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Forbes
Forbes
21 Oct 2023


A male student in a school letter jacket stands by his suitcase.

Yang Se-jong plays an earnest student in 'Doona.'

Netflix

It’s been a while since Yang Se-jong appeared in a drama. After serving the almost two years of the mandatory military duty required of South Korean men, the actor took some time to consider his comeback role.

Before serving he was already the winner of three Best New Actor Awards for his role as a chef in the 2017 drama Temperature of Love. He played a designer in the fantasy romance Still 17 and his last role was the warrior Seo-hwi in the historical drama My Country: The New Age. He chose Doona, another romance, but the choice was less about the genre than how the script made him feel.

“Rather than thinking that I should take a romance drama as my role back I chose the piece because I felt my heart thump,” said Yang. “I had positive vibes when I read the script of Doona for the first time.”

In the Netflix NFLX drama Doona he plays Lee Won-jun, an average university student. Won-jun finds it much harder to focus on his studies when Doona, a former idol played by Suzy, decides to hide out in his world. They have little in common and yet he’s so warm-hearted they can’t help but grow closer. The charismatic former idol is completely out of his league, but he falls for her anyway, and he’s not just star struck. He really does have a lot to offer that might help her deal with whatever she’s running away from.

Netflix -

South Korean actors Suzy and Yang Se-Jong are seen at the Netflix 'Doona' press conference in ... [+] Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/WireImage)

WireImage

“When I think from the perspective of Won-jun, I believe what he can do is to completely take the side of Doona,” said Yang. “I also think that Won-jun would be the person who would view Doona as herself. While playing the role of Won-jun in the series, the thoughts that I had in mind were, ‘I always want to be by her side. I want to be a person that Doona can depend on’.”

At a recent press conference for the series, director Lee Jung-hyo, known for the k-drama hit Crash Landing on You, described the story as “the intertwining lives of two young souls from contrasting worlds.” Lee praised Yang’s portrayal of Won-jun, a character still discovering himself, saying that, “Se-jong embodied the character so wholly; he wasn’t just acting.”

Yang is a fan of Lee’s directorial work and that’s one reason he wanted to appear in Doona.

“I watched Crash Landing on You, as well as Romance Is a Bonus Book and Life on Mars,” said Yang. “I always felt that I would really like to work with Director Lee Jung-hyo one day.”

The actor admits to being a little awestruck by a celebrity in real life. The person that really impressed him was Han Suk-kyu, his co-star in Dr. Romantic.

“I always thought of Han Suk-kyu as a gentle and splendid person,” said Yang. “He gave me a lot of advice when we were filming Dr. Romantic, and the advice that he gave me still remains deeply rooted in my heart.”

In Temperature of Love Yang’s acting raised the temperature of the chemistry between his character and the character played by Seo Hyun-jin. With his Doona co-star Suzy, star of Start-Up, Anna and Vagabond, former member of the k-pop group Miss A, he conjures up more excellent chemistry. Good onscreen chemistry can involve multiple factors. For Yang it’s important to become immersed in the script and the character, to feel what they feel. That’s where chemistry starts.

“I am not too sure,” he said. “But thinking prudently about it, I believe it is important to focus on the script as much as possible and live as the character when I am on site and when I am alone.”

The story is based on the webcomic Lee Doo-na by Min Song-ah. The series also stars Lee Jin-uk, Ko Ah-sung, Lee Yu-bi, Ha-young, Park Se-wan and Kim Do-wan. All nine episodes are available on Netflix.