Yang Se Jong (양세종) — a name that not very many know yet, and overseas media currently overlooked. It’s understandable since he only has three dramas under his belt, but even with just three, he has managed to snatch SBS’ attention and has been offered his first lead role due to his outstanding performances in latest drama, Duel.
Korean media gave him several nicknames too, and they didn’t stray too far off from the word ‘Monster’, LOL. ‘Monster actor’, ‘Monster rookie’, Monster newcomer, as well as ‘Yeongi Byeontae’ are one of the few.
I have never followed an actor from the very beginning, Yang Se Jong is and will be the first. 🙂
SAIMDANG, LIGHT’S DIARY
Saimdang, Light’s Diary was actually Yang Se Jong’s first drama before he debuted with Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim, and marks the first drama he plays more than one role. Perhaps the PD saw potential in him already, or it’s because his agency negotiate a package deal that in order to for Lee Young Ae to appear in this drama, they must give Se Jong a meatier role(s). No matter which is the real reason, Saimdang kick-started his acting career. His performance in here does seem a bit more raw and immature, which actually highlighted how much he has improved in Romantic Doctor and Duel in a short span of 1 year’s time.
In this introductory post, I decided to post his works by the order that he first did them rather than the order it was aired so that his progress and improvement can be seen in a more chronological manner.
Heartbroken Lee Gyeom – Episode 4
My favourite scene was when young Lee Gyeom confronted Saimdang. It was a heartbreaking scene, since they promised each other for marriage, but she ended up marrying someone else. The emotions were just right and those tears he shed really had me swooning and impressed.
ROMANTIC DOCTOR, TEACHER KIM
Yang Se Jong grabbed my attention immediately in his debut drama, Romantic Doctors, Teacher Kim. I watched this drama because of Seo Hyun Jin and that it’s a promising medical drama. Little did I know, I would find other gems in it, including Kim Min Jae. Yang Se Jong played a general surgeon, Do In Beom—a misfit in Doldam hospital. He is the son of the show’s villain; so naturally, he faces difficulty finding a sense of belonging in Doldam. He is pressured to prove his achievement is not due to his father. Life isn’t all roses at home too, as his strict and hard-to-please father wants him to prove himself useful and worthy by placing him in Doldam. This also resulted in his constant rivalry against Yoo Yoon Seok‘s character. He is often seen as cold and distant, as well as nitpicky. In context, it doesn’t seem like he is a likeable character, but In Beom has this vulnerable and charming side that I find irresistible, and there are several scenes that really captivate and made a strong impression.
Slapped in the Face – Episode 6
In Beom’s curiosity of “Dr. Crazy Whale” eventually led him into his first daddy trouble after he performed an unauthorised operation in order to save a patient’s life at Doldam hospital. Instead of getting praised, his father slaps him. I just love the look on his face and those tears after the slap, and how he sat alone at the bus stop, looking so pitiful. With this introductory scene between the father and son, no matter how In Beom behaves badly in the drama, it was deemed difficult to dislike him.
Disapproval by Kim Sabu – Episode 15
In the beginning, In Beom is compelled to lie about his experiences in order to earn approvals or gain learning experience. I was glad that Han Suk Kyu finally caught him red-handed and gave him a good scolding, so to speak. The scene was a lot more impactful when Kim Sabu showed disappointment in him. That, I believe, made In Beom realised earning Kim Sabu’s approval meant a lot more than impressing his father. He learns that Kim Sabu genuinely treated him as an individual, not because he is the son of the man who tries to destroy Kim Sabu. He also learns that Kim Sabu had high expectation of him and approves of his skills. I particularly liked this part because of Se Jong’s emoting—the lips biting and holding back his tears made a strong impression showing us In Beom’s stubborn and prideful side. This eventually resulted in the next scene that I love.
Growing Up – Episode 20
After the fight, In Beom tended to his father’s wound. He finally gets the long-awaited approval to return to Seoul, but it came too late. In Beom has a change of heart during the course of the wait. Softly, he tells his father how much he admires him and how proud he is being his son, but now he wants to live as Do In Beom, not the son of Do Yoon Wan. He lets his father knows that he still loves him, but he wants to be independent and make a name for himself. That was In Beom’s biggest growth throughout the show—making the decision to break away from his parent’s protective wings and want to stand alone. And those tears, I was so taken by the tears.
Cute Confession – Episode 20
This scene is just waaaay too cute not to include. It’s a huge improvement between Dong Joo and In Beom. It was so nice to see them finally went from arch-enemies to friends. If only we had season 2; I want more bromance!
Duel is Se Jong’s third drama, and the PDs admitted it was a gamble casting a rookie as the clones, but they were mesmerised by him at the audition. Even though he was advertised as a supporting role in the show, the truth is, his characters are crucial and central to the plot. It’s tremendously difficult to pick out one or two outstanding scenes from this drama because he had been marvelous throughout the show—playing not one, but three different characters.
I must press that Duel is one drama must not be missed if one wants to check out how good his acting chop is. He is extremely charismatic and charming in here. Being only his third project, he has shown even more improvement in acting and emoting. His performance exceeded expectation as a rookie, and thus, earning the “Monster” nicknames from PDs and media. However, when asked how he feels about the title, this is his reaction → Link.
As Lee Sung Joon, his innocence triggers our natural instinct in wanting to protect him at all cause. As Lee Sung Hoon, you can’t help but be attracted to and swooned at his dangerous charm, and at the same time wish for him to redeem himself and pity him for what he had gone through.
Charismatic Killing – Episode 5
I feel crazy for saying this, but I honestly find him extremely attractive in this scene—the moment he appears, switches off the light and swiftly moves around in the dark in that black hood, shooting the gangsters. Compared to his previous roles, I didn’t think he was capable of being hot and sexy, but I swoon so hard in this one scene. To think, I wasn’t even fond of Sung Hoon at this stage, but it was difficult to take my eyes off of him.
Changes to the Eyes – Episode 6
This scene highlights the contrast between looking alarmed, cold and distant at first to vulnerability and sadness later. I thought it was a really good scene to showcase his emoting skills. Not to mention, why does he always look extra hot when he’s holding a gun???
Confrontation – Episode 12 and 16
What Yang Se Jong did so well is displaying the huge contrast between the personality of Sung Joon and Sung Hoon. It’s not very often we see both of them in the same scene due to the time it will require to film such scenes. However, it is the best example to show Se Jong’s rendition of the two roles.
The finale episode where they finally solve the misunderstanding is heart-breaking yet satisfying on an emotional level. When Sung Joon begs, “Let’s live like ordinary people” and Sung Hoon asks, “What’s living like ordinary people?” My heart aches for both and poor Sung Hoon—he’s never live normal life, even after he’s free for those 2 years, he hasn’t been living normally or does he know and shown how. *cries*
There are only 3 dramas, but Se Jong has already challenged 6 different roles. For his seventh role, he will portray a chef. From what I have learnt, Se Jong is one of those hard working actors that would take lessons or do what he can to expose himself to the character’s profession. With Saimdang, he didn’t want to only say his lines in Hanja without knowing their meanings, so he would look up dictionaries and write notes in his script beside the Hanja. He would also visit the art museums, and immerse in the world/atmosphere of art. For Romantic Doctor, he visited the emergency room and also observed the doctors. For the next drama, Temperature of Love, he went for cooking classes.
Having been so impressed with his acting so much after Duel, it becomes a bit scary at the thought of what if he might disappoint in his future projects because the characters or scripts aren’t as alluring as previous. With Temperature of Love, he hasn’t have much experience with adult love scenes, so this will be the first time he challenges romance. Funnily I notice in general, male actors tend to be a natural when it comes to love scenes, plus he’s in good hands since Seo Hyun Jin is an expert in rom-com, and she receives/gives kiss scenes very very well. Although I can’t be sure how well he fair portraying ‘in love’, but at least I can guarantee he won’t fail in delivering emotional, pained or heart-breaking scenes.