Dear kfangurl: Do you have difficulty seeing an actor in a different role?

Elaine writes:

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.

Park Min Young: Healer vs. Her Private Life

Dear Elaine,

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

Jang Hyuk: Money Flower vs. Chuno

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. 🤩

Shin Hye Sun: Mr. Queen vs. Thirty But Seventeen

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. Really impressive.

Joo Won: Ojakgyo Brothers vs. Gaksital

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.

Kang Ha Neul: When The Camellia Blooms vs. River Where The Moon Rises

2. Type of role

Another factor that I think we should consider, is the type of role in question.

An iconic role

Ji Chang Wook: Healer vs. Empress Ki

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? 😅

Pigeonholing

Cha Eun Woo: My ID is Gangnam Beauty vs. True Beauty

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.

Nam Goong Min: My Secret Hotel vs. Sensory Couple

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

Yoo Yeon Seok: Reply 1994 vs. Mr. Sunshine

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?

There IS something that we can do, right?

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. 😉

IN CLOSING

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!

Love! ❤️

~kfangurl

BRB.. Just.. adjusting my fangirl brain, a little bit. 😉

POST-SCRIPT:

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!

290 thoughts on “Dear kfangurl: Do you have difficulty seeing an actor in a different role?

  1. BE

    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.

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  2. Georgia Peach

    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.

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  3. slimeharpo

    “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.

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    1. merij1

      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.

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      1. j3ffc

        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).

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      1. j3ffc

        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.

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  4. BE

    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?

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  5. BE

    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.

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  6. Drama Fan

    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.

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      1. BE

        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.

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        1. Snow Flower

          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.

          Reply
          1. BE

            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.

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            1. Snow Flower

              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…

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          2. Snow Flower

            Koreans seem to excel in dramas dealing with family dynamics. Go Back Couple is a gentle fantasy comedy that hits many right notes.

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            1. BE

              @ 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.

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            2. BE

              @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.
              https://mydramalist.com/59381-navillera

              Reply
              1. Snow Flower

                @BE, I am not starting any new dramas for a while, but I will definitely put Navillera on my list!

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  7. Natalia

    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.

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    1. BE

      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.

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    2. Trent

      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)

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      1. Natalia

        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.

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        1. Trent

          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!)

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  8. BE

    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.

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    1. Vero

      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?

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      1. BE

        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.

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        1. Trent

          @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…

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          1. BE

            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.

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  9. Elaine Phua

    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).

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    1. Trent

      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).

      Reply
  10. Princess Jasmine

    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.

    Reply
  11. Alaska

    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.

    Reply
    1. Snow Flower

      @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

      Reply
          1. BE

            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.

            Reply
            1. Drama Fan

              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.

              Reply
              1. BE

                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.

                Reply
                1. Drama Fan

                  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.

                  Reply
                  1. BE

                    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.

                    Reply
                    1. Snow Flower

                      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.

                    2. beez

                      @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?

                    3. BE

                      @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.

              1. BE

                @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.

                Reply
                1. Snow Flower

                  @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.

                  Reply
                    1. Snow Flower

                      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…

                    2. BE

                      @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.

    2. Fangirl Sy

      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. 😍😍😍

      Reply
  12. Antonio

    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?).

    Reply
    1. BE

      Han Ye Ri kills it in historical drama Nokdu Flower. Also great in small support role of Joseon Foundation story, Six Flying Dragons.

      Reply
  13. Erin Osen

    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.

    Reply
  14. beez

    @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…

    Reply
    1. merij1

      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.

      Reply
  15. merij1

    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…

    Reply
    1. Princess Jasmine

      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

      Reply
          1. merij1

            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.

            Reply
    2. beez

      @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. ☺

      Reply
      1. merij1

        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.

        Reply
      2. Drama Fan

        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

        Reply
      3. BE

        @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.

        Reply
        1. beez

          @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).

          Reply
      4. BE

        @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.

        Reply
        1. Drama Fan

          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.

          Reply
          1. BE

            @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.

            Reply
            1. Drama Fan

              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.

              Reply
            2. Drama Fan

              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.

              Reply
              1. BE

                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.

                Reply
              2. BE

                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.

                Reply
  16. Annette Chung

    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.

    Reply
  17. Ele Nash

    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.

    Reply
    1. merij1

      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.)

      Reply
      1. Trent

        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…

        Reply
        1. merij1

          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.

          Reply
          1. Ele Nash

            @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.

            Reply
          2. beez

            @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.

            Reply
            1. merij1

              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.

              Reply
      2. Princess Jasmine

        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…)

        Reply
        1. Ele Nash

          @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.

          Reply
        2. merij1

          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.

          Reply
          1. Princess Jasmine

            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.

            Reply
            1. merij1

              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.

              Reply
              1. princess jasmine

                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.

                Reply
                1. merij1

                  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.

                  Classic!

                  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.

                  Reply
                  1. beez

                    @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.

                    Reply
                    1. merij1

                      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.

                  2. beez

                    @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.

                    Reply
                2. beez

                  @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.

                  Reply
        3. Drama Fan

          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?

          Reply
          1. Princess Jasmine

            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.

            Reply
          2. merij1

            @ 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.

            Reply
            1. Trent

              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).

              Reply
              1. merij1

                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.

                Reply
                  1. merij1

                    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.

                    Reply
                    1. beez

                      @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.

            2. Princess Jasmine

              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.

              Reply
    2. Drama Fan

      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 😝

      Reply
      1. princess jasmine

        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.

        Reply
        1. Ele Nash

          @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.

          Reply
          1. Princess jasmine

            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

            Reply
            1. Drama Fan

              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.

              Reply
              1. Ele Nash

                @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.

                Reply
              2. Princess jasmine

                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…..

                Reply
                1. Trent

                  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.

                  Reply
              3. Snow Flower

                The same director also directed The Crowned Clown, an excellent sageuk with Yeo Jin Goo killing it in a double role.

                Reply
                1. Drama Fan

                  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.

                  Reply
                2. BE

                  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.

                  Reply
            2. beez

              @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.

              Reply
              1. Princess Jasmine

                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.

                Reply
                1. merij1

                  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!

                  Reply
                  1. Trent

                    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!

                    Reply
                    1. merij1

                      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.”

                    2. Natalia

                      Yes, that’s the reason I haven’t watched it either. I don’t know if it’s toxic, but it certainly is passé.

                    3. BE

                      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.

                    4. beez

                      @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.

                  2. beez

                    @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.

                    Reply
                    1. beez

                      @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).

                    2. Georgia Peach

                      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!

                    3. beez

                      @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.

                    4. merij1

                      Yes Song Joong Ki was the draw I thought would do it. We both loved him in Sungkungkwan Scandal.

                2. beez

                  @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.

                  Reply
            3. merij1

              Since my wife wasn’t interested, I’m watching Memories of the Alhambra with my son. Only two episodes a week, however, and we’ve only seen four so far. He’s a gamer so it was not a hard sell.

              The show has interestingly slow pacing for a mostly non-romance drama.

              Reply
          2. BE

            @Ele Nash. He is okay in Arthdal, but Vincenzo is a much better role because, albeit he is the straight man to everyone else’s over the top performance, he gets to use his sense of humor. In Arthdal he plays a straight up heroic young lead, and a rather slimy villain–he is okay, but other actors could as easily pull it off. Except that I fear we will be stuck with sequels not quite in the same category, Song Joong KI is Vincenzo Cassanova.
            Descendants of the Sun on the other hand, imo, was rather an uninteresting piece, one I did not bother to finish. He was great in Sunkyunkwan Scandals, very funny, the perfect anodyne to Yoo Ah In’s moody performance. And it is really worth seeing him in the movie A Werewolf Boy. He is just wonderful in that.

            Reply
          3. Georgia Peach

            EN…you should also watch Song Joong Ki in An Innocent Man. That same year he did a movie A Werewolf Boy. Both are early works but really really good.

            Reply
          1. Princess Jasmine

            Who are these people and maybe we should send them to Mars….jus kidding…I totally go bonkers on HB character in Alhambra in spite of the unhappy ending. From episode 1 he had me. It is a different kind of feel that only “selected few” can relish I guess. Happy weekend and next time when people look at you tell them you are not alone and there is another person out there as well.

            Reply
          2. Snow Flower

            Alhambra was my very first Hyun Bin drama. I liked it so much that I rewatched it. I did like his character in CLOY, but if I rewatch it it would be for Kim Jung Hyun.

            Reply
          3. beez

            @DramaFan – I enjoyed Hyun bin’s performances in Alhambra but only aside from his half of the OTP. Well, Park Shin hye’s other half wasn’t too great either. As far as their make up of the OTP, he was an a**hole and she became a weak, whiny, can’t-handle-anything-on-my-own in his presence. I don’t hold the actors responsible for that. It was purely a flaw in the writing. So much more could’ve been done with PSH’s avatar character. Don’t you hate when the obvious solutions are right there in the writer’s story but they’re too close to the project to see it?

            Reply
            1. Drama Fan

              Possibly, I might notice more on rewatch. I wasn’t into or bothered by the OTP and I don’t remember analyzing too much. I enjoyed Alhambra for the thrill, horror and adventure aspect like it was an actual video game. It also had beautiful scenery. So I guess my brain dismissed the character development, regarding romance, in this case. I was much more into the relationship of him and the “evil ghost”, his guilt, fear and increasing paranoia and his relationship with his loved ones in general like his secretary. That whole thing made me cry.

              Reply
              1. merij1

                So much is determined by the viewing lens you go in with! If you saw him first in CLOY — as I did — you’d probably start Alhambra expecting swoony romance. And would be disappointed.

                I skipped Alhambra because my wife prefers the romance or romance+ stories and thus far I’ve only watched one show on my own, The K-2. (We watch two hours of whatever show we’re bingeing each night, so that doesn’t leave much time for watching solo.) But based on what you’re said here, maybe I’ll watch Alhambra alone at some point.

                Right now I’m trying to find time to watch Money Flower solo in order to catch up with the group watch. I tried but failed with Chuno.

                Reply
                1. Drama Fan

                  May I recommend Fated to love you? Its a super cute rom com where the main couple has amazing chemistry. If you can tolerate some OTT comedy in first episodes (things settle in pretty soon) you’d be rewarded with some truly swoony romance. A friend of mine started watching it and Im “reliving the feels” through her watch.

                  Reply
              2. Princess Jasmine

                Thanks Drama Fan. Your explanation is spot on and is exactly the same reason as to how I view Alhambra. I also didn’t bother too much on OTP/ romance etc even if it had Park Shin. I believe that Alhambra is a drama about an individual man’s pursuit of adventure / revenge and corporate success of the game and everyone else was just supporting him in his journey towards that.

                Reply
            2. Trent

              @beez YES, THANK YOU! As you would say, LIKE.
              (I’m going to slip in here real quiet like among all the apparent Alhambra love..hopefully they won’t notice me 🙂 )
              I didn’t hate Alhambra, but I honestly didn’t like it all that much because I felt it really squandered a lot of potential. It had a really intriguing premise, and then this cool sounding VR game in a fantastic historical setting turns out to be the most boring XP grind-fest imaginable.

              The OTP.. this is like my canonical example of the main characters “falling in love” and having a relationship just because the script calls for it; you can almost see the writer/PD thinking, “well, but we’ve got Big Stars Hyun Bin and Park Shin-hye, if they don’t have a romance, the audience will kill us”. I like PSH, and I’m enjoying her feral bad-@ss warrior from the future in Sisyphus right now a lot, but this was not a great role for her. Character really felt underwritten. And HB…someone mentioned maybe it depends on what you see him in first, and maybe there’s something to that? I saw CLOY before this, and vastly prefer his Captain Ri to his self-absorbed CEO here. Even when he gets obsessed with his own personal “quest” and undergoes “growth,” he still strikes me as mostly an @ssh*le. Sorry, HB-in-Alhambra fans! (maybe they didn’t notice my rant here…)

              Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. Carry on!

              Reply
              1. Drama Fan

                Lol! Its ok! I just felt really sorry for the @hole and found him sexy thats all 🤣 but I guess I wasn’t thinking too deeply. I agree that PSH literally played only an “avatar” in Alhambra, so it wasn’t a great role for her. I liked her in Pinocchio.

                Reply
                1. Trent

                  PSH’s avatar (Emma) in Alhambra was pretty cool, too bad all she really did was sit around looking cool and playing an (admittedly awesome) classical guitar song.

                  I do look forward to seeing Pinocchio, since so many people have spoken highly of it.

                  Reply
                2. merij1

                  We finished Pinocchio this evening. Which was our first exposure to Park Shin Hye. She’s great.

                  What else should we watch her in?

                  Reply
                  1. Trent

                    I’m quite enjoying her in Sysiphus, but that’s currently running and still has six episodes to go to finish. I did not really envision her in an action-oriented role before this, but she’s making a believer out of me.

                    She was also pretty good in #Alive, if you like zombie movies…

                    Reply
                    1. BE

                      @Trent. Ah, well I find her totally unbelievable along with just about everything else in Sisyphus, albeit I think other members of the cast are equally wasted in this mess of a show. The only actor that can take my mind off of just how loopy and full of holes whole story goes–detailed aloud the plot would read like a campy satire, but it is delivered with deadly seriousness–is Sung Dong Il who every once in a while gets to splash cold water on the whole affair.
                      I have only seen Park Shin Hye in this, and it has not left me with the desire to see her in anything else. There is something lacking in her affect, though she does good enough job like everyone else at escaping from the original Keystone Cop gang who cannot shoot straight, The Control Bureau, aka The Complete Ninnies in Black in scenes one wishes for comic book bubbles to show up with words like POW! and WHAM! inside them.

                    2. Trent

                      @BE I’m not even going to attempt to defend its logical leaps and plot holes, but my general attitude when going into time travel narratives is that a fair amount of incoherent plotting is pretty much inevitable, and if I’m not willing to cast a fuzzy lens and forgiving eye on same, better not to even embark at the outset. Within that context, I’m able to find my enjoyment of the show.

                      I also respectfully disagree about PSH in this, as I think she is conveying a note of under-socialized, feral lost child warrior, consistent with someone whose world ended in apocalypse when they were ten or so, pretty well, actually. That’s my story, at least, and I’m sticking to it…

                    3. BE

                      @Trent: there is one thing about allowing for a fuzzy lens and seeing Jung Hye In show up in an more villainous iteration of someone who was already a villain in a Ruth Bader Ginsburg crocheted collar. It’s funny. But it isn’t meant to be.
                      Time travel has little to do with the Control Bureau’s innaccurate shooting ability.
                      These guys are worse than the Orcs in Lord of the Rings, and by a country mile.
                      It’s not that there is the plot hole of fangirling BTS side by side with falling for this guy who is, um twice her age, even if he does look alarmingly like her father, or leaving a diary from sometime in the past or is it the future in a bunch of rubble she just happens on in the past or is the future, and so on, but rather in episode after episode show writers cannot calm themselves down and just tell the story. Fuzzy is kind of understatement.
                      Really take the time to spell out the story up till now for yourself. A train wreck.
                      I did like the few minutes in last week’s initial episode when I got to hear Park Shin Hye actually speak in paragraphs. Show has something kinetic about it, but if it could only laugh at itself a bit more and if the show writers could just keep themselves from for a least one whole episode not introducing some new and far fetched plot complication it would help. I like your characterization of her, but it is the characterization of a role in a game, rather than one in a drama.

                    4. merij1

                      @ BE:

                      I have only seen Park Shin Hye in this, and it has not left me with the desire to see her in anything else

                      Oh man, check out Pinocchio. It’s great across the board and she’s wonderfully endearing in the role. The whole cast is excellent, actually, including Jin Kyung, the actress who plays her villain mom. (I mention this since you and I share a love for talented older actresses. I see she also has a supporting role as a head nurse in Dr. Romantic, if you’re participating in that watch party.)

                      As for time travel done well, I don’t remember if you already saw the Taiwanese show Some Day or One Day, but it’s truly excellent and as logically consistent as possible for a story exploring that premise.

                    5. Trent

                      Pinocchio is definitely moving quickly up my priority list, based on comments like this from you and others who are giving it lots of love. I’ll hopefully get to it soon. I just started 30 but 17 because I needed some more Shin Hye-sun, and am already into binge mode…

                      I did see Someday or One Day, and I agree with you. When I did my own write-up (just last week, in fact), I cited its fairly tightly constructed plot as its top attraction! And even with that show, there are inconsistencies and places to criticize; time travel and time loop narratives are just inherently hard…maybe because time travel doesn’t actually exist, you know?

                    6. BE

                      @merij1–thanks for tip on Pinocchio. Jin Kyung is a perpetual delight in the Dr. Romantic series, so that is added incentive. She is so heroic in that, it would be interesting to see her as a villain.
                      In general, I am not a super fan of time travel stories, albeit Octavia Butler and Kate Atkinson’s novels, respectively Kindred and Life after Life, written by masters both were very good. And I do also really, really love Connie Willis. dyptich Blackout and All Clear on time travelling historians going back to the period of WW2 in which Germany was bombing England. All of the above are very good about dealing with the fabric of time travel, the Willis’ novels obsessed to the point of it being the most significant plot catalyst, and all would make for terrific televised series with great casts.
                      Pulpy time travel I have found, especially in K Dramas, tends to be a gimmick that often without being really reflected upon, is used to up the ante of show–in the case of Sisyphus, and it is true I am still watching, I believe it is being used to mask a lack of confidence in the actual story and characters. My problem with Park Shin Hye for example is that so much of what she enacts has a kind of basic contradiction to it and that her use of voice has no inflection in it because she is so completely the action figure of the story.
                      I find this to be as true when K Drama mixes sageuk with contempory drama, as I do when they go sci fi. Time travel is genre of its own, but like all genres, it always comes down to good characters, good actors (which for the most part is true for Sisyphus), and the ability to by and large suspend disbelief. Sisyphus never lets me do that. And at times, thus, I feel like show is trolling me.

                    7. Trent

                      @BE I think this is a fair reaction, to be honest; time travel stories are not my favorites, either, not least because they are so technically demanding on a plot level, and it’s all too easy for the writer to cut corners and say “good enough!” I think your observation that Kdramas that dabble in time travel (which seems to be quite a few of them, the more familiar I become with different shows) are using it as a gimmick without much care for its technical demands is likely correct. My own review of The King: Eternal Monarch, for example, (a show I actually liked, on balance) I spent the bulk of my time ranting about the loose inconsistent treatment of the time travel narrative, and the writers’ lack of awareness of, or insufficient fidelity to, the conventions of the form that have grown up over the last half-century or so (I may have referenced Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” and “By His Bootstraps,” formative time travel paradox stories, in my own thinking, at least).

                      (parenthetically, I haven’t read the Willis duology you mention, both because I had a strong adverse reaction to The Domesday Book, way back in the day, that kind of put me off Willis (although I’m aware that she has a celebrated career and a fervent fan base and I’ve often been urged to give this or that book of hers a try); and also because reaction to those particular books was fairly strongly mixed among those whose book-reading opinions I follow).

                      A couple of other points: my viewing stance on time travel narratives is usually to try to withhold judgment, at least specifically as relates to the mysteries and seeming paradoxes that pop up, until at or near the end, when the show has been given time to resolve or address them. So, for example, in another comment, you reference the pink diary at the cairn in Sisyphus, and yes, facially that seems absurd or ridiculous. But I’m holding reaction or final judgment in abeyance…I don’t expect Show, given what it’s shown so far, to provide a tightly reasoned or really intelligent explanation, but I’m giving it a chance to unwind to the end.

                      And also on the subject of Sisyphus (per your other comment), I’m not even going to attempt to defend Control Bureau’s general competence–they can’t run a tactical operation to save their lives (literally)–or their marksmanship–they’re the original gang that can’t shoot straight, no question. But if we’re going to cancel every beloved drama whose crew of bad guys are collectively afflicted with 20/300 eyesight, then we’ll have to start with the storm troopers in every Star Wars film ever made, and start working our way down a lengthy list…

                    8. beez

                      @Trent – have you seen Signal? As far as I can see, no gaping logic other than the thought of what caused the first “event”.

                    9. Trent

                      @beez I haven’t yet seen Signal, but it’s been on my list for awhile now. Problem is, there’s too many other things on the list with it. I’ll get to it!

                    10. beez

                      @Trent – yesssss. Signal lingered on my monstrosity of a list for a long time.I think I watched Ep. 1 and then it sat again for a while. But once you start it, it’s one of those where you can’t stop watching it (once you make it past the first episode, of course).

                    11. merij1

                      @ BE and Trent: I was certain I’d read several works by Connie Willis back in the ’80s-90s, but when I looked her up just now, Doomsday Book was the only title that jumped out. So I guess the others must have been short stories.

                      I’ve always known I should read Octavia Butler, but at this point it’s hard for me to start a new author who tended to write lengthy series.

                      I’m in my early-ish 60s but remember well the year in my teens when I realized many male sci-fi writers (back then) had wowed me with cleverness and science what-ifs, but were often paper-thin on character development.

                      After reading Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, it was hard to go back to “stick figures doing clever things.”

                      Anthropology applied to science what-if was the turning point for me. What would people be like in this situation? Not just what technology would they come up with to adapt to an environment we’ve never imagined, but what would their day-to-day experience be like, and how would that change their culture and their social relations?

                      On the other hand, I still indulge in the occasional space opera when my Walter Mitty side needs to be fed. lol

                    12. Trent

                      I first read The Left Hand of Darkness when I was in grad school, and it blew my pointy little mind.

                      (Speaking of LeGuin and mind-blowing, a couple of years ago I gave a copy of “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” to my teenage daughter and told her she should read it…)

                    13. BE

                      @Trent: Inre Control Bureau. They remind me of the folks in Nolan’s inception attacking the good guys. I did not like Nolan’s Inception either as it seemed such a rehash of sci fi and adventure cliches–go over the bridge in a car crash, falling down an elevator shaft, and being attacked in a remote ski villa by marauding bad guys who can’t shoot. I am serious going to be po’ed however if the payoff to Sisyphus is that it is all a dream conjured by Han Te Sul while crash landing in the plane in the opening episode. The diary presents the problem of Sao Hae having to have come to the past twice from the future, not to mention the randomness of just finding the diary there. IMO show should have settled down by now, which it almost did in first episode last week. I had problems with both The King and Hotel Del Luna, and basically could not keep watching either.
                      I liked Doomsday Book, but found the two on WW2 England better because the characters both from future and in the time in which story takes place more compelling, touching, and given that WW2 is a genre of story telling all by itself I thought that it more vividly and humanely presented the British home front than any novels or films I had seen about the era before. And it had a pair of English waifs straight out of Dickens, funny, outlandish, mischevious, that captured my imagination.
                      @merij1: Kindred is a one off, not part of her series novels about a contemporary woman who travels back into the past and meets up with her mean spirited, white, slave master ancestor. Time travel leaves her with that conundrum, and so it is quite germane to novel’s reflection. With Butler, one always must find a way to love the alien, the monster, warts and all. She is wonderful, but really eccentric in some ways.
                      Left Hand of Darkness is terrific, but best part I thought was the travel over the ice, ie the action rather than philosophical element. So vivid.

                    14. Trent

                      @BE Now on that point we are in complete agreement: if the resolution is “it was all a dream,” I will have to be restrained from throwing my screen out the window.

                      There may have once been a point, somewhere in the distant past, where “…and then she woke up to find it had all been a dream” was an edgy and original resolution to a fantastic (in the sense of wild, outrageous) story, but at this point, it is 100% a lazy cop-out and betrayal of the audience.

                      Also, at this point I feel like we have kind of colonized Kfangurl’s comment section rather far afield from the original prompt, so…mianhae.

                  2. kfangurl Post author

                    Hi MeriJ, you might want to take a look at Flower Boy Next Door, where she plays a shy shut-in who finds commonality and love with a new, somewhat frenetic neighbor. Also, You’re Beautiful is a fun classic which is fabulous with the right campy, fluffy lens. 🙂

                    Reply
              2. beez

                @Trent – I hope everybody realizes my “LIKE” is utilized when for some reason (like now) the like button vanishes. I’m on my phone and it comes and goes at whim.

                Park Shin hye’s avatar was so beautiful and mysterious and the writer should’ve made her the key to the whole thing. I haven’t played video games since back in the ol’ Mario Bros era but it seemed to me (if I’m recalling correctly) that her avatar was the catalyst for the error that caused game characters to become tangible in the real world. She could’ve been utilized more by simply having Hyun bin realizing that fact and using her in someway to reset the game. Then they could have shifted the focus from a poorly written OTP to the two stars interacting in the virtual world. Not that her avatar had to become fully realized or animated but part of the fun would’ve been his trying to figured out what her few cryptic words meant for unlocking the game’s problems.

                Reply
                1. Shyama

                  @Beez
                  What a fantastic idea! Why didn’t the writers think of this! The ending of Alhambra still makes me mad!

                  Reply
                  1. beez

                    @Shyama – so many times in the last episode or two of a kdrama oh, it seems the ending should be so obvious but I don’t know if the writers are too close to the project, under too much pressure, or it’s out of their control meaning the advertisers and the Powers-That-Be have some type of influence on where the show has to end up. Although why you would want your show’s ending to fizzle is beyond me.

                    Reply
              3. Princess Jasmine

                ha ha ha ha….thats ok…not everyone has to like everything….and I did think deeply and yet still like this character of HB in Alhambra….yes he is self-absorbed and could be an @ssh*le and thats perfectly ok for a character which is fun to watch and acted out very well by HB. Not everyone needs to be perfect in this world.

                I watched CLOY before Alhambra and I find Captain Ri too honest / innocent/ boring as a character and any day I would prefer Jin-woo over Captain Ri. And lets all agree to disagree ….happy week ahead.

                Reply
                1. Trent

                  Whew! Thank you for your kind understanding 🙂

                  Of course, variety in taste and what different people like and find appealing adds spice to the world…

                  Reply
    3. beez

      @Ele Nash – your comment reminded me of my watch of King 2 Hearts. I really liked Ha Ji won at the time because of Secret Garden but I didn’t care for her performance in King 2 Hearts and I don’t care for Lee Seung gi anytime. But I am so glad that I watched it for Cho Jung suk’s performance.

      Reply
  18. BE

    @KFG: It strikes me with Yoo Yeon Seok, Goo Dong Mae in Mr. Sunshine was an atypical role for him, but one that allowed him to be so much more than in any other role I have seen him in. I am appreciating what he is bringing to Dr. Romantic the second time through more than my first watch, but a lot of actors could play that role as convincingly. However, every single fan of Mr. Sunshine will tell you, or almost every single fan, a role of a lifetime. In cast chock full of terrific actors, doing terrific performances, he ran away with the whole show. All his other roles seem to blend for me, I mean he is both perfectly serviceable but also a bit forgettable. As Goo Dong Mae in Mr. Sunshine, scene after scene, Yoo Yeon Seok is simply unforgettable.

    Reply
  19. BE

    Second attempt–accidently left the site. Let me say, albeit I have my exceptions, I prefer mature actors, or at least young actors who can play mature roles. Pretty boys who are already 35 and still look 20 or very young women with striking faces and cardboard chops, not my cuppa. It is not that I do not appreciate beauty, but beauty alone when watching a drama does not impress me. As a guy I am still more touched by female beauty than male beauty at 74, so just pretty less so in men than women (I really have a problem with boyish male leads who get the woman, instead of someone interesting with flavor, just because they are pretty and well mannered), but in women certainly as well.
    Just gonna pitch in now with female leads; another later on male actors. I like Kim Hee Ae, but Secret Love Affair and The World of the Married, ie serious, highly emotional drama as complicated and conflicted women–well no one does that better. Bae Doo Na is a versatile actress. She has a distinctive screen presence, but she plays all sorts of roles. Sageuk, family drama–Han Ye Ri, the woman moves like a dancer because she is one and connects with her characters. Kim Tae Ri has only been in Mr. Sunshine insofar as drama is concerned and after Space Whatevers, I worry she is going to be funneled of to boring lead roles, but go from Handmaiden to Little Forest, films, to Mr. Sunshine. She has all the promise of becoming a very fine actress with real range. The old pros in Dear My Friends–we are talking legends here: Kim Hye Ja, Youn Yuh Jung (Academy Award nominee…after fifty years in Korean film and tv drama, my current celebrity crush–I am so much in love, yuk), the wonderful Na Moon Hee, I mean in this cast of legends, she generally owns every scene she’s in, and Go Doo Shim (also the mother in My Mister). And the younger lead, the ever magnetic Go Hyun Jung, who was even more charismatic as perhaps the greatest sageuk villain ever, Mishil in The Great Queen Seondeok. Ask our other sageuk fans here…Mishil! Talk about your archetype conniving femme fatale! Even when you hate her, you cannot take your eyes off her. You can almost smell her pheramones just watching on your big screen tv–and she is a bad, as in bad, not good, human being. And still, it is always thrilling when she says, “I…Mishil!” Indeed.
    I also really like Shin Se Kyung (Deep Rooted Tree, Six Flying Dragons, Rookie Historian, Run On) who I am always rooting for to get better roles, especially those that allow her to show off her comedic chops as was the case in Rookie Historian. Supporting actresses: I just love Lee Jeong Eun (her death scene as Haman in Mr. Sunshine was in a long series of dramatic scenes perhaps the most dramatically delivered in it). I also really like Kim Sun Jong who is a delight in such various roles from single mom in Reply 1988 to North Korean village woman leader in Crash Landing on You. After My Mister, I want to see more of Oh Na Ra.
    IU in My Mister, pretty much the exception, I prefer grown up, complicated, intelligent women actors.

    Reply
      1. BE

        Is this because of my comments about Go Hyun Jung in Queen Seondeok? If that is the case, part of it is I love great sageuk, but also I have never quite seen a villain portrayed the way she does it in Queen Seondeok (and she is such a touching single woman in her thirties in slice of life Dear My Friends, so gently appealing, such a different kind of character).
        Or The World of the Married writer? I must say I thought The World of the Married as a drama despite the great, great acting in it, fell down at the end for me because writer could not fulfill all the plot complications in an honest way. He also wrote Beautiful Mind, and in that too, there was a quality of overwraught to it that despite Jang Hyuk and Park Bo Dam did not quite work for me.
        I started Misty, but got stalled out for some reason. Maybe cause of the tone or that I did not connect with the characters in the first few episodes. I am willing to put up with overwraught if it is starring Kim Hee Ae and at least willing to check it out if it is starring Jang Hyuk. But I was unfamiliar with the actors in this cast and so I did not stick it out on their behalf.

        Reply
          1. BE

            Ah…I should probably give it another go when I am not watching stuff I am already engrossed in. Thanks for encouraging me to do so.

            Reply
    1. Ele Nash

      @BE I love Shin Se Kyung too. She made Rookie Historian, in my book. I especially like her tone of voice and realise voice is so important especially when listening to a language you don’t understand much of. I notice voice so much and am not sure if it’s that many Koreans have gorgeous resonance to their voices, like great timbre, or if it’s just I’m listening in a different way than to English speakers.

      Reply
      1. BE

        In her last two shows, my one complaint, is that Shin Se Kyung has, after acting across from Jang Hyuk and then Yoo Ah In, been stuck with pretty boy leads who cannot really act. I would have loved in either Rookie Historian or Run On for her lead to have of the quality of someone like Byun Ho Yan. She does always have the quality of being soft in an appealing way on the outside and strong on the inside, and I would love to see as Rookie Historian intimated more of her down to earth and funny side.

        Reply
  20. Drama Fan

    This is such an interesting topic that could spark many sub-topics, like, what makes an actor more “addictive” and fun to follow versus others. Versatility is one appealing factor, for sure!

    Being “versatile” is often equated with being a “good” actor. It is a desirable quality in an actor, but like you point out Kfangurl, it is not necessarily limited to an actor’s talent ability but also, what is their intention, their approach to the craft. How intentionally do they work at seeking roles that are in different genres and types of characters? Furthermore, is acting an art form to them or a psychological/game escape kind of therapy where they live many different lives? Is an actor’s intention to show as many faces as he can and show many sides to him (in order to avoid typecasting and also in order to have more fun as actors). Example, Jang Hyuk says that in the past he was concerned about showing different sides, because he needed to show versatility in order to guarantee work opportunities (his approach was practical, as he had studied the career of acting and was kinda desperate to work and make some money given sudden economic hardships his family was facing around that time) Still he was kind of getting pigeon-holed as “bad boyish”, later on, as “action actor”, and of course he would take any role that was offered. But, nowadays, without such economic concerns, he is more “relaxed” and his main concern is he wants people to be “moved”, he wants to stir emotions in the audience (and I’d say he succeeds in his goal most of the time) His new main concern (which is no longer showing versatility at all costs), has made him a more appealing actor to me, since that is what I seek more in an actor. I want not only to “believe” this actor is this character, I want to feel something for him/her, I want to love or hate him, etc regardless of whether his her mannerisms change between characters, if he/she moves me, I’m willing to forgive the lack of versatility. An example is Robert De Niro. He has the same face and mannerisms in every role, yet, he is always convincing and compelling. If an actor is only convincing in being super different in role A and role B, but he doesn’t move you or make you care, then what is the point? I’d say. Interestingly, by no longer obsessing about differentiating his characters superficially, JH became, in my view, a better, more compelling actor. Of course, the experience also helps, now he doesn’t have to deal with nerves, mumbling or forgetting lines as he has overcome all of that through years of honing his craft and he can now focus on creating the characters, etc. We have to remember that when we observe the younger actors. They are still dealing with “lack of experience” in front a camera and also, lack of life experiences that will provide them with the tools to create deeper characters in the future.

    Conversely, some actors are content with only playing certain types of roles that suit them and they even become experts at a certain type of roles. We see this often in Hollywood right? It’s a matter of being type casted but also, maybe this person really “looks” so perfect for the “friendly neighbor” role or the “priest” role that it is all they get. This can be a guarantee of always getting work, for actors who are probably not expecting to be superstars but need to make a living. K-industry is still a smaller industry, so I guess getting pigeon-holed like that would be a greater disadvantage, because your work pool will be severely limited. Actors are kind of obligated to become versatile in order to compete and to get more job opportunities. Another sub-topic could be, what is considered “versatile”, is it performing different types of characters? Good and bad guys, larger than life characters vs regular everyday people or is it about exploring different genres? You can have actors who try different genres and work well in all by making certain changes, in voice intonation, speech patterns, demeanor, body language, but who would still retain some of their characteristics, some quirks unique to the actor

    I remember having a conversation about this with my friend Gumi. I love both JH and Ji Sung as actors and we were talking about how convincing and compelling they are in different genres etc but she pointed out a difference between them which makes some people consider JH not as “versatile” as Ji Sung. JH does have certain quirks he repeats, (the famous laugh, the laugh while crying) While he does make deliberate acting choices that successfully differentiate his characters like, voice intonations, etc he still retains what Gumi called his “flavor”. He is not a blank canvas, he already comes with a certain “Jang Hyukness” that along with writer and director create a new character with a distinct soul each time. While this may make people perceive him as “less versatile than…” this “flavor” (Gumi argued) is not something an actor should force himself to remove, especially if it’s part of what makes him appealing (I think she made a good point). Whereas Ji Sung is more a blank canvas, who completely disappears into the role, something extremely desirable in an actor and probably the favorite characteristic for directors who already have a clear vision for the character (but because of it, if the role doesn’t have enough meat, he runs the risk of coming off bland) In other words even the definition of “versatile” is something that can be further explored. I have favorite actors in the “disappears completely into the role” category like Ji Sung or Meryl Streep and in the “flavorful” actors like Jang Huk, Daniel Day Lewis etc and I consider all of these versatile and with a vast range but in different ways.

    Reply
    1. BE

      I think Lee Byung Hun in movies escaped the fate that has hounded Jang Hyuk. He could have easily been pigeon holed as an actor, but if you watch his films, you see he has been given a great variety of characters and vehicles in which to act. I have seen him do comedy, menace, action, in depth characterization, mobster, clown, king, everyman, anti hero and hero, and everything in between. His has been a fortunate career.

      Reply
      1. Drama Fan

        I suppose, although I’m not super familiar with LBHs work as I have not followed him closely, I am aware he has had a great deal of success. I saw him in the movies Masquerade and The good, the bad and the weird (very fun) but his work in Mr Sunshine is what I’ve liked the most from him so far. And since I’m more of a kdrama fan and no so much a kmovie fan, I havent watch many of his works, but based especially on Mr Sunshine, I can concur that he is a good actor. On the other hand, JH, who I have watched in everything available, never really got a standout role in movies, but since he is still alive, I can keep hoping for such an opportunity to come his way, especially since movies and now streaming services allow a bit more opportunities for mature actors. Meaning, there is still time for him to “make it”. While The Swordsman has not been a huge success and it barely got made, despite its many financial difficulties, it has gotten some positive reviews, the action scenes are superb, despite the story being very predictable. So, in my opinion, every project, no matter how small, can open an unexpected door and if not, its good practice for the actor (as JH has said himself, what is an actor if he doesn’t act? He is not someone who stays idle waiting for the perfect role to come. He likes to work and practice his craft and learn on the set) In the meantime, I think he has done an amazing job with the opportunities he got, has created some really compelling characters that touched many hearts (mine for sure), has invested his money well, and seems to be a happy family man, so I think he probably considers himself successful in his own humble way. As a fan, I find him very fun to follow and cheer for. He always bring something fun to watch to every role (at least for me).

        Reply
        1. BE

          In Lee Byung Hun’s most recent film, The Man Standing Next, for which he has already won acting awards, he plays the tightly wound up, moody, menacing, highly intelligent, and conflicted S. Korean intelligence chief who wound up assassinating President Park at the end of the 70s, moving from loyal soldier, so to speak, to assassin initiating a coup in a matter of weeks. Spectacular performance. As far from Eugene Choi as one could possibly imagine.

          On the other hand here is K’s (A rated) flash review of Keys to the Heart, a slice of life film drama also with Yoon Yeoh Jun: https://thefangirlverdict.com/2018/09/23/flash-review-keys-to-the-heart-korean-movie/

          I have not seen The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, but I do imagine it to be a wonderful romp kind of movie. He also played a supporting role to Song Kang Ho in The Age of Shadows, a early 20th C Japanese Colonial period drama as serious as I imagine The Good, The Bad, and The Weird is unserious.

          One of his most famous films, is Inside Men, wherein he plays a two bit gangster whose life is both ruined and threatened by some very powerful individuals and how with the help of one man he manages to turn the tables on them all. It is a very tightly written film, and in a way the kind of contemporary drama Jang Hyuk might be able to take on, but whereas Jang Hyuk might make the choice of allowing his character to be so distasteful it would be hard to redeem him, Lee Byung Hun has us rooting for him almost from the get go.

          In I Saw the Devil he plays the good cop foil to Choi Min Sik’s serial killer sadist. And of course in Masquerade, which is simply terrific, he does both a comic and dramatic turn.

          I think Jang Hyuk is better suited to sageuks than contemporary drama because the opportunities for him to show off his more operatic acting skills, his enthusiasm, are more present. I almost always feel he is constricted in contemporary garb. Chuno is also great because he is performing with such top notch enthusiastic performers–Sung Dong Il, Kim Ha Eun, Kim Ji Seok, and Ahn Kil Kang with whom he can play around, trade riffs, really get into the fun of acting, and on the other hand two very understated performances by Lee Dae Ha and Oh Ji Ho, which by contrast really allow him to show often with great economy, the emotional content and passion of his character, not to mention the otherworldly antihero Lee Jong Hyuk whose character’s mean sociopathy renders Dae Gil an infinitely appealing character despite all his flaws and cruelties that one can root for.

          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.

          For me anyway, as we have discussed before, I would like to see him in a big cast (would have preferred him to Yoo Ah In in 6 Flying Dragons) with other great actors–LBH my goodness got lead roles in films with Song Kang Ho, Choi MIn Sik. I wish for him a great and convincing leading woman actor playing a character, a woman we recognize as someone real rather than as a trope, equal in passion to Jang Hyuk’s. Whether his fortune has been a result of his choices or what his opportunities have left for him. I do not know. I only know Dae Gil is one of the greatest characters I have in my long life ever seen portrayed so well by an actor. And I hope he gets another opportunity as rich in his upcoming career.

          Reply
          1. Drama Fan

            I respectfully disagree with your take on JH in contemporary dramas. Evidently I don’t feel that way at all. But I respect your opinion and thank you for the LBH recommendations. I also echo your wish for JH to get better opportunities in movies.

            Reply
          2. Drama Fan

            And of course I also disagree about JH choosing to make his characters irredeemable. I don’t think that’s the case. He has played very hard to like characters and always has been able to make me understand them, Daegil, Piljoo (I know you dont like him but thats another one we’ll have to disagree on)

            Reply
            1. BE

              Yes Piljoo is not a character I care for. He lacks warmth, generosity, humor, a stalker, a stooge, who resents being a stooge, a corrupt creep among even more corrupt creeps who wants to corrupt everyone in his path to exact his revenge. A character wholly lacking joy, I find him less likeable than I found Commander Hwang in Chuno. So whether it is well acted or not and I could quibble on that, but see that as a matter of taste, does not matter for me. It is not a role that I find sympathy for.

              In Bad Papa, A Beautiful Mind, Voice even he does work at making his characters sympathetic, but the writing in each as well as his ensembles make shows less than they might have been.

              In contemporary dramas, he tends to be a bit too cerebral for me. In sageuks he gets to be physical (why I suppose I have a soft spot for Bad Papa), which for me suits his skill set better.

              Reply
              1. Drama Fan

                Yeah Ive read what you feel about Piljoo. Its like we are seeing completely different characters but thats alright. And for the record I also loved his character in Beautiful Mind. Different strokes for different folks.

                Reply
              2. Drama Fan

                I read “constricted in modern garb” and my naughty mind went to Lee Gun busting his shirt open in FTLY 🤣 Im sorry, but the more I read this the more I can’t agree. You know? We talk so much about Chuno and Money Flower being his best work but if you do any poll among JH international fans in my blog, Soompi or Facebook you will find his Lee Gun is by far the most loved one. I started fangirling him in 2012 and the Jang Hyuk fandom online was a bit of a desert until FTLY came along. It was the time my blog got more active too. According to a great amount of his fans he is suitable for rom com even more so than for historicals (Im sure this sounds like blasphemy to you probably lol) but I love what he did with Lee Gun so I”ll support this blasphemous notion. And one more thing, Ahn Nae Sang and Park Ye Jin were also amazing in My Country. I really enjoyed all the historical characters in that (Ahn Nae Sang was fictional but was said to be based on two historical characters) https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e0/03/91/e00391885fe381512346a33c79028e83.gif

                Reply
                1. BE

                  Have not seen Fated to Love You, so I cannot comment.

                  In My Coutny, the relationship between the two main characters passed all believing. There is no way that once someone sends me off to get killed in a war while kidnapping my sister that I forgive the guy, I do not care what kind of buddies I had been with him. It’s over.
                  Seo Hwi’s crew, a well done but not special kind of tropey sidekicks, were more interesting than Seo Hwi. The FL was interesting for the first episode, and then… They tagged this ridiculous love hate bromance onto a legendary story, eliding almost completely the most important figure in the story, tossing out Lee Bang Ji and Moo Hyul, legendary characters who are central to the telling. When Yi Bang Won gives his passionate oratory about killing Po Eun on the bridge it has nothing dicscernable to do with anything unless you know about that story, meaning Jang Hyuk’s incredible delivery goes unnoticed by ninety five percent of folks who saw it. The one good woman actor in it was killed off in about the fifth episode. And the whole chronology of the show starting with Seo Hwi’s father’s death did not add up. The whole battle of the princes period obscured. Everyone likes different things, but the show was really two different stories, one having to do with the early Josean Empire and its foundation myth and another that could have existed anytime in a fictional past. For me show writers used the former to cover up the holes in the later, the fundamental whole being once Seo Hwi is sent off to die, there is no future relationship between the two men. The actors might be fine in other kinds of parts, but these were supposed to be men who had been battle tested, and they read like boys. They were acting those parts not inhabiting them.

                  I did try to watch Robber, but could not get into it, even if I thought Lee Dae Ha was good to begin with.
                  I suppose I am a fan of some actors in the sense that I root for their success, but whatever other people think, I dare them to show me a role in which Jang Hyuk has played where one so visibly can see the absolute joy he is taking in every scene as in Chuno or one that tells as compelling a tale.

                  I liked Jang Hyuk in Beautiful MInd, I liked him in Voice. I really liked him in Bad Papa. The shows not so much. And the first time I watched it I thought he was very good in Money Flower. But thinking of Jang Hyuk on the roof at the end of Chuno, shooting the arrow to the sun, the absolute delight and generosity of that throwaway moment, or the whole foot business in Ji Ho’s death scene, those and million other moments in the show, they were both genius and generous in ways I have not seen him in other series.
                  Hyuk fanbase, I can dig it, and I can dig him, but because I dig him and know of what he is capable, and this goes back to the point of this post, the impact of a particular role…perhaps you can tell me taking photos of ducks or standing with pent up something among a bunch of crooked sleaze bags pretending to be their servant is in the same category as entering that inn out of the desert and from the balcony unscrolling the drawings of run away slaves are in the same category, but you cannot convince me : in one scene the man is all buttoned up by his role whereas in the other he is roaming free.

                  Reply
                  1. Drama Fan

                    Not trying to convince you though, lets start with that. As you are, Im sure aware that you won’t be able to change my mind. I loved Robber. That is yet another example of JH being able to halfway into the drama make me forgive a character that was absolutely despicable to me during the first half. He plays those “broken” and morally bankrupt characters really well imo. And yes, Lee Da Hae was very good in it (in my opinion) Like I said, we have completely different takes on him and his works and that does not mean your take is more “objective” or “correct” than mine or viceversa. We are different people with very different taste, experiences and viewpoints that shape our perception. That is all. About My Country, Moo Hyul and Lee Bang Ji are not historical characters. They were fictional characters created for Tree with deep roots and Six Flying Dragons. But that team had no participation in My Country. Imo, the historical aspect of My Country was only a backdrop but the older actors were all so compelling that they kinda stole the show, at least for some of us I suppose. But I think the actual target audience for My Country was not us, older viewers, it was made for a younger audience. I found it enjoyable and JH, phenomenal as Bangwon. JH got a lot of good press because of that role. Of course koreans know their own history so they did not need much context to appreciate his take on the iconic historical figure. Knetizens even commented that real Bangwon had come to life. I did not like his role or work in Voice (and that performance got really mixed reviews but had good ratings for OCN at the time so I guess it wasn’t total waste of his time and talent) But yup, going back to the point of this post, I can understand if someone gets stuck on one role they like and can’t seem to see or appreciate an actor in other roles (like you with Daegil) but fortunately it didn’t happen to me. For JH enjoying his role completely I would cite Money Flower, My Country, Beautiful Mind, Fated to love you (where he was allowed to adlib a lot and clearly had so much fun creating that character) It is precisely that passion that is so palpable in every role he plays that I perceive and enjoy so much.

                    Reply
                  2. beez

                    Hi BE – I agree with pretty much everything you’re saying about My Country but I’m glad they made it just so I could see what Jang Hyuk would do with the role. (As to Lee Bang Ji and Moo Hyul,, they were both fictional characters so probably belong to the creators of Tree/SFD.) I would change your percentage of who understood the speech regarding killing Po Eun to 95% of non-Korean audiences not getting it. I’m perfectly fine with that because if we were watching a movie (say Jimmy Stewart’s Shenendoah, for instance) would we want to see all the details involving the Civil War (which we’ve learned about in school and seen in dozens of movies already) or would we want to focus on the family that the movie’s about? At the end of the day, Korean movies and Korean dramas are made for Koreans and it’s up to us foreign fans to educate our selves for a deeper understanding and enhanced enjoyment.

                    Jang Hyuk displays a lot of charisma and brings joy to the role of Robber but it is a tough watch to get to that far in the series before his character begins to change. Fated to Love You is nothing but pure joy to watch him in, almost to the point of being OTT. After all it’s farce.

                    Reply
                    1. BE

                      @Beez Yes Bang Ji and Moo Hyul were fictional characters, both far grander than the two fictional characters in My Country, but Jung Do Jeon/Sam Bong was not, and along with Yi Bang Won and Yi Seung Gye, the three are the foundation of the story serving as a backdrop, and he was elided right out of the story.
                      Beez I did not like the story but I watched every episode because Jang Hyuk was so terrific. And it is because I think Jang Hyuk is suited best to such operatics. And in Chuno, he got to trade punches with so many other good actors, male and female, especially the support ensemble, who seemed to enjoy and become even better sharing the screen with him.

                2. beez

                  @DF – My favorite (and sexy) Lee Gunn scene were the looks he was giving Jang Nara when they both helped out on opening day of her mom’s restaurant. sigh and swoon and laugh I parrot the mom’s line “You are one lucky girl!”

                  Reply
        2. BE

          I would add that I think JH has a higher ceiling than Lee Byung Hun, but LBH because he has less personal flavor he tends to disappear more in different kinds of roles. The poet Ezra Pound once said “comparisons are odious,” but it is also the beginning of reasoning. One can enjoy both actors immensely.

          Reply
          1. Drama Fan

            Yes, this is what I was trying to say in my first comment on this thread. Except I used Ji Sung as an example instead of LBH. And I agree that an ability to disappear into a role is a great advantageous quality for actors but having a “flavor” also has its appeal.

            Reply
        3. BE

          @Drama Fan; just saw the movie, The Fortress. Lee Byung Hun gets top billing, but really he is playing second lead to Kim Yoon Seok, both just great. Story takes place during the Qing invasion of Joseon immediately preceding the events taking place in Chuno. It is an unvarnished, and completely unromantic, unsentimentalized historical drama, brilliantly done. Lee Byung Hun’s ability to disappear into the role, his understated and at times powerfully emotional performance, was to me just another example of his simply terrific range. It is a drama with a great deal of discourse in it, gritty and bleak throughout, and the only female presence is that of a small child, but it is gripping and the acting is really great. Jo Woo-Jin, who played Eugene Choi’s translator in Mr. Sunshine, is also quite good in a small support role as a disaffected Joseon ex slave who serves as the translator for the invading Qing general.

          Reply
    2. Ele Nash

      @DramaFan (and Gumi!) I like that idea about an actor’s “flavour”. It’s a little like finding an author you like. The best writers are ones, I think, who take you to different worlds with each story but whose “flavour” – often their prose – is consistent and draws you in. Jang Hyuk (obviously!) is totally to my taste too, even when playing far-from-desirable roles; for me, he can often rise above poorer stories. I personally think actors, like writers, with a consistent flavour are the ones I’ll return to if I enjoy their vibe. There are a lot of British and Korean actors I love because of this, but far fewer Hollywood- maybe Hollywood errs generally into same-same too often. Fewer risk taking, though I’d say Joaquin Phoenix is an actor of distinct flavour 😍. Maybe the best repeat-view actors are ones where you never quite know where they’re going to take the character but you always feel confident that it’ll be believable and immersive and, yes, to your taste.

      Reply
  21. Natalia

    I think Park Min Young is the perfect example of an actress that always acts the same but the audience loves her because that role she’s playing is so adorable. I always check her work because, well, I love that bubbly persona. Maybe she’ll take on some different roles when she gets older and is not the love interest of the ML – I actually look forward to that.
    Cha Eun Woo’s looks are out of this world. That has immensely helped his career so far (let’s admit it, he’s not the best actor, or singer, or dancer) but it may also harm him in the long run because everyone looks at his face and noone seems to see past it. At the same time, even though he played almost the same character in My ID is Gangnam beauty and True beauty, he was much better in the second, and I think this is a sign he’s getting better. And I thought he really tried in Rookie Historian. He now needs to do something different than handsome cool kid, even if he is one.
    I was watching a Lee Jun ki interview the other day and he was explaining how he really tried not to be typecast as pretty boy when he became famous, avoiding romance and doing more action dramas- and how he tries not to do the same type of show or caracter in a row, even though producers tend to offer actors similar roles to the ones they have successfully played before. And in my opinion, a good actor can take on completely different roles and still be believable in all.

    Reply
  22. j3ffc

    Great thread! First of all, I’ll double down on Shin Hye-Sun as an incredibly versatile talent. She was the first actor that I was surprised to see in another show: I was half-way through Legend of the Blue Sea when I realized that her “nerdy” character was also the disabled receptionist in “Oh My Ghost”, which I had just seen.

    For me, someone whose appeal has been more confined to a particular role is Park Eun-bin. While she was good in “Hot Stove League”, I just thought that her role in the two “Age(s) of Youth” series was so, so charismatic that it was hard to match. Still, happy to see her continue to succeed and looking forwarrd to checking “Brahms” sometime soon for here take on yet a different character.

    But for this year’s chameleon award, I have to nominate the incredible Oh Jung-se, who was outstandingly good in three entirely different roles, more or less back to back to back: the sad-sack political wannabe in “When the Camellia Blooms”, the scheming and manipulative middle executive in “Hot Stove League”, and then knocking it out of the park as the autistic man with the big heart and artistic soul in “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” If you can name a similar streak of excellence by a single actor, I want to know about it so I can watch.

    Reply
    1. Trent

      Oh Jung-se I think is probably a good test case. I’ve only seen him in IOTNBO, but he does such a powerful, compelling job in that role, it’s going to be very interesting to see him in other things (Stove League and Camellia are both on my list, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him in the upcoming Cliffhanger (talk about a powerhouse cast: Jun Ji-hyun, Ju Ji-hoon, Sung Dong-il, Oh Jung-se…)).

      Reply
      1. ngobee

        Agree, Oh Jung Se is an amazing pro. He can make use of himself and his physique so freely because he doesn’t compete in the looks and age department. That gives him the freedom to really create as a character actor, not just perform. Awesome, just awesome.

        Reply
  23. ngobee

    Probably an unpopular opinion here: In some cases I actually prefer the earlier iterations of some actors’ performances. They have a freshness that actually reads more modern to me than later roles. I much prefer Park Min Young and Ji Chang Wook in Healer, also Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince to their more restrained, manufactured later outings that feature mostly their good looks. Maybe it’s the scripts, the times, which allowed for more confusion and anarchy, skinship, less restraint. But I do find it difficult to see an actor whom I’d enjoyed in an unconventional role doing a more conventional script.

    Reply
    1. merij1

      We really liked JCW in Suspicious Partner.

      And Park Min Young in Her Private Life and Sungkungkwan Scandal.

      The scripts for Healer and Coffee Prince were standouts, so a lot of that awesomeness had to do with the show, not just the acting per se.

      Reply
  24. Ele Nash

    Oh, I really like this post but have the opposite ‘problem’ where I often only barely recognise actors and like Trent, I end up googling them and then go, oh, it’s them from such and such a show. This is probably a huge brain failure on my part and isn’t restricted to kdrama 😆

    So the only actors I’ve made a knowing effort to watch in other dramas because I rated them so much are: Jang Hyuk (obviously) and had no trouble falling in love with (almost) any character he plays; they’re very distinct and of course, as you say kfangurl, that’s because he’s so committed to each role. I also have watched a lot of Ji Chang Wook’s dramas too and think he’s quite versatile – though his character in Empress KiI was a bit painful to watch at times but I forgave him. I always enjoy Gong Hyo-jin (Thank you, Greatest Love, It’s Okay That’s Love, When the Camelia Blooms) and am always convinced by each role despite them often having a similar vibe.

    But the multitude of actors I literally hardly recognise from one project to another – often because they look so different and act uniquely in each role – are always such a revelation. For example, I loved Ch Jin Woong as Hanseom in Chuno and then I love, love, loved him in Signal, not once connecting it was the same actor and it was only when I looked him up that I lost my mind to realise he played Muhyul in Deep Rooted Tree too 😯 Incredible actor. Ditto Yoo Jaemyung from Stranger. He is so different in Life that I can hardly believe they’re filmed a year apart or that it’s the same guy 😍

    Anyway, so many dramas have overlapping casts and I always get a kick seeing actors star again and again together in different shows and imagine (hope) they must get on. Anyway,, the upshot of my burble is to have a memory as poor as mine and actors will constantly surprise you 😊

    Reply
    1. Trent

      I prefer to think of it as less “huge brain failure,” and more “coming to each new drama with a fresh outlook and perspective” 🙂

      I too get a kick out of seeing what have become my “old favorites” when they pop up in a different show.
      Another one I was thinking about just now in light of this prompt is Choi Moo-sung (aka Choi Myung-soo). I first saw him in Mr Sunshine where he played “Gunner Jang”, and then when I saw him in Reply 1988 where he was playing Park Bo-gum’s father, I was like “hey, it’s Gunner Jang!”. So then I just recently saw him in what is his best role (that I’ve seen, he has a very lengthy filmography), as the long-term prisoner in Prison Playbook. So good! (They made one of those little in-jokes when his character in Prison Playbook told Je-Hyuk (ML) that “people tell me I looked kind of like Park Bo-gum when I was younger”–the sort of meta-joke that would have completely flown over my head if I hadn’t seen Reply 1988 already, but as it was, I laughed and laughed).

      Reply
      1. Ele Nash

        Oh yes, I like him too. Which reminds me of Sung Dong-il who’s been in so many things I’ve watched, I can’t fail to recognise him – and love the permanent eye twinkle. There are so many great actors but also so few, if you get what I mean. Korea reminds me a lot of the UK in that way, a small pool with huge talent 😊
        And, well, let’s say it’s a fresh (like, an empty field kind of fresh!) perspective and an open mind then 😆 No early dementia here…

        Reply
        1. BE

          The longer I watch, movies included, the more it strikes me how large the pool of fine actors in South Korea right now. However, there is a real problem there as there is everywhere when so much emphasis is on youthful roles, how much potency in the entertainment biz KPop has because of its outsized international success. Offsetting that is the work ethic and university training systems that support actors.
          What I notice, more and more, are the character actors. Sung Dong Il is both a character and lead actor. But the more you see, the more certain actors in minor roles keep popping up in show after show, movie after movie, delivering wonderful performances. For me, I just wish Korean films were as available as the dramas are. It really is hard to imagine a film star from anywhere but South Korea like Kong Sang Ho, ie its biggest international movie star is actually a character actor who is highly unlikely to get a lead role in a romantic or action or heroic role.

          While K Drama is probably the most productive vein of television drama in the world today, it remains television. And one should consider how many top flight actors leads and support get roles in tv dramas as compared with other nations. S’rather staggering really. I just saw, for example a Danish true crime drama on HBO, and it had most of the same cast as the biggest international Danish drama a few years previous.
          Byun Yo Han as Snow Flower points out, while only occasionally having gotten choice roles, is a whole master class in character development in every one he is in. I would rather watch him than a dozen pretty boy leads out there in some of these rom coms. Good grief, let him star in real romantic show with Shin Se Kyung wherein both are allowed to do what they can do from comedy to serious drama about a real slice of life romance. Please. They both deserve it. Now Byun Yo Han is not a major star in K Drama land, not getting 2-3 lead roles every two years insofar as I can see, and yet he has leading man good looks, can do action, comedy, historical, contemporary. We just saw Chuno, which had two spectacular acting performances by Kim He-Eun and Lee Jong Hyuk, and neither has gotten much in the way of leading role opportunities if any. Given the propensity for young charming female leads and moody anti hero male leads, one wonders…and yet there it is just two actors swimming in a sea of talented others.

          Reply
      2. Drama Fan

        Gunner Jang stole my heart even more so in Prison Playbook. YES! I never watched the Reply series (on the list) but I remember the scene and going huh? I finally get it! Thank you lol

        Reply
            1. BE

              @DramaFan: Just a reminder, as I am not on Word Press, I am forbidden “like.” I generally like everyone here who bothers to interact with me, and most who do not. Just saying.

              Reply
        1. Trent

          It’s always fun to run across one of those little meta-jokes and actually understand it. I know there must be a lot more that I miss.

          Like, I realized in just the last few days that there’s a Chuno reference in Crash Landing on You. Of course CLOY was one of the first dramas I ever saw, so when I first saw it, it went right over my head, but I went back and watched that scene today, and it totally made me laugh.

          [spoilers for Chuno]

          (One of the soldiers in Captain Ri’s squad loves watching bootlegged copies of SK dramas, so in the second episode, he’s talking to Se-ri (the FL from SK) and he’s like, I only got to see up through episode 14 of The Slave Hunters, what happens to Dae-gil, does he live or die? And she’s like, oh yeah, Dae-gil dies in the end. And he’s like, oh dammit, Dae-gil dies?!)

          Reply
          1. Drama Fan

            Yes, and

            [spoilers for CLOY]

            Remember how kdrama loving soldier also cried his heart out when he actually watched Daegil’s final scene 😢 Talk about a relatable moment for Chunoholics. Loved CLOY btw, such a cute lovely drama.

            Reply
            1. Trent

              Ah, I missed that part! Now I’m going to have to go find that scene.

              [spoilers for CLOY]

              I do remember when he was going on about that classic hallyu drama starring Choi Ji-woo (when I was first learning about the “classics” and remembering that bit, I thought it must be Winter Sonata, but it was actually Stairway to Heaven), and then when they made it to the South, Se-ri arranged for him to actually meet Choi Ji-woo, which was a super-cute little touch…

              Reply
              1. Ele Nash

                Yes, I was watching Chuno at pretty much the same time as CLOY so it did in fact reveal the spoiler to me – fortunately I was dense and didn’t completely get that the Chuno they talked about was the Slave Hunters I was watching 😆 But I did get it in the end and LOVED Captain Ri’s “why?” watching the Chuno ending. It entirely echoed my thought, yes, why?! 😩

                Reply
              2. Georgia Peach

                Trent, wait till you’ve watched so many KDramas that you get inside jokes about Korean presidents, recognize classic songs from the 80’s by DuelGukHwa or Kim Dong Ryul. Or that one of the songs sung by the doctor’s band in Hospital Playlist…Me you, You To Me is from the movie The Classic! And know the name of the king who put his son in a rice box. Lots of information your contemporaries are anxious to know…LOLOL.

                Reply
                1. Trent

                  I know, there’s a lot of little embedded references here and there to other dramas. I’m getting more of them, but I’m sure I still miss the large majority…

                  Like, a recent episode of Vincenzo, one character disparagingly referred to another as a “Park Saeroyi wannabe”, and I was all, hey, I get that reference! (because the guy he was referring to did look kind of like Park Seo-joon’s character (Park Saeroyi) in Itaewon Class).

                  Reply
                  1. Georgia Peach

                    It’s great fun! I’ve not started Vincenzo yet. I’m a marathoner and am anxiously awaiting for it to get further along. My first SJK drama was an Innocent Man. I recommend. Real melodrama.
                    From another one of your comments on another post..
                    I also enjoy seeing the much used character actors as well. They have, for me, become a backbone for the drama and very often show more character development than the lead actors. Of course, some often play the same role, but I still enjoy seeing them show up. I’m watching My Dangerous Wife right now and Ahn NaeSang has shown up..love this guy.

                    Reply
          2. beez

            @Trent – I’ve always been afraid to watch Stairway to Heaven as everything I’ve ever heard about it says it will cause you to cry until your tears dry up! (I do like Kwon Sang woo though so I know eventually I’ll watch it.)

            Reply
      3. ngobee

        Thanks for the tip! At home we’re always like “Hey, it’s Gunner Jang!” whenever we see him in a new role. I think you’re making a interesting point here: an outfit that hits home makes for very iconic, “unforgettable” roles, too. Gu Dong Mae, of course, Healer, too, I’d also say City Hunter, Captain Ri of CLOY, Lee Joon Ki in Scarlet Heart Ryeo, Ko Moon Young of IOTNBO come to mind. I’m sure there are more that fire up the imagination …

        Reply
        1. ngobee

          And Yoo Inna in Goblin, enigmatic, materialistic, wise, and excellently dressed. To my mind the performance all others of hers must be judged against up until now.

          Reply
    2. Drama Fan

      You know who totally blew my mind and It took my a long while to realize it was the same actor? Kim Roe Ha, he played opposite Jang Hyuk in two dramas and even watching them act together I could not recognize the actor at all! It was partially the look that was totally different but also the character, demeanor, vibe. He played Eun Chun in Shine or go Crazy (Wang So’s loyal sidekick) and Nam Sang Tae in Voice (ruthless gangster)

      Reply
      1. Ele Nash

        Yes, he did look very different. I’ll tell you who often pops up in the same shows as Jang Hyuk is Ryu Seung-soo. The scene in Shine or Go Crazy that got to me was when he as mad King was being comforted by Hyuk’s upset Wang So and I felt the times they’d acted together really showed as the exchange felt genuine. It took me a few watches of different dramas to appreciate how often Ryu Seung-soo appears.

        Reply
    3. Princess Jasmine

      Thanks for your kind words for JCW. Surprisingly I liked his acting in Empress Ki more than that of Ha ji-won or the other actors (even though they all did a great job). For me the only other person who probably outshone him was Empress Tanashiri (Baek Jin-hee). I decipher that it was painful to watch – especially from episode 40 onwards because of the way how his character progresses and especially with all the “drugging/alcohol/poison effects” etc but I thought he redeemed himself very well in the final two episodes. I understand that Emperor Ta-han is not a heroic character in spite of the historical setting and he made many stupid mistakes and trusted wrong people and took wrong decisions and acted out of spite and jealousy. Personally for me thats the beauty of acting when you get to play such flawed characters and I am happy that JCW did this role.
      Happy weekend.

      Reply
      1. Drama Fan

        I watched all those eps for JCW. I didn’t actually love the drama tbh but I loved his character. It was one of those cases 🤷🏻‍♀️

        Reply
        1. beez

          I think I watched Empress Ki before I watched Healer. Because I didn’t know who JCW was and I remember thinking (during one of the early episodes when he’d finally quit whining and complaining 😆) that “oh! He’s kind a cute!” His character goes through amazing growth. I then watched him in other things where I loved his face. Even though I ❤ him, I liked his old nose better than the new one. 😆

          Reply
  25. manukajoe

    My example is Seo Hyun-Jin whom I fell in love with in Let’s Eat 2, and haven’t really been able to accept her as being another character; in Another Miss Oh, Doctor Romantic (well I’m trying) and Beautiful Inside. Just. Can’t. Do. It.

    Can’t think of any other examples though.

    Reply
    1. j3ffc

      Hi Joe (if I may), as another known member of the Seo Hyun-Jin fan club (starting with Let’s Eat 2 too), I’m finding that I’m enjoying her other work nearly as much in Doc Rom and Beauty Inside. I accidentally ended up watching the latter before I knew that DR would be on the group watch so watching her side by side in the two dramas I’m having no trouble accepting her as the very different characters. She basically looks the same, so it comes down to wardrobe, makeup, and acting skills. With respect to the latter, I think it’s even more challenging when one is comparing “normal” roles (as opposed to genre or period pictures).

      But all that being said, yeah, I’ll admit that Soo-ji will probably always be my favorite.

      Reply
      1. manukajoe

        To me she has a very “girl next door” face, which suited Let’s Eat 2, so it’s interesting to see her take a more glamorous role in Beautiful Inside. With regards to Another Miss Oh I thought the script was a bit limiting, and my sister noted that she mostly just seems to be getting drunk (trying to forget the script maybe). In Doctor Romantic I feel her character is getting a little lost among all the loud, blustering males.

        Reply
        1. Trent

          I’ve only seen her in Dr. Romantic, but I’ve been very impressed with what she was able to do with that role. I think the “lost among the blustering males” is a fair complaint for the first few eps, but I hope you’ve been able to stick with it, because I think especially in episode 5-6 she really starts to find her groove and has some restrained but quite powerful scenes..

          Reply
  26. Shyama

    I started the group watch here for Money Flower mostly to check out Jang Hyuk. Ive heard all of you squee over him for awhile now. 😄OMG! He’s all that and more! I’ve never seen him in anything else and I can’t think of any other role that could top Pil Joo.

    Reply
    1. Drama Fan

      I’m having this “problem” with Shin Hye Sun. She blew my mind in Mr Queen and I want to watch more of her works but Im afraid everything will be “underwhelming”. And btw I “did” experience some of that after I watched Jang Hyuk in Chuno, I followed it with Thank You and even though he wasn’t bad in that he wasn’t as amazing as in Chuno so I found it a bit underwhelming. But, then he did other roles that were very distinct and impactful so you could say I keep falling back in love with him. So, on behalf of the Jang Hyuk fandom Ill say, You will watch more of his good works and you will like them! We are not going to let you go! 🤣 You have started with one of his best performances in a cracktastic drama though so yeah, tough act to follow! but Id say his Lee Bang Won in My Country is as mezmerizing, his Daegil jn Chuno is also a great work (according to other fans, his best) but if you enjoy quirky rom com, his Lee Gun in Fated to love you is so different and crazy but beautiful and compelling. Its one work of his very dear to my heart. And also his “Psychopath Doctor” in Beautiful Mind.

      Reply
      1. tgould12

        I’m kind of with you as far as Shin Hye-sun. She was so amazing in Mr Queen–she’s really what made that show excel, in my opinion–that I’m a little bit worried to see her in other things. Nevertheless, I have put 30 but 17 on my list to see, because it looks like an interesting premise and I’d like to see what she does with the role.

        Reply
        1. Drama Fan

          Yes, I will overcome this “dread” of being underwhelmed and try her other works. Maybe applying the “lower expectations” technique suggested on this post can be the key.

          Reply
          1. j3ffc

            So….I guess you all recommend “Mr. Queen” then, for a 2021 watch?

            FWIW, I thought 30/17 was a lovely show and that SHS was great in it, in a low-key, real-life sort of way. I’d watch it again in a heartbeat.

            Reply
            1. Drama Fan

              Thank you! I will definitely add it to my list! If you like SHS as an actress, I think Mr Queen is a must watch. She is AMAZING in that drama.

              Reply
            2. Trent

              Yeah, I enjoyed Mr. Queen quite a bit; it had a lot of good things going for it, but it was really SHS that elevated it, in my opinion.

              I don’t know if my sense of humor is in sync with many other people’s, but something about her absolutely self-assured swagger playing a 21st century playboy in a Joseon princess’s body was so delicious. I laughed and laughed. And then when it called for a serious tone or depth of emotion…she was right there! She brought it!

              Respect, man, respect.

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          2. beez

            @DramaFan @Trent – let me tell you how good Shin Hye sun is: they gave her the lead in a weekender, I believe as a testing ground but it was also almost guaranteed to wreck her career (due to her co-star) because when they finally give a young actress/actor the lead and the ratings don’t take off, that kind of ends that (cough Choi Siwon). She carried that show’s 51 episodes just on the strength of her lone performance because the other characters were quite lacking, imo.

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        1. Drama Fan

          No, I still love him very much. But to me his work in the other dramas I mentioned is as good and mesmerizing. And I don’t mention Robber only because that drama is a bit “dated” but I also love his work in that one.

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          1. beez

            @DramaFan – I think you’re swaying. This is why people can’t stay in relationships… We’re fickle! 😄😄😄

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            1. Drama Fan

              I love more than one character from JH, thats the reason I’m still addicted 😋 I tend to love characters rather than actors. He is the exception.

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      2. beez

        DramaFan – did you get my email with the links to Five Children scenes of only Shin Hye sun? That’s where I first became her fan. Talk about a character with a huge growth in story line.

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    2. beez

      @Shyama – I’m so jealous of and excited for you! (One caveat – keep The Merchant at the end of your Jang Hyuk list. His acting, as always, is stellar but it’s a horrible mess of a show. And to be such a mess, it pretty long at 41 hour torturous episodes. I wouldn’t want it to discourage you from other Jang Hyuk shows or possibly put you off Kdrama altogether!)

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        1. beez

          @Drama Fan – I agree about The Voice but only because it’s gruesome. I sort of kind of liked Iris 2. But that could be because I watched it before I watched Iris 1. And we all know why I watched 2 first! 😆

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      1. Ele Nash

        @Shyama Money Flower is possibly the best modern day drama I’ve seen and Jang Hyuk plays Kang Pilju so beautifully. But he is really totally mind-blowing in a different way in Chuno. Really, his characterisation in Chuno is more epic, if can believe it. And very different to Pilju so it shouldn’t be hard to watch in that sense. And then, if you have developed the Hyuk obsession 😃 his role as Yi Bangwon in My Country is intense and brilliant too. He totally steals the show and, in my opinion, has never looked more handsome 😍

        @beez @DramaFan I concur ‘re Voice and, I tried a bit of Merchant but it hurt my ears – even Jang Hyuk. 😳 I know, shocking. I still haven’t watched Tazza. I began but don’t think I got past the first episode for some reason. I didn’t mind Iris 2.

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          1. beez

            Now, Drama Fan, you know you can’t recommend Robber without a caveat of advice that she must ride with the heinousness to get to the good stiff. 😆

            Reply
  27. Trent

    This is a really good question/prompt. Like Elaine, I just started watching Kdramas within the last year, and one of the first things I started noticing was how often character actors in secondary roles were recurring in different dramas. (I realize this prompt is mostly about protagonist or main roles, but it’s a similar dynamic, I think). It has actually become a fairly amusing game, when someone shows up in a new drama and my reaction is “I recognize them!”, to then see if I can place the drama and role that I recognize them from (I often have to cheat by going to the cast list and seeing what they’ve been in before).

    Like just one example that has lately been on my mind: Kim Joo-hun had a very prolific 2020. I first saw him in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (where I liked him as Ko Moon-yeong’s editor/publisher), and then he showed up again in Start-up, DoDoSolSolLaLaSol, and most recently (for me, although it was chronologically the first) in Dr. Romantic 2 (where he has a significant role). And he’s great, and quite different, I think in most of those roles. So I haven’t had a problem seeing him in each of those different roles, even within the span of less than a year.

    Lead actors…I am actually consciously trying to follow your tip number three, in that when I see someone I love, I don’t immediately rush out to see their other dramas. I want to get a little time and distance to savor the performance before trying to enjoy them in something else. (I didn’t quite follow that rule with IOTNBO and Lawless Lawyer, which I saw back to back, but Ko Moon-young in IOTNBO is such a sparkling star turn of a role, fantastically brought to life by Seo Ye-ji, that I couldn’t really hold it against her that her role in Lawless Lawyer paled in comparison.)

    I did see Secretary Kim and Healer some ways apart, and I actually think they were somewhat different roles. I enjoyed Park Min-young a lot in both, but I think she carried off a more professional, polished veneer, in keeping with the position she was playing, in Secretary Kim. She was of course very winning in both, no argument there. I’m trying to wait a little bit longer before trying, say, Her Private Life or Sungkyunkwan Scandal so there’s more distance from Healer.

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Trent – I think the reason Park Min Young falls into the category of not very distinct in her characters is because Healer alone stands out as different whereas her roles before and after Healer are all similar although she’s always appealing in all of them. It seems like she’s playing herself. So to those of us who’ve been watching Kdrama for quite a while, we first watched her be herself in a long string of shows – then Healer – then back to the similar roles with Secretary Kim, Her Private Life, etc.

      Reply
  28. Snow Flower

    Another great Dear Kfangurl post on a great topic!

    I agree with your classification of actors. Some are really capable of creating very distinct characters, while others always bring their own unique mannerisms to a role. I have favorite actors in each category.
    Byun Yo Han definitely falls into the first category. His characters in Misaeng, Six Flying Dragons, and Mr. Sunshine are so different and portrayed in such a distinct way that it is really hard to believe they are played by the same actor.
    I would place Song Joong Ki in the second category. His characters always have that mischivous smile.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Aw, glad you enjoyed this post, Snow Flower! ❤️ And I love that you have favorite actors in both categories; me too! I feel that just because an actor consistently brings their own mannerisms to a role, doesn’t mean they’re not effective in the role. It suddenly occurs to me that Jo Jung Suk weirdly lands in the second category for me, because his use of his micro-expressions is so unique to him, that it just stands out in every role. Plus, I do think there’s a bit of pigeonholing at work, because he’s just so good at playing neurotic. 😂

      Reply
          1. BE

            @kfangurl: Do not know if it is your kind of thing K, but I am so grateful Snow Girl recommended Nokdu Flower to me, and Jo Jung Suk, man…very, very good.

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        1. BE

          I liked him better in that than anything else I have seen him in. And so well matched between Choi Moo Sung and Han Ye Ri.

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            1. BE

              I wish Viki at least would pick it up. I would rewatch it tomorrow, and beg everyone to put it on group watch if it were. All the Mr. Sunshine fans should see it; really it is to Mr. Sunshine, like the bookend of 6 Flying Dragons and Deep Rooted Tree.

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    2. BE

      #Snow Flower–Song Joong Ki has a comedic element to his best acting (except the Wolf Boy movie, which was something else entirely), but he is simply terrific as one kind of smirker in Sungyunkan Scandals and quite another in his current Netflix vehicle Vincenzo (in which he is just killing it as the most charming assassin as anyone could ever want to meet, playing it as the understated straight man to the rest of his over the top ensemble). He is a mischievous character in one, a deadly serious if spectacularly ironic character in the other. But…he is Song Joong Ki entirely in both.

      Reply
  29. Michele

    I think, in the case of Cha Eun Woo, he needs to get some age on his face. He is always held up as the textbook example of perfect male Korean beauty, and gets roles that require the lead simply to be beautiful and not much more – True Beauty is Exhibit A. I don’t know yet what kind of acting range he has or will develop, but it will be interesting to see what he can do in 10 years or so. For the record, I really enjoy him and My ID is Gangnam Beauty is a favorite!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Oh, I did enjoy him a lot in My ID is Gangnam Beauty!! I agree that him being constantly held up as an ideal example of Korean beauty doesn’t help; it just increases the chances of him being pigeonholed into a certain type of role. More age on his face, AND more life experience to draw from, would definitely help him improve as an actor, I think. 😊

      Reply

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