Why ‘Nobody Knows’ Oddball Villain Is Giving The Joker A Run For His Money

As someone who typically likes the antagonistic characters in dramas, finding a villain I love to hate (and hate to love) is exhilarating because — let’s be real — not every antagonist is created equal. Yet, from the moment Baek Sang Ho (played by the brilliant Park Hoon) first strolls on-screen in Nobody Knows — with his boyish charm and sinister finesse — I (along with viewers across the globe) was left captivated, curious, and wanting more of this new villain.

Baek Sang Ho is a peculiar juxtaposition in and of himself. On paper, he sounds like a stand-up guy: he’s a philanthropic hotel owner who seems to derive genuine joy from helping sick, abandoned, and/or troubled youth. Yet, he’s easily one of the most terrifying villains I’ve seen on-screen. Simultaneously friendly, charismatic, and utterly, utterly unpredictable, Sang Ho is just as likely to embrace you in a warm hug as he is to beat you half-conscious. It’s a gross understatement to say he keeps viewers on their toes like no other character I’ve seen before. (In fact, it took me several episodes to even realize which side he is on — if any!)

Park Hoon as Baek Sang Ho (with Ahn Ji Ho as Ko Eun Ho)

He’s remarkably quick-witted, often one step ahead of others. Because of what we know of his backstory, I’d say this is due not so much to the power and influence he has accrued for himself, but rather to his heightened survival instincts bred from an unfortunate upbringing. (But more on that later.)

Simply as a reference point to those unfamiliar with the drama, I’ve compared him in conversation to both the classic Joker and Andrew Scott’s Moriarty. This is not to weigh characters against each other (because I strongly dislike doing so), but is only an attempt to portray — at least in part — the general vibes of Sang Ho’s absolute bizarreness.

Not only is he both friendly and freaky, but Sang Ho is also incredibly funny — which is always an added bonus for any villain in my book. Of course, if your main villain’s sense of humor often includes the moral agony of others, things can get disturbing real quick. But Park Hoon’s comedic timing is definitely 10/10, and I’ve found myself chuckling when I’m not sure whether I should be laughing or not. It’s definitely unsettling, which seems to be the epitome of our oddball villain.

Yoon Chan Young as Dong Myung

Of course, his character is beautifully written (the entire drama is), but let’s give credit where credit is due: Park Hoon is owning this role. It’s his. Every movement, no matter how subtle — every idiosyncrasy, glance, nervous tic, hand gesture– every single choice Park Hoon makes as an actor is what creates Baek Sang Ho. His performance is truly nothing short of genius.

It should be noted that Sang Ho’s antics are not merely to amuse (or startle) viewers. His behavior is likely in part due to his bleak backstory, something we’ve only been given morsels of thus far. But it’s been enough to keep us anxiously waiting to find out more. And finally, in the last two episodes to air (11 and 12), we’re given a clearer sense as to what his childhood was like.

Warning: spoilers ahead about Sang Ho’s backstory, but I’ll tell you when they’re over.

In a couple well-placed flashbacks, we see that Sang Ho was abandoned by his mother, who never registered his birth. He was found by Seo Sang Won, who took the boy back to the church where he abused him daily, forcing young Sang Ho to memorize the entire ‘New Life Gospel’ by heart — and whipping him cruelly if he got even one word incorrect.

There’s no doubt we will find out much more about Sang Ho — but for right now, we are shown (at least in part) what life was like for him as a kid: full of abuse from adults who should have cared for and protected him.

End of spoilers.

Nobody Knows is doing a fantastic job with its main antagonist. While honestly presenting a fellow human being, the drama never crosses the delicate line of excusing Sang Ho’s crimes with a tragic childhood; instead, it simply reveals a person who may indeed be a product of his environment, but is making his own choices too. He’s not paraded around as one to pity, which makes him all the more pitiful.

Bonus mind nugget (a.k.a. something to think about until the next episode): Baek Sang Ho’s obsession with choice. Several times in the drama, we’ve seen how significant the power of choice is to him. (This is spoiler-free, so don’t worry.) In a recent episode, the group is discussing their next move and one of them declares that Sang Ho has no choice. He suddenly throws an almost childlike tantrum, viciously insisting over and over that he does have a choice. In episodes before that, he’s let a couple people he intends to get rid of choose their own path, essentially allowing them choose how they die. It should be noted that he’s remarkably casual and polite about it, which of course only multiplies the creep factor.

On an ending note, I have to say that I am loving Sang Ho’s little gang as well. Doo Seok, Hee Dong, and Sun A (played by Shin Jae Hwi, Tae Won Suk, and Park Min Jung, respectively) are totally killing it as Sang Ho’s group of buddies/henchmen.

Tae Won Suk as Hee Dong
Shin Jae Hwi as Doo Seok
Park Min Jung as Sun A

It’s both surprising and immensely refreshing that these three aren’t merely Sang Ho’s underlings, but also his best friends. Instead of churning out tool-like characters who remain in the shadows of the main antagonist and have minimal (if any) character development/backstory/personality, the drama paints three very distinct, vibrant characters who are just as important to the story as anyone else.

Sang Ho himself says that if you don’t trust people, you won’t get betrayed. Interestingly, however, he seems to trust Doo Seok, Hee Dong, and Sun A implicitly…I wonder why. We know he saved Doo Seok and that he and Hee Dong knew each other in childhood and possibly even grew up together — but we haven’t yet learned about Sun A. However, I have a feeling that we’ll soon find out a lot more about this trio…as well as our main villain.

Nobody Knows deserves all the attention and support from viewers it can get (and then some), so let’s spread the love for this drama!

What do you think of Park Hoon as Baek Sang Ho? Who’s your favorite character so far? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Happy viewing, friends.

(Psst! If you’d like to read my first impressions of Nobody Knows, you can check out that post here!)

Sang Ho’s character poster image source: https://programs.sbs.co.kr/drama/nobodyknows/visualboard/63073/?cmd=view&page=1&board_no=293626

Korea’s New Favorite Bad Boy: A Look At Rookie Actor Lee Jae Wook’s Short (But Impressive) Career So Far

Not long ago, one of my friends emphatically recommended I watch Extraordinary You. I agreed to give it a shot, but mostly to pacify her; I honestly had no intention of finishing the drama simply because I was expecting yet another high school love story.

I got sucker punched by a K-drama.

Hours after graciously electing to “give the first episode a shot,” I found myself completely caught up and twiddling my thumbs as I impatiently waited for the next one to air. However, rather than continue to twiddle them, I shall put my thumbs to good use and begin typing instead.

This drama is simply excellent; I could easily talk about how sensational it is for hours. (And I have…thank you, my patient husband.) Instead, I’ll get right to the reason you’re here: Lee Jae Wook — Korea’s newest heartthrob, most currently seen doling out major Second Lead Syndrome as Extraordinary You‘s residential bad boy, Baek Kyung.

The 21-year-old actor debuted on-screen only last year in 2018 and has already made his mark in the industry, proving himself to be incredibly talented and versatile. Although he has less than five roles under his belt, the way Lee Jae Wook embodies each drastically different character he plays is astounding viewers worldwide. Let’s take a look at his already-impressive list of works:

Lee Jae Wook’s first acting gig was the guest role of Marco Han, a drug-addicted programmer and hacker, in Memories of the Alhambra. It may have been a guest role, but his powerful performance had viewers around the globe all wondering the same thing: Who is this guy and what else has he been in?

He had been in nothing else at the time…but that soon changed.

Lee Jae Wook as Marco Han in ‘Memories of the Alhambra’

Not long after, he landed a supporting role as sweet Seol Ji Hwan in Search: WWW alongside a number of big-name actors and actresses such as Lee Da Hee and Jang Ki Yong, to name only a few.

Lee Jae Wook as Seol Ji Hwan in ‘Search: WWW’

Next, Lee Jae Wook made his film debut in September of this year as sharp-shooting student soldier Lee Gae Tae in Battle of Jangsari. The film also stars SHINee’s Minho and American actress Megan Fox.

Lee Jae Wook as Lee Gae Tae in ‘Battle of Jangsari’

In the currently-airing Extraordinary You, Lee Jae Wook takes on his first main role as he portrays Baek Kyung, a high school student whose arrogant bad boy persona only scratches the surface of his complex psyche. Baek Kyung is an antagonistic character who is both angry at the world and hurt by it. It’s a difficult role, and Lee Jae Wook delivers his performance with the grace and maturity of a seasoned actor.

Lee Jae Wook as Baek Kyung in ‘Extraordinary You’

(Check out this Soompi article to read Lee Jae Wook’s own thoughts and insights about the character of Baek Kyung.)

Be sure to keep an eye out for Lee Jae Wook in the upcoming 2020 JTBC drama, I’ll Go To You When The Weather Is Nice!

Thanks for reading, friends! What’s your favorite Lee Jae Wook role? Let me know in the comments!

image sources:

  1. http://tenasia.hankyung.com/archives/1819961
  2. http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/extraordinaryyou/photo/

Hyuk Proves His Acting Ability With A Surprisingly Serious Role In “The Great Show”

After politician Wie Dae Han (Song Seung Heon) falls from grace in the eyes of the public, he takes in four siblings to boost his image: quick-thinking eldest Da Jung (Roh Jeong Eui), moody Tak (Jung Joon Won), mischievous Tae Poong (Kim Jun), and clever little Song Yi (Park Ye Na).

(clockwise from left) Kim Jun, Roh Jeong Eui, Jung Joon Won, and Park Ye Na

Quick spoiler warning: This post does contain some minor spoilers, so if you haven’t seen episode 5 yet, perhaps rethink reading…unless you don’t mind, in which case — by all means please plunge ahead, good reader!

I keep accidentally stumbling on really great dramas these days — the last of which was Moment of Eighteen (you can read my two cents on it right here) — and although it’s a different vibe entirely, I’m genuinely enjoying The Great Show so far. It’s creative, clever, and does a good job mixing silly and serious — the latter of which we see in episode 5 when Da Jung finds out she is pregnant.

Her boyfriend, Jung Woo (Hyuk), is an idol trainee only two months away from his debut. He’s kind-hearted, super optimistic, and a bit of a goofball. When he learns that Da Jung is pregnant, he promises to take responsibility even though it means giving up his plans to become an idol. After serious discussion, the two — amidst opposition — decide they want to keep the baby and raise it together.

If you saw the 2016 action-comedy Chasing, you know Hyuk plays the smart-alecky little delinquent extremely well, so it’s been fun watching him pull off the very different role of a sweet boyfriend (and soon-to-be dad). Finding out you’re going to be a father at such a young age would be daunting for anyone, and Hyuk’s portrayal of the complex emotions attached to that is spot-on. Also, his chemistry with Jeong Eui is precious and the two seem truly natural together on screen. I can’t wait to watch more of their character development.

Hyuk as Jung Woo

Actually, I can’t wait to watch everyone’s character development. I’m definitely invested at this point; what started as a goofy drama is peeling back layers to reveal more hefty stuff underneath. It’s lighthearted overall, but deeper topics such as teenage pregnancy, blended family relationships, and absent parents are creeping their way into our storyline. And I’m right here for it.

How do you guys think Hyuk is doing? Who’s your favorite character so far? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading and as always — happy viewing!

image source: http://program.tving.com/tvn/thegreatshow/8/Board/List