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[Drama Chat] Typecast: for better or worse?

Typecasting. It’s a thing we can’t deny in dramaland. From the ajusshi actor that is Always the Bad Guy to the chaebol hero that never seems to play a character who’s not richer than Midas, typecasting is a thing that happens. But is it all bad?

Early in my dramaland adventure I used to feel bad about typecasting, and even felt bad for the actors. Didn’t they want to stretch their wings and do something different? But then I learned to love it. Rather than think of typecasting as limiting, I started to think of it as this: in a genre of tropes and archetypes, this person is a true character actor and a master of their art. After all, sometimes an actor is just too good at playing a petty jerk, or simply has the market cornered for Demanding Chaebol Grandpa or Must-Love Mom.

 

Who do you think is a typecast actor? Has it worked in their favor, or has it limited their pick of projects? Does it make a drama more predictable, or does it open up the door to inverting our expectations?

 
Let the chatting begin!
 
Thanks to @rubytuesday for the prompt
 
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First things first, using LMH's face for this Drama Chat is truly 👩‍🍳's 😘!

I agree that typecasting isn't always bad. In fact with character actors it gives me a sense of comfort. If I see Kim Won-hae or Ahn Nae-sang in a drama, I know exactly what I'm going to get and it's going to be GOOD.

But there are also those with whom typecasting seems frustrating. You watch a City Hunter and you can't understand why LMH persists in the chaebol roles (technically he was chaebol-ish even in CH with all the illegal money but we'll ignore that for a moment). The only reason I finished BOF was because young LMH had a great deal of personal charm that translated well onscreen. But I wish he'd do things that went beyond just being charming all the time.

Then there are those who seem to have been typecasted for more shallow reasons, possibly looks? I wish I could see a Kang Ki-young or a Park Jin-joo in a lead role instead of being always relegated to the 'funny friend' role.

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After years of enjoying her acting, I accidentally ran across Park Jin-joo's singing videos just the other day. I literally sat there motionless for a good minute because I was so shocked about how good she is. Totally gob smacked.

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Her voice is incredible! I also chanced upon it by accident and was so surprised. She's a whole entire star.

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Ahn Nae-Sang's roles is actually a bit more diverse, he sometimes played the bad guy (like in L.U.C.A.) or ambiguous character (like in Law School), when Kim Won Hae ... yeah he usually typecasted into the funny dad type.

I think for supporting roles, it is like of OK, like, the oomph feeling when you see ohhh its that ahjussi/ahjumma again! but I wish sometimes they can be kind of promoted into "lead" role a bit, like for example how I wish Kim Sun-Young has a drama where she'd be the leading lady? (like a makjang or some kind of Sky Castle sorts), her experience and acting is more than enough of a fit. And sometimes typecasting can kill the tension too, like, in Beyond Evil I can guess who will be the main bad guy like from the ep. 1 alone .... (still a very good drama though).

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Yes I know Ahn Nae-sang often plays the bad guy too but I'd say even then all those roles are the same calm, almost elite, style of villain like in Into the Ring or Law School. Totally agree about Kim Sun-young. Wish she could get a role like Ra Mi-ran's in Honest Candidate for example.

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Kang Ki Young was a main character in Moment of Eighteen with his own love line, though not as prominent as the young couple in the center of the story. I think I enjoyed his story almost more than that of the teenagers.

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Really really want to see lee kwang soo in a typical leading role

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U will see him soon not in one but two leading roles...The Killer's Shopping List that will air on May 4 on tvN and Hero on OCN(date not yet revealed)

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Lee Kwang Soo has built such a legendary public persona with Running Man, so it's hard for me to picture him in any serious acting setting haha. Maybe his coming projects will prove me wrong.

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Type casting isn't always a bad thing, some actors are talented enough to deliver memorable performances across multiple projects while playing similar characters Kim Mi-kyung is the perfect example of this.

Some actors are typecast due to their limited range and ability however,and with each drama or film it becomes evident that the performer is a one trick pony.

Some actors are typecast simply due to success, they consistently find success and acclaim with a certain types of role and their agents convince them to stick to a formula that works

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Good points! I also think there is one more category where the directors or writers play a hand in actors getting typecasted. For example, Baek Hyun Jin plays antagonist or sleazy characters exceptionally well, that the director/writer knows that audience would love to hate him and would rather have him be the bad guy than experiment with him.

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That seems like a whole new level - Nam Joo Hyuk being typecast as a false penfriend.... Hope it won't happen this time!

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He sure found a very niche typecasting 😂

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Song Hye-gyo for being pretty and mello (Can she back to Full House era?)

Nam Joo-hyuk should be typecasted as a cute and nerdy character for the better. Underlined the nerdy part. 😅 He is just sold it like no other.

Kim Hye-soo and Kim Sunnah as Female Fatale.

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I think there are different reasons for typecasting :
- Production that doesn't have imagination and wants to cast someone who already did great in this kind of role ;
- Actors who always get scripts with the same kind of role and need to eat ;
- Actors who can't do another role.

Now, is it a bad or good thing?

I think it depends. I grew up watching Jacky Chan's movies and I couldn't imagine him in a new genre honestly. Action movies request actors who can do their own stunts. But I need time between their movies to not be bored by their characters.

For some actors, it's frustrating to see them typecasted in some role when you know they're talented like Kim Seul-Gi who often plays the typical best friend.

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Kim Seulgi and Park Jinjoo play lots of FL besties and they deserve so much more 💚

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Of recent I've been wishing to see fav Ahjumma Kim Mi Kyung in a villainous role. I've seen Kim Hae-sook in one already, now I need to see Kim Mi Kyung's.

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Typecasting is annoying when you know an actor has more potential than what they get to play regularly. However, that too maybe beneficial for them. They need to find a niche to survive in this industry. A role type that would instantly make casting directors think of them. Typecasting gets them work.
It's sad when it becomes the comfort zone of actors who can definitely get meatier roles. But it's also good when it brings us the best out of an actor who has excelled in that kind of roles.

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I feel like Park Min-young is typecast as pretty office lady with great clothes. I like her a lot but it doesn’t make me want to rush out and watch another similar looking character (even if the character is actually quite different I would never know because I don’t end up watching).

There can be advantages to being able to play against type though - I wouldn’t suggest that Lee Seung Gi has been typecast at all (except in being the good guy) but he does have a nice guy image which I think made his casting in Mouse quite effective.

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Agree that Park Min Young was the first person that came to my mind on seeing this discussion thread, but then as @soyesterday pointed out, she does find success with the typecast roles, so her agency might be asking her to stick with it.

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She's done sageuks too, but the last one where she was just amazing in - 7 day queen- didn't get much viewership.

And if she finds happiness playing the white collar worker in dramas with ok-to-good ratings, then she should go for it. I remember hearing on some podcast, an actress saying that nowadays she picks roles not for career reasons, but more for what she thinks she would enjoy and that would also factor in who's involved.

I guess it's the same with non-actor jobs - people have different motivations for deciding whether to stay or leave a job. Some want to climb the ladder; some don't.

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Oh definitely, if it works for her and she’s happy doing it then she should go for it (and same for anyone else who has been typecast).

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One of Park Min-young's greatest roles was in I'LL SEE YOU WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE- definitely not as a pretty office lady in nice clothes. That show is a real classic and was a success.

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To me, being type-casted spells early death knell for an actor's development. Yes, there are some actors who can't help but be type-casted due to their look, limited acting abilities, and limited options. The more frustrating case is when actors have many options, have the looks, have okay acting abilities, and still choose to take on the same roles over and over again (LMH and PMY immediately come to mind). Aren't they bored? Don't they want to be challenged?

I think all young, rising actors should push to take on a variety of roles early in their careers. It's a good way to prolong career longevity. Go for breadth first, and then depth, else you'll find yourself pigeonholed too early and it's hard to break out of a box once you've been put in one (this goes applies to general career development, not just acting).

One of the reasons I started liking Han Sohee (despite her acting skills being so-so), is because she's doing her best to avoid being type-casted early on by taking on a variety of roles. It's harder to root for actors who are blase about their own career development.

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Agree with you on HSH. She is not the best actress around but major props to her for being very smart in choosing her projects. I also think she and her agency did the right thing in addressing the latest issue involving her mom.

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The thing is, typecasting is fine until you get a taste of the actor doing something different - if they do it well, then you lament that you never saw it before!
I never thought twice about Kang Ki-young playing bumbling hapless comedic sidekicks, until he played a bone-chilling cat-killing psychopath for like two episodes of While You Were Sleeping and I lost my mind. The same applies to Lee Kwang-soo - he's always been charming, but he transcended to a higher state of being in Live, and I mourn the fact that he hasn't had a lead role of the same caliber since. It's hard to go backwards after that.

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Conversely, there's actors like Kim Ji-seok, who I never want to see play anything except the most detestable delusional assholes. The vainer, crueller, and trashier the better. Give me my Trash King, you cowards.

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But I like Kim Ji seok as the oppa next door 😄 with perfect comedic timing and all

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But he plays cheating bastards and hapless losers SO WELL 😂

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Should make a list actor with good record of being cheating bastard and hapless loser:
1. Kim Jiseok
2. Lee Sang-yeob
3. Yoon Park
4. Our favorite weasel Lee Joon-hyuk (though I forget if he ever did the cheating part role in which drama, but I guess he ever had, or PD of K drama land would never miss the chance)

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😆 🤣 😂 I agree!

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Bejeweled with the quirkiest quirks.

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Aww I thought Kim Ji-seok was pretty swoony in 20th Century... and My Unfamiliar Family.

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I was so happy for Kim Ji-seok for getting his first leading role with 20th Century, but I spent the whole show missing Jin-sang from Another Oh Hae-young 😂
I love him in anything, but I think he shines best when he's given an absolutely awful character and somehow makes them the best part of the show.

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Gotta agree with that. Jin-sang was gold!

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Jinsang is legally stamped a**hole 😂😂
The show won’t be the same without him

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so true! i feel so giddy and happy when i see him on screen being a funny asshole.

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Even though she's only done a grand total of two dramas, I think Kim Da-mi will always be typecast as bitchy characters because of her looks and girl crush vibe.

Jung Hae-in was getting typecast in romance melos after Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food, but my favorite roles of his are rom-com While You Were Sleeping and action D.P. and Snowdrop.

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JHI is awesome. First saw him in Prison Playbook playing a prickly dude, so I didn't have that image of him as a romantic lead, but he does have a sweetness that works really well in romance. Still, I have the feeling that he's pushing against being typecast. When they were shooting Snowdrop, he posted several shots of the action scenes BTS from Snowdrop

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Woo Dohwan isn't typecast, but it blew my mind to see him playing a bubbly character in The King because until then I'd only seen him playing brooding action roles. Later I watched him playing ML in romance Tempted, but the less said about that drama, the better 😂. Anyway, WDH is brilliant at comedy and should be more of those roles

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*get

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Hwang Inyeop typecast as a student 😂Let dude play a grown-up, he's 31

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This! You win the comments section today 😂

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HE'S THIRTY-WHAT?

THIRTY ONE??

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A opposite to this is GHJ who always plays the same role but not once have I felt she was typecast. She manages to make each character feel different even when they look the same on paper. While PSH is always different versions of CES to me in all her roles even the ones she did before Heirs. I don't hate her acting but it does feel like she just plays herself and not a character.

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Ditto. GHJ always plays her roles in a way that also makes you think, "they can't do this with another actress no matter how talented the other actress is". I don't think her acting changes much for each character either, but she somehow makes each one distinct.

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Another interesting case to consider: Namgoong Min!
The man played DEEPLY boring second leads for a long time because he was hesistant to step outside of his comfort zone, and then he played the villain in The Girl Who Sees Smells and the floodgates opened for a bunch of new, diverse roles. He's done a lot of political dramas and thrillers recently, though. Was he typecasted then, and is he being typecasted now?

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"Typecasted" isn't a word, Autocorrect.

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I think Namgoong Min really is the perfect example of migrating from being typecast, to becoming someone established but with a clear genre preference as an actor.

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He really took a risk. He had been stuck chasing the first lead dreams for a while, and I think when he had let that go, he was able to do the Girl Who See Smells followed by Remember, which luckily worked out. Otherwise, he could have been thrown into worse 2nd male lead roles.

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Ah, you're right, it was a second lead purgatory! The kind that Lee Soo-hyuk seems to be in these days.

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He was FANTASTIC in Chief Kim!

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Unfortunately, one of the people that immediately comes to mind for me is Cha Eun Woo, a lovely young man that the universe is aggressively trying to convince me can act. It doesn't help that they keep throwing him into cold, stoic roles with tragic backstories. I think the logic behind this is that you don't have to express as much facially if your character is perpetually 😑, but in reality, it just shows how important microexpressions are when playing those kinds of characters. A skill that Cha Eun Woo has yet to hone, imo.

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Your point about the value of facial expressions and micro-expressions is a good one- but can also result in type casting as well. Example: Sung Hoon, whose incredible facial mobility made him as natural from comic and romantic roles as the late Lucille Ball- but he got stuck in those roles which may explain why he took a role in the first two seasons of LOVE (ft MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE). I strongly suspect that he did this simply to break the mold as it were.

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But he's so easy to the (drama) eyes! And that pays big time.

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I think typecasting hurts secondary and support actors more than main leads or second leads. If someone gets labeled an office worker, secretary, gangster thug, it seems to stick to their work.

Many top actors fall into expected genres because producers want to bank on a proven track record. Actors claim they want to challenge themselves in different roles, but very few actually take risky roles.

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I view the whole issue of typecasting through a different lens.

Basically, I think all television and film actors, from any country, fit into one of the two following categories.

CHARACTER ACTORS: These are actors who typically have had some kind of classical or theatrical training, and they may also be very method. They're known for getting into character by inhabiting a role, sometimes even to the point where they or their loved ones report that they're difficult to live with while filming. These actors are also gifted at transforming their physical bodies--what they look like, how they move, what they sound like--to fit their vision and interpretation of a particular character. Their own looks tend to be more like the rest of us than not--i.e. attractive but not overly so and with more of an interesting face than a conventionally beautiful one. Best example I can think of at this moment is the late, great American actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman or British actress Olivia Coleman or Korean actor Lee Jung-Jae.

These types of actors can certainly end up typecast as, for example, the loveable oddball or awkward wingman or scheming villainess. But because they're more likely to play a variety of roles in all types of genres, character actors tend to escape being pigeonholed.

CELEBRITY ACTORS: These are actors who broke into the business largely due to their beauty, charm, and charisma, and all of those things are present in the roles they play. They may also be talented at line reading, physical comedy, or other aspects of the job, and they might end up winning major accolades for playing against type (see: Charlize Theron in "Monster"), but viewers are primarily drawn to their visuals and ability to command attention by their charismatic intensity.

Sometimes, there are actors who start out in the business as celebrity actors, but if they're really talented, they can transition to being seen as a character actor (here, I'm thinking of the likes of Julia Roberts, Junho, Namkoong Min, Ryu Jun-yeol, and Leonardo DiCaprio). But if that doesn't happen, then I think many of these actors end up being typecast. For instance, this is where I'd put LMH, Suzy, Hyeri, Park Bo-gum, and Kim Yoo-jung. One could also say it's not so much that they're typecast, but that they themselves know their abilities and limits and are (mostly) content to stay within that box.

There are also actors--and here I'm thinking of the likes of Seo In-guk, Lee Joon, and Song Joong-ki--who appear to drift between the two categories depending on the roles they take. Their backgrounds and looks may mean they came into acting as a celebrity, but over time, they've shown either the talent or the work ethic that's led them to be able to play certain roles usually reserved for character actors. But sometimes it's hard for these types of actors to stay in the character realm--that's when they may complain that they're being typecast--because fans are so...

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Mostly agree with your bifurcation. I would replace Lee Jungjae with Song Kangho though. LJJ is famous for being good-looking.

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My nominee for the Typecast Division of the KDrama Hall of Fame is: Heo Sung-tae.
I have watched HST play one ‘bad guy’ after another.
Apparently his performance in SQUID GAMES (which I passed on) has given him quite a boost in popularity.
If you want a contrast in performance however, watch the two dramas he made with Yoon Shi-yoon: YOUR HONOR (2018) and PSYCHOPATH DIARY (2019/20) (Both available on Viki US).
In YH he plays a particularly nasty, corrupt prosecutor. In PD he is cast as a ‘hood’ but he plays it anything but. (Cast against type in a way). I was shocked at Heo Sung-tae’s comedic chops.

In a strange way he has become one of my favorites.

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Loved Heo Sung-tae in Psychopath Diary! I remember his episode on Knowing Brothers as well - he's really shy in real life. It was sweet

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I don't know if the problem is the dramas I chose to watch from these actors or the really are always doing (or not doing) these roles:

Cha Tae Hyun: Cha Tae Hyun (I think I've seen him in six projects and he always gives me the same vibe/style).

Kim Min Seok: Boyfriend material. He's always on a multiple-couple kind of drama and he's always my favorite boyfriend lol.

Lee Min Jung: divorce woman that lost a baby. Aka. Choose better your partners, woman.

Lee Jong Suk: male lead with a dramatic past he can't leave behind.

Jang Hyuk: can't do bright/dorky characters. Not a criticism, I just can't visualize him in that kind of characters.

Lee Sang Woo: someone's husband in a family drama. I can't visualize him poor or single, tbh. Well, maybe single with a kid and in the process of getting a new wife.

Park Joon Geum: Before 'Be My Dream Family', she was my number 1 mean mother in law.

Park Shin Hye: Stairway to Heaven, Tree of Heaven, Heirs, Memories of the Alhambra, Pinocchio... yeah.

Yoon Park: THE second lead.

Has it worked in their favor? Depends. I see Kim Min Seok, I click without thinking lol. With Lee Sang Woo... I would read what the drama is about tbh.

Has it limited their pick of projects?
I know Ki Young oppa wanted that role in While You Were Sleeping (I guess the same with INAR) to change his "funny guy" typecast. I really liked him in that role and I also liked him in a slice of life like At Eighteen, but I never had a problem with him always being "the funny" guy. I literally finished Let's Fight, Ghost because of him and David, the were my main leads. So that's on the actor imo.

I would love to see him doing any kind of role he wants, but I would also feel a little bad not seeing him in a comic role for a long time. Same with Kim Won Hae, Lee Yi Kyung, Seul Gi, Jin Joo, etc.

Does it make a drama more predictable, or does it open up the door to inverting our expectations?
Well, it can predict that I'm going to love the show (for example, I love most of Cha Tae Hyun's projects) or that it's going to be the same old same old (Park Joon Geum treating bad her DIL).

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LOL I can't believe I forgot about Baek Hyun Jin being the same character in 99% of his dramas, lol.

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Cha Taehyun has this natural comedic aura. He can act of course, his characters range in movies are wide enough, but comedic roles are the best for him. He can sit there mourning over his terrible fate in serious setup and I find myself want to laugh.
So yeah, is it another sort of typecast? I don’t know.
But some actors have this natural skill with them and they are just the best when they play those roles.

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Jang Hyuk isn't bright and dorky in Wok of Love but he sure is different from his usual type.

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You're right. I didn't finish the show but I remember he was different from usual. I also have Bad Dad on my watchlist and it seems different from the other dramas.

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