I admit, early on in my drama watching, I actually sat through the entirety of Full House Take 2. And I enjoyed it. It wasn’t that it was good, it wasn’t. but it was so delightfully cheesy and over the top that is was, at the moment, exactly what I needed. Plus, it was before I learned the wonders of dropping shows. I am grateful that I caught it as early as I did because it gave me a lot of context in the landscape of Kdrama as well as serving to introduce me to the brilliance of Park Ki Woong, whom I’d later adore in Secretly Greatly and Hwang Jung Eum who was in pretty much everything for a while.
But it also gave me one of the first people I could stalk through social media. At the time, Kpop and Kdrama stars or their management weren’t yet crafting pretty Facebook pages or blessing us with their tidbits of wisdom and the day-to-day on Twitter. More relevant for me, they were largely nonexistent on Instagram. There were a few there, but not like today. So when I found No Min Woo posting pics on the regular, I followed and pressed hearts like nobody’s business. When I first started tracking him, he was clearly not in a great place in his life, and though I found some decently translated articles and some speculative gossip, I certainly don’t have a complete understanding about what was happening. I could just see, through small square pictures with varying filters, someone struggling to find his place in an industry he loved that wasn’t as restricted by the rules and norms of kpop idol-dom that he’d been confined by.
No Min Woo was raised in the industry, bopping back and forth between Korea and Japan while his mother worked to become a singer. He eventually signed with SM Entertainment and made his own debut in 2004 as the drummer in the rock band TraxX. He stayed with that group for two years before leaving to join The Romantist as the guitar player, and then as the leader for the project group 24/7. He started acting in 2008 and though his dramas have been…fine, I’ve heard that his movies are quite laudable. I haven’t seen any so I can’t speak to that. Well, I can, but I choose not to.
When I caught up with No Min Woo, he has left SM and created his own management company and was releasing music in Japan under the name ICON. It was all heavy makeup, ripped clothes, spikes, and guitars. It was glam. I couldn’t tell from the pictures if he was having a good time with the image and playing it up for his fans or if he was truly lost in a (presumed) haze of booze and self-destruction. I do know that in 2015 he filed a lawsuit against SM for damages stemming from their interfering with his career and that he had, at a young age, signed a 17-year exclusive contract with them that has, obviously, not been to his best interest.
As I started following more and more artists on Instagram and broadened my scope of experience in Kentertainment, I lost track of No Min Woo and, heartbreakingly, forgot about him. This week, though, a new video popped into my YouTube feed by an artist I had never heard of and I, because I’m me, clicked on the link. The song was beautiful and the single male voice was pretty, clear, and very familiar. I looked up the fella, this Minue, and low and behold, I found No Min Woo again! I still don’t have a clear idea of the path he’s been on or what he’s been up to, but he’s back on my radar and it looks like I’m pretty into what he’s doing right now.
I’ve done a little digging in his back catalog because of course that’s always where I’m going to start. His Youtube channel and iTunes page are full of a number of songs that I absolutely adore. The track Believe from the 2016 single Gravity is goosebump-inducing. So I’ll leave you this gem because, well, it leaves me wanting more from him and it looks like we’re going to keep getting it.