A few months ago Lee Jun Ki told his fans that he would definitely be doing a drama this year, which was exactly the perfect morsel of news I needed to perk up since his sageuk Arang and the Magistrate didn’t own my heart or mind last year. I remained patient even as all these K-dramas got cast, wondering which one would be lucky enough to land him. My patience has just been rewarded with the first confirmed reports that Jun Ki is in serious talks to star in the upcoming period K-drama Inspiring Generation (or Grateful Generation). It’s set in 1930s Shanghai (squeeeeeeee, is this like a K-version of Shanghai Bund, because that would be EPIC) and is based on a manhwa by the writer of Damo the manhwa. The central conflict in the original manhwa is a Korean gang versus a Japanese gang showdown in 1930s Seoul. In the drama story, the protagonist is a hooligan hero named Shin Jung Tae, who adopts a goofy and carefree demeanor to the world but deep down loves his family and country. He hopes to liberate Korean from Japanese colonialism so he secretly battles the Japanese in Shanghai. He is described as using his fists to right wrongs in Shanghai as the top fighter in the city. He’s written as a very romantic leading man and this story has black comedy undertones. I heard the words fighting and Lee Jun Ki and my brain just shut down from the happiness if this comes true.
So this begs the question – who will be Jun Ki’s leading lady? I mentioned Han Ji Min for Go Soo’s new K-drama Golden Empire, but now there is talk Lee Yo Won might join him, which leaves Han Ji Min free to finally pair up with Lee Jun Ki. I say finally because he’s mentioned many times wanting to act with her. But this story sounds so much like Capital Scandal but set in Shanghai, and Han Ji Min did CS so the period setting might feel too much like déjà vu for her. This drama also sounds a lot like last year’s Gaksital. Let’s run down some of the available similar-aged leading ladies that pop to mind – Yoon Eun Hye, Moon Chae Won, Han Ga In, Park Min Young, Lee Yeon Hee, Nam Sang Mi, Choi Jung Won. There are no rumors yet on who is in the running but expect this to be a coveted role if Lee Jun Ki is confirmed as the lead. The drama is slated to air in September.