There are new Hallyu Kings in kdrama town:- Lee Min Ho, Kim Soo Hyun, Lee Jong Suk and Joo Won. Is this the dawn of the second Hallyu wave?
Since numbers don’t lie, popularity and ratings do tell the story.
Lee Min Ho seems like he has arrived a long time ago. Perhaps he was not officially crowned until recently but his star has certainly shone since the debut of Boys Over Flowers. Perhaps not the best actor, nor the best singer or dancer but undeniably the most popular. He’s got his own wax figure in Shanghai, over 25 million followers on Weibo, and made CNN top 20 hottest Korean male celebrities. Shot to superstardom over 6 years ago, his allegiance of fangirls have never wavered and many of his dramas continue to be commercial success internationally. So what is it about Lee Min Ho that makes millions of girls and women swoon over him? His looks or his talent? Or is it both? No matter how I slice it, the proof is in the pudding. He must be doing something right to earn all this love.
Kim Soo Hyun also gained immense popularity and similar cult status with fans especially after the release of You Who Came from the Stars. He got a jump start due to the popularity of Dream High and The Moon That Embraces the Sun but YWCTS definitely propelled him to stardom. Both idols have impressive China following. Needless to say, if China embraces you, you’ve essentially arrived. Good looks definitely help and what Kim also has going for him is being blessed with getting cast in critically acclaimed productions that have success both domestically and overseas; and it certainly doesn’t hurt to be paired with the A-list of equally successful female actresses the likes of Jun Ji Hyun and Gong Hyo Jin. In Kim’s case, perhaps a bit of good fortune and wisdom for picking the right project at the right time? And for sure talent counts and no doubt a lot of hard work.
The third wheel of the fantastic four is none other than Lee Jong Suk. Younger than his compatriots he is also the more flamboyant of the three. The common denominator among these three is none other than China. Lee Jong Suk also catapulted to Hallyu status ever since his drama I Hear Your Voice hit the mark with the Chinese viewers. Downloaded more than 350 million times on Youko and Toudo by the time the the last episode aired, his Weibo account exploded as soon as it opened, attracting hundreds of thousands of followers. His subsequent dramas, Doctor Stranger and Pinocchio were also immensely popular with fans in China. Message to future Hallyu King wannabe? China?
But up until this week, the fourth quartet of the group has been Kim Woo Bin, the rising star of bad boy fame from the Heirs. But only this week I read on Koala’s that K-News has anointed Joo Won as the fourth member of this quartet due to his talent in pulling in the ever elusive domestic ratings. From Good Doctor to Ojakgyo Brothers to the currently airing YongPal his acting prowess has earned him this spot among the top four. The only King where China isn’t a factor, at least not yet.
Funny enough, none of these four happen to make my list of favourite actors but then as the numbers show, I am in the minority. Chalk it up to generation gap perhaps. I have to admit I am not that familiar with Joo Won and his body of works so I will reserve my judgement for later after I watch YongPal. But for the other three, yes, I am quite familiar with them and their shows. They are everywhere in kdrama land; the news, the mainstream shows, the forums, the fanfics etc. But hats off to them, they have certainly earned these titles as proven by their enormous fan base.
So what traits make you go nutty over your favourite actor? First impression? Character? Style? Of course, there’s always the obvious eye candy factor, talent, overall charisma and perhaps just because popularity breeds popularity?