Most spine-tingling moment of the week

You know what’s a most magical moment for me in a kdrama? When an unexpected scene comes along and stuns me with its sheer power or poignancy. I’m blown away by the intensity of emotions, both on the screen and felt by me. I feel my hair standing (in a good way).

Two nights ago I experienced such a spine-tingling moment. It was Episode 3 of You’ve Fallen For Me. After the opening scene (which I replayed ad nauseam; watch it and you’ll know why), I could barely keep my eyes open. The episode felt plodding, shrill in parts and snail-paced in others. The jerky camerawork which had plagued Episode 1 was again making my head spin. Two female characters (both long-haired and self-absorbed) I wanted to slap silly. No, it didn’t bode well.

And then it happened.

He came. He sang. Oh, how he sang.

I first wrote about Lee Hyun-jin a year and the half ago in a brief character study that I did for Assorted Gems. That drama, incidentally, was also my first look at him. My second Lee Hyun-jin drama was Family Honor. Alas, both dramas did not leave me with a positive impression of him, the first because his character was barely more than a cameo (the writer remembered him only occasionally) and the second because he played a clingy and lovelorn student.

All those less-than-flattering impressions have been wiped clean, thanks to this scene:

This scene ranks up there with a certain scene in Can You Hear My Heart where a son, who had never acknowledged the slow-witted father who raised him, yelled for the first time in his life: “APPA!!” The chills. The goose pimples. The tears. Mine, mine, mine.

Why do I love this scene so much? It’s not simply the way Lee Hyun-jin sings, the emotions so raw and searing. It’s also because he sings THIS SONG from the Last Empress OST: “If I Leave.”

In 2003 I bought a CD compilation of kdrama OSTs. Among the dozens of tracks in that compilation, the one I loved the most was this same song (sung by Jo Sumi).

(warning: second half of MV is spoilery]

The empress in the drama (which aired 2001) is Empress Myeongseong. I wrote about this historical figure in my Jejoongwon (Part 1: The History) post.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to watch the Last Empress (aka Empress Myeongseong aka The Lost Empire). But I know I’ll be replaying Lee Hyun-jin’s spellbinding version of β€œIf I Leave” many times over.

35 thoughts on “Most spine-tingling moment of the week

  1. I couldn’t have put it better myself, my dear. I couldn’t take my eyes off Lee Hyun Jin during this scene, and it’s entirely possible that I’m still plodding through Heartstrings just for more glimpses of him as Ki Young, who is hands down my favorite character (even over Song Chang Eui’s Seok Hyun!). Thank you much for the YT link because I will now proceed to rip it and watch it until the sun comes up. ❀

    • That scene was sheer magic. What I love the most was the surprise; never expected him to sing a theme song from a sageuk!

      Also, I just love Kyu-won’s reaction. She was so calm about it. Watching her I suddenly remembered Kim Jung-eun in Lovers in Paris when Park Shin-yang was serenading her and she responded with her OTT expressions and gestures. OMG, completely ruined the scene!

  2. Same here. I find dat though Lee Hyun Jin only has a small part so far, each time he appears, he steals the whole show. I like the show on the whole but I’m always hoping for more Ki Young’s appearance.
    He once shared (100 point out of 100 point) that he was offered a role in Boys over Flowers (as one of the F4s) but was advised by his manager not to take it, and had since then regretted the decision after seeing what a hit the show was. I wonder wat BOF would hv been like with him in it. Hope he’ll become more popular, I think he deserves it

    • Soluna tells me he has like five minutes per episode. Noooo!!

      I have only seen him in ep 3 so far. Tried to watch ep 4 and didn’t last long, alas. Going to keep watching, though. I still like the drama; there’s something about it that I find strangely sweet and touching. Certain scenes take my breath away or keep me glued (Shin singing at the beginning of ep 3, Ki-young’s song in the middle, and drummerboy’s song toward the end); certain scenes bore me to tears.

      I watched Boys Over Flowers last week. Oh boy, that was some experience! Can’t imagine Lee Hyun-jin in it. Who was he supposed to be?

      • He didn’t reveal which character he was supposed to be and the MC (park myung su) didn’t push. But MC told him dat given how popular the 4 guys become, he shd sack his manager for the bad advice. Haha….
        Sometimes, certain moments in the show reminds me of the movie Twilight…. When it was slow moving & playing some slow-tempo background music. Did any of you feel so?

  3. I just saw this episode the other day too and was sooo disappointed that I spoiled myself by reading the recap of ep.3 beforehand. Still, the moment was AMAZING. Now, that YFFM is in live- shooting the writers need to put more in Ki Young NOW.

    • I knew from Softy’s blog that LHJ was going to be in ep 3, but that was all. Had no idea what he was going to do or how he was going to steal the show. So glad I stayed away from spoilers! πŸ˜€

  4. I have the mp3 of him singing this song I got it before I even started watching the drama LOL I heard it and I was captivated! So beautiful. Also – Wow Last Empress seems a little dark πŸ™‚

    • I was really impressed by the production values. Looks like Hu Joon-ho, one of my favorite actors, is a key character here. The last two times I watched him was a very long time ago, in Jumong and All In.

  5. That’s is one sad, emotional song and LHJ conveyed it sooooo well! But unlike you, I did like him with his role in Family Honor, especially towards the end but PSH stealt that show, so I have not enough love for anyone else πŸ™‚ So, I am very very very happy that he came back in YFFM and will possibly steal this show (YJH as LS has not impressed me with his actiong so far and SCE’s role does not leave me wanted to explore more of the back story)

    • I thought LHJ’s acting was much better in FH than in AG; at least he had a chance to act instead of just sitting around studying! πŸ˜€ Must confess I skipped many of his scenes in FH because I just couldn’t stand him being so annoying and possessive! He did change and become very sweet… once he realized he was no match for Park Shi-hoo, LOL!

      • Oh yes, I didnot watch AG! But I watched till episode 7 of YFFM and he had a scene or two only each episode! I hope they will pay more attention to his role! But maybe they are afraid that he could</strikethrough) will steal the show, that's why they deliberately limit his airtime (just my conspiracy theory :D)

  6. I love this song! I haven’t watched Last Empress, but whenever I listen to this song, it makes me cry as I imagine the lyrics to be Empress Myeongseong’s own words. But even if not heard in relations to Empress Myeongseong, the lyrics make me think about life in general and force me to contemplate whether I’m living my life meaningfully. I don’t think anyone can beat the original, but Lee Hyun Jin really did justice to it… something that even many seasoned singers failed to do.

    That said, on the most recent episode of “I Am a Singer,” singer Park Jung Hyun did an amazing rendition of this song! Do check it out! And thanks for this post, Thundie! I’m so glad that you’re posting regularly these days! They’re like food to my soul.

    • Thank you for the clip, blue! I was trying to find an English-subbed version of the MV on YouTube but nothing. I actually own a DVD collection which has the Last Empress MV with English subs but I don’t know how to rip it.

      Was looking around minutes ago for Jo Sumi performing the song live. Couldn’t find it but found this gem instead! Little girl’s voice is amazing!

    • Oops, forgot to say thank you for being so sweet and supportive, blue! Muahh! I’m trying to post more often. Shorter but more frequent posts. Not sure if I’ll succeed but will keep trying! πŸ˜€

    • Wow, beautiful! It gave me chills. This song is so majestic and sorrowful. I wish I knew what the lyrics meant, although I can take a guess after watching the Last Empress mv.

  7. Ripping lessons can be had on demand. 😎 That is one seriously great rendition. I pretty much watch the show for the music.

  8. He’s such a scene stealer!

    NGL if it wasn’t for Song Chang-ui, I wouldn’t have started watching Heartstrings, but I’ll keep watching it for him and Lee Hyun-jin.

    I pretty much gave up on the directing. Every single time I watch an ep, I get a migraine. I also used to get angry at the PD, but at this point I’m just resigned. No point in ranting about something that’ll never get better. Le sigh.

  9. I am embarassed to admit because it is so not my usual type of music but the You’ve Fallen For Me theme is my favorite song to listen to in the morning. Such a good pick me up! Besides the music I really am on the fence about this show. I usually watch while cleaning or folding laundry because really not much is happening that holds my attenion. I am just holding out hope that there will be some good Shin/Kyu Won scenes now that they are living in close proximity and he has given up on his useless crush on the teacher because the slave contract was completely pointless. Please don’t let me down dear writer!

  10. I had no interest at all in watching Heartstrings/You’ve Fallen for Me(couldn’t get thru the second epi of YB) But just watching that scene has me rethinking my position. Plus I’ve loved Lee Hyun Jin since I saw him in the movie short Boy Meets boy with Kim Hye Sung. He just stole my heart as the “bully” who really liked the other boy. Mucho chemistry between those two!!

  11. Ooh, yes – that was definitely the high point of episode 3. Such a beautiful song, and the original is even better. That Last Empress mv is absolutely gorgeous.

    I’m actually really enjoying YFFM, and I realize it’s out of proportion to how good it actually is – but it touches my heart in ways that a lot of better dramas have failed to do. And I LOVE the music, which helps πŸ™‚ I just have to look away during the performance scenes or my head starts spinning. Someone needs to tell the director that we really don’t need the camera to dance along with the music, we can appreciate it on its own. Argh.

    Episodes 6 and 7 were really good, IMO, and show some story development, so don’t give up on YFFM! And I’m hoping for more Ki-young now that the centennial show is getting more prominent in the plot.

  12. Omona! Beauteous song. And I watched that Empress Myeongsong clip. I think I HAVE to watch that as my next sageuk. No, I lie, I’ll just watch the part when they’re still kids (since the adult cast look nowhere near as compelling), it just looks so heartachingly beautiful. 2011’s sageuks need to watch and learn from the production values of the days of yore.

  13. Oh yes, I didnot watch AG! But I watched till episode 7 of YFFM and he had a scene or two only each episode! I hope they will pay more attention to his role! But maybe they are afraid that he could will steal the show, that’s why they deliberately limit his airtime (just my conspiracy theory :D)

  14. got curious on this guy and found out that he had worked with park shin hye in a cf way back..the free hugs cf of shinhye with the hot joo ji hoon (of goong) , he is the guy with the banner in that cf….i was hoping that he will complete the love triangle with shinhye and YH in this drama but seeing that until ep 7 and there is no interaction yet with him and KW, i dont think it will happen anymore…

  15. Wow. Just WOW. Hard to believe that Lee Hyun Jin progressed from the Min Guk character of “Happiness in the Wind” to this amazing performance. At least his love interest is closer to his own age this time… πŸ™‚

  16. wow where is like or love buttons for the posts:D i wacthed the 8 episodes and ki young’s scenes are the most anticipated than the leads!! and this particular one is really a precious one!

  17. sorry, my comment here was kinda late… but, GAH! this was the highlight so far of all episodes of YFFM… and I mean episodes 1-9! Tho, unlike most… I love this drama, Shin and Kyu-won have such chemistry and Seok-hyun is really good. And I almost left out Joon-hee. πŸ™‚

  18. I have been wondering when they will give Ki Young more screen time in this drama. The guy could have been the better second lead. I thought that he will be one side of the triangle or square in the Gyu Won- Shin’s love story. I was disappointed from ep 2-6 then come 7 and boom 8 Shin in love with Kyu WOn… so soon for me but what the heck I love Yong Hwa and Shi Hye’s chemistry.. They are so beautiful together. Love yong Hwa’s facial expressions and the smile I died and went ot heaven. I am still hoping that Ki Young will be part of that triangle/rectangle. I am in for the long haul now. Thanks

  19. I love him in Family Honor anyd esp. toward the end…those kisses with the sister. But somehow he looks different now that back in the days of Family Honor..seen like a different face shape….I almost couldn’t tell he was the same guy until he flash his killer smile. Anyone else gets that impression too or is it just me???

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