BRAIN’s Dr. Lee Kang Hoon

You know I should be blogging about Dr. Jang Joon Hyuk or Kim Myung Min from White Tower. I should be raving about how amazing the actor is in channeling the ambition hungry doctor craving for power and success, the tightly woven script, the all-around brilliant acting by the overall cast, the quietly heart-tugging music… etc.

But instead, my brain drifted somewhere else, somehow transfixed on another Jang Joon Hyuk-like character in a recently aired drama BRAIN – Dr. Lee Kang Hoon played by Shin Ha Kyun. Don’t get me wrong, White Tower is still miles and miles better in quality and overall acting compared to Brain, and I love it so very much it will definitely go into my Top 10, most probably my Top 3 if it continues to be this awesome (I’m on Ep 14). Somehow however, for some reason, my brain just came to a screeching halt the moment Shin Ha Kyun appeared in Ep 1 of Brain, casting every single thing (including my love for WT) within aside. It was as if lightning had struck, my brain malfunctioned, my neurons were messed up or so, Dr. Lee Kang Hoon made me stop in my tracks. And had my sight fixed on him and him only.

Brain is quite the typical medical drama. You have medical stuff, internal political struggles, friendship-turned rivalry relationships, mentor-rookie relationships, romance and so on.  Pretty much the usual all-in-one packaged medical drama. The plot/writing warrants nothing terribly fresh or new (save for the stuff on brain surgery), acting merely bordering on average (except for Shin Ha Kyun) and directing isn’t anywhere stellar or great.

But I’m sure you know the feeling. When a certain character just appears before you, snaps at you, throws his charisma and presence at you, and you’re totally done for. You’re mesmerized and you cannot take your eyes off him.

Dr. Lee Kang Hoon is one such character. And Shin Ha Kyun is incredibly ()(&)_(*_)*&)^#(&_*) AWESOMESAUCE playing him. If charisma and intensity alone are capable of carrying a drama, no doubt Shin Ha Kyun is the saving grace of this mediocrity.

Lee Kang Hoon is a top neurosurgeon in Cheon Ha Hospital. He is smart, confident, arrogant, aggressive, impassive and most importantly, is utterly hungry for power and success (ala Jang Joon Hyuk style in WT). Almost always bearing a serious and tense expression on his face, he’s constantly feared and intimidated, disliked by many and is perceived to be an incompassionate jerk who has no slightest concern and respect for his patients and colleagues. In a nutshell, you don’t want to talk to this man.

But like most dark and somewhat vaguely antagonistic characters in dramas, there is always an underlying reason and driving force to their unlikeable and unapproachable behaviours. So as much as I get frustrated seeing him scream yell and lash out at his colleagues and juniors for no good reason, I also feel incredibly sorry for him. For beneath the impetuous and undaunted exterior of his, lies a lonely and friendless soul who has noone and noone but himself to rely on.

Shin Ha Kyun is absolutely breathtaking and captivating as Lee Kang Hoon. It’s such a wonder because his character here is a 360 degree turn from his previous nerdy role in Harvest Villa (a total scaredy cat he was LOL). I enjoyed him in there and here he does it again, and does it even better.  The volume intensity and vigor he injects into his character is insurmountable compared to any other in the drama. The way he stares at others, retaliates and taunts back at others, it’s all so consuming and intense that you just can’t look away. Everyone automatically pales and slides to the background whenever he’s in a scene. And me? I just swoon like mad, like so so so mad?

The other main leads Choi Jung Won and Jo Dong Hyuk are nowhere near or close to Shin Ha Kyun’s calibre, and IMO they’re not good actors even to begin with. Their performances in Brain do not impress much that it’s a testament to Shin Ha Kyun’s ability for being able to get both of them involved in a scene as much as he is. He’s just that good.

And it’s also a good thing that Shin Ha Kyun and Choi Jung Won have pretty good chemistry together. It’s not the burning and sizzling type, but the slowly gradually brewing type? I don’t actually buy the progress of their relationship that much yet, I think it’s just a bit too abrupt and too out of the blue. But again, I can’t stress and reiterate more that when Shin Ha Kyun works his magic, you just can’t help but fall for him. Perhaps that’s how it happened for Ji Hye (CJW) as well?

6 eps in I’m already hopelessly addicted. I already can’t wait for the next episode to come out. I want more! I think it’s great that Song Seung Hun was dropped from this drama, because I already cannot see anyone other than Shin Ha Kyun in this character. Sorry hand towel, you’re better off doing cute! 😛

Since I’m now still in SHK giddiness, won’t mind sharing goodies.

BRAIN Trailer




Shin Ha Kyun Star Date w/ Eng Subs

Don’t you just love that warm and earnest smile of his? <333 Me thinks I’m developing a huge huge crush on this actor, so I’m so going to dig out all his films after Brain ends. Marathon them in a go. And I so hope he continues doing dramas (he’s only done 3 so far Brain included) so that I can watch him twice every week non-stop.


credits: kbs / video uploaders


34 thoughts on “BRAIN’s Dr. Lee Kang Hoon”

  1. Ok so I had to read this because Brain has become a little cracky is my life right now. I love SHK in this role! Now don’t get me wrong my heart doesn’t break or turn or wobble for him at all though. I think he’s a jerk. He’s a jerk that doesn’t deserve sympathy. And I can’t keep my eyes away from him. And he’s nothing compared to KMM’s JJH. But I say all that surprised as crap that I don’t like him! I usually like characters like him.
    Honestly, I believe that SHK is stellar in the role because I don’t think we’re supposed to like him or have sympathy for him. He’s not a nice guy. He isn’t hiding some bleeding heart underneath his lab coat and he certainly doesn’t care too much for others, including his family. However, he is human. He hates criticism but he doesn’t shirk genuine advice. He isn’t a monster and SHK shows us that. He’s ambitious and self-centered but he’s not a robot or an alien, therefore, he gets hurt and cries and makes mistakes. I like that SHK portrays that though it’s true that LKH was poor and has had to break his back to get where he is, his circumstances aren’t what has molded his personality. LKH is LKH and he would be regardless of what side of the world he was born on or the element of the spoon in his mouth. I love that.
    Everytime I watch an ep I can’t help but compare it to WT and sadly, I’m not sure that will ever change, however, I’m glad there is that marked difference between the characters to me, you know?
    As for the romance… BOO! I’m not hearing it. I don’t roll my eyes like I did in Warrior but it’s surely not needed here either. I got it from ep 1 that LKH liked Ji Hye but her liking him, (seriously, beyond physical or intellectual attraction) I don’t understand. They would have to do some major LKH emotional and personality overhaul. He just is plain unlikable. Respect? Sure. Crushworthy? I guess. But love relationship partner? Huh uh. If we ever get to that point in the drama, I feel it will definitely ring false to my mind. She needs to study and learn to respect and follow directions and he needs to get to Oz to get a heart. I don’t even like the idea of these two together(blrrrr). Bong Dal Hee did a much better job with selling that angle.
    But ultimately, it’s kdrama, ne? If they can’t do it who can?

    1. Ohhhhhh I love that someone else is watching this with me! And who else, other than my dearest UNNICHAN! *squeals and jumps around in hyper delight*

      I agree with you on LKH’s personality, if I were his colleagues or juniors, I’d hate him to the bone. Don’t even get me started on how he disrespects his fellow batch mate Seo Jun Hyuk (tho he’s not the nice goody goody guy too) and goes on and on about how he’s so great and superior to all, how can someone feel for this man? No wonder he doesn’t have true friends.

      It’s all to SHK’s credit that I’m drawn to him. Like you said, LKH actually stays true to himself (selfish, ambitious, callous etc) in front of everyone including his family (tho I think his family background does have a lil something to do about his abrasive behaviour). And SHK works those unbridled emotions as if HE truly is the character SHK himself. It’s really a great sight to see.

      I think comparisons to WT are warranted, the latter IS already a threshold and household bar. But I do find tremendous joy in watching both, thanks to the excellence of both actors. JJH and LKH are somewhat similar ambitious and power-thirsty wise, but other than that, there are obvious differences. JJH is more collected (tho sometimes he thinks ahead of himself) while LKH displays his feelings and outbursts of emotions outright, without any constraints. I love characters to bits.

      The romance part is the weakest link of this drama, but I do see some potential (like I said thanks to SHK). I actually don’t think LKH liked or showed interest in JH up until Ep 5 or 6 (even in the later episodes I found it hard to buy), but you’re absolutely right in Ji Hye’s sudden infatuation with LKH, it seemed like the drama was trying to hard to sell it to us. She practically loathed how LKH treated his juniors and colleagues in the beginning, and all of a sudden, she likes him? It felt a bit forced.

      But like you said, if K-drama can’t do it, don’t even bother counting on TVB or TW dramas. LOL

  2. LOLOL, THAT MV’s music. I am FEVAH, I am FEVAH, I aint born TYPICAHHHHLL

    I haven’t checked Brain yet, but whew Shin Hakyun’s so unblinking in his Doctor Asshole role. You’re right, I can’t imagine SSH now, Shin is way more charismatic and intense. SSH would never measure up to that.

    1. LOL yeah, Dr. Lee sure ain’t your typical doctor.

      If you have the time chinggu, do it for Shin Ha Kyun. Sometimes he can be quite overbearing in his attitude (his character can’t help it LOL), but I assure you that you’ll be fixated on him once he’s in a scene. Whoever he’s talking to, screaming at, you’ll only see him and him ONLY.

      Mr. Hand Towel, he may be able to win in the hotness department, but intensity, remember EOE?

      1. This is crazy tho. I’ve got Ramyun and Ojakgyo on my fixed roster. And I’m on a wait and see for What’s Up. AND then Padam Padam and My Fermented Family JUST had to air too. I need 16 more hours in a day just to feed this KDrama madness!

      2. IKR! There are just too many right now that it’s crazy. Lucky I’ve got White Tower out of my way now, I’m planning to start Me Too Flower.

        Padam Padam and the rest will just have to wait.

  3. Hello~~ I saw your post on Soompi so I decided to check your blog out! :3

    Hehe. Just wanted to share this Brain MV that I found on Youtube just now…

    It totally highlights Shin Ha Kyun’s sexiness. The music isn’t helping really to tone down the heat either. HAHAHA. I got goosebumps watching it… Oh man. ❤

    1. Aww.. thanks for dropping by jen! Just needed to share the SHK love.. ^^

      And komawo again for that vid! SHK may not be the handsomest actor out there, but his charisma just BURNS. Notice how he emotes, the slightest smirk, smile, jeer, I mean all his facial expressions and gestures, they all spell INTENSITY. I think I can watch this vid forever <33

  4. Hi Ripgal, SHK’s a good actor. You will like him even more after checking out his films, I copied his profile from 🙂

    Shin Ha-kyun (b. May 30, 1974) first trained as a stage actor at the Seoul National University of Arts before going on to act in a large number of plays by Jang Jin. When in 1998 Jang Jin directed his first movie, Shin Ha-kyun was cast and he has since appeared in almost all of Jang’s feature films. Impressed by his acting abilities, comedy director Kim Jee-woon has also cast him in minor roles in The Foul King and his 30-min internet film Coming Out.

    Shin first became a superstar with his role as a young North Korean soldier in Park Chan-wook’s smash hit JSA in late 2000. At that time he developed a large fan following which, together that of co-star Won Bin, helped make his next film Guns & Talks a strong commercial hit.

    In the next couple years Shin would take on two strong roles that would come to define his career. In Park Chan-wook’s acclaimed Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, he played a deaf man with bright green dyed hair who is driven by desperation to kidnap a young girl. Then in Jang Jun-hwan’s Save the Green Planet in 2003, he played a mentally unbalanced man who believes that aliens are plotting to invade the earth. Together, these two intense and harrowing performances by Shin were an impressive display of his acting talent.

    After appearing in the rural melodrama A Letter From Mars with actress Kim Hee-sun in 2004, Shin returned in Welcome to Dongmakgol, a drama set during the Korean War in a small mountainous village. His next work for 2006 sees him play a rather eccentric hitman.

    Complete filmography:

    No Mercy For the Rude (2006)
    Murder, Take One (2005)
    Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005)
    My Brother (2004)
    A Letter From Mars (2003)
    Save the Green Planet! (2003)
    Surprise Party (2002)
    Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
    Guns & Talks (2001)
    Joint Security Area (2000)
    Coming Out (2000, short film)
    The Foul King (2000)
    The Spy (1999)
    The Happenings (1998)

    1. Thank you so much ^^ I actually wiki-ed him right after I finished Ep 1 of Brain. LOL

      Have you any idea where or how to DL his films with subs? It looks like he’s been in quite a lot of award-winning/hit films. JSA, Sympathy, Dongmakgol, Save the Green Planet and Front Line? I only have Front Line downloaded so far…

      Just youtubed him and Brain again (can’t help it :P), the last part of this BTS clip where he and the cast talked and laughed around with each other.. so cute!

      1. I’ve already bought the Welcome to Dongmakgol DVD. In fact I went on a SHK film purchase spree few days ago LOL just that I don’t have time T_T maybe this weekend, after Frontline. hehehe…

  5. Shin Ha Kyun’s the guy that was in Harvest Villa, right? I never finished that drama, even though what little I saw of it was pretty good. Man, I can’t believe it’s already December and end of the year reviews are starting to trickle out and I realize that I haven’t watched that many dramas this year at all. I have so many unfinished ones on my list. Gah! But that’s okay, after this week, I’ll get crackin’ on drama watching! 🙂

    1. Yes, the scaredy nerd in Harvest Villa. I enjoyed that drama and liked SHK’s performance in it, but honestly, his character wasn’t that intriguing other than being constantly passive and shy. Lee Bo Young had the more interesting role.

      And yes oh yes, December winter time. Can’t believe how time flies. >_< I think the amount of dramas you've seen isn't an issue at all, as long as you've watched and
      enjoyed. You done with TBDAW yet?

      1. I’m still not done with TBDAW, but I should be ’cause I need to return the DVD box set to the person who lent it to me this weekend, when I see her. 🙂

  6. I have to agree 100% with rigpal!!! MR SHIN IS MESMERIZING!!!! OMG!!! FAN FOR LIFE!!!! Each and every expression of his is so natural ..brilliant actor…riveting performance….
    I cannot imagine that I am this excited about him.. (my favs are Cha Seung Won and Jang Hyuk)
    I will buy the Brain DVD for my collection just for Mr Shin….
    But to be honest , the female lead is not natural…she appears to try hard to ‘act’…who cares, I dont see anyone when Mr shin is on the screen…waiting like a lunatic for the next episode…thanks for the wonderful words in your blog!!

    1. Komawo, I am glad there are ppl who share exactly the same sentiments as I do abt Dr. Lee and SHK’s portrayal. His expressions and emotions are just out of the world. I read somewhere that he only had a week to prepare for his character (since SSH dropped the script a week or so before scheduled airing due to difficulties in preparing for this complex role). And that’s something worth talking about.

      Agree with you that Choi Jung Won isn’t as good or natural compared to SHK, but so as the rest. Jo Dong Hyuk is terrible, but like I said, they do up their game a bit when SHK’s in a scene with them. So it’s not totally that bad either. hehe..

  7. Hi rigpal, that’s right. SHK is absolutely awesome as Dr Lee. Dr Lee character is so hard to play. I have never seen such a talented action though i am korean drama crazy. I am used to see many Dr Lee in our medical field. I feel as if i am seeing those real-life guys. That’s why i gave big credit to SHK’s acting. really really can’t wait next next episodes.

    1. Ahh.. so ppl like Dr. Lee do exist. haha. Watching Dr. Lee explode and erupt made me think about whether doctors in RL really do bottle up and keep their frustration inside. Glad to hear that it’s not merely an exaggeration for dramatic interest. Cos I did think SHK went a lil bit too far in the recent episodes. Would you care to explain or relate how you or other people actually deal with doctors like him? Don’t think it’s easy hmmm…

      1. I and my friends were also trapped in such 2 attending doctors while in residency training in an academic hospital in medical ward. Their problem stem from professional jealousy. We students , by ward rules, have to rotate with both of them. In such times, doctor2 treat us so well. Then, later when we have to move to doctor1, he discriminate us. Then no way we have to tolerate and turn blind eye cause our exam results are in their hands. I am sure Many stories in medical field are more or less than BRAIN . Medical profession’s politics is not that so simple of just treating patients. We need to be tough enough, blind enough, deaf enough and sometimes lunatic enough to survive (hee heee….)
        I just watched White Tower which u recommended so much. In my view, Kim Myung Min’s character is a bit less than for real-life aggressive, ambitious surgeons. By work nature and demand, surgeons and OB/Gyn doctors are not that cool. Generally , not gentle move & attitude they do. U can see what OB/Gyn doctors are like in ” Obstetric and Gynaecolgical Doctors ” Kdrama series. U can also see child doctors’ character in it. To me, Dr. Lee’s character is more realistic . SHK just impersonate so well. As BRAIN’s plots are so voluminously intense in each and every scene so quickly , i think u feel as if it is exaggerated.
        Anyway , we r just enjoying the emotions driven by Kdrama!

      2. Thank you so much for that. I have friends who are also doing houseman/residency training right now, and they also say the same thing, it’s not an easy environment to be in. Politics are everywhere, relationship struggles between doctors, seniors and juniors..etc.

        Guess you already have a tough exterior to face all that huh? Or perhaps, it just takes getting used to?

  8. SHK is an awesome actor. I like his serious bad ass expression like he’s going to explode anytime & his muscles are really tensed, it’s like he’s really pulling himself (for good) to this character. Although I can’t stand watching him at Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance because of his hideous hair I think, but like I said before, he pulled himself to the character & nailed it.

    1. I love every single expression of his, but of all, his genuine and shy smile 😀

      I actually thought he pulled off the green hair pretty well in Sympathy. But granted, I was more into his performance as the mute. How he conveyed everything without even uttering a single word. He was amazing. Surprised he hasn’t gotten any acting awards (other than his earlier ones for JSA).

  9. yike! finally talents win over goodie-looks and connections. worth wishing for Shin Ha Kyun +Grand Prize! He is so shy with red face when colleagues congratulate him. Also very nice to see Jung Jin Young’s heartily hug and very pleasing smile to SHK. SHK & Dr.Lee did make my days in end of 2011, the edgy year in my is unusual of me to addicting to drama this much and it’s clear it’s because of God Ha Kyun in Dr. Lee.

  10. And it looks everybody is away from home in this holiday season as Engsubbing in episode 14 is still not on. and have to search hard and wait long for the upload of his appearance in grand prize ceremony. Here still 2011 Dec 31 in California.

  11. BRAIN (브레인), is undoubtedly the best drama ever created, produced, directed, played and aired. With this unforgettable and priceless drama, through its plot and its outstanding actors, actresses and musicians so touching, and incredibly realistic, you have blessed each human soul. Here is not an exageration. You’ve made a great job, incredibly human ! Such a benediction, a gift for everyone. Thousands Warm Thank You. Please, invest to create and produce a continuation to this priceless drama. You will invest money and time, and … you will earn an international gratitude from each human soul. Dr Kim Sang Chul said beautifully that our brain is our true heart, so please do not forget that using your brain as your heart, investing in a such new work would be a great benediction for you, for us, for everyone across the world.

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