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[Thespian Review] Kang Ji Hwan – Lie To Me

26 Aug

Apologies for missing last week’s Thespian Review. I was on the plane back from California.

Lie to Me is such a weird show. The main idea behind the story seems appetizing at first but the show doesn’t always do a good job of keeping us hooked to that story and somehow mangles the storyline until the show’s become hair-pulling bad.

Regardless of the show’s faults in the storyline, the main actors somehow survive from the mess of a story. Yoon Eun Hye is quite good at being the liar (more on her later) but for me, Lie to Me works most of the time because of Kang Ji Hwan.

Ji Hwan plays Hyun Ki Joon, a chaebol of World Hotel opposite Yoon Eun Hye’s Gong Ah-Jung, a civil worker in the Department of Tourism. As with most Korean Drama chaebols, he’s pretty much strict, prim, and proper. In other words, there’s an element of perfection in him, whether it be his appearance or his way of walking or his clean-freakiness (is there a thing in Korea where all the males are like hyper clean freaks or what?).

Ji Hwan’s uptight attitude lasts for most of the first few episodes. The funny thing about it is that it contrasts Ji Hwan’s voice, which sounds more effeminate than his appearance would imply. He’s authoritative but not outright cruel. He’s straight-faced but not exactly cold. We are aware that he is a professional to the highest degree. In that scene where he helps a woman uncover her fiance cheating, we see someone who’s not entirely heartless.

What’s fascinating about Ji Hwan’s performance is how slowly he starts to lose his perfection as he interacts more and more with Eun Hye’s Gong Ah-Jung. At first, he doesn’t seem to be fazed by her but as they get more sucked up by the lies around them, he starts to show his affection for her. It’s in his light gazes and slight movement in his lips. For example, in the beginning, his gaze shows annoyance and negative judgment of Ah Jung but as the show progresses, he starts showing a twinkle in his eye for her until we get nothing but passionate love from him. We see him trying not to break character but he can’t help it and it shows through.

But what is really great about his acting is the duality of his performance. As the lie gets bigger, he starts to pretend like he is married while at the same time, he falls in love with Ah-Jung. At first, this duality in his performance seems perfectly composed and he has no hard time of differentiating between real feelings of love and acting.

One of my favorite scenes from him was the house-warming he helped Ah-Jung throw for her friends. Here, he’s so charming, sweet, and accommodating but he’s clearly putting on act with his plastered-on smile. When he tries to explain his performance with Ah-Jung, however, we see some true feelings coming out of his expression there as it’s softer.

But as his feelings for Ah-Jung becomes greater, the duality breaks down as his performance side is now starting to look like his real feelings. That Coke scene–the most delightful moment of this show–shows an eruption of emotion from him that no amount of faking can hide anymore.

Ignoring the last two episodes or so where Lie to Me just shot itself in the foot by making Ah-Jung leave, I thought that Ji Hwan was solid throughout, capably illuminating on his character’s slowly developing affection. While the show itself might not have been solid throughout and got horrible toward the end, Ji-Hwan’s charming performance was solid and affecting.

–Clarence

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3 Responses to “[Thespian Review] Kang Ji Hwan – Lie To Me”

  1. Alice August 27, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    *like*

    • yselle July 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      i love them both… never did love anything but this. one of the best i have watched, ah gong and kang ji hwan!!!

  2. bahiah February 20, 2014 at 3:35 am #

    Love watching them both. Ji Hwan looks so suave n Eun-hye ‘s so sweet.

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