As I marathoned the last six episodes of The Rooftop Prince, I also started watching Dr. Jin — because following only one time-travel drama is doing injustice to the new K-drama trend. Watching these two dramas simultaneously, I couldn’t help but to start comparing the two actors, Kim Jaejoong and Park Yoochun. Unfortunately or fortunately, these two stars have turned to acting as their singing careers have been paused due to various reasons. While both were able to prove themselves in the K-drama land and have progressed tremendously, it’s also apparent that have different strengths (and weaknesses).
Jaejoong excels in the looks department, Yoochun in conveying quirky and humorous expressions. Jaejoong embraces the chic modern character Yoochun the historical roles — not the uber serious one that requires skills on par with Kim Soo-hyun, but the fusion saeguk roles where one can get away with mediocre acting.
Jaejoong is subtle with his emotions, displaying a greater range, whereas Yoochun tends to display the extremes — livid, ecstatic or depressed. And until Dr. Jin, it seemed like these two picked roles that leveraged their strengths. Jaejoong’s role in Protect the Boss was a great starting point for the singer turned actor in terms of K-drama land. The spotlight wasn’t on him yet he was able to take the opportunity to showcase his newly found skills.
Yoochun was able to carry the rigid, by the books character required by Lee Sun Joon’s role pretty decently in Sungkyunkwan Scandal. And while I haven’t watched Miss Ripley, I also haven’t encountered great complaints about Yoochun’s “foot acting,” which is good enough for me to conclude that he was alright. Yoochun was downright hilarious in Rooftop Prince. To be fair, the role itself was hysterical and Yoochun brought his own charm to it. How can we not laugh at a prince who bowed down to ten dollar bill, took off his shoes before getting on the bus and stands up on a bench to talk to his entourage, without batting an eye, as if he was normal.
I’ve only observed Yoochun in two productions so far and he’s passable. I wouldn’t say he’s as ground breaking but he’s not horrible. His biggest weakness is that he relies too much on exaggerated expressions in stiff roles. Come to think of it, the Park brothers (Yoochun and Yoo-hwan) both have a hard time displaying varied emotions. Perhaps that will come with time but I hope to see them shed the overly dramatic reactions to various situations on screen pretty soon.
And because of this, I feel like Jaejoong may have a brighter acting future ahead of him. The pretty boy seems control his emotions better (than Yoochun) — minus the passive aggressive jealous role he’s playing in Dr. Jin, which just seems like a misfit. As we saw with Jung Il-woo in The Moon Embraces the Sun, some actors are just not fit for a saeguk role and Jaejoong is one of them. His face is too modern — or too pretty — to fit that role. And it doesn’t help that he looks scrawny in his Dr. Jin customs.
Another added bonus is that Jaejoong’s acting career mostly consisted of supporting roles, which allows him to actually develop and hone acting skills. In fact, I would like to see Jaejoong continually picking up supporting roles until he’s truly ready for a starring role. His portrayal of varied emotions and delivery of lines (especially old Korean) is not quite there yet — or shall I say, there’s room for improvement. But it appears that Jaejoong is actively working on improving his weaknesses as small improvements from one project to another are noticeable.
I’m not sure how or why Yoochun was able to nab so many main roles so far, but based on my observations, he isn’t there yet. A lot of the praise he received was mostly due to the well-written characters than his skills and in order to maintain his status, Yoochun has a fair amount of work to do. And don’t get me wrong. Yoochun may be just fine, with JYJ fans always by his side, but if he’s serious about his acting, I think (and hope) that he would want to be acknowledged and chosen for his talent, not the number of fans he has.
The acting careers of Yoochun and Jaejoong remains to be seen and they may prove me completely wrong (which I welcome!). Based on my observations, while Yoochun had greater roles, the road ahead looks brighter for Jaejoong based on the expectations that these actors are setting up for the viewers and more importantly, for themselves.