Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Yoo Hyang
While dramas with webtoons as their original works are gaining popularity, ‘Manjjitnam’ actors are also being noticed. As a newly coined abbreviation that means “men who are straight out of a comic book,” it refers to actors who accurately depict their characters as they integrate into the role. [Translator’s Note: The term describes a visual which is so unreal that it seems to have popped out from a comic-book or an anime.] Let’s have a look at the performances of actors who have satisfied both webtoon and drama fans and thus compelled the popularity of the work.
Itaewon Class – Park Seo Jun
Itaewon Class aired in the first half of last year and gained explosive popularity not only from Korea but also globally, through Netflix. In particular, Park Seo Jun’s presence as Park Se Ro Yi, a passionate youth, was so great that fans from overseas imitated his fashion and hairstyle. Park Seo Jun was cheered on by the viewers as he was determined to move toward his goal with his ‘chestnut’ haircut and stern eyes which reminded them of the original work’s character. Though Park Se Ro Yi’s character actually gives a rather intellectual impression apart from the positive messages he spreads, Park Seo Jun made the drama’s message more persuasive by depicting him earnestly. Park Seo Jun will be attempting another work based on a webtoon in a disaster thriller movie, Concrete Utopia (working title).
Strangers From Hell – Yim Si Wan
Yim Si Wan shares a history with dramas based on webtoons. With his iconic work, Misaeng, and Strangers From Hell, his comeback drama after being discharged from the army, both are coincidentally dramas based on webtoons. If Misaeng was the work where he made a solid presence as an actor instead of an idol, Strangers From Hell brought out an unseen, yet fierce, side of Yim Si Wan which surprised everyone. Yoon Jong Woo is a character who moves to Seoul for a job and enters a one-room, where his neighbors who hide their identities as murderers raise his anxiety. As the story progresses, Yim Si Wan breaks down under extreme stress and suffers from nightmares and hallucinations. He managed to depict Jong Woo’s inherent violence only with his eyes and facial expressions.
True Beauty – Cha Eun Woo
Cha Eun Woo has been gaining rising popularity from the early stages by showing off his animated looks in the currently airing True Beauty. As he plays the protagonist Lee Su Ho who has a perfect appearance, intelligence, and athleticism, he fills the screen with dazzling visuals, as if the original work’s character was reincarnated. Fans’ hearts flutter as though he looks indifferent on the outside, he is smooth when it comes to being warm to Ju Kyung. As he proves the original work’s fans right for choosing him as Lee Su Ho with his visuals and character portrayal, Cha Eun Woo plans to deliver even more charms and ‘tsundere’ romance with Moon Ga Young.
W – Lee Jong Suk
While W is not a webtoon-originated drama, isn’t Lee Jong Suk straight out of an anime himself? While playing Kang Chul in a drama that travels between reality and the webtoon universe as a protagonist of a popular webtoon, W, he made his presence known. From action scenes such as car chasing which induced adrenaline, to dimension-crossing romance with Han Hyo Joo, he made the drama even more immersive. Lee Jong Suk’s performance was so impressive that requests for the official release of the webtoon W were flooding. Thanks to his enthusiastic performance, the drama drew a lot of attention throughout its airing and Lee Jong Suk won the grand prize at the MBC Drama Awards in that same year.
The Uncanny Counter – Cho Byeong Kyu
Cho Byeong Kyu had recently also joined the lineup of ‘Manjjitnams.’ As a drama that retells the story of a popular webtoon with the same name, The Uncanny Counter illustrates the counters who sell noodles during the day and eliminate evil spirits by night. So Mun is a protagonist who coincidentally gets to join the counters as he uncovers the secret of his parents’ deaths while chasing after the evil spirits. Cho Byeong Kyu plays the role of So Mun with his experiences, as he leads the show by having fantastic chemistries with other casts. After being reformed as a counter, he catches the eye with his adorable curly hair and unsparing action scenes. He also takes on the sentimentality of the work by vividly illustrating the complex emotion within a character who is both innocent and kind-hearted. Perhaps that is how The Uncanny Counter has been the talk of the town and managed to hit OCN’s highest viewer ratings in only six episodes.