Friday Feature: Lone rangers

Getting pigeon holed can be an actor’s nightmare, so let us assess how successful some K-drama actors have been in demonstrating their thespian versatility.

Yoo In Na


I was surprised to find I’ve seen four dramas with Yoo In Na, despite her short resume, and my limited drama-watching. She’s only played the lead once, as a charmingly shallow actress who falls in love with a time-traveller from the Joseon era in the excellent “Queen In Hyun’s Man”. Did it stretch her range? Not really, since she played a charmingly shallow department store employee in “Secret Garden”, and a bitter actress in both “My Love from the Stars” and “Greatest Love”. I’d be interested to see her in a different kind of role, but at the same time you can’t fault someone for knowing what they’re good at and sticking to it. – Only 만

Jang Geun Suk


I have endured a surprising number of subpar K-dramas, because of Jang Geun Suk. As a result, I’ve seen his arrogant photographer in “Love Rain”, his sneering idol band leader in “You’re Beautiful”, and his sulky womanizer in “Pretty Man”. He appears to enjoy playing the jerk towards the lead female before the inevitable change of heart. Even in “Beethoven Virus”, where he played a traffic cop, it was simply a less glamourous transition from brooding to smiling more. The one exception that I have seen was his bubbly, homeless dancer who willingly acts like a puppy in You’re My Pet. But, since the cheerful character starts at Jang Geun Suk’s usual character’s emotional end point, there was nowhere for him to transition to. – Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다

Cha Seung Won


I’ve seen Cha Seung Won weep as a broad range of characters, from the over-the-top lunacy of Hallyu star Dokko Jin in “Greatest Love” to the perpetually plotting politician who just wants love in “City Hall”, to the power mad villain, Mong Hak in the period action movie Blades of Blood. I’m currently watching him in yet another iteration (so far no weeping), as a loose cannon cop with a heart of gold in “You’re All Surrounded”.

I give him credit for playing the chameleon well enough that I don’t instantly think of him as Dokko Jin (a feat in itself). However, given the preference for younger pretty boys as drama leads, his TV career may be moving into character actor territory as he ages into his mid-40s. As for film roles, he’s about to come out with Man on High Heels, where he stars as a brutal cop who is secretly transgendered. From the sounds of it, this movie could be a total disaster, or really good; either way, I look forward to seeing him in a dress. –

Daniel Choi


Daniel Choi was equally hilarious in “Baby Faced Beauty” and “School 2013” though for different reasons. As the secret pig trotter chaebol, Choi Jin Wook in “Baby Faced Beauty”, he starts as a source of conflict for Lee So Young (Jang Nara). He repeatedly attempts to take revenge on So Young by keying her car or throwing soup at her, only to find out that the car belongs to the boss, and that So Young is quicker than the boss in avoiding thrown soup. Jin Wook proves more effective when he becomes a sweet and boyish source of support to So Young.

Daniel Choi acts opposite Jang Nara again in”School 2013″, but as high school teachers with differing approaches to their delinquent students. Daniel Choi plays the apathetic Kang Se Chan who hems and haws his way to a refusal of any responsibility or extra work. He is equally dry towards his students so when Se Chan finally exhibits anger, it is evidence of personal growth. – 중국어 캐나다

Gong Hyo Jin


I’ve seen Gong Hyo Jin in a total of four dramas, two which I finished (“Greatest Love” and “Master’s Sun”) and two I didn’t (“Pasta” and “Hello My Teacher”). She has a laid back acting style, and she seems to have a knack for connecting with the audience. Does she have a broad range? Well, not that I’ve seen. In all of the dramas listed above, she played some variation on a nice, optimistic woman in a bad situation, and I can see why; I would have trouble buying her as a villain, for example, or even a character like Jang Hye Sung in “I Hear Your Voice”, who was abrasive and hard to like for much of that show. But hey, she wouldn’t be the first actor to make a career on being likeable. – 만

Park Shin Hye


Park Shin Hye’s inability to purse her lips for a kiss is consistent across all her characters in “You’re Beautiful”, “The Heirs” and “Heartstrings”. The characters she plays also tend to get abused by the lead male who then falls for her inexplicable charm. Perhaps it’s her virginal naivete, or her absence of sex appeal, or her wide eyed acceptance of insult. Regardless of whether Park Shin Hye is playing a cross-dressing postulant, a weepy maid’s daughter, or a teen classical musician, she brings the same passive quality that drives Only 만 and me insane. – 중국어 캐나다


Readers: do you feel a sense of deja vu when you watch a particular actor’s performances?

Establish the limits of their range in Comments below.

7 Comments

  1. Park Shin Hye’s richest role was as the reclusive writer in Flower Boy Next Door. Brace yourself she might have moved her lips in episode 16’s final kiss! She certainly had good chemistry with her OTP counterpart and her character grew out of doormat status.

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  2. I highly reccomend jang geun seok in Itaewon murder case – the film. Its a vastly different look and character than he usually plays and it really shows what a gorgeous, talented actor he can be. Park shin hye is also lovely and quirky in the drama special “sorry, I’m a ghost”

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  3. park shin hye’s acting drives me nuts as well. i really have an unreasonable intense dislike for her acting. she has all of three expressions i feel. its hard to understand her appeal. so, i am glad i am not alone in this.

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