Viewers seem to have an aversion to seeing idols turn into actors and there are many reasons for that. The biggest reason is the lack of acting abilities and experience. Some idols put on bad performances that make viewers cringe in disgust and this turns them away from certain dramas. The second reason is unfairness. It may seem quite unfair to viewers that idols were cast in roles for these dramas despite their lack of proper training or much experience. Both of these reasons are logical and definitely valid.
Because of this aversion, many dramas are now refraining from casting idols in lead roles and placing them into more supporting roles. From the point of view of the production companies, by casting idols in supporting roles, they don't lose the benefits of having an idol on their cast but also do not turn viewers away. With the exception of dramas that are produced by big management companies, the treatment that idols used to get on dramas are slowly disappearing.
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However, there are a few idols who are garnering positive reviews and the good examples are Jung Eunji and Seo In Guk. Jung Eunji is a member of the girl group A Pink and Seo In Guk rose to fame through "Superstar K." The reason that these two are getting such positive feedback is because of their acting. Their performances are strong enough to carry the cable drama and viewers are responding to the fact that these idols can actually act.
One of the most important things in casting is image casting and sometimes actors can put on great performances regardless of their ability simply because their images align perfectly with that of the character. Jung Eunji can be called one of these cases but it seems like an injustice to simply label her a lucky case of image casting. Her every expression is proof of what she is able to do and her acting abilities are beyond simply having the right accent for the role. She makes the role more dynamic and a lot more fun to watch.
On the other hand, Seo In Guk and his abilities have been confirmed in other shows like "Love Rain." His delivery of lines is natural and his expressions are not stale. Despite having an asymmetrical face, his expressions are dynamic, varied and reveals more about the character's emotions. The chemistry with his fellow actors are also notable, his reactions on par with that of trained actors.
In conclusion, these two stars of tvN's "Respond 1997" are definitely actors but they have been acknowledged as skilled by the viewers, who can sometimes be the most accurate and harsh critics. This positive response has made it clearer that viewers do not have a simple aversion to idols because they are idols; it's because they often lack the abilities to really hold a viewer's attention.
"Respond 1997" has solid writing and detail-oriented directing but you can't ignore the actors who help to tell the story. Jung Eunji and Seo In Guk are the biggest gems that the drama has managed to uncover and it may be exciting to see where these actors go from here, after having shown viewers what they are capable of.