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[Actor Spotlight] Jung So-min

The next actor in our spotlight series is Jung So-min, who starred in Hundred Million Stars From the Sky, which just finished its run on tvN (and boy was it a doozy!). Born in 1989 in Jinju, South Korea, Jung So-min is a relatively new actress, kicking off her career with a supporting role in 2010’s Bad Guy. The role gained her a lot of attention as soon as it premiered, and she was admired for holding her own opposite some big names — especially since her only onscreen credits prior to the drama had been commercials.

Her first leading role in 2010’s Playful Kiss quickly followed Bad Guy, and Jung So-min has had no shortage of work since. She has a lovely energy onscreen, and in her most recent work, strikes a nice balance between carefree girlishness and independent woman. Her style is breezy, yet full of depth, and Jung crafts characters that are easy to relate to, and interesting to watch.

Here are some highlights from Jung So-min’s drama career, followed by her full filmography.

 
Bad Guy (2010)

I know this show is universally considered a train wreck, but I don’t think I can stop myself from watching it for much longer. For some reason I have a pretty high tolerance for messy melodramas with plot slippage and awful endings. Bad Guy starred Kim Nam-gil as the “bad guy” who planned an elaborate revenge scheme against Kim Jae-wook (another big reason to watch this) and his sisters, played by Oh Yeon-soo and Jung So-min. It’s a tale of tragedy, revenge, love, and death — and maybe not in that order. Critical reception aside, Jung So-min made a big splash with her debut, and I’m intrigued by her role in this drama. She was twenty-one or so when it aired, and she looks about sixteen. It’s amazing how much she’s grown up in eight years!

 
Playful Kiss (2010)

In Playful Kiss, Jung So-min scored her first leading role, meeting with pretty quick success. She starred opposite he-who-shall-not-be-named (okay, we all know it’s Kim Hyun-joong, but this was when he was hot off the Boys Over Flowers presses, and his career was riding high on the wonders of Yoon Ji-hoo). Adapted from the Japanese manga Itazura Na Kiss, Jung So-min played the unpopular and not-so-bright high schooler that was madly in love with Kim Hyun-joong’s character, who was her complete opposite: popular, aloof, and at the top of the class. When her house collapsed she was forced to live with his family (because why not!?), and the usual mayhem ensued. Should I squee or throw something at the screen? Maybe both. Either way, Jung So-min was adorable, and Playful Kiss was a great start for her.

 
Because This Life is Our First (2017)

Just looking at this still makes me crack up. Jung So-min and Lee Min-ki were perfectly cast in this cohabitation/contract marriage drama. Thanks to their performances, we got a fresh, quirky, and down-to-earth story with a (mostly) strong script. But it was the characters that made it so successful, and watching our leads change and grow in the wake of each other’s influence made the drama was watchable as it was. Jung So-min was the perfect complement to Lee Min-ki’s oddball bachelor, and her character, though finding herself in Candy circumstances, was far from that. I think I enjoyed this drama a little less than most, and the second lead story lines, while meant to add to the tale of modern love and relationships, weren’t particularly memorable for me. That being said, I liked the drama’s overall message that it’s okay to fumble through life and learn as you go. And really, Jung So-min and Lee Min-ki made my day – as did their kimchi-making.

 
Hundred Million Stars From the Sky (2018)

I’m only three quarters through (shh, no spoilers!) but this drama totally exceeded my expectations with its overall tone and execution. As I watch, I get the feeling the drama knows exactly what it wants to do, and the strong direction and solid acting only hammers in that point. I love the long takes during important conversations and exchanges; the camera holds on the characters just a few beats longer than you would expect, and it adds such dimension and suspense. It keeps you looking at them (and especially Seo In-gook’s character) to try to figure out what’s really going on beneath the surface. Seo In-gook regularly blows me away, but he’s really great here. I think he needs an award, frankly. But what would the show be without Jung So-min? Hundred Million Stars From the Sky is rather dark and heavy, and Jung So-min’s character is a ray of light. Her portrayal of the sweet, bubbly heroine that’s actually not a bit naive and sees right through Seo In-gook’s mind games, is really making the show for me. You can see why his character builds an interest in her, as she regularly calls him out on the tricks and lies that others fall for, and sees right to the root of him.

 
Jung So-min’s full filmography:

  • Bad Guy (2010) [Drama]
  • Jung So-min debuts in this melodrama starring Kim Nam-gil (see above).

  • Playful Kiss (2010) [Drama]
  • Jung So-min’s first lead role as the high schooler in love with Kim Hyun-joong, in this adaptation from the Japanese manga (see above).

  • Standby (2012) [Drama]
  • Jung So-min stars as Jung So-min in this daily drama of 120 episodes (!) about the lives of the everyday people working at a broadcast station. So many names in this drama, like Ha Seok-jin, Lee Ki-woo, Go Kyung-pyo, Siwan, Claudia Kim, Choi Jung-woo (love!), and Simon D (huh?!), just to name some of them.

  • Can We Get Married? (2012) [Drama]
  • Talk about a cast of young stars — this drama features Jung So-min, Sung-joon, Han Groo, Kim Young-gwang, and more, in a realistic portrayal of love, family, and other drama-worthy themes.

  • Came to Me and Became a Star (2013) [Drama]
  • One-episode drama special starring with Kim Ji-suk as two people down on their luck who cross paths while living in the same hostel.

  • Miss Korea (2014) [Drama/Cameo]
  • Cameo in the final episode as a gas station attendant who catches the eye of the beauty queen maker.

  • Big Man (2014) [Drama]
  • Jung So-min plays Daniel Choi’s privileged little sister with a crush on the lead Kang Ji-hwan.

  • D-Day (2015) [Drama]
  • Jung So-min and other good-looking emergency workers like Ha Seok-jin and Kim Young-gwang help out when Seoul is devastated by a national disaster.

  • Alice: Boy from Wonderland (2015) [Film]
  • Jung So-min has to navigate Wonderland, rife with white rabbits and Hong Jong-hyun, in order to free herself from her nightmares, in this nod to the classic book.

  • Twenty (2015) [Film]
  • Jung So-min plays Kim Woo-bin’s girlfriend in this coming-of-age story about three boys: Woo-bin, Junho, and Kang Ha-neul. I pretty much love the entire cast in this movie, but that’s just the problem — it’s a movie and not a drama.

  • Red Teacher (2016) [Drama]
  • One-episode drama special opposite Lee Dong-hwi about the effects a banned erotic book has on an all girls high school.

  • The Sound of Your Heart (2016) [Web drama]
  • Jung So-min stars as Lee Kwang-soo’s wife in this web drama sitcom series adapted from a webtoon.

  • My Father is Strange (2017) [Drama]
  • Popular weekend drama with a great ensemble cast, where Jung shined opposite Lee Joon as his not-sister, and was completely adorable.

  • Daddy You, Daughter Me (2017) [Film]
  • Jung So-min stars as the daughter of Yoon Je-moon in this comedy about father/daughter soul-switching and the chaos that ensues.

  • Because This Is My First Life (2017) [Drama]
  • Jung So-min and Lee Min-ki steal hearts in this contract relationship drama (see above).

  • What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2017) [Drama/Cameo]
  • Wonderful cameo with Lee Min-ki as the parents of the heroine. It’s beautifully shot, and Jung So-min really works as a young mother. Take note, drama gods!

  • Golden Slumber (2018) [Film/Cameo]
  • Cameo (and fight) with the star of this movie, Kang Dong-won.

  • Hundred Million Stars From the Sky (2018) [Drama]
  • Complicated tale with complicated characters that’s also wonderfully directed (see above).

 
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I have only seen her in Playful Kiss, D-day (like the 4 eps I saw of it), Twenty, BTLIOF and Hundred Million Stars, and I can honestly see the progress in her acting skills!

I was not a big fan of the first four projects but Hundred Million Stars showed me how much potential she has! I can't wait to see what other project she takes up next :)

P.S. @missvictrix do I see a Seo In-gook fangirl in you? His name cropped up thrice in one paragraph hehhe! If yes, then *hi5*

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The description of Twenty and Hundred Million Stars From the Sky in the "filmography" part though- exactly what I would say if I had to explain it in few words!

Playful Kiss was my second kdrama after BoF (yeah I liked 'sunbae' more than Gu Jun Pyo) but it made me realize how wooden tha actor was. JSM on the other hand might have been playing an irritating character but there was a lot of heart in her performance and it is entirely possible that I watched the whole of that train wreck because of her (that and I was naive and in love with the new wonderous kdramaland at that time)...

Also now I miss Woo Bin and Ha-neul and Junho!

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Have you heard that she'll do a movie with Junho? They're starting the filming this month and planning to hit theaters next year! 😁 Now, if only Ha Neul is not enlisting and Woo Bin's health is better, we could hope for a cameo from both in the movie 😢

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I love Jung So Min 🧡
I first saw her in Playful Kiss back in 2010 and her recent performance in 100MSFTS was incomparable, she’s grown so much as an actress. Not to mention how beautiful she becomes with every passing year.

Although I didn’t watch all her dramas but I think we all can agree she’s been slaying her dramas choices since Father Is Strange. Even though This Is My First Life and 100MSFTS weren’t that high in ratings, both dramas have a cult following. I’m definitely looking forward to her next projects ❤️

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You're right on the cult following part 😂

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Why do I feel like this is somehow directed at me...

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Honestly everybody on DB is part of the BTIOFL cult. It gets all the love it deserves on here!

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I must be a cult member because I think that Because This is My First Life is the greatest TV drama of all time in any language

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She made playful kiss bearable, and I'd still watch it if it wasn't for the male lead. I just love her frank way of targeting her characters. There are pros and cons to this. I love all her characters even when they're insufferable, but it stops her from being a true chameleon actress.

She's a very necessary actress. Since writers keep writing these nonsensical female characters, we need her to make them likable.

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Honestly! I want to re-watch the show but can't because of the male lead. Annoys me so much because that was one of the first k-dramas I ever watched.

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Yes!!! That was my first kdrama too. Now I can't even reminisce.

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One of my husband’s favorite actresses. And mine too. We started Playful Kiss for her, but never finished it? She’s delightful in BTLIOF and the cameo in APAD of her and LMK was perfect!

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OH HANI 😍!

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I guess it’s a testament to her acting skills when a year later I am still mad at a character she played and cannot bear to watch her other dramas. 😂
#BTIOFL

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It's time to move on. It was a wonderful 14 ep drama 😉

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😂😂😂 14 eps indeed! @wishfultoki We have to find comfort in our collective anger. *shakes a fist together*

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15 and 1/2??? Which is why I'm probably even more disappointed than others. Because the whole thing was just so close. But what happened in the final episode made me unable to rewatch because I didn't like her character anymore.

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But you should still check out Hundred Million stars if only for acting of the leads, it was phenomenal.
And yes, it was a 14 ep drama. Did anyone say other wise?

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OMG, me too. She's only the reason why I started TSHLYE very late after it ran for 4-5 weeks. I still can warm up to her because of what Jiho did. I never mentioned it on wall because I'm worry beanies will think that I'm crazy 😄 But yes sometimes we can be very invested to a character.
The thing is, Jiho initially was my favorite K-drama female lead because she was different from most FL of 2017 I can relate to her is so many ways. But then Park Il-do 's minions inhabited her body in later episodes and I don't recognize her anymore. Where's my Jiho??

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*hugs* my sympathy friend. I was also invested in her character, but at the ending... I didn't know her anymore. Jung So Min was Ji Ho - she was that good at making her character seem real. I'll watch her future projects if they appeal. Maybe that will help me move on @superwhopotterluck ;)

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I still blame her for killing Kim Nam Gil >_< My heart never recovered from this!

More seriously, I loved her in Because This Is My First Life (even if i the last episodes, the writter made her character dirty) and Hundred Million Stars From the Sky

In Twenty, I liked her couple with Kang Ha Neul !

She's a good actress and she chose very different roles.

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Yes i was frustrated that The director wrote her character that way towards The end, like whatttttt wher's The Ji Ho in The beginning!

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me too :( KNG! </3

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LUV HER❤️
I have a short lists of biases and she's on it.

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MY LOVE.

Her performance as Yoon Ji-ho is more than enough to give her a spot in my heart forever, and I actually haven’t seen her in much of anything else other than her cameo with Min-ki in WWWSK (I dropped that drama early on but was more psyched about that cameo than I have been about any drama in a long time because I’m never over BTLIOF, and it didn’t disappoint) and 100MS (which I hated, frankly, and dropped), but I will always get excited about casting news with her.

She has one of those faces and auras that is beautiful and kind, and I just find her loveable. I loved her take on Ji-ho, who was such a flawed but overall strong, likable, and relatable character.

I’m BTLIOF trash and almost everything associated with that drama makes me grin, what can I say?

Also, her IG pics of her at Disney are adorable. She is adorable. I love her so much.

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I agree mindy, she is so beautiful and cute 🤗 her Instagram photos are always lovely.

She's a radio host at sbsyoungstreet now so good on her 😀

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Yes, I’m so happy about her radio host gig! I want to take a listen even though I won’t understand any of it haha

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Red Teacher is gold, people. 👌

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When I saw how many dislikes it had on Youtube, I thought it was because it would have a lot of sexual and explicit content.

It didn't really except for the first half. But man wasn't expecting such a good story in the end.

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It was so striking - as usual, Lee Dong-hwi was amazing and completely under appreciated! 😍

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thanks for the heads up, I was thinking of watching it.

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Yes, glad to see Red Teacher mentioned here.

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She is probably the only great thing I got from finishing the infuriating Playful Kiss. Thankfully she followed it through with much better projects afterwards.

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Hahaha, same with me.... I finished it just because of her.

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Playful Kiss was a huge disappointment- except for her very faithful portrayal of the Kotoko character. Most likely it was her acting skill-even that early in her career- that kept you with the show. I think that Playful Kiss was the only time that I can think of when Kdrama writers have failed to even partly understand the nature of the story that they were adapting.

The writers of Playful Kiss treated Itazura Na Kiss as if it were a simple romantic comedy. If that had been the case then the wedding would have been at the end of the series. But the wedding takes place in the middle of the story- and there is a lot that happens in the years that follow. It is definitely a comedy - even outright slapstick comedy- in this story, but the story is actually far deeper and says a great deal more about the value of pure heart than the Korean writers ever really grasped: And that is why it was a train wreck. Jung So-min seems to have been the only person who actually understood this and that is why her portrayal of Oh Ha-ni was the one bright spot in that drama.

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I discovered her in this mad movie "Alice: Boy from Wonderland" - she was ethereal...

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I'm checking this out!

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It's good because of her. I watched it and really, she is so good at any role.

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I looooooove her. She was the only reason I loved PlayfulKiss so much 😍 and every drama she is in she just exceeds expectations. I’m a fan girl, I just love her energy

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One of my favorite celebrities and definitely one of Korea's most beautiful faces- I'm glad to see how much more mature as an actress she has become since Father is Strange and her memorable performance in HMSFTS is so far her career highlight. If she continues making smart choices when it comes to her projects, I'm sure her star will shine even more brightly in the years to come!

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I hope her movie With junho Will be LIT!

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I think that she did a great job in Father Is Strange. The fact that such a truly beautiful woman could make herself appear to be a mousy nobody for a significant chunk of the 52 episode series says a lot about her abilities. It was not just the wardrobe and make-up people- a lot of it was the body language which she sustained through a significant number of episodes.

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Ah she holds a special place in my heart! I saw her the first time in BTIOFL and her uncanny similarity to my bias of all time YEH, made me look at her twice! I loved her very much in BTIOFL and was excited to see her in the dark melo previews of TSHLYE! She basically sealed a place in my heart after that and she and SIG are one of my top OTP’s of all time! I ❤️ her!

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Now I want to go on a Jung So Min binge 😍

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You won't be disappointed if you do.

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I loved her in Playful Kiss & First Life
I really liked her in Can We Get Married.
I couldn't get into her latest despite it having Seo In Guk as well.

What would you recommend I watch next for her?

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I was not able to get into her latest as well- simply because of the nature of the story.

If you are up to a weekend family drama the I would go with Father is Strange. There she is part of an ensemble cast- and her romantic counterpart is now in fact her real life boyfriend.

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I love when actors get together 😍

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I first saw her in Playful Kiss and whilst I now cringe at the drama's plot, she did great for a debut. Many years passed and I next saw her in last year's amazing Father Is Strange. I didn't recognise her until I saw the comments but all the performances were great and her chemistry with Lee Joon was off the charts (and now they're together~). Whilst, I haven't watched 100MSFTS, I loved her in BTLIOF!

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The only reason people cringe at her character in Playful Kiss is because that story was truncated- you do not get to see the full story. If you ever want to see what I mean then watch the Japanese version Mischievous Kiss- Love in Tokyo- and be sure to watch the second season. It is a great story.

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I love her! She's grown as an actress so much over the years. I still remember her from Bad Guy and how much I LOATHED that character lol. But I really loved her. I still remember when she was on that variety show Strong Heart and she said she wanted to play the "bad girl", so I'm glad I see her roles stretching even though she hasn't exactly played the villain yet. She's so talented and great. Her banging down Seo In Gook's door in The Smile Has Left Your Eyes begging his character not to leave or break up with her left me in shambles. Kudos to her. She's making such strides and is really quite a force.

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Jung so min is so awesome in TSHLYE, My heart broke With her when She's sobbing and crying. Her expression really showed when She sees right through mooyoung! She just got promoted To The list of kactresses that I have To watch their movies/dramas.
The first time i saw her was in bad guy and She was actually memorable in The drama! I Didnt even remember who the main lead actress was!
Her role of Jiho really make me want to watch her other works more thus watching father is strange.
I was really intrigued when She decided To be in a melo With seo inguk so it's totally a must watch i Didnt Know i was going To love Them Both so much in this!
I hope She get more projects after this and continue her shot to stardom!
PS: Seriously seo in guk is totally a different person as mooyoung i Dont even see his previous character in TSHLYE awesome combination With somin!

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Jung So-min has no trouble getting projects. Her problem is making sure to choose the right ones out of the many being offered. In Hollywood the casting people would describe her as "Money in the Bank".

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Sometimes it takes a good co-actor to make your character shine the way the viewers wants to see how you should put your persona in the drama. Jung So Min and Seo Inguk gives justice to their own respective character and they shine in their own given role and more over than that they lighten up the whole drama being a couple. The Smile has Left your Eyes is a good story that portrait with both actors SIG and JSM with intellectual and emotional perfection. I can say that it's a drama with a heart. Hope JSM will choose a good drama that can satisfy her and the viewers not just by doing so, because she has a lot of potential being an actress.

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I love her, since Playfull Kiss era, trying to watch Bad Guy but end up stop it at ep 3.
I watched almost of her filmography. there's something in her act that really draw me into her. I love her pairing with Sung Joon in "Can We Got Married" and in Big Man she play different role that more interesting than the lead. I would watch her in anything. Ah, Daddy You, Daughter Me was really good.

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I loved Because This is My First Life. And I am re-watching Father is Strange right now. Even though I consider Playful kiss to be one of the lesser adaptations of Itazura Na Kiss (which has been done live action twice by the Japanese plus an anime "Itakiss" which is the most complete rendering of the story- and also been done by the Taiwanese, Thais and the Mainland Chinese) the fault was not in the actors and certainly not in Jung So Min.

Jung So Min is my favorite actress.

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Itazura Na Kiss beat out Pride and Prejudice as my favorite base-line story. I wasn't sure until I saw AoMike's version. It made me actually cry.

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Pride and Prejudice has been adapted to the screen many times- but over many years and usually in English. Itazura Na Kiss has been adapted 7 times and in four languages in 5 countries in the space of only 20 years. I actually think of Itazura Na kiss as standing in the same relationship to Mangas/Manwhas/Graphic novels as Pride and Prejudice does to the classic novel.

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That parallel is very true. Ink is totally P&P for many as.

Have you seen the Indonesian? I've heard it's not faithful to the story. But I'd like to see it for myself.

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Not yet- but I will look for it in the future.

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Thanks for this spotlight! Because This is My First Life was my introduction to Jung So-min and I followed her to Hundred Million Stars (okay, I was also drawn by Seo In-guk, who am I kidding). I love your description--she blends "carefree girlishness and independent woman" so well. In the two shows I watched, the way she delivered her characters as kindhearted, but also no-nonsense and straight forward is most memorable to me.

I second this motion... Drama gods, please listen... she would be amazing as a young mother!! And we need more of that type of cameo :P

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I agree. The cameo which she did (with her BTIOFL co-star Lee Min Ki) in Secretary Kim was simply awesome.

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i think she's a really great actress! all her scenes in a million stars from the sky was SO spot on! she was able to convey the emotions, the tears, the anguish, everything.

i've watched so many dramas where even a lot of the female leads fail at cry scenes (they just make the same scrunched up face over and over again) but jung so min really takes it to a whole different level

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Glad to see a spotlight for her. 2018 was a good year for two of my favorites, JSM and IU.

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One of my absolute favourites from the korean actresses. Love her acting. She makes the her characters so likeable in each and every drama she is in.I have first seen her in Playful Kiss. I love Oh Hani more than all of those other versions of her character.Her acting has tremendously improved over the years and i hope to see her in more successful projects

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I really like her ever since I watched her in Bad Guy - I really hated the character but gaahh I love her! :) And because of that I watched the Playful Kiss - the show which she basically carried on her shoulder and then proceeded with Standby - which is funny but I didn't get to watch the whole of it just the start because I couldn't find any and fast forward to 2017 where I saw her in Because This Life Is Our First and so much has changed, if anything, she was even more brilliant and that's what made me watch Father is Strange and I can say I was proud of her (haha can I get to say that?) because she has come a long long way and well, I still have got to watch Hundred Million Stars to be blown away, again. As always. But for now, and for me - perfect role would be her in BTLIOF until it was not. :) :)

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