A Rising Star – Kim Sung-Cheol

I have been watching Our Beloved Summer on Netflix (which is awesome), and even though the leading male and female are perfect and captivating, it’s the second male lead that keeps stealing my attention. Kim Sung-Cheol plays Kim Ji-Ung, the psuedo-adoptive-brother of the male lead. In the show he’s a videographer, best suited to remaining behind the camera, observing everything but rarely taking part in it. He’s stubborn, a bit arrogant, closed-off, and terribly sad. He’s hyper-aware of other people’s feelings yet completely ignorant of how they feel about him. The sensitive person with the hard shell.

He’s so in his head all the time and has no idea he’s telegraphing all this emotions for anyone bothering to pay attention to him.

As these things go, once you notice an actor you start to see them everywhere.

I finally watched Sweet Home, which blew me away, and lo and behold… towards the end… in walked Kim Sung-Cheol. Once again playing this nuanced character that called for your sympathy and your criticism with equal measure. He was a member of a street gang that was going around terrorizing survivors of the apocalypse, but he stuck out from the group. His calm demeanor, his sad yet cold eyes, his world-weary posture. It was not surprising when his character ended up being a major focus of the plot. I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping we’ll see this character return should we get a second season of Sweet Home.

He’s the only one without a giant weapon but he’s the one you’re most wary of.

As if the K-Drama gods were rewarding me, I ran into him again when I was rewatching Arthdal Chronicles (speaking of second seasons – I find myself checking for news of this show’s next installment at least once a month). Though I’ve watched this show about four times now, I had never bothered to look up this actor. He’s one of my favorite character’s in the show, arriving mid-season to co-star with Song Joong-Ki’s Eunseom. This time, I recognized him instantly. Kim Sung-Cheol!

In Arthdal Chronicles, he plays a plucky foil Ipsaeng, a young man who has experienced the hardships and treachery of the world first-hand. He’ll do whatever it takes to survive, whether its lie, cheat, steal, or betray. He’s made his peace with the horrors of the world and is disturbed, greatly, by Eunseom’s alternative perspective and continued belief in humanity’s goodness. Kim Sung-Cheol is so good at playing these conflicted characters, whose eyes show so much emotion even while they are desperately denying they feel any.

He’s also really funny and gets into the physicality of his performances.

But most of all, he’s got that Je ne sais quoi – that undeniable something that draws your eye. I find myself focusing on him even when he’s next to the lead actors, some of the biggest stars in the game. He’s distinctive. His face, his voice, his performances are memorable and unique.

I’ve already added his other dramas to my que – and look forward to seeing him playing other characters. I doubt we’ll have to wait long for him to be cast as the lead in a drama – seems inevitable to me.