Chae Jong Hyeop Makes Stellar Debut in Japan: ‘Eye Love You’ Takes Netflix by Storm

chae jong hyeop eye love you
chae jong hyeop eye love you
Credit: TBS

Rising star Chae Jong Hyeop, known for his roles in tvN’s Castaway Diva and Nevertheless, has made a splash in Japanese living rooms with his debut in the TBS Tuesday drama Eye Love You, which premiered on the 23rd and immediately rocketed to #1 on Netflix Japan in the TV Show category. This marks a rare achievement for a Korean actor to lead a primetime drama on Japanese terrestrial television, capturing local audiences’ curiosity and interest.

In Eye Love You, Chae Jong Hyeop stars opposite popular Japanese actress Fumi Nikaido, playing a Korean exchange student researching endangered animals in Japan. Nikaido’s character, who can read people’s minds by looking into their eyes, finds unexpected comfort and growing affection in Chae Jong Hyeop’s character, despite the language barrier.

The drama incorporates several Korean elements, with Chae Jong Hyeop’s character occasionally speaking Korean lines like “I like you,” and serving traditional Korean dishes such as kimchi and side dishes, which has resonated well with viewers familiar with Korean culture through K-dramas. This cross-cultural romance has outshone local popular animation series on Netflix Japan, holding the title of “most-watched TV show” for three consecutive days since the 25th, according to FlixPatrol.

Local reactions suggest the production’s “bold casting” was a hit. There have only been a few instances of Korean actors leading in Japanese dramas, such as Kim Tae Hee in FujiTV’s Boku to Star no 99 Nichi in 2011 and Shim Eun Kyung in NHK’s drama Gunjo Ryoiki in 2021. Producer Nakajima Keisuke said, “His impressive height of 186cm and his gentle smile caught our attention. After watching him in Korean dramas like ‘Nevertheless,’ we judged him capable of delivering heartfelt performances, which led to his casting.”

Following the broadcast, Japanese social media has been abuzz with praise for Chae Jong Hyeop, highlighting his remarkable physique and charming “puppy-like” smile. Riding this wave of popularity, Chae Jong Hyeop is now appearing on various local variety programs. Meanwhile, Eye Love You will also be available in Netflix Korea starting from the 31st.

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