’m going to get a similar-but-edgier, more grown-up, more badass version of Lee Jun Ki compared to his outing in Iljimae, and I’m really looking forward to eating it all up in big breathless bites in the not-too-distant future.
Edit: I finished the show, and my Flash Review is here!
Admittedly, I don’t follow Lee Jun Ki very closely outside of his drama outings.
I know that many of his fans appreciate his bubbly persona and generous fan-service, and I do think he does a great job at connecting with his fans with his frequent updates on social media.
At the same time, I prefer the less boyish version of him that I see onscreen, and I like to keep that image of him as intact as possible in my mind. It’s just harder to find his onscreen badassery believable if I know too much about his aegyo-tastic ways off-screen, y’know? Well, that’s how my fangirl mind works, anyway.
What I do appreciate, though, is his thoughtfulness in interviews. He’s clearly a serious, dedicated actor underneath the smiley, boyish exterior, and his contemplative answers in interviews totally show off that substance. I really dig that.
And here are just a few excerpts that I found most illuminating.
“I know very well that I’m still not perfect as an actor. But even if I can’t give a satisfying performance straight away, I will give it my all, so at least I won’t have any feelings of regret this way. I don’t want to have doubts such as ‘I could have done this in a different angle, I could have expressed this feeling in a different manner’ that might make me feel regretful later. Actually, I meticulously made notes in order to perform all the action directions in writer Son Hyeon Kyung’s script, so I probably would have been able to comfortably act if I am determined enough. All I needed to do was to follow what was instructed. But rather than playing safe, I think I will be able gain much more as an actor if I sufficiently express my opinions. I was able to present all the flexible details thanks to the scriptwriter, director and all the staff who placed their trust in me as the lead actor.”
On love and relationships:
“Of course I have dated an older woman before. It’s good if the person has deep thoughts, consideration for others and can communicate well with me. Age is just a number to me. Love becomes unconditional when you fall for someone right? I also believe that the right person will appear one day so I have no intentions to deliberately choose someone who is older or younger than me.”
On his fans:
“I am thankful not because I have fans, but I think my fans are the reason why I exist. They are friends whom I can trust and rely on more than anyone else. When I feel tired, I will think ‘my fans are looking at me, I can’t be tired like this right?’ If I happen to make a mistake, my fans will be the ones who will be saddened the most, so I am closely watching myself in order not to forget my dignity as ‘my (fans’) actor’.”
He’s a thoughtful man of substance, isn’t he? Likey.
I not only love, but also totally respect, how he pours all of himself into each new role. I love that meticulous dedication to his craft.
MULTIPLE SHADES OF LEE JUN KI
In the course of my research for this post, I confirmed something that I already sorta knew about Lee Jun Ki: the man has multiple facets to him. His photos span a range that is so wide that it’s sometimes a little startling to think that the photos are of the same person. And yet, it’s all him. That says so much too, about how he’s growing as an actor.
Here’s the result of that research, for your gazing pleasure.
That Bone Structure:
Given that Lee Jun Ki’s bone structure is what first captured my imagination, I thought this would be a great place to start. Have a look at that glorious bone structure that sometimes looks like it could literally cut through glass. That jawline. And those cheekbones. That sharp nose-bridge. (Yes, I’m thorough that way)
A side to Lee Jun Ki that fans often get to see, is his cheery playful side. He always looks so genuinely happy in the moment that it’s almost hard to believe that he goes through periods of loneliness too. Then again, maybe that’s why he’s that happy to pose for the camera, coz it helps him leave the loneliness behind?
On the other end of the scale, the thoughtful pensive look on Lee Jun Ki is so different compared to his cheerful, playful side.
The thoughtful pensive look on him makes me think of the times that Lee Jun Ki spends alone at home, pondering over acting, life and loneliness. Not that I think the loneliness defines him. I guess it’s the huge contrast between his cheerful cheeky smiles and his admission to loneliness that sticks in my mind.
In any case, I dig the thoughtful vibe of these pix. I feel like it hints at the substance that Lee Jun Ki harbors on the inside.
Have you ever wanted to have a lazy, cozy morning with Lee Jun Ki, snuggling under the covers and just generally lounging around? Well, here’s a collection of pix that will help to fuel your imagination in just that direction.
Just check out how warm and snuggly Lee Jun Ki looks in these pix.
I particularly love that photo of him snuggling with that awesomely grumpy-looking cat. It’s almost like Jun Ki’s all, “C’mere, cat-boy, lemme snuggle you.” And cat-boy is like, “Noooo~ mreow~” And Jun Ki’s all, “Sorry, you don’t get to choose.” Haha!
Another lovely version of Jun Ki, is the Dreamy Dreamer.
With that fantastic bone structure and the right styling and photo composition, he can sometimes look so ethereal that he feels almost unearthly.
My favorite in this set is the third pic. Doesn’t he look, well, dreamy?
On a very different note, here’s Smoldery Lee Jun Ki. It’s one of my favorite looks on him.
While all the pix in this section are deliciously intense, it’s kinda hard to beat the one with Smoldery, Dripping Wet Jun Ki. Ahem. You’ll know the one when you see it. 😉
I also love the smirky look on Lee Jun Ki. It’s basically the smoldery look, injected with a touch of sardonic irony.
It makes Lee Jun Ki appear all the more badass, and I like it.
My fave pic in this section is the last one, where he’s in his Magistrate uniform. Coz, Lee Jun Ki rocks sageuk garb. In my mind, Lee Jun Ki + sageuk garb + smirk = total win.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know how much I love when an actor can deliver impressive badassery. (Hint: a lot.)
I’m therefore very pleased to report that Lee Jun Ki is very capable of delivering the badassery, thank you very much.
Here’s the evidence, accompanied by appropriate amounts of leather and guyliner when the occasion calls for it.
My favorite of the set, is the one of him prowling in the all-leather black suit, glowering out of his guyliner. It’s badass and manga-esque, and totally becomes him.
On a very different note, I also like the preppy look on Jun Ki. And the glasses look so good on him that I kinda wonder why he doesn’t wear them more often?
Hints of Shirtless:
Lee Jun Ki is famously averse to working out at the gym, despite being well versed in martial arts (Tae Kwon Do 3rd degree, Hapkido 1st degree and Taekkyeon 1st degree – woah, right?). He says working out at the gym is just too boring and that’s why he hates to do it.
Which means that while he’s not as ripped as many other actors on the k-scene, he could probably totally kick (almost) everyone’s butt. Heh.
Here’re a couple of photos of Lee Jun Ki with hints of shirtless about them.
Well now, you didn’t think my superpowers would fail us completely, now, did you? 😉
There is a small smattering of shirtless Lee Jun Ki pix on the interwebs, and I’ve located them for your viewing pleasure.
My fave? It’s this first one, coz we get a rare glimpse at those choco-abs. Mmm.
Edit: I’ve been informed by eagle-eyed fangirls that this first pic is photoshopped. I will leave it up since it’s something that fans created out of Jun Ki love, but at least now we have the record straight. 🙂
The Sharp Suit:
To make up for the relative lack of glorious shirtless pix, I’ve beefed up this section, which is another one of my favorites. I love a man in a sharp suit, and Lee Jun Ki cleans up fabulously.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think mine just might have to be the 4th pic, of Lee Jun Ki being thoughtful in a tux.
So~ handsome. ❤
No k-love post is complete without a quick section of candid photos. It’s the candids that give us a sense of seeing more of the actual person beneath the starry veneer.
While I like the goofy beach photos for showing off Jun Ki’s playful side, I think my favorite in this section is that last pic of him with the glasses. He’s smiling for the camera, but he also looks contemplative and thoughtful, which I somehow feel is a closer representation of his true personality. Plus, the glasses; he looks so adorably nerdy.
All in all, even though I started out feeling quite indifferent towards Lee Jun Ki, it’s been a complete pleasure watching him evolve and grow into a more confident, charismatic, commanding manly man of substance, and I’m looking forward to much, much more awesome to come.
Jun Ki-sshi, fighting~!
You’re doing a fantastic job, and I’d like for you to remember that you aren’t really alone. Coz we love ya~ ❤