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Seo Kang-joon up for first lead role romancing Lee Yeon-hee

Seo Kang-joon, one of the It Boys of 2014 (for appearances in Sly and Single Again, Roommate, and What’s With This Family), looks to be expanding his repertoire with sageuk with MBC’s upcoming drama Hwajeong, which was once titled Splendid Politics before it switched to Princess Jeongmyeong. Hwajeong is a shortened form of the term that means Splendid Politics, but for whatever reason they aren’t going with that full title, so let’s just call it Hwajeong and be done with it.

This is the drama that takes a twist on the usual interpretation of Prince Gwanghae (dogged by his status in being born to a concubine, but considered a good king), painting him as the bad guy who usurped the crown and displaced the rightful bloodline. Lee Yeon-hee plays the only princess of that ousted direct line who suffers at the hands of Gwanghae’s political ambitions, while Cha Seung-won takes on the role of Gwanghae (who is also her half-brother). Now that oughtta be exciting.

Seo Kang-joon (who is in the final negotiation stages) has been offered a leading role, the eldest son of a prominent aristocratic family who has a loveline with Lee Yeon-hee’s Princess Jeongmyeong character… although betrayal is also in their future. Lee Sung-min (Misaeng) has also been cast.

I’m surprised to see Seo Kang-joon graduating to leading roles already; even though his isn’t the main lead, he’s still one of the primary cast members, and he’s still so new on the scene—he debuted in 2013 in a web drama and his first role in a full-length series was as a tertiary character in last year’s Suspicious Housekeeper. The thing is, if he were a sparkling acting talent I could understand him bursting on the scene and shooting to leading status, but Seo Kang-joon is… not sparkling acting talent.

I do think he has quite a lot of natural charm that does translate onscreen, but I fear that he’s just relying on that charm, because my impression of him from Housekeeper and Sly and Single Again is that he was coasting. And in a dramatic sageuk opposite Cha Seung-won, man, I fear for that imbalance. Plus with Lee Yeon-hee showing such a dramatic and recent improvement, I’d really like to see her stretch herself with a more experienced co-star.

Ah, well. I won’t write Seo Kang-joon off entirely based on a couple middling roles; he’s still young and worse actors than him have become better over time. Hwajeong will be a Monday-Tuesday drama that premieres in the spring, after Shine or Go Crazy (which replaces Pride and Prejudice).

Via Osen

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Thanks for the heads up JB!

The cast feels weird to me for some reason. Gonna check it out just to see Cha Seung Won and Lee Sung Min.

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yup, he's too young. 21 years old.

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21 is not too young though. Wasn't that about the same age with KSH's in TMET's, who was also paired with an older actress.

I will admit liking SKH, he amuses me. His agency is pretty much following the idol formula to promote their new "acting group." We hear of idols using Kpop to branch into Kdramas. But here we have someone doing the opposite.

SKH's ditzy act (I hope it's an act) is helping him build his own ahjumma army of fans. If Suzy can do it, well gosh darn it, SKH can do it. *cough*got a bit carried away there*cough*

He might not have awed in his past roles, but he gets points for not being awkward and being a natural on camera. That is something, considering a certain idol who has needed several years of acting just to get to the point of not looking like he is reading cue cards when on screen.

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Yay lead role finally!! I just don like the fact that its a historical drama, which means that his pretty hair is going to be covered in that weird hat, and he wont be able to wear cool clothes lol xD

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Lol NO. Cha Seung Won is the lead. Not skj.

I would worry about whether he can do sageuk speech instead of dissing the hanbok and gat (which are very sexy)

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Yes. Let's get our facts straight... lead? Cha Seung-Won baby! And I agree, a saeguk takes a lot of talent to pull off, more than good looks and hair. Although we have that in abundance with CSW. ;) And, there's not much hotter than a hero in hanbook and a top knot!

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I disagree. I think a saeguk is perfect place for a new actor with less skills to get started. They can always play the constipated robotic second lead. Then all they'll be required to do is stare intently and maybe shed a tear or two if they can muster it.

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@TJ - wow, do you even know anything about sageuks? Because saying that sageuks, of all the genres in kdrama, are perfect for a newbie with not-so-great acting skills to start out in......that's ignorance on a spectacular level.

I totally get not liking Seo Kang-joon but at least try not to make statements like these. I'm personally nervous about what he'll do in a role that requires technically correct speech and body language, it's far from the cakewalk you seem to think it is.

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Yes, he is a lead. He isn't the MAIN lead, but in Korean they distinguish roles as either leading or supporting, and Seo Kang-joon's is a leading one.

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javabeans,

Wasn't the initial press release from his agency? I would think that they have incentive to make his role appear more meaty than it actually is.

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JB, if that's the case then the title is incorrect since Sly and Single Again he was second lead so this will not be his first lead role. Or maybe I am wrong? lol

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"Second lead" is not a Korean term, it's a term we use around here to denote a character's place in the story. Koreans use the term 주연 and 조연 to distinguish lead versus supporting (it's the term used in the acting award categories, for instance). The stories do mention that this would be Seo Kang-joon's first "lead" (주연) role.

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I guess it is fan pressure or something.
He really hasn´t impressed me much.
but I am going to have to watch this for Cha Seung Won.

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He's one of those actors that I can never understand how they got an overnight shot to fame.

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easy, he's pretty, nothing more than that

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Well, he is pretty but there are some pretty boys with similar prettiness. Korean casting of male/female leads often puzzle me.

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Aw man. For a second I read this as Park Seo-joon and got super excited. But SKJ is really... meh. Not a great actor by a long stretch, and he pretty much has zero personality in real life if Roommate is anything to go by.

He also really rubs me the wrong way after his role in What's With This Family. I realize it's not his fault that he plays a creepy, obsessive guy with no boundaries, but since he was like that in Sly too, it's only reinforcing the impression. (Plus his face weirds me out, but I try not to care, because that's unfair.)

It's unfortunate because the rest of the cast is so amazeballs. But then, we've said similar things about Lee Yeon-hee in the past, and look at her now! So there's always hope I guess.

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Park Hyung Shik is a much better actor than him, in that weekend drama. The only scenes in which I like SKJ is the ones where he is with byuntae hyungnim, the two have good chemistry.

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I didn't watch him in the second drama but I've been watching him on Roommate and he has the personality of a pet rock. He doesn't seem to know how to do anything useful at all and he's not even athletic. He really comes across as kind of dumb and clueless but nobody cares. He's pretty so that's all it takes for every woman that meets him to act like idiots.

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.....I'm not sure why his "real life" personality is relevant here, this is a drama role we're discussing, not variety.

(and isn't it well known that variety/reality show cast members tend to exaggerate aspects of their personalities for comedic/dramatic effect?)

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Well if that's the case then he isn't the least bit good at ad libbing a personality or really anything else for that matter. He is as dull as dirt. The Japanese guy has more personality and that's saying a lot.

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It's still not actual acting.

This is like saying Lee Jong-seok can't be a good actor/doesn't deserve acting roles just because he makes a really dull MC (he does). Acting =/= variety show, no matter how much you dislike SKJ's "personality".

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"he has a personality of a pet rock" - hahahaha. I have nothing against SKJ but this is so true it hurts hahaha

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HAHA I also read "Park Seo Joon" and am now wondering . . .why NOT Park Seo Joon? I'd love to see him and CSW together. Seo Kang Joon? Not so much.

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Much worse idol actors get leading roles all the time - he is not even as bad as Suzy (does anyone remember how bad she was in that sageuk) or Taecyeon. And anyway this is not a lead role, lead role is Cha Seung Won's. SKJ is ok as an actor, not great like Im Siwan but not bad like L either.

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LOLOL yeah! Suzy was soooooo soooo awful! She's lucky though the drama ended up being a hit! XD

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Suzy is considered a goddess in Korea so you can at least see why producers clamor to cast her. This guy is not even that well known in Korea so either the character is minor at best or there's some money exchanging hands here.

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I checked it up and it looks like he is part of an idol group. An idol group repped by a powerful acting agency. Looks like we have our answer...

By the sound of it, this guy is getting popular too, if Suzy is cast for being popular despite being spectacularly lacking in the acting department, it's no different from his case.

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One of the guys in the idol acting group is in P and P. I like his role but not his acting skill. But I guess the power of powerful agencies do speak when it comes to casting....

As for Suzy, I do not understand her hype either... She looks rather natural compared to some girl idols or actress with much PS done... but she is not that pretty enough to cause a sensation in my opinion. I just do not get it at all. I should check my eye sight.,, there must be something wrong with my eyes....

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Suzy is pretty but I wouldn't put her beauty at world class level like Song Hye Kyo. She is a pretty bad actress though but I have seen some improvement. Still bad but not as atrocious as when she did Dream High.

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Only CSW would be interesting for me here and no, it's not enough. I'm almost sure it's going to be one of those sageuk snoozefests. Pass.

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He's also in an idol group (5urprise), if that helps to explain anything?

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This guy's beauty is phenomenol. I used to think he was coasting as well but in What's with this family? he did this crying scene that just almost broke my heart. I think he has it in him to be really good. Not sure I'm liking the idea of making Prince Gwanghae a big bad but hey this is dramaland...all about flipping those royal tropes. Thanks for the news.

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Well, if they can't give main lead roles to no talent idols then they can sure give him a role. His face might have opened doors for him in the acting world but he won't last long if he doesn't show us something more. It's be a long rode for him trying to prove himself as more than just another pretty face.

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can't = can
it's be = it's going to be

I can't focus today. Just got back from physical therapy and on percocet and soma. lol

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Cha Seung-won and Lee Yeon-hee. I feel a really strong spark!
And now Seo Kang-joon in the mix? That's crazily adorable!
I will not miss this at any cost.

(Speaking of sageuk, I regret watching MAIDS without an Episode 2. IT IS REALLY TOO FREAKING GOOD!!! I am soooooooo devastated! I am really sad about the loss, and I understand the grief right now. I extend my comfort to them. Maids is really too good to be true, right now.)

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I heard they would start again at end of January? Maybe I read it wrong.

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Yes, that's right.

New episodes of Maids officially delayed until end of January due to tragic fire
http://www.dramafever.com/news/update-new-episodes-of-maids-officially-delayed-until-end-of-january-due-to-tragic-fire/

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Too bad... I was really looking forward to Maids.. the premise is intriguing. I sure hope they pick it up...

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I will say Seo Kang Joon is very cute, but honestly, between my Cha Seung Won and Lee Sung Min ahjussi, I won't really care much about whoever he plays.

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Kang Joon is popular because he's pretty. I watched him on Roommate last season and this season. He isn't too bright, and doesn't have much of a personality yet all the women get stupid over him. Last season his popularity turned the other kid on the show, Park Min woo into a wreck. Even though he was smarter and more accomplished, taller (which is a big deal in Korea) and good looking evidently he's just not considered as good looking as Kang Joon. This is a perfect example of a shallow business that considers looks a priority over everything else, because Kang Joon is so quiet and reserved he doesn't seem to have much charm or personality at all. I'm willing to watch him in a lead roles so I can see if he's one of those people that wakes up when they are performing.

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.............again, reality show appearance =/= a basis on which to judge his acting skills.

I'm not sure why you're so hung up on Roommate, when it doesn't even contain an actual acting performance from Seo Kang-joon. This is as bad as people handing shitty idol actors the "but he's so 4D on variety! So he'll be good in a drama!" excuse.

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Completely agree.

Although, I have to admit, the Park Min-woo fangirl in me does harbor a little unwarranted resentment towards Seo Kang-joon for those reasons...it's not even his fault, but I can't help it!!!

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I saw him on Single Lady before Roommate even started and thought he was pretty forgettable. Of course it would be very difficult to upstage Joo Sang wook who even though he's got 15 years on him outdoes this kid in the looks and acting departments easily. Defend him all you want but he's getting these roles because the ladies like his looks. He's certainly not had enough work or made an impression with his acting skills like Oh let's see...a couple of young idol actors....Im Siwan and Lee Joon...people who pretty much made an impression their first time out. Let's face it. It's an industry that you can easily get by on with looks alone.

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I don't particularly like his looks and don't get the fuss around him. But he's decent enough in What's With This Family - not spectacular, but not bad either, and while I don't think he is lead role material, this current role we're discussing is not even a main lead role. Yes, a good chunk of k-ent lets people get by on looks alone but being pretty isn't exactly unique, in his case it's more a powerful agency that's doing the job. (and he has more to offer by way of acting ability than some people I will not name).

I don't get the point of harping on Roommate, either - it's not an acting role, and if you were to go by variety "personality", then you must think Lee Joon is quite dumb too - except that he doesn't play dumb in movies/dramas. It's like claiming Kim Tae Hee must be a great actress because she graduated from an elite university.

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I think Kim Tae hee is not an especially good actress and I don't think she's all that pretty either. As for Kang Joon he hasn't been in enough roles to really judge if he's a good actor or not I agree about that. I also don't think you need to have an outgoing personality to be an actor, but I also know you don't have to be a very good actor either if the female population will watch you just to get a look. I'm not all that impressed with his looks either. He's got a marked case of Korea lazy eye and that "busted" looking upper lip. All things that make no difference what so ever if he has onscreen charisma and can act. Otherwise he's just another pretty boy coasting on his looks. Time will tell.

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re;I don’t particularly like his looks and don’t get the fuss around him

I agree with you. His lip naturally curl up ( both edge of his lip) like a duck. His eye colour seems to be lighter brown but it can be due to the fact he is often filmed with white background. Is the light brown eye considered better/prettier in Korea?

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@TJ - I was using Kim Tae Hee as an example, all of Korea knows she's a terrible actress who only has a career because of her looks. Hence the absurdity of using the so-called 'real life' personality to judge a person's acting skills as you're doing with SKJ.

And the female population are far from the only ones who like a pretty face, as I pointed out Suzy is very hyped as an actress despite being one of the worst actresses of her generation.....but she has lots of fans who make her popular because of her looks and so her agency gets to keep shoving her down our throats. Why blame fans, anyway? It's the agency that chooses these promotional tactics, and the actor who goes along with it.

SKJ is at least better than her but that's not saying much - and personally, I think 3 roles is a decent basis on which to judge whether a rookie has at least some aptitude for acting or not - much more of a basis than his appearance on some reality show where, as I pointed out, there isn't even an acting performance. He may well be dumb as a box of rocks, but I'd rather judge on the basis of performance. It's not as if Lee Yeon-hee was some great thespian from the start either, she was lambasted for years for being a pretty face totally lacking in acting skills (and with valid reason) until Miss Korea came along.

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I really don't get ihis popularity, he was in a couple of shitty rom-coms and that's about it. His acting has never left any positive impression on me, he is downright cringeworthy in that weekend drama that is airing right now. Is it just because he is cute? Nothing knew, I guess.

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Don't worry, he's not actually popular. He just has a powerful agency behind him.

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I'm thinking yeah....cause he's cute. Not that I haven't seen a lot of cute young actors in Korean dramas that don't get nearly as much attention. The kid in Pride and Prejudice playing the role of Kang Soo is only 19 and he's a doll baby not bad at acting either for a young kid. It's a pretty big role. The kid playing Lee Jong suk's older brother in Pinocchio is a really good looking kid but I've never even seen him before.

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Oh please, he isn't ready to be in a long sageuk yet! Give it to someone else! He's handsome, fine young man, but his acting still lacks and not everyone can act in sageuk. I may sound as mean, but really sageuk requires a little bit difference and depth from standard kdrama, not to mention the speech and mannerisms... Is he really up for the job? Esp against Cha Seung Won.

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haha...but heyy.. he is better than ahn jae hyun that just snap the main role for the vampire doctor! at least he got some charisma and charm. I know that he still young but he got the potential to be very good... yeahhh but i admit... his visual so dreamyyyy... his look somewhat in higher level in korea... what i can say is that... i will just wait and see whether he can prove everyone that he already up for the leading role or not...

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The boy has about as much charisma as a wet sock.

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ahn jae hyun speaks his mind in rather blunt manner....he has some attitude....

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Is he that popular in Korea? Really? Or does he belong to a powerful agency that's short of actors in his age group?

At any rate, he makes more of an impression than the likes of Ahn Jae-hyun, and as someone pointed out, the true male lead of this drama will be Cha Seung-won.

His acting isn't great, but it's not bad either - he has great chemistry with Nam Ji-hyun in What's With This Family, but Park Hyung-shik out-acts him easily. Except in scenes with his 'byuntae hyungnim', those are hilarious.

And JB you've given passes to actors who are far worse than him, I'll keep an open mind and hope he doesn't butcher his sageuk speech.

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He is in a good agency - Fantagio which has Ha Jung Woo, Jeon Do Yun, Jo Jin Mo, Jung Kyung Ho, Kim Sun Ah, Sung Yuri, Kim Sae Ron (was on 5urprise MV) & Kim Soe Eun (in After School Bokbulbok with 5urprise).

I don't know whether he is popular but he has gotten a lot of good media exposure with all those photoshoots and interviews.

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wow, that is some company to belong to.

I just hope they tasted all the boys in their idol group for at least SOME acting talent before taking them into an actors' agency.

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I am not impressed with this casting...Yeon Hee was already pushing it for me...

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I don't want "Pride and Prejudice to end T.T

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Me either. I also think Choi Jin hyuk hasn't done his service yet so pretty soon we'll be looking at a 2 year Jin hyuk famine. I'm getting hungry already.

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I think the problem with this for me...is just that there are SO MANY actors I'd rather see in lead roles, some that I've been literally waiting for...for years. And then him and Ahn Jae-hyun just kind of swoop in...ah, well. I'll give them the chance to prove me wrong.

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I have a huge soft spot for Seo Kang-joon since After School: Lucky or Not Club which was light, funny and adorable, and he was okay in. But mostly, I like him because of Roommates, because he seemed so real and genuine and sweet in it. Do I think he's ready for a leading role? No. I don't. I think, maybe in a few years, he could be, but now? No. I'm sorry, but I seriously don't think he can hold up against Cha Seung-won or Lee Sung-min. I hope he will, but I don't think he will. I'll be looking forward to this, though, and I hope I'm proven wrong. Seo Kang-joon, fighting!

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Funny how people see things differently. I've watched both seasons of Roommate and found him to have no more personality than a pretty piece of furniture. At worst, I found him to be bubbling, inept, and even at times just spacey....He's good looking I guess but not that good looking. The boy has zero personality. On top of that I got disgusted with all the attention he was getting for his looks alone. It makes all those fawning females that he encounters look really shallow.

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Meh, the fact that he's cast at all suggests to me that his character won't be all that important. Which is as it should be since he's simply not leading man material (looks aside). The real pity is that this casting robs us of an actually competent counterpart for Lee Yeon Hee.

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He's not a bad actor, I don't really like his looks and never got the fuss around him when Sly & Single Again was airing, but the actual acting seems ok/doesn't stand out the way bad acting usually does.

And there is no way in hell he is the lead when Cha Seung-won is in this project. Anyway, he's just playing her love interest, though I have no idea why they are skewing so young for it - she'd be better off with someone less green. Though Cha Seung-won is certainly experienced enough, and I like that the two leads here are siblings and not lovers.

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Princess Jung Myung was considered a spinster and Hong Joo Won was actually 3 years younger than her so I get why they felt that they needed to go younger but... him? Of all people? I don't think he's stand out bad but he's like a vacuum on screen. All looks and no charm.

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for his age and experience levels, he's pretty decent even if he's no Yoo Seung-ho.

And to be absolutely fair, he is capable of synergising well with a costar (saw it in with Joo Sang-wook in Sly and now in What's With This Family, with Kim Sang-kyung - he doesn't suck the energy out of scenes and is capable of having decent romantic chemistry with a girl too - his looks are not my cup of tea but his acting is tolerable with a chance of improvement)

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woah, i'm surprised he's not more popular around these parts. i've only seen him in after school bokbulbok, which was so cute and weird, like korea doing an ouran-esque jdrama. but he's not bad and also he's beaaaaaautiful, so, whatev.

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Personally I dont really like cha seung won as the main lead, he just hasnt that wow effect on ME, repeat ME ofcourse its different for everybody but for me its, i dont know just dont like him that much.
I will watch this for Lee Yeon Hee and i hope Seo Kang Joon shows us good acting too. I really love him, he´s new into the acting world ofcourse he´s not as good as others but lets give him a chance.

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@pogo -- Thank you for your comments. I've defended Seo Kang-Joon before, but just don't have the energy to get into it today. I especially appreciate your thoughts about not dismissing an actor because of a variety show.

@Carole McDonnell, @m92, @Abbie, @Carole McDonnell, @Eternal, and @sisterkiller (and anyone else I might have missed who had something positive to say about SKJ) thank you for your comments as well.

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Oops @Carole McDonnell. I listed you twice! You're just that special to me. :-)

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@revlow - don't mistake me, I'm not a fan of him (but I respect it if you are).

I just think that if we are judging his acting, at least that should be done on the basis of, you know, acting - i.e. dramas and movies where he is not playing himself. Not because you dislike fans who like him for his looks or whatever.

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True. I appreciate your saying that.

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I didn't know people had strong feelings about this guy lol...

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I wasn't very interested in this drama despite CSW until I read "Lee Sung-min (Misaeng) has also been cast." and now I might consider it... I really liked him in both TK2H and Misaeng :(

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Well...I like Seo Kang Joon. Charming guy. Makes me smile/laugh in the performances I've seen. He'll either get better or he won't. There are actors who I've started out loving but now can't stand, so e's OK in my book.

I would love to finish a saeguk drama one day. Each one I start, I give up on down the road. Maybe I'll keep an eye on this. I like who is involved + want to see if Lee Yeon He can keep up with what she brought in Miss Korea.

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Well I've seen him in this drama special on mbc and he's quite good in that. Infact he's got a lot of praise for it and his name became a searching trend on daum and naver right after the airing. I think its called Haneuljae's Murder if anyone's wondering. The plot is weird and taboo-ish but yeah its like a typical indie film. Lol

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Thanks @syr. I hadn't heard of it. Will definitely watch it.

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No problem. His character in that show is messed up but he's good imo. Haha

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That was good! I agree, indie vibe... and SKJ was quite good. Totally believable in a role that could be hard to pull off. It's at hulu.

I read an interview with him that may give a different perspective:

Actor Seo Kang Joon Talks About His Busy Life, Personality, and His Favorite Drama Through NYLON

I admit I've chuckled at his bland, goofiness on Roommate, but he is not the dumb rock people make him out to be. In this interview I think it's clear he's a thoughtful & humble introvert. You can tell he is serious about acting and knows his stuff when it comes to films. Anyone who can give the sort of detail he does about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Waterloo Bridge is not stupid.

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For some reason the link is not apparent. Here it is again.

Actor Seo Kang Joon Talks About His Busy Life, Personality, and His Favorite Drama Through NYLON
http://www.soompi.com/2014/09/07/actor-seo-kang-joon-talks-about-his-busy-life-personality-and-his-favorite-drama-through-nylon/

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I'm not the tiniest bit surprised he's moving up so fast. When I saw him in Suspicious Housekeeper I said, "That guy is STUNNING". Those hazel eyes really set him apart.

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I actually think Seo Kang Joon has considerable acting talent. He sure is doing well as the misunderstood chaebol-heir second lead in 'What's with this Family?'. I almost prefer him over Park Hyung Shik in that drama and that has nothing to do with looks.

Hope he shines in this one.

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I don't find him attractive, more like striking but in sort of a scary way. Because of that, all I see is less than mediocre actor but he could get good with time and practice.

It seems because his looks have been so well received he's moving up more quickly than usual and it's not fair in a way but it happens. Hope he steps up and uses his new opportunities to really hone his acting skills and get better.

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He should be considered for the 2nd male lead in Hogu's Love instead since Park Jungmin dropped out. SKJ would easily fit the role.

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Well I think its a good chance for SKJ to improves his act. Its not our right to judge him just based on his act on the previous dramas or in his real life. So what if he like a pet-rock in Roomate? We dont even know if its a script or not. They could say they didnt't use any script but really, who knows? Sometimes people love to judge here and there, didn't even thinking bout the idols/actors/actress feeling. They also doing their best u know. And we should be the one who supports them since we cant even do better than them. If u dislike SKJ, so what? Stop comments. I'm not his fans FYI. But I just sympathize to him and other actors and idols out there. :) *peace.

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