“Do you find yourself envious of characters in films and dramas? Does ‘I love you, me too’ seem like such obvious words? In my opinion, this conversation is more beautiful than any others in the world. Every day is like a movie and drama. Don’t get distracted by such fancy expressions in TV shows and films, as more beautiful than any movie in this world, is Your Story.”
(from The Story of Man and Woman, by Ryu Deok Hwan).
An actor of such versatility with his performances, an ability to delve into the dark roles and be unafraid to do things many others would be uncomfortable about; his heartfelt performances so filled with emotion; his charisma, liveliness and natural talent for comedy; his gentleness, charm, and his lovely warm smile.
This is the actor that completely stole my heart, and no other actors have been able to compare since. Let me introduce you to the wonderful and highly talented: Ryu Deok Hwan.
Most K-Drama fans may know him as the actor who played the King in Faith, but his most iconic and best role, and the one where he first captured my attention and soon became my favourite actor, was as the entertaining and multi-dimensional eccentric genius: Dr Han Jin Woo, in God’s Quiz.
Here’s a totally adorable teaser video with a behind-the-scenes, for God’s Quiz season 2:
How cute and loveable can this man get? ^_^
Ok, so before I go into details about his TV dramas and movies, here’s some background info, with an introduction by the man himself:
Name: Ryu Deok Hwan
Birthdate: June 12, 1987
Birthplace: Anyang, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
Height: 165cm (5'5")
Star Sign: Gemini
Education: Majored in Directing at the Graduate School of Advanced Imaging Science, Chung-Ang University.
Talent Agency: FilmItSuda
So precious ^^
Ryu Deok Hwan was brought up within the entertainment industry, as his mother: Jung Ok Young, is a musical producer; and he started his acting career early as a child actor on stage in the early 90s.
Very soon after, he debuted in TV dramas, including 8 years acting in a popular TV series called Lifetime in the Country in 1996, before acting in films including Something to Die For (1999), Spooky School (2001), No Comment (2002), and My Little Bride (2004).
He was also the leader of a boy dance group with G-Dragon, named ‘COA’ (‘City of Angel’), which were very active in festivals at the time, and even performed for the opening of an H.O.T concert, but Ryu Deok Hwan later stopped as he wanted to do acting rather than singing.
Music Video - Sign (2009)
Technically the first time I saw Ryu Deok Hwan was in 2011 when I first watched the music video of Brown Eyed Girls - Sign from 2009, which he appears in the central role of. Whilst I didn’t know who the actor was at the time, nor did I seek to find out back then, I really liked how he had such emotion put into his portrayal of the role, and really showed the desperation, pain and sadness of the character in the story trying to fight off the attackers and save the trapped girls. The supernatural element is interesting as well.
(Warning before clicking the video: there’s loads of violence, blood and death scenes in it, so might not be suitable for some).
TV Drama - God's Quiz (2010-2014)
Now this is the role that first caught my attention of Ryu Deok Hwan’s and immediately added him to my favourite actors, when I first watched it back in 2014, and is the role he’s best known for amongst fans. It’s also both my most favourite TV drama character of all, and my absolute favourite TV drama series. So I’d love to be able to introduce more people to this really enjoyable and excellent drama.
The series is a medical crime investigation drama (a sort of CSI meets House), where a team investigate various mysterious deaths, and work together with detectives to find out what the cause was and whether a murder was involved.
Ryu Deok Hwan plays the lead role as the lovely, warm, lively, mischievous and totally adorable quirky Han Jin Woo (could I get any more adjectives in there? :p ), who is a young genius neurosurgeon and doctor who helps them to solve the cases.
This role absolutely defined his wonderful acting talent, with so much charm and charisma, and such a multi-layered character of so much depth. Ryu Deok Hwan is absolutely superb in the role, and no matter what types of scenes, whether light, feel-good and comedic scenes; dark and gritty; emotionally moving and sad; and scenes filled with action and suspense, etc; he acts everything so wonderfully, so believably and naturalistic, and it really draws into the character, and has me hooked on the drama, the story-lines and his performance throughout.
There’s some other great characters as well, which makes the drama even more enjoyable, and I like how the slight romance story is rather unconventional, in that it is female lead character Kang Kyung Hee that protects Han Jin Woo at times, and not to mention the cute height difference with actress Yoon Joo Hee being slightly taller.
Talking of the Kang Kyung Hee/Dr Han Jin Woo romance, here’s the wonderful multi-talented Ryu Deok Hwan singing the theme song for God’s Quiz Season 2, with a few scenes from both the first and second series. It shows some of their characters’ initial awkwardness and rivalry around each other, but then later how they become a great team and have some really nice moments together:
That lovely smile at 3:01 ^^
The 3rd series is my absolute favourite, however, particularly with the entertaining rivalry and banter between Detective Bae Tae Shik and Dr Han Jin Woo throughout, but also the story becomes especially intriguing and filled with suspense later on, and brought Ryu Deok Hwan’s acting to a whole new level. And those last episodes of the 3rd series are really entertaining and absolutely edge-of-the-seat stuff, but I’ll say no more as I don’t want to provide a spoiler :P
Movie - Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005)
In the movie, Ryu Deok Hwan plays a rather brave but naive young North Korean soldier, who with a small group of soldiers from North and South Korea and the US, have to get over their rivalry and work together to save a remote village that has remained neutral and away from the Korean war in 1950.
His acting experience was already showing in how naturally he performed the role, and really pulls on the emotions as he portrays the character especially with such a lovely innocence and gentleness at times, yet one with the bravado of a young lad eager to prove his worth to his elders. His development throughout the story, particularly into realising some of the realities he didn’t know of before, and becoming truly heroic in his deeds later, is acted so well.
The other actors are great as well, really drawing the attention and emotions into liking and caring about their characters, and the movie as a whole is a fantastic mix of comedy, action and suspense, with a beautiful and heart-wrenching story, and an absolutely amazing ending.
Highly recommended to others to watch!
Movie - Like A Virgin (2006)
This was the movie that was his breakout lead performance that earned him critical praise and recognition in the film industry, and of which he was nominated for 11 Best New Actor/Young Star Awards, and won 8 of them! (so proud of him ^_^ )
In the movie, he plays a young chubby transgender teen, who longs for a sex change, yet who is talent-spotted by a wrestling coach, and joins a group of wrestlers.
Ryu Deok Hwan gained 28kg in weight over three months in preparation for the role, and between that and the character he played, I have to say much respect to him for going that extra mile for his art, and for taking on such a controversial role (particularly in Korean society), both of which are things that most young actors would shy away from doing.
He really is absolutely amazing in this film, playing the role with such realism and believability. The cute quirks of the character, the effeminate nature, a wonderful naturalistic flair for the comedy moments, all mixed with the heartfelt sadness and pain the character goes through in a society that doesn’t accept him, and how he feels trapped in the wrong gender, all are acted superbly and is very involving. The movie is wonderfully feel-good as well.
Movie - Our Town (2007)
A psychological thriller and horror movie that took Ryu Deok Hwan’s acting to the dark side, playing a young villainous psychopath who targets the lead character.
I like how he brings a certain level of depth to the portrayal of the role, particularly as there’s a seemingly innocent nature at first, yet a creepiness, and a violent and dangerous character at the same time, along with questions regarding what made the character turn that way. Plus there’s a really mesmerising part later on that reminds me of such great performances in certain classic horror films like The Shining and The Silence of the Lambs.
Movie - Private Eye (2009)
This has elements setting the scene for his role in God’s Quiz a year later, as in this film he plays a young doctor who helps solve a murder case, and performs several autopsies to help in the investigation. There’s even a brief glimpse of the same outer building used in God’s Quiz as well.
Generally this is a type of Holmes/Watson detective mystery, with some comedy and action.
I really like the inquisitiveness of his character, eager to find out about the murder case, and his strength of character with how he stands up against authority to fight for what he believes in. And his expressiveness throughout is absolutely superb, really bringing life into the role, and particularly adding excellently to the action and comedy moments.
Movie - The Peach Tree (2012)
I think 2012 certainly brought some of the best dramas with Ryu Deok Hwan acting in, as along with the awesome God’s Quiz Season 3 that year, he also starred in my absolute favourite Korean film: The Peach Tree, and it was also one of the first movies I watched with him in.
One of the things that I find really stand out with the majority of his roles, is that not only does he take on such a wonderfully wide variety of different types of characters and in dramas/movies varying in themes and genres, he’s also taken on so many much darker more challenging roles, that I have so much respect and admiration for him in doing.
This movie is a kind of gothic fairytale similar in themes to Edward Scissorhands. In the film Ryu Deok Hwan stars in an outcast role as a siamese twin whose brother’s head is attached to the back of his, and due to others regarding them as monsters, they’re hidden away from society. However in the story his character, who wants to be a writer, meets a kindly young lady who agrees to illustrate his story and help to get it published, and who he and his brother fall in love with.
The film is absolutely amazing: so beautiful, dark, poignant, sad and yet filled with warmth. The cinematography is absolutely superb and creative, in fact the whole film is like a beautiful piece of artwork throughout, and it has a really nice soundtrack as well.
His acting is outstanding as always, and really tugs on the emotions. In the story, even though I know his character is being rather selfish towards his brother, I can really understand and sympathise with the frustration, hardship and depression of what his character is going through, and really want him to find happiness.
The part of the story which involves him trying to hide his secret is intriguing as well, yet sad at the same time, and he also portrays the innocence, curiosity and anxiousness of the character who had never known the outside world and only ever known a few people and his family home, so wonderfully.
Other Films and Dramas:
(Title links below are to the film trailers)
A Day With My Son is a lovely heartfelt father-son friendship film, where Ryu Deok Hwan plays the part of a teenage son whose estranged father, who has been in prison for murder most of his son’s life, is given a day to be with him. His character's reactions are very realistic with an understandably initial awkwardness and hostility towards his father, and yet as the movie goes on, the development in the relationship blooms into a beautiful friendship, and the film really touches on the emotions. The inner monologues of the main characters are interesting as well adding further depth, and RDH's voice is so sweet and gentle in his voice-overs, and shows that the way they are being on the surface with one another, is not necessarily the same underneath. There's also some really nice creative extras and some beautiful cinematography in the movie.
The Quiz Show Scandal is not a film that really grabbed my attention much, but I love the charisma of Ryu Deok Hwan’s bad-boy character in the film, that again like his other variety of roles, he carries off the performance so believably and entertainingly.
The Last Blossom is an emotional movie but a bit depressing about a family with already so much turmoil in their lives, suddenly finding out that the mother is dying. Ryu Deok Hwan plays the role of the son, who due to a tragic event of the past that affected the character's hearing, he remains oblivious to what is going on for the most part, but when he does find out it is really devastating the sadness he goes through. (Ryu Deok Hwan also acted alongside his childhood friend: actress Park Ha Sun, who plays his sister in the film).
Head is an entertaining mix of black-comedy, horror and suspense. RDH’s role in this, is as the younger brother of the lead female, who finds a severed head in a box he’s delivering, and ends up being captured, tied up, and being threatened for most of the movie. His acting throughout is excellent with an entertaining liveliness to the character, some wonderfully performed comedy moments, and also with such terror in his expressions during various tense moments.
Link is another dark and more mature film that he plays the main role in. It is a psychological thriller about addiction: an unconventional and supernatural one, that in a depressed and devastated state, RDH’s character gets addicted to, and the movie is interestingly trippy and creative in parts.
I wasn’t a fan of You Call It Passion, and he only has a minor supporting role in that, although I like the warm and caring personality of the character he plays in it.
Whilst he’s mostly acted in films, Ryu Deok Hwan also acted in the mini-drama U-Turn (2008) alongside So Ji Sub, and as King Gong Min in the TV drama series Faith (2012). Faith was his first main role in a terrestrial station drama, and whilst I wasn’t a fan of the drama, I thought he did a great job in the role, and I liked the King and Queen’s relationship story, which I preferred throughout the drama over the leads’, but then again, I’m biased :p
He also appeared in a guest role in Good Doctor (2013), which was another drama of the creator and writer of God’s Quiz: Park Jae Bum.
Movie - The Last Ride (2016)
This was Ryu Deok Hwan's last movie before he started his military service in March. It’s a kind of Kisarazu Cat's Eye type story about some friends wanting to bring some happiness and good times for their friend before he dies.
Really heartbreaking, a bit difficult to watch him playing a character dying of ALS, but totally pulls on the emotions, and the film switches between being sad, but really funny; shows the ideals versus the harsh reality (but done in a comic type way); and overall is a lovely warm friendship movie.
Ryu Deok Hwan is wonderful as always in the role he performed. He manages to swap and change between the lighter comedy moments, and then switch into the heartbreakingly sad scenes so well, and often in this movie as a mix also, turning some rather devastating moments into comedic ones.
I find many of his emotional performances so very moving to the point of tears, as he puts so much expressiveness and feeling into his acting (whilst keeping it natural and not over-done, unless for example, for comedy effect), and particularly as he adds those little extras as well that make such moments so realistic and very involving.
And those scenes during the film (and the other movies and dramas he’s acted in), when he’s happy and smiles with such warmth and brightness, are such absolutely beautiful moments :)
Has done voice acting for various animations, including My Beautiful Girl Mari (2001), Yobi the Five Tailed Fox (2007), and Earth Rep Rolling Stars (2011).
As a theatre actor he’s starred in productions such as The Emperor's New Clothes (1992), Equus (2009-2010), and Clumsy People (2012).
Outside of acting, he likes watching movies, with a particular respect for the works of Stanley Kubrick; likes anime, including One Piece; and is creative with other interests such as drawing, painting and photography.
He’s also good friends with actors Kim Jae Wook and Joo Ji Hoon.
He’s directed a few short films, including Informality (2015), and the 4 part mini-series: The Story Of Man & Woman (2013), which takes various drama romance clichés, and turns them on their head with an unexpected and sometimes awkward reality, as well as a comic twist.
It shows that in real life, romances don’t need to be the perfect ones of dramas and movies, as despite the imperfections of reality, people can still love and care for one another, and be happy.
The films star fellow actors Go Gyeong Pyo (God’s Quiz Seasons 3 & 4), Kang Han Na, and Esom (The Last Blossom, Behind the Camera), and Ryu Deok Hwan has a guest appearance in part 2 and acts the main role in the 3rd part.
One scene was also featured briefly during The Last Ride, along with some childhood pictures as well (I thought these were some nice and beautiful extras to that movie).
On the 8th March 2016, that time had come, that moment where our beloved actors disappear from the world of entertainment, as all Korean men of a certain age must do: he started his military service. According to an agency representative, he enlisted at the 9th Division new recruit army training centre, and he also joined quietly without holding a press conference beforehand.
(Although he had a bit of an adorable and emotionally moving send off, with cute messages and gifts from the director and his fellow actors in The Last Ride, during a press conference for their movie).
So alas, there will be no more movies and dramas with the lovely Ryu Deok Hwan in until 2018 :(
But until then, I’ll keep enjoying all the wonderful films and TV dramas he’s acted in so far, and look forward to the day that the actor who stole my heart and lights up the screen every time he appears, returns to the entertainment world once more…
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 KatelynJaynea about it.