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The following is my analysis of the character Gim Boong Do, from the drama Queen Inhyun's Man.
To clarify, this is not about the actor or even about the relationship Gim Boong Do forms with Choi Hee Jin throughout the drama.
This is about Gim Boong Do's character and traits that really make him an ideal, and quite perfect, man.
Before you start reading, take out a piece of paper and list the four most important traits you'd like to see in a partner.
Good? Let's start.
I was perhaps on the seventh or eighth episode of watching Queen Inhyun's Man when I suddenly realized that the character Gim Boong Do comes close to my idea of a perfect person. While I have encountered my share of handsome, charming and entertaining male leads in Kdramas, I can say quite confidently that there was something about Gim Boong Do that made me find him particularly attractive. After the drama finished and I finally dug into the thought, it turned out that it wasn't one thing in particular, but rather a long list of traits that turned him into my ideal man.
I think everybody has their own version of what appeals to them the most, so please be sure not to take my opinions as your final word. Maybe the traits I'm about to discuss are concepts you don't care about, and maybe he's lacking in some way that I haven't considered or find important. Either way, this analysis of Gim Boong Do is from my perspective, given my history of past relationships and the boys/men I've known.
Starting with some physical qualities first, I'd like to point out that he is tall, lean, handsome and has quite an adorable smile. Since we're talking about ideals, I'm going to be brazen and say that it would be nice to literally lean against a shoulder or look up into someone's eyes. Relative to me, he is the perfect height for a tip-toe kiss. And it wouldn't look awkward if he were to ever give me a piggyback. This is coming from someone who is considered to be taller than average, and have only ever dated someone of a similar height. I want the freedom to wear high heels. And I want my boyfriend to feel secure about his height.
Meanwhile, that serious air about Gim Boong Do disappears when he smiles. He looks goofy, a bit ridiculous, but also dangerously charming. All in all, he is handsome in a memorable, special kind of way, and I wouldn't want my ideal person to be traditionally good-looking.
Gim Boong Do has broad shoulders. And nice hands. These points make for very attractive physical aspects. But I also know they are specific to the actor. However, if you extrapolate these physical traits to encompass every guy you will ever meet, I don't think it would rule out too many fish in the sea.
Gim Boong Do is also kind of badass, in the sense that he can fight. I never gave this quality much thought until I saw how easily he dealt with Han Dong Min. Wouldn't it be nice to feel absolutely and completely safe with someone? To know that nobody would take advantage of you with him around?
This concludes some of the physical qualities of Gim Boong Do that I find ideal.
Gim Boong Do has so many characteristics that appealed to me that I didn't know where the list started or ended. In the end, I attempted to put everything into four very broad categories. I say "attempted" because I wasn't completely successful. There are overlaps. There are traits that don't really belong in any category. One trait could lead to another and then another. No, it wasn't easy to dissect the personality of an ideal guy. However, when you boil it down, here are some words that I can begin to use to describe him: mature, righteous, calm and intelligent.
Let me start with his "maturity", because I can begin to paint a general picture of him with this word.
Gim Boong Do is a responsible person who keeps promises and takes accountability for his actions. Looking at the sentence I just wrote, I can honestly say that I don't know many people in my life who really fulfills all three interlinked ideas. I can't even fulfill them.
So once he's committed to an action, he'll be sure to see it through and be there whether it fails or succeeds. This is what leads him to tell his sweetheart that it is not okay to simply barge into her life, get her an expensive car, and take care of Han Dong Min. It is not enough. He wants to take responsibility for her, so it means not playing with her feelings and actually taking the situation seriously.
The idea of his maturity revolves around the concept of moving away from a self-centered perspective on life to one that is situation-based. I think it's a trait that comes with age, but I also think some people never move away from seeing the world only through their eyes. Being self-centered is not equal to being selfish. It doesn't mean putting yourself ahead of everyone else. But it does mean an unawareness of how others feel or a lack of acknowledgement of their feelings even if you are aware of it. When you come to fully grasp the nuances of a situation, as Gim Boong Do does, you become more considerate of the people involved and work to avoid conflicts.
For example, although he would never do this, but let's say Gim Boong Do leaves his dirty clothes everywhere. I'm sure he would remove them the first time you tell him and then make a commendable, conscious effort not to do it again. That is being considerate. And that consideration can turn into an alleviation of the potential troubles in a relationship. I think maturity is a state of mind and much more than the occasional "I will put myself into your shoes and care about what you think for 10 minutes".
Because of this, Gim Boong Do doesn't have stupid misunderstandings with our female lead or cause her additional pain apart from being physically separated from her. His consideration causes him to take the initiative to learn as much as he can about the modern world without bothering her. (Although I'm sure she would love for him to bother her just so she can make up more ridiculous excuses to kiss him).
Throughout the drama, I felt that to him, the relationship was completely about her, and his lack of confusion about his feelings, the situation and everything else, was very refreshing. His actions never created more drama around the two of them than was absolutely necessary. I will come back to this point when I discuss his calmness and intelligence.
So there you go. If you were ever someone who couldn't figure out why every girl cries for a more "mature" guy, you now have an example. And if you were ever someone who cried "he's so immature" or even "she's so immature" but couldn't place your finger on exactly why or what you're looking for.... please introduce yourself to Gim Boong Do.
Gim Boong Do is a good person. And that is what I mean by "righteous". There are two facets to him being a good person, so let's examine both. The first is that he has good judgment, accompanied by an ideal sense of morality and ethics. He can distinguish between good and bad, and then act on it. Why is it important? Because it's important for a man (or anybody for that matter) to have a solid foundation of values to live by. In a generic example: it's not enough to refrain from stealing because of what other people tell you or because the consequences are unwelcome. Gim Boong Do won't because he sincerely believes it will harm other people in a way he can't compensate for. It doesn't mean he is not a rule-breaker or that he'd follow every law out there (he is clearly willing to break them). It's more that he'll follow his own rules, ones that have developed through his experiences and ones he'll stick to no matter what.
I think this is inherently tied to his idea of honour, and his ability to keep promises. When Gim Boong Do rushes to the library after getting an operation from being shot with arrows, desperate to find out what has happened, I didn't know how or what to feel. How can he try so hard to get back to the past when he knows how much pain this is causing Choi Hee Jin? How can he put her through his disappearing act again, especially since he could easily die if he went back? But, given the fact that the Queen he'd sworn to protect would soon be killed as a result of him, I'm glad he went back. It doesn't mean he would prioritize his honour over the love of his life, especially since it's the same honour that makes him as loyal and loving as he is. Instead, he'd take responsibility for both promises, and he is a person capable of doing that.
The second facet of him being a good, righteous person is that he is a kind person. He is a gentleman, versus the "a-hole" personality that some of us have convinced ourselves to want. While his serious expression and superior intellect might render a cold, uninterested person, he is actually very warm and sweet underneath. Remember his comment, "it seems this world is very lustful" after Choi Hee Jin's stint with the tie? She then goes onto to say something along the lines of "it seems that it is. Don't you like it?" I can't erase from my mind how he says quite seriously, "No, I like it a lot". I thought it was hilarious. He can be wittily humourous.
And while it may cause some people a headache to remember how he offered the second female lead the opportunity to marry him, it is a testament to how kind he can be.
To me, this "righteous" trait is imperative in an ideal guy. Do you think Gim Boong Do would ever, under any circumstance, cheat on the person he's with? Ever hit her? Ever cause unnecessary pain that he's able to prevent? No. Because alas, he is a good person.
Now that we've established the type of a person he is, I'd like to discuss some of the more nebulous aspects of him that is difficult for me to describe. "Calm" is the word I used, but it was a generalization of a lot of things.
Gim Boong Do is a calm person. He is also a collected, levelheaded, patient, and straightforward person. While perhaps many of these attributes can be considered an offshoot of his intelligence or maturity, I want to bring attention to this quiet confidence he has.
And it really is a quiet confidence because this confidence isn't bestowed to him by others. It's a self-realization and acceptance that's evident from how comfortable he is in his own skin. Everything about him exudes this confidence - from his posture to that poker face. He can be an image of aloofness, disguising his full grasp of the situation with those non-committed answers of his. At the same time, you can't disregard the beloved smirk that occasionally betrays what he's thinking. He is never awkward, although there exists plenty of opportunities for him to be while navigating a new world. He doesn't appear to be concerned with his image, and doesn't need acknowledgement from others to feel satisfied with who he is.
Compare this with Han Dong Min, who creates a racket at every turn. Compare this to people who are insecure and need constant verification of their own self-worth. Isn't this a breath of fresh air? Gim Boong Do is a calm, collected, levelheaded, patient and straightforward person because he is inherently very secure about himself. I believe this allows him to disregard non-issues and to focus directly on what's important at hand.
His ability to approach and address the prospect of a relationship with a girl 300 years away is impressive, given how many male leads can't resolve problems originating from one second of misunderstanding. The only time he was hurried was when the Queen, his household and his name was at stake given the rumour of adultery. Even then he was confoundingly smooth as he approached the King with his idea. The problems of present-day must seem so juvenile to him. (No, confoundingly is not a word)
Gim Boong Do would never yell, stamp his feet and tell you to change. He would calmly take matters into his hands and resolve it satisfactorily.
The last feature of his personality, and I saved the best for last, is his intelligence. There are a lot of ways to interpret his intelligence, but I think we can all agree that his intelligence was evident through all his actions. The most evident personification of his intellect is his hunger for knowledge and natural love of reading. This, as well as his great memory. More so is his ability to apply his knowledge, and his instinct to discern important from unimportant information.
I write this with a tone of enviousness and admiration. He is not simply book smart. He is ingenious in his application of knowledge. Man… what I would do for an hour with this guy. Imagine the conversations we would have; imagine the things I would tell him, and he would tell me. Imagine the discussions we would have and the new perspectives he'd introduce me to. I can see how he'd be a very good teacher, explaining "cause and effect" to me over a cup of coffee...
I don't think you can run out of things to say with a person like him. And I don't think you can be bored of a mind that sharp. He's so ridiculously articulate I'm sure I would soon fall into the habit of calling him a "player", because he is just that smooth. I touched on this earlier - this confidence that allows him to disregard superficial things and instead entertain more meaningful thoughts.
Now I'm going to extrapolate one level further. His intelligence makes him live ahead of his time, and you can see that he is a progressive, accepting, person. Given his background, as he cuts his hair, offers marriage to a gisaeng, and then envelopes himself in the present world... he really belongs to the future. Being with him must feel like holding onto an avant-garde looking glass.
The practical applicability of his intelligence invests itself in his decision-making, judgement and analytical abilities. He doesn't simply tell his love that he's in love with her, he wants to be with her, and so he'll stay in the future. Instead, he tells her that he took time to consider many factors, and then logically concluded that living in the future was the best option given everything, including his responsibility as her lover. I think a conclusion like this is much more meaningful in nature, and relieves the obligation on Choi Hee Jin to make the future worth it to him (or to justify giving up the past).
Yes, I also think he has high emotional intelligence, in the same way he exacts his logical method of thinking. He is never confused about what is going on, and approaches the issue directly. Like I mentioned before, he never creates more drama than necessary, and doesn't play around with Choi Hee Jin's feelings. Can you imagine him asking for her advice on a piece of jewelry and then proceeding to give it to someone else? And if in this situation Choi Hee Jin liked him and he didn't like her back, he would never ask, because he has the emotional acumen to think twice about it. I think he can quickly understand and form a conclusion about someone's feelings, though he wouldn't explicitly state it aloud.
Sure, call him a player… but he would never play with your feelings to hurt you. Only to make you love him more. At the end of the day, with this many levels and facets to his intelligence alone, I have to say Gim Boong Do is deep. And that is ideal to me. I'd want to lose myself in the exploration of another person.
So, in short, Gim Boong Do is mature, righteous, calm and intelligent. These words are quite insufficient to even begin to describe him… but I suppose they are a start.
When I realized these things by episode seven or eight, it felt like a mist dissipated from before my eyes. Contrast my ideal person to the typical guys I deal with every day and even guys in other dramas… I don't know what I saw in the little man-children running around and creating hurtful situations. Meeting Gim Boong Do has solidified some of the traits I find important, and allowed me to reflect on what traits I bring to the table. Because of course, at the end of the day, I can't expect him to be everything and not offer something in return. After all, how can I expect someone else to be perfectly considerate when I'm inconsiderate?
In ending this analysis, I'd like to leave you with the message that Gim Boong Do is an ideal person. The chances of this person existing in real life, being single, and crossing your/my path is quite small... So I'd like everybody to re-read the word "ideal".
Instead of wishing for a clone of Gim Boong Do to suddenly appear in your life, take this as an exercise to figure out the most important qualities you see in another person, and the ones you're willing to negotiate on. Has these qualities changed from what you initially wrote down as the most important traits? Why? Why not?
What are your distinguishing traits, and would your ideal person find them attractive?
On the drama itself: one reason I really liked watching it is that outside from seeing the chemistry sizzle right off the screen, every single interaction between the two leads is very special and quite charming. I think I can count the number of their meetings on my hands, and this is a far cry from dramas in which the two leads are progressing along in monotonous situations and refusing to fully acknowledge each other. For once, sixteen episodes are too short. I'd love to see more of them being drama-less and simply in-love.
I'm saving this place to update with some examples of how I think Gim Boong Do would act in some classic situations (or in other dramas).
Can you think of any? Post them below!