Five drama recommendations… with memorable scene-stealers
by DB Staff
While our drama heroes and heroines generally take the limelight – as they should — every so often a drama features a side character that just steals the scene away from whoever else is it in. Every. single. time.
You could argue it’s just the script, but more often than not it’s that stars-aligning moment where you have the perfect actor cast for the perfect supporting character. They give life to what could have been a regular ol’ supporting role, and the drama just wouldn’t be the same without them (they might even make you forget about the rest of the cast). Here are some of our favorite scene-stealing side characters.
Liar Game (2014)
Judging by her first appearance, you likely wouldn’t pay Lee El’s Jaime a second glance. Disguised as a timid and mousy girl, Jaime leveraged on her unassuming persona to manipulate the other contestants of Liar Game like putty in her hands. And once she had them all wrapped around her thumb, she finally bared her claws in what is still a memorable reveal to date.
Of course, that isn’t all. Jaime certainly isn’t a one-trick pony, and she proved her competence over and over again with her sharp wit and her cunning schemes. It’s no small feat to best one of the most intelligent antagonists in K-drama history, and Jaime pulled it off effortlessly in fierce red lipstick and killer heels. I won’t spoil the twist because it needs to be experienced firsthand for the full satisfaction to sink in, but that scene where her double-crossing is revealed and she stares her adversary down with a smirk playing on her lips? So satisfying.
The best part about Jaime is how effortlessly she straddles the line between friend and foe, and how she draws you in with her captivating charisma regardless of whether you love or hate her. In the midst of a spectacular cast, she still stands out easily, establishing her place as the most memorable contestant even well after the drama’s conclusion. –@solstices
When you think “ajumma” in K-dramas, the first thing that comes to mind is either a middle-aged female neighbor, or the mother of one of the characters. A computer guru isn’t who you’ll picture as a stereotypical ajumma, yet that’s exactly who Jo Min-ja (Kim Mi-kyung) is. Ajumma – as she’s fondly called by the titular Healer (Ji Chang-wook) – is the badass hacker whose skills put both the police cyber division and her rivals in the night errand business to shame.
One of her best foot soldiers in the business is Healer, who would do almost anything for the right price – and though he prefers to fly solo on his missions, he’s not entirely alone. Ajumma is the voice in his ear, the eyes behind his back, and the link between him and his clients. She’s pretty much a scene-stealer in Healer’s own life, and that’s impressive considering they never met in person throughout their partnership, until towards the end!
We hardly see Ajumma outside the dimly lit room where she’s surrounded by dozens of computer screens, and it’s easy for us to feel kind of isolated from her, especially since she doesn’t interact with most of the other characters in the story. Yet Ajumma commands our attention, with the epic-ness of her hairstyle, her undying love for kimbap, spyware devices, and knitting. She makes such a strong impact that you can’t think about Healer without thinking about Ajumma, and it can’t get any more scene-stealer than that! –@unit
Smart Prison Living (a.k.a. Prison Playbook) (2017)
With such a large ensemble cast, it’s unsurprising that Smart Prison Living would have a scene-stealer or two, but the award for the most consistent and memorable goes to Loony (Lee Kyu-hyung), the lovable recovering drug addict. His oddball mannerisms, which earned him his prison moniker, are a side effect of his withdrawals, and although his behavior is often a source of slapstick comedy, his battle with his addiction is an evolving side story that captures viewer’s hearts as it progresses through the full length of the drama.
Unlike many of the drama’s supporting characters who transfer in and out of the prison (and our male lead’s life), Loony is a constant. At first, he’s just a goofy and easily dismissed druggie, but as we learn more about his backstory, we become more and more invested in the outcome of his prison stint and the success of his rehabilitation. We all rooted for him to overcome his addiction, find peace with his parents, and reconnect with his partner, so there was a collective outcry among viewers when he fell victim to a system designed to have him fail.
And if you need any further proof that Loony was a fan favorite who lived on in our hearts, look no further than screenwriter Jung Bo-hoon’s next drama Racket Boys. Although the characters have different names, Lee Kyu-hyung’s cameo in Racket Boys is an intentional nod to Loony, giving us all closure and assuring us that he eventually found happiness. –@daebakgrits
Thirty But Seventeen (2018)
I knew Jennifer (Yeh Ji-won) was going to steal the show (and my heart) when she first appeared on-screen, strutting down the road with her signature sunglasses, and whipping the male lead (Yang Se-jong) with spring onions minutes later. Heh. Found families are one of my favorite tropes, and Jennifer is a housekeeper living with two 30-year-olds who are still stuck at 17, an actual 17-year-old and his two friends who pop in occasionally, plus a dog and a chick.
Amidst this colorful family, Jennifer stands out, and not just because of her choice of outfits – actually, there’s nary a choice considering her closet is filled with an entirely monochrome selection! Jennifer is a “human Wikipedia” whose quirks include dropping quotes at every turn, acting like a robot, and speaking in a monotonous voice. And it’s especially hilarious the way she introduces herself with her catchphrase-like “Please call me Jennifer.” If there was an award for housekeeper of the year, she’d definitely win it because there’s almost nothing she can’t do.
But like the usual K-drama character with a painful past, Jennifer shares a tragic connection with the female lead (Shin Hye-sun). Despite the incident that turned her into the robotic person she is, Jennifer is still able to provide warmth and emotional support for the family — and it’s such a rewarding journey to go along with her as the family embraces her in return, and slowly thaws the ice around her heart. –@unit
The Secret Life of My Secretary (2019)
Amidst the delightful story of a romance between a grumpy chaebol boss and his adorable and long-suffering secretary, we have the woman that was at first responsible for their budding romance: “Veronica Parrrk-i-e-yo.” The vibrant and eclectic chaebol Veronica is no shrinking violent. With a killer wardrobe, the sharpest “r” in town, and eyes for one man only, she could have been the heroine of this drama. Or maybe she should have been?
Veronica’s antics necessitate that our story’s heroine, Jin Ki-joo, cosplay Veronica (which she does quite fabulously), and soon the two are caught in a mistaken identity mixup that leads to confusion for our face-blind (of course he is!) hero, Kim Young-gwang.
Kim Jae-kyung took the role of Veronica Park and made her into someone that was impossible to ignore. And it’s not just because you can see and hear her coming a mile away — there was a wacky energy that she brought to the role, and her scenes became some of the best in the drama. It’s refreshing enough when a second lead female isn’t a witch-like meanie — and here, all those expectations were turned on their head, and made into something (or is that someone?) unforgettable. –@missvictrix
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