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Stepping into Jang Dong Gun’s shoes


Jang Dong Gun, Lee Seon Kyun

Oh man. What a trip back to the old-school days of Korean drama.

The Voice, aka Lee Seon Kyun, recently recorded an episode of the MBC talk-variety show Yoo Jae Seok and Kim Won Hee’s Let’s Play airing on the 23rd, wherein he shared a story about his acting “senior” and friend, supa-star Jang Dong Gun.

Back in his university days, Jang Dong Gun was playing basketball with fellow basketball enthusiast Lee Seon Kyun, when one day he turned to him (Lee) and said, “Your shoes look too worn — it must be uncomfortable playing with those.” With that, he handed him a pair of shoes, saying, “These are my sneakers from when I filmed The Last Match — if that’s okay with you, wear them instead” — and gave them as a gift. Lee Seon Kyun was so touched by the gesture that afterward, he always wore those sneakers when playing basketball.

(Of course, things got tricky when the sneakers started to smell because off Lee Seon Kyun’s peculiar habit of wearing them without socks! File that under “too much information”?)

Dude. I remember The Last Match fondly because it was one of the first Korean dramas I ever watched, way back in 1994, and was one of the earliest projects for two of the most famous all-time Korean actors, Jang Dong Gun and Shim Eun Ha. Along with Jealousy [Jiltu] (starring a very young Choi Jin Shil and the current sageuk pro Choi Su Jong) and Feeling [Neukkim] (which I’ve mentioned here and starred a very young Lee Jung Jae and Kim Min Jong), those three dramas composed a early-kdrama trifecta that helped shaped my current trendy-drama watching habit.

Source: Newsen

(Old-school soundtrack) SONG OF THE DAY

The Last Match OST – “다시 시작해” (Start over) by Lee Chang Kwon. Thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to raid some of my long-ignored stacks of ancient kpop and kdrama CDs. Yay nostalgia. This was one of the most prominent themes of the series. Played a lot while Jang Dong Gun was off running around (literally, i.e. basketball training). Also played while he did a lot of pulling-up by his metaphorical bootstraps. [ Download ]

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Aside from being one of the first trendy dramas (I think the original has to be Jealousy), The Last Match [Majimak seungbu] was one of the first sports dramas, which jump-started the careers of its leads and even spawned some imitators, like 1996’s drama Icing — which was practically a direct ripoff of The Last Match and starred two of the same actors (Jang Dong Gun and one of the supporting athletes), swapping out the basketball court for a hockey rink.

Btw, Icing, which also starred an early-career Lee Seung Yeon — recently married; one of her more notable recent roles was in Kim Ki-duk’s quietly (literally!) enthralling 3 Iron [Bin Jip] with Jae Hee — is the first drama I’d ever seen hinting at premarital sex (or sex of any kind). They didn’t show anything, and the series was pretty bad, but that alone was memorable since it was totally scaaaandalous! to me at the time.

 
“마지막 승부” (The last match), the official theme song. Isn’t it wonderfully cheesy? Methinks the songwriter was watching a little too much Top Gun while writing. Step away from the Kenny Loggins!
[ Download ]

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Jang Dong Gun, Son Ji Chang

 

Doesn’t Jang Dong Gun look so young and fresh-faced? Funny to think that Son Ji Chang was the big star at the time (he also starred in the hit Feeling later that year) and Jang Dong Gun had barely started his career.

If I remember the story correctly (and I’m going completely just on what I remember — forgive the nearly fourteen-year memory loss), the story centers around two best friends and talented high school basketball players, The Golden Boy from a happy, well-off family (Son Ji Chang) and The Brooding Misunderstood Hero from a poor, broken home (Jang Dong Gun, naturally!). There are four friends but Golden Boy and Brooding Hero are the closest, and all four are planning to go to the same university together as basketball recruits.

At one point, Golden Boy and Brooding Hero meet two girls (all the same age), one shy and one outgoing. Golden Boy immediately takes a liking to the pretty one (of course), the quiet Demure Flower (Shim Eun Ha), who’s shy but not that interested in him. But her best friend, Aggressive Annoying Fangirl, falls for Golden Boy and his fame as a basketball star. Brooding Hero’s too good a friend to go after Demure Flower (plus he’s all silent and enigmatic — to go with the broodiness!), and nobody knows that secretly she really likes Broody Hero instead. Ahh, what tangled love rectangles we set up in the the name of drama.

 


Shim Eun Ha (Demure Flower), Jang Dong Gun (Brooding Hero)

“새로운 사랑을” (Newfound love). One of the love themes. Aren’t Jang Dong Gun and Shim Eun Ha just too cute together? Heh. [ Download ]

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I’m hazy on the details, but I think Golden Boy is told that the First-Rate University won’t give a scholarship to his friends, just him. Though he doesn’t want to betray his friends, his mother is in the hospital and he needs the scholarship, so he takes the scholarship but doesn’t explain why, which makes the other three friends hate him since their college dreams are now screwed.

Broody Hero can’t afford college, so he has to work and sinks into more gloomy, self-destructive broodiness while Golden Boy has a fantastic first year, quickly becoming the Star Player at First-Rate University. Demure Flower starts to help Broody Hero study to make it to college the next year, but she does so without telling her Aggressive Best Friend, who’s still chasing after Golden Boy, who’s still chasing after Demure Flower.

The next year, Broody Hero gets accepted to a Second-Rate University and becomes its star player, and with his help the struggling basketball team quickly improves. So much that soon they’re rivals to First-Rate University’s team. There’s eventually a tearful reunion when Broody Hero finally learns that Golden Boy took the scholarship because his mother was sick and asks why he didn’t just tell him the truth — after which point their rivalry turns into more of a friendly, grudging-respect type competition. It’s like in Bring It On when both teams really wanna win but now they’re on somewhat good terms with each other, so they want to beat the other team fair and square, and they’re all like, “Bring it, bitch,” and “Oh, trust me I’ll bring it,” as they head into the championships. I think there was also a prominent third team.

 

“내가 아는 너에게” (To the you that I know). I’d totally forgotten about this song till just now, but I love it! I reminds me of classic Lee Seung Chul ballads — simple, pretty, and listenable even now.
[ Download ]

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And, of course, people fall in love and there are lots of basketball games and it’s all fun and probably horribly cheesy in retrospect. Part of the fun is in the male camaraderie, especially since Broody Hero’s Second-Rate University Team is pretty rough around the edges at first (think Mighty Ducks). The guy at the very right (just above) was my favorite character because he was so belligerent and always fighting, but then he calms down and forms a gruff friendship with his teammates. And he also has a romance storyline with a young Shin Eun Kyung (My Wife is a Gangster, Bad Couple). Their goofy-awkward-backwards courtship was one of my favorite parts of the series, even if it was only a background story.

Ahh, memories. I love corny old-school kdrama and kpop stuff. Totally brings me back to my childhood.

End of long-winded digression.

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Yeah, it was one of my favorite K-drama at that time. I was totally in love with JDG at that time. I liked the storyline and actors. Looking back, how fast the time has passed. Now Korean dramas have changed a lot. Many new star actors and actresses has appearred, but they seem not be able overcome these big stars in acting, not comparing about the fame or popularity....

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Hmm..I remembered after I fell in love with Jang Dong Gun on All About Eve ( pardon my language..and yes I was late when it came to know Korean Drama.. AAE was one of my first K-dramas I've ever watched ), I was looking after "The Last Match", but never found it. But I did watch "Icing". Completely cheesy, but JDG was in it, that's matter.
Hmm..I also miss those old days. Maybe the drama feels 'ancient', but the feeling of watching them is completely different with now.

BTW Javabeans, who's the actor played as "the right guy in the picture"? Seems familiar...

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Jang Dong Gun is really a cool guy! When i saw "All About Eve", JDG became my favorite Kactor. He's no. 1 in my list. I've seen most of his movies but i want to watch his other drama like Medical Brothers or Model, the problem is sometimes it's hard to find old drama with english sub.

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I definitely remember The Last Match. JDG and Shim Eun Ha are still my favorite K-drama couple of all time! They're just beautiful, beautiful people and perfectly matched. Ahh..those were the days....one of my wishes is to see Shim Eun Ha come out from retirement and star in a romantic film with JDG to top all the other romance films. LOL

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What a day with those memories of old K-dramas ^^ Thanks Javabeans.
I really love The Last Match and the theme song. I think you're telling the right story, Javabeans.
Argg I still remember the scene when SEH and JDG hugged each other at the crowded street. Sweet memory.
Those were the days the first K-drama waves in our country, after every hit you could hear the theme song everywhere. FEELINGS is the first K-drama ever in Vietnam. After that there were Medical Brothers and Model, and JDG soon become the top Korean actor we've known, and of course actresses like Lee Yong Ae, Kim Nam Joo, etc,... I'm not sure but it seems that Jang Dong Gun has been the first K-actor visiting Vietnam (1998) and he's very popular here. He deserves one of the top K-actors.

@2 djes, are you asking for Lee Jong Won?
@3 betchay, hi, are you betchay from YOOhouse? LOL

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Yep Movall and djes, that's Lee Jong Won, and he probably seems familiar to you because he was also in Icing. :) He's still around and some of his recent series were Sad Love Story, My Man's Woman, Golden Age of Daughters-in-Law

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I see..so that's Lee Jong Won, his name? ( Run to check at DramaWiki )
.........
OH! I even have seen him several times!
Bad memory..:(
But the picture above picture is quite different with his look ( the pic on the DramaWiki ) now.
I've seen Model and Medical Brothers, old dramas that I did enjoy..( hh, remembering the time when JDG, Han Jae Suk, So Ji Sub and Jang Hyuk still have innocent faces! Hahaha )

One of "old drama" that I still remember is "Happy Together" 1999, which also was full "before they are famous as now" stars : Lee Byung Hun, Song Seung Hun, Kim Ha Neul, Jun Ji Hyun, Cha Tae Hyun, Han Go Eun...
think how much money the producers have to pay if they want to cast all of them in a drama NOW! :P

Speaking of Jang Dong Gun's co-star, one I hate most is Kim Mi Sook ( of "Love" / Sarang 1998. Because when I saw the serial, I kept thinking.."What the hell Jang Dong Gun's doing with this ajuhmma? " :)
I know it was the story, but I just couldn't accept it. I ended up not watching it, and skipped it only to see the ending.
( SPOILER!!! And I was mad again, because he ended up with Song Yun Ah. Jeez )

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Well, you got your wish! Back then they couldn't accept the big age gap, which in that drama (Love) they were eight years apart. Nobody might not believe it, but they are 11 years apart in real life. I thought they had good chemistry in that drama. Until they let her die in the end. I hate the twist.

BTW, he had co-start with Oh Hyun-kyung long time ago.

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Does anybody know what drama JDJ co-started with Oh hyun kyung?

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My first, real K-Drama was 별은 내 가슴에, with Ahn Jae Wook, Choi Jin Shil, Cha Im Pyo, and Jeon Do Yeon. Oh my GOD, did I love it. I still do. I have the box set at home and it is the first and only K-Drama box set I've bought.

I've missed out on a lot though...mostly because for YEARS on end I'd only watch whatever my mother brought home, and most of the time, I didn't like what she liked (who wants to watch stories about old people when you're, like, 12?). Oh, and I also remember watching "1.5." The one where they speak a lot of English and are at an American university in California (I think the L.A. riots were even a part of the plot somewhere) and it made me giggle a lot as a child...

So, anyway, I've finally got internet at my place (luckily, there was a phone jack in my room so I was able to get ADSL -- I couldn't live much longer without my 'net). It's not very fast, but if you could point me in the direction of "Soulmates," I'd really appreciate it!

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yeah......jdg and shim eun ha are tooo cute together in The Last Match. jdg is so cute and handsome, and shim eun ha is so sweet and beautiful, more beautiful than any of korean actress nowadays...they'll produce the most beautiful babies on Earth if they get married together, too bad shim eun ha is already married to someone else... :(

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