Here’s my list of my favorite supporting performances by actresses this year!
Han Chae Ah is quite stunning as a foil then an unexpected troubled admirer of the hero in Gaksital. Lee Yoon Ji was remarkably wonderful playing up the troubled psyche of her character’s misfortunes in King 2 Hearts. Hong Soo Hyun was sexy, funny, and smart in History of the Salaryman. Shin So Yool embodied what it means to be a teenager going through the troughs of life in Answer Me 1997.
5. Kim Jung Nan– A Gentleman’s Dignity
This show is probably the dullest good time you’ll have this year since there aren’t any conflicts that propels the show forward. If anything, it comes off as a documentary of four older men who happen to have problems in their lives. Otherwise, it wasn’t a major show. What was remarkable was how much Kim Jung Nan achieved with her tiny character arc as Park Min Sook, the rich cold wife of player Lee Jung Rok. What is special about this performance was how much hurt Kim packs whether she’s making us laugh or cry. She turns her character into the most pitiable among the rest of the group of friends but never does she condescend to her character once. I especially love the way she gets exhausted by her husband—it’s so funny and sad at the same time. While her character doesn’t much grow in the show, she does carefully unmask layers and layers of frustration built up on her by her marriage and this informs us on her character’s personality and motivations.
Best scene: The real divorce scene (since there’s many!). The exhaustion has set in and all that’s left in this rich classy woman is a hollow shell of who she used to be.
4. Kim Min Seo – The Moon that Embraces the Sun
Villains don’t often garner sympathy from the audience and for good reason—they do a lot of bad things (duh). But a villain that does garner sympathy is quite a frightening thing. Why? Because if we can sympathize with why villains do the things they do, then we’re not that far off from them, right? Kim Min Seo’s Queen Bo Kyung is probably the most tragic character in a show that is full of them. Bo Kyung’s initial arrogance and queenly disposition is overcome by her terror and loneliness. Kim does a wonderful job of showing this woman’s insecurities and how her passionate one-sided love of the King and his cold rebuke of her has eroded all sense of who she is. It’s eerily similar to what Gong Li does in Raise the Red Lantern—both wives try to fight affection for their husbands and get into the scheming villainy that turns them both hollow and unfulfilled. Kim Min Seo may not have the technical brilliance of Gong Li but she is perfect in this role going dark and despairing with ample rewards for the audience.
Best scene: The end where she walks towards the tree with her mind completely eroded and her husband off with another woman, but the pride of being the queen still intact.
3. Kim Suh Hyung – The History of the Salaryman
Another villain gets a top mention for me and this time it’s the opposite of Kim Min Seo’s character. Nothing in this role is pitiable and everything Mo Ga Bi gets at the end, she totally deserved. But what a monster Kim Suh Hyung created. When we first meet her, she was unthreatening and even quite admirable for her fierceness and ability to stand up to Yeochi’s attitude. Of course, when we finally see her turn into the monster she is, it becomes quite unsettling and eerie how wonderful all the tiny details that Kim has put into her role that makes us realize that she was a monster all along. Consider her initial joy at shopping luxuriously and the way she dictatorially handles her secretarial job. But even the way she undressed in front of Yeo chi shows us how comfortable she is in her skin. I love the way she used her sex appeal to get anywhere but once she’s reached the top I l loved Kim’s showing how uncomfortable Ga Bi is in the presence of wealthy people—that she doesn’t belong among the presidents of companies irks her to no end. As we reach the end, Ga Bi has become mentally unstable and Kim Suh Hyung is brilliant and frightening as she portrays Ga Bi’s unraveling.
Best Scene: Buying that expensive horse and the painting at the auction: her pride in beating Yoo Bang followed immediately by her sudden realization that she just bought two extravagant items she do not need.
2. Lee Mi Sook – Love Rain
Lee Mi Sook is a force to be reckoned with. She is undeniably lovely in this role as Yoon Hee. There is an elegant and graceful charm to her persona that it explodes vividly in this role. She’s quite beautiful and enchanting with her walk. But apart from ethereal presence, she brought real depth to this character. She’s so wan and pristine but she plays her character almost emptily that it is almost unnerving to watch her move or speak. What is she hiding? Ultimately it is her love for In Ha that informs us on everything she does. I love how she reveals so much emotions and feeling by doing so little but lets those feelings show with In Ha. Even when she talks to Hye Jung, she shows a caring side despite their brittle history together. Lee Mi Sook’s performance is a beautiful display of what happens to us when we meet someone we lost a long time ago.
Best scene: Meeting In Ha again after all these years: the tiny shifts in her face suggesting her guarded self.
1. Park Si Yeon – Nice Guy
Nice Guy is such a good melodrama that everything feels like they’re at stake and you don’t even really know or consider what the stakes are! Part of what makes this such an engaging show was the three central actors who the show revolves around. While no one in the show is particularly likeable in the traditional sense of the word, Park Si Yeon’s Jae Hee simply wins points for being the least likeable among all of them but also the most sympathetic. Jae Hee’s history informs us on her motivations and why she is such a big bitch. But it is up to Park to translate all of that into a coherent performance. She goes big when it comes to emotions but never once is she a caricature. Indeed, her psychological warfare with herself is perhaps the most impressive thing about this performance. In every scene she seems to be fighting with herself—whether to do something for comfort and wealth or do something for love or because it’s right. Park illuminates us on the trouble Jae Hee goes through and the emotions she feel when she gets hit with the ramifications of what she’s done. By the end of this show, there’s no way you can’t feel bad for Jae Hee and it’s through Park’s performance that we are able to see the troubled person beneath the materialistic and cold persona.
Best scene: Episode 19’s monologue: Finally owning up to her own mistakes and problems in an unexpected and moving way.