Im Si-wan returned from the army on March 27, and I don’t know about you all, but I’m super excited. His fans don’t have to wait too long for his newest project, as he’s already announced it two months ago. While we wait for his new drama—OCN’s Strangers From Hell—let’s take a look at some of his most memorable drama roles.
As a determined office worker in Misaeng (2014)
I mean, this has to be number one, right? A K-drama fan who has not heard of Misaeng is rare. It’s a pretty straightforward office drama revolving around Jang Geu-rae, a former baduk (Go) player. After failing to make it as a successful and professional baduk player, he learns to navigate the cruel corporate world armed with nothing but a high school equivalency exam certificate (GED) and strategies for the game of Go. Starring with him in this drama are Lee Sung-min and Kang So-ra.
Im Si-wan won several awards, including Best New Actor from the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards, and even more hearts for this role. He imbued Jang Geu-rae with naivety and determination that was as heartbreaking as it was inspiring. While everyone in the show acted brilliantly, he was at the heart of this drama that became a cultural phenomenon in South Korea, drawing the attention of many viewers, especially the white-collar workers in their twenties and thirties who could relate to the themes used in the drama.
As a cold young man in Man from the Equator (2012)
Man from the Equator is the tale of childhood best friends Lee Jang-il (played by Lee Joon-hyuk) and Kim Sun-woo (Uhm Tae-woong) whose friendship takes a sinister turn after they become involved in a web of lies and crimes. The first few episodes explore the characters’ backstories when they were teens, with Im Si-wan essaying the role of the younger Jang-il.
What a nuanced portrayal of disturbed young adulthood this was. He managed to act out the purer aspects of Jang-il’s personality, love for his friend and idealistic dreams of becoming a righteous prosecutor, as well as the darker aspects—his desperation to leave poverty behind even if it meant betraying his friend with absolute finesse.
As a crown prince in The King Loves (2017)
A gorgeous tale of friendship and love set in Goryeo, The King Loves is Im Si-wan’s last drama before he started his military service. It stars Im Si-wan as crown prince Wang Won, his first lead role in a period drama. Wang Won shares a deep friendship with Wang Rin (Hong Jong-hyun), his best friend and bodyguard, and Han Eun-san (Im Yoon-ah), an incredibly beautiful noblewoman. Things change when Won and Rin develop feelings for Eun-san and become political rivals.
This is another show that managed to bring out the range of Im Si-wan’s acting. His character starts out as a typical ambitious monarch with lust for power and seems unable to reconcile with the fact that the woman he loves, falls in love with his friend. In the later episodes, the prince undergoes a radical transformation upon realizing the value of love and friendship. The way the actor acted out his coming-of-age arc from a possible tyrant to a sacrificial friend and king was beautiful to behold.
As an upright scholar in Moon Embracing The Sun (2012)
Last but definitely not the least. Im Si-wan made his acting debut in a mainstream drama through Moon Embracing The Sun, a historical romance series about a crown prince (Kim Soo-hyun) and the love of his life (Han Ga-in) who get separated as teens when they are about to marry and meet again as adults without recognizing each other. The actor portrayed the role of a young upright scholar and elder brother of the principal female character so well that people continuously remembered his face and name after the drama’s broadcast despite his very limited screen time which spanned only six episodes (out of 20).
Im Si-wan owes a huge part of his success as an actor to this drama, thanks to its massive ratings that hit nearly 30 % in just three weeks and peaked at 42.2 percent during its finale.
ABOUT IM SI-WAN’S NEXT DRAMA: OCN confirmed on January 28, 2019, that he will headline its upcoming drama Strangers From Hell (or Hell Is Other People). A drama adaptation of a popular webtoon of the same name which is written and illustrated by Kim Yong-ki, Strangers From Hell is a thriller-horror about a young man who moves to Seoul from the countryside and encounters strange events while living in an old dormitory. The drama is scheduled to air in the second half of this year.
Congratulations on safely completing your military service, Im Si-wan! We can’t wait for you to come back to our TV (and laptop) screens. Welcome back to K-dramaland!