I was able to catch one of the final showings of the Shinheung Military Academy. **A bucket list item: to see Haneul sing in a musical in this lifetime. The ticket didn't go on sale until 2-3 weeks before I left for Seoul so it wasn't an initial plan to see any concerts or musicals or chase any stars. So I was ecstatic at the hope of seeing Haneul, but also freaked out about travelling alone to the country side.
My korean is elementary school level so I can't say I totally understood the musical to its fullest, but I thought Haneul's performance was amazing! Not because I'm his fan who flew from overseas and I love all things Haneul, but initially he plays a country pumpkin. He's silly, uneducated, clumsy, and thinks joining the revolt is fun, like a social club, just to hang out with other young people. His initial solos are calm and at regular tone. It's all about making friends and being happy. People are dying around him but he's acting like he's in a school playground?? As time goes on, as the story progresses, he learns to be a full fledge korean revolter against the japanese oppression. He can fight, shoot, gets acknowledged by his leaders, etc.. He has purpose in life and sees the many who gave their lives for the fight for freedom. When he discovers a frightening discovery about his bff, and is faced to make a choice between korea and his friendship, his awakened duet with his friend comes to a maddening shouting match. Haneul's voice booms loudly across the auditorium, and you are as frightened as his character gets. Especially when they turn off the lights and a gun goes off! Your heart goes "whaaattt??? NOO!!!!" .....It's pretty emotional! .................Without giving the ending away, I was so happy that Haneul was able to pull of this character so convincingly, because I was kind of annoyed in the beginning that he seemed to have such a "whimpy" character. I was like, "you went to this effort to watch him act like a fool"???? lol! BUT I was overwhelmingly surprised, and it was worth the multiple cross country train rides to get to Chuncheon. I think that was one of best Korean musicals I've ever seen - acting wise (plot was typical korean patriotic - why not? it's an army musical/celebrating a freedom anniversary), because it was so unexpected that Haneul's character would end up being so intense and confounded. I'm glad he got nominated for Best Actor at the Yegreen Musical Awards, even while serving. That means irregardless of the venue/current job position, Haneul still puts his greatest efforts in whatever he does! You could sense at the end of the musical, he loved what he was doing, and with whom he was doing it with.
Aside from the musical performance, I was so happy to catch a glimpse of Haneul being Haneul. When it came to taking his final individual bow, he came out making a hand heart at the audience. Even though he didn't get the loudest cheers, he seemed to be the most grateful from a visual point of view. Even as they were singing the final key lines of the song, he was still waving at the audience with childlike waves and innocent smiles from ear to ear. He was the only one in this posture. Everyone was still singing and musical professional face like. He looked at all points of the audience and waved at each section as if he was waving at every individual who was waving back at him. It made you want to keep waving at him because he "noticed" you. The ladies in front of me waved harder. Singing beside him, his cast mate(s) thought Haneul was so cute, and at least two of them started mimicking his child like wave back at him. Taunting him... With the last cast mate teasing him, Haneul caught on, and just laughed in his childlike embarrassed expression back at his cast mate acknowledging his simple over excited waving technique. It was so priceless!! I couldn't have seen a more endearing moment that was not through a tv/computer screen. With my own eyes, yes, Haneul is that sweet and innocent as he appears on variety shows!!! It's not an act or persona he has to present, like roles that members of a kpop band have to play. He's the real deal! He may have a strong manly stare, but his facial expressions are as big and innocent as his heart. He really is that adorkable!
Can't wait for his next performance now that he's finished his army duty!! =)