Kim Hyun-joong returns as yet another comic book hero

By Korea Herald

Hallyu star takes lead in KBS action-noir TV drama

  • Published : Jan 9, 2014 - 20:27
  • Updated : Jan 9, 2014 - 20:27
KBS’ “Inspiring Generation” stars Kim Hyun-joong (right) and Im Su-hyang attend the drama’s press conference at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Seoul on Thursday. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

Hallyu star Kim Hyun-joong’s long-awaited comeback to the small screen in the title role of KBS’ “Inspiring Generation” (working title) is just around the corner.

This represents Kim’s first TV drama since MBC’s “Naughty Kiss” failed to bring in high viewer ratings more than three years ago and also represents the singer-actor’s third comic book-turned-series project.

Both KBS’ “Boys Over Flowers,” which helped catapult the star to small screen fame, and “Naughty Kiss” were based on comic book series. “Inspiring Generation” is no exception.

Based on a comic book series by Bang Hak-gi, “Inspiring Generation,” however, is a full-fledged, action-driven melodrama, unlike Kim’s previous rom-com works.

Shedding his pretty boy persona for the rough-shod skin of his new hero, Shin Jeong-tae, Kim looks set to gain some male fans for his swift-fisted lead in the upcoming action-noir epic.

“Before, the spotlight was on my pretty boy image,” Kim, 27, said at the drama’s press conference in Seoul on Thursday. “So I jumped on board ‘Inspiring Generation’ to put the focus on a manly persona, to show my masculine side.”

The drama’s director, Kim Jung-kyu, revealed that he feels the actor “suits his role to a T.”

“Kim Hyun-joong himself is really a guy of guys,” director Kim added. “He has a real knack for delivering those macho lines.”

“Inspiring Generation” is partially set in 1930s Shanghai, where Shin dukes it out with the best fighters that Korea, China and Japan have to offer.

In short, viewers can expect plenty of hand-to-hand fighting and high-flying stunts in the upcoming series, the kind of gritty, hero-making stuff that boys-turned-men have been weaned on since birth.

Kim, however, confessed that he himself has very little real life fist-fighting experience, admitting that in middle and high schools he stood on the sidelines and “only watched others fight.”

Nevertheless, he seems up to the task of portraying this latest lead, Shin, whose mother abandoned him as a child and whose father passed away when he was 10.

Left to fend for himself and his sister, Shin joins an illegal smuggling outfit, picking up some serious street smarts along the way.

When he finally comes of age, he aspires to exact revenge on those who have wronged him and his friends, using his fighting skills to make his way to the top and become the best fighter in the land.

Along the way, Shin finds himself confronting his love-turned-nemesis Tekuchi Gaya ― played by “IRIS 2” actress Im Su-hyang ― and also reunites with his childhood sweetheart-turned-chanteuse Ok-ryeon ― played by Jin Se-yeon.

“Inspiring Generation” starts airing Jan. 15 on KBS 2 TV Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m.

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldcorp.com)