The Next Big Thing: 5 Directors/Writers You Ought to Know

In this last installment of “The Next Big Thing,” we turn our attention to those behind the camera, behind the words that come from our rookie actors and rising actresses. Although a drama’s leads are a huge draw for audiences, often what makes or breaks a drama lies with the strength of the production and writing team. And when the production team works well together, the result is, well, magical. Here are some directors, writers, and director/writer teams you ought to know.

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1. Jang Young Chul & Jung Kyung Soon (Writers)

This husband and wife team came up big with the much acclaimed “Empress Ki,” even picking up the award for “Writer of the Year” at the 2013 MBC Drama Awards. In “Empress Ki,” Jang Young Chul and Jung Kyung Soon drew us into their complex world full of intrigue, sacrifice, romance, and politics in the world of Goryeo. Not only do they seem to enjoy working with each other on multiple projects, but they have also repeatedly teamed up with the production crew of previous dramas like “Incarnation of Money,” “Giant,” and “History of a Salaryman.” Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right, and we can’t seem to get enough.

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2. Lee Jung Hyo (Director)

The last couple of years have been a period of success activity for Lee Jung Hyo, beginning with 2012’s “I Need Romance 2,” followed up with the excellent “Cruel City” in 2013, and this year’s “Witch’s Romance.” Lee a director that knows what he wants out of a story and out of the characters, and stays true to his vision. “Cruel City” was particularly well directed to always leave us on the edge of our seat, while his work on “Witch’s Romance” lifted the drama to be more than what it was. I’m looking forward to his next project.

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3. Shin Won Ho (Director) and Lee Woo Jung (Writer)

We can’t talk about up and coming directors and writers without mentioning the team that brought us the break out series “Reply 1997” and “Reply 1994.” Celebrated for its acting, its styling, and for capturing the feeling of adolescence in the mid-1990s, Lee Woo Jung got the slang, the expressions, and all the time-specific turns of phrases down pat, while Shin Won Ho’s use of flashbacks further re-created a time long gone. I hope they continue to work together in the future because, hey, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

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4. Kim Byung Soo (Director) & Song Jae Jung (Writer)

I know what you’re going to say: “Song Jae Jung isn’t exactly new to the game,” and with a decade of screenwriting experience under her belt, it would be easy to exclude her from this list. I would argue, however, that Song Jae Jung not only matured as a writer in the last couple of years, but, in particular, when she teamed up with director Kim Byung Soo. Together, they’ve been behind some of my favorite dramas of recent years, with “Queen In Hyun’s Man,” and “Nine,” and separately, “Vampire Prosecutor” (Kim) and “Coffee House” (Song). They are currently finishing up their third collaboration, “Three Musketeers” on November 2nd. This is another director/writer team that hope works together for a long time. If it’s possible for a director/writer team to be OTP, I think I found mine.

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5. Yun Seong Sik (Director)

He’s the force behind the mask of “Gaksital.” 2012’s popular and much lauded drama about a masked vigilante in 1930s South Korea showed off Yun Seong Sik’s gutsiness and adept hand at not only balancing the story and the acting, but also the action, suspense, and the emotion center of the drama. It’s interesting that Yun Seong Sik would follow up something as gritty as “Gaksital” with the weekend drama “You’re the Best Lee Soon Shin!” (played by IU) but he was able to show his ability in a different genre. He is currently working on the upcoming “King’s Face” (staring Seo In Guk, Lee Sung Jae, and Jo Yoon Hee), which centers upon Prince Gwanghae as he struggles to become king. If Yun Seong Sik’s track record is any indication, we are in for a ride.

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That concludes our “The Next Big Thing” series, where we showcased the brightest rising stars burning in all of K-dramaland. Be sure to check out our actors’ and actresses’ editions, and let us know what you thought about our directors and writers, or the series itself, in the comments section below!