Number 10: Day 3

Actress(es) That Proved You Wrong About Their Acting Abilities

이열음 Lee Yeol Eum
It’s perhaps a little misleading to say  this young woman “surprised me” about her acting ability. That implies I thought she was a bad actress and was pleasantly surprised to find that she was not.  In fact, she simply surprised me, period.
Student Stalker
She appeared on my Drama viewing radar very suddenly in King of High School Savvy, playing the clingy, borderline psychotic-stalker wannabe girlfriend to Seo In Guk’s lead character, and dongsaeng to Lee Ha Na’s female lead.  She was playing more or less her own age, and delivered a credible performance for her first major supporting role. The character’s arc was predictable, going from crazy stalker to revealing hidden vulnerabilities, but her performance did not strike any false notes with me.
Office Maknae
Just eight months after KoHS ended, she was back in another supporting role, as the office maknae in Divorce Lawyer in Love. A certain stunner in a blue dress excepted (stay tuned), DLiL was NOT a good Drama, but Ms Lee’s performance was one of the few bright spots. Her character was worlds away from the high schooler she portrayed in KoHS, as shown in the clip above. Despite the obvious age gap, her character was very much the alpha in the pair. Once again, I did not ever find myself thinking that she was out of her depth or lacking credibility in the part. Her best was yet to come, though.
Little Lolita Lost

lye2 by inorogbarbatesc

I raved about Achiara’s Secret in  more general terms  elsewhere, so this time I’m focusing on Ms Lee’s performance. This Drama came just four months after DLiL,  but was worlds away in tone from it. No fragile clingy high school crush here, nor a matter-of-fact young office worker. She was back playing a high schooler, but this one was a bully and a scheming manipulator who made a concerted play for someone who turned out to be very much off limits. Her character was not “nice” by any means, but she was definitely a victim. Despite the magnitude of her sins, she turned out to be very much more sinned against. As the clip above shows, she thought she was a big bad wolf, but was nearer to being Little Red Riding Hood.  I thought Ms Lee handled the challenge of portraying the differing yet closely connected facets of the character well.

Onward and Upward

After Achiara,  Ms. Lee secured her first lead, as the young version of the lead character in Monster. Fifty episode revenge melos are really  not for me, so I didn’t watch it, but it’s an important part of the reason I chose her for Day 3 of the challenge. She is a very hard-working young actor. While both DLiL  and Achiara  were airing, she had a small part in a KBS daily, Save The Family,  and she maintains a very astutely thought out and ruthlessly managed presence on Instagram, helping to maintain and grow her public profile. She is in short, a young lady who is clearly serious about her chosen profession and works hard to grow her skills and challenge herself by taking on a variety of different roles. In a world where more famous faces get cast as leads on debut despite reservations about their talent, it really is  a pleasant surprise to see an actor “doing her time” as it were, working her way up by diligent practice in honing her craft. I look forward to seeing her in other  roles and will not be at all surprised if she becomes a big name in the future.

Addendum: Two others I considered strong candidates for this category were Dasom for her work in Shut Up Family  and  Eccentric Daughter-in-Law  and Minah for her great performance in Beautiful Gong Shim

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