K-Drama Spring 2014 Leading Lady Casting: Go Ara, Kang Sora, Jin Se Yeon, and Lee Da Hae

Casting news waxes and wanes and last week was a particularly busy week for K-dramas. It’s always the male leads that garner more attention but there can’t be a drama without a female lead so it’s time to see how the Spring pairings are shaping up on the ladies side of things. First up is my most anticipated SBS cop drama You’re All Surrounded starring Lee Seung Gi and Cha Seung Won. Original rumored leading lady Park Min Young is no more and now recently popular again Go Ara is in talks to join the cast. I’ve heard great things about her in Answer Me 1994 and I’m good with Seung Gi getting her as his love interest. Even funnier is Ara being donggap label mates at SM Entertainment with Seung Gi’s girlfriend Yoona. I’m less into the other upcoming SBS drama Dr. Stranger since male leads Lee Jong Seok and Park Hae Jin are respectively blergh and okay for me. Park Min Young was also in talks to join this drama but that also didn’t pan out, and instead now we’re getting Kang Sora and Jin Se Yeon to pull a one-two punch as the two love interests for the two leading men. Jin Se Yeon sure is a busy bee since she’s currently filming Age of Feeling but she can conceivably transition immediately into Dr. Stranger which doesn’t air until early May since it follows God’s Gift: 14 Days with Lee Bo Young. Finally the MBC weekend drama Hotel King with Lee Dong Wook has confirmed the two female leads Lee Da Hae and Gong Hyun Joo. I really like this main cast and having them in the drama definitely pushes Hotel King up to must watch status. I remember being very meh about the concept behind last year’s MBC melodrama Scandal: That Very Shocking and Immoral Incident yet it turned out to be densely mesmerizing. While none of my faves actresses are on deck for Spring at least there isn’t anyone I’m allergic to.


K-Drama Spring 2014 Leading Lady Casting: Go Ara, Kang Sora, Jin Se Yeon, and Lee Da Hae — 50 Comments

  1. It’s only my fav Yoon Eun Hye who is missing in action in the Spring’s leading ladies. None of these leading ladies are exciting to me.

  2. I think I might be one of the few ppl (if any!) who thought Ara wasn’t that “great” in Answer Me 1994.

    Excited to hear about Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae reuniting! Wonder if they still have the same chemistry from My Girl days.

    • I mean, not to say she hasn’t improved, b/c she definitely did… it’s just yeah lol. & I have nothing against her – she’s gorgeous.

    • I’m with you there, Go Ara definitely improved HUGELY in AM1994 and was quite good, but she definitely came off a little ‘look at the pretty girl acting ugly, I’m going to SHOW YOU how ugly I can look!’ in her role, especially early on.

      Stacking both Answer Me shows against each other, I’d say Eunji was the more natural heroine and better actress, she needs to be getting more offers for leads too.

      • You took the words right out of my mouth, pog.

        I also agree with you on Eunji – she was delightfully charming in her role. 🙂

  3. Loved loved Go Ara in AM1994. She displayed a full range of emotions that was required of her character and more. How she wore her heart on her sleeve, not just character-wise, but acting wise, just made her that much more endearing to me after AM1994 wrapped up. Everytime she was glee with emotions, I felt a young woman falling in love for the first time. She got better and better with each episode. You can tell she’s finally caught a break with her performance in AM1994 with all the love she received, along with the rest of the cast. She still cries everytime she thinks of AM1994 and she certainly (along with Do hee) cried once filming wrapped since they’ve all become family. I’m so happy for her, she really came into this role with tenacity and determination to rid of her “pretty face only” image. This is why, no matter who she chose in the end, she was pitch perfect as na jung.

    • I agreed. I watched Answer 1994 with zero expectation and hear many good things about the male lead, samchenpo and yoo jin but my fav will be Go Ara’s character and her fabolous and excellent acting.

    • Oh god Ara was so great. She wasn’t acting as Najung, she WAS Najung. To me, it’s an amazing transformation in terms of acting skills on her part because it’s not like she was pretty good before AM1994, she was pretty bad at acting. But now, wow. I look forward to seeing more of her in dramas.

  4. I’m really excited for Lee Jeong Suk/Park Hae Jin collab, because that drama is going to be chock-full of delicious eye candy. Also, I’m excited for Hotel King because of the My Girl reunion. Who does not love that drama??~ *reminisce

    But Go Ara? I’m still not a huge fan of her yet, but I hope she does well!

  5. GO ARA and SEUNG GI yes yes yes yess and yes. so much gooder and better and some more than park min young !!!

    she was pure goodness in 1994 and should be one of the top actresses . go ara is perfect to play the lead with two top star’s and this is a huge break for a cable actress. seung gi and go ara both easy going and passioante and they will have the best chemistry . hope they will act their heart out. since it’s seung gi’s last drama and cha seung won’s comeback drama.

    oh lol seung gi and the 3 sm beauties must be fate. yoona and go ara said to be close friends .

    • No they haven’t. They’re still in final negotiations along with Go Ara but judging by the media reports, confirmation (or rejection) should be around the corner.

  6. Ok the thing with Go Ara is that shes still bland, YES Reply 1994 was awesome and Go Ara was good but was she AMAZING? Personally no. The type of character she played I think was quite easy and many other could have done it. I’ve read a lot of people saying she showed a lot of emotions… but I did see it, what I saw was her co-actors showing off emotions that hit the spot and Go Ara riding off it. Don’t get me wrong, I think she decent and with the lack of strong leading ladies, Go Ara will definitely will the fame gained from R1994 to the fullest.

    Not too Keen on Kang Sora and Lee Da Hae has lost her touch for me.

    • I agree. Actually, there are two crying scenes of GAR in Reply 1994 where her acting truly shines, while for the rest of the drama, she is overshadowed by other character. I do blame it partially on the writer, though, as she seemed to focus more on the male leads (emotion wise)of the love triangle and give them more ground to cover. GAR’s character was supposed to be the female lead, but I felt as if she was simply reduced to “the bride” , and I believe some of her emotions were forced to stay ambiguous for the sake of the husband game (referring to Najung’s stares)

      But I have to give GAR credits for shedding off her usual pretty image to join R’94. “Amazing” or not, she did appear to be fresh and unique on screen as Najung and manages to gather the most positive review amount since her acting debut. However, not all scripts are going to be written well like R’94, and not all characters are going to be “different” like Najung. So it is up to GAR now to show whether she is capable of breathing life into any K-drama character and maintains if not expands the public interest.

      • Hum, wait what? Her stares told us everything we should know. [spoilers ahead!!] It was clear she was in love with Trash from episode 2 until the very end. It was all in her eyes, it showed love when she was with T, and when she was with chilbong she showed ”whatever” expression. There is nothing ambiguous here lol were you a chilbong shipper ?

        Plus not everyone can play the character Go ara played without not being annoying or appearing forced.

      • Personally, her stares didn’t cut it for me… At times, I couldn’t really, I guess, connect, to the emotion she was trying to portray. I honestly felt that sometimes, her eyes were too distracting (she can’t help it though that her eyes are so gorgeous. *O*) But, I felt that when she was happy, it came across when she was happy.

  7. I don’t really understand why so many people are raving about Go Ara after AM 1994. She certainly wasn’t bad and yes, in some scenes she was spot on. I applaud her for dropping her ‘pretty girl’ image and fully immersing herself in her character. But acting alongside Jung Woo, Yoo Yeon Seok and Sung Dong Il she was as bland as bland gets.

    • I agree so much with this. It would be obtuse of me to deny that she put her everything into that role, and that for moments, it showed. But most of the time she was painfully one note, and her acting fell under the “Spunky cute heroine” category. She wasn’t awful, just passable.

      Some of this has to do with the ridiculous focus on the “Husband Game” though, that prevented her from knowing the real motivations and feelings behind her character. So, for a limited actress like her, being in the dark criminally killed her chance to shine.

    • I think she did well within the confines of her character – all the actors you listed had more to work with than her writing-wise. For me, Najung unfortunately had no real development or even any other storyline outside of the dreaded love triangle. Jung Woo in particular has a ton of natural talent, so the fact that she held her own against him (imo) is definitely praiseworthy. I definitely don’t think she gave a bland performance. Besides, I don’t really see any raving about her performance aside from the fact that many have noted her improvement. Compared to Jung Woo and YYS she hasn’t been praised that much.

  8. if that’s the case then it’s still perfect for her. she can be bland and yet earnest while the men do the acting. her role is a cop who get’s in after the 5th try. she’s clumsy and tomboish and competitive similar to 1994. the charatctor is endearing and she will be able to pull it of. and like you guys say it’s something anyone cAn do and get rave reviews and love.

    • other than 5 tries to get in, I have not heard her character being described as you say. and I hope its not true I dislike tomboyish clumsy girl characters the most.
      I hope she is at least feminine and street smart, I have not watched any of her projects but screencaps of 1994 with the short hair she is so blah to me, I hope she has some screen presence.When I think about my only bias LSG with another unattractive, bland lead like the last one I feel disappointed, I hope she does well.

      • Um, that’s her on the top image. She’s freaking gorgeous. She downplayed her looks a lot in AM1994 and gained weight, but she was still pretty even in that. I don’t get where you get unattractive with Suzy either, but I won’t get into that.

      • Say what you like about Suzy’s acting (obviously not her calling) but unattractive? You’ve got to be kidding me.

      • Seriously, your bias LSG wasn’t paired with an unattractive female lead ever… I love the guy too, but to down play someone’s beauty because you find her acting bland doesn’t make an iota of sense. Suzy is gorgeous, even if she has zero acting skills. Even her haters are ready to admit to that at least.

      • it’s all assumptions at this point, but chancess are high that the heroin who takea 5 try’s to get the job is clumsy or competitive with a devil may care attitude. and like you said, i also hope they won’t go down the
        cliche’d female cop rode with bad hair road.go ara is realy gorgeous she was in level with yoona beauty wise. so hope she will have shed the weight she gained for 1994 and will look super hot and feminine.

        and yeah , i also had enough of gfb level of sucking from seung gi’s lead lady for an eternity. and she has to do well if she does not WANT TO BE hated on forever by legions of lee seung gi fans for ruining his last drama before MS

        and acting wise people are being unfair she maybe not the better actresses but neither are your biases male/ female. so try not bring anyone down if it’s not some obvious cases of horrible acting which brings the whole drama down

  9. I wonder if most people here who say she was “meh” was because of her character or because of her acting — those are two different things. The word “bland” is more closely related to her character which had little character growth in comparison to other characters, but the way she handled herself with what she was given was great. Any actress could have taken on na jung and we wouldn’t have really cared — esp. those Chilbong shippers that started to resent her for not seeing what they think is the best option for her. The point is, she made us care more than anyone could have with that role.
    In fact, i think her improvement was heaps above yoona’s improvement (which is saying something since i thought yoona improved alot too).

    • I think it was a little of both – acting-wise, she was a wee bit forced in the early eps (like I said above, trying a little too hard to hammer home the ‘not a pretty girl’ image when it should have come more naturally). And Na-jung as a character is really not that interesting, and I say this as someone who saw the Oppa love coming from episode 2 – it’s like they took Shi-won from 1997 and toned her down a wee bit, which is a shame because they tried to keep that half-assed who’s-the-hiusband game going till the literal last episode. But she did improve greatly, and I agree that the improvement was more than Yoona’s…..esp if you consider that Yoona had less improving to do than Go Ara, judging by what she managed in Love Rain.

      Either way, SM’s usual go-to pretty faces (these two plus Lee Yeon-hee) appear to have upped their game on the acting in 2013, and I’m really glad for that.

      • I agree, she was overacting in the first few episodes, which became more apparent because she was supposed to be a Lee Sang Min fangirl, what with the fan chants, screaming, and what not — but that was short-lived after she settled into the role of Na Jung and started to develop friendships with the boarders as well as coming into terms with her feelings for trash.
        Actually, i liked Jung Eun Ji’s character way more than I liked Go Ara’s character, but i can’t help but feel more of a connection to Na Jung because of Go Ara’s portrayal — it just felt more real. It’s an odd contrast, but i think even distinguishing the two Go Ara poured her heart more into her character than Jung Eun Ji did — and i think her tears came more naturally than Eun Ji’s too.. But at the same time there’s that frustration that her character simply wasn’t as awesome as Sung Shi Won. That i’ll admit.

      • ^ it wasn’t just the Sang Min fangirling, it was just the general demeanour as Na-jung, down to the sloppiness, and the accent – it felt a wee bit put on except in some of her more comic moments (like when she had a slipped disc and had to crawl all over the house, she really sold the hell out of that).

        It’s a good performance, but I do agree that Go Ara put her whole heart into it and that sometimes came across as showing the ‘acting effort’ where that shouldn’t have been the case. She kind of came off as ‘playing’ Na-jung in those early eps, where Eun-ji WAS Shi-won (possibly because as she herself admits, Shi-won is a lot like her),

      • I agree, in the beginning you could see that extra effort she had to put into her character. Eun Ji had it easy because her personality was basically a carbon copy of Sung Shi Won, so it was natural. I just find Go Ara’s performance to make more of a splash because it was such a 180 from her actual image. Personally, i felt like Go Ara really became Na Jung in the second half of the show — her emotional responses came on alot more nuanced and so I didn’t really care much for the imperfections in the early episodes (not sure if you finished the whole show, are you Pogo from DB? i remember you saying you put it on hold :))
        Also, im not korean, but is her accent really put on? She actually came from that town. All the characters specifically were assigned hometowns based on the actor’s real hometown growing up. So i just assumed she was dead on her accent considering the whole cast got praised for their realistic accents. (It’s a first im hearing of her accent being put on)

      • Also, i think Jung Eun Ji was perfection as Sung Shi Won, but im trying to really compare their performances individually as actresses. Go Ara wasn’t “bad” with her acting in the past — she was just always just meh or serviceable but unfortunately overlooked because of her pretty face and her young self — this is something that came out of Jung Woo’s mouth as well.
        Jung Eun Ji shined in AM1997 but she didn’t quite shine in her role in TWTWB — there were times where I could see she felt uncomfortable amongst the more skilled sunbaes and that was translated through some awkward acting. I still love Jung Eun Ji to death but i don’t think she’s the better actress of the two and i still think she has a long way before she can land a prime time leading role on the big 3. Go Ara, on the other hand, i could see pairing up with seung gi and doing well in her cop role. We’ll see when You’re All Surrounded aires.

      • Also, i think acting is truly an interesting skill when one can take on a completely different role than their own personality and still make it unique or shine. I know im more of a chatterbox than usual about but i think its very interesting nowadays how some people can be so good in some roles and so not good in other roles (that could be because of KSH nowadays who was soo good as sam dong in Dream High and so not as good as do min joon in YFAS).
        When one truly takes on an image that is unlike anything they’ve seen before and kills it, i consider that to be one of excellent acting (ha jung woo is someone who’s like that).
        This is a bit off topic from what we were originally talking about but it’s something i attribute to high acting skill.

      • Oh, I’m another one who loves it when an actor takes a role that goes against type, and I really appreciate that she made that effort in the first place. She did really well in 1994, and frankly I think the accent bothered me more as part of the general put-on quality of Na-jung in the early eps – she may be from Masan, but it did feel a little like she was recalling the accent as part of the character, rather than speaking that way naturally. Which is no criticism of her, really – like you said, she got a lot better in the second half even if the show itself was getting worse by then (they did not need twenty-one episodes!).

        As for Eunji, I agree she shined less in TWTWB early eps than she did in 1997, but she did pretty well with the small role that she had, and if I really have to be fair, this is literally her second acting job ever – compared to years of Go Ara’s early performances kind of not being so good, I’d say they stack up pretty well equally. Whether Shi-won is like her or not, she set the bar so high with her debut that anything that comes after, especially in a supporting role, was likely to be an anticlimax. I personally don’t mind actors playing to type as long as they do it well, since in my head each performance stands on its own merits.

        And there is something to be said for not biting off more than you can chew – I don’t mind it when Kim Woo Bin and Lee Jong-seok spend project after project playing variations on young thug with a heart of gold and introspective high schooler respectively, but I feel like Kim Soo-hyun, great as his chemistry with Jeon Ji-hyun is (and that is one actress who handles different kinds of roles very well), is kind of underwhelming individually as Min-joon, even if it was an attempt to try a different role from his Dream High/Moon-sun days.

    • I’m definitely one of those viewers who couldn’t stand both NJ and Trash towards the end!! That said, she was quite good in the beginning after a shaky start in the show. Unfortunately, the writing didn’t help her character… she became a shadow of her awesome former self. Out of the two girls I’ll say Dohee really impressed me as the show progressed.

      I believe she’ll do very well w/ LSG and CSW if the three of them sign on.

  10. oooh yesss a My Girl reunion! Too bad that knocks out my fave Lee Yubi from the possibility of her first lead role (and I wonder how it will be, to see LDW and LDH reunite when she got herself a whole new face) but considering how rare it is to see k-ent screen couples reunite (LDH seems to have a lot of luck with this, first Jang Hyuk and now LDW), I’ll watch.

  11. Well..,i’m quite sure Dr.Stranger will not succeed.!+ kang sora (bad)n possible Jin se yeon ( so so n too young).and these young people playing doctors???.i don’t know.
    for you’re all surrounded..,Lsg n Csw will be ok.,but i heard that female lead is not much.so i don’t think Go ara will go for it!

    ** I wonder why Park Min young Decline both role? does both dramas is not that interesting in her eyes 😉

    • Doctor stranger have a good director….hope the story is good too. I thinks Kang Sora is not bad…. She my fav in “sunny” (movie) and “uggly alert” (sbs drama)…. If u see her in “ugly alert” she play as Na Dohee who is a strong, smart, independen, & workholic woman who work & inherited a fashion company….it’s an ussual drama that worth to watch!!! Believe me ^^

  12. I dont care about those other actress all i care is Jin se yeon….I really love her in MDTF..her sweetand natural acting..justgive your comment nicely to the actors and actresses you love and pls dont badmouthed the others to boost out their ability in acting to better the K dramas and fun to watch….

    • I love JSY acting do far given she just turned 20. She is very matured. I hv watched her drama .. My Daughter The Flower and Bridal Mask. She is simply wonderful in these 2 roles (of cousre her chemistry with the 2 actors help alot). Have yet to watch Five Fingers but I heard she played her own piano piece. How many artistes does that? I m waiting to wstvh Age of Feeling. Hope is as good as Bridsl Mask

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