So I’ve been meaning to do a k-love post for Joo Won for more than a year, ever since blog reader sarahlantz made a request (or several 😉 ) last year, for some Joo Won lovin’ on the site.
Honestly, I did a bunch of preliminary, er, research for this post as early as May 2014. Heh. And by research I mean spending hours and hours trawling the interwebs for Joo Won pretty. Oh, the hardship – not! XD It’s just only now that inspiration has struck in full force, for me to actually top off that research with one last burst of goodies, and put the post together. Coz yes, k-love posts need inspiration too – you guys are looking at an inspired piece of research, I swears!
Come admire, melt & swoon with me, y’all. 😉
MY JOURNEY OF JOO WON
Encounter 1: Ojakgyo Brothers
I feel like I just happened to stumble onto the Joo Won awesome, really.
I’d skipped Baker King, Kim Tak Gu when it came out in 2010, coz I’m not big into Big Melo, or baking, and a bunch of people making a Big Dramatic Deal over baking just didn’t seem like my cup of tea. Which is why I had not a single clue about Joo Won’s brand of onscreen awesome when I started watching Ojakgyo Brothers (review here!) in early 2013.
Maybe not knowing about the Joo Won awesome was a good thing; that probably amplified his effect on me, which can be summed up thusly: Flail. Melt. Puddle.
I loved his delivery of his character Tae Hee, whom he made quietly pensive and so gently swoony:
Joo Won made Tae Hee’s pathos come to life on my screen, and I felt for him, So Much.
Of course, it didn’t hurt at all, that Tae Hee got to do some very swoony leading man type things:
I’m tellin’ ya, I couldn’t breathe, and my knees melted to a severe degree, while watching this scene – and several others.
Perhaps my favorite discovery about Joo Won while watching this show, is that he has gorgeous, expressive, bedroomy eyes, which I find mesmerizing. I mean, just looking at ’em, I feel a little hypnotized. Truly.
Guh. So beautiful <3 I can’t stop staring. Can you?
Ojakgyo Brothers is lovely, by the way. Even if you’re not into family dramas, I highly recommend it. It’s like watching 4 rom-coms at once, with family warmth thrown in for good measure.
Encounter 2: Gaksital
While I was in the thick of my Ojakgyo Brothers watch, Gaksital (review here!) took the dramaverse by storm, and I couldn’t help but check it out, even though I generally don’t care for shows with political themes.
I’m so glad that I followed the positive buzz for Gaksital, coz not only is Gaksital quite brilliant (go watch it if you haven’t already!), I discovered that Joo Won is even more awesome than I’d thought.
On paper, Joo Won’s character Kang To actually reads rather similarly to his character Tae Hee in Ojakgyo Brothers. Both are lonely characters harboring inner angst, who need to work through that angst in order to heal and grow into better men. They’re even both policemen.
I watched Gaksital at the same time that I watched Ojakgyo Brothers, and despite these similarities between Kang To and Tae Hee, I never once felt like they were simply different versions of the same character. They felt like two distinct, different people who just happened to have a few things in common.
I was mesmerized by Joo Won’s delivery of Kang To, a character whose trajectory demanded an extremely wide range of emotion. Joo Won delivered on every count, and in spades, too. So. Good.
Even more impressive is the fact that Gaksital was only Joo Won’s third drama, and Ojakgyo Brothers, his second. Wow, right?
Missed: Level 7 Civil Servant + Good Doctor
Level 7 Civil Servant
After being blown away by Joo Won in both Ojakgyo Brothers and Gaksital, I was intrigued when he took on the lead role in Level 7 Civil Servant. I mean, Joo Won as a sharp-suit wearing, gun-toting spy? It sounded amazing.
And then we all know what happened: Level 7 was a disappointing drama by all accounts. Even the hardcore Joo Won fans among my readers told me that they couldn’t recommend the show. And so I avoided Level 7, limiting my appreciation of the show to Joo Won’s badass gun-toting stills. Coz he does look fantastic.
Here’s one more:
Another Joo Won drama that I missed was Good Doctor, in which Joo Won plays an autistic character who also happens to be a genius doctor.
All reality distortion aside, I hafta admit that my main difficulty with watching this show is that I much prefer Joo Won when he’s being cool, swoony &/or badass. I tried an episode, and couldn’t get into his character.
But, this show’s still on my watch list, coz I do like Joo Won and want to see him excel in a role. Plus, lots of people found Good Doctor quite the heartwarming (if illogical) watch.
Someday, I’ll give this one another go.
Encounter 3: Baker King, Kim Tak Gu
Early this year, on a rather random whim, I decided to check out Baker King, Kim Tak Goo. The show enjoyed such good ratings that I decided I was curious enough to see for myself what the fuss was about.
As I’d guessed, Baker King really was a drama that made a Big Deal about baking, often taking it to fantastical, melodramatic heights. What surprised me, though, was that for a good stretch, I felt like this was makjang I could eat with a spoon. I actually enjoyed it. That is, until things got repetitive and draggy and quite boring in the later stretch.
But, my curiosity was satisfied. Joo Won was quite a captivating antagonist. As Ma Joon, Joo Won was angsty and angry, yet possessed an underbelly of vulnerability that made my heart go out to him, in spite of myself. It’s no wonder that viewers were sometimes more intrigued by him than the titular Kim Tak Goo (played by Yoon Si Yoon).
Impressively, this was Joo Won’s debut role. I mean, yes, he’d acted in theater prior, but that’s a very different ballgame compared to acting onscreen, and Joo Won had made the transition very smoothly; so much so that I didn’t realize till later, that he’d had experience in theater. What a splash he’d made, in his debut screen role!
Encounter 4: Fashion King
I watched Fashion King while on a flight earlier this year, and.. I didn’t love it.
I guess it’s just not my kind of movie. Illogical, OTT, and campy, with supposed fashion that looked many times weirder than actual haute couture, watching Fashion King required a truckload of suspension of disbelief. Which – for Joo Won’s sake – I managed, until the last third or so. After that, it was just all too much for me, and I skipped to the end just to see how everything ended. (It ended very dramatically, and let’s just say that I couldn’t get behind the idea that fashion is more important than life and limb.) I guess my love for Joo Won wasn’t quite strong enough for me to endure the whole movie. 😛
Anyhow, if your taste in movies is very different from mine, you just might like it. Here’s the movie trailer, coz stills just wouldn’t be able to convey how wacky this movie really is. For that, you kinda hafta see it in motion:
Encounter 5: Cantabile Tomorrow
More recently, I managed to watch – and enjoy! – Cantabile Tomorrow, after several false starts from when the drama first aired (Flash Review here!).
Joo Won was THE highlight of the show, for me. He delivered a faceted, emotionally relatable performance, which grounded the campy drama world for me. Also, I was reminded all over again, of how gorgeous, melty and mesmerizing his bedroomy eyes are. Lookie:
So melty <3
Here’re just a couple more Joo Won screenshots that didn’t make it into my review, for your viewing pleasure.
HE SINGS, TOO!
Given that Joo Won started his career as a musical actor, it’s no surprise that he sings, and very well too. I love a man with music talent, so, Eeee! 😉
It’s a rare and wonderful thing, to have an actor who wields extreme capability on both the acting and the singing front. Most people are better at one compared to the other; few are equally skilled in both. Listening to Joo Won sing, though, it certainly seems like he’s one of those rare gems who’s got serious talent on both sides. Can’t blame the producers from having him sing on the OST of every drama he’s appeared in, with the exception of Ojakgyo Brothers.
Here’s a handy list of all the songs he’s sung to date, on various drama OSTs. I’ve purposely chosen non-MV type vids, so that those of you who haven’t watched the dramas can safely listen to him singing, without risking spoilers. 🙂
Just check out that range, especially on Gaksital’s Judgment Day track, which, with its hard-edged rock style, is such a departure from the typical ballads that actors lend their voices to.
Baker King, Kim Tak Gu: 내 사랑 (My Love)
Bridal Mask: 사랑 그리고 사랑 (Love and Love)
Good Doctor: 내가 만일 (If I Were)
Cantabile Tomorrow: 이노센트 (Innocente)
Ghost: The Musical
In 2013, I was a little sad when Joo Won took a break from our screens to return to his musical roots with a lead role in Ghost. I mean, I admired his passion for and dedication to his craft, and was happy that he was happy, but I was sad coz I thought it meant we wouldn’t see much of him on our screens for quite a while.
Happily, I was wrong. Joo Won managed to somehow also find time for a movie and two dramas in 2013. See, what did I say about dedication and passion?
While I’m sad that I never got to see Ghost while Joo Won was acting in it, here’s the next best thing.
First, a couple of stills of Joo Won at his leading man best. Just check out that longing and angst that’s evident even from just the stills. <3
Here’s a small collection of excerpts from the musical, which showcase Joo Won singing Unchained Melody in 4 very different styles:
Joo Won’s made heaps of variety appearances, and I admit that I haven’t seen that many of ’em. From what I have seen, though, he strikes me as a lot more bashful than many of the drama characters that he’s played.
My favorite clip from these 3, has got to be his emotional goodbye from 1 Night 2 Days, where he was part of the cast for 1 year 8 months. He comes across as so sincere and earnest, and his tears even get his hyungs crying too. I didn’t follow his 1N2D stint, and even I started choking up while I watched the clip.
You just can’t help but love him, he wears his heart so openly and earnestly on his sleeve. <3
Guerilla Date (Entertainment Weekly / 15 November 2014)
Happy Together (21 August 2013)
As with his variety appearances, I actually don’t follow Joo Won’s interviews very closely either. But from what I have seen, he strikes me as an actor who is serious about his craft, and who cares more for the substance of the work, than about popularity.
Given Gaksital’s sensitive political nature, the possibility of alienating the Japanese viewers was very real. Yet, he didn’t waste time worrying about that. Instead he poured himself into deliberating Kang To’s characterization. I definitely respect that about him.
COMING SOON: MORE JOO WON ON MY SCREEN!
Honestly, my interest in Yong Pal has been going up with each new thing I learn about it. At first, I wasn’t terribly interested in the premise. I mean, rogue doctor who makes house calls to the wealthy? Uh. Okayyy. Not very gripping, really.
And then, Joo Won signed on – woot! Coz Joo Won’s awesome! And THEN, we got stills. Of Joo Won. With short, sharp hair styled carelessly away from his face. The effect is offhandedly edgy, and I dig it very much. Lookie:
Umph. I do love the look.
Even better, in these other stills, Joo Won looks extremely capable and quite kickass; nothing like a typical doctor. My interest level went up to a very solid 8 on a drama-watching scale of 10. 😉
And THEN, Yong Pal dropped its second trailer, and I saw Joo Won in all his Healer-esque parkour glory. Now I want in, like, yesterday! XD
Check it out:
Ahhh! So excited! Can’t wait for Joo Won to blow me away, yet again.
MY GALLERY OF JOO WON
In the meantime, let’s feast our eyes on the results of my hours of research, shall we?
Joo Won’s quite the chameleon, as we’ve seen from his acting roles. So it’s hardly any surprise that his photo spreads cover a wide range of vibes as well. I don’t consider this gallery at all exhaustive; I just picked photos that I like. Maybe I should warn you in advance that I liked quite a lot of ’em? 😉
I actually think that boyish wholesome is very close to Joo Won’s usual self; at least, that’s the vibe I get when I see him in variety and interviews. In any case, Joo Won wears the look well, he feels like he could so possibly be the boy next door, who happens to be fun-loving, bashful and very, very good-looking.
Special shout-out to the 5th pic in this set, coz it features a very young-looking Joo Won. Doesn’t he look so pretty?? It’s the kind of pretty that could quite possibly pigeon-hole someone into flower-boy type roles. Happily for us, as he’s grown and matured, Joo Won’s features have evolved into a more versatile version of themselves.
I think my favorite pic in this series is the one of him playing in the snow. He looks so genuinely joyful and happy that it makes me happy. 🙂
I do love me some badass Joo Won; he’s so swoony and sexy when he’s being badass. There aren’t that many photos in this section, but I’m hopeful that with Yong Pal coming to our screens, that we’ll get a lot more of badass Joo Won to admire.
My favorites in this section are these first two pix. Coz, Badass Joo Won + Sharp Suit bonus! Eee!
Considering the kind of careful deliberation Joo Won puts into each of his roles, as well as his gentle nature, the pensive thoughtful vibe feels very natural on him. When I look at these pix, I feel like he’s thinking deeply about things that he cares about, and I find that very attractive indeed.
My favorite photo in this set is the third to last one. It’s got such a dreamy vibe about it, yet Joo Won manages to channel just a touch of edge. Very nice indeed.
This section takes the thoughtful vibe to a darker, grittier, more intense place. Joo Won wears the varying degrees of broody well, from mildly intent to full-on sardonic gritty.
My favorite pic in this section is the 4th one, where he’s brooding through what seems to be a window of sorts. The hazy treatment of the photo contrasts really nicely with his intent, broody gaze. Very nice.
Fierce & Smoldery
This is the section where we get to see varying degrees of fire in Joo Won’s gaze. From restrained simmering, to full-on snarl, the fire in his eyes is unmistakable and very sexy indeed.
I particularly love the last pic, Joo Won looks so fierce with the slicked back hair, the leather jacket, and that fierce, smoldery gaze.
This section is basically smoldery, with the dial turned up to sardonic. Joo Won’s gaze is fabulous in every degree of smirky, but his brows are the stand-out stars here.
I just adore this first pic. There’s so much gritty edge to Joo Won’s styling, and his gaze is so perfectly sardonic, yet it’s all softened up with that fantastic little detail of him petting a sleeping kitten. Love!
Edit: Blog reader and serious Joo Won fan mrdimples alerted me to the fact that this favorite shot of mine, with the kitty, is actually photoshopped by a fan! The skillz! Not to mention the brilliance, of adding that kitty detail to soften up the overall vibe of the shot. She should be a consultant to all the styling teams behind all the magazine shoots, dontcha think? 😉 I’m keeping the photoshopped pic in the post coz I do love it. But, I’m also inserting the original shot just below it, so you can pick whichever one you prefer! Enjoy!
Sharp & Dapper
Joo Won looks fabulous when he’s all cleaned up in a sharp suit. I love the look on him so much that I kinda wish he’d take on a role that would require him to wear suits of the razor-sharp variety, like, ALL the time. Mmm. I’d definitely watch that drama! 😉
I enjoy just about all the pix in this section, but I do love the third to last one, just a little bit more than the others. A sharp tux + Joo Won’s lean profile + a smoldery smirk = YUM. <3
I love the ruggedly handsome look on Joo Won. Not only does he look great, it makes his brand of handsome feel that much more accessible, like I could plausibly meet him on the street.
My favorite pic here, is the 4th one. Coz, Joo Won in a crisp, white, open-collared shirt, paired with jeans, is so offhandedly handsome. I do have a weakness for a man in a crisp white shirt 😉
One of Joo Won’s most endearing looks is when he’s all snuggly-cuddly. In all of these pix, he just makes me want to reach into my screen and squish him.
I especially love the last pic. Joo Won, all sleepy-cuddly in bed? Yes, please! 😉
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I just love Joo Won’s gorgeous, sexy, bedroomy eyes. Any time he levels that gentle, bedroomy gaze at the camera, I swoon. He doesn’t even need to be come-hither about it; I think all he has to do is look thoughtful, and I find it alluring.
How beautiful is this 3rd pic, all dark and moody, with his fabulous gaze just reaching out to you to pull you right in?
And how guilelessly sexy is that last shot? He doesn’t even look like he’s inviting you to join him in bed, but those gentle, gorgeous eyes make me want to crawl right in there with him. *cough*
The Soft Gaze
Still on the topic of Joo Won’s very lovely eyes, I just love the soft gaze on him. It makes him feel so warm, tender and comforting, really.
My fave in this set is the 3rd pic. He looks so casually laidback as he gazes off-camera with that gentle, warm gaze. And I do love his hair styled away from his face like that. Gorgeous <3
As always, here’s a selection of candids. I enjoy the unposed nature of candids coz they give us a closer glimpse of the real person beneath the actor persona. I do love that Joo Won seems to be a happy kinda guy who enjoys what he does.
Special shout-out to the pic of him taking a selfie, complete with sticky-outy tongue and mildly crossed eyes. He can be quite the dork, which I find adorable.
Well now. That was quite a load of Joo Won goodies, wasn’t it? Yum. 😉
I do love that as I dived in to do research for this post, that I found more and more things to like about him. I hadn’t seen the Ghost footage until I poked around the interwebs to prepare this post, and I was suitably, gloriously, completely blown away.
You know what, you’re very welcome to keep on blowin’ me away, Joo Won-sshi. Preferably on a very regular basis. You and your very gorgeous, mesmerizing, bedroomy eyes. <3