Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
Nam Joo Hyuk, who started off as a model, took his first lead role in one of the School series, Who Are You: School 2015, and became a rising star. Although he faced the difficulty of auditioning five times until the final casting, he was selected to play the lead role Han Yi An, setting a turning point in his acting career by flawlessly capturing the character’s worries and growth.
Since then, Nam has built up a solid career, starring in various projects, including Cheese in the Trap, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo. In 2018, he broadened his territory to the big screen with The Great Battle. Despite the pressure that came from working on his first-ever film, Nam presented performances and swept the Best New Actor Awards at various awards ceremonies that year.
And the 2019 drama The Light in Your Eyes is a work that took Nam Joo Hyuk’s acting spectrum to the next level. The drama follows a young woman who becomes 78 years old overnight after using a mysterious watch. Nam took on the role of Lee Joon Ha, an aspiring reporter who harbors anger at his alcoholic father, and showed a heartbreaking romance with Kim Hye Ja (Han Ji Min, Kim Hye Ja).
Nam was highly praised for his improved acting skills as he ideally portrayed the complex emotions of a character who has a tragic past and became lethargic in the face of cruel reality with delicate eyes and facial expressions. Also, his affectionate romance with Han Ji Min left viewers with such a deep sense of immersion.
Amid rave reviews of being a “well-made drama,” The Light in Your Eyes garnered the all-time high viewership for JTBC’s Monday-Tuesday dramas. Especially, Kim Hye Ja’s narration, inserted in the last moment of the drama, is said to have touched the hearts of many. With this drama, Nam Joo Hyuk went from being a rookie actor with potentials to a “confirmed” actor who can solely lead a project.
Nam’s performance continues without a break this year. Netflix original series The School Nurse Files was released amid positive responses, and in tvN’s new drama Start-Up, set to premiere on Oct. 17, he will play the role of Nam Do San, showing a whole new side of him.