To create a complete character, a writer, director, actor, and staff must think about every detail, starting from the clothes, gait, speech, and even to the hair.
In the quickly changing and over-saturated Korean entertainment industry, many actors feel the necessity to change their appearance to get into the character and to help the audience differentiate between the various roles the actor has played. In particular, the hairstyle plays an important role, often acting as a shorthand to describe a character, with curly hair representing an unruly, wild, and even comical personality, and straight hair representing a straight-laced and/or sophisticated character. The hair length often matters too, with the “sweet” heroine sporting long and soft hair, and the second female lead portraying an evil character with short and sleek hair.
Not all actors change their hairstyle often, but there are many who do for each drama they take on. Lee Min Ho, Yoon Eun Hye, and Jang Geun Suk are examples of such actors who always try different hairstyles to get into their drama characters. For “The Hair Makes the Character” feature, I’ll be going through the various hairstyles of the actors who have kept us ogling at their perfection and mimicking their style, or thinking “He better change is hair now or I’ll go over there and do it myself!”
Case #1: Lee Min Ho
What a shock it was when this hot, young actor appeared on screen with his “conch” hairstyle for the 2008 drama “Boys Over Flower.”
It was a hairstyle in which many people couldn’t decide if they should head to the nearest beach or grab a flat iron. The curly hair style was representative of the original manga character the drama was based on – Domyouji Tsukasa from “Hana Yori Dango,” but just because it looks nice on paper, it doesn’t mean it should be imitated in real life. Case in point, Jerry Yan‘s hairstyle in the Taiwanese drama version called “Meteor Garden.” The man is gorgeous, but the pineapple hair made me want a pina colada all the time I was watching it.
The initial reaction to Lee Min Ho’s hair in “Boys Over Flowers” was “What is that thing on that boy’s head?” but due to Lee Min Ho’s charismatic portrayal of Goo Jun Pyo, the hairstyle became a huge hit in Korea, inspiring dozens of parodies.
For 2010’s “Personal Taste,” Lee Min Ho opted for a more trendy cut that suited his architect character. The hairstyle looked like it required more care and time in the morning, following the stereotype of a metrosexual male look. The assumption would be that it wouln’t be too much of a stretch to say such a well-tailored man can be mistaken for being gay as Lee Min Ho’s character is in the drama.
In “City Hunter” (2011), Lee Min Ho grew out his hair a bit longer, opting for a sleek, easy look that is a personal favorite because I want to run my fingers through that hair. While I am sure it took about one hour to get his hair that perfect every morning, the hairstyle is intended to look like his character Lee Yoon Sung spends more time kidnapping corrupt politicians than waxing his hair strand by strand. His hair should be inconspicuous in the crowd, but who are we kidding? If that hair is on the body of Lee Min Ho, one looks. And looks.
We can speak of two different distinct hairstyles for Lee Min Ho’s 2012 drama “Faith” (well there is three, but for brevity we will stick to two) – his “wild” mane and his “loyal” mane. In the first part of the fusion sageuk drama, Lee Min Ho’s warrior character Choi Young has spent the last seven years trying to sleep as much as possible to pass the days of his meaningless life. Betrayed by the king he and his friends gave their lives to protect, Choi Young’s heart was anywhere else besides the palace he was living in. It was chained to his country out of duty, but it constantly struggled to break free. During that part of the drama, his hair reflected what was within, wild and frustrated.
In the second part of “Faith,” Choi Young makes the decision to serve his new king not of duty, but out of choice. He saw that the new king was worthy of his loyalty and cared for the country. His heart settled now, Choi Young cuts off his unruly locks and officially dons the headband of his unit.
In his latest drama “The Heirs,” which is currently airing, Lee Min Ho plays a chaebol high school student. To play this young character, Lee Min Ho cut his hair short – the shortest we’ve see him so far – giving him a more playful look.
The hair makes the character – Lee Min Ho has certainly utilized his stylists well to transform into one character from another. What is your favorite Lee Min Ho look, Soompiers, and what is your least favorite? Vote and let us know why! And also leave me suggestions for which other actor you would like to see covered. FYI, I’ve got Yoon Eun Hye on the way.