I have been a fan of Joo Won since Ojakgyo Brothers which aired a year back. Never before have I been so captivated by an actor. I am even amused and shocked at myself. Since I have started watching dramas not too long ago, I do have my favorite actors and actresses. There are some whose dramas I have followed but never has anyone come close to what I have been doing since I got to know Joo Won.
This sounds cliché but I just love him for his talents, passion, charm and good heart. On top of these, he is very good looking and very attractive. But more enduring are the treasures you uncover when you know more about this man.
In the past year, I have read whatever articles, news, blogs, comments I can lay hold of about him. I have taken to translate articles from Joo Won’s fan site on Chinese Baidu page- 朱元吧_百度贴吧 from Chinese to English. Joo Won has a huge and growing fan base in China. The fans there are one of the fastest in uploading news and photos from Korean websites. They have a few who can read and/or understand Korean so I find that it is faster to translate from their Chinese translation into English then to wait for the official English version of Korean news or articles.
I endeavored to write this because I have read many articles, news and interviews on Joo Won, and I thought I will like to pen what I have gleaned from all the information. Especially after the success of Bridal Mask, there has been a shower of interviews on Joo Won. If you have been following Joo Won and reading all about him, this will be nothing new to you. For someone who just started being his fan, you might get something more out of this. I am also sharing my thoughts here, please remember that they are my own opinions and should not be taken as a fact or a piece of information taken from a quoted source.
It was meant to be a rather short piece of work which I started two weeks back. I should have known better because once I get started on Joo Won, it’s hard to stop, even when it comes to writing. And I am no writer. Interestingly, as I backtracked and checked on some information and videos which I have read and watched before (to ensure as far as possible what I have written is accurate), I found myself more and more amazed and enchanted by this man.
I have segmented this into parts:
- Joo Won, the Good Son, the Good Dongsaeng
- Joo Won, the Actor
- Joo Won, the Hoobae, the “Dongsaeng”, the Oppa
- Joo Won, the Man in Variety
- Joo Won, his Real and Reel Loves
- Joo Won, the Anatomy of a Man
- Joo Won, the Boy, the Man and His Dreams
I hope you will enjoy reading this as much as I have writing it.
1. Joo Won the Good Son and the Good Dongsaeng
Joo Won grew up in a closely knit family. He said that although he comes from a very average family (in terms of income), his family showered him with love. His parents had 2 sons, him and his older brother. With an age gap of 5 years, I would imagine that he was the ‘baby’ of the family. His mother had wanted a daughter and she must have kind of lamented aloud that she has no daughter because Joo Won said he didn’t like hearing his mother saying she wished she had a girl. He thought to himself “What’s wrong with boys?” But being the obedient son that he was, he would help his mother do household chores and also in the kitchen. That must have spurred his interest in cooking. In the 1st episode of 1N2D, I remembered that Joo Won had to “beg” for his lunch on a remote island where no one knew who he was. After having a meal with one family, he reciprocated by washing up the dishes. But he did not stop at that, he finished the task by washing the sink as well. This is one man who clearly knows how to do household chores.
Although he is the maknae of the family, Joo Won does not come across as spoilt. If anything, his parents have brought him up incredibly well. He said that they impressed upon him two most important things when he was growing up. One is good manners and the other is punctuality. When I first read that, I was kind of incredulous, especially with the latter. But Joo Won has reiterated it so many times that I think he truly believes in them and applies them faithfully in all aspects of his life. He seemed really annoyed by people who do not have good manners. So it is no wonder that Joo Won gets along so well with people since he is always so polite and in a similar fashion, he respects people.
Joo Won gets along infamously well with his sunbaes and the older generation. They all love him. He is very respectful and well mannered, truly a gem in today’s society where the young no longer hold dear such values. Recently, he said he was looking forward to celebrate Chuseok with his grandparents. I was so happy to read that. His grandfather must be so proud of this grandson. I remembered reading in one interview way back, that Joo Won looks up to his grandfather as someone he wants to emulate. He said he learnt a lot from his grandfather. His grandfather is a very generous man, he would give scholarships to students he does not even know and to the needy. His mantra is to give and do not expect rewards in return, to care for others and to be a humanitarian. That’s why, to this day, Joo Won still says that his goal is to be a humane actor.
All these sound very impressive and too good to be true at times but when you see how people young and old interact with him and how he conducts himself be it in a BTS(behind the scenes), a reality show like 1N2D or in interviews, they are all very consistent with what he says.
His relationship with his elder brother is incredible. He said people were envious at how close they were. We had the good fortune of seeing his brother for the first time, on a recent 1N2D episode. He is tall like Joo Won and looks like a really nice guy. He was asked if they had often fought when they were growing up together and his answer was surprising. He said they never fought. I was like, “Hey that’s too perfect to be true!” Even if he had said they fought all the time, no one would have batted an eyelid because that’s what brothers commonly do. If what he said is really true, I am thinking how more perfect can this family possibly get? He went further to explain that Joo Won is a very good brother, so they had no occasion to fight. Joo Won had said before his brother got married, he would always look forward to spend time with his brother. He remembered they had plenty of fun in their childhood and they shared many side-splitting moments. In a recent interview, he said his wish is to buy a house that’s big enough for his parents, himself and his brother and sister-in-law. I guessed he really misses having his brother staying under the same roof.
I think Joo Won’s parents are really great. When he was at the onset of puberty, they noticed that he had become very introverted and quiet. He could not carry a normal conversation and would keep to himself and not socialized with his peers. Because he was shorter than his peers at that time, they thought that had led to his loss of confidence and coupled with the psychological stress of puberty, they had better do something with him. They suggested enrolling Joo Won in a speech or public speaking class but there were no vacancies so he ended up in drama and dance class instead. As the saying goes, the rest is history. Joo Won ended up enjoying the class so much that it became the turning point in his life. Joo Won said he obeyed his parents in almost everything. There was only once he was determined to stand his ground even if they disagree. That was when he decided that he would pursue his passion in performing acts as his course of studies and career. Although we see many successes in the Korean Entertainment industry, I am very sure there are many many more who failed. Life as an artiste cannot be an easy one. Even if one breaks into stardom, it may be temporary. Likewise, Joo Won acknowledged that no sensible parent would want their child to suffer or have a job with no stable income. True enough, his parents were taken aback by his choice and said they will have to think it through. When the young Joo Won remained resolute and said he would still do so even if it mean he had to eat ramen 3 times a day, his parents gave in. Joo Won’s mother understood her son very well, she said to him “Since this is your own decision, then you should not have any regrets, work hard towards this path.” Joo Won engraved his mother’s words deep in his heart. His parents attended his performances and were proud of him His mother very often watched his musical performances. Joo Won said if other parents watched once, his mother would have watched 10 times. I think the determination and the pride he takes to deliver good works stemmed from this fact of being true to himself and also to make his parents proud of him.
Joo Won is very close to his mother. We saw how he sweet he was on the phone with her and he’d pepper his calls with *pyong* which are like blowing kisses. He said he takes after his mother’s looks and his father’s personality. Going by this, I gather that his mother is the lively sort? Because Joo Won has always said he is not lively by nature. Although we have little information about her, without doubt, she has a lot of influence in his life. He said his family has always lived harmoniously so I guess there were no shouting and fighting in the Moon household. I can totally imagine that when Joo Won gets married, he would not want to move out but stay with his parents. So in this aspect, his wife will probably be someone who can get along with his mom. I am not sure if it’s common or not to stay with your in-laws after marriage in Korea. If Joo Won had his way, he would also want his brother and sister-in-law to stay with them. But he did add in the same breath that his sister-in-law probably would not like the idea. So, I guess Joo Won’s mother cannot be the ultra-traditional type as this type would normally insist that the elder son stays with them after he gets married.
There was another interesting tidbit that Joo Won shared about his childhood. Apparently, his parents sent him and his brother to the United States to study but due to unknown reasons they came back. In Korea, there is this phenomenon called “Girogi Kajok” in Korean, or “goose families.” The children, often accompanied by their mothers, attend public schools in English speaking countries, while the fathers remain in Korea to support them. The “goose” refers to the seasonal visits reuniting the separated families – the way geese migrate each year. Koreans believe that sending their children abroad at a young age will give them an escape from the notoriously cutthroat Korean school system and an opportunity to master English. In Joo Won’s case, it seemed that his mother did not go with them and perhaps the two brothers, being too young, missed their parents too much, put paid to the plan. If Joo Won comes from a middle income family, his parents must have been willing to sacrifice a great deal when they sent the 2 boys to the States. This was a family who couldn’t live apart from each other anyway, so I am glad at how things turned out, although Joo Won said he did wonder how different his life might be if he had stayed on in America.
Part 2 – Joo Won, the Actor
This man is born for the stage. In real person, he is quiet and shy but when he is on stage, he becomes a totally different person. There are many videos of Joo Won in earlier days, singing at a club or in one of performances in Grease, the musical. He is so charismatic on stage and can be totally goofy when he is impersonating some other singer or pop group.
I wished I had the opportunity to see him perform on stage be it a musical or play but I don’t think he will return to it anytime soon given his soaring popularity on the small screen. He revealed that he received several offers to take part in theatre works and the productions were bending backwards to accommodate his schedule. However, Joo Won said he turned them down as he was not confident if he could do a good job and was uncomfortable that he could not commit time to whole-heartedly prepare for it. He added that although he would be frightened if he had to stand on stage now, he would like to return to stage one day.
Since theatre musicals cannot be recorded or sold in form of DVDs, I have little idea how Joo Won sounded in theatre. I could only listen to a very short clip of him singing in the Spring Awakening. Even though it was a very short segment, I was taken aback by how strong and deep his voice was. Besides his singing, he won good reviews for his acting in this play as well. He started out as the original cast lead actor Kim Mu Yeol’s understudy and during that time, he watched every single one of Mu Yeol’s performances except when he was having exams or matters he had to attend to. All in all, he watched 80 out of 100 of Kim Mu Yeol’s performances. Later when Kim Mu Yeol left, he took over as the lead character Melchior.
Although the theater is a great place for performing arts, its reach is limited. Thus, we are grateful that Joo Won moved on to dramas otherwise many people will miss out on this man’s talents. In just a short span of 3 years and with just 3 dramas, Joo Won is knocking it out of the park, creating waves in the Korean entertainment industry. This is indeed phenomenal because their industry has so many talented and good looking actors that it is not easy to stand out even if one possesses either trait. Joo Won has both and more, he has the charisma.
Much has been said of him being the ratings man but to me, it’s his superb acting and undeniable talent that has been nothing short of awesome. In Baker King, Joo Won’s acting was a little shaky. Nonetheless, that one being his very first, I will say it was a very good performance. Against odds, he managed to win the audience’s sympathy for the conniving, hateful antagonist Ma Jun. Many viewers were rooting for Kim Tak Gu, the protagonist played by the sweet and cute Yoon Shi Yoon. So they hated Ma Jun who was always scheming and plotting to hurt Tak Gu and who committed the greatest sin by snatching Tak Gu’s childhood sweetheart. Surprisingly, there were also quite a number of people rooting for Ma Jun. I think this is because Joo Won was so good when he played Ma Jun in his vulnerable state. You could relate to his desperate need for love and understanding from his parents, his shame of being the illegitimate son, his embarrassment at having a spineless thud for a father and his hatred of himself. In one particular scene when he cried, reading his master’s letter written to him, I was more touched by him than by Tak Gu’s similar scene. Joo Won’s crying seemed to come from somewhere deep within him; you could feel the wretchedness of his soul, the outpour of guilt and sorrow. There was this other scene where he revealed to his father(not biological) that he knew the real circumstances behind his grandmother’s death, his apology to his father for being born, was so gut-wrenching. Last but not least, in the final episode where he went to the prison to bid farewell to his biological father, I was totally surprised at how good he was in emotional scenes. Many actors have to scrunch up their faces big time when they cry. It’s almost like they have to squeeze the tears out. You also have those actors who do “beautiful crying” where you’d see a single teardrop rolling down their cheek. Joo Won is none of these. In this particular scene, it was the exact opposite. You can see he was trying his very best not to cry but the tears came anyway. You can see his eyes reddening, the nose running and the mouth crumbling but he was trying in futile to control it. I admit I was floored by Joo Won’s crying scenes and of course his acting. Baker King just gave me a glimpse of his great works to come.
Those who have watched Joo Won in Baker King and then moved on to Ojakgyo Brothers must have been wondering if he is the one and same guy. His character as Hwang Tae Hee is the exact opposite of Go Ma Jun. This is a guy who is steadfast in his principles to point of being inflexible. It is no wonder he is a policeman. His fervor and dedication to catching society’s thugs had earned him the label “Dog Tae Hee”
He can be really violent and nasty when he deals with thugs but at home, he is the dependable son whom the elders favor and listen to. He is also very sweet to his mother and particularly grandmother. In the first episode of Ojakgyo Brothers, you will see an unshaven Tae Hee who had spent nights either at the police station or in his car, waiting to nab the suspect. I find him so cute and sexy in his checkered shirts and the baby-like fuzz on his chin. Beneath that stoic front, we soon learn that Tae Hee is man who has been suppressing his real emotions so long that he cannot even recognize his true feelings.
Because he never speaks much and has been exemplary in studies and work, no one knew how much he was hurting from his mother’s abandonment. Joo Won acting as Tae Hee opened my eyes to how great this guy is at conveying a broad spectrum of emotions just using his eyes. Because Tae Hee is a taciturn man, his lines are few and short and it even applies when he is in love with the first woman in his life. Joo Won pulled such a convincing act as Tae Hee in love with his sunshine girl Ja Eun that viewers were left thinking it must be real somewhat because you can literally see love oozing out from his eyes and every pore of his being. It even made a shipper out of a die-hard cynic like me. It was like the sweetest heaven watching these two lovebirds. They didn’t have the most awesome kisses or make outs and they require none because every gaze, every smile, every hug was enough the melt the stoniest of hearts.
If I put it that through Ojakgyo Brothers, Joo Won melted the audience’ hearts, then I would say it is through Bridal Mask that Joo Won blazed his way into the audience’ hearts and left his indelible print. I was already a diehard fan of Joo Won since Ojakgyo Brothers. So it was with tremendous anticipation and some trepidation that I awaited the start of Bridal Mask. This was a mega production that cost 10 billion won and it was Joo Won’s first lead role. I wanted so badly for him to do well and I must say he not only achieved all my expectations, he far exceeded them. I had read whatever synopsis I could lay my hands on before the show started but nothing prepared me for the character Lee Kangto when I saw the first episode. Having been so used to associating Joo Won with the sweet and quiet Hwang Tae Hee, I was shocked to see the hot tempered, ambition crazed Lee Kang To who was prone to yelling and even slapped a girl. Wasn’t he supposed to be the hero, the Bridal Mask?
He looked nothing close to it. And the girl he slapped is supposed to be his love. I am no stranger to those love stories where the couple starts off as less than friends but never have I witness such a level of animosity that these two had for each other.Expectedly, many viewers were also shocked at how far or rather how low the scriptwriter would take the protagonist to before his turnaround. Some hated him and I don’t blame them as Lee Kang To went from bad to worse in the subsequent episodes. He beat up his own people, tortured Mok Dan, put her on the execution block and he kicked his hyung Kangsan with such viciousness that was too painful to watch. Much as I was shocked at Kangto’s character, I could never bring myself to hate Joo Won. Actually I was impressed that he could play the role of Lee Kangto with such intensity and his fighting scenes were really good and totally believable. When I watched Lee Kangto, I did not see the actor Joo Won, I see Lee Kangto. That is how awesome Joo Won’s acting is. Already from Baker King to Ojakgyo Brothers, it was a huge difference. And it just could not be starker when you compare Joo Won as Tae Hee in Ojakgyo Brothers and as Kangto in Bridal Mask. That’s the beauty of his art. When he acts, he becomes that character. He even creates a unique set of facial tics and non-verbal body language for each character. As to his transformation from a hated antagonist to a hero who was worshipped by his people, I knew that if anyone can pull off this act convincingly, it would be Joo Won. Even as early as episode 4, when Kangto broke down, cried into his hyung’s back, pouring out his true feelings, many viewers cried with him. And then in that tumultuous chain of events in episode 6 where Kangto killed Kangsan, not knowing that it was his hyung behind the mask, Joo Won was nothing short of magnificent. And who would forget that terrible wail which he let out when he discovered his mother was dead too. There has been many praising Joo Won in that scene but also some detractors. The latter felt that Joo Won had overacted. How they reached that conclusion is beyond me. Was he supposed to cry silently or cry buckets without letting out too much sound? Just imagine, he had shot his own beloved hyung just a while ago and then he finds his mother motionless with her clothes all bloodied under the covers. Anything short of a scream or a wail would be illogical.
And having watched Joo Won cry in both Baker King and Ojakgyo Brothers, I know he is totally capable of subtle crying that is no less gut wrenching. Just take episode 52 of Ojakgyo Brothers where Tae Hee and Ja Eun had to break up and bid each other farewell, it was one of the saddest break up scene I have watched. Joo Won was so good at acting the part of Tae Hee who was totally grieved but had to put up a brave front. When Ja Eun bid her farewell, and left her couple ring on the table, you should see how his face crumbled. I know that some actors cry pretty or they have to work some histrionics but Joo Won always get the crying scenes pat down. As recent interviews show, his tears are real by the way. In the final episode of Bridal Mask when his beloved Boon Yi died in his arms, he said he could not stop crying even after the cameras stopped rolling.
In Bridal Mask, Joo Won was very charismatic, he literally oozed sex appeal. Lee Kangto was a smart and capable man who had no lack of female admirers. Joo Won just looked so good and fine in all those tailored suits that every screen cap was so drool worthy. In addition to this, he was an awesome fighter. There was so much vitality and power in his action moves that it always made the fight scenes doubly exciting. Yet for a man who knew women and could easily knock out many of his opponents, Kangto was so vulnerable and helpless when it came to his Boon Yi. Joo Won as usual played this part to the tee. He was totally believable as a man who will give up everything including his life to save his girl. When Boon Yi died, I cried for her and I cried some more for Kangto. I have seen many onscreen couples lose the other half but never had I cried for so many days other than Mok Dan-Kangto couple. For a couple who had only 2 kisses, just some hugs and hand holding, this speaks volume.
When Bridal Mask started airing, there were criticisms on Joo Won’s acting, namely these critics didn’t like his shouting and find him too dramatic. Some even suggested a few famous names that could have done the job better. Having watched Joo Won’s other works, I knew that his interpretation of the role had meaning. After all, Kangto is not your typical suave dude who would pull the trigger, blow off the smoke, gives that come hither look and then coolly walks off. Lee Kangto is a hot-blooded young man; he uses his raw strength including his voice box to plummet people under control. In any case, we could see the change after he took over the mask and gradually learnt how to control his emotions; his self-restrain became better than anyone else. Joo Won fleshed out Lee Kangto as a hero who had inner turmoil, can get conflicted and just about as human as anyone else. Above all, Joo Won made Kangto a totally believable hero. Not many 25 year old actors can play this role with such maturity and masculine appeal.
We, the viewers also become so invested in his character that we analyze his thoughts, his motivations, his struggles and actions. I even wrote a fanfic on Lee Kangto’s pain. As Park Ki Woong commented, Joo Won “dupes” his audience into believing that Kangto is a real person. If that is not awesome acting, I really do not know what is. I dare not say he was perfect in his art as Lee Kangto as that would mean he has no more room for improvement. Also, there were a few lapses in his acting but I would still give him full marks if I were to take into account his effort and his willingness to put self aside and throw himself whole-heartedly into the character. Joo Won totally owned this character. I cannot imagine any other actor in his age group who look the part and can pull such a performance. Joo Won is Lee Kangto and Lee Kangto is Joo Won. Period.
I enjoy watching Joo Won best when he is acting. Although he is such a darling on variety show, talk shows and interviews, for me, nothing beats watching him act. He is what I would call a “Thinking Actor” You can see it in his works. I can watch his scenes over and over again and find something new each time. That’s because when Joo Won is acting, he does not just deliver the lines, he acts with his entire body. Look carefully and you will see the little details in his body gestures, his hand movements, the way he walks, that little tremor in his lips or chin, the straightening of his back or the fetal position he assumes. To add to viewers’ amusement and amazement, you can also see the stark difference between the way Joo Won carries himself physically in real life versus reel life. For example, you can see in BTS and on 1N2D, that his mannerisms are cute and full of aegyo. Even the way he walks is more like a dork. So viewers are shocked to see how suave Joo Won was as Lee Kangto. His mannerisms, his wink, his cheeky playboy smile, his confident swagger, the smart way he carries that white police uniform, the cool and heroic way Gaksital entered every scene and the awesome fights he did himself(often without the stunt double), the contrast is like night and day.
Part 3 – Joo Won, the Hoobae, the “Dongsaeng”, the Oppa.
In so many Bridal Mask interviews which I have translated, I come across this most often, that Joo Won places a lot of emphasis on his relationship with people around him, be it his co-stars, fellow actors/actresses or the production staff.
One of the first BTS I have seen of him was of Baker King. He was so cute and pally with Yoon Shi Yoon; he really struck me as totally different from the man we see on screen. Of course, we can say the same for most actors. Most are nice off screen whether they play the protagonist or antagonist. But for Joo Won, the difference seemed starker because he is in real life such a puppy and full of aegyo, whereas onscreen, his charisma just rocks.
In Ojagkyo Brothers, he got along infamously with his 3 brothers. And as he said in the recent interview, he said they were like real brothers. [insert picture of Joo Won and OB brothers] And it also didn’t surprise me that his onscreen “grandmother” was genuinely fond of him enough to hit him playfully and shared with him a mug of coffee.
The first time I learnt of Joo Won’s innate ability to get along with his sunbaes was the Baker King Special where I found it so amusing when Jun In Hwa who played Ma Jun’s mother said that Joo Won was really affectionate and would grab her hand, called her like his real mother and “eyesmile”. It was endearing to see both on them on that show.
In the recent interview where Joo Won spoke of how veteran actor Kim Eung Soo encouraged him and praised him, it struck me because this was the same guy who made not too flattering remarks about Jung Il Woo who starred with him in the Moon That Embraces The Sun. Besides the veterans, Joo Won is also known as the “Hyung Lover”. He has built very solid relationships with many of the older guys like Uhm Tae Woong, Jung Woong In, Shin Hyun Joon and Park Ki Woong. The latter two call him their beloved dongsaeng. I think he is the type who does not have the alpha male attitude and there is no clashing of egos when he gets together with other men. He just behaves like the younger brother, totally in admiration and awe of his hyung. Probably, it is a projection of his real behavior with his own brother at home. Everyone just wants to take care of this maknae, like in the hilarious tussle between Sung Shin Kyung and Uhm Tae Woong in 1N2D episode 402. I know many of these guys like Shin Hyun Joon, are really veterans; I wonder whether they have such close relationship with another younger actor besides Joo Won. I say these because sometimes while the show is being aired, fellow actors and colleagues camp it up for the camera but in Joo Won’ case with his “hyungs”, it seemed 100% genuine. I think Joo Won still maintains a very close relationship with them after the respective shows ended. Also, as a veteran, you’d probably see through who is fake and who is genuine, so I find it very amazing that these veterans take to him the way they do.
Bridal Mask had many BTS and I could sense that in the beginning Park Ki Woong was not that comfortable with Joo Won hugging him. He looked as if he was tolerating it. And I was right because later in an interview after the show ended, he said he is the type that does not get close to another person easily and not comfortable with physical touches. He went on to say that gradually over time, he got ‘infected’ by Joo Won’s aegyoness. And in the last BTS, he was the one who hugged Joo Won, not wanting to let go.
Joo Won also places a lot of emphasis on creating the right atmosphere on the set. I think by this, he means that everyone get along and work well together. And it was especially important for the actors and actresses. I remembered him saying that he learnt a lot about acting during the filming of SIU. I was kind of expecting him to elaborate on the acting techniques taught by the veterans. No, instead he said he learnt that creating the right atmosphere was the most important. I thought something must be lost in translation but it subsequently popped up so many times that I believe that it was exactly what he meant. Well, he must be doing it right because, he has such chemistry onscreen with his co-stars, female and male alike. I loved his scenes with Park Ki Woong in Bridal Mask; it was like watching 2 highly skilled and esteemed chess masters playing their top class game.
Of course, how could I forget Joo Won’s chemistry with his female co-stars? Although Baker King was his first role and Eugene was his noona, I think their chemistry beat Eugene and Yoon Shi Yoon couple or Yoon Shi Yoon and Lee Sun Ah couple. Although I could not fathom Eugene’s character in Baker King and her choices, I just threw logic out of the window whenever this Joo Won and Eugene came on screen. This dysfunctional couple was so much more sizzling hot.
It was in Ojakgyo Brothers that Joo Won became one of kdramas’ most desirable boyfriend. He and Uee’s chemistry shot through the roof. They really looked and acted like a real couple in love. And it made a shipper out of die-hard cynic like me. I have never shipped an onscreen couple before. Every weekend, Ojakgyo fans glued their eyes to the screen, totally soaked in the sweet romance of Tae Hee and Jae Eun. Joo Won had said that Uee was initially apprehensive about him because he was the notoriously strict sunbae in Sungkyunkwan University where they both studied. Later, she was surprised to find out how different he was on set. I am sure Joo Won made her feel totally at ease and comfortable in no time. She was bantering with him and treating him like a peer.
Joo Won’s magic with his female co-star continued in Bridal Mask, he managed to make viewers believe that he and JSY as Kangto and Mok Dan could stay faithful as childhood loves. Despite Bridal Mask not focusing on the romance aspects and there were little action between these 2, viewers were still so enamored with their love story. I think Joo Won’s secret lies in immersing himself into the role to the extent that he becomes the character. So when it came to love, he would ‘invest his true feelings’ towards the girl. I always laughed when I remember that Jung Woong In, the actor who played his eldest brother in Ojakgyo Brothers, said that when the actor Jung Suk Won who acted as Taehee’s(Joo Won) rival in love, came on the set, Joo Won was genuinely jealous. He asked Woong In why the must new guy appear and snatch away their Uee?
When I thought Joo Won would never looked better with another girl, other than Uee, I was wrong. It was not love at first sight for this couple but things changed. My heart almost burst, seeing how perfect Kangto and Mok Dan looked so beautiful and happy in their wedding shots. Their love story did not have the benefit of a fully fleshed out storyline nor lots of good kisses and other romantic gestures. I said it before and I will say it again here, this is one couple that made love just by holding hands on screen. Perhaps it was the secrecy of the act (hiding their romance from Shunji) or the pureness of their love, somehow the mere act of them reaching out their hand to each other, and grasping each other’s tightly, electrified the air. In the beginning like Park Ki Woong, I could see that Jin Se Yeon was not that comfortable with Joo Won yet, she spoke to him in honorifics. But in the BTS that followed, she was obviously very comfortable with him, she spoke to him in banmal and he was always smiling and goofing around her. Sometimes I wonder who is the younger of the two. No wonder in one interview, she said despite their age gap, she sometimes felt that she needed to protect Joo Won. I had a side splitting laugh when I read that.
Most of the time, when he was not goofing around and playing aegyo with his co-stars, Joo Won took really good care of his onscreen love. I remembered in Ojakgyo Brothers, he would button up Uee’s winter coat and placed a heat pack into her hand. When she got emotional filming one of the last scenes and cried, Joo Won wiped away her tears.The most memorable was the Bridal Mask BTS of episode 17 where they were shooting the duel between Kangto, Mok Dan versus Jun, and Rie in the garden. Joo Won accidentally poked the end of his iron flute near Se Yeon’s eye. He took one look and in a flash, he scooped her into a tight embrace. I think that BTS set sail a thousand ships. Afterwards he kept fussing around her and checking if she was alright.
Joo Won said in the recent interview Celebrity Topic, that between a male and female co-star, the most important is care and he must open his heart to his co-star, only then can he and his partner bring beautiful love to the audience. Well, we have clearly witnessed how he does it and certainly the results are a testimony to his method. Love lines and make outs matter less when you are able to convey love, concern, tenderness, sacrifice, hurt and desire with your eyes, gestures and every part of your body.
credits: photos from joo won facebook pages, coolreborn on soompi, DC, Joo Won Bar on Baidu, King and various web sources