Note: There were so many actors who made it on versions of my top 5 favorite actors that I could hardly leave mentioning any of them. But this was a great year for lead actors, who always get the best roles in Korean dramas. Ask me again another day and I might change the order and the people in my top 5. But today, these are my five favorites this year.
Ji Hyun Woo is intelligent, kind, special, and just plain adorable in Queen In Hyun’s Man. Kim Myung Min delivers a typically splendid performance as a perfectionist and narcissistic drama producer in The King of Dramas. Lee Jun Ki is one half of the most adorable couple on TV this past year with his intelligent and totally loveable magistrate in Arang and the Magistrate. Gong Yoo’s heartbreaking and hilarious performance is the best and possibly only good thing about Big. Kim Soo Hyun delivers a deeply felt and moving take on a King hung up on his first love in The Moon that Embraces the Sun. Sung Joon is naturalistic but super charismatic as the lead singer in Shut Up! Flower Boy Band.
*I’ve been meaning to post this since I finished the bulk of it the day of the series finale. But unfortunately, my timing has never been my strong suit so here’s a long-ish essay on that series*
Duty. It’s a word that can mean different things depending on the context and the speaker. What stays the same, however, is that duty may represent the values of the speaker. That is not to say that people who work for the government or for the military have set their duties to honor or uphold either institution. Indeed, history has shown that people often misrepresent their true motives with the duties that they publicly espouse and follow. But despite that, the duties that people say they have are abstract values that determine their overall personhood and identities.
The question of personhood—how we identify ourselves—and the notion of duty are the two most important themes explored in the drama The King 2 Hearts. The drama, set in a modern-day fictional Korea where the country is led by a monarchy, engages the audience with difficult concepts not as readily accessible as duty, paraplegia, and identity as well as concepts that strike close to home for many viewers like nationality and Korean unification. All of these ideas are weaved into a storyline that, the poster and title of the series indicate, that centers on the romance between a hapless South Korean prince and a North Korean military girl. Lee Seung Gi plays the South Korean prince Lee Jae Ha who then becomes king while Ha Ji Won plays the North Korean soldier Kim Hang Ah.