Number 6: Day 18

Favourite Second Female Lead

한고은 Han Go Eun

This was a REALLY hard one to write up. Two strong candidates, but in the end,  Ms. Han wins for the role above, for the reasons outlined below.

In Capital Scandal Ms Han plays Cha Song Joo, a high-profile gisaeng, Beautiful, sophisticated and whip smart, she is the best friend of the lead Seon Woo Wan, played by Kang Ji Hwan. It’s one of the many strengths of her character that theirs is a strictly non-romantic relationship. Genuine platonic male-female friendships are vanishingly rare in K Dramas, especially when they sizzle like this one does:

Capital Scandal by inorogbarbatesc

Cha Song Joo plays mentor and confidant to Seon Woo Wan, teaching him about love and life. The latter is where her role really shines. More than just a pretty face, she’s a resistance fighter, who turns out to have hidden depths. It’s almost certain that anyone reading this has seen Capital Scandal but just in case any reader hasn’t, I won’t give any spoilers. This post is about what makes her character and performance so special, and that is her independence and drive. Cha Song Joo stayed true to her character from beginning to end. She was never an accessory, never a damsel in distress and never suffered the dreaded love lobotomy so common in K Dramas, when a once competent independent woman becomes a simpering simpleton who can’t do anything except pine for Oppa. There was none  of that with this character. She did fall in love, hard, but she remained the same strong, intelligent and capable woman throughout. Her story arc was meaningful and satisfying, and I’m sure Ms Han considered it a role to die for.  .
채정안 Chae Jeong An

When the Drama opened the lead female in 용팔이 (YawnPal) was in a coma. Long before it finally ended, many of its viewers were. This is another instance where I find myself praising something I really liked about a Drama I really disliked. Chae Jeong An plays the sister-in-law to the comatose lead, and like Ms Han’s character in Capital Scandal, hers is a confident, intelligent, independent woman. Also like Ms Han’s gisaeng, Ms Chae’s character plays up the superficiality of her beauty, pretending to be an empty headed piece of pretty fluff, all the while playing her own game. She was on no one’s side but her own, as the screencap above nicely captures, and her character revelled in the ambiguity and uncertainty she generated, as in this clip. The bright pink jacket and sunny yellow skull another nice example of  the duality of her character.

yawnpal by inorogbarbatesc

After lauding Ms Chae and her character so much, why did I end up awarding her only the runner up position? Because of a critical flaw that was absolutely no fault of hers. In Capital Scandal,  Ms. Han’s character stayed true to herself right to the end of her arc. Sadly, that did not happen to Ms Chae’s character. In an inversion of what happened to her Once Was A Romcom character, the “writer” of this Drama, with about four episodes to go,  gave her character the love lobotomy I mentioned earlier. Gone was the acerbically funny, clinically self-focused and ever guarded super second. In her place, a simpering, helpless waif who would do anything to “save her man”. The evisceration of her character made no sense, and Ms Chae did what she could with the hollowed out remains of her character, but this sadly familiar tragic end to a promising second lead denied her the win. The late stumble allowed Ms Han to steal first place by virtue of her character’s consistency. In the event that Ms. Chae  ever sees this, it is my hope that memories of her pay cheque from the Drama may at least slightly take the edge off the bitter taste of defeat.

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