by Yoon Na Rae, March 10, 2015
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It was my first year as a teacher and I was out of mind trying to move on from being a college student and having a bit of responsible attitude to children when a work seonbae kept bugging me to share her love for Korean stuff. I was never interested in Asian stuff – being Asian myself - and I was more into British and European cultures. I was head over heels in love with English Literature, and I had no time to experiment with her whims. When I ran out of excuses and got my new laptop; I had to accept the CD's she gave me. Reluctantly I started EHB (Exploration of the Human Body); Super Junior’s 2007 show and I found it quite interesting. I paused after two episodes and decided to watch one of the films. My luck!! My first film was 71: Into the Fire.

I hate wars; SO much. I ignore everything that has to do with war and go crazy if I ever find myself involved. But still I watched that film.

At that time of my life I was a radical person who believed in no gray area and that people are either good or bad. So when I watched the film; I poured all the grudges and hatred I had against the world into the role played by Cha Seung Won. It was my first film so I didn’t separate between the role and the person. For a year afterwards; I hated him with all my might. I’ll tell you later how that hatred turned into addiction.

The gorgeous and ever charismatic 44-year old actor – and whose son; Noah; is my age!!! - has had a flourishing and bright career ever since his debut in 1997 – when I was 7!! He has acted in a variety of roles, and he has never EVER repeated himself. He’s a new person in every role; and that’s one big reason why I love him.

I’m gonna talk a lot today guys because I’ve been preparing this forever so please bear with me – and mind his long career! I’m going to list his works as I watched them. 


71: Into the Fire

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If an actor makes you hate his guts and his voice haunts your dreams; then he really did a great job. He acted the coldblooded, fierce, goal-oriented, and inflexible North Korean captain Park Mu Rang. 

It’s been three years since I watched the film and I vividly remember his merciless stares, the way he gritted his teeth and the corner of his mouth lift when he got angry and his last words to Kwon Sang Woo which summarized the endless struggle; ‘’The only problem is that I was born in North Korea and you were born in South Korea.’’ Cha Seung Won perfectly symbolized all that I hated then in a marvelous way (and I’m shaking right now!!). 


Athena: Goddess of War

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Of course I never checked his name then; I actually checked none of the actors. I only cared about the dramas Super Junior’s members were in. So a few months after 71, I started Athena for Choi Siwon. I was in my prime and crazy love for SuJu, so I would have watched the drama no matter what. I’m normally good at faces but at the beginning of my Korean journey I barely recognized SuJu members so when CSW appeared I couldn’t tell who he was by his face but by the deep effect his voice left. I was about to faint. I just didn’t want to watch the drama, but Siwon was there and I did. The drama is still my favourite action drama thanks to the amount of emotions I put into it. 

Son Hyuk is a professional, talented, organized, bloody, merciless and emotionless (or that's how I defined him then) agent of the secret organization Athena. He never hesitates to do anything to get to his goal. Once he hesitates; he loses. His hairstyle, goatee, outfits and voice molded the character into his interpretation of it. Cha Seung Won didn’t act the character. There was no CSW; there was only Son Hyuk. Even after becoming a stalker; every time I look through his Athena’s photos I get the same chills. And as I mentioned; that was not him, it was Son Hyuk. 


The City Hall 

So the first year ended and I was already in love with Kim Sun Ah after watching Kim Sam Soon, Scent of a Woman and I Do I Do. So naturally I jumped to her other works and I started The City Hall. When he appeared in the first scene, I paused the episode and called my seonbae and told her that the guy I hate the most was in the drama. I didn’t know his name and I didn’t want to know. She told me to drop it; I couldn’t because of Kim Sun Ah. By the end of the 1st episode, I had already fallen into his trap. 

Acting Jo Gook; an ambitious, talented, firm, organized, blunt young politician who falls in love with a vulgar woman with hidden talents and beauty, CSW showed aspects I hadn’t seen. His sense of humour, heartbreaking tears and deep and sincere love were new to me. I watched him as I would watch an alien; meticulously, cautiously and affectionately. The drama still tops my Rom-com list and Kim Sun Ah ruled, yes. But if it wasn’t him there, it would have never been the same. 


                                        Break Out

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So the moment I opened my heart to him the crazy journey began. And I watched Break Out. Now that was a phenomenon. For someone who ferociously hated CSW to watch him in this kind of role was definitely a trial. Yang Cheol Gon; his character; is a snobby and superficial gangster wannabee who gets involved with Heo Bok Gu (my favourite 1960-er Kim Seung Woo) over a lighter. His hairstyle, tone, gestures and DEEP conversations left me in a stance. I kept asking myself who was that. I fell for KSW there, liked the film and could not connect the CSW who made me hate him to death then swept me off my feet with the idiot on screen. I thankfully breathed in and gave him another try. 


Blades of Blood

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The bad guy came back.

I love sageuk; it’s my favourite genre, and I was in love with CSW then so I had to watch that film. He was hateful enough; in a gorgeous way. Ambitious and self-centered Lee Mong Hwak, who believed he was patriotic enough to get rid of anyone in his way to achieve the great cause, was played by Cha Seung Won. To see him in a white hanbok and a hat was arresting. I kept looking at his eyes throughout the film; his determined gaze as he killed his enemies and racking stare as he killed his friends. I couldn’t understand, justify or sympathize with his character. I hated the character and was amazed at his outstanding performance that made me hate him again. The film itself was great and I cried my heart out at the last scene. 


Kick the Moon

Now that was a perfect film. 

Because of a harsh high school experience, Choi Gi Dong (our CSW) decides to quit being a bully and works hard till he becomes a teacher. Because of that same experience, the best student in his class; Park Young Jun (Lee Sung Jae) throws his studies aside and becomes a gangster. The two classmates meet after 10 years, and a whole new life opens up to them. 

I was a bully at school and I became a teacher, so I understand the kind of conflict that happens. CSW presented that conflict in the most brilliant way. He was funny, silly, honest, impulsive and innocent. The story is great and the film is perfect. The bromance between the two leads is epic. I got back on love track after this. 


 Secret

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Guilt, love and redemption. How can all his works be awesome?!

Detective Kim Seong Ryeol was a faithless and irresponsible man who caused the death of his own daughter. He did whatever he could afterwards to receive the forgiveness of his wife (Song Yoon Ah). What sacrifices would he make to gain that forgiveness? CSW with guilt written on his forehead and awakened love for his wife makes a perfect combination for a conflicted man. He had my heart in his hand throughout the film. He rocked! 


The Greatest Love

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It was my fault to compare. I knew I shouldn’t compare it to City Hall. I read that lots of people loved GL more but for me CH was incomparable. Gong Hyo Jin is a favourite actress, the drama was really good, and CSW outdid himself but I kept comparing. Bad me!!

So here he’s the spoiled Dok Ko Jin who has the world in his hands. He’s everything a jerk can be: rich, spoiled, bossy, snobby, proud, egocentric and rude, but so adorable. He falls for a woman who had had everything but lost it. His progress to become a ‘’human being’’, his slow change and his own awareness of that were just beautiful. His serious moments would make my heart skip a beat. I hated so much that they made him shave his goatee; it was the best part. 


You’re All Surrounded

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I waited for this drama on fire; literally. I hated the stylist for the hairstyle and shaving, and I went crazy after his insane loss of weight. But that all disappeared after the very first scene. Now that’s the character I love. 

Yes Detective Seo Pan Seok, boss them around, lecture, preach, yell, run, hit, do whatever you feel like because it’s all honey to me. The cold mask that hides a scarred man! The scarred man who is not alive but merely living! The bleeding heart and pleading eyes! And that supplying voice! He killed me in that drama. He was simply the best. And the drama was the best. 


Bodyguard

You know that kind of drama when you can’t drop it but you force yourself to sit and watch it! Bodyguard is that kind of drama. 

Hong Kyeong Tak is a hot-tempered, indecisive and impulsive unemployed man of 30. He’s, on the other hand, honest and caring. He gets a job as a bodyguard because of his fighting skills, and a new world opens up in front of him. Never yielding, he does things his own way. He was so adorable here; well that was all there was about the drama.


Man on High Heels

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Before: The last person on Earth I would have expected to act such a role was CSW.

After: Nobody else should have done that role but CSW. 

To think of him as having a feminine self inside! To think of him as the most scarred and vulnerable woman on the inside and the toughest and strongest man on the outside! Aside from the depth the film and the role presented; he broke my heart. He literally did. I just couldn’t hold my tears. How on Earth he could have embodied the role I have not the slightest clue! I was awed! 


Blood Rain

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Welcome sageuk! Thanks writer and director!

Won Kyu is a detective who goes by the book; strictly, seriously, uprightly and inflexibly. When faced with a case that would require him to risk all that he believed in, what would he do? Conflicted, scared and caring he! Bless him! 


Eye for an Eye

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Hallelujah!! Let’s sculpt a monument for the two leads!! 

Ahn Hyeon Min is an ordinary person who turns into a genius plotter for revenge. He’s talented and shrewd. He leads a head-on war against Captain Sung Chang Baek (Han Seok Kyu). Brilliance, charisma and crazy moments. I mentioned when I wrote about it before that I really didn’t know how I survived before watching it. 


Murder, Take One

Artless and straightforward prosecutor Choi Yeon Gi finds himself stuck with a complicated murder case. He vows to see it to the end. 

His angry fits are just out of that world. His mad eyes, gritted teeth and clenched fists are so; well… sexy!! He gave the role more than the role itself would have expected. And once again I was amazed. 


Libera Me

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I read long ago that this film was his way to fame. After I watched it, I understood why. The film is not for the weak-hearted. CSW aside; the story, production and acting was superb in a way I won’t be able to describe, so you MUST watch it. I don’t usually force my opinion, but I will here. And CSW is the villain: a psycho arsonist who decides to save the kids of the world by setting fire on their abusers. Not any fires; brilliant, huge and murderous fires. His encounter with Choi Min Soo in the last scene should be forever transferred from a generation to a generation. I’m serious!! I hated him again here; sympathized yes, understood definitely, justified; NEVER. My favourite psycho so far.


Jail Breakers

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DAEBAK CHA SEUNG WON!! 

I believe this what the writer and director said before they started shooting the film: 

Dear Seung Won; 

Forget about all that you’re learned and acted. Don’t think. Just act the most aimless and the biggest idiot on the planet; you’ll be fine. 

And that exactly what he did. The film is a brilliant and addictive account on idiocy. Instead of breaking out of prison, let’s break in.

One of his best performances – though every performance is one of his best XD


My Teacher Mr. Kim

Cha Seung Won’s personal favourite and a cultural heritage. 

As teacher Kim Bong Du, CSW showed a side he never before or afterwards showed; a normal human being. 

The film is about Teacher Kim’s journey from an irresponsible, selfish teacher to a real teacher; a caring, responsible, honest and upright teacher. Watching the children transform a person, crawling into his heart and cleaning the dust there is an exceptional experience. I could relate as a teacher and I cried buckets. 

He guest-starred in the film Lovely Rivals under the same name and was adorable. 


South of the Border

Melodramatic CSW.. I know!!

What might the love of one honest woman do to a shy and simple North Korean on the run? When Kim Sun Ho is forced to defect NK, his whole life shatters. The talented horn player abandons music and his soul to get to his beloved. 

When he stutters or cries; his pain pours out. Pained; his whole being keeps screaming throughout the film. Painful to watch him as well. 


Ghost House

Hilarious CSW! Precious CSW! Genius CSW! 

This film was the 4th best selling film in 2004; not a dull moment. 

Pil Gi achieves his life’s dream and buys a house, but the house is haunted. He acted so scared and freaked out in the first half of the film I got scared as well and even cried along. 

Ghost-seeing CSW is a pleasant surprise.


Works I didn’t watch completely: 

 8 Love Stories; Message

After a real hard search I found cuts of the one story - two episodes - he was in. He acted Min Jung; a guy who loses his girlfriend in an accident and becomes a playboy. If he wasn’t an actor he might have been a playboy; suits him perfectly. 

Blushing with Love

Not that I watched the whole drama because I couldn't find it. I watched Cha Seung Won's cuts which made about 10 minutes of each episode. I don't know about the main couples, but Im Song Bum (Cha Seung Won) here was the best, most perfect and most selfless man I've ever seen. With his long hair at the beginning of the drama he basically made my heart flutter. Out of all his roles; this is the kindest and I loved him. 

Black Honeymoon

I dropped this right after his role was completed. It was not an interesting film at all. His role was a newlywed married for business and on a honeymoon before a horrid thing happens. 


Works I couldn’t find no matter how I searched and you’d be a lifesaver if you tag me if ever you find them – sub or raw-:

- Dramas: 

Woman on Top

Roses and Bean Sprouts

Angel’s Kiss

Song of the Wind

- Films: 

A Day with My Son

Small Town Rivals

If the Sun Rises in the West

Holiday in Seoul

Now that he’s coming back in Hwajeong as Prince Gwanghae – be it his kind self or evil self - my heart is throbbing excitedly again. I firmly believe that people who do not know Cha Seung Won are missing something in their lives. He can make me laugh, cry, think, wonder, scream and swoon. He can make me idolize him and put him on a pedestal, and he can make me hate looking at his face. His voice that runs in my veins and those eyes! He’s so gorgeous and sexy, and he’s only getting sexier. He’s a genius actor who can act  a wide variety of roles. He’s charismatic and special. He’s Cha Seung Won.

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If there is an actor or an actress that is worthy of a Stalker's Guide in your opinion, and you have watched enough dramas of his/hers to prove it, please contact Elisabetta about it.

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