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[Actor Spotlight] L

Angel’s Last Mission: Love might have just concluded its run on KBS, but it’s not too late for L to hit the actor’s spotlight! In the drama he played an angel opposite the ballerina played by Shin Hye-sun, and I can’t think of a better cast of characters for a nice summer drama.

Born in 1992 as Kim Myung-soo, L made his debut in 2010 in the K-pop group Infinite. He was given his one-letter Latin alphabet moniker as his professional name (though he’s sometimes credited with his birth name when acting), and crowned the visual of the group.

L put his musical training (both in school and with his agency) to work with Infinite, but didn’t wait long to try his hand at acting as well. In 2011 he had his first acting role in a Japanese drama, but it was 2012’s Shut Up Flower Boy Band that gave L his first role in a Korean drama. Since then he has balanced his acting career with his career as an idol. Over the last few years he’s been gaining experience with some guest and supporting roles, and he worked his way up to top billing.

Here are some drama highlights from L, followed by his full filmography.

 
Shut Up Flower Boy Band (2012)

In this favorite drama of many (including yours truly), it was a little easy to overlook L. I don’t mean that in a bad sense, since his personality and place as a member of the rock band were important, it’s just that between Lee Min-ki’s totally scene-stealing role, and the heart-slaying acting of Sung Joon in basically every episode — well, it’s a problem of too many flower boys and not enough eyeballs. All kidding aside, this was a wonderful, heartfelt drama that had the perfect balance of teen angst, simple sweetness, and some really good music. It definitely stands strong on the rewatch. Or re-rewatch.

 
Master’s Sun (2013)

It’s amazing what a little styling can accomplish! Master’s Sun might have aired over a year after Shut Up Flower Boy Band, but it felt like L was aging in reverse — which was kind of the point, I guess. In his guest appearance in this much-loved Hong sisters drama, L was cast as the younger version of the hero played by none other than So Ji-sub. An impactful performance as the younger version of a drama’s protagonist is always a great starting point for an actor’s career, and L made a splash in some crucial flashback scenes in this drama. I don’t exactly see the playful, cheeky sparkle of L in So Ji-sub’s weathered and masculine face, but hey, I’ll take it. L’s performance in the drama was important in explaining their character’s journey, and how the trauma he experienced in his younger years influenced the man he became.

 
Angel’s Last Mission: Love (2019)

I officially feel like the only person in dramaland that didn’t live watch this drama! I’m not normally a big fan of angels-on-earth stories (unless we’re talking the 1940s classic The Bishop’s Wife), but I think I have seen at least ten too many photos of L with a dimpley smile, a cheeky smile, an adoring smile, a conflicted smile — and, by gosh, I can’t stay away now. L played the angel earning his way back to heaven by finding true love for the heroine, played by Shin Hye-sun. I don’t need a drama dictionary to know what happens, but I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

 
L’s full filmography:

  • Jiu – Special Investigation Team (2011) [Drama]
    L took on the role of a criminal named Jiu in this Japanese drama about a pair of special investigators.

  • Shut Up Flower Boy Band (2012) [Drama]
    L played the guitarist of the high school rock band Eye Candy, and their name is definitely accurate (see above).

  • Salamander Guru and the Shadows (2012) [Drama/Cameo]
    L had a guest appearance in this cameo-strong 10-episode drama starring Minho and mysteries to solve. It looks like a cheesy good time.

  • What’s the Deal, Mom? (2012) [Drama]
    This daily drama was about a family that reunited after losing their jobs to work in the family noodle house.

  • Master’s Sun (2013) [Drama]
    L = the master when he was young and traumatized (see above).

  • Sly and Single Again (2014) [Drama]
    Lee Min-jung and Joo Sang-wook played a divorced couple, and L had a supporting role as Joo Sang-wook’s secretary/friend.

  • She’s So Loveable (2014) [Drama]
    I skipped this Rain and Krystal drama about the K-pop industry, and it’s a good thing I did because L played the second lead (as an idol from “Infinite Power,” hah) vying for Krystal’s heart. I’m sure I would have been in 100% SLS mode.

  • The Time I’ve Loved You (2015) [Drama/Guest Appearance]
    L made a swoony guest appearance in several early episodes of this drama, where he romanced Ha Ji-won’s character. Quite the impressive turn there!

  • The Day After We Parted (2016) [Drama]
    Another music-centered drama for L, this time in the lead with Yoon So-hee, in this short 8-episode drama special with a fantastical element thrown in for good measure.

  • My Catman [Web Drama]
    I usually like the flimsy fun of web dramas; this one starred Im Shi-wan, Chae Soo-bin, and L in a rom-com love triangle. I’m not sure what the title signifies, but it’s either really good or really bad…

  • Ruler–Master of the Mask (2017) [Drama]
    L played the second lead role in this Yoo Seung-ho and Kim So-hyun sageuk that also reunited L onset with Yoon So-hee.

  • Miss Hammurabi (2018) [Drama]
    Go Ara, Sung Dong-il, and L starred in this heartfelt drama about the South Korean legal system, and particularly the eponymous young judge and her experiences.

  • Angel’s Last Mission: Love (2019) [Drama]
    Angels + ballet = K-drama heaven (see above).

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I'm still saying it. He's JI CHANG WOOK doppelganger. Everything down to His mannerisms and smile is so ji chang wook.

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Right??? I see it too!

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I dont see it? I really want to though. I like L (he's not the best actor but i like him nonetheless for no clear reason). And i really like ji chang wook.

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Really?? I could see it clearly. Angel last mission love is the only drama of his I've watched. There's a way he smiles and acts that reminds me of ji chang wook. If you've not watched angel last mission please do and see what im talking about or if you have, then no problem

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I really don’t see it either, and I finished ALML

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I watched it half way but i dont see it. But i totally get it. I find certain actors look really alike but others tell me they dont see the ressemblance (for example junho and seo kang joon. Theyre not twins or anything just sometimes they look alike)

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I see! But I think he also look so much alike with Kim Bum!

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I like watching him despite feeling he sometimes overacts a bit. He was cute in ALML. I also like his character in Ruler.

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I say this time and time again: Myungsoo is not the best actor out there (God knows how many times I cringed seeing him try to act), but damn has he improved over time! And how he selects a variety of roles, gradually working his way up, truly impresses me. Just goes to show how dedicated he is to the craft. You go, Myungsoo!

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noticed him in Shut Up Flower Boy Band, believe it or not - but he was secondary to noticing Lee Min Ki... and i've watched his works, and i believe this drama was his best performance, and i think he'll do better from this point on.

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wait, i correct myself -- L was THIRD in line, after noticing LMK and then Sung Joon... the dark moody angsty character.

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(Miss Hammurabi is a masterpiece!)

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It's really good and I thought that he was better in that than in ALM.

After all, he made me believe he was a judge in that drama. Compared to that, making me believe he was an angel was a much easier job.

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He was surprisingly well-cast there, which is funny because we were all initially thinking that it was a wild miscast. I think he pulled off the dignity and composure of his character really well!

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I'll admit that I was one of the people who said how terrible the cast was before the drama aired - and had to eat my words.

Big kudos to people who work on improving their acting skills and their range.

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Oh trust me, I was one of those people too. Go Ara and L together? It seemed like a recipe for disaster.

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II know right?? Myungsoo cast as a Judge seemed like a bizarre choice at first. And paired with Go friggin' Ara! It did seem like a recipe for ultimate disaster but whaddya know... It bleeding worked and I LOVED Miss Hammurabi to pieces. So, so lovely seeing Myungsoo's quiet and matter-of-fact performance. I do agree that he did better as an actor in MH compared to ALM:L

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I love him in "Miss Hammurabi." Im Ba-reum character might resonate L in real life - he's shy, quiet, and introverted. Miss Hammurabi gave me so much tears, especially his conversation with his mother.... Ah, I feel like to watch Miss Hammurabi again....

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Okay, I must admit he was really good in Miss Hammurabi. Though I couldn't bring myself to finish it. Go Ara's constant frowning irritated me to the point that I had to drop the show because of it.

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Hahaha, this genuinely made me burst out laughing! That's such a shame, it's probably the best law drama I've ever seen.

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I really tried. Like, I even gave it a second try... to no avail, of course. But yeah, Myungsoo's performance in it is highly commendable as well, but one must admit that the drama isn't for everyone. It could be a snoozefest for those who hate courtroom shows. It was well-written, though. From what I remember, its writer is a real prosecutor.

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I believe he was a judge! I think my favourite thing about it was that it didn't glamorous criminal cases, and also put civil cases in the spotlight for a change.

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You're right @frabbycrabsis. It was written by a retired judge which is the best of both worlds - someone who knows what they're talking about but no longer has to worry about upsetting someone in his current place of work.

The leads were great and the second couple were AMAZING.

But - it did have a terrible fish-eye kiss, so I like to think he learns from his mistakes (or maybe from the director's mistakes? ) and didn't do it like that in ALM ;-)

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You’re not the only one. Go Ara literally flushed away my interest with tears. And I’m usually a melo tearjerker fan😒

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These are his only 3 dramas I saw him in, except for the drama that shall not be named.
I like him ^^

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He was awful in Master's Sun, let's not pretend otherwise, when I watched it, I wondered how this poor actress (Han Boreum) could keep straight face (and I was Inifinite fan), but he improved a lot, and his peak drama for me is Ms.Hammurabi.

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First, I really like Infinite as a kpop group. I always was very surprised how L, as the member with the most activities, could manage to be there for almost all the group's schedule too.

As an actor, I think I like him but it depends the roles. In Shut Up Flower Boy Band, he suited his character. In She’s So Loveable, I liked him too. The rest of the casting was not great neither and Rain and Krystal had zero chemistry. When L and Krystal had a good chemistry and their story was more engaging.

Ruler - master of the Mask was a bad drama and nobody could save it even Yoo Seung Ho, so I don't really have memories of L.

Miss Hammurabi, I had difficutlies with the female character. I think she should have been great as a lawyer and not as a judge. L was a cute judge.

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His casting in Miss Hammurabi is perfect! I may have disliked Angel's Last Mission: Love due to bad writing, but he definitely improved in this drama.

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I dropped Angel Last Mission because of him. His acting made me cringe and his voice....not everyone has to be Lee Sun-kyun, but his high pitch voice was really unpleasant to hear.
Until I can get over his voice and acting I don't think I can see his drama.

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I don't get why he's getting this article spotlight. He's awful: i have never seen an idol so uncapable to act.
I dropped ALML because of him too.

His acting choices are completely messed up: his body langague out of place, his face expressions limited to blank or overacting and he has indeed no control over his voice.
Be it in dramatic scenes or comedy, he seems to not have a single understanding of what his characters emotions should be.
Even the children actors were better.
I don't know how the others actors and the director found the patience to deal with him during long hours of work. I guess he was a nice guy who try hard and won sympathy.

Usually idols are carefully cast for prestigious projects, where a lot of money have been invested lile ALML.
Here, the only argument to hire him that i find in press coverage seemed to have been that he "looked like an angel", so basically his face.

He's now on my never watch list, so i won't make the same mistake again but it seems wrong that another actor that could have done better was robbed the place.

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he's gotten better but i do agree with your basic premise. i've said this time and time again and i personally do not like his acting, nor iu's, and numerous other idols and models BUT to their defense it's clear money is poured in so they can achieve their dreams of being an actor with clearly ZERO effort, zero diction classes, or acting classes. the slight changes (like i will say iu has gotten better marginally) are encouraging but the biggest mistake is handing people projects and not training them at all. it works the same with kpop tbh where they dont expand on their latent skills but. it's a shame but you gotta work with what ya got.

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also the actors trajectories are way diff than someone in a company. a lot of actors really struggle in their career in the beginning (if they don't have the money or connections), quite a few begin in theater, or go to school specifically for acting and filmmaking and have to maneuver that world. so they know about the different types of thought (stanislavski and my personal theoretical favorite that i cannot wrap my mind around brecht, etc https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_acting_techniques) and how they must read and interpret the text alongside working with crew.

i've talked about this before but it depends on the outcome a show would want as well. and i think many actors choose to either stay in film or work on more obscure dramas (if they can choose) perhaps bc it is more fulfilling. less lucrative tho..

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@amara "latent skills"? I think that's where the problem is. When it comes to an art like acting, I think there is only so much "nurture" to be done and the real key is the "nature" part. Like music or visual art you can teach anyone to play an instrument or paint a picture and sometimes can teach them to be very good at it. But you cannot get them to excel beyond that unless it is part of their nature. Of course that opinion is not a universal opinion, but as an arts teacher with decades of experience and effort behind her, I stand by it. According to this article, L has quite a bit of acting experience already. I would expect a whole lot more to show for it. He's even been at it longer than Seo In Guk and Seo Kang Joon. I might agree that his acting has gotten better except for the fact that I just can't seem to get through any of the dramas he is in anymore.

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btw my reply isn't discrediting your work as a teacher and what i assume is an artist but i do not really believe in "talent" because what that truly means is opportunity and (the idea of) luck.

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ugh not talent but "nature" really. someone can be INSANELY talented and no one will ever know. so how do we know? it's just not that simple

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No one is talking about strictly nature or strictly nurture. All I'm trying to say is that nurture is not enough to be "great" in one of the arts. This is not something that can be taught: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9phP2rlGmiw&list=PL-Gn370E2twVQznmK96rG6bibdshqiTJm&index=9 Yes, people can be very good at things including the arts, and have learned their skills rather than come by them "naturally." Persistence is even a stronger indication of success in college over intelligence. (that according to one of my psychology professors) Generally though, when a person is a natural musician or artist or whatever, they are drawn to creating in that medium. So it would be a bit hard to be an insanely talented composer or musician without putting themselves in a position where they can create. But, if you are talking about filmmaking (and you might be since you mentioned it in a different post) Of course one could have huge potential and no one ever know. Mostly because film making is collaborative. Even in the animation classes I teach, software does part of the work. But all I am really trying to say is that I don't think much of L's acting and prefer not to watch it at all. No matter how long he "practices" I feel that he will never be an excellent actor. And I think my point in even mentioning it at all is to keep this in the minds of others so we are less willing to accept poor actors just because they have a huge fan base. I really think this latest Angel drama might have been much more quality if the male lead had been a different actor. But I'm just guessing because I dropped the drama about about 4 episodes.

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i mean i mostly don't disagree with you. and what is greatness and what is genius? playing music or drawing is more straightforward. i will never adhere to this line of thinking because arts (in the west) are based in exclusion and the standards built upon that don't do very much.

it doesn't work for every medium and it doesn't matter. i was just pointing that the SMALL fraction, his fans could grapple with lol

also, it depends on the quality of the show itself (and one's enjoyment) a bad actor can majorly break something or it is something an audience could withstand because they enjoy the piece. it's too complex to say one or the other, which i am not saying.

we just have different approaches and i personally believe that people are not encouraged in media, particularly in SK, to go further because they have to make $ and constantly do projects.

now, that being said, we could then argue that talent or honing skills starts from the ground up and wealth can deeply effect that. either way, it's largely irrelevant. the truth is: he's just not good at his job. perhaps he CAN grow, who knows, people also get used to and complacent towards mediocrity.

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I just want to say that I find it oddly entertaining to read you both @boughtabride @zzthorn arguing about an actor that you both agree is bad and do not like 🤣

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Yes, funny, isn't it? We aren't really arguing though, just discussing slight differences in philosophy. Just beanies on a roll.

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yes @zzthorn it's more our diff outlooks. it's good to discuss, too, because it's a different perspective for an artist.

we're not talking about the specifics of him, just the craft and formation

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"But all I am really trying to say is that I don't think much of L's acting and prefer not to watch it at all. No matter how long he "practices" I feel that he will never be an excellent actor. "

@ zzthorn Wow, this coming from a teacher? I would think a teacher would be more encouraging instead of telling her student that they can never excel at something because they just do not have talent so don't bother even trying as it's useless. As someone who has a lot of influence and whose job is to motivate and mould talents, that is a very condescending attitude. I've seen cases where, a musician who was not great or talented but with the right encouragement from his teacher actually became renowned and recognized for his craft, and in turned taught and inspired others. Now, imagine if that teacher had told him to give up because he will never be great no matter how hard he practices, and he felt what she had said was true and was so broken that he actually gave up.

Look, talent is subjective and who are we to say or judge a person's future potentials. Some people may not be your cup of tea and you may never be swayed or moved by what he/she does but there is no need to condemn them with such condescending remarks. As an educator your words carry weight that may make or break someone.

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they weren't being condescending, we are just debating the ins-and-outs of acting as a craft and basically what we can tolerate and what we think of improvement. op said this is "not a universal opinion" and we discussed it. it is not an indictment on 'L' himself. and the part of the work is judging the output. especially for those of us that really enjoy filmmaking, media, etc.

he has a big fanbase, that does not equal merit. and that is okay

essentially the user and i are expressing the same things but how we feel about growth as opposed to how much a person can grow

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You're getting a little carried away there, aren't you Bhody? Don't put words in my mouth, just use the ones encased in quotation marks. It is not my job to mold and motivate L's acting talent. I am just giving my opinion of his acting ability. There is close to zero percent chance that he will ever know or care what my opinion about his acting ability might be. Your scenario about a teacher devastating a student is pretty far out there. Not sure how you came up with that, but it's not a tactic I use nor any teacher I have ever known. We encourage even when we have seen from experience how similar combinations of talent and motivation pan out. As I have already said, L is not my student. Nothing I say is going to make or break L. I have a right to express my opinion about his acting ability because he is an actor in several kdramas that I have tried to watch. I am not exactly sure why you decided to attack me. You don't know me at all. But I feel you are in the wrong.

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well i did say "marginally" and i think latent was a wrong use of the word. or really what i meant is you have these skills and you improve.

although you may be a teacher and in the arts, as a filmmaker i vehemently disagree. there is a limit on doing certain things but you find your niche and you excel. it's so subjective. we know what we DON'T like to see, but what do we like to see? and what is improvement?

i agree with you and i can even say well he was in an active boy group but that's even more reason to not open up these doors with no reason. it's always about money-making ...

you won't hear me say you have to watch him. i'm being EXTRA gratuitous in my reading. it's exciting to see growth but that growth can be coddled, stagnated, or completely pulled back. an actor or other artist can totally misuse or mess up their skills. no doubt. and he is not a good actor that's for sure. otoh, as much as i reaaallllly didnt like 'my ahjussi' and i genuinely don't think any idol is a proficient actor i can see WHY people like them and what they see in improvement.

i mean there's the factual statement (he cant act) and then the public receiving it. and like i've said: exposure is HUGE.

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Thanks @boughtabride and @zzthorn for this insightful discussion on your different approach for teaching arts. I learn a lot of things.:)

I agree with your defense in the sense that they can't be hold as the only responsibles of their failure.
I don't know how much efforts (classes, coaching and training) his agency put in helping him to improve but it seems clear that he wasn't ready to take the lead role of a project as big as this one.
I don't know how KBS and the casting director could have looked at him and thought it he was the right person.
It just doesn't have the experience, the charisma and the leading personality that it requires to be on the front line.
That was something that the second lead Lee Dong Gun was clearly more in position to pull off.
Also i don't get why they let him face two actors like Shin Hye Sun and Lee Dong Gun who won excellence awards and were praised for their acting abilities since a long time.
The gap was really big and impossible to ignore on screen.

I tried to read his interviews before the drama to understand this situation, but was baffled by the fact he doesn't seem to be aware of his real level.
One journalist asked him point blank how he deals with the negative criticism on his acting and what did he do to improve? And he seemed shocked/tired that it was still something to discuss because he said to have improved a lot.
There's clearly a problem with the feedbacks he's getting from his team.

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thanks for your input!

i agree with you. i am also perplexed at the choice of a lead in comparison to freakin' shin. hye. sun. (and dong gun!)

the weird thing is that i think that they just get pulled for these projects because of the name of them. it can work out...and sometimes it can't. i'm not even sure how much gets paid but iirc from what i know these companies can make deals (essentially buy? maybe?) for them...a lot of times they don't and can't choose their projects

it's probably embarrassing. i always think about what it's like to just be a bad actor, have everyone know you're one, and you know yourself like i wonder what it's like to grapple with...

but yea! agree! i guess i also wish people would encourage and put more time into it. like having actors read about interpretations of text, about different methods, watching films etc like truly knowing your shit. i think they're consistently just thrown in cos it's lucrative and then the cast/crew have to deal with that LOL

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I've seen him in more dramas than I thought. Miss Hammurabi was his best performance IMO. That was such an underrated drama. I dropped ALML, but I thought he was cute and entertaining in the part I watched.

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i gotta finish miss h since it directly lined up with my ideologies and i loved it lmao i just got rly tired

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he was horrid in sufbb and in miss hammurabi not great but go ara is also a very confusing actor to watch. but to be fair and give him credit what i saw since sufbb to hammurabi to now he has WILDLY improved. unfortunately, that isn't a match for the numerous actors who are very talented who he has had acted alongside but to actually see someone improve is exactly what acting is about. let's hope he keeps on and continues with some acting classes lol

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i love him! he is so bubbly cute! he is rocking angels last misson right along with shin hye sun! i need a lot more of him before the army calls which is always too soon~

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Ughhh, idk why he is even in the actor's spotlight.
He is awful! The worst actor I've ever seen & am not exaggerating.
Only seen him once in ALM & once is enough.
There's no subtlety in his acting, he is either plain blank or overacting, none of his action felt natural to me. His voice isn't something that I prefer either, too squeeky (for dramas, though I liked his voice when he sing).
I hope kpop agencies stop forcing their background to give their talents some instant main lead roles when their talents aren't even capable enough.
L is not ready for main lead roles, he need to do more supporting roles to gain more experience & still had a long way to go before I can call him an actor.

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I've only seen him in two dramas: SUFBB, where he did well as the awkward member of a boy band (I liked his duet and romance with the bubbly singer); and in SLY AND SINGLE AGAIN, where he played Joo Sang Wook's mischievous secretary.
I don't think he's lead material, but several beanies have commended his acting in MISS HAMMURABI. Maybe he just needs a good director and a good role, like other idols who transition into acting.

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I just like him, that's all.

Yoo Seung Ho annoyed me so much in Ruler that L paled in comparison. I thought it was totally absurd to cast him as a judge in Miss Hammurabi - it's almost like casting a kpop band as a political party. I ate my words and thoroughly enjoyed Miss H and L's performance in it. That's probably the turning point. ALML demanded more of him as an actor and seriously, who wants to act alongside Shin Hye Sun? Her talent is so bright that all your zits will be seen from a mile away. I'd say L did more than fine in ALML.

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Oh, these people. Yes, we get it. You don't like L. You think he is a horrible actor. You never fail to mention it in every article about him. And yes, you are all entitled to have an opinion. But don't you think that you are going overboard with it. And then you act all offended when people call you out on it. It's one thing to criticize his work, it is another thing to entirely dismiss him and say that he will never excel in his work at all. That is just mean. You don't need to like him, but you don't have to be mean to him either.

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Let’s not forget that his kissing skills have improved vastly (see: Angel’s Last Mission: Love). I could place him in the top ranks along with Gong Hyo Jin and Eric Mun.

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Over the years, I've seen L in a few things. He once said on some kind of talk show that he gets frustrated with the never-ending commentary on his looks and would like to be known for other aspects, as well.
He impressed me on Running Man when he actively targeted Kim Jong Kook in a water game and ended up pulling him off a structure. I think that he shows a similar tenacity in his acting. While I don't think he'll ever be a great actor, he has steadily improved. Good on him.

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I had forgotten that he played the "young Joo Joong-won" in THE MASTER'S SUN. Miss Victrix is right- there is no way he looks like a younger version of So Ji-sub.

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SUFBB is his best performance that is all

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Seeing all these negative comments about Myungsoo as an actor is really disheartening. Admittedly, I didn't always enjoy his acting, but I really think that he has grown a lot over the years. There have been some roles that he wasn't ready for, but others, in my opinion, that I couldn't picture another actor stepping into. I loved him in Shut up! Flower Boy Band, and then there was a spell when I didn't enjoy his roles so much, but I always watched, because time has shaped many idols into fantastic actors.

He's definitely growing, and progress is visible. His latest drama showcased his skills well, in my opinion. I hope he continues to take on more roles and I really hope this guy doesn't look online and see such discouraging comments after working so hard. He’s earned his steps enough to lead him to further success. Fighting <3

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I love L because I love Infinite, but as an actor I don't watch his stuff. He was the idol that I learned with. He's cringey. But honestly the trajectory of his career was unfair to him. I don't think his agency did him any favors by shoving him into high profile roles right at the start and he hasn't been in any lower pressure roles where he can experiment with the craft.

That being said, unlike other idols turned actors I can really feel that he's trying and has a great attitude. He's improving (slowly) and he's consistently been in a role year in and year out. It's unfortunate that he has to "practice" in a position where he's subject to heavy criticism but he's been taking it like a champ. So I think eventually he'll get there. I did check out ALML to see how he was and he was less cringey and actually natural, but the story was bleh.

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