I think I’ve said enough about Nae-il/Nodame and Yoo-jin/Chiaki, so I’ve decided to dedicate this post to the new character which Cantabile introduces. As many Nodame fans have pointed out, Yoon-hoo appears to be a blend of two characters — Kuroki and Kikuchi.

In Nodame, Kuroki is an oboe player who has a crush on Nodame and is upset that she likes Chiaki. (our oboe-ist like Mini Min-hee) However, Kuroki is a quiet, reserved and shy person — unlike Yoon-hoo. Kikuchi, on the other hand, has a personality which is similar to Yoon-hoo’s. He is a natural flirt, and a glib, smooth talker. Kikuchi is also a cellist — though he doesn’t have any problems with his left hand. Kikuchi in Nodame is also central to the founding of Rising Star, alongside Chiaki. In this aspect, he is also similar to Yoon-hoo, who is invested in Rising Star’s (or S Orchestra) future.

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It is unfair though, to pin Yoon-hoo to any Nodame character(s), even though he may be modelled on and shares certain traits with some of them. He is fleshed out in an interesting way and is pivotal to moving Cantabile‘s storyline in his own way. (btw, it is also unfair to compare Nodame and Cantabile frame-by-frame…both are shows which can be enjoyed on their own merits) Yoon-hoo in Cantabile plays the second male lead to Yoo-jin, and typical of his role, he is set out to be a foil and also a complement to the male protagonist.

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However, I do find him crafted in a slightly atypical fashion to the usual gentlemanly, all-too-perfect second male lead. Yes, compared to gruff and sometimes, emotionally awkward Yoo-jin, Yoon-hoo is a charmer. Unlike Yoo-jin, Yoon-hoo doesn’t really have to work to attain S Orchestra members’ friendship and trust. They literally welcome him with open arms, and his friendship status is further sealed when he steps up in Yoo-jin’s (the one-time “traitor”) place to conduct. Also, compared to Yoo-jin’s earlier treatment of Nae-il, Yoon-hoo comes across as more protective, more gentlemanly, caring, sensitive, blahblah…all the traits that Yoo-jin does have, but suppresses.

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Interestingly, now that Yoo-jin is no longer socially awkward or emotionally stunted when dealing with Nae-il and his S Orchestra’s buddies, Yoon-hoo starts to take on a darker shade. He begins to turn into an interloper/ outsider to the “family”, and we see that starting about the same time Yoo-jin makes up with Nae-il and gang (in ep 9). The scene in ep10 where Yoo-jin meets Yoon-hoo in Il-rak’s restaurant, and Yoon-hoo is sitting in Yoo-jin’s seat (at the head of the table). The jovial air immediately turns icy, as Il-rak, Su-min and Min-hee freezes to be caught having a grand time with their new friend. I got a feeling Yoon-hoo invites himself over on his own accord, and arrives earlier than Il-rak, since Nae-il had mentioned to Yoo-jin that Il-rak’s dad is holding a dinner in celebration of their success.

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The rivalry continues over Nae-il. But unlike Yoo-jin, Yoon-hoo sees Nae-il as a “thing” — albeit a precious item which he treasures. And Yoon-hoo’s objectification of Nae-il comes across clearly when he disregards Nae-il’s feelings (which are bordering on breakdown), and demands her to perform on stage with him in the farewell duet to his cello. In the recent ep14, he mentions in passing to Yoo-jin that he wants to show off Nae-il, but yet keep her, his precious treasure, to himself. Yoo-jin, on the other hand, retorts on both occasions that Nae-il can decide for herself what she wants, nobody should force or use her to do something that she is uncomfortable with.

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I suppose Yoon-hoo’s possessiveness and callousness stem from his experience as a full fledged competitor cellist. As Yoo-jin points out, he doesn’t have true friends. Despite being overtly friendly and nice, Yoon-hoon keeps a wary distance from others. (Yoo-jin, on the other hand, juz refuse to be nice) Thus, Yoon-hoo is still lonely even though he is in everyone’s good books. And seeing that Yoo-jin is in many ways similar to himself (even liking the same girl), Yoon-hoo naturally gravitates towards him. (yay, bromance!) I enjoy how Yoon-hoo ribs Yoo-jin, eliciting responses from a stony faced Yoo-jin — very much like an annoying little brother.

His innate wariness enable Yoon-hoo to sniff out the rivalries between A and S Orchestras within minutes, and he easily projects how this bitter trajectory between the parties will lead to. Unlike Yoo-jin though, he is biased towards his underdog friends from the S Orchestra — which will be detrimental to Rising Star if he takes on the conductor role. You can see that Yoon-hoo is all ready to pinpoint the “incidents” (the projection of Se-yeon Uni’s performance, the unannounced filming) to someone from the A Orchestra by the way he keeps glancing at them. He is shocked then to find out Yoo-jin is the mastermind. To Yoon-hoo, who is always alert to potential sabotages by competitors (in his mind, A Orchestra), he doesn’t understand why Yoo-jin would undermine his own team. That’s cos Yoo-jin doesn’t segregate the S or A into “my” and “their” team. To Yoo-jin, Rising Star is his team, and if he has to break them up in order to re-join them, he will do it.

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Then again, Yoon-hoo is flawed, but he is not a bad person. Also, he is definitely learning to become more trusting from Nae-il, and breaking his mine-yours mentality from Yoo-jin.

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