A strange thing happened to me in May. And it’s got nothing to do with the six new dramas that began airing that month. (It has, however, affected how I watch those dramas.)
I’ve become a face watcher. Specifically male faces. Specifically actors’ faces. I lean close and stare. I study every inch; I check even the earlobes. And then I lean back and announce my verdict to the lizards in my room. (Well, to the remaining two whose reptilian hearts overflow with pity for me.) Triumphantly, because I have a point to prove, I say aloud:
“Close enough but not quite. He’s still fairer.”
This malady started in May when I began watching Can You Hear My Heart. The appearance of the lead actor revived a word that I had not used in many moons. A word that rhymes with pastry but with less desirable connotations.
I could not get over Kim Jae-won’s fairness. In the beginning it distracted me every scene he was in; I found myself examining his hands and fingers even, just to confirm if he was naturally that white or was wearing too much makeup.
Twenty-eight episodes in, I’m sure now that he is naturally this fair. And I don’t think of “pasty” or “pallid” anymore when I see his face; I don’t pay special attention now. Not that skin color matters, it doesn’t. It’s just that he stands out because no one on the set, male or female, is as light-skinned as he is. Also, his fairness tends to accentuate the redness in his eyes; he looks like he has cried, even if he hasn’t.
Yes, I’ve been staring at Kim Jae-won’s face a lot. Out of curiosity at first but no longer. Now I stare because his Cha Dong-joo character is the one that I love the most in the drama. I stare because one week from today there’ll be no more CYHMH to look forward to on weekend nights.
Yesterday, as I was waiting for Episode 28 of CYHMH to finish downloading, I thought I would google Kim Jae-won. Just for fun since I know so little about him, CYHMH being my first KJW drama. And just to see if he has always been so fair-skinned.
The search led me to this article and to a priceless pic:
My thoughts in quick succession:
“Junki, it’s been a long time!”
“How cool that you two were in the same room/unit/camp /whatever!”
“Omo, Junki is just as fair as KJW!”
Then I remembered that Junki’s complexion in Time between Dog and Wolf, the last time I saw him in a drama, wasn’t unusual and didn’t make me do a double take whereas I was transfixed by KJW’s the instant he appeared in CYHMH.
After squealing appropriately at the touching sight of brotherly love (and the double dose of killer smiles), I continued my KJW research and learned that his last drama before military service was Hwang Jin-yi.
Now, I’m ashamed to tell you that I own a DVD set of this 2006 sageuk and even watched the first few episodes but had no idea then that KJW was in the drama. *crawls into cave for kdrama addicts who sully the good name of kdrama addiction* Obviously when I bought the set I only paid attention to Ha Ji-won (and her hairpiece) on the cover and no one else.
To make amends, and because I wanted to see if KJW was just as fair back in 2006, I googled some more and found this…
Holy mackerel, KJW absolutely rocks the sageuk garb!
So now, even though I have too many unwatched and half-watched dramas on my guilt list, Hwang Jin-yi has leapfrogged over the lot. Priorities, I’ve got them all sorted out. Anyway, studies have shown conclusively that it’s impossible to trim kdrama guilt lists. So ditch the pressure; one derives the most fun watching a drama on the whim.
One day I might look back on my Kim Jae-won crush and laugh, red-faced and arms flailing in feeble denial. But for now I’m savoring his convincing turn as a hearing-impaired man who’s both gentle and strong, and who’s waging the fight of his life to win back the trust of a brother he adores. Every time he smiles in the drama it’s like the sun coming out on a dreary day. It helps of course that CYHMH, with just two episodes left, is as compelling a watch now as it was in May when I quaffed twenty episodes in one week. This is a drama with so much heart my own feels like bursting every episode.
If Kim Ji-hoon (Joseon X-Files, Wish Upon A Star) was my k-find last year, Kim Jae-won takes over his place this year. I’m so pleased to have discovered him when he’s fresh out of the army, which was the opposite for Kim Ji-hoon, waaahhh!
How about you? Who is your k-find this year, the actor who was a nobody to you prior to 2011 but who is now very much in favor, and who may even be giving you sleepless nights as you endeavor to study him/her more thoroughly?
Speaking of “study,” see what I unearthed in my KJW “research”:
Not sure when the picture was taken, but that expression is so Cha Dong-jooish I want to believe that’s the Dong-joo that we didn’t see growing up between the ages of 13 and 29 in the drama. That contemplativeness. That brightness in his eyes. That quiet strength and determination.
Okay, enough of my prattling. Your turn to spill the beans on your 2011 k-find. And maybe even the ones who came before, year by year. Because if there’s one thing we kdrama addicts excel at doing, it’s organizing ever-growing lists. I bet some of you even have your k-finds or k-crushes organized according to heights. Go on, admit it.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to more face watching and more “is he fairer than Kim Jae-won?” comparisons. Such as the actor below, k-find for many of you this year.