Crush of the Day: Jang Dong Gun
In honor of his new movie, Good Morning President, I bring you one of my first Kdrama crushes. I mean what girl in their right mind wouldn’t have a crush on Jang Dong Gun. He’s hot, talented, and loves baseball. There’s also a certain seductiveness to a man who keeps himself out of the limelight. He’s never had a scandal in his 17 years of acting. Mysterious men are sexy.
(Side note: I love people who love baseball. I had the biggest crush on Michael Vartan (Alias) for awhile because I found out that he was a Mets fan.)
The other thing that I love about him is his age, namely that he’s older than me! It’s hard to find older men taking on lead roles in dramas and movies in youth obsessed Korea. So it’s nice to not feel like a cradle-robber while gushing over a male lead. With that, here’s the anatomy of the crush:
Penchant: The Last Match
This 1994 Kdrama introduced me to Jang Dong Gun. My mom would sometimes let me take Korean video tapes to college and in the summer of 94, she told me to try the series. It also starred Son Ji Chang, from Feelings (another 1994 hit) and Shim Eun Ha (Christmas in August).
I still remember watching the videos late at night on my tiny TV, ignoring my school work and marveling the man in front of me. To be honest, I don’t reminder much about the drama itself – something about basketball – but my memory of Jang Dong Gun on my TV screen is still fresh on my mind.
Pleasure: All About Eve
This was my 2nd Jang Dong Gun kdrama. (This as his last kdrama as well, moving to the big screen.) It also starred Chae Rim (DalJa’s Spring, Good Job Good Job), Han Jae Suk (Women of the Sun, Lobbyist), and Kim So Yeon (IRIS, Gourmet).
Jang Dong Gun had a pretty banal role in this drama, but he again proved his hotness, especially when he transforms into the Director of the TV station. (I actually loved Kim So Yeon playing the crazy jealous girl in this drama.)
This was a big departure for Jang Dong Gun, as he sheds the kdrama romance image and plays a gang boss. This was a good movie. I remember not understanding all of it because of the Busan accident (no subtitles), but this movie opened by eyes to Korean cinema and I no longer saw Jang Dong Gun as a pretty boy, but an actor.
This movie not only made Jang Dong Gun into an movie star, but a bankable one. Friend (2003) held the box office record before being replaced by Silmido. It also found international acclaim, with Yoo Oh Sung and Jang Dong Gun winning the best actor and best supporting actor categories and the film grabbing a nomination for the Grand Prix de Americas at the Montreal Film Festival.
Passion: Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War
Ahhh… this was my very first Korean movie on the big screen. Directed by Kang Je Gyu (Shiri), Taegukgi starred Jang Dong Gun and Won Bin (Mother) as brothers. I remember coming out of the theater thinking, “Korean can make movies like this?” I hadn’t watched too many Korean movies back then and my world of Korean entertainment was melodramas or romantic comedies. It really was an eye opener.
Jang Dong Gun was so great in the film, encompassing so many emotions – love, hate, angst… His acting was deserving of an epic film. And the movie solidified his movie star status, with Taegukgi taking over the box-office record from Simildo.
I was excited to find out about his move to Hollywood, but have been disappointed that the release date for The Warrior’s Way continues to be pushed back indefinitely. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for Good Morning President.