A lot of male drama characters charmed us with their unique stories this year. From good-hearted protagonists to despicable villains, these roles inhabited and transformed the well-written screenplays into something powerful.
Among the long list of good series this year, four actors stand out in portraying the most iconic and memorable drama characters:
1. Chief Hong Dusik
The narrative of the hit series, “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” takes us to the most charming yet heartbreaking character of all, Chief Hong Dusik, played by Kim Seonho.
He was introduced to us as a jolly and reliable handyman who assists everyone around the village of Gongjin with his tireless hands, adorable smile, and empathetic heart.
“He is kind, but too nosy,” says halmeoni.
“Chief Hong is everyone’s fixer,” states Mr. Chang.
He is a talented man who is engaged with several activities in life such as surfing, reading a book, biking, fishing, photography, candle-making, soap-making, coffee-making, bidding, singing, guitar-playing, collecting books, wines, and records. He also knows how to speak French, Chinese and communicate using sign language.
He even won the “Brave Citizen Award” twice for catching a purse snatcher on the street and saving a drunk old man sleeping on the train tracks. “He’s the hero of Gongjin. He’s like Superman and Iron man wrapped into one,” says Mr. Ban.
The unemployed Chief Hong we thought we knew is no ordinary man at all. He got into Seoul National University as a scholar with the highest grades, studied, and graduated Engineering. He then returned to Gongjin five years after graduating.
Moreover, the villagers revealed that he was an extraordinary and smart kid. At age six, he memorized Cheonjamun. In school, he won the gold medal at the Mathematics Olympiad and always gets the highest score or first place during classroom exams.
He is also a man of wisdom who inspires others with words of life. “Life isn’t so fair for all of us. Some spend their whole lives on unpaved roads, while some run at full speed only to reach the edge of a cliff,” says Chief Hong.
However, we learned that there are several mysteries in the life of a dependable and charming Chief Hong that convey a seemingly deep and heartbreaking story. He is a broken man hiding behind the mask of a vibrant town hero who suffers from trauma and pain of abandonment, rooted from high stress producing situations.
Chief Hong is a relatable character that represents people who appear to have it all together but sometimes hide a lonely battle within. He is all of us in moments we help others during tough times but unable to help ourselves and in certain situations where we bottle up our emotions instead of naming them to heal.
Hence, Hong Dusik stands out as the most iconic character of the year for captivating the hearts of millions with his unique charm, wisdom, multiple talents, and for conveying real-life brokenness.
Kim Seonho portrayed this simple yet complicated role with his detailed acting skills. He made us smile, laugh, fall in love, appreciate life, as well as feel his deep-rooted trauma and pain. He showed various emotions throughout the series and made us believe that Hong Dusik exists in real life.
On December 14th, Kim Seonho was selected as Gallup Korea’s “Actor of the Year”. He was also voted by the public as the “Best Actor” and won the Jury’s Choice “Breakthrough Star of the Year” at the Metro Best K-Drama Awards 2021 on December 15th.
2. Jeong Bareum
Jeong Ba-reum leads a double life in “Mouse”, played by Lee Seung-gi. He appears to be a righteous and passionate police officer but one who also lives a secret identity–a psychopathic predator.
“I’ll kill you slowly,” he holds the poor little bird in his hand and instantly changes into a fake gentle person when caught.
Lee Seung-gi breathes this character with his calculative acting skills, conveying a man of warmth and coldness while deceiving people around him. Viewers get goosebumps everytime he quickly transforms his kind expression to chilling traits.
He did complete justice to the character of Jung Ba-reum and is now one of the memorable actors who has portrayed a psychopatic role in a psycho-crime-thriller Korean drama.
On December 2nd, he won the “Daesang (Grand Prize) Drama Actor of the Year” at the Asia Artist Awards (AAA) 2021.
3. Vincenzo Cassano
Vincenzo Cassano is a Korean-Italian lawyer and Mafia consigliere in the dark-comedy-revenge series, “Vincenzo”, played by Song Joong-ki. He is one of the iconic drama characters of the year who made us swoon with his good looks and killer moves.
He was an orphan in Korea, adopted, and raised by a patriarch of the Cassano mafia family in Italy. He returns to Korea with the quest of recovering his 1.5 tons of gold hidden in an old plaza building where he meets the quirky tenants who become his family.
Vincenzo is a wealthy, handsome, and smart but ruthless mafia character. He curses in Italian and flicks his lighter to end an enemy.
He also captivated the hearts of millions with his sense of humor. In the drama, he tried to charm a male bank president and disguised himself as a woman to dig more details about Babel’s hidden tactics.
He is everyone’s corn salad in K-drama land and charmed us with his hilarious relationship with a pigeon who he named as “Inzaghi”. He also warmed our hearts when he became the older brother of his enemy’s sibling, Jang Han-seo.
Song Joong-ki performed this role with excellence and class, making “Vincenzo” one of the most noteworthy characters in the history of Korean dramas. In fact, he was a strong nominee for “Best Actor” at the 2021 Baeksang Arts Awards.
On December 15th, he won the Jury’s Choice “Best Actor” and “Most Stylish Male Character” at the Metro Best K-Drama Awards 2021.
4. Seong Gi-hun
Seong Gi-hun is player #456 in the most popular Korean series of all time, “Squid Game”, played by Lee Jung-jae.
He is a divorced man who struggles financially and lives a life of gambling to support his sickly mother and beloved daughter. In order to settle his huge amount of debts and prove himself as a good provider, he joins a deadly game and wins 45.6 billion won.
Seong Gi-hun explores the painful reality of life where humanity struggles to live through gambling and debts. “Life’s a gamble” to those who live in scarcity where they do desperate things in desperate situations in order to survive.
His character moves you to think, feel, and understand his personal outlook and choices in life caused by the injustices and suffering in the outside world. He also provides warmth, excitement, and thrill as he overcomes every game and deals with his co-players.
Lee Jung-jae won the Daesang (Grand Prize) Actor of the Year, AAA Fabulous Award, and Hot Trend Award at the Asia Artist Awards (AAA) 2021. He has also been nominated for “Best Actor in a Drama Series” at the Critics Choice Awards and “Best Performance in a TV Series” at the 79th Golden Globe Awards.