Earlier this month, it was made known that one of the most anticipated K-dramas to air this month would be The K2. The series stars Ji Chang Wook and Song Yun Ah as the primary lead characters. Kim Je Ha (Chang Wook) is a hired mercenary under the JSS special forces. He is a capable agent but a past incident made him into a fugitive. He is hired by Choi Yoo Jin (Yun Ah), the wife of the presidential candidate Jang Se Joon (Jo Sung Ha) and the eldest daughter of a chaebol family. She is ambitious, merciless, and will do anything to get Se Joon the presidency so she can become the First Lady.
Needless to say, The K2 does have elements for a successful K-drama. Given its high budget, which is spent on a plethora of martial arts, camera techniques that imitate bullet time, and even shooting a small part of the series in Spain, some are already giving it the moniker of the next “Blockbuster” right after Descendants of the Sun.
Unfortunately, it takes just one negative factor for any K-drama with potential blockbuster to become a flop. All one has to do is look at Uncontrollably Fond, which some also called the next blockbuster after Descendants of the Sun but flopped. Many seasoned K-drama fans mostly blame Suzy’s “Tier Four K-pop idol actor” acting. The K2 is in the same situation as Uncontrollably Fond as Yoona is also recognized as a “Tier Four K-pop idol actor.”
Given the aforementioned in mind, can Yoona make a welcome comeback — as in the K-drama community will welcome her back — to K-dramas in The K2? Or will the Girls’ Generation K-pop idol actress’ past criticisms of being a bad actress come back to haunt her and force her to hightail it back to China.
For starters, it is best to explain what the “Tiers” mean for K-pop idol actors. Among the K-drama communities, K-pop idol actors are divided up into five tiers depending on their talent and skills as an actor or actress. Tier Five is considered the worst of the worst such as Minho of Shinee, Hyeri of Girls’ Day, and Jessica Jung. Tier One is considered the best of the best such as Eunji of Apink, T.O.P. of Big Bang, and Uee of After School. Yoona, just like Suzy, is a Tier Four K-pop idol actress. Any K-pop idols in this tier have a sliver of potential but not much.
Yoona’s sliver of potential shows in her strengths. First off, all her characters she’s played are varied. Second, she’s greatly improved with each K-drama. Third, she has strong character comprehension. Sadly, her weaknesses outweigh her strengths in that she is known for forced or robotic acting, lack of expression during highly emotional scenes especially crying scenes, repetition of facial expressions, facial ticks like teeth gritting during angry scenes and “fish mouth” during shocked scenes, and little to no subtle acting. Luckily for her, Yoona’s characters are very straightforward to play.
Yoona’s bad acting may also be linked to the stigmatic view that any K-drama she is in as a lead character will flop. Yoona has played the female lead in four K-dramas before The K2, three through the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), You Are My Destiny, Love Rain, and Prime Minister And I, and one through the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Cinderella Man. In order for a K-drama to be a success on those channels (free-to-watch), they need to earn a viewership rating average in the double digits. Every single one of those dramas rated between 5 to 8 percent.
If the ratings for Yoona’s K-dramas as a female lead are not bad enough, there is a conspiracy surrounding her role in Prime Minister and I. The K-drama’s production company is SM Entertainment, which so happens to be the company Yoona is signed to as the “face” of Girls’ Generation. Ergo, it is believed SM Entertainment made the K-drama to push Yoona as a good or at least improving actress.
Nevertheless, four back-to-back flopping K-dramas is not good on any Hallyu stars’ record. Maybe that is why Yoona made the jump from K-dramas to C-dramas this year, playing the female lead role in God of War, Zhao Yun. It was in this series Yoona would finally find success as God of War, Zhao Yun was a critical success and the number one drama in China during its airing, It even beat Descendants of the Sun.
Given the success she received in God of War, Zhao Yun, it is understandable for Yoona to have insecurities about acting in a K-drama again. According to Korean news outlet Joongboo through Yibada, Yoona felt burdened with the idol actress prejudice and even experienced some difficulties in some of her other projects. Thankfully, her fellow cast members, especially Ji Chang Wook and Song Yoon Ah, are “praising her” which in turn will help her to be confident in acting because ultimately, they want The K2 to be a success.
If Yoona has learned to improve her acting, she might be the reason for the series’ success. If not, she might be the reason for its failure. Ultimately, only time will tell if all the preconceived praises of The K2 as the next Descendants of the Sun are true or not. One point that will make it difficult for The K2 to earn that 26 to 30 percent viewership average Descendants of the Sun has is that it airs on tvN, a pay channel. This means its audience is relatively a lot smaller than a K-drama airing on KBS, such as Descendants of the Sun. It is off to a good start earning a 3.257 percent viewership for the Seoul National Capital Area and a 3.225 percent viewership for the nation as provided by AGB Nielsen Korea, but that says nothing about the long run.
The K2 airs on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. KST. The series is scheduled to be 16 episodes long. For those who do not have access to Korean channels, especially the pay channels, it can be viewed for free, with ads, exclusively on DramaFever. Starting with the third episode, premium members will have one week of exclusive access to the latest episodes.
[Featured Image by SM Entertainment]