|Korean Drama (2004)||Episodes: 16|
|Genre: Drama/Romance/Psychological||My Score: 8/10 ★★★★☆|
|Summary: Joong-ah, a Korean adoptee living in Ireland, sees her adoptive family, (who are secretly terrorists), killed before her eyes. Traumatized by the experience, she travels back to Korea, where she eventually decides to kill herself.However, she ends up meeting Gook, a bodyguard who’s messed up in his own way after losing his parents at a young age. The two fall in love and get married.Enter Jaebok, who may or may not be Joong-ah’s long-lost biological brother. He and the girl fall in love and start an affair, not knowing that they could be related until it’s too late.Added to the mix is the girl Jaebok lives with, Shi-yeon, who is supporting her large family, as well as Jaebok, as a soft porn actress. Eventually, she will fall for Gook….|
|Lead Actors: Lee Na Young, Hyun Bin, Kim Min Joon, and Kim Min Jung|
This feels like a “masterpiece drama.” It’s mature, deep, character-driven, and will probably make you think about what exactly it’s trying to say. Not everybody is going to like this one, of course, but if you’re open-minded and want something different with a bit more substance, then give it a try. (Do not watch this one just for Hyun Bin!)
There are a couple messages at the heart of this drama, but the main issue is about how four lonely people deal with trauma.
I picked this drama up because I love controversial plots and the potential brother-sister relationship stood out to me. That alone should give you an idea about what kind of drama this is. If you’re more conservative, you probably won’t like it. Though the drama never truly tells us whether those two characters are actually siblings or not, the main plot is about cheating. I actually hate plots like that, because I just can never grow into liking characters who cheat. However, this drama dealt with it well, and by the end, I could understand and forgive all of them.
A girl goes through a very traumatic experience when her adoptive family is murdered. She goes back to her home country, which is Korea.
She meets a guy named Gook. He always wants to do what’s right, and he seems to be attracted to weak and pitiful people, (he’s lonely and wants someone who won’t leave). She cries and asks him to help her… which causes him to fall in love with her. They get married within a year.
Around the same time she met him, she briefly runs into a slacker… they both have a feeling they’ve met before. A year later, they meet again and this time can’t deny their attraction to each other. She begins to have an affair with him… not realizing that it’s very likely he’s the brother she left behind all those years ago when she was adopted.
It becomes harder for her to resist this new love as she grows out of her traumatized state and wants to become more independent and live life. Her husband, Gook, now can’t let her do this. It could be because he’s worried about her, or maybe it’s because he’s insecure because the ones he love always leave him, and he doesn’t like to see her changing into someone who has the ability to do that. She warns him against his attitude, but it has no effect on him.
I’m mostly into romantic comedies, but there was just something about this drama that captivated me. The story was unconventional and the characters were unpredictable. Though I was never addicted to it, I never got bored until the drawn-out last episode.
Dry humor. Deadpan. Witty dialogue. “Feeling lonesome? Go stand by the window. The moonlight will look cool.” Hyun Bin’s character, Gook, agrees and stands there, looking out into the night while his friend writes a poem. Gook can’t understand the poem when it’s done, even though it was inspired by him.
Loaded words. So many things are said that have double meanings. Characters will often say cool or insightful things. Sometimes it really makes you think, or smile. Sometimes you’ll laugh while still thinking the circumstance isn’t funny. It has this melancholic, bittersweet, feeling to it, though it never made me outright depressed.
It made me feel like, “Yes, this is life…” and I had empathy for the characters. It’s just that everything felt real and nothing was exaggerated or strange. This drama is unlike the others I have seen so far. Nobody was really happy. Everybody was lonely. But it wasn’t overly dramatic. Like real life, they all tried to appear strong on the outside.
(Also worth mentioning; I liked the soundtrack.)
Since it’s character-driven, it has some great character development. There’s not a really clear “main couple”, or a true main character.
At the beginning, I found the adoptee girl, Joong-ah, to be really irritating. She came across as naive and selfish. When she bluntly told her husband that she thinks she’s having an affair, it seemed like she couldn’t even care a bout how it would affect him, because she was so absorbed in getting her own feelings across. It may have seemed good how honest she was with him, but I felt she was just too self-oriented. However, many may excuse her because she wasn’t mentally stable yet, since her family had been killed. Her husband, Gook, had known this when he started his relationship with her, so we can’t pity him as much as we usually would.
Towards the 4th or 5th episode, it’s easier to side with her, as it becomes apparent that she feels sad and guilty about her change of feelings. Then we realize she’s trying to warn her husband to stop discouraging her independence since it’s causing her to dislike him. However, as previously mentioned, it’s really hard to change, and he just can’t stop. With the combination of him being over-bearing and the other guy liking her for who she is, it’s easier to see why she would have an affair. On the other hand, it’s also easy to see why her husband is over-bearing and just can’t change. He keeps pushing for her to meet the woman who could be her biological mother because he wants a parent in his life. His wife is the only one he has and he’s worried about her. This fear and hole in his life is what causes the problem.
Then there’s Jae-bok, the guy she falls for. He’s a deadbeat loser, (his excuse is that he became that way after seeing his mother put his sister up for adoption). It’s hard to understand why anyone would like him at first because he just mooches off of people with no guilt, and cheats on his girlfriend, who he’s living with and dependent on. He’s also really scruffy looking. Why Joong-ah would cheat with him over her good-looking, responsible husband, is a real question in the drama. It’s one of the main reasons her husband seems to be upset over the cheating. If Jae-bok was better than her husband, he could write it off as an attraction to his money or power, however, since Jae-bok has nothing, the chance that it’s serious is more apparent. Plus, the point is, romantic attraction often has no good criteria.
However, Jae-bok actually turns into the most noble characters in the drama. I think his character develops most out of all of them, as he decides to get a job and become “cool” like Gook, who he’s not only jealous of, but whom he considers the mentor/teacher that he needs in his life. By the end, he was my favorite.
Finally, we have Shi-yeon, who is a soft porn star, who wants to be a real actress. She was the most pitiful of the characters in the beginning, (in my opinion), as she had to support her four younger siblings, her lazy parents, and her deadbeat boyfriend. Though she does some disagreeable things, (such as going after Gook when she knows he’s married), I could never really hate her because she was never really a bad character. It’s also satisfying to see her dreams starting to come true.
They were all pretty good actors. For one of Hyun Bin’s first dramas, he was superb. He has that shiny, young, innocence here. I think I prefer his character in this drama to his famous “My Name Is Kim Sam-Soon” role.
And as always, Lee Na Young was perfect and natural. The way she’d move her eyes when she was trying not to cry… ugh. She’s so amazing. I’m not surprised to see her in a drama like this, as it seems she sometimes gravitates towards the more mature plots, (Maundy Thursday, and Lady, Daddy).
The others never acted poorly, but Lee Na Young stood out to me most, and I’m familiar enough with Hyun Bin to appreciate him here. (I think he won a Newcomer award for this role as well.)
If you take on this drama, you’ll have to watch this whole series with an open mind and just accept everything they throw at you. When you think about it, Gook probably married Joong-ah because he was attracted to the way she was emotionally crippled and couldn’t leave him. She probably married him because she was lonely and needed stability because of her trauma. People grow and change, and their lovers don’t always grow in the same direction.
The ending wasn’t terribly satisfying, but it did conclude the point of the drama in an artistic way. People who don’t like open endings won’t like this one, but since there were quite a few parts of the story that happened off-screen, I was actually expecting something like that. I didn’t mind concluding some of those things on my own.
I feel in the ending, the younger versions of the characters were representing the past feelings/dreams/hurt they still keep today as adults. As they were reminiscing about their child self, they were probably resolving to go back to that time and start again, perhaps to when the pain first began. Or maybe they were comforting their child self to represent the start of their healing. Maybe by showing the people they love, (or who love them), with the child-versions, the drama was showing that those are the people who understand them the best, or who can at least fully accept them. Reaching to the past version is like reaching into their essence… the part that made them who they are today.
But that’s just my interpretation.
Anyway, some people think this drama is a waste of time, but I feel they just weren’t expecting this style. Like I said, it is different from other dramas. I, however, really enjoyed it.