Checking in on Kim Jae Wook and the Surprisingly Decent Who Are You

After two back-to-back K-dramas dealing with the I-see-dead-people ability and ensuing conundrum, I think its safe to say this gimmick doesn’t make for the best drama concept. I appreciate that its trying something new, but the ghost of the episode stories are never in depth enough to feel important and end up taking time away from the main characters and their interactions. It provides an easy narrative crutch to keep the leads doing something together, always solving a ghostly mystery or accomplishing a departed task. Of the two ghost dramas, The Master’s Sun has the mainstream appeal and two very experienced leads in So Ji Sub and Gong Hyo Jin selling what is really a crappy story by the sheer star power of their talent and chemistry. I actually think the cable drama Who Are You is overall a much better drama because it has a more sincere story with less gimmicks. It’s still not anything to write home about, but leads So Yi Hyun and Taecyeon are trying hard and doing a pretty decent job. The ghost stories are about on par with The Master’s Sun in terms of being gripping on its own, but one advantage WAY has is that one of the ghosts happens to be the second male lead played by Kim Jae Wook. He’s doing a fantastic job of selling the pain and longing and hope of a guy who’s dead but can’t depart because his got all this unresolved love for his still living beloved girlfriend. I do think his character feels a bit superfluous based on his limited screen time but at least his presence in this drama grounds Si On’s ability to see ghosts into something that will play a huge role in her own life rather than just as a trick she uses for the sake of others. Kim Jae Wook’s Hyun Joon is deliciously sad in this drama works marvelously as the emo restrained counterpart to Taecyeon’s sunny masculine male lead. I wouldn’t say WAY is a good drama but it’s got nuggets of goodness that makes it worth the watch. That and the chance to see Kim Jae Wook, and if you see the boatload of stills tvN released for him, clearly the network knows to fanservice his hotness even though he’s got very limited screen time up til now. Here’s hoping the story keeps getting better and he shows up more. Even though all his character asks of him is to look mopey and pining, it’s a credit to Kim Jae Wook that his eyes speak volumes in a way that allows him to maintain a stoic poker face but still convey all that longing emotion. 


Checking in on Kim Jae Wook and the Surprisingly Decent Who Are You — 29 Comments

  1. I actually like this one much better than MS. It actually seems more interesting there’s less of the goofy comedy and more heart about this one. Also, it looks like we will be getting more of Kim Jae Wook starting this week if the trailers are to be believed. At least now she know’s he’s a ghost. Yay!!! More hotness.

  2. I should have also said this before but thanks Ms. Koala, it’s nice to know I am not the only fan of this series, you don’t really hear about it anywhere.

    • Its true, you don’t really hear about this show anywhere, and its a shame because its pretty good!
      When that last scene happened in the drama and they showed KJW stare at So Yi Hyun with so much pain and longing and the tear streaming down his face…. i was a melted pool of awe at his feet… T^T

  3. I really like this drama. But OMG is Taecyeon a bad actor. I had never seen him before and only heard tell of his lack of acting ability, but ugh. And he looks sooooo young next to the female lead. They are cute together but in a noona-dongsaeng kind of way not a romantic way. I keep watching this drama because the writing and directing and other two leads are good (or great in KJW’s case), but I really wish they had cast a different lead actor. It reminds me a little of how the female lead in Nine totally ruined it for me (although I think that was also her character being written very badly, so a double-whammy). At least Taecyeon’s character isn’t badly written, just poorly acted. But it is a distraction from an otherwise enjoyable show.

    • I’m still so mad that Taecyeon’s the lead that I can’t watch this show. Ugh! At best he is pedestrian, at worst he is either wooden or mugging for the camera. But I would really like to see KJW. I knew he would knock it out of the park, and he is, darn it. Maybe I will look for some clips of his scenes. I hope the powers that be see the light and give HIM the lead next time.

  4. I love that the ghosts can’t speak in this drama because it’s a great challenge for the actors playing them. Kim Jae Wook is nailing it. That scene where he just stands there and the tears roll down, I was blown away.

    I agree neither Master’s Sun nor WAY is a great drama, but I’m enjoying watching both of them for the reasons you listed (MS for the leads and WAY for the little bit better story).

  5. I thought I was the only one watching WAY. I like it so far, and I’m glad KJW is getting more screen time. That dark navy color looks so good on Kim Jae Wook and the other actor too. He’s definitely selling the sadness.

  6. Yeah, Who are You is undoubtedly the better show of the two qualitatively if you look at the story and execution. It’s not an awesome show by means, but it is definitely better in the writing department.
    That said, Master’s Sun definitely one ups it in the mainstream appeal with popular leads, great chemistry, and puntastic laughs. I do think episode 4 is looking up since hong sisters deviated from the lame ghost of the day episodes, with the preview for ep.5 getting me all giddy for the shenanigans. Hong sisters do better when they write these ghosts to invoke laughter instead of being all cheesy — and much better when they’re written on the side with the main characters full center. That’s how it should be, anywho.

    I do think that with the right director/writer duo, you can make any odd-sounding, wack, suspension-of-belief concept actually work. It’s just so far, no one’s really made a really good i-see-ghosts drama since it’s a relatively new premise s.korea seems to be exploring. Aside from that, it’s a tricky line to walk cause then there are so many different elements you have to balance but again, that goes back to having a skilled writer/director duo.

    • yes to all of the article above. MS is mainstream but at its core I think the writing is really crappy. WAY is a better cohesive and heartfelt show.

  7. I really like this drama. I am actually waiting for episode 7 right now. I can watch it raw and then again with subs – I am a real fan, ok?. 🙂
    And Kim jae wook is just beautiful, thank you for the pictures.

  8. I agree! I care more about the characters in WAY than in MS (in which I’m only recenty warming up to the characters). MS has some hilarious scenes but a story like this needs to be a little contemplative for me. But the characters behave quite unrealistically there.

    I’m definitely excited about Kim Jae Wook.. But poor guy doesn’t have any dialogs..

  9. Kim jae wook always takes completely different acting roles from his previous work…this is what draws him to me (besides his handsome face)…..I too wish he had dialogue…but right now, just to see him acting again, is enough for me 🙂

  10. I’m hoping the OCN version will knock the socks off us because at this moment, both MS and WAY are frankly, pretty pedestrian. And what a pity really, because there’s so much to do with the genre.

    I dropped WAY very very early on, not cos’ of the male lead, but because the female lead is way too poorly written for my liking. While MS sucked at the episodic ghost of the day format, it at the very least had a rootable and winsome female lead. And while SJS isn’t great, he’s definitely more serviceable than TY.

  11. I’m very surprised at how much I am enjoying WAY, maybe because I didn’t have any high expectations to begin with. Unlike MS, the storyline is strong enough to stand on its own, and does not need any gimmicks or headlining cast to make me tune in. In addition, I have yet to be to be disappointed in the TVn (cable) dramas – Nine Times Time Travel, Queen In-Hyun’s Man, Answer Me 1997, Flower Boy dramas, etc… They’ve been broadcasting some really interesting shows lately (unlike the last Hong Sisters’ drama which really broke my confidence in their storytelling…)

  12. Wow! You finally wrote about a drama I am watching. I love it! The only problem I see with this drama is Taecyeon. I was telling myself OMG this is the famous Taecyeon, what a bad actor. I can’t remember what else he was in that I watched but if these two characters are going to be romantically involved, I am going to laugh. I like the short stories put to bed by the lead lady. I like the mystery behind KJW’s character death. I like it as I said. I am probably not used to the nuances of the facial expressions from Korean actors or how they kid around but Taecyeon aside. Good drama.

  13. I love this drama. MY heart breaks for JW’s Hyeong Joon. This is insane because I am rooting for Shi On and Hyeong joon, second lead(first time) and a ghost at that. I was laughing and heartbroken at same time when he said to shaman ” Do you think I came all the way here to have this forbidden love?” I thought ” Can’t you?, Isn’t there a way?”

    From the preview of ep 8, I think my heart’s gonna break more for him. But I hope to see him during his happy time with Shi on when he was still alive. Hope that will come soon.

  14. I’m so rooting for kjw and our lead actress. I’ve always had a soft spot for him and watched almost all his dramas because he’s so handsome, I can forget the storyline while staring at him and his acting is pretty good too, hated msoan but only skimmed to his parts.

  15. When is he finally going to graduate into the leading roles he clearly deserves?! Though he does emo and longing super duper well, I don’t know if it’s going to be enough for me to give this drama a try…

  16. i really really want to like this drama but it’s not doing it for me ): a lot of it has to do with tae and the lack of chemistry between the leads. that’s just my opinion though. sigh. i want to like taec but he’s overacting big time in this drama.

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