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page last updated: 4/30/2013
YOON SANG HYUN (Yun Sang Hyeon) was born September 21, 1973 in South Korea. His birthday places him in the year of the Water Ox. Water Oxen are said to be more flexible, and because of this quality, they’re better able to understand what others are thinking and feeling. They’re sincere, patient, quick-thinking and others enjoy being around them.
Sang Hyun’s childhood was filled with fantasies of being a superhero. He would act out Superman or characters from the Star Wars films, even using a fluorescent light bulb as a light saber. This led to people around him saying, “How about becoming an actor in future?” Sang Hyun says that even at an early age, “I was good at impersonating other people.”
In an interview posted at hancinema.net (sourced from http://english.kbs.co.kr/) Sang Hyun said, “As a child, I wanted to be a scientist, but when I was in high school, I wanted to become a singer. But I failed all the auditions. No matter how well I could sing in karaoke bars, strangely enough my voice failed me at auditions. When I didn’t have a place to practice singing and did it in my room, people called me ‘crazy’. When I was in my mid–20s, my mother told me to stop singing. (Laughs.) And I never thought of acting. The agency that had promised to make me a singer offered me only roles in TV dramas. It was frustrating.” Sang Hyun talks more about his time with this agency in a post at Julee’s Witching Hour – Sang Hyun blog in the February 2012 Archive, An Actor And Artiste, Part 5.
In the beginning Sang Hyun was not comfortable with acting and even thought of giving up. It was during the filming of Winterbird in 2005 at age 32 that he began to understand how important it was to study the character in order to portray the full range of emotions demanded by the script and to feel comfortable with the other actors.
Following Winterbird, Sang Hyun appeared in The Secret of Keu Keu Island (MBC, 2008), a 40-episode series with similarities to the U.S. television series Lost, and One Mom and Three Dads (KBS2, 2008). As of this writing Keu Keu Island is not available on streaming sites, but portions of episodes can be watched on YouTube. There is a Japanese boxed set for $200.00, but without English subtitles. Ah, those Japanese, so pricey and exclusive. In One Mom and Three Dads Sang Hyun plays a husband who dies in an auto accident, leaving his three friends to take on the role of father to his expectant wife and future child. He appears in the first three episodes and in flashbacks.
In 2009 Sang Hyun found success in the role of Heo Tae Joon/Tae Bong, the playboy C.E.O in Queen of Housewives. Although it was a supporting role, his character won the hearts of everyone and made Yoon Sang Hyun a household name. He then followed up in a lead role in My Fair Lady as Seo Dong Chan, “a charming, mostly good-hearted guy with a hot temper and glib tongue who often gets himself into trouble with the former and out of it with the latter. He's trying to be good, but trouble just seems to find him. He’s also in debt and struggles to pay off his lenders, but it’s difficult since honest work just doesn’t pay that much.” (from Dramabeans) See My Fair Lady below for my commentary on the drama.
Sang Hyun is perfect as Hallyu star Oska, a prima donna singer born of wealth and privilege…
Sang Hyun then took on the role of Choi Woo Young, the Hallyu star known as Oska in Secret Garden (2010), with Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won. Although he plays a supporting role, Choi Woo Young is so integral to the story that one can’t image the drama without him. Sang Hyun is perfect as a prima donna singer born of wealth and privilege, whose longing for his first love clouds his every decision. That Sang Hyun can sing well, dress with style and change his appearance with different hairstyles only adds to his charm. (In the first episode alone he changes hairstyles at least five times.) He also lost about 10 kg (approx. 22 pounds) for this role. Sang Hyun is not overweight by any means but the change is apparent when comparing the cute chubby-faced Dong Chan in My Fair Lady and Oska in Secret Garden.
Yoon Sang Hyun as Seo Dong Chan and Choi Woo Young (Oska)
Secret Garden was my first Yoon Sang Hyun drama but, it has not been my last. I’ve watched them out of sequence, so I can’t say I’ve seen his acting ability develop in a linear fashion, but I find him fascinating to watch even if his earlier dramas pushed the bounds of Korean drama stereotypes. You know, the kind where you find yourself shaking your fist at the TV saying, “You idiot, this makes no sense!” What follows below in the Drama Series section are my impressions of Sang Hyun’s dramas in the order watched. And as much as I like Oska, Seo Dong Chan in My Fair Lady is my favorite character.
Farewell To Sorrow—KanashiminiSayonara CD Single, two versions (2/15/2012)
Can’t Lose OST “Do You Know I Have Feelings For You” (9/7/2011)
The Road—2-disc DVD and 180 pages photo essay (2012)
Mini Live And Fan Meeting—Japan Version DVD Region 2 (9/21/2011
Summer Eyes—CD Single, 2 versions (6/8/2011)
Precious Days—Japanese studio album (2/16/2011)
Secret Garden Special OST the Oska songs, “Liar” and “Here I Am” (1/14/2011)
Chikai—(Oath) 3 versions, First Press Limited Edition inc. MV DVD(6/24/10)
Saigo No Ame—Last Rain 6 song CD two versions (2010)
The Last Rain—Japanese single (2010)
Story of Rain and You (08/25/2009)
My Fair Lady OST “Helpless Love” (2009)
My Fair Lady 1.5 OST “Romance” (Yoon Sang Hyun and Yoon Eun Hye) (2009)
Queen of Housewives Digital Single “Never Ending Story” (4/28/2009)
Love Project Digital Single “I Love You” (7/7/2009)
Princess Lulu OST “Did You Love” (8/10/2005)
The links are external and will take you to YouTube.
Tone–Deaf Clinic (2012)
Sunday Seoul (2006, cameo)
2013 I Hear Your Voice (SBS - June 2013)
2011 Can’t Lose (Can’t Live With Losing) (MBC)
2010 Secret Garden (SBS)
2010 Family Outing Season 2 (SBS Variety Program)
2009 My Fair Lady (KBS)
2009 Queen of Housewives (MBC)
2008 The Secret Of Keu Keu Island (MBC Sitcom)
2008 Three Dads and One Mom (KBS)
2007-2008 Winter Bird (MBC)
2006 Singles’ Life (Common Life) (SBS)
2006 Exhibition of Fireworks (Fireworks) (MBC)
2006 Drama City — A Week (KBS) Dec 12, 2006 (one-act play)
2005 Marrying A Millionaire (SBS)
Secret Garden (SBS, 2010)
Choi Woo Young, Oska
WHILE EVERYONE ELSE was going gaga over Hyun Bin, I was thinking “Who’s this Oska guy?” With his dramatic and comedic talent and his singing skills, Yoon Sang Hyun embraced the Oska character in Secret Garden and made it his own.
Yoon Sang Hyun plays Choi Woo Young, a Hallyu singer known as Oska to his fans. He was in the first wave of entertainers that spread South Korean culture around the world. Although he is now in his mid-thirties and his singing is not quite up to par, he’s still popular and has a huge following in Japan. Osca’s biggest regret in life is losing the first and last woman he ever loved, the woman he hasn’t forgotten no matter how many women he’s known. This experience clouds many of his decisions. He would like to regain his singing ability and popularity but is undisciplined and just a little bit lazy. He’s not concerned with money because his family is rich, and because he’s irresponsible and selfish, he forgets that other people are dependent on his career for their success. Oska’s lucky to have his manager Choi Dong Gyu and his assistant, Yoo Jong Won who each puts up with his antics, no matter how outrageous they may be.
Three views of Oska from Secret Garden
The story told in Secret Garden is dramatic, touching and humorous, with a little bit of consciousness/body switching flower wine induced magic thrown in. Believe me, it’s too complex to explain here. Oska’s character makes it all that more interesting. He’s multi-faceted and flamboyant, kind-hearted and child-like; he's self-centered, outrageous in dress and hairstyle and doesn't care what others think, a prima donna. But he is also non-judgmental and has an open mind. He laughs at life, all the while his heart is aching. What’s not to like about a handsome guy who’s outgoing and expressive, gentle and kind and can sing too. Sexy cutie pie, indeed!
There is a fan-made MV by Angela (of www.ysh-0921.com) at Waishanho’s Dailymotion page featuring Oska’s four songs from Secret Garden. This LINK will take you to the Oska Memorial Special video. The four songs with English subtitles are “Here I Am,” “Gazing,” “Constellation of Tears” and “Liar”. While there check out more of Angela’s videos dedicated to Yoon Sang Hyun. He is truly blessed to have a fan with such talent.
Links of interest:
My Fair Lady (KBS2, 2009)
(Take Care of Agasshi or Lady Castle)
Seo Dong Chan
MY FAIR LADY (Take Care of Agasshi) is a light-hearted romantic comedy that tells how Kang Hae Na, one of Korea’s richest women, and Seo Dong Chan, an average guy with a winning personality, meet and fall in love. But first they have to overcome many obstacles, not the least being their strong personalities and life circumstances. This drama was Sang Hyun’s first role as lead actor. He’s so different from Oska in Secret Garden that I can’t help but be impressed with his ability to portray a different character convincingly, and he sings too (in English).
Kang Hae Na (Yoon Eun Hye) is 24-years old and future successor to Kangsan Group, a large conglomerate founded by her grandfather. Kangsan Group is one of the most influential enterprise groups in East Asia, making Kang Hae Na one of Korea’s richest women. She excels in horse riding, shooting, kendo and all kinds of sports. She also has a bad temper and doesn't treat people well and has gone through sixteen personal attendants (jibsa, butler). Mr Jang, the Kang’s household manager, is finding it extremely difficult to hire a replacement for the butler Ms Kang fired after only five minutes on the job.
Enter Seo Dong Chan (Yoon Sang Hyun), a charming, mostly good-hearted guy with a hot temper and glib tongue who often gets himself into trouble with the former and out of it with the latter. He's trying to be good, but trouble just seems to find him. He's also in debt and struggles to pay off his lenders, but it’s difficult since honest work just doesn’t pay that much (from Dramabeans well-written description of Seo Dong Chan). His plan is to use Kang Hae Na to pay off his debts. What could possibly go wrong?
My Fair Lady is one of my favorite Sang Hyun dramas, and because my commentary is extensive the drama has its own section. Part One and Two are published; Part Three to follow.
Can't Lose (MBC, 2011)
Yun Hyung Woo
CAN’T LOSE—two highly competent lawyers meet, have a whirl-wind romance, get married within a month and only then learn their personalities may not be suitable for wedded bliss, especially when they can’t seem to talk and share their innermost thoughts and feelings. One’s a neat freak, the other has sloppy personal habits, one’s passionate about defending the underdog, the other wants a fat wallet and they each have mothers that would cause anyone to run to a divorce court. They are competitive; neither can stand losing. And their feelings are out of sync. When Lee Eun Jae (Choi Ji Woo) realized she truly loves Hyung Woo (Yoon Sang Hyun) and is ready to cancel the divorce he chooses to let her go, even though he still loves her. In the end, can they overcome all these obstacles?
I’ve watched this drama twice and on second viewing realized I really like Sang Hyun’s portrayal of Yun Hyung Woo. He has great chemistry with Choi Ji Woo. This drama is well told with likable characters and a not-too-improbable storyline. Although the viewer ratings were low, I consider it a success and highly recommend it.
Exhibition of Fireworks (Fireworks) (MBC, 2006)
Kang Seung Woo
EXHIBITION OF FIREWORKS (Fireworks) is Yoon Sang Hyun's second drama. But it’s also a conventional trendy-drama filled with clichés. Like so many love quartet stories, the characters are illogical and exasperating, and they make no sense. I liked Han Chae Young in Only You, but in Fireworks she only tested my patience. I found it improbable that Sang Hyun’s character was nerdy and shallow while with Shin Na Rah (Han Chae Young) but comes back from studying in America a handsome and sophisticated businessman.
And I didn’t quite understand why Shin Na Rah and Chae Mi Rae (Park Eun Hye) found Nah In Jae (Kang Ji Hwan), the rich son of a cosmetics corporation vice-president, so appealing, but then it wouldn't be a stereotypical Korean tale without that aspect. And Mi Rae was the epitome of “the other woman” K-drama stereotype. This is one drama where I couldn’t root for either woman. I only kept watching for Kang Seung Woo (Yoon Sang Hyun), the former boyfriend of Shin Na Rah who falls in love with Chae Mi Rae and stays by her side no matter how heartbreaking. He remained faithful and dedicated to the woman he loved, so I give him points for that.
Shin Na Rah, Nah In Jae, Chae Mi Rae and Kang Seung Woo
Exhibition of Fireworks (from MBC official site)
Marrying a Millionaire (SBS, 2005)
(To Marry a Millionaire)
Yoo Jin Ha
I would have given up on Marrying a Millionaire if it weren’t for Yoon Sang Hyun. And if you find this drama as exasperating as I did, just think of the first seven episodes as a nice travelogue of France.
Sang Hyun as Yoo Jin Ha
MARRYING A MILLIONAIRE tells the story of two kids who meet in grade school, and although they like each other Han Eun Young (Kim Hyun Joo) dumps Kim Young Hoon (Go Soo) when she learns he’s last in class. Eun Young is first in class and finds it embarrassing to like someone who is not school-smart. Fast-forward several years. Although Han Eun Young is educated she is working a low-paying job as a bank clerk. She is the sole support of her stepmother and older stepsister who can’t seem to manage money or find meaningful employment. They only incur debt, leaving Eun Young to pick up the pieces. Kim Young Hoon is also the sole support of his family. Although he is the youngest son, he supports his father, two brothers and sister-in-law. They would rather Young Hoon support the family than get a basic education, and because he is a simple person he does it without question.
Kim Young Hoon may not be too smart, but he’s handsome and is chosen to play the main character in the reality TV show, “Marrying a Millionaire.” But first he has to learn how to be a convincing millionaire, as the contestants do not know he is poor and uneducated. Unknown to him, the producers choose his first love Han Eun Young, to be one of the contestants. The cast and crew head off to France to film the show, and that’s where the two young people meet again. Eun Young’s dilemma is how can she like this guy now that he’s rich when she rejected him so many years ago, and will Young Hoon be convincing in his role as a millionaire given their past. Problem is, the attraction is still there. While filming the show Eun Young and Young Hoon realize they’ve been set up to add drama to the show. Eun Young hopes to be eliminated in the first round and treats him badly, but Young Hoon can’t bring himself to part with her, so he keeps her in the contest and eventually chooses her for his bride.
But the story doesn’t end there. How could anything go wrong? Just let sophisticated adults with agendas of their own get a hold of these kids and everyone’s lives will implode. You’re probably wondering how Yoon Sang Hyun fits into this drama. He’s Yoo Jin Ha, the wealthy show producer who falls in love with Eun Young and pursues her even though he knows she loves her childhood sweetheart. He was looking good once he ditched the moustache and cut his hair.
Official SBS website—it’s a pain to navigate, so good luck!
Queen of Housewives (MBC, 2009)
Heo Tae Yoon/Tae Boon
QUEEN OF HOUSEWIVES brought Yoon Sang Hyun success and recognition. It is also the drama that gave him an opportunity to showcase his singing. (A fortune teller told him that singing in a drama would bring him success, and I guess they were right.) His character, Heo Tae Joon is called the middle-aged Gu Jun Pyo, after Lee Min Ho’s character in Boy’s Over Flowers, inferring that Tae Joon, the playboy/C.E.O. character who lives in careless luxury is the same personality type, just older. My first impression is that those conniving, bitchy, back-stabbing ladies pushing their spouses up the corporate ladder of success irritated me to no end. Could it be that Sang Hyun also becomes the saving grace for this drama? Other than that, I don’t have much to say right now, so I’ll just add a gratiutous image of a sleeping Tae Joon.