I have a Dear kfangurl question to ask! My question is whether you’ve ever had a problem watching the same actor in a different role, because you have such a strong impression of him/her in the first show you saw the actor in?
Asking because I just started watching K dramas last year, and i started with highly rated ones like Crash Landing on You and Healer, where the OTPs are so smashing that I was reluctant to see the actors in other shows as it would feel to me almost like they were cheating on their original OTP! Lol.
So far I haven’t “repeated” any actors besides Lee Jun Ki – I first saw him in Arang and the Magistrate and a few months later in Flower of Evil. But to me that felt ok as his performance made the two characters feel completely different. It probably helped that his Flower of Evil character was supposed to have antisocial personality disorder so has flattened emotions.
But now almost a year after watching Healer, I’m watching Park Min Young in Her Private Life and I keep getting flashbacks to her Healer performance, especially when the two characters overlap on certain traits like optimism, pluckiness and sunny smiles.
It’s probably a personal quirk but I do wonder if anyone faces this issue too! For now there are so many dramas out there that I can avoid repeats of actors but soon it won’t be an option! Ha ha.
Thanks for your question! I find that I don’t struggle with this issue as much now, but I do know the feeling that you describe, where you find it hard to immerse yourself in a show &/or character, because you can’t shake off the actor’s previous role.
I feel that there are a number of factors that feed into this, which I’ll attempt to explore in this post, so that we can figure out how to best mitigate this, where possible.
Everyone, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts, insights and stories in the comments! 🥰
A HANDFUL OF FACTORS
1. The actor’s acting ability
I feel that this is a big piece of the puzzle, because whether an actor’s different roles feel different distinct to us, depends on said actor’s delivery of the roles.
And how the actor delivers each of the roles, depends not only his or her skill and acting range, but also, their dedication to their craft.
Do they make a point of delving deep into each role, to fully understand their character and what makes them unique and different?
I do think that different actors differ in their ability and their dedication to do this.
Since I’ve just finished our Chuno group watch, and am now properly settled into our Money Flower group watch, I’m having the pleasure of watching Jang Hyuk back-to-back, in two very different roles. And it’s quite startling to see how distinct and different he makes each role.
Even the way he uses his voice is completely different in Money Flower, compared to Chuno. In Chuno, he’s all smooth laidback drawl, while in Money Flower, his voice is tempered, dialed down, and diminished, like it’s coming from the back of his throat.
It might be slightly startling to see him in Money Flower right after Chuno, since it’s a completely different era and genre, but I’d venture that there’s really no danger of seeing Dae Gil in Pil Joo and vice versa. He’s just that good. 🤩
This list isn’t comprehensive, but here are some other instances where I’ve been impressed with an actor’s very different and distinct outings in two different dramas. In no particular order:
Jung Kyung Ho (Heartless City vs. Falling For Innocence), Yoo Ah In (Secret Love Affair vs. Chicago Typewriter), Ji Sung (Kill Me Heal Me vs. Familiar Wife), Kim Soo Hyun (It’s Okay To Not Be Okay vs. Producer), Shin Hye Sun (Mr. Queen vs. Thirty But Seventeen), Kim Hee Ae (A Couple’s World vs. Secret Love Affair), Kang Ha Neul (When The Camellia Blooms vs. River Where The Moon Rises), Lee Jae Wook (Memories of the Alhambra vs. Search: WWW), Yoon Eun Hye (Goong vs. Coffee Prince) and Joo Won (Gaksital vs. Ojakgyo Brothers).
Sometimes, I couldn’t even recognize that it was the same actor, like in the case of Lee Jae Wook’s sweet, amiable young actor in Search: WWW, compared with his unhinged, wild, slightly savage character in Memories of the Alhambra.
Shout-out too, to Joo Won, because his characters in Gaksital and Ojakgyo Brothers are both reticent, angsty policemen, and therefore somewhat similar on paper.
Even so, the two characters felt so different and distinct onscreen, that I was able to watch both shows concurrently, and not feel echoes of one character in the other.
To be sure, not all actors are capable of creating such different characters, and for some actors, their acting styles &/or their personal mannerisms are so distinct that most of their characters have similar flavors and therefore land similarly.
This could be quite subjective, but here are a few actors whom I personally count in this category (to be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t enjoy these actors): Gong Hyo Jin, Park Min Young, Cha Eun Woo, Shin Se Kyung, Lee Min Ho and Lee Seo Jin.
The more capable the actors are, in differentiating the way they deliver their characters, the easier it is for us as viewers, to keep them separate in our heads and our hearts.
2. Type of role
Another factor that I think we should consider, is the type of role in question.
An iconic role
If a role is particularly iconic, it can admittedly be difficult to see the same actor in another role. For me personally, I fell for Ji Chang Wook‘s Healer, hook, line and sinker.. and then found that, like you, I had difficulty seeing him other roles.
Soon after I watched Healer, I tried out Empress Ki, because so many people love that show and him in it, but it was so jarring for me to see him as a different character, that I just couldn’t get into it.
Granted, I’ve also mentioned that my other reasons for not continuing Empress Ki is because I’m not a big fan of Ha Ji Won, and the premise itself didn’t grab me, but for the record, this thing about having difficulty seeing Ji Chang Wook as someone other than Healer, was definitely a big factor.
Now, with enough time and space, I no longer have trouble watching Ji Chang Wook in other roles, as evidenced by my being able to finish and actually enjoy Suspicious Partner and Warrior Baek Dong Soo. So.. at least I can say that this phenomenon isn’t necessarily permanent? 😅
Sometimes, an actor keeps getting cast in a similar type of role, which makes it difficult to differentiate one character from another.
I mean, at first glance, can you even tell which of these screenshots of Cha Eun Woo comes from which show? He looks so similar and vibes so similarly, in My ID is Gangnam Beauty and True Beauty.
And even though he did get the chance to do a fusion sageuk in Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung, and therefore was at least styled differently, he still came across in much the same way, with a very similar vibe to his other roles (that I’ve seen, anyway).
To be clear, this didn’t prevent me from enjoying him in each of these shows.. I’m just making a point that he’s mostly coming across pretty similarly, in his roles.
I’d say that pigeonholing as a phenomenon is partly to do with what roles the actor chooses, and partly to do with what roles are being offered to him, in the first place.
Maybe, because an actor has done well in a certain type of role, he just keeps getting offered those types of roles, even though he’s capable of more.
Case in point, Nam Goong Min, whom I thought, for the longest time, was only capable of vanilla second male lead types, like in My Secret Hotel; pleasant enough but hardly memorable.
And then, one day someone had a stroke of genius and decided to cast him as a villain in Sensory Couple, and everyone’s jaws dropped to the ground, because of how interesting Nam Goong Min suddenly seemed, onscreen.
In this case, it wasn’t because he couldn’t do more; he just didn’t get the chance to show that he was capable of more.
In Cha Eun Woo’s case, I do think that his acting range is still limited, and that’s why he keeps getting offered roles within a similar range; these are the types of characters that suit him and he does better in.
While we can’t say for sure whether a pigeonholed actor will get to break out of that mold, at least we’ve seen that it’s been done before, and therefore, we can have hope that it will be done again? 😅
3. How much time has passed
They say time heals all wounds; well, time also does a great thing with blurring our memories and therefore making dramas feel fresh, all over again.
And therefore, it also does this thing, where, if enough time has passed, then seeing an actor in something other than his or her most iconic role, can become believable and even palatable, where before it was just too hard.
For example, back in 2013, when Reply 1994 aired, I was so used to seeing Yoo Yeon Seok as Chilbongie, that I found it rudely jarring to see him in 2012’s A Werewolf Boy afterwards.
By the time I spied him as Gu Dong Mae in 2018’s Mr. Sunshine, though, enough time had passed that it wasn’t hard to see him as someone other than Chilbongie anymore.
Not to say that it actually needs to take years for this mental adjustment to happen; this might’ve happened faster, if Yoo Yeon Seok had done more projects that I was actually interested in checking out. 😅
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Here are a handful of strategies that I personally use, to mitigate the difficulties that we might encounter when watching an actor in multiple projects.
1. Allow some time between shows featuring the same actor, especially if you’ve just watched him or her in a particularly iconic role.
2. As far as possible, pick your next watch of a particular actor such that you’ll get to see him or her in a different type of role, and if possible, a different time period &/or genre.
3. Spread the love around, and give some love and attention to other actors, before coming back to a particular one.
4. Adjust your expectations.
For example, if you know that the actor’s next role is something that’s similar to a role you’ve seen before, dial down your expectations so that you’re not expecting something completely fresh. Just knowing what you’re getting into helps a lot. 😉
I hope you find this post useful, and that it helps you with some ideas on how to best enjoy your favorite actors on your screen.
Like I mentioned earlier, everyone, please feel free to add your own thoughts, insights and experiences in the comments below. As they say, sharing is caring. 🥰
I hope this post helps!
1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!
2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!
I have to say I really wish Korean movies were as accessible as K dramas, not only because there are those periods when one finds oneself feeling a bit jaded with drama or not interested in investing so much time (let alone for those of you, who not like me are retired single folk with time on their hands), but also because some of the best actors in K Drama also have had careers in film.
The one example that best comes to mind for me is Lee Byung Hun. He was the lead in the first K drama I saw, Mr. Sunshine. I thought he was just great in it, albeit both leads, him and Kim Tae Ri, were often upstaged by secondary leads played by Yoon Yeon Seok, Kim Min Jung, and Byun Yo Han. I went on to watch Iris because I wanted to see more of him. While he is good to very good in Iris, show itself went on for a bit too long and was not (for me) anywhere in the same category of good as Mr. Sunshine.
This goes to an important point for me about seeing an actor in different roles. Unlike a lot of other K Drama actors, there are many Lee Byung Hun movies available on streaming to Americans, and so I have seen him in a number of films, which have broadened my view of him as an actor. Seeing a good actor in several things, one does not get so hung up on any particular role, even if one or two stand out. Recently, I watched two historical films in which he had lead billing, albeit in one he distinctly shared the lead role with another male actor, the other with two female lead actors. The first was The Fortress, a bleak historical drama from the Joseon period in which the Qing army invaded Joseon, and the latter, Memories of the Sword, also a historical piece, but actually more of a romanticized revenge tragedy set in the Goryeo era.
The Fortress, a bleak, hyper realistic film, was presented in a straight forwardly chronological order. His character, a counselor to the King, was complex, understated, very intense and pitted against the other lead who had the same virtues with opposing ideas. Cerebral and brooding, his character was just terrific (his role in this I believe presages his most recent film, The Man Standing Next, which I think was one of the two best roles I have seen him in, the other being in Masquerade).
On the other hand, Memories of the Sword, because of its odd sequencing and the nature of the drama itself, more concerned with the revenge plot than the sweep of history, had to be viewed as more a theater piece given the advantages of beautiful cinematography and wire and green screen fight choreography, both beautifully done. In it, Lee Byung Hun played a tragic villain, and his character was less dimensional–two dimensions really–complete and traitorous, cruel in the extreme villain and tragic lover–than his character in The Fortress, who was not so central to the film, but served its purpose, tragedy presented on a much grander and historic scale.
Now I saw The Fortress first. I preferred his enactment in it a good deal, but there were two elements to that beyond which film I saw first. The Fortress was simply a better, more compelling movie. Watching Memories of the Sword, I was constantly adjusting my lens to accept that the film seemed more like a play to me than an actual movie, aside from visual effects. And secondly, Lee Byung Hun had a better role in The Fortress than he did in Memories of the Sword, requiring him to act with greater nuance and humanity.
However, having seen him in a number of dramas and movies, I know I generally like his acting, and am hoping to see more of him both in film and K Drama. And I think that is the real key. Few really good actors are one off good. They get better and lesser roles, and if one gets to see such an actor in several rather than just two pieces, one gains an appreciation for the actor in general, even if sometimes one of their roles is a role of a lifetime.
It is true I have not seen Jang Hyuk in anything that has moved me half so much as his Dae Gil, however much i think he is a reliably good actor and a great, great physical actor, but part of that has to do with the series itself, which for me is one of the five best serial shows I have seen in my (long) life presented on television. And I will always, as with Lee Byung Hun, at least check out any new thing he is in.
Well, I’ve just suffered the worst case of whiplash when it comes to drama stars in different roles! Mercy, me. Recently, some 6 months I guess, I watched Park SiHoo in Babel. Liked his character of the somewhat jaded ex news paper reporter turned prosecutor. Thought it was very well acted by him. PSH was perfect for this part…imo. Enjoyed very much the twists and turns of the drama. THEN…just last week…I decided to watch King Maker..Change In Destiny. And here I find PSH playing a 20 something ‘young master’ freedom fighter! I just struggled throughout with him in this role. What were they thinking? This seasoned actor of 40 something tried admirably to get his part right…but still…what a stretch for him as an actor and for us as the audience. It was almost as bad as Lee MinHo playing a high school student when he was in his late 20’s. The Adam’s apple was just way to big!!! LOLOLO
Watching My Dangerous Wife and loving Choi WonYoung and Kim JungEun.
“In My Country, I wanted to scream, why isn’t anyone in this (save maybe Kim Yeong Cheol as Yi Seong Gye) in his category? why are the two leads so completely (sorry My Country fans) such weak cliched sauce beside him? They had the opportunity of a lifetime. Jang Hyuk was just balls to the wall and I don’t know… It could have been an iconic role, among the greats, but the drama itself did not yield enough despite what a wonder Jang Hyuk’s Yi Bang Won was.”
I’m definitely with you on this! My Country had a lot of potential with all its gorgeous production value, richly interesting time period, great historical characters, and Jang Hyuk’s Bang-won is so riveting, such an absolute perfect storm of the exact right person for the exact right role at the exact right time, that it’s a huge shame the drama itself is a massive disappointment. The leads are so boring and underdeveloped, Yang Se Jong is so bland and lacking charisma as Hwi, that JH ends up essentially carrying the series and it undercuts Bang-won’s effectiveness in the narrative when he’s almost the only character who feels genuinely real and dynamic. It makes it hard to invest in the plot when you don’t care about the protagonist. Meanwhile, Bang-won is absolutely mesmerising, has no many layers and shades, but JH as an actor is sort of left playing tennis against a bunch of brick walls. No one else is operating on his level and the writing isn’t nearly as good as his performance makes it feel. He elevates every scene he’s in, which makes it all the more apparent how lacking things are when he’s off-screen.
Just read a great interview with one of my heroes, Han Ye-ri: https://www.vulture.com/2021/03/han-yeri-interview-minari.html
I loved that she was going to recommend Chun Woo-hee for her role if she couldn’t do it herself Woo-hee was so good in Be Melodramatic.
I look forward to watching Minari, once it moves from theaters to a streaming platform. It’s already nominated for an Oscar.
I know! I was struck by that, too.
Looking forward to seeing it as well. It’s available for streaming now but it’s pricey (Amazon, and a few other platforms).
@j3ffc @merij1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_idF5uIP3tc
BE, thanks! It’s like a whole Han Ye-ri lifestyle channel!
I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. I really enjoyed “House on Wheels” last summer, especially episodes 11 and 12 with Ha Ji-Won (although it was also fun watching IU scream for mommy while paragliding in her ep). In the US, I VPNed over to Viu Singapore to watch it. And will probably watch season 2 this summer. Total mindless comfort food.
With Kim Hee Ae, I would say this. Secret Love Affair is not only a better drama than World of the Married, it is one of the best televised dramas ever produced for television anywhere, and Kim Hee Ae is spectacular in it, a bravura performance. World of the Married fell down in a number of ways, but if it is possible Kim Hee Ae gives an even greater performance in it. There is a scene on the beach in it, where without saying a single word, so much is going on in her face preceding her enacting a devastatingly tragic event, whole university acting classes ought to be devoted to it. Maybe these are the best two lead performances I have ever seen in K Drama. Why would one cancel the other?
Speaking of Be Melodramatic, I very much liked Ahn Je Hong, as the clumsy, game nerdy older brother in Reply, 1988, and liked him even more as the very intelligent, savvy show director in Be Melodramatic. I am not a woman, but as a dad, I would rather that guy for my daughters than a dozen pretty boys who get leads in these shows. Among that wonderful set of woman leads, he holds his own from start to finish.
I confess, for the longest time I wanted to watch more Jang Nara works after loving her so much as Kim Mi Young in FTLY but at the same time I didn’t want to get disappointed ( plus the drama plots for some of her following projects didn’t seem too appealing) But finally! The spell is broken! Im watching her in Go Back Couple and Im loving it! Her vibe is so different in this! But she still has the ability to make me shed tears from sadness and laughter. Amazing actress.
Go Back Couple is an instant classic!
Just looked it up, cause I generally trust your taste. Thought it might be something just hitting the screen, but no, turns out was on 4 years ago. Instant, eh? What a sense of time you have. Yuk.
By instant I meant that I wanted to rewatch it as soon as I finished it. I have often thought what makes a drama great, and my answer is a question: Do I want to watch it again? If I do, then it is a classic in my book!
Go Back Couple is a good drama. The depiction of married life rang true to me despite the fantasy premise.
Generally, i agree. i would even go so far to say for me a classic is a show I can watch more than twice and enjoy. Exceptions might be like Queen Seon Deok is a classic in my book, but I just cannot rewatch a 62 episode tale right away.
Yes. 62 episodes back to back is too much. I mean to rewatch 6FD, but it is nowhere to be found currently. Another great older sageuk is Jumong, but it is 81 episodes long…
Koreans seem to excel in dramas dealing with family dynamics. Go Back Couple is a gentle fantasy comedy that hits many right notes.
@ Snow Flower: So…Because it has few episodes, and because of issues I am pretty much laid up right now, I did a binge on Go Back Couple. I pretty much liked everything about it except the college nostalgia, not my cup of tea, let alone how I remember my university years. The lead actors were very good. And I think it did a really good job of looking at the stresses on young marriages, particularly those following the old gender norms of the male bread winner, the female in the home. And also bottom line, how such marriages can survive difficult patches if/when they do survive them.
But in line with this post: it is hard to believe that Jang Ki Yong played the ROTC hunk in this and within a year turned in the wonderful supporting role of the hooligan loan shark in My Mister. He does not even look like the same person.
And now that I have seen Kim Mi Kyung both in this and in It’s Okay to Be Okay, although I wonder if she has been typed as South Korea’s all time greatest mom in other roles as well, I want to see more of that purely wholesome goodness again and again.
Hacker Ajumma! (Kim Mi-kyung was great in that role in Healer…)
And a knitter too!
@Snow Flower–just started Navillera, a Studio Dragon, Netflix, slice of life 12 episode family drama–lotta familiar old and not so old pros in supporting roles. First episode a bit draggy, but after 4, I am still with it and think it has potential as a good one of that type.
@BE, I am not starting any new dramas for a while, but I will definitely put Navillera on my list!
Up to now I have never had a problem watching actors playing extremely different roles. I just got one, though: I tried watching Love Alarm 2 after Sweet Home. Well, I can’t do it.
I mentioned this elsewhere, I just saw Dear My Friends right after The Great Queen Seondeok, and Go Hyun Jung could not have played more remote roles from one another. From femme fatale sageuk villain to touching and wounded daughter and lover in a contemporary setting. Both phenomenal.
Hahaha. I’m not even attempting Love Alarm 2, after seeing the first one. I liked Sung Kang ever so much more in Sweet Home than in the first Love Alarm.
Although apparently there is a fan base that thought his character was awesome in Love Alarm? (I personally thought his character in LA was an @ssh*le, but I have a pretty low tolerance threshold for teenage male tomfoolery, despite, or perhaps because of having been one myself)
Ha ha Trent, I think he was a real brat in Love Alarm 1 but if one has a taste for teen dramas as I do, one tends to consciously putting up a lot with this kind of annoying (to the eyes of an adult) behaviour. Still, you’re right: he was so different (and otherwordly) in Sweet Home, that there’s no way going back to Love Alarm for me.
Fair point. I think teen dramas are definitely their own thing, and if they ring your bell (so to speak), more power to them and you. I find I generally need a lot of other compensations to put up with them
(for example: in my opinion, Love in the Moonlight is basically a teen romance at its core, but it’s got so many other cool and interesting things going on that it’s relatively easy to take the mopey gazes and angsty pronouncements in stride)
(cue the wrath of the PBG/KYJ partisans…I get guys, really! I think they’re super-cute, too!)
Be Melodramatic had a terrific cast and among them for me, Jeon Yeo Bin really stood out. Watching Vincenzo at first the way she enacted her role or was directed to act, after seeing her put in such a wonderful and nuanced performance in Be Melodramatic, I, and many others found the hyperbole with which she was acting somewhat disappointing. But now that we are mid series and I am on track with the whole tone of the show, and her character has, while still at times wonderfully hyperbolic, fallen into place, I am quite impressed by her ability to play two such entirely different kinds of roles.
I dropped Vincenzo. I had such high hopes but during the first episode I went from really interested to ‘what is this comedic nonsense’. Should I have persevered?
Personally, because it suits Song Joong Ki so well, the absurdist element is, for me, one of the best things about Vincenzo, albeit Song Joong Ki never once abandons the arch way he plays it straight. It is preposterous, but it is preposterous on purpose, and while moving from the abject menace and drama of story to absurdist comedy and back at times is not seamless, the mash up, for me, at least, really works.
In some ways, I would say Vincenzo is an utterly unserious show except for how seriously it is put together. The menace and drama shocks one awake, and the humor leavens the extremely menacing elements. It is an entertainment, not great art, but from what I can tell action/comedy is a kind of genre of its own in South Korean film, and the show does it well.
Early on I stayed for Song Joong Ki–he is so cool in this, but I found it to be very funny in places, especially in its ability to laugh at tropes of S. Korean drama. There is absolutely nothing show does not make fun of, all the while Vincenzo Cassanova in dead serious, deadpan, chiaroscuro.
I like it, comedic nonsense, especially, but over the top gangster-cheobol action melodrama as well. If you go in not taking it seriously, it’s a lark with just enough oh no to keep your adrenaline up. But if absurd comedy and over the top violence, especially paired side by side, do not work for you, I can see why it would not be your cup of tea.
@BE I think this is broadly correct, at least in the sense that it’s basically where I come down. You have to be prepared for the whiplash as it careens from grandly overplayed, almost parodic, comedy straight into intense, serious confrontation, violence, and action.
My tolerance for slapstick in general is usually quite limited, but I’ve been surprised how comfortable I have been with the swings in tone. I agree that SJK is delivering a beautiful turn as the suave, in-control, deadly consigliere, but I also save a tip of the cap for JYB, who as the female lead probably has a more technically demanding task, as she has to surf between the two modes–campy over the top humor and deadly serious intensity–and is largely hitting her marks with aplomb, at least in my opinion…
I had my doubts about her in the first couple of episodes, but she really episode by episode makes a believer out of me. The whole theme of this post–moving from one role to another–from Be Melodramatic (SPOILER: just thinking about the scene in which she sees the photograph in which the ghost of her husband is not in it, the completely perfect pathos of that momentary performance) to this, JYB definitely has me convinced. I will check out dramas she is in now, and gird myself to be surprised how she might play one show to the next, hoping she has put show runners on notice not to typecast her.
Eek, a whole post dedicated to my question?! Swoon… Love the factors you’ve laid out, and the screen shots of these actors too! Ah so it’s not just me, it’s also Park Min-young having a rather similar persona at least in romantic roles. Interesting that you have highlighted very different roles for Yoo Yoon-Seok, I thought he was a little stiff in Romantic Dr Kim but perhaps it was how the role was written/directed. He is much more loose, relaxed and sweet in Hospital Playlist (which I am watching now – guess Romantic Dr Kim may be my gateway to more medical dramas).
Elaine–just slipping in to say that I agree with you on Yoo Yeon-seok in Dr. Rom v. Hosp. PL.. He’s perfectly serviceable in Dr. Romantic, but I thought he was great in Hospital Playlist (but really, I loved all of the core five, as well as their mutual friendship, in HP).
It’s an interesting question…..and maybe I could add in a bit because I am someone who watches all dramas by the same actor in a row like a drama marathon. I am done with Hyun Bin and Ji Chang Wook (not all dramas but almost 70% of them and all the good ones of course) And I am about to start Lee Jung Suk in April. I have also watched dramas by other actors as well.
What I have noticed so far is that the A-list stars (like Hyun Bin, Jang Hyuk, Soong Joong, JCW)…they try and differentiate their roles/looks/characters in every drama….so its not like watching the same actor with same or similar role in every drama that they appear. I think the writer and the director also helps in this differentiation. I could say the same about actresses like Kim Ji-won and Ha ji-won as well…they try and play as many varied characters as they can. So that way I feel that I am watching many varied characters brought to life by the same actor.
You might feel this differentiation if you give it a try…for example try watching Alhambra (Since you mentioned CLOY) and you can see a badass HB as against the altruistic HB in CLOY. Within 2 episodes you will be so much immersed into the story / setting that you will forget about what that actor did in the previous drama that you loved so much. I suggest that you also adjust your viewing lens a bit before starting in any new drama by your beloved actor so that you can enjoy this drama for what it is worth without any bias.
I felt the same about many side actors (the actors playing the father/mother/friend/prominent roles) wherein they try and portray different roles as much as they can.
Of course at times a certain character by the actor is so powerful (like Jang Hyuk in Dae Gil) that I don’t want to see him/her again in any other role for sometime. But it is only a momentary thing and after a few months (3 months) you can be back to watching the actor if you really enjoy his/her acting/charisma.
I’ve always been impressed by Jung Kyung Ho’s ability to inhabit different roles. His character in Heartless City, for example, was completely different from his character in Another Happy Ending (a forgettable and very silly drama) but I think he pulled both of them off convincingly. I’ll try a drama that he’s in just for the pleasure of seeing what he does. He reminds me of watching Meryl Streep in that I might try something just because she is in it but I’ll forget partway through that I am watching Meryl Streep. Plus Jung Kyung Ho often picks interesting projects, such as Prison Playbook, Life on Mars, and When the Devil Calls My Name, not the usual formulaic rom com. I don’t love all of the dramas that Jung Kyung Ho is in but I appreciate his apparent willingness to think outside the box.
@Alaska, reading your comment made me put Heartless City on my rewatch list. I am still upset that Life On Mars is not legally available in my area.
From another Jung Kyung Ho fan
Same about Life on Mars! Same! 😞
@Snow Flower: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-4m_bwhdVA
@BE, Thank you! This video made my day! Yo Han is a great actor and a great singer!
I wonder if anyone besides you and I posting here are hip to just how great he is. I would really like to see his movie.
6 Flying Dragons. Misaeng. Mr. Sunshine. The fella has range.
Byun Yo Han has a lot of fans. He is very much appreciated from what I can tell on twitter. I watched SFD but I didn’t love it as much as others did and so I wasn’t super impressed with his character in it but then I watched Misaeng and Mr Sunshine and loved him in both.
Having watched the other two first, seeing him in 6FD, as the thoroughly dashing Li Bang Ji, knocked me out. For me, along with Kim Dae Myung, an actor I generally appreciate in everything I see him in, and Lee Sung Min, who was very, very good in Misaeng, Byun Yo Han kept me watching. I really do not like Im She Wan as an actor, and his character which was set up as the lead ruined the show for me, as if it were a good painting with a great big muddy patch taking up the upper right hand corner of the whole thing.
I thought Im Si Wan was perfect for that role but we can agree to disagree there too. I thought the drama was excellent except for the strange final episode (I didn’t get it) I think Byun Yo Han is very good too and Lee Sung Min is fantastic. He was my favorite in Misaeng. Where my appreciation for Byun Yo Han got elevated to love was in Mr Sunshine.
The thing about Byun Yo Han in every role I have seen him in is that his character always grows. This was true in Misaeng, and more so in Mr. Sunshine. In many ways, in Mr. Sunshine, he was the show’s largest payoff for staying with it despite its pace and intricacy. Show turns in Episode 19, and he is at the heart of that and from there till he is sitting in the chair, saying he is a man who loves beautiful things–how him saying that just resonates, he is astonishingly good.
With Misaeng, Im Si Wan, unlike Byun Yo Han’s character, never changes; he is never anything more than a self absorbed and callow young man. He was equally flat and static in Run On. But I quite agree about Lee Sung Min, and it was because of him, that I stuck with the show.
Im Si Wan’s character in Misaeng is more of a catalyst for everyone around him.
My first exposure to BYH was in 6FD. I started watching it for Yoo Ah In (who is also great in anything), but kept watching it for Byun Yo Han’s tragic swordsman. I watched Misaeng after that.
I had no idea what Mr. Sunshine was about, but started it just because BYH was in it. He and Yoo Yeon Seok totally stole the show.
@Snow Flower and @BE – while Im Si wan is no great actor (yet?), I felt he did justice to the character in Misaeng. And I certainly didn’t feel awkward watching him in the action scenes. In fact, it took me a minute to realize that was him in those scenes and doesn’t that give the impression that his acting isn’t horrible?
@SnowFlower–forgive Mr. Sunshine being my first K Drama love, but every actor in show stole it, and I could list so many scenes with so many actors. But BYN is special in it because of the dramatic way he changes over time. Other characters grow, but you see the spark in them almost from the beginning, but his character is so much larger at the end than at the beginning. And he does that among so many scene stealing actors.
@BE, I have never been called hip before!😃
@SnowFlower: Tell me if I have misread or forgotten anything or gotten anything wrong: you are a classically trained Bulgarian pianist, married to a Japanese gentleman, both of you living in the US, an afficianado of Eastern European folk tales, racounteur of Korean history, and an avid fan of South Korean drama, among its many more widely celebrated luminaries whom you are aware of just how great an actor Byun Yo Han is, so much so that his visit with pop star IU on her variety/interview show made your day and would love to jam with South Korean gayageum rock and roll star. I could ask many, many people who have been considered hip for decades who Byun Yo Han is and believe me they would not have a clue. Sure sounds hip to me.
@BE, thank you! I would like to be the piano player in IU’s back-up band and jam with her singing guests.
My husband is an American. There is another commenter here who is married to a Japanese gentleman.
“I would like to be the piano player in IU’s back-up band…” Mic Drop
From what I saw in the video, the piano stuff is pretty easy. I am not sure if I can keep up with the band’s busy schedule though…
@Snow Flower. In general she does rather derivative, nostalgic, and simple popular music. Her genius is for arrangements, hooks, lyrics, packaging, enthusiasm, and of course, the one place where she is in her own category as a musician, vocal gymnastics. But without question, you would meet a lot of talented musicians if you were her back up piano player.
Yes to this 100%! Been watching the hospital playlist camping bideos these past few days and my biggest realization is kyungho is such a great actor. His real life personality is the exact opposite of his roles… who would have thought cool paksa adeul is played by such a cute goofy guy. 😍😍😍
My problem is when I fall in love with an actress and, besides marrying her, I don’t want to see her act in any drama anymore.
My latest crushes are Han Ye-Ri (My Unfamiliar Family), Kim Yoo-jung (Clean with passion for Now) and the extraordinary Park Eun-bin (Do You Like Brahms?).
If you like Kim Yoo-jung you should watch Love in the Moonlight
Thanks, I’ll try even if I hate the historical drama
To be honest historical dramas are not my thing either, but she is really good in this.
@Antonio – It’s fusion saeguk (period piece). Try out this promo link which will give you an idea of the spirit that it’s made in https://youtu.be/YKalIVv3Z24
Han Ye Ri kills it in historical drama Nokdu Flower. Also great in small support role of Joseon Foundation story, Six Flying Dragons.
It was nice to see Han Ye-ri at the Oscars the other night.
She was also, among others, in the movie Haemu. The screenplay was written by Bong JoonHo of Parasite fame. She stared along with Park Yuchun. I recommend the watch. Han ReYi is an exceptional beauty and with loads of talent.
I love this question. I had already thought about it and this actually became my rule #1 – do NEVER watch 2 kdramas consecutively with the same leads.
@Kfangirl – I ❤ the way you used Kim Min Young’s expressions. The scenes you chose actually do seem more individualistic than usual for her but that’s probably because her role in Healer required her to bring some real devastating emotions than her usual roles.
I was a year late to watching Healer and I watched Jang Hyuk’s The Merchant right before watching Healer. Actor Park Sang-Myeon was this horrible character in Merchant. I just couldn’t stand him. He was JH’s friend yet his violent temper would ruin their plans and even have him turn his murderous rage on his own friends! He disgusted me and mentally caused my lip to curl whenever he was in a scene. So when he appeared on my screen in Healer as PMY’s adopted dad, I was not prepared to ❤ ❤ ❤ him soooooo so very much!
Then there’s that silver-haired chameleon Jo Jae-Yun who, is guaranteed to get a visceral reaction whether he’s playing an ex-con (a role he plays often) with a heart of gold or whether he’s playing a total scumbag in Descendants of the Sun.
I think actors like these guys have taught me to let go of (for the most part) my prejudice against an actor for playing their past role too well! 😆
I won’t mention any of my biases here because y’all all know already and that would just turn into me squeeing, swooning, and gushing…
I like when a supporting actor who is usually typecast for a specific type of role is cast against type.
For example, Ahn Suk-hwan who we’d seen in a couple shows as the oily father-villain with a caricature evil laugh: Rooftop Prince and Personal Taste. (He was also the sketch artist in Chuno.)
But then we saw him in Beating Again, where he portrayed this lovely dad who’d lost his only son, the FL’s former fiancé. Same oddly distinct laugh, but suddenly it was endearing.
There are many who act the same each time and we don’t mind at all.
For example, Lee Jong-suk. We love him every time and it’s always the same guy!
Romance Is a Bonus Book, I Can Hear Your Voice, Secret Garden and Pinocchio, (which we’re watching right now. Great show!)
BTW, talk about timing. What better couple of years for an actor to be out of pocket doing his military service than in the middle of a pandemic that limits filming…
ha ha ha….good one on Lee Jong Suk…my cousin said the same thing…..
But there is something adorably cute about him that I will not mind it at all if he is type-cast….
Starting his dramas in April and hopefully will enjoy him as much as I do right now
You will. Pinkie promise!
Thanks…you are awesome…I will post my thoughts once I am done with watching all his good dramas….take care and happy weekend to all of you
Lee Jong Suk has only a minor role in Coffee Prince and his character-as-written is a bit wooden. But he’s great in Romance Is a Bonus Book (our gateway K-drama!), I Can Hear Your Voice and Pinocchio.
I hear he’s also good in School 2013, but we’re older and are more drawn to dramas focused on adult life.
Thanks for this promise and Lee Jung Suk did deliver.
I binge watched W: Two Worlds as my first proper drama of LJS and he was totally out of the world for me in this one. And the drama itself was creative and amazing…enjoyed his performance so much.
Now I am totally sold out and going to watch all that you listed out.
And thanks again for your support because I remembered your promise the first thing yesterday night after completing the drama W.
@PJ: We haven’t seen W: Two Worlds yet, due to the mixed reviews. Aside from Jong Suk’s performance, do you recommend the show as a whole?
I totally enjoyed W as this one is from the writer of Alhambra. I actually want to watch all her work as I like her themes. I read the mixed reviews but for me this drama worked – both LJS performance and the emotions / fantasy. Especially contrary to popular opinion, I enjoyed the second half and I really liked the “other” world. Too much happens in the last 3 episodes but then thats the fun of watching a drama that makes you think. Does it have loopholes – yes but it all flows smoothly and not totally wacky like Love from Another star where the person is stuck for 400 years or Goblin where it is 90 years….here instead the fantasy is treated more logically (or at least for me). I read the comments section of W in this blog and I go with the explanations put forth by this person – Enchanteur – and you can use that to clear your head on any plot holes. I also read the writer’s interview and her views on the story/ending is the same as that of Enchanteur.
Finally – even if the story does not work – LJS definitely works and I think this is his best in terms of looks, charisma and acting of course. He is the right person for this as he brings in a smart super human ability and attitude to this role. I got totally sold out on that. I did see 1 or 2 scenes of Pinnochio, I hear your voice and While you are sleeping as I am going to watch them in succession going forth but for me W still wins over.
Also I didn’t have a problem with the heroine as she was easy on the eyes and I thought her emotions were controlled for a “certain” reason and also she being a doctor she had to underplay her emotions to a certain extent like Song Hye in DOTS. I guess this criticism could be because in the immediate previous work of LJS – Pinnochio – it was Park Shin and people could have expected that level of dramatics/chemistry in W. But if you see W independently for its story and characters, the chemistry was fine. There are some fun usual Kdrama romance in the first half but it all only made me smile as I was totally fangirling LJS.
Episodes 1 to 8 – 1st Part
Episodes 9 to 10 – Heroine takes over
Episodes 11 to 13 – 2nd Part
Episodes 14 to 16 – Each episodes stands on its own to take the story forward.
Hope this helps and happy viewing. Did you enjoy Alhambra. If you did – you might enjoy this as well.
@merij1 @BE @Sean @Anybody Else Over 55 – Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Nicholas Cage. All seem(ed) to play themselves even though I like their acting. I think the movie with James Stewart lying about witnessing the murder through the window is about the most different (ominous & serious) I’d ever seen him. I think that’s the movie – with Kim Novak? Or was the ominous role the one where he’s at a dinner party and he’s trying to figure out who’s a murderer?
In any event, I do remember the title Cary Grant’s movie – Gaslight – that seemed completely different from what he would usually bring to a role. Funny that young people now have adopted the term “gaslighting” someone as a slang. I bet they haves no idea where the term comes room. ☺
Yes I was thinking of all those similar American actors who play themselves and we love it.
However Gaslight was Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. And if you’re thinking of Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window, he wasn’t lying. But maybe that a different one than you were thinking of. What I remember being shocked by was Raymond Burr being the bad guy. That was against type for sure. Retroactively for those of us who came to know him later as Perry Mason or Ironside.
Nicolas Cage! He is so funny! An actor who can be brilliant or awful depending on who you ask (or what you watched). This line from his appearance on SNL promoting “Ghostrider” come to mind. “In this movie, you’ll get all the things you’d expect from a Nicolas Cage movie. All lines will be either whispered or shouted” 🤣 He is just iconic
@Beez. Kim Novak movie was Vertigo. His other Hitchcock movie was The Man Who Knew Too Much with Doris Day. While Jimmy Stewart because of his way of speaking always had that essential something about him in every film, he did play a vast variety of roles in his long career. The guy who most reminds me of him in contemporary movies would be Tom Hanks, who even though he plays a range of roles, always like Stewart tends to project a kind of wholesome but solid heroism in every role.
Fonda and Stewart were already pretty old when I was a boy, so I really cannot speak to many of their younger movies. I do think old Hollywood liked actors who projected a consistent flavor, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, and closer to when I was first watching movies, Gregory Peck. And then came Brando, of course, who whatever else he was, was always Brando.
@BE – i wish I could remember that one role where Jimmy Stewart was so intense as to actually be scary. As to Tom Hanks, not that I disagree but there is one role where he didn’t project any wholesomeness at all – The Ladykillers. Makes my flesh crawl just thinking of him in that role. 😆 I’m laughing because it was a dark comedy (but as a whole, I didn’t like it).
He was pretty creepy in Vertigo.
@beez while he has not had nearly the illustrious career, the far better comparison than Pacino to an American actor for Jang Hyuk would be Brando.
With all due respect BE, I feel you need to watch a few more of JHs works to get a better sense of his versatility and ability. He is not perfect but he does have more range than you think, imo.
@DramaFan: I know you love him, but seriously, stop: I just compared him to the greatest American actor of his generation, maybe the greatest American lead actor ever.
I have seen JH in about eight or nine works including film. He is a very good actor. Not as good as Brando was, but of that kind of power and intensity. I love Kim Hee Ae and think she is the best Korean actor I have seen, but I don’t like some of the roles I have seen her in.
Sure, Ill stop but allow me to clarify something. I have nothing to opine about your comparisons because I don’t see the similarity between JH and Brando or Pacino at all. Im also less familiar with their full body of work and ability, having only watched their most famous works. So, when you said that Brando was always Brando I assumed you were once again talking about range vs unique flavor. And I thought here we go again. That (wrong) assumption is what prompted my suggestion. But, I also thought you had only watched a few JH works. Eight or nine is more than enough so I take back my suggestion. And yes, I doubt anyone loves every work by any actor. Regards.
Same here, about not loving every work by any actor. I have nothing to opine about your comparisons because I don’t see the similarity between JH and Brando or Pacino at all. Im also less familiar with their full body or work and ability, having only watched their most famous works. So, when you said that Brando was always Brando I assumed you were once again talking about range vs unique flavor. And I thought here we go again. That (wrong) assumption is what prompted my suggestion. But, I also thought you had only watched a few JH works. Eight or nine is more than enough so I take back my suggestion. Regards.
Brando played a great variety of roles in his career, but you always knew you were watching Marlon Brando. Streetcar Named Desire, One Eye Jacks, On the Waterfront, Mutiny on the Bounty, the Godfather, in each he plays a different character, and his Streetcar, Waterfront, and Godfather roles are three of the greatest roles ever played by an American film actor, each its own character, but he always has that Brando quality, flavor, that sets him apart from other actors.
I have a hard time remembering the names of Jang Hyuk’s characters, but I always remember his characters. Part of that is language and my inability to remember Korean names, but part of it is that I am always more aware of him as an actor than I am of the name of his characters. The Pacino comparison was one that beez made with me in another of our three way convos, after I had said, and this had more to do with reputation than style, Han Seok Kyu was like Pacino to Choi Min Sik’s DeNiro, at which in also Jang Hyuk 4 evah defensiveness she took as umbrage to Jang Hyuk’s stature.
@BE – Jang Hyuk 4 Evah! (I like it)
In re Brando, I left out Wild Ones, Viva Zapata, Sayonara, Last Tango in Paris, Apocolypse Now, A Dry White Season. My favorite was always the film he directed, which was never as iconic in popular culture, One Eyed Jacks, which is filmed in Monterrey and Big Sur, CA, in which the story is a riff on the folk tale of Joaquin Murrieta.
Delete cache, ya’ll. 🤣 For real, though, I do get this sometimes so what I do is I sandwich another totally different type of show and don’t do a back-to-back of the same actor/actress if I can. The biggest change I can think of to cleanse my palate, is to switch between K Drama and C Drama. Worked well for me so far.
Just to add, I know kfangurl you didn’t watch Empress Ki partly because of not liking Ha Jiwon – maybe that links to Drama Fan’s (or Gumi’s) idea on flavour; her acting isn’t to your taste. I watched it knowing nothing about her (or Ji Chang Wook) but I thought she was excellent in it and Chang Wook far less so. Of course, I later watched Healer where Chang Wook totally surprised me as he was amazing. Conversely, I started The King Two Hearts where Jiwon’s character didn’t grab me and I gave up. So, I guess impressions on first seen actors can impact on how you view them but first impressions aren’t always right. Actors can grow on you or vice-versa. Sometimes hits, sometimes misses. It’s a shame when your preconceptions prevent you watching something that you may actually enjoy. But there are some shows I can’t bring myself to persist in watching despite practically worshipping the actors (I’m looking at you, The Merchant Gaekju 2015) and ones I’ve sat through because of one actor’s excellence in an otherwise disappointing show (Lee Joongi 😍 in Scarlet Heart Ryeo, for example). I don’t know what my point is 😆 Maybe, shaking off expectations, good and bad.
We were very pleased with Ji Chang Wook in Suspicious Partner.
Healer is unique, but his acting in this one had a similar quality. Whereas The K-2 attempted to recreate his Healer persona exactly but had other flaws that held it back. (I am one of those who thought they went with the wrong OTP and should have paired him with the older female villain.)
Oh wow, good call. I thought The K2 had significant flaws, but it also had real glimpses and flashes of quality and interesting stuff trying to break through, even though it never quite made it.
And one of the things that might have turned the tide in a more interesting direction is if Show would have had the courage to break out of the more conventional OTP. JCW definitely had more chemistry with Song Yoo-na (the nominal villain in need of a redemption arc) than with Im Yoo-nah (the ethereal, waifish ingenue), in my opinion. The second (female) lead should have definitely gotten the guy in this one…
The K-2 was one of those rare shows where I choose to imagine an alternate outcome for the OTP and skip or mentally discount scenes that contradict it. For that one, once my chosen OTP faded, I skimmed recaps from DramaBeans to know which scenes and episodes to focus on thereafter and watched only those.
Usually it’s not worth my time to go to that much effort, but the early chemistry between JCW and Song Yoo-na was off the chart.
@merij1 and @Trent Yes and yes to the other K2 coupling! Heck, him saving her from the car wreck is a great photo let alone their actual chemistry 😍 The umbrella scene too! Totally missed opportunity. Why in the world didn’t they go there??
As for Suspicious Partner, there were some kind of odd choices but I really liked it, especially the OTP. Felt genuine.Ji Chang Wook was completely lovely in that role. So refreshing to see a romantic lead always respectful of his love interest. No grabbing or demanding. I liked Nam Ji-hyun’s character too.
@merij1 – you didn’t watch the entire thing! While the OTP was a bust, if you evaluate this drama while cutting out JCW’s role entirely, and look at what it’s saying about love-hate-love in marriage, I found something interesting, and certainly different, than the usual Kdrama.
I saw 95% of it. No kitchen dancing over ramyeon, etc. and I skimmed over parts near the end where the evil uncle was manipulating his niece.
I agree that by the end there were surprisingly interesting themes. Which KFG never got to see! So sad.
I love Suspicious Partner and Healer equally but there was something “special” about JCW playing Noh Ji-Uk in Suspicious Partner. For me Noh Ji-Uk is like Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. No matter how many times I watch/read Darcy…I could find no flaw and same is the case with Noh Ji-Uk. Also I could be biased as I read law and I know how difficult it is to be a prosecutor and that way JCW portrayed that role excellently….
Compared to that, JCW in Healer is still very boyish and trying to come to terms with life. Thus, as characters both were different and so were the acting aspects. But it is interesting to see your point.
Thanks for your K2 comment as well.
K2 is one of my fave dramas and everyone says this – “OTP with the older female”
For me Ms.Choi in K2 is like Daegil from Chuno…..their love is doomed to fail from the beginning and thats how the story was written from the word go. And maybe thats why we all remember it until now.
(Of course I would have also loved to see Ms.Choi have a happy ending but in practical terms it was not a feasible option and don’t think it would have gone down well with K2 character…so glad that she let it all go in the end and die peacefully…it is what it is…)
@PrincessJasmine Yes, I totally get what you mean with the Mr Darcy comparison; a fine gentleman indeed and agree the character was swooningly lovely. Healer has the edge for me though because I enjoyed the overall story more.
Re K2, I think they could could have way amped up their relationship even if, as you say, she herself was doomed.
It wasn’t an entirely unhappy ending for Ms. Choi, actually. Nor for her husband. They were seriously damaged people trapped in a ridiculously damaged marriage. But they re-found each other and some measure of peace at the end.
I might kindly disagree on this. Sorry in advance if I am being too harsh.
Her husband is a dishonest person and as a man he got away with many things. He was way more selfish and conniving than her father, brother and the politician all put together. So I really didn’t like it when he hugged her at the final moment. Men always do this and get away with it whereas only a woman knows what she has gone through and how she survived it all. Though Ms.Choi actions were questionable at many points and she had the option to walk away from it all…still she has my sympathy and love and admiration.
I rather wish that she dies without that hug or seeing her husband’s remorse. In fact I didn’t want her husband anywhere near her in her final moments. Instead I would have liked it if K2 had hugged her and wished her well in her afterlife. I wish she be reborn to live a happy life with a more deserving and loving man.
This is so interesting. Normally on this board I find women are extremely harsh judges of the attractive but not-good female roles and seem to give the bad boys more of a break than I think they deserve. So kudus to you for breaking my evidently flawed stereotype!
Her husband was despicable. They both were. But he didn’t just give her a hug. He chose to die with her so she wouldn’t be alone at the end. Not a small thing at all.
He thought she’d murdered his first love and mother of his child and would murder his daughter as well if he didn’t obey her. She choose to let him believe that to control him.
Merij1 – Thanks for the compliment and kind words; I could be an anomaly in this but nevertheless I am happy that people are accepting of my view.
Just to add in a few points: (Sorry again in advance if it is harsh)
I do understand that the husband chose to die with her but my opinion of him remains unchanged. After putting her through so much during her lifetime I am really not sure what he gains (or Ms.Choi gains) by redeeming himself in the last 30 minutes of his life. In any case she dies and it is not like he sacrificed his life to save hers.
About murdering his first love/child etc – first of all he put her through all that insecurity by having an affair outside of marriage and that too knowing very well that Ms.Choi is childless and doesn’t have much of her father/mother/brother support and that her father does not view this marriage in good light as she married a commoner of her choice. So even if he assumed that she committed that act, I will still have my sympathy for Ms.Choi (though murder is wrong, in this case she was driven to that stage by both him and his first love). He can’t do something so selfish and expect his wife to be so understanding. And the best thing to do in that case is to stand up against his wife and try and fight with her and protect his child. He came across as a coward not only for mistrusting his wife (for an act that she didn’t commit) but also for caving in to her orders. In others words, he chose the easy way out and was more concerned about his public image and political ambitions than about his daughter/first love/Ms. Choi.
And in any case she didn’t commit that act. I think towards the end (can’t remember the episode) Ms. Choi does address that she would have appreciated him if he had chosen to leave the house when she threatened him about the safety of his daughter (at the time of his first love death…the morning when he read it in the newspapers..). And she rightly says that he was a coward to cave in at that time. And though he allowed her to control him, he also used it against her by mistreating / hurting her with various affairs / scheming etc.
On K2 love story – I read JCW interview from 2016 over the weekend (posted in English by one of his fans in Instagram) wherein he had talked about K2 and the story arc after K2 was completed. Looks like until episode 15 – K2 was supposed to die and it was only in episode 16 they decided to keep him alive….Also he mentioned that K2 character was clear in that he SHOULD protect Ms.Choi (and is sympathetic towards her) but he WANTS to protect Anna (as he likes her). He mentioned that they had deliberately put in plot points to confuse viewers as to think that maybe K2 likes Ms.Choi. And he agreed that he consciously created that beautiful chemistry with Ms. Choi to confuse us as to whom he might love. He also mentioned that K2 could be rough (because of the mercenary experience) but at heart the character wants to protect the weak. Maybe this explains why he fell for Anna (or for that matter the girl in Iraq as both were victim of circumstances and not so strong characters). It was really interesting to read that interview. And of course our whole view of the story would have changed if K2 died in the end. Hope this helps.
Before going to bed last night I re-watched the set of scenes when they first met at her house (after K-2 slipped past her bodyguards — twice!— to warn her not to kill the innocent farm couple) and the umbrella scene.
There’s no question the husband was a weakling and despicable.
So I say this last thing not to defend him but just for completeness.
He didn’t know why his first love suddenly left for America. Then he got married and she returned with his child. So no, it’s not like that justifies going back to her. But it’s more nuanced than simply having an affair.
@merij1 – whoa there, merij1. That may be true of Yoona’s mom, the dead mistress, but what about the woman he was in bed with when JCW was washing the windows? And the impression was this was par for the course behavior for him.
Yes he was a serial cheater, different women every week.
The question I was getting at is how did this marriage go so terribly wrong?
She was young and relatively innocent and truly loved him. Perhaps she was a just a meal ticket for him? Not clear. But then his prior one-true-love came back to SK with his daughter. And he abandoned his wife for them.
Then the first love is murdered and his wife leads him to think it was her and that she will similarly murder his daughter if he rebels against her. Anna was a hostage all those years.
That was another layer of the tragedy for me. For well over a decade she and Anna lived together yet they had no relationship. A woman who can’t have a child of her own and a daughter who has no mother.
Such a waste. All sacrificed to pursue an idiotic goal — reclaiming what I’m sure was an incredibly ordinary conglomerate that her father didn’t choose her to take over. A woman with that much skill and willpower should have built her own company, which would proved the point much more emphatically. Cloud Nine alone proved she had that kind of ability.
@merij1 – Now that you and @princess Jasmine have me thinking about the K2 – why didn’t the Senator just go get his daughter? Was the wife blatantly threatening to kill the daughter? And if she was, that didn’t seem to make him toe the line with his philandering so did he simply not concern himself too much with his daughters’ situation? Did he maybe know that the wife wouldn’t actually kill her and so he didn’t take it seriously? Still sucks because he put his philandering before his child’s well being.
@princess jasmine – I must admit, you’ve given me more to look at with the character of the wife. Mainly, for me, it was more of the enjoyment of the good acting performances by the husband and wife rather than what was going on in the story itself.
She was like Daegil? 🥺 I never thought of watching this drama but, I’m now considering it only for the angst and pain you describe! What’s wrong with me?
Thanks Drama Fan. I mentioned Daegil because both K2 and Chuno are directed by the same person (Kwak Jung-hwan). Of course the writers are different. I do think that the director carried some similarity from Daegil onto Ms. Choi because both the characters were pursuing or were trying to pursue a love affair (Daegil with Un-nyon) (Ms.Choi with K2) with someone who by then already has either moved on or liking some one else. They were very reckless and all heart and stubborn in that pursuit knowing very well that it may or may not end up “happily ever after”.
If you decide to watch K2, please watch it for JCW acting and the political undertones / scheming and do watch it from the point of view of Ms. Choi. In other words, don’t watch it as yet another love – revenge story or be misled by online opinions. Hopefully that way you might enjoy it as much as I did.
@ Drama Fan and princess jasmine:
Here’s what I wrote in the comment section of KFG’s review of The K-2, with emphasis added. Spoiler: she dropped the show and gave it a D! So sad.
I just finished my experiment with using skimming through a K-Drama (this one) that has elements of greatness and awfulness conflated into one big hot mess. And the answer is, it worked!
It’s intriguing how many ways this show went far deeper than usual in its portrayal of the bad guys, yet balanced that with ridiculous treatment of the good guys’ romance. Anna didn’t need to be complex, given her social isolation up till that point, but those drawn-out romance montages were truly cringe-worthy. The kitchen ramyun, the beach, etc. Or, at least, I’m guessing they were. Because I skipped every single one of them!
I just wanted to re-experience the coolness of Ji Chang Wook’s Healer persona as Je Ha and check out Song Yoon Ah’s superb portrayal of the female villain Choi Yoo Jin. Not to mention savor the romantic/sexual tension between the two of them. The poignancy of which was that not only was it one-sided, but entirely unnoticed by him. More on that in a moment.
So I allowed myself to be spoiled on the full story and everything that happens in the last episode, then watched only (mostly only) the scenes that featured characters I had targeted. Since I was already spoiled, I didn’t need to watch anything just to know what happened. I just savored the acting. To my surprise, however, that didn’t save much time, because up until the 3/4’s mark, those people dominated the airtime. Then suddenly I found myself skipping 90% of an episode (Ep. 12) that didn’t feature them. Wow, so glad I didn’t have to watch that one.
Anyhow, to kfangurl, I say this: the villain Yoo Jin ended up complex again. And I am sooo glad I experienced all of her scenes. At one point she told her #2 gal that if she murders Je Ha, she (Yoo Jin) would kill her in response. And then admitted that “the way you feel about me? That’s how I feel about him.” Soon after, in episode 15, she starts to confess to Je Ha that she loves him — not with any hope of it being reciprocated, but just to be honest — yet he is so unaware of the possibility that he interrupts and continues to presume her puzzling actions towards him are explained only by self-interest.
I think you should go back and watch just the final episodes. There is considerably more resolution to the various villain’s character arcs and the marriage of Yoo Jin and her candidate husband than I expected. The show ended up being about them, with JCW’s K-2 character playing more of a catalyst role. His inherent goodness combined with that Healer rock star coolness changes Yoo Jin, leaving her trapped between the person she has become and the person she regrets no longer being. It was really well-done.
Bottom line: this show had greatness. But awfulness too. Skipping certain parts helped me get want I needed without unnecessary contamination.
I skipped all the scenes where Yoo Jin’s half-brother was con-artist charming Anna. Pretty much all of Episode 12, although there were a few great scenes with Yoo Jin in that Episode.
Actually, the last 4 Episodes were great, if you skip the filler.
Yoo Jin’s death threat to her #2 Chief gal (and the implied confession of love for Je He) starts just before the 31 minute mark of Episode 11. By the 15th Ep, all her top employees are keenly aware it. Pretty everyone except The K-2 himself, who remains utterly clueless, even when she tries to confess to him in the scene that begins around the 13 minute mark of Ep 15.
That’s the scene where after betraying her (without consequence!) he advises her to walk away from her evil ambitions and instead find the happiness she could never hope for in that ugly world of power games. Where the best you can hope is the satisfaction of annihilating the ambitions of your equally unhappy rivals.
This is a really good analysis, thank you for reposting it. I pretty much agree with it, I think.
The K2 was one of the first 7-8 kdramas I saw, well before I had seen Healer. I do think there’s a bit of differentiation to be had between JCWZ’s two characters: in Healer, he kicks lots of butt, but in explicitly and consistently non-violent ways, while in the K2, he’s perfectly willing to brandish and use guns. These shows (along with the first few episodes of Backstreet Rookie) have left me with my current, possibly undercooked, theory of JCWZ’s two modes: intense brooding action hero (The K2, Healer main character) vs. clumsy adorkable nerd (Backstreet Rookie, Healer alter-ego Park Bong-soo).
I just went back and reread my write up of The K2, and I see that I did mention both Mrs Choi’s perhaps unexpected complexity, and also noticeable romantic/sexual tension with JCW’s character. You’ve fleshed it out in much greater detail, so thanks.
(Speaking, as we were, of actors playing disparate parts, Mrs. Choi’s chief lieutenant in the K2 (Secretary Kim?), a fairly ruthless, hatchet-woman type role, shows up in Record of Youth as Park Bo-gum’s frazzled, borderline comedic agent/manager, which was fun).
I liked that actress in The K-2.
It’s true that JCW brandished guns in The K-2, but then it turned out he can’t kill anyone. Literally can’t do it.
Fair point, I’d forgotten that bit, just remembered the guns themselves…
@merin1 – she’s the main focus and catalyst for almost everything that happens in Graceful Friends.
Trent was talking about Secretary Kim, the competent assistant in The K-2, played by Shin Dong-mi.
But since you brought up Graceful Friends, have you seen it? I really do like Song Yoon-ah.
@merij1 – I saw it for my love of Kim Sung oh who rarely gets to play much more than the sidekick so I stuck with it for that. But it’s very dark. Pretty bleak. More adult/realistic than most kdramas. Probably most realistic on how a group of friends really interact with semi-hidden rivalries and frenemies. If not for Kim Sung oh, I would not have watched it.
Thanks Merij1 for posting this and offering very interesting insights. I had actually read this view last year itself in this blog when I finished watching K2 for the first time. I had since then watched it twice already. (Just that I could not bring myself up to write my review in this blog under K2 review as FGV had not liked it ….. but suddenly in this post K2 came up and I ended up writing in my views…)
There are many interpretations on K2, Ms. Choi and the ending and the person whom K2 should have loved etc. I may or may not agree with all such interpretations but I genuinely enjoy reading through all of them and appreciating varied views. Thank you once again. Happy week ahead.
Ms. Choi will be a very beloved character for me in the K-Drama world.
Yup! I always purposely try to shake off my first impressions. I watched Hyun Bin dramas and was completely indifferent to his charm (although I never thought he was bad, just not for me) until for some reason that no one can explain, I liked him in Memories of the Alhambra and I kinda opened my eyes lol I still wouldn’t try to watch those older dramas that I didn’t like though. And yeah, delete The Merchant from your memory. It didn’t exist 😝
I will join you in this. There was something about Hyun Bin in Alhambra. That character stood out awesomely and HB played it with such cockiness and charisma. For me it is his best role ever and I don’t understand the hype around HB in CLOY….(I am now feeling it all over again with SJK in Vincenzo whereas I could never understand Soong Ki hype in DOTS).
I guess for every actor/actress a certain drama does the trick and we have to wait out individually until then instead of getting carried away by the hype from social media. thats my learning so far.
@DramaFan and @PrincessJasmine I haven’t seen Memories of Alhambra and have only seen Hyun Bin in CLOY – where he was super-dashing and had a nice calmness about the character. I was completely engaged with CLOY but I have to say I didn’t get the urge to devour anything and everything any of the leads have been in, though nothing against them.
I’m one episode in on Vincenzo and Song Joon-ki is still a tad fresh-faced for me but he is brilliant in it. I totally believed he was speaking Italian for a start -I’m not a great Italian speaker but it sounded to my ear really convincing. He is a very compelling actor and one I’d rewatch in a heartbeat. He so stood out in Tree With Deep Roots, didn’t he? I haven’t watched Arthdal Chronicles but think I might give it a go. I know everyone’s mad for Descendants of the Sun but not sure it’s my sort of drama.
Thanks for the comments. You should watch Alhambra and then CLOY will pale in comparison. If HB was super-dashing in CLOY then reserve all your words for Alhambra because HB is so good in it – both as a character and with his looks/charisma /demeanour. Be warned though that it is a grey character and has none of the “innocence” of captain Ri from CLOY.
I personally liked SJK in DOTS (along with Kim Ji-won) but I have watched it only until episode 9 and then the ending. Nothing great about DOTS as a drama so you are fine. But Vincenzo is top-notch and I am now looking forward to my weekend binge of Vincenzo. Take care
I root for Vincenzo because its directed by Kim Hee Won, who also directed Money Flower and I root for her (I don’t there are that many female PDs in Kdrama Industry. She adds a very distinctive touch to her works) So I’m happy the drama is doing well. Song Joon Ki was very enjoyable in Sungkyunkwan Scandal.
@DramaFan is that so? It definitely has a similar slick vibe about it. Song Joon Ki’s Vincenzo is too cool for school a bit like Jang Hyuk’s Pilju. Unflappable. I’m liking.
I decided to watch Vincenzo only because of the female director and the writer of course. And I traded my Money Flower watch for Vincenzo as I couldn’t pursue watching both at the same time from the same director. Very happy that Vincenzo matches up to my expectations and I am enjoying it. SJK and Yeo-bin are rocking big time in it…..
I hope you watch Money Flower in the future.
He is killing it in Vincenzo. The role seems written for him.
I second the appreciation for Vincenzo, which I am enjoying quite a bit. Every time I feel like it might be tipping just a bit too far into broad humor and slapstick, it gets intense and dark again. This last episode (ep 10) was on fire. And you’re right, SJK is great in the title role.
The same director also directed The Crowned Clown, an excellent sageuk with Yeo Jin Goo killing it in a double role.
Yes, it was excellent. Also she was the second PD of FTLY and directed a drama special with Jang Hyuk and Jang Nara. She is very young, talented and seemed very lively and pleasant behind the scenes.
And then almost unwatchable in Hotel Del Luna. Ditto IU in comparison with My Mister. Dropped it cause I did not want show to ruin my very good feelings about either actor.
Ha! Finally someone who feels as I do about Hotel Del Luna!
@Princess Jasmine – regarding DOTS – I hope this doesn’t come off as antagonistic but I think it’s unfair when people judge a drama without having watched the entire thing. It’s okay to say you didn’t like a drama so you dropped it but to say there’s nothing great about a drama when you skipped to the last episode – when we all know 99% of Kdramas last episodes are the worst and usually a big let down. I just think it’s a bit rash to anti-recommend something that the majority of people found really special as “nothing great about it”. Now had you watched the entire thing and pronounced it not great, I’d be able to accept that as your legitimate opinion.
First thing first…I am genuinely sorry Beez. Maybe I should have worded my “dislike” for DOTS better…I think my comment were directed towards @Ele Nash who mentioned that DOTS may not be her sort of drama and I wanted to second that.
Let me clarify now for both you and @Ele Nash and for all the DOTS fans: It was beautifully shot and well acted and I especially liked both SJK and Kim ji-won; And the broad canvas and action scenes were very good. Just that as a story I didn’t see much progress from my point of view after episode 9….I did skim through the further episodes but then again it was not working for me…and especially last 2 episodes I watched it completely for completion sake and yet I didn’t like it as much as a story. Also the romance part did not work for me personally as both of them were mature adults and professionals but it was treated bit like a teenage romance and the skinship/OTP was not working for me (again in my opinion and I could be wrong as well). (also majority of opinion does not bother me much because I have my own take on things but at the same time I am willing to accommodate others’ opinion and respectfully agree to disagree)
So anyone who haven’t watched DOTS yet – please do give it a try for a few episodes and then decide for yourself.
Also I have no specific dislike for SJK and in fact like him and I am enjoying his performance in Vincenzo. Kim ji-won is equally special for me.
Beez, I have tried five times now to get my wife to watch DOTS with me. No can do. She adored Song Joong-ki in Sungkungkwan Scandal (or “Loki,” as we called that character!) so I thought he would be a selling point.
But each time I try she declines. Without having actually seen it, we have to go on how it appears it will be. Unfortunately, the setup has a Top Gun feel to it (the Tom Cruise film). I actually loved Top Gun, but guys strutting around doing macho military stuff while women do their nurturing thing is not her cup of tea.**
Our entire family has been moving away from accepting as normal what increasingly feels like toxic masculinity in our culture. So the “he kills, she nurses” premise is not a good start for us.
** Ha ha. Having read several testy comments between others this morning, I realize there was something in the water last night and maybe there is still today. So I fully expect you to school me on how totally incorrect my impression of DOTS is, how foolish it is to judge any show based on its PR blurbs or trailers, and so on.
Go ahead, I need those counterarguments if I’m ever going to convince her!
You know, this is an interesting take on it, and believe it or not I had never actually considered Descendants of the Sun in exactly that light–toxic masculinity, warrior vs. nurturer. There’s something to that critique, I’d say.
And I’m actually a DotS fan! more so, from what I can tell, than most who have commented here. I enjoyed it as (mostly) good clean fast-moving cracky fun.
The characters themselves do nod at the dynamic you’re describing: in the opening episode or two, as a potential first date between SJK and SHKs’ characters keeps getting derailed by SJK being called away on secret missions, SHK is finally like, you know, I’ve been thinking, this probably isn’t gonna work out…your job is to shoot people, and my job is to put them together again (paraphrased, but that’s the general vibe).
Anyway, I’m doing a bad job of presenting compelling counter-arguments, sorry. I did enjoy it, though!
Ha. The problem was that this breathless dichotomy (“his job is to kill, hers is to save lives!”) was stated explicitly in the trailer we watched via text chyron. I knew it was probably BS from the marketing ‘suits, but my wife saw that and said “no thank you, sir, not interested.”
Yes, that’s the reason I haven’t watched it either. I don’t know if it’s toxic, but it certainly is passé.
My problem with the OTP is that I thought they would be better if they were the same sex, but both heterosexual in their orientation. It is a banter relationship. Show itself, I dunno, struck as B type tv military show. I just did not care about any of the characters or their dilemmas.
@BE – Isn’t almost 90% of heterosexual Kdrama rom-com banter?
@Trent – Here’s a link to a collage of the package scene from DOTS combining clips the Korean, Vietnamese and Philippines versions. I’ve watched the Vietnamese version on Tubi (a free streaming app) and it’s also available free on Amazon Prime. I haven’t found where I can watch the Philippines’ version but judging from these clips it looks extremely low budget. https://youtu.be/qdcoCY65l4k
Either way, I would watch it just to see their version and because the characters make me smile. I think people are expecting the show to be something that it’s not.
@merij1 – I won’t try to convince you further because the trailers before the show had me too going “Well, what is this? Military? Fast motion so it must be a comedy?” And I didn’t like the first episode.
But I did like that this was a different setting for Kdramas with different professions and I felt the female lead was not a stereotypical role. I also felt it was similar to Healer as far as the mix of rom-com with very serious topics. I think most Kdramas tend to be limited to slice of everyday life (which I like) but this was a bit of a larger adventure of black ops military plus Doctors Without Borders vibe. Oh well. You saw Ì’d stopped pestering you about it.
@beez: She may give DOTS a try some day! Timing is everything.
@merij1 – timing is everything! ☺ I will say though that Song Hye kyo’s character is anything but a wilting violet. She’s a highly competent doctor. The roles of “he kills, she saves” could just as well belong to two males because she’s not exactly a nurturer. In fact, she’s not at all. She’s a very independent woman and there is none of the faux virginity we usually see in Kdrama. (Not that I have a problem with that. I watch Kdrama for that innocence even if it’s fake in real life.) She only has one scene that I thought the writing was lacking but it resulted in a big pay off later so I excused it.
“He kills/she saves” is at the core of the conflict of their relationship though because she’s not sure she wants to be with someone who’s job it is to kill but even moreso is her concern that she doesn’t want to start a relationship with someone she has to worry about because of his dangerous job.
I can’t remember if I said this before, but the flavor is similar to Healer because there’s serious stiff going on, but the relationship is rom-com-ish, even moreso than with Healer. The OTP on Healer had to deal with lots of childhood trauma so, in that respect, the DOTS OTP is really more about the fun of “boy meets girl” and “will they/won’t they” (get/stay together).
And let me add to that… that Song Joong Ki is just too damn pretty to have any Toxic Masculinity about him. On the contrary, his character shows the opposite. This character does what he does because he is a protector of the weak and it is his ‘calling’ to do that. Can’t wait to start Vincenzo!
@Georgia Peach – Vincenzo started out so well but then I lost interest. I’m actually trying to find a reason to peak my interest again to pick it back up.
Yes Song Joong Ki was the draw I thought would do it. We both loved him in Sungkungkwan Scandal.
@Princess Jasmine – sorry for being touchy. I don’t usually get so into fandom but I’m still mad that the Song-Song couple got married in the first place and messed up the memories for the show! 😆 When I think of all the beautiful sentiment the show inspired of elderly couples renewing their vows wearing replicated clothes of the characters and there was even a theme park! I feel so bad for the proprietors of that establishment!
But in all honesty, I liked the show so very much. I felt it was different and took us other places from our typical rom-coms. I guess it hit and healed my boredom spot for a while.
Beez – It’s perfectly fine as I really like SJK and I can take the hit for him and for you as well. I totally understand your fandom. Not just you – I have come across many people who go crazy on DOTS. I think its the SJK effect or maybe something more. Also now that I am thoroughly enjoying Vincenzo, I decided to try re-watching DOTS during my Xmas break this year end along with a re-watch of Vincenzo (don’t think I can travel this year also for X-mas coz the virus situation); On my re-watch I promise to pay more attention and have patience and try and observe all the things that has been mentioned by the hard-core DOTS fans. Thanks for all your valuable comments.
@Princess Jasmine – I do ❤ SJK but I’ve been stuck on Vincenzo mid ep7 for the longest time. I finally watched the rest of ep7 and watched ep8. It seems to have livened back up some so maybe I won’t continue having the same feeling that I had been having with it and with River-With-The-New-Actor. These shows have become chores for me.
When/if you watched DOTS, just sit back for the ride. It’s not meant to be deep. It just has a “feel”. It’s like if you could take the old b&w movie “From Here To Eternity”, dip it in color, remove all the seriousness from it, mix in some rom-com add some adventure – voila! 😆
River With The New Actor…..LOL! I just started it. What a shame for all involved. Bless, it’s soooo choppy. If you didn’t know what was going on with the editing you’d think you were going to be next to land on the editing room floor. Valiant effort by Na In Woo!
Well. What do I know. I’ve been watching Ji Soo for 5 episodes now and thought it was the other guy. But there’s still something going on with the editing. 😬
Beez, you’ll be happy to hear we are finally watching DOTS!
I’ve lowered by wife’s expectations on the quality of the writing and the ridiculous medical stuff. She works in health care, so I figured adjusting that lens in advance was necessary.
So far, we’re enjoying it based on the charisma of the various actors.