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A closer look on Yoo Yeon Seok’s role in tvN’s upcoming drama ‘Mr. Sunshine’ – Goo Dong Mae

/dust off the blog/

Well hi there YeoNiverse wordpress, long time no update! Haha. Well in recent time we’re mostly focused on our SNS platforms for Yoo Yeon Seok’s updates – Twitter; Facebook; Instagram; Tumblr… so we hardly post things here, sorry.

Anyway. A few days ago, tvN has released the first trailer of their upcoming drama, Mr. Sunshine. Written by Kim Eun Sook, here is one of the descriptions of the drama available:

“Writer Kim is drawing young romance and love on a sheet of confusing and scathing background of modern history. Men and women born in slave, butcher and noblemen families overcome their social statuses and fall in love.” [S]

YeoNiverse has subbed the trailer for your viewing –

Now we have a fierce looking Yoo Yeon Seok in the trailer – he’s sporting an unkempt hair, sending some deadly stares as he lead a pack of swordsmen in Japanese traditional clothing . He is Goo Dong Mae.

[gif] 1

Goo Dong Mae is the Branch Manager of the Kokuryukai, or Amur River Society in Kyungsung (one of Seoul’s old names). Kokuryukai was a  prominent paramilitary, ultranationalist right-wing group in Japan. [S]

[Trailer] First -20180215 1778

Now comes the questions about Goo Dong Mae – is he a villain? Is he a bad guy? Is his role a tragic one? Will we hate him? Will we understand from where he came from?

If anyone is interested, you can read below on (the possibility of) Goo Dong Mae’s background:

Firstly, Mr. Sunshine is set in the early 1900s, an era before the Japanese occupation in Korea, however their (Japanese) influence over the country was growing at that time. During those time, and before that, ie the time when this drama characters were born and growing up, the Korean traditional social hierarchy still exist. They were living in a society where people were divided into classes such as –

  1. Wangjok (Royalty);
  2. Yangban (Nobility – mainly composed of civil servants and military officers [s]);
  3. Chungin (upper middle class [s]);
  4. Sangmin (the working class, or the peasants. Common people of Joseon Korea – consisted of peasants, laborers, fishermen, some craftsmen and merchants. [s]);
  5. Cheonmin (“vulgar commoners,” the lowest caste of commoners in dynastical Korea. Divided into 2 broad categories – 1) the slaves and 2) occupational Cheonmin[s] )
  6. Baekjeong (said to be of Cheonmin class, but their status is lower. They’re an “untouchable” outcast group of Korea, often compared with the burakumin of Japan and the dalits of India and Nepal. [s])

Goo Dong Mae is said to be a ‘Baekjeong’s son’.

Baekjeong (백정) means 1) “butcher: (archaic) A person who slaughters animals such as cows, pigs, etc., for market.” [S]; and 2) Baekjeong also denotes an “untouchable” outcast group of Korea [S] Butchery is the main occupation of the outcast group Baekjeongs, and it is noted that butchery was more a public obligation than a source of income for them. [S]

“The baekjeong did jobs that no self-respecting Buddhist Korean would touch, including anything working with animals. Slaughtering animals; leather making; these kinds of dirty duties were avoided by Koreans, and so were filled de facto by baekjeong.” [S]

So based on the above info, we can safely assume that Goo Dong Mae belongs to Baekjeong, the outcast group of people back in the days.

Baekjeong people faced contempt and discriminations from all frontsseparate communities (they were forced to live in segregated quarters isolated from the common people), restriction on dress (they were forbidden to wear the ordinary headgear of black varnished lacquer which was worn by all married people as it was considered too good for them, among others), restriction on marriage customs and funerals  (They were not allowed to use the community funeral cart which were usually found in each village to transport the corpse. Their dead had to be buried in segregated plots so as not to pollute the sacred burial grounds of the common people, among others), restriction on names, they did not have the civil rights held by the ordinary people since they were not considered worthy of citizenship, forbidden from buying fresh fish in the market, punished differently from other people, and a lot more discriminations. (Click on here [S] to read more on the discriminations faced by the Baekjeong people)

…Paekchong suffered from the contempt and discrimination in ordinary society, it is interesting to notice that the status of the Paekchong was far below that of the slaves in the traditional Korean social system.”,there was no way for the Paekchong or their descendants to break out of the outcast status and to become· yangmin.” [S]

A few more descriptions of Goo Dong Mae in the drama:

  • “…Koo Dong-mae, who loves Ko Ae-sin. He was born to a butcher’s family and abandoned the Josun on his own but he risks everything on Ko Ae-sin who took to him as a human being unlike others who saw him as no better than a pig or cow.” [S]
  • “…the son of a lowly butcher who flees his homeland and goes to Japan in search of a new life. He’s described as a tragic character who falls in love with Kim Tae-ri’s aristocratic young lady, and will risk everything for his love.” [S]
  • “To help her country during the time of crisis, Ae Shin is leaving to join the righteous army. Dong Mae is worried about her and wanted to help her, but he is conflicted between the resentment he harboured towards Joseon and worrying over his own current condition.” [S]

So his background as a Baekjeong who faced the contempt and discrimination in Joseon explains why Dong Mae hates Joseon and flee to Japan on his own to seek a new life.

This is probably how he became the branch manager of the Kokuryukai in Kyungsung, and became on the Japanese side.

But then again, there is also a possibility of him crossing over once Ae Shin whom he loves, decides to join the righteous army. Will Dong Mae also join her and became the righteous army to fight off the growing influence of the Japanese in Joseon – which would mean he has to risk everything and betraying the Kokuryukai?

This whole thing about the drama and characters sounds so meaty (no pun intended) so it also made us wonder if the actual drama would be as meaty as the concept suggest or would it be just an empty love story with the turbulant times of Joseon being only their background? Also, the chances of his role being hated is very high, on top of his screentime might not be that much. So be prepared and best not to expect much, folks. lol.

The drama is planned to be aired starting from July 7, 2018.

(Note: The post was edited and updated with a few more info)


[Eng Translation] (Article) “I worried a lot but…” Up until the last performance, Yoo Yeon Seok’s Hedwig has enjoyed a successful run

Kookmin Ilbo via Naver :  “I worried a lot but..” Up until the last performance, Yoo Yeon Seok’s Hedwig has enjoyed a successful run.

[Article] Final performance

The 3 months long run of musical ‘Hedwig’ as attempted by actor Yoo Yeon Seok (33) has successfully wrapped-up.

On November 5th, in the Art Center Grand Theater, Hongik University, Jongno-gu, Seoul, after he finished performing his final Hedwig performance in Seoul, Yoo Yeon Seok greeted the audience, “I was very nervous about how the audience would like my performance as I was preparing for it, so I’m very thankful that the seats were filled up like this, up until the end”.

This is the first Hedwig attempt from Yoo Yeon Seok who debuted in the musical scene through ‘Le Passe Muraille (The Passer Through Walls)’ in 2015. From the rock genre, excessive make-ups to cross dressing, he is a stranger to all of those but he breaks through them with his distinctive sincerity and earnestness. To diet is a given. He could also perform rock music brilliantly after exerting such a hard work.

Music director Lee Joon said “At first, there were a lot of worries amongst ourselves. However, my worries disappeared as I watched Yoo Yeon Seok’s training process. The moment (Yoo Yeon Seok) wear the costumes, put on the make-up and wig, I thought ‘Oh, we have picked the right Hedwig after a long time'”

Yoo Yeon Seok said “There were so many great ‘sisters’ who have portrayed Hedwig all these while, so I feel burdened and have a lot of worries at first” and he continued, “But thanks to the audience who love the performances as well as all of the staffs who have worked hard, I was able to finish my performances well. Thank you.”

And on this day he specifically mentioned his mother who was amongst the audience watching the performance, “I came to have a lot of thoughts through acting as Hedwig. (Our house) has only two sons, so I thought how lonely it would’ve been for my mother all of this time. From now on, I’ll be a son who is like a daughter (to my mother)”.

Yoo Yeon Seok gave his all for the crowd who were cheering for him passionately up until the end. As his voice went hoarse (at the end), he hid it with efforts and went down the stage, performing Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ as well as Hedwig’s main theme ‘The Origin of Love’ as encore songs.

From August this year, the title role of Hedwig has been performed by Oh Man Seok, Michael Lee, Jung Moon Sung, Jo Hyung Kyun as well as Yoo Yeon Seok. Joining them as Yitzhak are Jeon Hye Sun, J-Min and Yoo Ri Ah.

After completing its run in Seoul, Hedwig will be performed in Andong (November 23~25) and Busan (December 9~10).



(ENG) (Comments) Yoo Yeon Seok throwing the ceremonial first pitch for Korean Series 5th Game


MyDaily via Naver : [MD Photo] Yoo Yeon Seok ‘signal communication with the catcher’


1. [+1668, -10] Hey it’s Chilbongie.

2. [+946, -8] Aigoo our Chilbongie threw the first pitch

3. [+908, -9] In Reply series he was a baseball player so it seems like he’s so used in throwing the ball haha

4. [+855, -25] When walking on the streets I thought at least once I’d encounter a good looking man, but in reality there are none. So that’s why they’re (called) celebrities, right?? ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ He’s handsome.

5. [+771, -18] He’s so cool

6. [+278, -10] His pitching style is amazing, as expected, it’s Chilbongie

7. [+258, -10] Seriously so cool, Yoo Yeon Seok!!!

8. [+226, -6] Chilbongie.. still as cool as ever

9. [+201, -4] During Chuseok, I watched the re-run of R94 on (channel) xtm ㅋㅋ Chilbongie

10. [+208, -7] The most pitiful one amongst the (characters of) Reply series… Your ceremonial first pitch is the best, you did well~


[Eng] (Comments) Jo Seung Woo→Jo Jung Suk→Byun Yo Han→Yoo Yeon Seok..13 years of Hedwig’s history


Osen via Naver: [Oh!Strong Study] Jo Seung Woo→Jo Jung Suk→Byun Yo Han→Yoo Yeon Seok..13 years of Hedwig’s history

  1. [+355, -35] It’s true that Jo-dwig (Jo Seung Woo’s Hedwig) is the best among the Hedwigs. His adlibs are no jokes, (his Hedwig) is sexy, cute and lovely as well. Jo-dwig is the best.
  2. [+174, -13] It seems like there’s a certain fun in being able to choose different actors to watch playing Hedwig. For 2017 I start with Yoo Yeon Seok, and I was truly surprised to see this eonni is doing really well. His acting and engagement was the very best.
  3. [+160, -14] I was surprised to see Yoo-dwig* (Yoo Yeon Seok’s Hedwig) surpassing expectations.
  4. [+127, -6] On the stage there is no Yoo Yeon Seok. There is only Hedwig who is covered with pain and brightness… I was really surprised. His acting for sure is (great), then his numbers until his audience-led ad-libs are all excellent.. Couldn’t picture Yoo Yeon Seok’s usual appearances – I myself couldn’t too. Go watch it yourself, this is a big hit.
  5. [+141, -11] The previous Hedwigs are good. The new Hedwig this time, Yeon-dwig is doing great beyond expectation.

*Yoo Yeon Seok’s Hedwig nickname amongst musical fans is actually ‘Yeon-dwig’, but sometimes some didn’t know this at first and thought it’s ‘Yoo-dwig’ instead.

[Eng] (Comments) Osen Review: #YooYeonSeok’s ‘Hedwig’ is beautiful and more sorrowful


20170902_185940Osen via Naver: [Oh!Strong Review] #YooYeonSeok’s ‘Hedwig’ is beautiful and more sorrowful

1. [+1539 , -35] I strongly agree with the headline. His Hedwig is gorgeous, fresh and especially sorrowful. Yoo Yeon Seok is the best.

2. [+1323 , -39] I know that his acting is good because he is an actor but the Yoo Yeon Seok that was on the stage is so much more. The sadness in his eyes was so intense.

3. [+1047 , -29] Once you watch (his performance), you won’t be able to pull yourself out. Yeon Unnie ㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠ

4. [+794 , -29] The reporter’s feeling is how I’m feeling too. I came to fall in love with him after watching his first performance~

5. [+762 , -35] Agreed. The most beautiful and the most sorrowful Yeon-dwig. He became my favourite Hedwig. When I watch it again, cast Yoo Yeon Seok.

[Audience Review] Yoo Yeon Seok’s 2nd Hedwig performance

(T/N: This is just one of audience reviews available on Interpark ticket website for musical Hedwig, and not a professional critic’s review. Thought of sharing a few of them from time to time so some of us fans can see how some of the audience feel about Yoo Yeon Seok’s musical performances ^^)

[Hedwig] Interpak review

Yeondwig Yoo Yeon Seok-nim is the best 

I reserved the ticket in advance but truth is, I didn’t have big expectation.
I’ve never seen actor Yoo Yeon Seok’s past works too.. I didn’t think I had a great expectation..
My seat was the OP seat which is a good seat and really close, but the sound was such a bummer… (really bummed out ㅜ).
Rather than from the start, as the performance progressed, I became so into Hedwig.
When he shed his tears I cried together with him. Heuk.
His acting is really the best. ^^b
I’m thinking of seeing his performance again… let’s meet once again!!
Yoo Yeon Seok-nim is the best kya-a-a-ak

Source: Interpark Ticket audience review page. Dated 24/08/2017 (a day after Yoo Yeon Seok’s second performance).