From a lighthearted animator to a hardened military officer — Jung Hae In has been there, played that. Despite stepping into the entertainment industry much later than most of his peers, the actor has managed to build a reputation for being one of the most bankable K-drama leads. If you’re yet to be acquainted with his versatility and stellar screen presence, here’s a look at a few of his TV shows that are worth the watch.
Pyeongtaek University alum Jung Hae In dabbled in musicals through the course of his educational endeavours — graduating to an appearance in K-pop group AOA Black’s music video in 2013 and a screen debut in the TV show Bride Of The Century in 2015. By this point, he’d completed his mandatory military service. The challenge lay in the fact that he was deemed much older than most other actors with his industry experience. However, years of steady determination and versatile roles found him rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of Korean entertainment. He also earned the reputation for being one of the country’s highest-paid brand endorsers. Needless to say, he’s no stranger to success.
That said, the journey is marked by challenges. In an interview with Korea Times, he reflected on his choice to pursue a creative career. “Reality hit hard when I was in college, failing in auditions and living without the certainty of a job.” In a separate interview, he further commented on how he copes with it all. “I try not to be affected by whether my reviews are good or bad at the moment. I try to move on no matter what. I think that’s necessary in order to act for a long time.” Today, he’s considered one of the most popular names in the industry. However, he chooses to be humble. “I know for sure that my popularity will fade soon,” he stated in an interaction. “I want to take deliberate steps to prove myself as an actor, so the audience will appreciate the character I play, not me.” Here’s a look at a few TV shows starring the heartthrob that should be on your radar.
Best TV shows featuring Korean actor Jung Hae In
While You Were Sleeping
Directed by: Oh Chung-hwan
Cast: Lee Jong-suk, Bae Suzy, Lee Sang-yeob, Jung Hae-in
Release date: 27 September, 2017
Synopsis: Reporter Nam Hong-joo (played by Bae Suzy), prosecutor Jung Jae-chan (played by Lee Jong-suk), and police officer Han Woo-tak (played by Jung Hae-in) have prophetic dreams. Some point to important cases to investigate, others lay out impending disastrous events. Distraught, the three work to keep these predictions from turning to reality, all while facing off the corrupt lawyer Lee Yoo-beom (played by Lee Sang-yeob)
This role — which came in after a series of quick cameos and minor roles — made Jung a household name in South Korea. In fact, despite being the second lead, his name was the most-searched term on Korean portal service Naver. The actor took to social media to express his disbelief and gratitude at this, posting a story with a screenshot and a quick note of thanks. He also earned a nomination in the Excellence Award, Actor in a Wednesday–Thursday Drama category in the 25th SBS Drama Awards (2017).
Directed by: Shin Won-ho
Cast: Park Hae-soo, Jung Kyung-ho, Kim Sung-cheol, Jung Hae-in
Release date: 22 November, 2017
Synopsis: Talented baseball pitcher Kim Je-hyuk (played by Park Hae-soo) lands a contract with the Boston Red Sox. However, things take a turn for the worse when he’s sentenced to a year in prison after defending his sister from a sexual assault. Once in lockup, he meets a series of intriguing inmates and officials with tumultuous backstories. This includes Lee Joon-ho (played by Jung Kyung-ho), a prison guard who also happens to be Je-hyuk’s childhood friend. Also in the picture? Yoo Jeong-woo (played by Jung Hae-in) a military captain imprisoned for assaulting a soldier in his unit.
Jung’s performance earned him the Most Popular Actor title in the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards (2018). A news report by Korea Herald quotes him as saying, “The aspects I cared most about while filming the drama were my way of speaking and behavior. As I had to play an Army captain who always goes by the book, I studied a lot.”
Something In The Rain
Directed by: Ahn Pan-seok
Cast: Son Ye-jin, Jung Hae-in, Jang So-yeon
Release date: 30 March, 2018
Synopsis: Coffee Bay district supervisor Jin-ah (played by Son Ye-jin) meets her best friend’s brother and video game developer Seo Joon-hee (played by Jung Hae-in) when he returns from abroad. The two fall in love while tackling their respective age differences and life’s many hurdles.
This show marked Jung’s first hit while playing a lead role. Naturally, his popularity grew by leaps and bounds — earning him the Excellence Award for Actor in a Miniseries as well as K-Star Award, Actor at the 6th APAN Star Awards (2018). He also won big at The Seoul Awards (2018), bagging the Popularity Award and Hallyu Artist Award. In an interview with Korea Times, Jung reflected on the similarities between him and his character.
“Like Seo, I take my work seriously, but I’m a lighthearted person when surrounded by people. Also, we share mature characters. Both my parents worked, so I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and had to look after my brother, who is seven years younger than me.” He further noted that he chose to stay grounded despite going big. “After the success of the drama, I received a lot of comments regarding my soaring popularity. I’m very grateful for the love and support, but I try not to feel too excited. I realized that it’s important to keep your pace and not expect anything big.”
One Spring Night
Directed by: Ahn Pan-seok
Cast: Jung Hae-in, Han Ji-min, Kim Jun-han
Release date: 22 May 2019
Synopsis: Librarian Lee Jeong-in (played by Han Ji-min) is in a long-term relationship with banker Gi-seok (played by Kim Jun-han). However, when she meets pharmacist and single dad Yoo Ji-ho (played by Jung Hae-in) — who also happens to have studied at the same university as her — things change and the two fall in love, seeing relationships in a whole new light.
A report by Korea Economic Daily notes that Jung dealt with several challenges over the course of this drama. “I went through a lot of difficulties during ‘One Spring Night’, but I think that’s why I’m more attached to it,” he noted. Despite this, his performance firmly established his place amongst Korea’s most popular leading men and bagged him the Top Excellence Award in the Actor in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama category at the 2019 MBC Drama Awards.
Directed by: Jo Hyun-tak
Cast: Jung Hae-in, Jisoo, Yoo In-na, Jang Seung-jo, Yoon Se-ah, Kim Hye-yoon, Jung Yoo-jin
Release date: 18 December 2021
Synopsis: In 1987, during the democracy movement in South Korea, a blood-soaked graduate student Lim Soo-ho (played by Jung Hae-in) is tended to by another student Eun Yeong-ro (played by Jisoo). The latter hides him from the authorities in her dorm room at the risk of her own life. Soon enough, the two fall in love. Meanwhile the world as they know it falls apart around them.
Despite being steeped in controversy regarding distortion of history, Snowdrop continues to be one of Jung’s most popular roles, earning him global recognition. Reflecting on his dance scene with BLACKPINK’s Jisoo, he’s quoted by Indian Express as stating, “It was simply terrifying. I was shaking, no joke. I felt like I was back to being a novice on set all over again.” He further noted, “I’m comfortable with the state of being slightly nervous in front of a camera. I had no idea I could get that jittery. Being filmed while dancing was nerve-wracking. But Jisoo guided me and taught me how to get through it, giving me a lot of tips, so it went smoothly.”
Directed by: Han Jun-hee
Cast: Jung Hae-in, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Sung-kyun, Son Suk-ku
Release date: 27 August 2021
Synopsis: A team within the Korean military — Deserter Pursuit Unit — is tasked with capturing soldiers who are deserters. This includes new recruit Private Ah Jun-ho (played by Jung Hae-in), Sergeant First Class Park Beom-gu (played by Kim Sung-kyun), Captain Im Ji-sup (played by Son Suk-ku), and Corporal Han Ho-yeol (played by Koo Kyo-hwan). Along the way, the grim reality of the army comes to the fore.
This role added a new, gruff dimension to Jung’s repertoire. In an interview with Korea Times, the actor revealed that the show was quite important to him. “The mandatory military service period, nowadays, is about a year and a half. And that’s about the same amount of time I’ve spent on filming ‘D.P.’ so it holds a special place in my heart. This drama has decorated a page of my own life story.”
He further noted that the shoot had helped him overcome low self-esteem, “”The series has helped me gain confidence at a time when I had low self-esteem, making me realize I can do this kind of acting,” he said. “With ‘D.P.,’ I showed the acting that I’ve never shown before, so I think of it as a turning point in my filmography. I feel very grateful because this project has helped me resolve the thirst I had as an actor.”
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Which of these TV shows starring Jung Hae in are you adding to your binge list?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Jisoo in love with Jung Hae In?
Jisoo is currently dating K-drama star Ahn Bo-hyun.
Who is Jung Hae In’s best friend?
Jung Hae In is believed to be close to fellow actor Lee Jong-suk.
What drama is Jung Hae In in?
Jung Hae In stars in D.P, While You Were Sleeping, Snowdrop, Prison Playbook, and Something In The Rain, amongst other K-dramas.
All images: Courtesy Netflix
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Jisoo is currently dating K-drama star Ahn Bo-hyun.
Answer: Jung Hae In is believed to be close to fellow actor Lee Jong-suk.
Answer: Jung Hae In stars in D.P, While You Were Sleeping, Snowdrop, Prison Playbook, and Something In The Rain, amongst other K-dramas.