…to cut the long story short, this is a challenge I set for myself: find 2 or more characters in 100 dramas that are genuinely likeable. It’s a part of my attempt to determine once and for all what is it that draws me to these dramas in the first place. As for what likeability is..? OED.com defines it as something agreeable, pleasing. To expand, I would say it’s a quality that some people have or an image they project that make them seem instantly pleasant. Sometimes it may mean they are written in a way that makes them easily relatable to and the viewer may feel they could be friends with them, other times it just means they are very appealing or sympathethic or instantly endearing. Especially if they are in a plight- for “pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune”, as Aristotle claimed. Pity is possibly part of the equation of likeability. The list will be subjective, naturally as what is likeable tends to reflect personal values.
King2 Hearts: Eun Shi Kyung and Lee Jae Kang. The King is a good and responsible older brother type. He wants to make sure Lee Jae Ha grows up. I think I have a weakness for such good older brother types. The actor is perfect for projecting that quality. He exudes a sense of trustworthiness in this role. When he smiles, it’s so good natured that it’s hard not to like him. Eun Shi Kyung comes across as clumsy and awkward, maybe partly due to his tough upbringing, but he has a sense of loyalty and cares a lot.
That Fool – the main character is very goofy and perhaps somewhat naive but he’s just such a nice guy with a very kind heart and a sort of practical wisdom. He is able to listen and understand. He also develops a fun rapport with his brother-in-law. The duo makes it more fun to watch the story.
Yi San- I don’t know about the real king, but this interpretation makes me like him a lot. He values kindness, wisdom and loyalty to friends, and has a very patient and forgiving heart. Reminds me of someone in my family a lot, they have a similar kind of wise and thoughtful patience. Another one would be Dae Su and Seong Yeong. Their friendship is beautifully portrayed.
Horse Doctor– I am left to wonder whether this is more about the actor. Cho Seung Woo projects the character’s warmth and kindness. Catches things on very quickly; it is an inherited trait. Master Saam is another character I would consider likeable. He’s the sort of reluctant teacher figure but one who can trully appreciate talent.
Love Rain– the dad figure is quite hopeless and unhappy. Trapped in the past, unable to move beyond what he’s lost. He is unable to deal with situations, with people, his own feelings and with his family in particular. A hopeless romantic. Well interpreted in his adult version. I kind of wish to be able to offer him some consolation because he is torn all the time, though at once selfish in this inability to move on, even for his family’s sake. The dad’s first love is a quiet woman, it’s hard not to like her and both of them in their longing for each other. Overall, the feeling I get is very nostalgic and melancholic.
Queen In-hyun’s Man: Kim Bong Doo is smart and adaptable and also very kind. What’s not to like? The lead girl is problematic, she’s just such a bumpkin. But the two of them are likeable as an item on the whole. I would call them the epitome of “cuteness” all in all.
Jumong- Don’t know about the real figure but in the drama…Hae Mo Su is the victim of fate and schemes of those around him. He is portrayed as one of noble spirit and kindness, a tender-hearted person, although he may seem weak given his circumstances. Nonetheless, he is thoughtful and wise, and there was one particular moment where he just grabbed my heart completely. Jumong himself is not unlikeable, especially in his early years when he is forming friendship with later three of his most loyal men. As he grows older he becomes more driven and gains more of an edge. Jumong, moreover, is a type of a rookie who is full of surprises and reveals his cards to suitably impress at the right moments- that encourages to root for him even more.
Rich Man Poor Woman: Asahina and Yoko are two underappreciated , yet far more likeable characters than the main protagonists. Asahina may be having some issues and experiencing insecurities, partly due to being Tohru’s shadow but he is otherwise far more mature and stable. He is able to offer insightful advice. Yoko is a modern, confident woman who knows what she is after and fights for it- she is absolutely lovely.
The Chaser– the main character in the drama is one that is a victim of the legal system; he is kind and forgiving towards his friends all throughout his ordeal, while desperate to find a sense of justice..but not even for himself. His friends are all likeable too, given also the fact that most prove themselves to actually be loyal. There is a touch of humour in the character of Yong Sik. The lead is, moreover, a character the viewer is likely to sympathise with due to his circumstances.
Jewel in the Palace– the main character shows a lot of dignity and honesty in her actions. She also shows a lot of strength in dealing with events she goes through and intrigues she has to face. I find that very few actresses are able to project such a feeling of honest, simple dignity. Lee Young Ae is possibly one of the best actresses for a period piece role. The lady who takes care of her and who was a friend of her mother is another likeable character. And there is Ming Jung Ho, the gentleman.
To be Continued….