Finds (of the fair and K kinds)

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.

Pasty. Pasty-faced.

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…

…and 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.

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

Categorised in: K-actors, K-dramas, K-reflections

128 Responses »

  1. thundie to be honest, i kinda like that epi sode where KJW (Doong Joo) was sleeping in the hospital bed while HJE (woo ri) is staring at him..her words “how a man like you is so pretty.. …it hurts my pride”. true enough. it is indeed my first KJW drama, and just like you i ended up staring him…head to toe literally, i’m obsessed even up to noticing his feet . i find myself as ‘weird and funny’ for doing that.

    For me , he is not really that prototype -tom cruise face but because of his fairness, you can’t help but stare at him. There is a particular scene, where DJ first handed the beansack to Woo-ri, and Woo-ri embraces him tightly while crying ( Ma-roo is watching beside DJ, both not knowing Woori just found out that DJ is deaf). It is there that I first consider KJW “a man-whose- looks-like-he-is-always – smells-sooo-good” . I’ve been watching kdramas since 2007, out of more than 300 KD’s I’ve seen, KJW earned that title for me.

  2. @xyu: hope you don’t mind me copying your sentence “Thundie, you should write a book. I would buy it in a snap. Love your writing. Its real, funny, creative and so entertaining.”, because that is exactly what I think too, but you say it better than me 🙂
    my K-find this year is definitely [b]Ohn Joo Wan[/b]. He is in “My Love By My Side” SBS weekend drama at this moment. It was love at first sight….kekeke

    • xyu and oi, thank you! Made my day, both of you. Muah!

      • I recently just finished reading a book, the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society. It was the kind of book that once you read it, you will never forget. One of the best books I have read in a long long time. I started reading the book because I couldnt bring myself to start on any other drama after the greatest love. As I was moping around from having finished such a dear book, i came across this article you wrote and I was like “wow! your writing reminds me of this author ( mary ann shaffer) !” Thundie, you should really really do a book or maybe a script that can feature all your K crashes!!! IMAGINE!!!!!

  3. Ack!! What’s with all the people suddenly claiming Kim Jae Won?!

    I think i’m gonna throw my fist in the ring for this one. I’ve had a huge KJW crush for soooo many years now. !00 Days With Mr. Arrogant was one of my first kdrama movies. Totally loved him in it. Then I moved on to kdramas and one of the first ones I watched was My Love Patzzi. My first impression was “Hey! Isn’t that the same pasty faced guy in 100 Days?”. From that moment on I was obsessed. My second KJW drama was Wonderful Life. I watched this out of love for KJW and Eugene (who I adored in Save the Last Dance). I loved Wonderful Life so much I bought my own copy and to this day is still one of my fave kdramas for sentimental reasons. Then I watched his earlier drama Romance which is A MUST MUST MUST watch. Kim Ha Neul and KJW had great chemistry.

    I attempted Great Inheritance but never finished it. When I heard that he and Ha Ji Won were teaming up once again for Hwan Jin Yi, I was like OH HELL YES!!! So I watched that. So tragic, but good. What else did I miss…My Sister in Law is 19. I remember watching this for Jung Da Bin (because I loved her in Attic Cat) and realized that KJW was in it as well. By the way, if you want to not only get a Kim Jae Won fix but also a Yoon Kye Sang fix, watch My Sister in Law is 19. It’s like going to a grocery store and your favorite cereal is buy one get one free. Score!!

    So yes. I think I am a certified Kim Jae Won fangirl. Beat that ladies!!

    • celest so you’re a certified Kim Jae Won fangirl. LOL. I think i’m becoming one…
      i’m watching Great Inheritance now (first time i saw him) and i’m already obsesed. So this is my next to watch list:
      1) CYHMH!!!! (dying to watch this)
      2) Romance
      3) Wonderful Life
      4) 100 days with Mr Arrogance

  4. Oh, find for this year? CHA SEUNG WON of course! Man, after seeing him in Best Love, I spent so much time looking him up it was borderline ridiculous. I even posted a message in that international fans birthday message thing (great job to the organisers, btw!). Never thought a 41 yr old could do so much damage!! ;0

  5. This was fun to read…
    The army photos of KJW…I was like wow he looks good and his friends pretty hot too, he could be an actor, *scroll down…
    *scroll up…holly crap that’s lee jun k
    And lee jun ki was my first k-actor find ever….i fail as a fan TT
    This years find for me is definitely kang dong won…i watched joonwoochi, wolf temptation and duelist in quick succession and fell for him hard, but i’m fairly late into the kdrama landscape….and my addiction only started in 2009
    ok so 2009: lee jun ki
    2010: yoo ah in, kim soo hyun
    2011: kang dong won, cha seung won

  6. My finds this year were Jo Hyun Jae, Kang Ji Hwan and Lee Joon Hyuk. Cha Seung Won caught my eye too. I have never heard of or seen any of their work until this year and am now a big fan! Enjoyed your post. BTW, first time here and am glad I stumbled on to your little corner of the blogging world. 🙂

  7. OMG …I ve been watching Can You hear my heart and find myself studying how smooth and fine of Kim jea Won’s face is . How can a man own a very fine skin like that, he must have a good skin gene type ..hahahah
    I enjoy this article very much. Thanks!

    • uhm…the funny thing is I’ve been studying his face to “extract” (find) any bump, scar, mole, ect. through my computer screen . I feel myself weird and weirder because I just stare at his face and keeping mumble ” how can a man have a good skin like that” . I know him for years though, he still looks the same as 7 years ago.

  8. I think there are 2 physical types of Korean men – the fair Chinese looking type and the darker Japanese looking type. (Sorry for the reference to CHinese and Japanese. Can’t think of any other description). I find the darker type more attractive – Kang Dong Won, Goong Yoo, Kim Hyun Joong, Song Chang-eui

  9. While watching Scent of a Woman’s trailer, thundie, I find Lee Dong Wook is as fair as Kim Jae Won. Eep! XDDD

  10. Yay!! My rewatch of Romance is now complete!! KJW is sooo cute there – and actually, considering the subject matter, it was a lot less angst-filled then I remember. Here’s an mv I made for nostalgia’s sake. I also watched Great Inheritance which was cute too – the story was extremely mediocre, and a bit slow-paced, but KJW’s interactions with the cute kids more than makes up for it. His character was actually a bit like Dong Joo towards the end – all righteous, devoted, and cute. I’ll have to make an mv for that one too. ^_^

  11. haha I’ve been stalking this post for new comments even though it’s quite old xD I have a new mini-obsession with KJW ever since CYHMH, even though I watched Wonderful Life a few years ago. Haha I just finished watching Great Inheritance (with a great deal of ffwd-ing the business parts) and he + the kindergarten kids were plain adorable and now I’m looking for my next fix. While trawling through descriptions of his past works I found Wuri’s Family and it said that he fell in love with a deaf-mute girl and learnt sign language for her?? WANT WANT WANT especially after CYHMH!!! 😀 Has anyone watched it before? I can’t find it online it aired ten years ago ):

  12. YKS should be a k-fact not a k-find 😀 LOL i first saw him in Who are you? then watched a couple of Triple maybe just for him after seeing the stills of the drama. Then intrigued by the plot also, watched She is nineteen (but stopped before finishing because even the first 15 minutes was heartbreaking overall and i read some spoilers then decided not to watch it before getting depressed). oh and KJW as the big brother of YKS in She is nineteen LOL^^ after greatest love i also newly discovered that he is a former g.o.d member! he is noteworthy~~~

  13. Huehehehe, you’re so right (>o<)
    Me too, when watching CYHMH, I can't stop starring at his face and wondering why his skin so good?
    What make up he use and what he eat to having that kind of skin. LOL
    Can't believe I'll jealous with man skin

  14. Huehehehe, you’re so right (>o<)
    Me too, when watching CYHMH, I can't stop starring at his face and wondering why his skin so pretty?
    What make up he use and what he eat to having that kind of skin. LOL
    Can't believe I'll jealous with man skin

  15. My discover of the year:
    CHA SEUNG WON!!! i watched city hall and best love (many times), bodyguard, like 15 of his movies and some variety shows (even raw). i can’t believe i only discover him this year, cause i’ve been so adicted to him these last months that it seems a lifetime
    seriously i was going to say that my find of the year was Kim Jae Won, only to find out that CSW came to my life through City Hall only this year!!!
    anyway right now i’m crazy about KJW! his killing smile is really killing! i haven’t watched Can You Hear My Heart, but i’m watching Great Inheritance and though the drama is not the best, i’m enjoying it so much and i’m loving KJW so much in it that i’m all over the web searching for more info and as soon as i end Great Inheritance i’ll start Can You Hear My Heart. And not only his smile and his fairness but his voice is perfect!
    another find of the year: not an actor nor a drama, but Boohwal and its current singer Jung Dong Ha! how much i love Boohwal and Kim Tae Won And Jung Dong Ha’s powerful husky voice! since i watched Rock Rock Rock some months ago i only hear Boohwal and nothing more
    i’m so glad to read your ranting about KJW!!!

    • have to scratch what i said… after finished CYHMH i can declare my find of the year is Kim Jae Won… a proof of this is that i’m re-reading all the CYHMH and KJW posts
      also that i keep worrying about my skin (lol) and when i’m about to get angry or do something wrong i think… CDJ would do that? and try to recollect myself (not that it always works)… cause CDJ is so good he makes me want to be gooder myself (i know i’m crazy)

  16. OH MY GOD!!! I love him in Can you hear my heart… This warm and kind male leads always be able to stole my heart and soul… Kindheart male lead always my weakness… Especially if he is a well written character like Cha DOng JOO…. Thanks CYHMH for introducing me Kim JAe WOn

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