What took me so long? Is that what you are asking? Here’s the deal. I struggled against Yoo Ah In’s portrayal of Lee Sun Jae for weeks, telling myself he really isn’t that good. It’s just me being impressed by the production and the writing. Sure, there were brilliant bits here and there, but I determined it was only Yoo Ah In in the reflected glory of Kim Hee Ae. I wasn’t going to be blinded by pretty, but remain completely objective in my assessment of this
beautiful specimen of a man experienced actor.
HA! The many moments of awe turned into a stream, then a river, then a deluge.
Finally under the weight of the vastness of awesomeness required to pull off that freaking Rachmaninoff concert, I caved. This isn’t a good actor playing a good role, this is YAI acting his fingers off in the performance of his lifetime. Linked here is a musician the same age as Sun Jae performing the same Rhapsody. If our guy was half as impressive as Danil, Hye Won’s enraptured response makes perfect sense.
I want to thank Schumann, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Lizst, Paganini, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky for inspiring the writers of Secret Love Affair. They gave us Lee Sun Jae, the personification of their love and passion for music. Not convinced he is a real boy yet – we will see how he handles the fall out from what he has done to Hye Won’s and our lives – but I still love him with all my heart.
Why do I love Lee Sun Jae as played by Yoo Ah In?
The first challenge the man had to meet for the entire 20 episodes to work is the piano acting playing. Think about how difficult lip-synching is because of the timing, and how poorly it has been executed in recent dramas. Now throw in a requirement to hit keys in exactly the right places making sure to match your back-up orchestra. He did this spectacularly. My jaw is still on the floor.
As far as the character himself, I choose this moment that YAI showed how firm a grasp he had on the part. In all his squirmy glory, he let us see Sun Jai’s bare naked soul, out in front for the jaded and tainted Hye Won to step on. He looked the lady of lies straight in the eye and called BS on her entire existence. “No, I am being sincere. I was reborn that day. You have given me a new life.” Neither knew then how those words would apply to both of them.
The same guileless face making a plea to be loved has to hide itself from the embarrassment of being laughed at. Doesn’t matter, though, he isn’t simply saying words to Hye Won, but staking his life.
This Sun Jae is whom I would protect with my life. Me and Da Mi out there killing a person to stop anyone from hurting him. How can he love so fiercely and unguarded? Why doesn’t he know better to protect himself?
Maybe I am underestimating him, though. I like how he holds his ground when he wants something. Whether he wanted the camera in the practice room turned off, or getting paid and getting rid of HW from his apartment. Things will be getting tough in the eps ahead, but this gives me confidence he has the stuff to prevail.
I love his ability to make us feel what he feels. Confusion, elation, shock, anguish, and it all has to do with his cheeks! It is brilliant style decision to keep a little extra weight on his frame for this 20 year old character. It gives him just the right amount of roundness to sell his younger age.
How about that voice? I don’t know what kills me more, the earnest “Songsangnim,” or the hesitant but sexy “H-h-h-hye Won ah.”
Sun Jae is not afraid to show that he needs affection. He isn’t our typical repressed K hero. He hugged and kissed his mother, Da Mi, and can’t stop himself from embracing Hye Won. He claims it is because he lacks the words during these emotional moments, but I think he just knows actions speak louder.
The guy’s playful and flirty. I could and have spent hours watching the scene at the bottom of his stairs. The head-tilt challenge: “Are you sure you’re not afraid?” the all-knowing eye-contact combined with the bashful look down – OY! He’s masculine, confident but still adorable.
I love his hands. They perform genius works on the piano and type his heart out onto the keyboard. They clean a lot, and grab Hye Won, and stay constantly busy, reflecting a soul who will not and cannot stay still.
Sun Jae has a strong understanding of himself. Of how he feels and of what makes him happy. When he talks to Hyung online, we get a picture of a young man who doesn’t love indiscriminately, but knows when he found the one for him…Too bad she is already the one for the Rat…
A person’s greatest strength taken to the extreme becomes his weakness. Sun Jae’s ability to go for what he wants has gotten him far in his musical life but into jail, too. I do worry it will get him into a LOT more trouble soon.
Sun Jae’s best color is black. One look at him in that uniform and I forgive him his baseball jackets. It is too bad he turned down
Sugar Momma’s Hye Won’s offer to buy him a new wardrobe. I also love how awkward Sun Jae feels in fancy clothes. This amazes me because YAI owns every photo shoot he has starred in since arriving on the scene. The man knows how to look good and the camera loves him, too. Here’s proof.
He loves her loves her loves her. I can’t breathe looking at these photos remembering that scene.
Somehow, the sensitivity Sun Jae must possess to evoke all sorts of musical moods – light, stormy, insistent, playful – transferred to his lips. Further discussion on this topic will cause things to explode. One last lips and I am done. Here my vocabulary dries up and I need a drink of cold water. Enjoy!