Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated Cho EK
From sergeant Hwang Jang Soo (played by Shin Seung Ho) in Netflix original series D.P. to Deok Soo (Heo Seong Tae) in Squid Game, more are noticing strong villain characters in various TV series. Evil roles complicate conflicts between characters, escalate the crisis, and make it impossible to take your eyes off the story. Often, a quality villain can make a significant difference in a drama and its viewer response. So, without further ado, here are the five best shows with the despicable villain you love to hate.
The Penthouse: War in Life (2020-2021) – Kim So Yeon (Played Cheon Seo Jin)
In the three epic seasons of The Penthouse that continued for a year and a half, Kim So Yeon took her TV villain character to the next level. All the women in this drama are willing to risk everything for their children, and of them all, Kim showed the most twisted maternal love by playing her character, Cheon Seo Jin. Kim did an excellent job of playing the dark character that many found alarming by acting in the legendary scenes where she plays her piano covered in her dead father’s blood and where she pushes Oh Yun Hee (Eugene) off a cliff. In almost every scene, her eyes were filled with hatred, and it was clear that she completely sank into the cold-hearted Cheon Seo Jin.
Remember (2015-2016) – Namkoong Min (Nam Gyu Man)
Namkoong Min, who played a psychopathic serial killer in A Girl Who Sees Smells (2015), became an even worse villain in Remember playing Nam Gyu Man, the second-generation chaebol. While his last character, Kwon Jae Hee, constantly questioned himself over his evil deeds, Nam Gyu Man in Remember was simply a ferocious character filled with rage. Besides, after realizing that villains can only do so much, Namkoong suggested adding comic elements to the script and created depth to his character. As a result, the actor’s Nam Gyu Man became a character with a perfect balance of humor and horror. However, maybe because he had enough of villain roles, the star said that he would no longer play an evil character in the future.
My Love From the Star (2013-2014) – Shin Sung Rok (Lee Jae Kyung)
Shin Sung Rok is pro at putting on a poker face, in other words, he reveals nothing through his eyes with a blank expression on his face. Shin’s unique strengths were fully demonstrated in the drama My Love From the Star. In it, he played Lee Jae Kyung, a smart businessman from a chaebol family who is also a sociopath that kills anyone he wants. Shin Sung Rok took inspiration from the novel, Jekyll and Hyde, to visually express Lee Jae Kyung’s dual nature. He styled his hair having one side fall naturally while the other firmly fixed. The scene where he fiddles with his ring was used as a sign of his cruelty. After successfully playing the role, Shin took on many other villain roles, such as Oh Tae Seok in Return (2018) and Lee Hyuk in The Last Empress (2018).
Queen Seondeok (2009) – Go Hyun Jung (Mi Shil)
Mi Shil, played by Go Hyun Jung in Queen Seon Deok, is considered one of the greatest villains in historical dramas. As the most powerful and ambitious woman in the Shilla Kingdom, Mi Shil is a character who can chop off the head of her underlings without a flinch. In that same scene, she left a famous quote, “People can lack dexterity, and people can display negligence. People… can make mistakes. But my people cannot!” Unlike other merciless villains, Go Hyun Jung’s Mi Sil had great intelligence and incredible decision-making skills. Queen Seon Deok’s viewership ratings peaked to 43 percent but dropped after Mi Shil’s death in the 50th episode. The dip in the ratings proved that her presence played a significant role in the whole drama series.
Temptation of Wife (2008-2009) – Kim Seo Hyung (Shin Ae Ri)
This year, Kim Seo Hyung showed a phenomenal female figure in Mine as the first daughter-in-law of the great Hyowon group. However, it was Shin Ae Ri in Temptation of Wife that found her fame. Shin Ae Ri has set a new bar for villain roles in Korean dramas, and the character brought the struggling actress to stardom. Shin Ae Ri is an ambitious character who is willing to do anything to climb up the social ladders. By anything, it means she is willing to steal her friend’s husband. Also, her hateful cries, “Min So Hee!!!”, has become a buzzword. The Temptation of Wife is the work that made The Penthouse writer Kim Soon Ok into a star.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies.