It’s been a few days since Kim Seon Ho was announced a Baeksang nominee for Best Supporting Actor. And it’s been a while since I’ve last written anything. If there is anything worth putting into words, however, it has to be about this recognition. After all, the Baeksang isn’t just an acknowledgment of one’s popularity, rather the talent that breathes life into the characters of some of my favorite stories.
Kim Seon Ho truly became Han Ji Pyeong in Start-Up. He embodied the cold and ruthless venture capitalist whose curious past intertwined with a complicated present. But he also gave dignity to the character’s vulnerability, capturing with nuance the heart of a man who, at the core, simply needed love. In the process, he captured hearts around the world, too.
And isn’t that our story? Isn’t our past so influential as to define and structure the adult defenses we buttress? And aren’t our emotional fortresses afflicted by an Achilles heel — one that either breaks us completely or restores our sense of self?
One of the recurring themes from your interviews is your love for walking. You said that when you take a walk, your “mind becomes clear” and that you do it when you need to think about something. You walk for hours, sometimes even until the wee hours of the morning while listening to music.
I wonder how often you still get to do this, what with ICE and 2 Days 1 Night and all. I know that while practicing for ICE, you did spend evenings taking a stroll. It’s a nice idea to wander and wonder at the end of the day under the glow of a city’s neon lights.
Like every Seonhohada, the last few months have been spent saving every imaginable photo of Kim Seon Ho we can grab hold of. Whether it’s an old photo from his theater days that resurface on social media or one of the many new breathtaking stills from his magazine features, our favorite sprout has been serving visuals like no other.
Here, I keep tabs on some of my favorite Kim Seon Ho pictures — official photos, behind-the-scenes, screenshots, and more. They’re also accompanied by short (or at least my definition of short) descriptions about why I like them. Some of these descriptions have already been tweeted before or published as a caption on my Instagram. Nonetheless, the sentiments they carry remain—with a few tweaks here and there.
Maybe this will inspire you, too, to list your favorite photos of the one and only, Kim Seon Ho.
I don’t take any credit for any of these photos. I’ve culled them from across the interwebs. If you took the screenshot or made the edit, or are the photographer, and you’d like to be credited, let me know. I haven’t been diligent in remembering where I got them so I apologize if I can’t credit all of them properly at the first instance.
As Kim Seon Ho’s fame and reputation continue to rise, I take the time to reflect on what it means — as a new fan — to keep up with the man of the hour, on arguably the fastest social media platform today — Twitter.
Since I started following Kim Seon Ho last December, there hasn’t been a day where there was nothing new from his team. I’m not even exaggerating. The last month and a half have been a graceless attempt to keep up with arguably South Korea’s fastest rising star. And although the content is published across a range of networks, including Korea’s native platforms, there’s no place where the sheer volume of media and information is distilled but also magnified as powerfully as Twitter.
Twitter’s structure, after all, affords it that potency.
Under the radar is the last thing I can think of to describe you. You’re everywhere it seems — commercials, interviews, magazines, print advertisements. I’m not used to this. Even the American singers I follow are never this ubiquitous.
But I’m not complaining. How can I, when your fans are this spoiled? I do hope it doesn’t stem from any desire to prove yourself or a need to repay your supporters. You’re doing particularly well and more often than not, that is all that matters. I’m genuinely happy you get to do what you love to do: being an actor.
This is a Korean translation of the first letter to Kim Seon Ho. I am grateful to Nayeon P. and Kim Yoo for putting into another language what I cannot do on my own. You can read the original English version of the letter here.
당신이 우리가 게시한 글을 한 번쯤을 읽었을 거라 생각해요. 이 블로그가 아니더라도 트위터나 인스타그램, 구글의 수많은 사이트 중에서, 아니라면 팬카페에서라도 읽었을 거에요. 당신이 상상할 수 없는 다양한 언어로 적혀진 수천 개의 댓글과 리뷰들 또 기사들을 읽어왔잖아요. 당신의 이름을 검색해봤다고 하셨죠. 따라서 우리가 여태껏 해온 일들을 봤을 거라 생각해요. 불편할 수도 있지만 오랜 시간 투자하여 창의적으로 만든 엄청 웃긴 사진들, 요즘 다시 붐이 되고 있는 당신의 과거 작품 속 사진들, 많은 팬들의 사랑을 담고 있는 엄청난 수의 트윗과 이 외에도 여러 셀 수 없는 사진들이 확대 및 편집, 모든 소셜미디어의 제목이 되어 수많은 계정과, 프로필, 이름에 공존하고 있어요.
I’m quite positive you’ve been reading our words online. Maybe not this blog. But somewhere on Twitter or Instagram or the deepest recesses of Google or your fan cafe, you’ve been scrolling through thousands of comments and reviews and articles in every imaginable language. You said you searched for your name online. So it isn’t far-fetched to imagine you must have seen the things we’ve done — the hilarious perhaps intrusive yet admirably creative and carefully thought out memes; photos from your past works that seem to resurface every now and then to your surprise; the frightening number of swooning and thirsty tweets!; countless posts of largely the same set of photos — enlarged and edited, plastered on every social media header — circulating and making round across every account, profile, name.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ve read an entry here, too. But that is wishful thinking.
These were my first thoughts about Kim Seon Ho in his first-ever online fan meeting. For someone who stands 183 cm, his body language was inward. Clasped hands, legs close together, head bowed down a bit. He would nod every now and then, and smile anxiously. His shyness, ironically, is revealing.
Dressed casually — an unironed shirt at first followed by a bright orange hoodie; sneakers and jeans — Kim Seon Ho looks like that person you least expect him to be. The man is one of the most talked-about Korean drama actors these days. In as little as a few months, his reputation skyrocketed perhaps beyond any person’s wildest imagining. But here he is, the next big thing, looking like a friend (or boyfriend, if you’d like to dream).
It’s this nonchalant Kim Seon Ho that I like the most. Whether or not it’s a stylistic choice recommended by his agency to look personable is beside the point. There’s something so approachable about the way he carries himself, so real with the way he shyly gushes over the idea that people from all over the world were watching him (and over the thought fans find him sexy).
I remember Kim Seon Ho sharing he used to be an introvert. Acting helped him break out of his shell. But every now and then, the introvert in him resurfaces. Perhaps it’s the idea of thousands of people he cannot see which worries him. Perhaps it’s the chattery emcee. Maybe all the lights? He must be used to this by now, I think. But this is how Seon Ho seems to be in new environments. It takes a while for him to warm up.
Ever since Kim Seon Ho’s meteoric rise in popularity, everyone’s favorite paper doll has been at the receiving end of his fair share of criticisms. And that’s normal. No one person on earth can please everyone. But while real critics exist to challenge an individual — even push them to become better versions of themselves — there are also detractors who, perhaps blinded by their biases (something we all have), care little about logic or common sense in their attempt to discredit an artist.
In my few weeks on Twitter, I’ve seen a number of these blatant non-arguments vilifying the Dimple Prince. They typically come out whenever Kim Seon Ho’s firing up the timeline with new content—great timing, ei? And while I’ve previously tweeted these ‘haters’ don’t exist to me, I thought it would be fun to just address them. Below, I’m tackling the messy and often nonsensical accusations from people who hate Kim Seon Ho so much that our beloved Seon Ho ssi literally lives in their heads, rent-free.
Han Ji Pyeong is Kim Seon Ho
If you can’t distinguish a fictional character from a real human being, you need help. Kim Seon Ho played Han Ji Pyeong on Start-Up. But he’s not Han Ji Pyeong in real life. Repeat 100 times a day. If you like Suzy and Nam Joo Hyuk’s character and love story in SU, good for you. I liked them, too (except for the fact that Joo Hyuk’s character kept crying every 20 minutes, it bothered me; I blame the writer). But to get so worked up by the fact others liked Han Ji Pyeong more, and then direct that hate to Kim Seon Ho personally is really sad—but also a testament to Seon Ho ssi’s incredible acting skills.
The only reason Kim Seon Ho is popular is because of Hallyu stars
I’m not as deep into Korean dramas (or even K-Pop) as many people are. So I’ll have to admit, Start-Up was the first time I got to know about Suzy, Nam Joo Hyuk, and Kim Seon Ho. I found out the first two are huge stars, so yes, I understand they’re the draw to the show. And while for many people, they were probably the reason why they tuned in to Start-Up, the general consensus is that people stayed because of Kim Seon Ho.
He thoroughly fleshed out his character, and perhaps unexpectedly won the hearts of many viewers along the way. Public sentiment on social media also favored his character. He was a true scene-stealer, despite having less screen time. And this is coming from someone who recognizes Suzy, Nam Joo Hyuk, and Kim Hae-sook’s amazing work in the series. I mean, I wouldn’t be invested and annoyed at Nam Do San’s character if NJH didn’t embody the role perfectly, right?
But here’s the thing. Every star has to start somewhere. Heck, Mariah Carey was a back-up singer to Brenda K. Starr. But does Mariah Carey owe Brenda K. Starr her superstardom? No. No one even remembers Brenda. Mariah had the gift and made the most of the opportunity when it came. Kim Seon Ho did and is doing the same. Great talent simply cannot be overlooked. In fact, that’s precisely how he found himself in his dramas. Co-actors recommended him. People liked his attitude and saw his potential. Even Start-Up’s director is a fan.
People who criticize Start-Up’s story, writing, and ending are dumb
Start-Up is a show that lends itself to be criticized. If people felt the show wasn’t brave enough to let the second lead win the girl, it’s a valid criticism against K-Drama tropes. If people were satisfied with the show and thought that the story developed its themes well, then it’s perfectly fine, too. I personally felt that, as much as I rooted for Han Ji Pyeong, it didn’t make sense for him to end up with Seo Dal Mi. She had outgrown the letters and herself.
What I find amusing is that there are people angry at how the show seemed to have been written to benefit Seon Ho’s character, but are also angry at people who criticize the show for treating Seon Ho’s character so cruelly. I mean, choose a battle, right? Stop conflating the characters of the show with the actors who portray them. And just because you’re Team This or Team That, doesn’t mean your interpretation of the show will be correct. That’s why dramas are fun, everyone sees them from a different perspective. No one has a monopoly on how a show is experienced, understood, and savored.
I feel like out of all his roles, Kim Seon Ho loves being and is at his best as a theater actor. Yes, his charisma as a drama actor and entertainer is off the charts. But I feel like Seon Ho is a different beast on stage. It’s his ‘territory’ in a way. Reading the initial reviews of his current play, one senses it’s really the place where his acting prowess shines.
It’s funny because he also mentioned not being good at acting initially. He struggled. He was so bad people didn’t think he could make a career out of it. After all, he just stumbled into the profession. He originally wanted to be a doctor (thanks 2 Days 1 Night for letting us know). But I guess that’s how life works. Look where he is now.
I remember him saying that acting in plays helped him overcome his childhood trauma. I think that speaks so much about what the medium means to him. It’s catharsis, freedom, power, and passion. It’s his home, the old reliable, a familiar space.
Perhaps that’s the reason why he stayed in the theater for so long and keeps coming back. He never really minded about becoming famous on TV. He seems content and incredibly happy being a theater actor.
As an introvert myself, I understand this. I see why certain forms of expression eventually become our default. For me, writing is my catharsis. It gives me a sense of purpose. That if I can write well enough I know I’m doing something for myself. Perhaps it’s the same for Seon Ho, and maybe at an even more profound level. Acting, after all, is demanding of one’s body, mind, emotion, and spirit. Kim Seon Ho is leaving bits and pieces of who he is in his roles.
Like everyone else, I can only imagine seeing him on stage live. I dream as big as ever for this experience. But I’ll definitely have to learn some Korean first. At the rate I’m going, I’ll only understand curse words and a few phrases.
Congratulations Kim Seon Ho! You’ve got great reviews on the first run of Ice. You make us awfully proud of stanning and supporting you.