You know how sometimes the most unexpected things happen? Like how you think, Y’know what, I just don’t get the appeal of this actor, and I probably am unlikely to ever get it? And then, one day, something happens when you least expect it, and then you go, “OHHH.”
Heh. The last time something like that happened to me, I found myself falling – so, so hard – for Woob (full story here).
Ok, before you get too excited, let me just say that Woob is still very much holding court in my fangirl heart, so no takeovers or upsets of any kind there.
But I hafta confess that I am so, SO blown away by just how much I’m suddenly charmed by Hong Jong Hyun. Seriously. He’s been giving me a serious case of the goofy grins over the last two days, and I just have to tell y’all all about it.
I honestly haven’t seen that many of Hong Jong Hyun’s works.
Wait. Let me rephrase that. I think it’s more accurate to say I haven’t noticed Hong Jong Hyun in many of his works.
I’d seen Oh! My Lady (2010) and Wild Romance (2012), but because he played minor-ish supporting characters in those shows, I only really noticed Hong Jong Hyun when I watched White Christmas. And those of you who’ve read my Woobie love confession will know that Woob is pretty much the main reason behind my decision to check out White Christmas.
With Woob’s shock of red hair and his arresting role as Mad Maru, it was kinda hard for a smitten fangirl to pay a whole lot of attention to everything and everyone else onscreen. And there was so much Priority Pretty on the screen too. I mean, when I wasn’t mesmerized by Woob, I was busy appreciating Sung Joon, for whom I have a pretty big soft spot.
I registered that Hong Jong Hyun looked.. interesting, with his angular features, strong brows, and piercing gaze, but he just wasn’t rocking my Woob-centered, Sung-Joon-on-the-side boat.
Other than White Christmas, I’d also noticed him in Vampire Idol. Again, a show that I was watching mainly for a fresh dose of Woob.
I did think that Hong Jong Hyun and Lee Soo Hyuk were amusing as Woob’s fellow vampires, and I was also tickled by the campy, nonsensical tone of the show.
But again, Hong Jong Hyun managed to slip under my fangirl radar quite easily. With my eyes trained on Woob most of the time, he was just another mildly cute vampire to me.
More recently, I didn’t get around to checking out Cyrano Dating Agency (Edit: I watched it! You can check out my review here), nor Jeon Woo Chi, so Hong Jong Hyun got quietly filed away in my mind as just another one of the White Christmas boys.
Now that I’ve poked around and seen a couple of stills, though, I’m sorta-maybe a little bit tempted to at least check out Jeon Woo Chi. Coz Hong Jong Hyun gets to look kinda fierce in it, like this:
We’ll see. Maybe I’ll check out just Hong Jong Hyun’s scenes.
THE UNEXPECTED, TANGENTIAL RABBIT HOLE
But for now, back to my story.
If you’ve known me for a while, you’d probably know that I don’t watch much variety. I prefer to spend my drama hours on, well, dramas, and even then, I have trouble keeping up with all the shows that I’m curious to check out. I only ever watch an episode or two of variety if someone that I like or find interesting guests on a show. Like when Woob appeared on Running Man, for example. Man, I couldn’t get my hands on those episodes fast enough, heh.
I’d never really checked out We Got Married, even when I’d heard of some cuteness from various virtual couples. I’d watched a few snippets here and there, but never actually followed any of the couples’ journeys. I’d bookmarked those as Stuff To Check Out, Someday, and then never got around to them.
Three (or was it four?) days ago, though, when the news that Surplus Princess had gotten its episode count cut from 14 to 10 episodes was still relatively fresh, I saw the hilarious response video that Mary made, where she sort of mentioned that she’d be checking out Song Jae Rim in We Got Married.
I was so tickled by Mary’s video response, that I decided on a whim to check out Song Jae Rim’s WGM appearance too, just for fun.
After watching the Song Jae Rim-Kim So Eun segment, I was highly amused. (They are very cute, and Song Jae Rim looks like he could be quite the player, trying to woo his new wife with cheesy-smooth lines and fast-tracked skinship. Omo!)
I was amused enough to be curious about the other couples being featured, and decided to check out the rest of the episode, y’know, just to see.
And that’s when I caught sight of Hong Jong Hyun looking like this:
He looked so clean-cut and handsome, and appeared relaxed and chatty enough that I had to pause the video and go, “Wait. Who did they say this guy was again???” *checks cast list* *blinks* “Hong Jong Hyun?? But.. Isn’t Hong Jong Hyun the guy from White Christmas???” *googles*
OMG. IT IS HONG JONG HYUN!!!!!
I watched the rest of the Hong Jong Hyun-Kim Yura segment in wonder, marveling at how different he looks, sounds and just comes across in general. Where had this clean-cut, handsome, relaxed, smiley and somewhat chatty person come from? What had happened to the quiet, reserved, stiff version of him that I had in my head?
I was curious enough to backtrack to this couple’s first episode on the show, and was rather astonished (yet not completely surprised) that in his first episode on WGM, Hong Jong Hyun really was quiet, reserved and stiff. Ha! So my instinct hadn’t been too far off, after all!
Hong Jong Hyun’s first meeting with Yura is so awkward that it got a little hard to watch, from the second-hand embarrassment of long fidgety silences.
But I’d also seen how much more comfortable they are with each other in more recent episodes, and decided to follow their story, just to see how they got here. And what a rewarding decision that proved to be!
As I watched, I grew to enjoy them so much that I marathoned – or rather, inhaled – all of the couple’s (dubbed the JjongAh Couple) segments in just two days, a big goofy grin plastered permanently to my face. The moment I finished one episode, I just had to get my next fix; they were – are! – just too cute to stop at one episode!
Best of all, I’m loving Yura and Jong Hyun individually, and I’m also loving them together as a couple.
You guys probably know that I’m pretty much a kpop noob, so it should come as no surprise that aside from having seen group member Minah who’d appeared in Vampire Idol with Hong Jong Hyun, I knew nothing about Girl’s Day nor about Yura.
I hafta say though, just from the WGM segments alone, I’m finding Yura extremely likable.
She’s cheerful and bubbly, and despite having quite the klutzy streak, she is so very earnest that it’s hard not to like her.
I love how she doesn’t ever seem deterred by Jong Hyun’s quiet reticence, and proceeds to doggedly infect him with her enthusiasm instead. She’s easily amused, readily appreciative, and has an infectious, easy laugh to boot.
To top it all off, she seems extremely sincere. I loved the beat in one of the early-ish episodes where she made a casual-sounding promise to draw Jong Hyun sometime, then proceeded to stay up several nights to actually do it as a surprise gift (and a pretty darn impressive one) to him. I loved too, how eagerly she hid the gift, and how she was practically jumping out of her skin while waiting for him to find it.
She appears to genuinely like him, which is all kinds of sweet.
And I have to give her a lot of the credit for drawing Jong Hyun out of his quiet shell. If not for her persistent enthusiasm, easygoing nature and tacit understanding of Jong Hyun’s often muted responses, I’m pretty sure the JjongAh Couple wouldn’t be as adorable as they are today.
Hong Jong Hyun
I know I’ve said this already, but I’m gonna say it again. Hong Jong Hyun is SO HANDSOME in WGM.
To the stylist who decided that his hair would look good like this, THANK YOU. I love how his hair is styled away from his face, yet retains some length on top, and has enough volume to look breezy and quite natural. He looks so wholesome, with a touch of sporty, which I really dig.
More than the hair and his very pleasing appearance overall, I’m more blown away by the insights that we get into his personality as he responds to Yura and to the challenges thrown at him by the WGM team.
He’s so smart and resourceful
Jong Hyun’s really shown himself to be an excellent problem-solver. I love how smart and resourceful he is, in the big and little things.
In a recent episode, when he needed to prepare a housewarming party to welcome the Girl’s Day members to his and Yura’s new digs on super short notice, he raided the supply room at MBC for games, milked some food from MBC’s kitchen, ordered in an impressive BBQ, and even prepared a hand-crafted “Welcome” sign.
Thanks to his quick thinking and thoughtful preparation, the housewarming is a huge hit, and the girls slyly tell Yura that she married well. Cute!
I also love the little beats where Jong Hyun demonstrates his resourcefulness. Coz they’re little moments, they almost seem throwaway; it’s so offhanded and casual. Like the moment when he needs to get ice out of a bucket to make iced coffee for Yura, and the ice is all stuck to the sides of the bucket. Without missing a beat, he leans over to where he’d left a hammer from working on something else, and knocks the sides of the bucket with the hammer, effortlessly dislodging all the ice cubes.
The fact that he does this sharp-witted problem-solving thing consistently, and in such an effortless manner, really drives up my respect for him. I find his brand of smart very swoony indeed.
He’s so patient, and he takes care of her
I mentioned earlier that Yura has a klutzy streak, and I’m so not exaggerating. The girl has had multiple mishaps and missteps, from driving Jong Hyun’s beloved remote control car into the water, to losing her wedding ring during a bubble bath photoshoot.
I love that Jong Hyun is exceedingly patient with her.
Even when his remote control car dove into the water on their honeymoon, he didn’t betray any signs of agitation, even though I’m sure he must’ve felt some degree of dismay. Instead, he switches into problem-solving mode (smart Jong Hyun is so swoony!) and borrows a fishing net to fish it out of the water. Then as Yura earnestly tries to dry the car with her hairdryer, Jong Hyun watches her with a quiet smile. His eyes are on her and not the car, and I love that little moment.
When Yura loses her wedding ring into the sea of bubbles during their bubble bath photoshoot, Jong Hyun simply thinks of where it might’ve landed, and gets to looking for it, managing to find it in the midst of the foam in a remarkably short time. How does he do that?
Through it all, Jong Hyun takes care of Yura, and I find that really, really sweet. Like in the shot above, where he gently wipes foam off her face after they’ve had a playful foam battle.
Or the time during their honeymoon, where they decide to do a couple bungee jump and Yura is so scared despite wanting to try it out. They have to jump with him holding her princess-style, and while they’re still dangling in the air post-jump, he pats her back to comfort and reassure her in the midst of her tears.
Sweet, patient, caring Jong Hyun is amazingly melty, and I just cannot get enough of him. ❤
He’s so thoughtful
One of the things I find most impressive about Jong Hyun is that he really listens, and he’s extremely thoughtful.
He consistently remembers tiny details from casual remarks made by various people, and then acts on them.
Like the jokey remarks from the Girl’s Day members requesting certain types of food the next time he visits them. I love that Jong Hyun takes it all in, and then before visiting them again in a later episode, goes to the exact stall specified by them, to buy them bags and bags of food.
Or in a more recent episode, when Jong Hyun and Yura are served a table full of food, and he notices that almost all the items match the list of foods that she doesn’t eat, that Yura had rattled off in an earlier episode.
Without a word, Jong Hyun tentatively leans in to look at Yura’s expression, to see how she’s reacting to this table laden with all the foods she doesn’t eat.
I love how he pays attention to her reaction, and I love even more, that he remembers the whole list of stuff that she’d mentioned so casually.
I love too, how he quietly encourages her to try the food, by doing a taste test first, to ensure that the raw fish isn’t too fishy for her taste.
One of the recent highlights which blew me away, is the surprise gift that Jong Hyun prepares for Yura to mark their 100th day as a couple: a HAND-MADE EASEL, crafted between drama takes.
Oh. My. Word. How sweet is he?!?
I love that he put thought into a gift that would be useful to her, that would speak to one of her passions. And I love that he deliberately looks for a gift that he can personally make for her himself.
That he would make it a priority despite not getting a lot of sleep on the drama set, is just doubly swoony.
Perhaps one of the instances where I found his thoughtfulness most touching, is in the most recent episode (episode 239), when he surprises Yura with candlelight and wine, only to have her hide in embarrassment over her bare face.
I love the look of concern on his face as he leans in to try to get a read of her expression:
I love, too, that when Yura adamantly refuses to show her bare face, he simply gets up and washes off whatever makeup’s on his face too.
And even though he can’t actually see that much of a difference between bare-faced Yura and made-up Yura, I love that he doesn’t press her to accept his opinion, but instead sincerely asks her to describe how bare she feels without her makeup, in an effort to understand her:
His quiet understanding and acceptance eventually turns the situation around, and he and Yura end up having a lovely little 100th day celebration.
Guh. How much do I love that Jong Hyun made such clear efforts to empathize with Yura, from being bare-faced with her, to asking for and listening to her explanation of how she really felt.
He is sweetness, personified. Swoon~
He’s so bashful
Hong Jung Hyun is a bashful shy boy, and I find this thing about him exceedingly endearing.
From the very beginning of their couple-ship, Jong Hyun’s been very shy. It’s a lot less pronounced now than it was in the beginning, but he’s definitely on the reserved end of the scale, and is clearly rather out of his depth with all the dating and skinship that he and Yura go through on the show.
Whenever he’s embarrassed, or having a I-can’t-believe-I’m-actually-doing-this sort of moment, he has a habit of covering his eyes, which I’ve come to find completely adorable. It’s such a clear visual cue that he’s feeling rather mortified, and it’s so, so cute!
Like how he gets uncomfortable and sheepish holding hands with Yura during a recent photoshoot, because she showed up in something that he found too revealing:
Tee hee. I just love that her outfit gets him so flustered, when it really isn’t all that revealing.
I’ve also come to love how he tends to cover his mouth when he’s trying to laugh off embarrassment, like so:
Bashful Jong Hyun is all kinds of sweet and adorable, and I love seeing this shy streak show up again and again, even as he gets more comfortable with Yura.
He’s got a prankster streak
As Jong Hyun gets more comfortable with Yura, his playful prankster streak shows more and more.
I love this because firstly, this is a side of him that he only shows to people that he feels close to. The fact that he’s showing this side of himself to Yura therefore means that he’s feeling close to her. Eeeeee!
Secondly, him showing his prankster side also means that we get to see more of his personality as well, which I love that we get to do. I like knowing that behind the bashful shy exterior, there is a playful boy in there who likes to have fun.
We see it more and more as the episodes progress, and here’s just one example, from the couple’s recent photoshoot.
They’re working out romantic looking couple poses among the white sheets and red petals, and they’re both feeling pretty awkward about it. And then there’s this moment, when Jong Hyun get this Look on his face as he eyes Yura:
Remembering her remark that she’s super ticklish, he asks for her hand, and when she innocently gives it to him, he goes in for the attack, tickling her under the arms.
That, of course, leads to adorable giggly romps which make for great photos – and screenshots. Just take a look at them:
Ahhh! They are so, SO CUTE, these two!
He’s so genuine
Probably due to his reserved nature, Jong Hyun really doesn’t seem to be able to fake it or make stuff up even if his life depended on it. Just his initial meeting with Yura, filled with long awkward silences, is evidence enough for me.
Because of this, the care and affection that he now shows for Yura seems sincere.
It’s in the way he looks at her when she’s not looking; it’s in his thoughtful responses during his solo interview segments; it’s in how he opens up to her and chats and laughs with her when they’re alone.
One of the moments that I found really quite touching, is in episode 231, where Jong Hyun and Yura have a double date sort of episode with Nam Goong Min and Hong Jin Young, the third and most senior couple currently on the air.
It’s time for after-dinner table games, and Nam Goong Min suggests that they each describe their spouse in a sentence. Yura describes Jong Hyun as being like a dad to her coz of how he takes care of her.
Jong Hyun, unable to sum up his answer in just one word, says quite seriously, “Firstly, I like her bright attitude the most. She is kind of careless… Well, a lot. Because of that, I start to take care of her naturally. But I don’t dislike that.”
I just love how seriously and sincerely he answers the question.
When the other couple expresses surprise that he would actually tell them about his personal feelings like that, Jong Hyun responds earnestly, “That’s because I wanted to tell the truth.”
Augh. I luff this boy. I really, really do!
Just, how sweet and sincere and genuine is he??? ❤
As a couple, I think that Jong Hyun and Yura complement each other really well.
He’s the problem-solver and protector, and she’s the cheery bright sunshine that draws him out of his shell.
They’ve both got playful prankster streaks, so when they play together, it’s super cute and lots of fun. They’ve got good chemistry going, and as they get more comfortable with each other, the chemistry is getting sparkier and more pronounced, which I dig.
More than that, they seem to genuinely like and care for each other, and that is just pure delight to watch. During the challenges, they’re both competitive, but for both, the competition clearly takes a backseat to ensuring the well-being of the other person.
Having watched their growth as a couple over the last 17 episodes, I feel like their different strengths make up for the other’s shortcomings, and their commonalities draw them together.
That, plus the fact that they are just simply adorable to watch. I can totally see these two potentially dating in real life, and being very happy together.
D’aw. Just thinking about that makes me smile. 🙂
A JJONGAH COUPLE SCREENSHOT SPASM
Which is why I just have to take this chance to showcase their cuteness factor with a screenshot spasm.
These are from episodes 238 and 239. Aren’t they ADORABLE??
WHERE CAN I GET MY HANDS ON THIS ADORABLE CRACK?!??
You can watch the full episodes on KShowOnline. HD options are available too, so KShowOnline is a great source if you don’t mind watching full episodes.
The episode where Hong Jong Hyun and Yura first meet is Episode 223, which you can watch here. Their screen time begins at 45:35.
The episode I first watched, which also features Song Jae Rim and Kim So Eun, is Episode 238, which you can watch here. Theirs is the first segment in the episode.
The latest episode, Episode 239, is here. They’re also the first couple featured in the episode.
Girls Day Fan Subs
If you prefer to watch it in HD, only want to watch the JjongAh Couple segments, and don’t mind having your video split into multiple parts, you can check out Girls Day Fan Subs.
If you’re the impatient sort, this might be a great go-to source for you, as they are reputedly the first ones out with subs each week.
A MINI HONG JONG HYUN GALLERY
Since this is a post celebrating Hong Jong Hyun after all, it just would not be complete with at least a mini gallery.
Jong Hyun’s image is definitely evolving, from his previous cooler, more avant garde sort of image to something much warmer and more wholesome and approachable. While I don’t dislike his previous cooler image, I have to confess that it’s his newer, warmer boy-next-door vibe that I’m digging much more.
In line with that, I’m showcasing fewer of his older photos, and more of his recent ones.
With his sharp features, strong brows and piercing gaze (I do like my men with strong brows, don’t I?), Hong Jong Hyun does broody very well. Plus he has different shades of broody too. Sometimes, he exudes an edgy sort of badass vibe, and at other times, he’s a little more pensive. And then sometimes, like in the 3rd pic, he’s both. Which is why I like the 3rd pic best of this lot.
I actually do like the cool vibe on Hong Jong Hyun, and I particularly like the cool vibe when it’s combined with his clean-cut new style.
I especially like the sepia-toned shot of him adjusting his parka collar. The entire vibe of the photo screams effortless cool, like he’s not even trying to look cool, but does anyway.
And of course, I also rather dig the two pix of him with the motorbike. It’s rugged cool with a touch of badass, and it doesn’t look at all bad on him.
Whether it’s a crisp white shirt, a structured blazer or neatly coiffed hair, these pix give off a sharp sort of vibe that I like very much. Jong Hyun looks smart, sophisticated, and rather dashing in these.
My two favorites in this set are the 5th and 6th pix; he’s dressed in chic, effortlessly casual clothes, and his hair is sharply styled. The hair’s a touch on the tall side, but I’m gonna just put that down to the camera angle.
We don’t see cheeky or bright from Jong Hyun very much, especially outside the context of WGM, which makes these pix extra special.
My favorite of this set is this first one, coz it’s the same naughty glint in his eyes that we sometimes see in WGM, and that slight, lopsided smile screams cheeky to me.
This section appears a touch hodge-podge, but it’s my favorite section in the gallery coz this is where I’ve put all the photos that have a softer, warmer vibe together.
Whether it’s a softer gaze on him, a warm smile or a cuddly vibe, or best of all, all 3, these photos showcase a little more of Jong Hyun’s warmth.
There are 3 photos of Jong Hyun with pups (eeee!! Puppies!!), and I do love the fact that he seems very at ease with pups in general. My favorite of the lot, though, is the one where he’s sitting on the couch with his legs stretched out, pup cradled with one arm and mobile phone in his other hand. Love the clean-cut, neat hair and the casual, laid-back togs. He just looks so wholesome, approachable and cuddly. Yum. 🙂
THE LAST WORD
To the person who thought of having Hong Jong Hyun on WGM, you are a genius. Thank you for thinking of a way of showing us the awesome person hiding behind that shy exterior in such a fun context.
To the person who thought of pairing Jong Hyun with Yura on WGM, you, too, are genius. You sure have an eye for complementing personalities. If you’re not already pairing people up on a full-time basis, you should totally consider it as a career option.
To Jong Hyun, thank you for accepting what must have felt like a very uncomfortable casting assignment.
For hanging in there and pushing through all the embarrassment and discomfort, for being vulnerable in front of the cameras and showing us more of the real you, and for being such a dorky, smart, swoony sweet guy, we love you. I love you.
I can only say, moar please!