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It’s time K-entertainment industry realised Kim Hye Yoon is the REAL ‘Lovely’ Runner; fans finally have

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It’s already been established and set in stone that tvN’s latest time-travel hit sensation series, Lovely Runner, wouldn’t exist without Kim Hye Yoon, who admirably slipped into the leading shoes of the character Im Sol with ease. Having dedicated over a decade to her dream of becoming an actress, the 27-year-old’s versatile talents in the acting industry precede Byeon Woo Seok‘s debut in the show business following his initial modelling stint.

Pic: Kim Hye Yoon in tvN’s Lovely Runner. The fantasy romance series found organic success and gradually rising viewership ratings through its 16-episode journey despite being a weekday drama.(tvN)

Akin to her Lovely Runner co-star slipping under the radar despite appearing across a multitude of content in supporting roles or cameos, Kim Hye Yoon has also made waves in several dramas. Nevertheless, fans continued to remember her as an “underrated” afterthought. With Lovely Runner’s success sweeping the attention of K-netizens and global admirers alike, her breakout roles from the past have again shot back into focus and in fans’ memories.

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In Lovely Runner, alone, with her character caught in the tumultuous storms of the time-travel theme, Hye Yoon proved that the sky was indeed the limit for her by portraying a wide range of emotions. Falling head over heels for her just as Ryu Sun Jae (Byeon Wook) did, the Internet has finally called to action, “Kim Hye Yoon definitely deserves more recognition.”

If Lovely Runner left you wistfully admiring her range, you’ll be startled beyond comprehension when you witness her shed her warm and loving skin to make way for the portrayal of a character that shot her to stardom in 2018-19. If Im Sol healed your heart, SKY Castle’s Kang Ye Seo would not blink twice before vengefully knocking you off your balance to rise to the top.

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Just months after making an army of K-drama fans fall in love with hating her character in 2019, she gained massive recognition with her first leading role breakthrough in a drama with Extraordinary You. Her effervescent and ever-sparkling switch to playing Eun Dan Oh is still well-alive in the hearts of many, who also drew parallels with her iconic role in the MBC fantasy series to her spell as the “Lovely Runner.”

Lovely Runner director Yoon Jong Ho incites backlash over remarks that Kim Hye Yoon visuals’ “needed work”

Following the conclusion of the 16-episode run on May 28, Lovely Runner’s director, Yoon Jong Ho, participated in a roundtable interview. Recalling how, due to the show dealing with several timelines, “the story called for the actors to use different tones to match their ages… The high school versions of Sun Jae and Sol spoke in tones slightly higher than Sun Jae and Sol in their twenties and thirties.”

According to AllKpop, though the leading pair “worked hard” to adapt to these changes, the director suggested that her flawless acting chops wouldn’t solely help them ground her character. “As the female lead of a romantic comedy, the character had to have quality visuals,” he remarked. Strategising that viewers had to equally fall in love with Sol at first sight as Sun Jae did, the Lovely Runner director “wanted to bring out the peak of Kim Hye Yoon’s beauty.”

During the interview, he admitted to “frequently” scolding her as he “requested that she work on her visuals.” As the versatile actress heeded his advice and delivered a performance to his liking, Yoon said, “When we first started the project, she felt like a daughter, but by the end, she had a more womanly aura. I was proud of her efforts.”

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However, these comments didn’t sit well with some Korean netizens. Voicing their firm reactions against him, they targeted his “judgmental views.”

Some responses to his remarks were:

  • “Are we in the right century..?”
  • “No matter how talented they are, female actresses are only judged based on their looks. But if you’re a male actor, all you have to be is handsome, and all is forgiven.”
  • “This drama would have tanked if it weren’t for Kim Hye Yoon’s acting, but he says that good acting isn’t enough? Why doesn’t he talk about how Byun Woo Seok could have improved his acting in some scenes?”
  • “It makes me mad to think that talented and hardworking actresses like her have to deal with this nonsense.”
  • “Instead of scolding Kim Hye Yoon for her looks, he should have scolded the other male cast members for not being able to keep up with her acting.”

Lack of promotions for Kim Hye Yoon addressed

Kim Hye Yoon is presumably well-versed in the industry talk, having been active as an actor for years who’s made good with her iconic roles in other shows and movies like Secret Royal Inspector & Joy, Snowdrop, The Girl on a Bulldozer and more — the list goes on.

Even before the Lovely Runner director’s words came to light, fans launched a heated debate on the prevalent misogyny in the entertainment industry as many took aim at her company for the lack of promotions and variety show appearances. Meanwhile, announcements about Byeon Woo Seok’s variety schedules on hit shows like Running Man, You Quiz on the Block and more kept trickling out as his newfound popularity shot off the roof. He is also set to grace the stage at several fan meetings across Asia.

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Shielding her company from the growing hate, Kim Hye Yoon ultimately revealed the real reason for her limited promotions in an interview. “The thing is, though, the variety shows need to ask for me, but nobody had asked for me at that time. We never rejected an offer (to appear on a show),” Hye Yoon further shocked the fans with the truth.

The situation has since improved as the Extraordinary You star joined her Lovely Runner co-star for a joint appearance on Salon Drip 2. She’s also set to make a guest appearance on SBS’ variety show Whenever Possible on June 4.

Netizens shower Kim Hye Yoon with praises

Contrary to their reactions to the show’s director, netizens have had nothing but good things to say about Lovely Runner’s writer, Lee Si Eun. She’s previously highlighted why she saw Kim Hye Yoon as the perfect fit for Im Sol. Impressed by her layered performance in the film, The Girl on a Bulldozer, the show’s writer claimed to have envisioned Im Sol’s character in Hye Yoon’s image, which ultimately set the foundations for the script. It further proves that the show wouldn’t have come to life without Hye Yoon, a sentiment that Lee Si Eun has repeatedly reiterated.

 

  • “I really hope Hyeyoon gets to work with better staff & directors now after this, receiving this kind of treatment while she only proves her talent further & further is so very unfair. she deserves a lot better than to work with people like that.”
  • “I love you writer Lee Sieun, thank you for everything you did and the nice things you said and the constant Hyeyoon praise, we need more people like you in this industry.”
  • “The world was blessed because she chose to be an actress. my acting genius, my gorgeous, and immensely hardworking Hyeyoon. she’ll be one of the biggest and brightest stars of this generation. I just know it. she deserves only the best things. 🫶🏻”
  • “’There would be no lovely runner without Kim Hyeyoon’.” Thank you, Kim Hyeyoon for bringing Im Sol to life 💛”

Fans poured out even more love for her on Instagram:

  • “I really wanted to say this to you, most of us watched Lovely Runner solely for the fact that you were the main cast. You are pretty, talented, hardworking, cheerful and you make everyone around you and the one watching you happy.I hope director’s and producers recognise your work n hope you get a bundle of good shows from now on….You ruled 2024 no one can say otherwise. Being a girl I found sunjae very charming but without you the show would never had it’s charm!”
  • “You’re pretty, from inside and outside. don’t let any harsh words bring you down. even if there’s no people left to tell you that you’re pretty, i’ll be that one person, you’re pretty inside and outside. always remember that💛”
  • “Dear Hye Yoon, I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for your outstanding performance as Sol in “Lovely Runner.” You brought the character to life with such depth and emotion. Your chemistry with Byeon Woo Seok was amazing, making every moment feel genuine. Your expressions were incredibly powerful; when you cried, we cried with you, and when you laughed, it brought us joy. Your portrayal was a significant part of what made the show so special. Your talent deserves to shine brightly, and we will always support you. Since your debut, you’ve been delivering brilliant performances, and it’s wonderful to see you finally getting the recognition you deserve. I eagerly await your next drama. Take a well-deserved rest, and thank you for your incredible work.”
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