K-pop corner: Song in our hearts

K-pop corner: Song in our hearts
Song Ji Hyo and Choi Jin Hyuk.

My 63-year-old mum is hooked on the new Korean TV drama Emergency Couple.

When she told me she had been religiously following every episode of the hospital-themed dramedy starring Song Ji Hyo (left) - better known as popular variety programme Running Man's sole female member - and Choi Jin Hyuk, I was truly shocked.

My mum's taste in K-soaps had always veered towards the draggy, weepy and archaic. Her favourite storylines were the sort that feature a kind-hearted, long-suffering protagonist overcoming life's trials and tribulations. Yawn.

Emergency Couple, on the other hand, is definitely more Scrubs than Dae Jang Geum. Song and Choi play a divorced couple who unexpectedly reunite as housemen in the A&E department of the same hospital. Their squabbles return and hilarity ensues.

The show is extremely fast-paced too - only 21 episodes - and obviously has achieved enough street cred among youngsters for the two leads to swing into town on Friday for a ticketed fan meet at Kallang Theatre.

So why has my mum, never one to follow trends, emerged a fan of this cool, hip drama?

It boils down to the cast, apparently.

"They're really funny. And don't you think Song Ji Hyo looks a little like your brother's fiancee?" she said.

Therein lies the irresistible charm of Song - she is pleasant and pretty, but not gorgeous to the point of becoming distant and unreachable. Plus, she doesn't look like she's had work done on her face, unlike actresses Kim Hee Sun, Nam Gyu Ri and, well, all the girls in pop group 2NE1.

Song has captured hearts because her looks aren't too far off from someone you know - she could be your neighbour, your co-worker, your best friend.

In fact, at times, she blends in just a little too well.

Fans of boy band JYJ, remember her appearance in their music video for the soulful ballad, In Heaven?

She also guest-starred in Korean hip-hop group FreeStyle's video for Winter Song, and singer Young Jee's video for his groovy rock number, Not At All.

In all three clips, Song perfected what I call the "emo distant gaze". Here is a fantastic actress whose eyes have the ability to simultaneously convey an arsenal of emotions - frustration, anger, sadness, loneliness.

You almost forget how wacky she is in Running Man.

This article was published on May 14 in The New Paper.

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