On Lee Min-ho’s birthday, revisiting his fantasy romance The Legend Of The Blue Sea with Jun Ji-Hyun
Lee Min-ho’s curly hair and surly expressions made him an international celebrity after Boys Over Flowers. He admitted that it was a show that made him cringe. This was the show that made him famous as the brattish, rich boy who falls in love with a girl of moderate means. He starred in The Heirs, which was a hugely successful film that starred him as a rich man with a sob story. He falls in love with a simple girl and must fight his snobbish family to accept him. There are a few variations to this story. Instead of a conniving mom, there is a stone-cold dad. They are also a former friend who became a rival and push the girl around themselves while fighting their animal instincts.
Lee Min-ho now plays the role of a bratty rich kid with so much conviction that it’s almost difficult to imagine him as anything other than this. His smarmy charm and grit make him the “bad boy” that you have to root for (not in Pachinko). You have to wonder, though: Why is he such a toxic lover? And a bully on his most successful shows.
It was therefore a pleasant surprise to see him in Legend Of The Blue Sea. This was his most un-Lee Minho romantic comedy.
Legend Of The Blue Sea, a fantasy love story set in two time periods, feels almost like it was written during a prolonged spell of delirium. Its wildness is what makes it so charming. It’s either a love-or-hate thing. There is no middle ground. This is the story of a mermaid who falls in love with a man with a twist of resurrection. Lee Min-ho plays the man in question. He is a con-man who can hypnotize others and even create scenarios in their heads. That’s when you stop asking them questions. He is a hypnotist and falls for a mermaid, who gains human legs when she walks on the land. It sounds crazy, I know. This is the story of My Love From Another Star. A 400-year-old alien falls in love with a woman (played again by Jun Ji-Hyun).
The Legend Of The Blue Sea, in all its absurdity, feels almost like a gentle breeze that turns into a gale towards the end. Jun Ji-Hyun and Lee Min-ho’s romance is funny and charming. It doesn’t get the sugary saccharine treatment. The show is able to tug at your heartstrings when it comes down to being serious or emotional. This is especially true for the underwater moments between the couple. Lee Min-ho is no longer a brattish college student and takes on the role of the conman. He finds new ways to survive and overcomes past traumas. His sense of humor, which we have only glimpsed in his past shows, is displayed by him as he plays Jun Ji-Hyun a mermaid trying to adapt to the new world of humans. Although the idea of reincarnated lovers seems a bit quaint and implausible, the show gradually makes the story more relatable. There are some K-drama tropes that the story uses, but it’s not without them. The mermaid is able to erase memories. This causes a lot of heartbreak.
K-dramas love the amnesia tropes. This series focuses on the topic in an emotionally charged way that doesn’t make it seem so cliché. Lee Min-ho asks Lee Min-ho to promise her that she will not erase his memories before she returns to the sea. She kisses him to save himself from the pain of a long wait. It’s romantic, with soft instrumentals, but it’s also heartbreaking, as she slowly erases all of his memories. True K-drama love will always find a way to get you, no matter if you are a mermaid.
Legend Of The Blue Sea, which Lee Min-ho returned to television in 2016 after a long absence of three years, was a highly-rated series. It was certainly one of his most romantic, unproblematic, and heart-warming romances. The show was almost relatable to him, as he was so natural and easygoing. He should be on shows of different genres and break free from the mold that has been established for him. There’s so much to his acting talents that we have only glimpsed. He was once again a powerful figure in the sci-fi romance thriller The King: Eternal Monarch. His love affair with Kim Go-Eun saved him from being a toxic king. He did return to toxicity in Pachinko, but we didn’t expect to cheer him on.
Lee Min-ho was one of the Hallyu stars. He will hopefully get to explore more aspects of his acting in the future. Perhaps he could be a part of a crime thriller?