BY DZIREENA MAHADZIR
South Korean singer Jaejoong will be appearing in his first drama post-military service. Photos: C-JES Entertainment
Come Aug 9, I will be glued to the screen watching a Korean drama.
To be honest, I am not really a Korean drama fan. The only series I’ve completed watching is Autumn In My Heart. That was way back in 2000 and the lead actress, Song Hye-kyo, remains to this day, in my mind, the most beautiful South Korean actress.
I watched it with my mum then, and it aired on TV around dinner time, and I remember my dad saying, “I think there’s too much crying at the dinner table”. Talk about feeling emotionally overwrought!
I attempted the famous Winter Sonata (2002) but couldn’t get through it, skipping here and there because it was so tragic. I mean, why doesn’t anyone have a happy-ever-after? And that was the end of my K-drama feels.
Later on I found out that, sometimes, there is a running theme/trend for these series, and I was obviously watching the tragic drama era. Since then I’ve tried (and failed) to watch recommendations from friends or hits like the 2014 drama that sold out a YSL lipstick, My Love From The Star.
Now I am once again going to attempt to watch a series to the end because my favourite South Korean star, singer and actor Kim Jae-joong (known as Jaejoong), is making his acting comeback post-military service.
Jaejoong is not just any singer – he’s got a huge fandom that dates back to 2003, and he’s a prolific songwriter, whether as a group member (he’s in the group JYJ) or solo singer (he’s one of the top-selling solo singers in South Korea).
If you’re going to go through a manhole, you might as well look good while doing it.
I first became a fan about a decade ago (he has the most beautiful voice!), though I have to admit I was a sporadic fan till around 2013. That was when I saw him and his fellow JYJ members as the faces of Korean skincare brand Tony Moly.
It triggered a fandom catch-up with him, his music, and his projects. And believe me, keeping up with Jaejoong – who I sometimes think can literally do anything (he’s also art director of Korean fashion brand Moldir) – is no mean feat. As a fan you end up branching out along with him, moving from his music to his acting to his fashion label, and whatever other projects he’s involved in.
Though he’s a singer, he’s been quite active in front of the camera as well, appearing in series such as Protect The Boss (2011), Dr Jin (2012), Triangle (2014), and Spy (2015). Unfortunately, I never finished watching them, but I’m trying to rectify that by going on a Jaejoong series spree (talk about devotion!).
Jaejoong’s roles have been quite diverse – yes, he has done a time-slip storyline before but that was in a historical drama (Dr Jin) – and he’s never been afraid of trying something new, going the extra mile and discarding his usual stylish appearance.
This being Jaejoong’s comeback drama, I will definitely be sitting through the entire series (around 16 episodes); plus it’s one of my favourite genres, time travel (or a time slip, in this case).
The romantic-comedy, which will begin airing on Astro’s KBS2 channel on Aug 9, is called Manhole (because he goes into a manhole and back through time). Jaejoong plays lead character Bong Pil, an unemployed man who goes back in time to prevent the wedding of his best friend who he’s in love with; she’s played by Uee (she’s from the girl group After School and is also an actress).
Cast of KBS new drama Manhole. From left: Kim Jae-joong, Uee, Jung Hye-seong and Baro.
The problem is when Bong starts making changes in the past, it affects the future, requiring him to go back and forth to keep fixing problems.
I’ve been following the filming, currently still in progress, and am a little nervous as there have been accidents: Jaejoong’s had three injuries on set, suffering a burn, hurting his leg, and getting seven stitches in his thumb.
I’m not too sure about his hair either – he’s shedding his usual ethereal handsomeness and attempting to look less glowy and gorgeous with a frizzy perm (it’s not working, he still looks good).
The first teaser had quite a response, as the main cast (which also includes B1A4’s Baro and Jung Hye-Seong) are dancing to that annoyingly addictive PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Pen) song.
The second teaser, which came out on Wednesday, gives more details with humorous and dramatic scenes of Jaejoong going through the manhole and his frustration when his attempt at changing things doesn’t go well. There also seems to be an on-and-off frizzy hair thing going on.
I’m really looking forward to seeing Jaejoong on-screen again and while I may not be a K-drama fan, just from the teasers it looks like it’s going to be a fun and entertaining series. Watch his drama! And for updates, follow this fan account on Twitter: @Manhole_KBS.