In “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes,” the latest K-drama of actor Seo In Guk, his character uses a kitten to evoke sympathy. Yet while Seo In Guk is cradling that innocent stray, it’s easy to recognize something monstrous in him. His character Kim Moo Young may be so kindhearted that he risks his own life to rescue a kitten. Or he may be so callous that he would risk a kitten’s life—and destroy the lives of others—to accomplish what he wants.

You don’t want to believe his character Kim Moo Young is a monster but you also can’t quite believe he’s not. Park Sung Woong’s character, Yoo Jin Gook, is a hardened detective and he admits that being around Kim makes him nervous. Yet Kim Moo Young is mesmerizing. It’s like watching a snake and hoping not to blink when it lightning-fast lunges at its prey.

The detective’s younger sister, Yoo Jin Kang (Jung So Min), knows that Kim is dating her best friend (Seo Eun Soo) and cheating on her too. Yet, she falls for his alternately cruel and caring behavior. He’s a man with a secret. Maybe he is a monster. Maybe he’s not.

Men with Secrets

Men with secrets seems be the overarching theme of K-dramas this fall. Seo’s character is one of several current male K-drama characters who have significant secrets to guard.

In “When Stars Land,” Lee Je Hoon plays an Incheon Airport employee hiding some form of super strength. All he wants to do is be thought of as normal. But he keeps saving people from impossible situations. Is he an alien? Does he have a bionic arm? Hopefully Chae Soo Bin’s character will find out his secret before she falls too far in love with him.

In “My Secret Terrius,” So Ji Sub babysits his neighbor’s children, which his neighbor might reconsider if she knew he was some kind of spy/international killer/super agent. He wants to find out how her husband’s recent death is connected to his own life. His real secret may be that he is actually one of the good guys.

And then there’s “Bad Papa,” in which Jang Hyuk plays a desperate, down-on-his luck former fighter. Needing quick cash, he signs up for a secret drug test and the rush of strength one dose provides enables him to win fights and earn the cash badly needed by his family. How long can he take the mystery drug and not be discovered or become addicted? His habit is a secret and the drug manufacturers have secrets of their own. Hopefully the secret ending to this drama will be that he’s been training all along and doesn’t need the drug to turn his life around.

Seo In Guk’s Filmography

By far, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” is the most compelling of these dramas and Seo’s acting transformation helps make his secret the most interesting. The “Superstar K” winner, who trained as a wrestler, usually plays nice guys in rom-coms such as “The Master’s Sun” and “High School King of Savvy.”

In this tVN drama, though, he is mesmerizingly believable as a man who may have no compunction killing young women, or at the very least breaking their hearts, to achieve his mysterious goal. It’s easy to see how dangerous his character could be, but also impossible to look away. All of these dramas are worth seeing, but so far this one stands out. It’s hard to watch and not want to know what Kim Moo Young  really wants.

This article was originally published on Joan’s website, joanvosmacdonald.com.

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