Yoo Ah In Earns Recognition For His Acting In Secret Love Affair


“Acting is a reflection of me and is a work of self-expression, so no matter what character I’m inside, it’s right that I, myself, am portrayed in a different form. That is the reason why the actor Yoo Ah In must exist; in other words, that is what gives me worth.” – Yoo Ah In. 10asia. 2010

People are in awe of his transformation. From a rebel to a naïve young man who produces the beautiful music through the black and white keys on the tip of his own fingers like nobody’s business. An actor who pours his heart and soul into the role he’s playing, lives the character up nobody else can do. An actor who said, “This is the happiest Spring in my life, because I live as Lee Sun Jae.”

Yoo Ah In is reaping the rewards of recognition for his remarkable acting in Secret Love Affair. Since there are too many articles writing about him these days, we compile and make brief translations just on several ones. Here YOO go~



Newsen: Yoo Ah In is Lee Seon Jae. He definitely stands out among actors his age. He makes Lee Sun Jae a three-dimensional character with an accurate calculation in acting, and that brings admiration to the audience. When Kim Hee Ae marked her name as the 80s drama queen, Yoo Ah In wasn’t even born yet. Soon after her début, Kim Hee Ae received best new comer in 1986, the year when Yoo Ah In was born.  It was an honor and a burden at the same time for the two generations to finally appear in one screen. However, all doubts disappeared as both proved to have undeniably sizzling chemistry on-screen and shining performance.

Yoo Ah In’s character, Lee Sun Jae, is actually much mature than his peer group despite his reckless emotions. And in contrast to his seemingly delicate façade, he is actually a steadfast, strong-will and mature man inside. Lee Seon Jae is a complex human with so many layers. He talks unguardedly, he’s blunt yet honest, he expresses his feelings genuinely. An unrefined genius pianist that Lee Seon Jae is, Yoo Ah In as a person himself is closer to Lee Seon Jae.

Kim Chang Wan, who plays as Dean Min, admits that Yoo Ah In impressed him much. He says, “Yoo Ah In is a self-evidence of a method actor. He’s got very accurate colors. He posses his own unique acting method~ his breathing, rhythm, tempo, gesture, even his faith, are all that make him true to his acting.”



Osen: Yoo Ah In had been widely known for his rebel image, but in Secret Love Affair he transforms to a delicate youth with a peculiar charm. Viewers love his trembling voice, the way he moves his body, his awkward and timid gestures, his adorable and earnest sincere words, and the unstoppable love of a 20 year-old Lee Sun Jae.

His stiff and rough image that was built from his previous works, such as Wandeugi (Punch), Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Jang Ok Jung, and Kangchuli (Tough As Iron), are washed away, stepping into the shoes of a gentle lad. In one sentence, as Lee Sun Jae says in his joyful trembling words to Hye Won, “My soul is born again”.

As much naïve as soul that he has, Lee Sun Jae is just a normal 20 years old lad who cannot control his emotions, who is reckless, awkward, pouring kiss and bear-hugging Oh Hye Won like there’s no tomorrow, or making a scene to vent his frustration in the ballet school. Perfectly captures and expresses Lee Sun Jae’s character, it’s no exaggeration to say that Lee Sun Jae lives in Yoo Ah In.

It was hard to imagine Yoo Ah In playing a naïve boy in the first place, but surprisingly he brings his own Lee Sun Jae out naturally. After the first broadcast, many positive reactions came towards him. Some of them said, “Yoo Ah In’s eyes look so innocent.” There is an unstable air of a 20 years old Yoo Ah In conveys that catches the innocence and subtle feelings. He breaths Lee Sun Jae to live, and his whole figure changes along with each emotion he expresses. 



10Asia: One of the most renown Korean writers, Eun Hee Gyeong, admitted that she was charmed by Yoo Ah In’s acting. Eun Hee Kyeong is a highly acclaimed writer in Korea. Many of her works have been translated into English, Spanish, French, and Russian. [Check out her introduction in wikipedia]

On the recent interview with SBS Power FM, writer and novelist Eun Hee Kyeong was asked, “What is the hot topic that you all novelists are talking about when you get together?” She answered, “Recently we talked about Yoo Ah In. We watched Secret Love Affair, and I found his acting refreshing and flawless,” admitting that she caught ‘Yoo Ah In’s fever’ too.



In another article, 10Asia wrote: Secret Love Affair is Yoo Ah In’s turning point in acting. He makes the affair looks so irresistible and concrete, he makes the viewers sympathize for his forbidden love and follow his journey till all hell breaks loose.

Through Secret Love Affair, Yoo Ah In shows an incredible perfect performance. He is in full bloom. The piano concerto scene will be the talk of the town for a long time and is worth lasting memory. He gives a fantastic show. His face, his rhythm completely locks up in Lee Sun Jae.

Pianist Park Jong Hun, who plays as Professor Jo, praises Yoo Ah In’s acting as a pianist too. Looking very convincing in his piano performance, thanks to the extensive lesson, the genius Lee Sun Jae emerges in Yoo Ah In. His gestures, his facial expressions, his tone, his breathing, his stammering stand, his stuttering speeches are Lee Sun Jae’s.

Yoo Ah In might have calculated the detail representation of an inevitable, inexorable and yet awkward 20 years old boy in his head, but he gives out an incredibly natural performance on-screen. He brings out Lee Sun Jae’s decisive nature, reckless courage to the veneration of many.

In his recent interview, Yoo Ah In said, “I tried to get the hang of Lee Seon Jae as a kid. Therefore I should talk like that kid, walk like that kid, and my gestures should show that I’m that kid. I’m not a very smart actor, but I try to make sense of the character’s mind.”

Having knowledge of and performing the character naturally, Yoo Ah In proves that he’s a talented actor for real, just like Lee Sun Jae’s nature, a genius.

In the past, critics were divided between pros and cons remarks attributed to Yoo Ah In’s assessment. However, Secret Love Affair is a turning point in Yoo Ah In’s acting, with critics concede that he poses a very valuable natural talent as an actor.



Capplus: It’s obvious that Yoo Ah In has made some research about being a pianist. Besides fingering, the expressions that he has are similar to those of pianists Im Dong Hyeok and Kim Seon Wook. Here are some examples~


There are some other pianists with their own unique expressions while playing, from handsome to funny. Go check some more here for your entertainment 😀



Recent article in Osen: This is why there’s only one Yoo Ah In and Yoo Ah In alone. He’s immersed in acting so precisely, perfectly and passionately you cannot take your eyes off him. You got carried away by his passionate and intense piano playing, by his sincere and expressive eyes, by his short hair and lovely lips that spit out only truths. His delicate fingers and attitude swept you away.

The 20 years old Lee Sun Jae grows viewers’ empathy. He’s not conniving, he floats gracefully in the water like a swan, he lives stark contrast to the calculated scheming Hye Won. With the charismatic acting of Kim Hee Ae, she and Yoo Ah In meet the harmony without forcing it. The candid and three-dimensional character that Yoo Ah In represents, has made Secret Love Affair popular.



Not only from the critics and press, his colleagues in Secret Love Affair praises Yoo Ah In as well. Here are some of them~

On the interview with ELLE Korea, April 2014 issue, following the boiling hot couple pictorials of Yoo Ah In & Kim Hee Ae, which you can see here and here, Kim Hee Ae expresses her admiration for Yoo Ah In as well. Here’s the translations excerpt by @onesunnylady~

“…but his acting ability is amazing. His acting is different from the acting of my generation. Is this the way to put it? It’s not just about his acting being natural, it flows in an inexorable way.”

Don’t you have thoughts like “won’t it be hard for him to touch my body?” “Me? I’m quite thankful. If he had felt a sense of distance toward me, it wouldn’t have been easy. On the contrary, touching me willingly makes it easier and it’s the energy that makes us stay true to the character. When we’re filming the drama, it’s not about sticking out your “butt” [?] and think “should I try this role?” when all you do is immersing your feet. As much as he understands the Sun Jae from the scenario, he just becomes that kid. If it weren’t for Yoo Ah In, who would have played this role? Well, I can’t think of anyone. He’s actually 7 years older than the character he plays, which is a big age difference, but he’s an absolute baby-faced guy. He’s good at promoting and he dresses with a lot of style.”

Do you see his charm too when you look at him only as an innocent guy? Well, this can be charming too. When men are asked if they like cute women or sexy women, can’t they answer “a woman who can be cute and sexy at the same time”? You know, I used to think “why put the two together? it’s just being greedy” when I heard this answer. However, when I look at Yoo Ah In, I see he can be cute and sexy too. (laugh)”

“…This is something that if Yoo Ah In’s fans might hate if they hear this…(laugh) To be honest, he’s not the typical handsome man. There are actors who are good-looking and perfect, but when they act, you hate them, when they speak, you hate them even more. On the contrary, there are actors who aren’t incredibly good-looking, but what moves you is how attractive they become when they speak in a beautiful way. And this is exactly how Yoo Ah In is. (laugh)”

“…Whenever I read something wrote by Ah In, I thought it was quite clever. I was surprised to the point I’d think ‘he has clear opinions and he’s a guy smart like this’.”

Go check Kim Hee Ae’s full interview in Sunny’s blog 🙂


Actor Park Hyeok Kwon, who plays as Joon Hyung, talks about Yoo Ah In’s piano playing on his recent interview with 10asia ~

“I just had one scene of playing the piano and I found it really difficult. However, Yoo Ah In, who had to play a lot, memorized the music scores and the position of the hand so fast that he startled me. It’s like he already had the skill in the first place. He’s got amazing speed. It’s no joke. He accurately fingered all the keys when I saw the closeup scenes.”



Actor Choe Tae Hwan, who plays as Lee Seon Jae’s best friend, Son Jang Ho, told tvreport ~

“I remember the scene of us in Lee Seon Jae’s mom’s funeral. Before beginning the full filming I felt really nervous. But Yoo Ah In looked calm as always. We rehearsed first at the crematorium. In the rehearsal we had to look sad and shed tears, because that was what he had to film the whole day. Yoo Ah In did the rehearsal calmly.

But once the camera started rolling and the real shooting was on, he totally changed. His sighs and tears were real, his head bowed down, his shoulders drooped, even his figure looked terribly sad and shivered.

When the director said “cut!”, I could barely say anything because I was too absorbed (in emotion).  But Yoo Ah In, once he heard “cut”, his tears just stopped. He’s a total pro. His eyes always change based on emotions. He gives positive energy to those around him, and he makes the others want to excel at acting.”



And last but not least, Yoo Bora, a writer of SBS 2013 drama “Secret” (also known as “Secret Love”), praises Secret Love Affair and specifically mentions Yoo Ah In’s acting in her recent interview with tvreport ~

“I got hooked by Secret Love Affair these days. Jung Sung Joo seems a really great writer. I like Yoo Ah In’s acting. There are two scenes that impressed me much, first is when he said to Hye Won on the verge of their first kiss [when Hye Won puts her hand on his cheek], ‘Please don’t do this. I’m going crazy’ . And the following scene when he said, ‘A man would kiss a woman at such a moment. I knew you accepted that kiss'”, she recited. “When I watch this drama, Yoo Ah In is invisible. All I see is only Sun Jae, that boy. Yoo Ah In is the kind of actor who knows how to pull a character off.”


Translated by Furbabe and Jay of YAI Sikseekland

© Yoo Ah In International Fans Community

Pictures: DC 

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11 Responses to “Yoo Ah In Earns Recognition For His Acting In Secret Love Affair”
  1. Raluca says:

    I was overjoyed when I read this article about recognotions received for his acting in Secret Love Affair. Yoo Ah In really deserve them.
    It may not be a smart actor, as he said himself, but he has an empathetic personality, which is another form of intelligence of the human being.
    Empathy involves our emotions and Yoo Ah In is an actor who knows very well to express them, to dose them and combine them so there is no dissonance in his play acting.
    As a character, his soul has revived with love for Hye Won.
    Secret Love Affair film made ​​on him, as a professional actor, to be reborn in this spring.
    And we revive close by Lee Seon Jae.

  2. Langli says:

    Love love love his natural acting in SLA. I applaud the PD and writer nim too for they make LSJ so loveable, real and complex. YAI does give breath a scripted SJ to alive 3 dimensional character.

  3. jomo143 says:

    My fav line ““When I watch this drama, Yoo Ah In is invisible. All I see is only Sun Jae.”
    That is why it is so amazing to watch him.
    OK, and the lips. ♥
    Thanks for these translations. I heard there was a lot of buzz, but never the specifics.

  4. enz says:

    thanks for translating furbabe. I am enjoying a mini YAI film festival in the absence of this week’s SLA. actually a Korean film
    festival at home. love YAI in SLA. can’t find punch though. really want to watch that too.

    • Furbabe says:

      You’re welcome, enz 🙂 I’ve been searching for Punch too. It was on dramacrazy but the site has closed. Personally I prefer Punch to Tough As Iron. Hope to find it soon.

  5. fandomscape says:

    http://tenasia.hankyung.com/archives/247261 Furbabe, can you translate this article please? I was literally sobbing when my friend gave me a brief translation. I am so grateful that there are some critics and reporters who really understand YAI and appreciate who he is.The critic is addressing the tension between the youth who “communicates coarsely via SNS” and the actor whose acting sent chills down to the spine. The critic says that people really misunderstand YAI. His written words are in fact the voice of a lonely and sensitive youth. He might appear snobby and stubborn (from his SNS), but in fact if you get to know YAI in person, he is endearing, well-mannered and thoughtful. After so many years, he still retains the passion of a rookie towards acting.

    For me, Yoo Ah In is a real human being, not a celebrity. I don’t care whether he gets awards and recognition for his acting, because we all know too well that there are so many bad actors and actresses who receive raving reviews and awards, I just hope that YAI remains an undiluted YAI, with all his rough edges.

    • Furbabe says:

      My bad, fandomscape. I just read this now. But good news is that you mentioned me too on twitter about the article, and we’ve just finished translating it 🙂 It’s a really good article because the journalist and YAI have been acquainted for years. So he wrote from his personal view about the YAI that he knew so well that many didn’t know yet. Being his fans for 4 years, I too never see him as a star but a passionate young man who loves his, as he said, regular job called “acting”. I’ll post the translations soon!

  6. Mariana says:

    Way to go, YAI! He gives his all to this drama. He gives a phenomenal lifetime performance!

  7. MARIA says:


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