Updated: Jul 30
“She was convinced that she could have been happy with him; when it was no longer likely that they should meet.” Elizabeth Bennet’s thoughts on Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
Kim Goeun’s POV - May 28, 2020
Today’s the final day of filming and I feel like a wreck.
I’m in one of the dressing room tents they’ve arranged on set, just staring at my reflection in a tall, standing mirror.
Black and white polka-dot dress. High heels and pink blazer. Hair styled half-up.
I’ve never looked better except for when I played Jeong Taera and wore a white Chanel dress. I’m thankful that on my last day and for our last scene I can look this pretty.
The only problem is my face. It’s swollen twice the size as normal and the bags under my eyes are deeper than ever before.
For the first time in a long time, I feel self-conscious of the way I look.
It’s my fault. Instead of getting a good night’s sleep last night, I ended up crying.
People always assume that things don’t bother me much. Even my castmates thought so, that I ate and slept well and lived my life mostly carefree. I corrected them during a Netflix interview but I’m not sure they understand the extent of it.
The truth is I am sensitive. I just try not to show it in front of others. I’d rather laugh and joke away my discomfort than have my worries affect people around me. And while they’re correct about me not being the type to dwell on small things, I’m not immune from stressing over important matters.
Matters such as… what I should do about my handsome and charming co-star.
The past two weeks have been challenging to say the least. The filming schedule was grueling. It involved a lot of late nights and time spent with him… which is normally not a hardship. I enjoy being with him off and on screen. It’s just that our scenes have become much more intimate as time went by. And that intimacy makes it confusing.
Sometimes I wonder if he treats me a certain way because Lee Gon loves Jeong Taeeul so much. We’ve been immersed in our characters since day one and a part of me wonders what he truly feels.
Developing feelings due to method acting is a common side-effect of our job. It happens all the time.
Actors experience the romance their characters go through and fall in love, but once they begin dating in the real world, the fantasy falls away… and everything ends.
A lot of the time, once they break up, those actors don’t stay in contact anymore.
I’m afraid of that.
I like him, not just as a potential boyfriend, but as my sunbae, my colleague, and my friend. I enjoy his company and his humour. I like his playful side and how we have similar tastes in music. I value him as a person and want to keep him in my life even if it’s strictly platonic.
It’s for these reasons that I normally friend-zone all my male co-stars. I’d rather not risk creating an attachment or friendship and then having it ruined by mistaken feelings.
Lee Minki. Park Bogum. Choi Minho. Park Haejin. Seo Kangjoon. Gong Yoo. Park Jungmin. Jung Haein.
These are just some examples of male actors I worked with in the past, ones that I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from and befriend. No romantic feelings between myself and any of them, not even ‘some.’
Suffice to say, I’ve had good practice evading romances.
As far as The King goes, I came into this project with confidence that my heart would be safe as always. Industry friends of mine who knew him warned me of how strong his allure is, but I brushed it off. Even with the big crush I had on the character he once played, Kim Tan, I was sure I wouldn’t fall for him.
I was wrong.
Let me tell you, Kim Tan does not hold a candle to the real thing.
Lee Minho is a force unto himself. His appeal is no joke.
It’s not just his face or his height or his personality. It’s all of him combined. How when he laughs, he really laughs. How when he’s talking to me, he gives me his full attention like I’m the only one in the room. It’s the firm way he cradles my head during our hugging scenes. The way his thumb or fingers always seem to be stroking my cheek or shoulder or hand. It’s his habit of always looking for me on set and then appearing genuinely happy when he does find me.
He chipped away at my defences so well that before I even realized what he was doing, it was too late.
The fact that I felt almost no awkwardness when we first began to film together should have alerted me that he was different… we were different. Our personalities matched too well. We were too comfortable with each other.
We were having too much fun.
Being with him is easy. Figuring out my feelings is much more difficult.
When filming and production stopped for Seollal celebrations, it gave me a good opportunity to think things through. For once, I was glad to be away from him. Not that I was any less confused. In fact, I was so confused that when Appa saw me struggling, he gave me some advice.
Be brave, my father had said.
So, I decided to do that. I decided to face my feelings head on…
… like the night we filmed the beheading kiss scene.
It was edited out, but during filming, our kiss scene lasted for much longer than was shown on air. He was supposed to simply kiss me and then we would fall back on the bed together with the camera panning out of the shot.
Instead, he broke our kiss into two.
The first kiss went on a bit too long, but the director didn’t call ‘cut.’ It was as much my fault as it was his; we got lost in that kiss. We continued to kiss until he pulled back and our eyes met briefly. When the gap between my lips almost closed, his thumb dropped down from where it rested on my cheek and pulled my bottom lip back open.
Then he kissed me a second time, taking us down until the back of my head reached the pillow.
When filming ended, it was hard to act normal. I laughed to cover up my shyness, not sure how successful it was.
Later, when he sent me a message saying that he kissed me as himself for the first time, I was in half-disbelief half-euphoria.
He told me I didn’t need to reply back, so I almost didn’t.
Once I came home though, I realized I had to do something.
I had to be brave.
I texted him to sleep well and even called him ‘oppa.’ It was the only thing I could think of to show him how important he was becoming to me.
Things changed between us after that. Even when some of my hesitancies returned and I called him ‘sunbae’ again, he didn’t seem to mind. On set, it felt like we were a real couple.
I was happy.
Then came a span of three days when we didn’t film with each other. In the script, Lee Gon goes to the past to save his younger self and is forced to find his way back to the present. Meanwhile, Jeong Taeeul, who had just gotten stabbed by Luna, waits for him to return to her.
The director suggested that we don’t contact each other during those three days, Minho-sunbae and I. He said some distance would help us portray the feelings of longing and desperation more convincingly.
I missed him a lot during those three days, but our director was right. The lack of contact between us intensified our reunion.
The first scene we filmed together following our brief hiatus took place outside the hospital building late at night. I was overjoyed to see him, and even in the dark, I could tell he was glad to see me too. When we hugged, he held on so tight that it felt like he didn’t want to let me go.
The other scenes went on much in the same way… cuddling in the hospital bed… the wheelchair scene… feeding me lunch. Even our tragic parting on the bench felt intense.
Everything was going well until he said something that made me put some walls back up again.
It happened during one of the longest days of filming. I had to play multiple roles and it was draining. A pilot, a police officer, an award-winning actress. Lee Gon was searching for Jeong Taeeul in multiple worlds and we filmed from morning to night, and almost until dawn.
Minho-sunbae and I stood in front of each other as the crew prepared our next take. We already practiced through the scene several times, so as we waited, we just talked.
“After this drama ends,” he asked, “what do you plan to do?”
“I have to promote Hero,” I replied, “But other than that, I’ll just spend time with family and meet some friends. How about you, sunbae?”
“I’m going to Jeju for a few days with some of my close friends. We’re going to celebrate my birthday there. I invited Dowhan-ie to come along as well.”
“That sound so nice.”
“I’m looking forward to it.” Then he added, his voice excited, “I can’t wait until our drama ends. I’ve been counting down the days.”
That took me by surprise. “Really?”
He bent his head so he could look me in the eye. “I’ve got another project in mind, one that I can only start once this is over.”
“Ahh, I see. You must be tired of us, aren’t you, sunbae?” I kept my tone light and teasing, but my heart wasn’t completely in it.
I tilted my gaze down to look at my feet, not wanting him to see my disappointment.
He reached over to pretend to ruffle my hair. “Don’t say such a thing.”
Maybe it was the fatigue from the long day of filming. Or the mental strain on me due to having to film multiple characters. But I felt… deflated. Sad.
I knew I didn’t have a right to be. If he was already thinking of moving on, even having another project lined up, that was his right to do so. It’s normal for actors like us to have multiple jobs on the go. I only had to look at myself and how I overlapped the filming for Hero and The King. Plus, it’s not like we made any promises to each other. In fact, we hadn’t talked about what would happen between us once our drama wrapped up.
If he was going to work right away after The King, then dating was probably not on his mind. New projects take a lot of focus and energy, not to mention the demands of a new schedule. It would be difficult to meet each other.
Was I mistaken this whole time? Were his feelings purely professional and I read his intentions wrong?
Maybe the message he sent me months ago was something he said as an impulse and then regretted. Considering how he never brought it up again, that really might be the case.
He might not like me after all.
I went home that night feeling numb.
The following day and for the remainder of our filming days, I tried to be as normal as possible. If this was all the time we had left together, then the best thing to do would be to enjoy it and live each day fully. That’s the attitude Jeong Taeeul had, so why not borrow a page from her book?
As for my personal hurt and disappointment, I decided not to think about it. I pushed all those thoughts away, not wanting it to disrupt the filming process.
Then came the eve of our last filming day. Last night, all the thoughts I ignored came crashing back and I ended up crying myself to sleep.
I didn’t want filming to end. I met so many good people on this project, from staff, to crew, to actors, to volunteers…
Most of all, I don’t want to say goodbye to him.
Should I tell him how I feel? Would that make things better or worse?
After filming wraps up today, we’re supposed to take a few group photos and then head back to Seoul. There's an open secret among the entire production team. We all made alternate plans since we can’t have an official wrap up party.
Due to Corona19, we can’t have a proper celebration to honour our eight months of hard work. Many felt that it was shame not to do anything, so very discretely, the production team assigned each department to meet in small groups of ten or less at some restaurant of their choosing. The only rules were that we can’t be all at the same restaurant and we would have to be as careful as possible. Masks worn unless eating. Distance from other patrons. Keep everything quiet so the media doesn’t find out.
It was complicated, but it got the approval of everyone involved. After filming, Minho-sunbae and I needed to get back to Seoul immediately, where the rest of the main cast would be waiting for us.
I had until the end of tonight’s dinner to do something… if I was going to do anything at all.
Just then, one of my staff members, Hyeyeon, peeks her head through the tent flap.
“Unnie, I think they’re looking for you.”
I tuck my hair behind my ears, taking one final look at the mirror before replying. “Who’s looking for me? Director Baek?”
“Yes, and Actor Lee Minho.”
Suddenly, a familiar deep voice calls out, “Are you in there, Goeun-ah?”
The tent flap opens wide and I see him. He’s dressed neatly in a tailored tan suit, a boyish grin on his face. He looks handsome as he always does.
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” he says.
I don’t say anything so he saunters forward into the tent, stopping only a feet away from me. He tilts his head, still smiling, and unable to stop myself, I finally smile back.
“Today’s our last day,” he murmurs. “Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m okay. How do you feel?”
“Strange,” he admits. “But I’m glad our final scene is with you and me together.”
For some reason, his words bring tears to my eyes. As I fight them off, a sudden realization hits me like a ton of bricks.
I know what I need to do.
He needs to know how I feel.
Even if it ends in heartbreak, he and I both need to know the answer to the question we’ve been dancing around these past eight months...
Are we in love?
I’ve never confessed my feelings one-sidedly to anyone before. The thought alone is enough to make me want to panic.
But if Jeong Taeeul was courageous enough to embrace that fate that chose her, if she was able to say those perfect words at an imperfect moment, then it’s only fair that I do same.
He leans over to take my hand in his, intertwining our fingers. “Are you ready?”
I take a deep breath to steady my nerves.
I’m going to do this. Before the night ends, I’ll tell him what he means to me.
“Yes,” I reply. “I’m ready.”
1) I’ve agonized about KGE’s POV for some days now. Am I satisfied with it? Not exactly. I’m not sure I’ve gotten her character right, but I tried my best. Even if it’s not an accurate portrayal, I hope that it’s at least interesting to read! I meant to include the part when KGE cries at the final cut, and LMH gives her flowers but I’ll add that to the next one. This is long enough as it is LOL.
2) I used Corona19 instead of COVID-19 since that seems to be what they’re calling it in S. Korea.
3) The following part is the third and final part of my series. Who’s going to confess to who first? And how? Haha. It’s gonna be cute, that’s all I’ll say.
4) Let me know what you think!