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Scene-stealing Woo Do-hwan goes after our hearts

By: Ruth L. Navarra

A warrant of arrest should be served to Woo Do-hwan.  He’s guilty of consistently stealing scenes in the drama “The King: Eternal Monarch” (TKEM).  

He plays Jo Yeong “The Unbreakable Sword” or in layman’s term, the king’s bodyguard. He was supposed to be just the best friend in the background, sternly protecting King Lee Gon played by Lee Min-ho.  

But he has been memorable the moment he appeared on screen.  He warned a royal court staff not to touch the king in his deep, husky voice. We’ve been looking forward to more of his scenes ever since.  

One could argue that the suit makes the man.  It’s easy to appreciate the breadth of Jo Yeong’s shoulders when he is always wearing one.  He also took our breath away when he appeared in full battle regalia to protect the sea of the fictitious kingdom of Corea.  


Different side

But we’ve seen a goofy side of him as Eun-seob, his alter ego in the parallel universe. He’s managed to be funny and still endearing.  Woo said that this character is different from the role he played before.  

“In Eun-seob, the viewers will be able to see a new side of the actor Woo Do-hwan.  This could be a turning point for me because the viewers can see take on something different,” he said during the video conference with Super K and other local press last month. 

Woo’s last drama is “My Country: The New Age.” He plays the character of Sun-ho, a military officer who goes into war against his best friend.  The historical drama is excellently written and, most importantly, showcases Woo’s talent in acting.  

However, Sun-ho is almost the same as  Jo Yeong. Stern, strict, intelligent and humorless.  This is why we understand his affinity towards the happy-go-lucky attitude of Eun-seob. 

READ: Lee Min-ho, Woo Do-hwan and their scene-stealing bromance in ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’

Prepared

Woo said that he did not have to physically train for his role in TKEM thanks to “My Country.” The constant sword fighting in “My Country” prepared him for TKEM. 

“In terms of action, I didn’t have to prepare separately for this particular role.  I worked on the heavy action drama for about a year.  That’s why I feel quite confident,” he said.  “I could say that I had done something extra for this role. I could say that I worked a little more on the posture and the attitude and the tone of the character because he is the chief imperial bodyguard.”

Another challenge that he had to get over with is playing two characters.  Jo Yeong as an imperial guard speaks in formal language.  Meanwhile, Eun-seob is swimming in his Busan satoori  (accent).   Woo said that there are days that he has to play the two characters in one day. The most comical scene in the series so  far is when Jo Yeong meets Eun-seob for the first time.  

“I didn’t realize until now, but I’m pretty handsome,” Eun-seob cries, holding his cheeks.  
“You really didn’t know? How could you not know?” a bewildered Jo Yeong responds stoically. 

Everybody, at this point, just died laughing. 

Dual role

Woo said that the difficult part of playing a dual role is that the dialect or accent flows into one character and into the other unknowingly.  Ensuring that the two characters are distinct from each other is the most challenging for him 

Woo describes working on set with Min-ho, Kim Go-eun, Kim Kyung-nam and Jung Eun-chae.  He gets to work with Min-ho most of the time. The actor has a few scenes with Kyung-nam who plays Shin-jae and Jung who plays Prime Minister Koo.  

He describes working with his fellow cast members as “delightful” and that they were able to become closer as the shoot progressed. 

“There will be an event that the characters are going to solve. It could actually result in conflict. And when we try to resolve those conflicts, we’ll be able to get closer to one another,” he said.  

New episodes of “The King: Eternal Monarch” are streamed on Netflix every Friday and Saturday, 10:30 pm.  


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Woo Do-hwan. All photos are from Netflix

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