What I loved the most when the photo array was shown for the 5 Best Actor nominees for the 2020 Baeksang Drama Best Actor award was how 4 of them were in serious actor mode and 1 was in “I’m so happy to be here” puppy mode. That 1 being Kang Ha Neul who then won for his performance in When the Camellia Blooms over strong competition in Namgong Min, Hyun Bin, Park Seo Joon, and Joo Ji Hoon. Most Korean entertainment awards are pre-notified to the winner so the Baeksangs remain one of the lone bastions of surprise and true competition, so Kang Ha Neul looked just as floored to have won.
Any of the 5 nominees winning would be deserving in my mind but Kang Ha Neul was actually supporting Gong Hyo Jin in the drama and yet he blew her out of the water with his performance and was honestly the best part of the drama for me. If she was the Camellia flower then he was the roots, the soil, the water, the sunlight, the nutrition to make the flower bloom. To think that prior to his military enlistment he was playing second leads in Misaeng and Moon Lovers and even like the 6th male lead in Heirs. He’s now in the same league as similar age Baeksang Drama Actor winners Kim Soo Hyun and Yoo Ah In and he did it also with his first post-military project. Smart role selection and impressive return performance. He reminds me so much of Jo Jung Seok as well so not a bad similar vibe to cultivate.