With Jung Yong Hwa’s (정용화) latest drama, The Three Musketeers (삼총사), well under way I thought it might be fun to take a look back at Yong Hwa’s earlier dramas and see just how far our beloved rock star/actor has come.
1. You’re Beautiful (미남이시네요)
Airing in 2009, You’re Beautiful was the first of Yong Hwa’s dramas and my absolute favorite, mostly because this was the drama that solidified not only my addiction to Korean dramas, but also K-pop. The basis of the story is pretty simple. Go Mi Nyu (Park Shin Hye, 박신혜) is a young nun-in-training who finds her life taking an unexpected turn when she’s approached by the manager of her twin brother, Go Mi Nam, and asked to take his place as the newest member of the idol band, A.N.JELL, while he is in the U.S., recovering from a botched plastic surgery. Not wanting her brother to lose out on a chance to make his dreams come true, Go Mi Nyu agrees to help out, just until her brother recovers. As one would expect, all kinds of mishaps and adventures happen while Go Mi Nyu masquerades as Go Mi Nam and, as is typically the case in dramas such as these, her true identity doesn’t remain a secret for long.
For a first drama, I thought You’re Beautiful was a good fit for Yong Hwa as it gave him a chance to showcase his skills, not just as an actor but as a musician as well. Which I’m sure proved beneficial as, at that point, CNBLUE was still months from making their official debut. While Yong Hwa’s character wasn’t the liveliest, he was still sweet and lovely and more importantly, he left me wishing for more; which conveniently led me to…
2. Heartstrings (넌 내게 반했어)
Airing in 2011, Heartstrings brought Yong Hwa and Park Shin Hye (박신혜) together again, this time to tell the story of a handful of students as they experience the ups and downs of college life. Moving from second lead to first, Yong Hwa took on the role of Lee Shin, a cold and cocky Western Music major with no real ambition in life and no passion for anything but his music. As the singer and guitarist for the school’s most popular band, “The Stupid”, Lee Shin has quite the reputation on campus but that never fazed Park Shin Hye’s character, Lee Kyu Won, the plucky Tradition Music major, focused solely on living up to the expectations of her prestigious family.
I love the fact that Yong Hwa was able to step into the role of lead in Heartstrings and despite the fact that some have called this drama rather fluffy, I really enjoyed it. Being a music geek, I fell in love with both the traditional and Western music and when the two combined, I was in heaven. While I can agree with those who say the story wasn’t the deepest, I can also freely admit that there are times when I don’t want to watch a drama that makes my brain hurt which is why I enjoyed Heartstrings as much as I did. Honestly, the only thing I have to complain about, when it comes to this drama, is the fact that the final kiss is hands-down, the worst kiss in the history of Korean dramas. Seriously, it’s that bad.
Being left on such a disappointing note, I was really looking forward to Yong Hwa’s next drama, as I hoped it would bring with it his redemption (because to this day, I cannot get over the horror of that kiss) sadly, what I got instead was…
3. Marry Him if You Dare (미래의 선택)
Airing last year (2013), Marry Him if You Dare was one of the dramas I most looked forward to watching as, like I said, I was really hoping this would be the drama that redeemed Yong Hwa from participating in that horrendous kiss. It certainly had the potential, as Yong Hwa was cast alongside Yoon Eun Hye (윤은혜), who, as anyone who’s watched any of her previous dramas knows, isn’t afraid of passionate kissing on-screen. Beyond the kissing, I was really looking forward to seeing how Yong Hwa’s acting would measure up as he finally stepped out of the role of a musician and into the shoes of a wealthy heir. Sadly, what feelings of hope I had for this drama were lost as the story quickly digressed into a muddled mess of confusion, with no real direction and absolutely no hope of redemption.
When a story starts out with a character’s future self, traveling back in time to undo the mistakes of her past and rewrite her future, you think things are going to be good, and for a time, Marry Him if You Dare was. Na Mi Rae (Yoon Eun Hye) has the chance to make a new life for herself when she’s confronted by her future self and told everything she needs to do to change her rather rotten future. While Mi Rae doesn’t always take the advice of her future self, she still manages to change the course of her future when she inadvertently captures the heart of both Park Se Joo (YongHwa), the heir to a major broadcasting corporation, and Kim Shin (Lee Dong Gun), who just so happens to be her husband in the un-altered future. With a whole lot of meddling, future Mi Rae manages to thoroughly screw up present Mi Rae’s life and at the end of it all, we have no idea if either Mi Rae managed to make a better life for herself.
As much as I love Yong Hwa, the fact that I walked away from this drama with so much pent-up anger and frustration has made it impossible for me to recommend Marry Him if You Dare to anyone. It was such mess of a drama that you never really knew what was going on and the end was even more unsatisfying than the kiss at the end of Heartstrings. With such a flop of a drama tied to his name, I was really hoping Yong Hwa would find a drama to redeem himself by and whaddaya know, not even a year later, he brings us…
4. The Three Musketeers (삼총사)
Translating Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale into a Joseon setting, The Three Musketeers is poised to be as entertaining and epic as the original story and as one who’s been a fan of the original for ages, I can tell you that this drama has already won me over. For the very first time, I’m watching a Yong Hwa drama not because he’s starring in it but because I’m thoroughly engrossed in the story. With only four episodes of The Three Musketeers out, it’s too early to say if this drama is going to be as amazing I’m expecting it to be but I can tell you that so far, it’s captured my attention and my heart and I impatiently count down the days to the next episode’s release.