I’ve long ago abandoned any pretense about this blog being remotely classy. So be warned: an unabashed squee fest of Lee Min Ho and his soulful staring on Heirs follows.
I used to pride myself as being immune to the charms of heartthrobs such as Lee Min Ho. I was so above all the fangirling. I eye-rolled at the sight of a billboard to promote his concert in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year and shrugged when my other half asked what the big deal was. I’d never watched a drama of his in its entirety–I dropped Boys Over Flowers and City Hunter rather quickly–so I was ambivalent about his acting ability. Plus, his mainstream look was just not to my taste. You know, I’m a sophisticated woman. I don’t do teenybopper fantasies *sips champagne*.
Now I see the error of my ways. While Lee Min Ho isn’t about to topple Gong Yoo’s place at the top of my K-crush list, in Heirs he has the uncanny ability to turn my insides into goo whenever he does the look. You know, what I’m talking about right? It’s this:
After watching 6 episodes of Heirs, it occurred to me that writer Kim Eun Sook must have decided to construct the entire drama around the exchange of moody and meaningful glances and sought out the best young leading man who could melt hearts or drop panties with a single fixed stare. Enter, Lee Min Ho.
If the drama is going to hinge on one man’s arsenal of swoon, then he’d better be able to bring it. And Kim Tan, as Lee Min Ho plays him, is a sensitive soul who telegraphs his deep longing through his eyes. Like this: This is the gaze of loving admiration, and you sense that he’s thinking how lovely she must look in the mornings when she wakes up and that he’d like to be there one day to see her when she does.
But not like, post-coitally. This is teenage love K-drama style after all.
Here’s a sexier version: Well, he is driving a blood red Maserati with the top down so it’s only right that he dials down the sweet in favour of the cool. The look needs to fit the style of the ride, isn’t it? He’s got a few tricks up his sleeve too, and wondering which one will work best on her.
Then there’s one of my favourites, the gaze of bemused fixation. He’s tickled pink, wondering who is this girl? Why does she constantly surprise me? Why can’t I stop looking at her? Why does she have such perfect skin?
However, Lee Min Ho’s piece de resistance is the Gaze of Sorrow, unleashed in Episode 5 at the Big Reveal. This is the gaze that’s brimming with tenderness and empathy. It hurts him to see her in pain, but it kills him that he can’t make this untenable situation any better for her. Of all the households in the world, she had to end up in his.
He says less than 10 words to her but it’s his eyes that do the real talking. As a performance, it’s beautifully restrained. It’s the gentle anguish of an open, defenseless heart on display here that I suspect sent hearts aflutter across the globe. Including mine.
His restraint makes the swelling bombast of the accompanying soundtrack all the more effective. I love this song because it’s so sweetly overwrought. It’s spot-on for this scene, and for the drama’s numerous moments of adolescent pining. It’s basically a classic 80s ballad, complete with that key-change punch-up near the end that’s so so awesome. This song is made for montage perfection, and it compels me to faux-sing along with abandon, clutching my chest with one hand, the other hand outstretched, mouthing ‘Love iiis the momeeent.‘
None of this would strike a chord if these moments weren’t genuinely moving. And for that, I thank the bottomless well of vulnerability that Lee Min Ho seems to be able to tap into at will. Now I see what the fuss is about.