He may be 19 now, but I will always remember him best as that boy who looked so much like the first actor to own my heart. In fact, for years I only knew him by his nickname.
Was it ten years ago? As one child actor was making waves internationally for his role in the runaway hit, The Way Home, another wave had crashed ashore on my small screen. I was just minding my own business that day in 2002, but a monster called Hallyu grabbed me by the neck and threw me inside a dungeon where I was fed a stream of chaste dramas with stars whose names sounded like Bae Yong-joon, Choi Ji-woo and Lee Byung-hun. Two years later, Hallyu smacked me hard with a force called So Ji-sub. Life would never be the same again.
Is Ja Myung Go any good? How about What Star Did You Come From? What do you mean, why am I asking? I’m doing research for a paper, if you must know. Astronomy in ancient Korea, yup, that be my research topic. Look, is it any of your business that I’m researching Jung Ryeo-won and not Kim Myung-min? What do you mean, I’m a bad Kim Myung-min fan? Just be grateful I’m not using Google Scholar to dig up dirt on Choi Si-won’s mysterious here-today-gone-tomorrow bump in cheek. No, I didn’t say it was an implant; someone else did! What do you mean, Jung Ryeo-won has had plastic surgery too? Take that back, take all your evil words back! The last time I was this gaga over an actress was five long years ago and you have to spoil it for me now? No, I’m not referring to Shin Mina in Mawang; she and I go way back, before 2007. No, it’s not Lee Ji-ah in Legend either! Look, just answer my first two questions, will you? Yes, they are pressing questions!
Are you game for possibly the hardest kdrama game you might ever play? (What? There are kdrama games? No one told me!)
A game that requires you to think, to remember, to dig deep. A game that needs you to be BRAVE, because you might make some friends but more likely than not you will make many enemies, haha! *cue evil laughter*
A game where something else (and also someone else) will be the winner, not you.
I know. That’s a HUGE pic. (And a telling title, too. It says nothing… and everything.)
But the guy’s really tall. Apparently the growth fairies paid Joo Won a visit when he was in eighth grade and all of a sudden he shot up 20 centimeters (eight inches) in just a few weeks. (To read more, go here. Pretty awesome interview, that one.) Now he towers over many people at 1.85 meters. That makes him just a centimeter shorter than Kang Dong-won. Put them side by side and you would think they are twins.
No, wait. They can’t be twins. Kang Dong-won is six years older. (The way I’m crunching numbers now you would think I was always a math whiz. *falls off chair laughing* Thank you, kdrama addiction!) Still, they really do look alike. (Of course I would know. I’ve been following Kang Dong-won since forever!)
Anyway, as the title suggests, this post is about Joo Won.
An unbridled imagination, it goes places. Just ask me.
So three days ago I was watching Episode 5 of Tree With Deep Roots. Rather listlessly, I confess, because I was still bummed about a certain someone’s exit the previous episode. Friends raved about Han Seok-kyu’s acting and how it was helping them to be, you know, more forward-looking about the drama. Backward-looking me, however, didn’t think his King Sejong was exceptional; he was solid as expected, nothing more and nothing less. I also found the characterization of the two Sejongs to be so disparate as to be jarring. Yawning even though the night was still early, my drowsy mind half-contemplated two thoughts: Bail now. Bail after Episode 6.
And then it happened. A flashback that jolted me awake.
Some TP readers think I have a hair fixation since I tend to harp on the subject in my recaps or reviews. But the truth is I don’t notice hairdos unless they are weird or downright awful.
Take Emperor of the Sea which I’ve been watching spellbound the last two days. Nine episodes in (and forty-two to go), I’m in love with the story and soundtrack, and awed by the production values. But then Choi Su-jong appears (and the guy has a lot of screen time since he’s the lead) and I’m once again distracted by that THING which is supposedly hair but looks more like shredded rags hastily stitched together.
There is much I could say about Song Joong-ki‘s performance in Tree With Deep Roots (2011).
How I love that his voice can be gentle and tender, and yet also startle with its ferocity. How his eyes can blaze with such anger, but also soften with compassion as he watches a child grieve so inconsolably for his father. I could tell you about how my own eyes welled up as palace gates fling open and the young Sejong steps into sight, in full view of a courtyard of soldiers and a former king. How my heart raced with fear as the arrows fly toward Sejong and yet also burst with pride that our king is resolute and unafraid.