‘Nobody Knows’ First Impressions: A Perfect Blend Of Murder, Mystery, And Family Drama

The first four episodes of Nobody Knows are out, and I’m already having to talk myself down from ravenously binging each episode the second it airs and is subtitled. This is much easier said than done — and it’s not going well, by the way. In fact, I was so excited to begin the drama that I watched the first episode without subtitles…then went back and rewatched it after it was subbed. Yes, I’m aware I have a problem. What can I say? — I have a thing for excellent dramas, and Nobody Knows has already proven itself to be truly excellent. And I have a strong gut feeling it will only get better.

My anticipation for the drama was not in vain; it was met, and even greatly surpassed. (Which is saying a lot because in case it’s not clear, I could not wait for this to air; besides initially watching it before it was subtitled, I also have had its premiere air date written on my calendar for a good several months now. Again, I’m aware of my issues — or, at least those related to Asian drama-watching.)

Only minor spoilers ahead — at this point in the drama, there’s only so much that can be given away, but I still feel obligated to warn of their existence.

That will have to do as far as an intro goes because, honestly, I’m just really excited to start talking about the drama. And since I’m assuming most people who are reading this have read at least some sort of plot summary, I’ll skip that and jump right into it with what is hands-down my favorite relationship of the drama so far: Young Jin and Eun Ho.

Ahn Ji Ho as Ko Eun Ho
Kim Seo Hyung as Cha Young Jin

Cha Young Jin (Kim Seo Hyung) is our main protagonist, a no-nonsense cop who has sworn to catch a serial murderer that killed her best friend when they were in high school. She is incredibly cool under pressure and can kick butt when she needs to. Ko Eun Ho (Ahn Ji Ho) is the kind-hearted and responsible latchkey kid who lives downstairs with his mother (and sometimes her current boyfriend — played by Jang Young Nam and Han Soo Hyun, respectively). Because of circumstances in his home life, Eun Ho seems to find more comfort and safety in Young Jin’s apartment than in his own and often spends time at her place even when she’s not there.

Eun Ho and Young Jin on a stroll

Their relationship is slightly unconventional, yet makes all the sense in the world because each is what the other needs/wants, but otherwise lacks. Without ever crossing the line, Young Jin treats Eun Ho with the maternal attention and love he doesn’t get from his own mom. Likewise, Eun Ho is a pillar of quiet strength and light in Young Jin’s ever-dark, ever-changing world. Neither character trusts others easily, yet each has let their guard down and put their trust in the other. They are at the same time a surrogate mother-son duo, and the best of friends.

Both Young Jin and Eun Ho are quiet, preferring to keep their emotions and thoughts to themselves. Perhaps because they’re similar in that sense, the two of them exchange as much (if not more) in glances as they do in speaking. The chemistry between both actors is fascinating to behold and the powerful and understated performances are indeed testaments to each actors’ abilities.

Ryu Deok Hwan as Lee Sun Woo

Teacher Lee Sun Woo (Ryu Deok Hwan) is a character I thought I wouldn’t care for at first because he initially appears apathetic toward his students. However — despite myself — I quickly grew to like him as I realized this isn’t because he doesn’t care, but rather because he cares deeply about them and is trying to distance himself because of an incident at his former school. He’s already proven himself a valuable ally to Young Jin, and he’s most definitely a trustworthy adult (whom I’m realizing are few and far between in our drama). He’s also apparently got a connection with the murder case Young Jin’s been working on since she was a teenager….Not sure what to expect from this, but just as with everything else in this drama so far, it will be interesting to watch play out.

Yoon Chan Young as Dong Myung

Another character that I find especially interesting so far is Dong Myung, played by Yoon Chan Young. Honestly, we don’t know much about Dong Myung yet, but he’s clearly pivotal in whatever it is that happened to Eun Ho. Dong Myung is another quiet character who harbors a lot of secrets and most likely has extremely valuable insider knowledge as to the truth of what happened. He’s also already shown himself to be fearless, which unfortunately can be dangerous in a realm of wicked adults.

There are more awesome characters that I cannot wait to see fleshed out, but I’ll leave it here for now. Besides the amazing cast of characters (and fantastic storytelling, which I’ll get into in a minute), Nobody Knows is captivating viewers worldwide with its stunning cinematography…

…and gorgeous music. Part 1 of the OST is ‘Warmth’ by Sunwoo Jung-A. Here’s the YouTube link to SBS’s official music video for this song:

The OST’s Part 2 is ‘Happiness’ by SAAY. Again, here’s the SBS official music video to the song:

Nobody Knows not only boasts appealing visuals and an outstanding cast; the drama also stimulates your brain with superbly-written suspense and mystery. Long ago, Young Jin’s best friend becomes the next victim in a brutal serial murderer’s string of victims; in the present, her downstairs neighbor — sweet Eun Ho, who’s a good kid but has obviously gotten mixed up in something horrible — jumps off a building. Slowly but surely, we (along with Young Jin) are beginning to realize that the two cases are somehow linked, but we have much farther to go before the truth is revealed (which is fine by me because I’m hopelessly hooked on this drama).

In conclusion, Nobody Knows tells its story masterfully, blending family and school issues with the overarching mystery of the serial murder and the crime involving Eun Ho’s jump. You get characters you feel for and care about from their first moments onscreen (which only grows as you get to know more about them) — and you also get the intensity and thrill that comes along with the criminal cases. So it’s really the best of both worlds.

One thing’s for sure, when it comes to Eun Ho, you can bet Young Jin isn’t giving up without a fight. And heaven help whoever tries going up against this woman.

Cha Young Jin

Nobody Knows is not being overhyped. It will keep you on the edge of your seat until the next episodes air, and then leave you wanting more each and every time. That’s a promise I can make from firsthand experience. I can’t stress it enough; if you’re on the lookout for a new drama to sink your teeth into, check this one out as soon as you can. Just be ready to be taken along for the ride — with no turning back.

You’ve been warned.

Here’s the official trailer, which I strongly urge you to check out:

Thanks for reading!

Have you guys started the drama yet? Comment below and let me know what you think of it! Whether you agree or disagree with what I’ve written, all intelligent discussion is welcome!

Featured image source: programs.sbs.co.kr

Korea’s New Favorite Bad Boy: A Look At Rookie Actor Lee Jae Wook’s Short (But Impressive) Career So Far

Not long ago, one of my friends emphatically recommended I watch Extraordinary You. I agreed to give it a shot, but mostly to pacify her; I honestly had no intention of finishing the drama simply because I was expecting yet another high school love story.

I got sucker punched by a K-drama.

Hours after graciously electing to “give the first episode a shot,” I found myself completely caught up and twiddling my thumbs as I impatiently waited for the next one to air. However, rather than continue to twiddle them, I shall put my thumbs to good use and begin typing instead.

This drama is simply excellent; I could easily talk about how sensational it is for hours. (And I have…thank you, my patient husband.) Instead, I’ll get right to the reason you’re here: Lee Jae Wook — Korea’s newest heartthrob, most currently seen doling out major Second Lead Syndrome as Extraordinary You‘s residential bad boy, Baek Kyung.

The 21-year-old actor debuted on-screen only last year in 2018 and has already made his mark in the industry, proving himself to be incredibly talented and versatile. Although he has less than five roles under his belt, the way Lee Jae Wook embodies each drastically different character he plays is astounding viewers worldwide. Let’s take a look at his already-impressive list of works:

Lee Jae Wook’s first acting gig was the guest role of Marco Han, a drug-addicted programmer and hacker, in Memories of the Alhambra. It may have been a guest role, but his powerful performance had viewers around the globe all wondering the same thing: Who is this guy and what else has he been in?

He had been in nothing else at the time…but that soon changed.

Lee Jae Wook as Marco Han in ‘Memories of the Alhambra’

Not long after, he landed a supporting role as sweet Seol Ji Hwan in Search: WWW alongside a number of big-name actors and actresses such as Lee Da Hee and Jang Ki Yong, to name only a few.

Lee Jae Wook as Seol Ji Hwan in ‘Search: WWW’

Next, Lee Jae Wook made his film debut in September of this year as sharp-shooting student soldier Lee Gae Tae in Battle of Jangsari. The film also stars SHINee’s Minho and American actress Megan Fox.

Lee Jae Wook as Lee Gae Tae in ‘Battle of Jangsari’

In the currently-airing Extraordinary You, Lee Jae Wook takes on his first main role as he portrays Baek Kyung, a high school student whose arrogant bad boy persona only scratches the surface of his complex psyche. Baek Kyung is an antagonistic character who is both angry at the world and hurt by it. It’s a difficult role, and Lee Jae Wook delivers his performance with the grace and maturity of a seasoned actor.

Lee Jae Wook as Baek Kyung in ‘Extraordinary You’

(Check out this Soompi article to read Lee Jae Wook’s own thoughts and insights about the character of Baek Kyung.)

Be sure to keep an eye out for Lee Jae Wook in the upcoming 2020 JTBC drama, I’ll Go To You When The Weather Is Nice!

Thanks for reading, friends! What’s your favorite Lee Jae Wook role? Let me know in the comments!

image sources:

  1. http://tenasia.hankyung.com/archives/1819961
  2. http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/extraordinaryyou/photo/

6 Reasons To Watch WayV’s ‘Moonwalk’ MV As Soon As Humanly Possible

Not only is WayV already back with their second mini album this year (entitled “Take Over The Moon”), but they also dropped their music video for the title track, “Moonwalk” — and viewers from all over the globe are being blown away by it. Each and every member does incredible, and the cinematography is wondrous to behold.

Read on for six reasons (of many) you should watch this music video ASAP — as if we need reasons other than the fact that they’re WayV.

Soft piano opening

The gorgeous, haunting melody is a surprisingly gentle start to the song — and it caught my attention far more so than if it had begun ostentatiously. Superbly done.

The softness doesn’t last long though….

WinWin raps

In an unexpected shift from the norm, WinWin raps in this song — and the unusual choice paid off because fans are loving it. And rightfully so — he does an excellent job. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of him rapping in the future.

XiaoJun’s nose piercing

I used to have a nose piercing and I suddenly want one again. Will it look as cool? Probably not. But I’m only half joking right now because XiaoJun makes it look awesome.

Smooth-as-silk group moonwalk

Oh, yes they do. And it’s beautiful.

Aes👏the👏tics👏

This music video has so many breathtaking scenes, it was hard for me to pick what to put in here. You have to watch it yourself to see everything — but I mean, look at this:

And this:

And these:

If I showed every visually stunning moment, I would be screenshotting the entire music video. Dusty desert or dilapidated boxing ring — it doesn’t matter where they are because WayV will look fantastic doing what they do and “Moonwalk” is an absolute work of art to witness.

Ten’s jacket toss & dance break

You know this is what he does when he comes home after a long day at work.

Thought I would show the dance break, did you?

Thank you for reading & let me know in the comments what your favorite moment of the music video is! Mine has to be the titular moonwalk, but it’s hard to pick just one!

Don’t forget to check out ‘Moonwalk’ if you haven’t already!

Hyuk Proves His Acting Ability With A Surprisingly Serious Role In “The Great Show”

After politician Wie Dae Han (Song Seung Heon) falls from grace in the eyes of the public, he takes in four siblings to boost his image: quick-thinking eldest Da Jung (Roh Jeong Eui), moody Tak (Jung Joon Won), mischievous Tae Poong (Kim Jun), and clever little Song Yi (Park Ye Na).

(clockwise from left) Kim Jun, Roh Jeong Eui, Jung Joon Won, and Park Ye Na

Quick spoiler warning: This post does contain some minor spoilers, so if you haven’t seen episode 5 yet, perhaps rethink reading…unless you don’t mind, in which case — by all means please plunge ahead, good reader!

I keep accidentally stumbling on really great dramas these days — the last of which was Moment of Eighteen (you can read my two cents on it right here) — and although it’s a different vibe entirely, I’m genuinely enjoying The Great Show so far. It’s creative, clever, and does a good job mixing silly and serious — the latter of which we see in episode 5 when Da Jung finds out she is pregnant.

Her boyfriend, Jung Woo (Hyuk), is an idol trainee only two months away from his debut. He’s kind-hearted, super optimistic, and a bit of a goofball. When he learns that Da Jung is pregnant, he promises to take responsibility even though it means giving up his plans to become an idol. After serious discussion, the two — amidst opposition — decide they want to keep the baby and raise it together.

If you saw the 2016 action-comedy Chasing, you know Hyuk plays the smart-alecky little delinquent extremely well, so it’s been fun watching him pull off the very different role of a sweet boyfriend (and soon-to-be dad). Finding out you’re going to be a father at such a young age would be daunting for anyone, and Hyuk’s portrayal of the complex emotions attached to that is spot-on. Also, his chemistry with Jeong Eui is precious and the two seem truly natural together on screen. I can’t wait to watch more of their character development.

Hyuk as Jung Woo

Actually, I can’t wait to watch everyone’s character development. I’m definitely invested at this point; what started as a goofy drama is peeling back layers to reveal more hefty stuff underneath. It’s lighthearted overall, but deeper topics such as teenage pregnancy, blended family relationships, and absent parents are creeping their way into our storyline. And I’m right here for it.

How do you guys think Hyuk is doing? Who’s your favorite character so far? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading and as always — happy viewing!

image source: http://program.tving.com/tvn/thegreatshow/8/Board/List

Shaky Ending To A Solid Drama: “Mr. Temporary” Final Episode Review

Mr. Temporary (also known as Class of Lies) just aired its final episode and, honestly, I have a ton of thoughts that I want/need to sort out. So, this blog post serves a dual purpose — my brain needs to process the ending of this drama, and hopefully my sweet readers will be at least mildly entertained in the process.

Alright, I’ve got my coffee — what about you guys? Let’s get right into it!

Since this post focuses on the final episode of Mr. Temporary, there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead!

Let’s start with something I loved…

Jun’s performance

My favorite thing about this final episode is watching Beom Jin (Jun) completely unravel. He has kept such rigid control of his emotions the entire time that when he finally begins letting his true nature show, it is utterly terrifying. It’s particularly unnerving that even after the truth comes out, Beom Jin still furiously insists he’s done nothing wrong.

Jun as Beom Jin
final face-off between Beom Jin and Moo Hyeok

Immense kudos to Jun for pulling off this complex role so splendidly. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully be able to unsee him as the ingenious highschool murderer, especially since I had the same thoughts a lot of viewers initially had about him: Beom Jin isn’t as bad as the other kids. Ha ha…Ha. Right.

Thank you, Jun, for giving us the chills all the way up to your final moment on screen.

Next, the things I didn’t love so much…

It felt rushed

I’ve genuinely loved Mr. Temporary so much, but the end felt rushed to me — and here’s why:

The court scene is a little too convenient. As cool as it is to see Moo Hyeok (Yoon Kyun-Sang) school Beom Jin in public, the scene feels like a writer’s tool to move things along rapidly and, unfortunately, it shows. Beom Jin walks right into the courtroom and begins monologuing, then is suddenly called as a witness where an incredibly convenient video of him at Soo Ah’s apartment is played for all to see. It is dramatic, beautifully acted, and wonderfully shot. But it comes across as a necessity to conclude issues that need quick wrapping up.

Beom Jin in court
Moo Hyeok in court

I don’t know how these things work, but I wish the drama could have been extended — not only because I love it so much and would have relished watching a few more hours worth of it, but because I genuinely think it could have done with about 2-4 more episodes. Some issues might have been able to be resolved a bit slower, and at a more natural pace.

This unanswered question

I am completely fine with unanswered questions; I dislike when dramas spoon-feed viewers information, something this drama was great about not doing. However, they might have taken that too far at the end when Beom Jin is murdered and…we have no idea who did it. Not only no idea, but no clue — nothing. Just a random hand belonging to a hooded figure that quickly injects him in the neck with something, and then walks off as Beom Jin seethes in anger and contorts in pain.

one of Beom Jin’s final moments

Like, seriously…who killed him? (If any of you have ideas, please drop them below because I’m genuinely curious as to what people think and couldn’t find much online about it.) I have guesses, of course. In a twisted and dark way, I kind of wanted it to be Byung Ho…I’m not even completely sure why, it just would have been such sweet poetic justice. For that matter, I could also totally see it being Ki Hoon. Or was it simply one of Beom Jin’s father’s men? Or Moo Hyeok’s hacker buddy? Someone from the police?

Or did I just completely miss some indication telling us who did it? In which case, I would take back everything I’m saying and hide in a corner for a bit because I would feel dumb. But I went back and rewatched some parts and still found nothing. If a fantastic villain character gets killed at the last minute, is it too much to ask that we are given a clue as to who it might have been? At the same time, I think I’m okay not knowing for certain and just believing what I want to believe.

Me believing what I want to believe (or, Beom Jin in court)

It’s clearly intentional that we aren’t given a solid answer as to who killed Beom Jin, but I hope it was meant to provoke thought rather than to merely dispose of him quickly. Since they didn’t need to kill him off for the sake of the story — Beom Jin’s presence on screen could have ended after his final showdown with Moo Hyeok — I lean towards the idea that it was indeed intended to provoke thought, something the writers clearly succeeded in because look at me writing about it in a blog post because I was deeply perturbed at his death. Well played, writers.

It lacked closure

In general, things didn’t seem wrapped up with most characters. I understand that there’s simply not time to show everyone’s ending (which goes back to the whole “I think it could have done with 2-4 more episodes” thing), but I really wanted some kind of closure with characters like Byung Ho, Joon Jae, and even Ye Ri and Ki Hoon.

Byung Hun as Byung Ho
Shin Jae Hwi as Joon Jae

If I harp on each character I’m curious about, we’ll be here all day, so I’ll try to keep my thought process concise. Let’s start with Byung Ho (Byung Hun) and Joon Jae (Shin Jae Hwi), both very crucial characters in the beginning, middle, and even later episodes. They were characters I was invested in and cared about (yes, even Joon Jae), and I’m a little disappointed that we don’t get much of an indication as to what happened to them. Did Joon Jae stay with the loan sharks or did he end up coming back to school as Beom Jin promised him? I know Byung Ho is seen briefly in the last episode, but that’s it. For characters who were pivotal in a lot of the early plotline, I wish we had been shown a little bit more of them in the end.

Choi Kyu Jin as Ki Hoon
Kim Myung Ji as Ye Ri

I understand why Ye Ri (Kim Myung Ji) and Ki Hoon (Choi Kyu Jin) were not focused on too much during the final episodes; earlier in the drama, these two drove a lot of the action because of their outspoken and emotionally-charged personalities. So when things begin centering on Beom Jin, it’s natural that they fade into the background a bit. That being said, I still wish we had been given more of these two in the end — at least a little more than the couple seconds of their faces during the courtroom and classroom scenes. It doesn’t feel like a proper goodbye to characters we’ve been watching develop for weeks.

All of this being said, I would probably have complained if we were given a neatly little perfectly packaged explanation as to what happened to every single character because that’s just silly and not how life works. (But let’s be real — who seeks realism when watching a K-drama?) Maybe I’m just super cinematically picky and hard to please.

Conclusion:

Moo Hyeok and Beom Jin face off

Once again, it comes down to the fact that I just wish we had been given a couple more episodes of Mr. Temporary. I absolutely loved it as a whole. The drama is so solid, and definitely rewatchable. It seems like the kind where you catch more details the more you watch it.

One thing is for certain — every single actor/actress did a superb job — this drama has a lot of incredibly gifted rookies and I’m so excited to keep up with these talented young people as they continue pursuing their careers in this industry.

Well, just as my intro is brief and to the point, I guess my conclusion will be too: on to the next drama! Happy watching, dear readers.

images source: OCN

And if you want another interesting read, be sure to check out my most recent post about the unique presentation of domestic abuse in the recent K-drama, At A Distance, Spring Is Green.

Would you rather listen? Check out my podcast: i dream of dramas

Or, you can follow my blog, Twitter, or Instagram accounts (also linked in my bio) to stay updated and also get some extra thoughts of mine that don’t necessarily always make it into my blog.

Why “Moment of Eighteen” Is The High School Drama We’ve All Been Waiting For

Oh, another cute but predictable high school drama? Sounds great, I need a filler anyways. That’s what my brain thought as I aimlessly clicked on episode 1 of Moment of Eighteen. Those who’ve seen the drama know how very wrong my brain was.

Ong Seong Wu and Kim Hyang Gi in “Moment of Eighteen”

Right from the get-go, Moment of Eighteen quickly dispels any notion that you’ve signed up for yet another cookie cutter high school drama (although we all know those have their time and place in our hearts…at least in mine). It’s truly unique and refreshing and has audiences pretty shook since most people seemed to — like me — initially believe they were getting ready to see the same old stuff. Alright, enough talk — let’s get right into it with what makes Moment of Eighteen so different and why it needs to be on your watchlist!

(Spoiler warning! Super minor, but there nonetheless.)

It’s not what anyone was expecting

Instead of following the recipe most high school kdramas tend to follow, this one totally goes on its own path, taking a sharp turn from the typical and vying for something new! It’s a breath of fresh air, but don’t just take my word for it because apparently I’m not the only one that finds it so.

Take a look at some things MyDramaList reviewers have said about Moment of Eighteen:

In short, if you’re on the hunt for something offbeat and original, Moment of Eighteen is the drama for you!

The main male lead is a rookie actor (and he’s killing it)

Ong Seong Wu as Joon Woo

Ong Seong Wu of former K-pop group Wanna One plays protagonist Joon Woo, a loner who recently transferred high schools. He’s quiet and observant, but also strong — and quick to stand up for himself when others try to push him around. He is incredibly independent, working part-time at a convenience store when he’s not attending school. He feels lonely often because of how much his single mom works. We’ve been given very little information about his dad, but I have a feeling we’ll be filled in on that aspect of his life in due time. So far we just know that his dad is not in his life, even though Joon Woo knows where he lives.

I was shocked to find out Ong Seong Wu had only ever done one short film before this role. His acting is incredibly mature and totally organic– he’s definitely got natural talent! He’s killing this role and I can’t wait to see more.

The second male lead is the antagonist

Shin Seung Ho as Hwi Young

We’ve all heard of second lead syndrome but is there such a thing as antagonist syndrome? If not, there certainly is now because Hwi Young is both the second male lead and the antagonist, and young actor Shin Seung Ho is rocking viewers to the core with his portrayal of Hwi Young, class president and top student in the entire school.

Although he’s the antagonist by definition, Hwi Young is a character to be sympathized with — and one I genuinely like a lot. Moment of Eighteen chose not to manufacture another typical antagonistic bully character who’s rude, disrespectful, and violent; instead, Hwi Young respects authority and is a gentlemen to the young women in his class. He works hard in his studies and even helps his classmates with theirs.

However, viewers are quickly privy to hints that everything is not as it seems with Hwi Young. He clearly has a soft spot for Soo Bin (our main female lead — I’ll get to her in a second), whom he genuinely likes. But he also seems to have a knack for manipulation and even cruelty — particularly to those whom he sees as beneath him but who won’t bow to his will, such as Joon Woo.

Although Hwi Young comes from a wealthy family, his home life is anything but cushy. Physical, psychological, and verbal abuse are an everyday part of his life — and as the viewer is allowed further into Hwi Young’s world, we see crippling insecurity and deep-rooted damage that might explain (not excuse) some of his behavior. He’s a fascinating character to observe and I’m excited to continue witnessing his development.

The female lead is actually relatable

Kim Hyang Gi as Soo Bin

Some female drama leads that are clearly meant to be relatable just end up being superficial, overly dramatic, klutzy, and/or just plain annoying. Thankfully, that’s not at all the case with our clever and cute leading lady, Yoo Soo Bin (Kim Hyang Gi).

Soo Bin is friendly, sweet, and works hard when it comes to academics. She can also be awkward and overthink things. She lives alone with her overbearing mother as her father works away from home. Although we haven’t been given a lot of information on her entire family yet, (just as with our male lead) I feel that there is more to come soon.

One of Soo Bin’s biggest struggles so far is her mother’s obsession with her academics. As is the drama’s style, her mom (played by Kim Sun Young) is not a one-dimensional character that’s blindly obsessed with her daughter getting good grades. Instead, it’s explained why she cares so much about Soo Bin’s academics, which we find out when she yells at Soo Bin that it’s important for her to work harder than those around her because she’s a woman living in a man’s world. (It makes you wonder what her mom’s relationship with Soo Bin’s absent dad is like…hm.)

The teacher is one you wish you had in school

Kang Ki Young as Oh Han Kyeol

Teacher Oh Han Kyeol (Kang Ki Young) is seriously amazing. He’s such a dream teacher, and not just because he’s a total cutie. It’s almost as though he remembers what it was like being a teenager and applies that to how he treats his students (imagine that!). He treats them with genuine care and respect while still maintaining his authority in the classroom.

It’s so easy to write off the teachers as insignificant, shallow characters in most dramas, but Teacher Oh is proving this doesn’t always have to be the case. He’s solidly one of my favorite characters so far, and although we don’t know much about his personal life yet, I can’t wait to find out more about him as the drama unfolds.

One of the things I find most respectful about him is that he roots for every single one of his students — even the ones the viewer might not be rooting for at the time. He truly wishes to be a reliable figure they can trust, while equipping them with knowledge to pursue their goals. I’ll stop gushing for now, but he’s just the best teacher ever and one of the coolest characters!

The melodic OST is gorgeous

Has anyone else noticed that lately dramas have been so on point with their original soundtracks? Well, this one is no exception. Ong Seong Wu’s beautiful voice is put to use singing Part 2 of the OST, entitled “Our Story”. Part 1 is called “Moments,” sung by Christopher. Here are the links to both in case you want to give them a listen (which is highly recommended):

“Our Story”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABAlZPbLtcE

“Moments”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEcNhCfdpTY

Concluding thoughts:

Everything about this drama is brilliant — the acting, directing, writing, cinematography, etc. Every single thing is thought out extensively and with care. The characters are multi-dimensional, even ones you might not expect to be; no one is there just for the heck of it. It’s as slice-of-life and coming-of-age as you could want in a high school drama. It’s about real issues young people face in society today.

In case it’s not clear how much I’m enjoying this drama, I’ll say it loudly for the people in the back: I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Go watch it. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll be left thinking even before the first episode is over. If you want predictability, by all means, watch a sweet high school drama—just not this one.

image source: http://tv.jtbc.joins.com/photo/pr10011069/pm10053847

hope amidst darkness: 5 Reasons To check out ‘Beautiful World’

This drama wrecked me. (In a great way…I adore it.) However, now that it has finished airing, I find myself longing to sneak back into that world for a little bit…so feel free to grab a cup of coffee, tea, or your comfort beverage of choice & join me as we take a look at some of the things about “Beautiful World” that we already miss.

[Warning! Only slight spoilers ahead, but spoilers nonetheless. You’ve been warned.]

These brother-sister relationships

One thing I love and miss about “Beautiful World” is the strong sibling bond portrayed between sibling pairs Seon Ho and Soo Ho, & Dong Hee and Dong Soo.

While Seon Ho is in a coma, his younger sister Soo Ho (Kim Hwan Hee) takes immediate action with fierce determination and limitless courage. She stands up for herself and others and will stop at nothing to find the truth surrounding her brother’s accident…regardless of who stands in her way.

Kim Hwan Hee as Soo Ho

Although we don’t get to see Seon Ho (Nam Da Reum) interact with Soo Ho much in current time (due to his unconscious state), viewers are privy to flashback glimpses of the awesome big brother Seon Ho is. He balances his sister’s spunk with a calm and gentle spirit. He’s even shown taking a vicious beating when the perpetrator threatens to hurt her. However, Seon Ho’s passivity only goes so far; when he witnesses bullying in his class, he won’t stay quiet.

Nam Da Reum as Seon Ho

Our second set of siblings is Dong Hee and Dong Soo, who are left to fend for themselves after their mother abandons them. Dong Hee (Lee Jae In) is miserable at school due to bullying, but hides the pain from her older brother, who she feels already has enough trouble raising her by himself. She is quiet and observant, and often catches things others don’t.

Lee Jae In as Dong Hee

Dong Hee’s older brother, Dong Soo (Seo Young Joo) , goes to high school and works a job to support himself and his little sister. He’s got a quick temper and a strong sense of justice, and often gets into fights. When Dong Hee finally opens up to him about what she’s been going through, he makes sure she knows that he is always there to support her.

Seo Young Joo as Dong Soo

This power couple

In Ha (Choo Ja Hyun) and Moo Jin (Park Hee Soon) are a middle aged couple with two teenage children — probably not everyone’s immediate visual when conjuring up an image of a power couple. But listen. These two are relationship goals. They go through a lot — and I do mean a lot — and instead of turning on each other, they grasp even tighter together.

Moo Jin and In Ha

They have extremely different personalities: In Ha is assertive and outspoken in her opinions while Moo Jin displays strength and care in a much gentler, quieter way. In Ha wants to act immediately while Moo Jin prefers to wait for the right moment and think things through thoroughly before taking action. They use their differences to support one another; when one is strong, the other leans on them for support until they can in turn be the strong one.

When the other parents turn against them and the police refuse to listen, In Ha and Moo Jin hold fastly to each other and take on the world together.

The villains

A drama isn’t half as enjoyable if the villains aren’t good. And by “good” I mean “bad” of course — and “bad” doesn’t even begin to skim the surface when it comes to the villains of “Beautiful World.”

Now we really could have our pick of antagonistic characters, but the core of the villainy undoubtedly lies with the Oh family. And boy, the dysfunction is real with these people. Only child Joon Seok (Seo Dong Hyun) is a vicious bully whose ability to manipulate those around him with ease is eerily frightening; Eun Joo (Cho Yeo Jeong) takes mother bear to the next level when she proves that she will do anything (yes, I mean anything) to protect her son; and patriarch Jin Pyo (Oh Man Seok) runs his household like he runs his life — it’s his way or the highway, and anyone who doesn’t comply will be sorry.

The OST

The original soundtrack of “Beautiful World” is absolutely gorgeous and caught my attention immediately. Rather than distracting the audience or pushing desired emotional effects on the viewer, the soundtrack supports the scene and blends smoothly into the drama. The songs are linked below if you’d like to give them a listen.

  1. Over The Moon” by Ha Eun and Han Bin
  2. Where Should I Go (A Beautiful Lie)” by Tiger JK and Bizzy
  3. Tears Of Love” by Kim Kyung Hee of April 2nd

The messages of hope & wisdom

Although the main events in “Beautiful World” occur because of societal atrocities such as school violence and corruption, the drama also presents viewers with messages that uplift, as well as some important life lessons:

  • In a world that can be overwhelmingly dark at times, there is beauty & hope found in the people you surround yourself with — which is why it’s important to surround yourself with those you trust.
  • It’s okay to not be okay. That doesn’t make you weak.
  • You may not be able to choose the family you’re born into, but you can choose how you live and behave.
  • It’s never okay to sit back and watch when you know something wrong is happening. Standing up for others and yourself may be frightening, but how you choose to act goes toward molding you into the person you will grow into.

Thank you for reading! Let me know in the comments what you think of “Beautiful World”!

images source: http://tv.jtbc.joins.com/photo/pr10011027/pm10051979

“Save Me” vs. “Save Me 2”: comparing OCN’s religious thriller series

If you’re reading this, I assume you’ve watched the first “Save Me” (2017) and have either begun the currently-airing “Save Me 2” or are at least mildly curious as to what all of the hullabaloo is about. Or else you’re my family, to whom I’ve sent a desperate message enlisting you all to read my work. In all cases, I quote the renowned words of Mia Thermopolis as I warmly thank you for being here today.

Starts off first blog post with a reference to “The Princess Diaries” while tackling two pseudo-religious cult dramas as subject matter…an auspicious start.

Let’s just dive right into it with some comparisons between the two dramas so far:

[Warning! Slight spoilers ahead; proceed with caution.]

Origins

Most of us are aware of this by now, but I’ll say it again for the people in the back: “Save Me 2” is not a sequel of “Save Me.” Don’t go into the second season expecting a continuation of the same story, or any of the same characters.

“Save Me” is based off of Jo Geum San’s webtoon “Out of the World”…

from “Out of the World” by Jo Geum San
webtoon.daum.net

…while “Save Me 2” is based off of the 2013 Korean movie “The Fake.”

“The Fake” movie poster

In fact, aside from the umbrella theme of a religious cult and the generally creepy vibes overall, the only thing the two dramas seem to share thus far is Jo Jae Yun:

as Jo Wan Tae in “Save Me”/as Shin Pil Koo in “Save Me 2”

Plot

(left to right) Woo Do Hwan, David Lee, Ha Hoe Jung, TaecYeon in “Save Me”

“Save Me” follows a young woman whose family is trapped in a pseudo-religious cult. Although isolated from society in the cult’s commune, she — along with four young men — risk their lives to expose its evils.

“Save Me 2” surrounds a town whose quiet existence is interrupted when a smiling church elder enters their lives. Unfortunately, the only one suspicious of the newcomer is a delinquent young man whose reputation isn’t exactly trustworthy….

Uhm Tae Goo and Cheon Ho Jin in “Save Me 2”

Female leads

Seo Ye Ji as Sang Mi in “Save Me”

Sang Mi (Seo Ye Ji) of “Save Me” is intelligent, quick-thinking, and courageous. After multiple failed attempts to escape the cult, she sets a plan into motion to expose it to the outside world, but not without the help of four friends. Through years of abuse and horrors, Sang Mi perseveres and proves she is a force to be reckoned with.

Esom as Young Sun in “Save Me 2”

Although Young Sun (Esom) in “Save Me 2” is still developing as a character as the drama airs, she has already proven to possess a quiet strength and endurance, working relentlessly to support herself and her mother while putting herself through school. Her older brother Min Cheol’s re-entrance into her life proves a difficult transition that brings up unpleasant memories she would just as soon forget.

Male leads

TaecYeon as Sang Hwan in “Save Me”

Sang Hwan and Dong Cheol (played by 2PM’s TaecYeon and Woo Do Hwan, respectively) are the two male leads of “Save Me.” Sang Hwan is a natural leader who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He is the first to reach Sang Mi and give her hope she holds to fiercely for the rest of the drama: the knowledge that she is not alone.

Woo Do Hwan as Dong Cheol in “Save Me”

Dong Cheol is thoughtful and focused, with a strong sense of justice that often gets him into trouble since he won’t back down from a fight. He fearlessly volunteers to enter the cult willingly and work from the inside. Along with two other close friends, Sang Hwan and Dong Cheol risk their lives executing their plan to save Sang Mi and expose the evils of the cult she is trapped in.

Uhm Tae Goo as Min Cheol in “Save Me 2”

Our leading male of “Save Me 2,” Min Cheol (Uhm Tae Goo), is unconventional to say the least. He is violent and abrasive, and can usually be found either gambling or drinking when he isn’t getting into fights. Min Cheol is one of the first in our drama to see through the phony church elder’s charade, but is having a difficult time finding evidence to prove what he knows.

Esom and Uhm Tae Goo in “Save Me 2”

Min Cheol and his younger sister Young Sun are not close — a rift intensified by the years he spent in prison. However, the two seem to share a deep bond, perhaps due to the violent abuse they endured as children. Whatever unspoken memories lay beneath the surface, each interaction between the siblings is teeming with tension. The brother-sister dynamic is by far my favorite relationship in the drama and I’m eating up every minute they share on-screen as we watch them ever-so-slowly begin to unfold.

Comic relief

Uhm Tae Goo and Baek Soo Jang in “Save Me 2”

This may seem like an odd category, but one of the first things that struck me as I began “Save Me 2” is how genuinely funny it is at some parts. The drama contains a lot more comedy relief than one might initially assume, especially considering its categorization by most as a psychological thriller.

It is actually quite disconcerting to find myself watching this heavy, dark drama…and chuckling like a goof at certain parts. *slow clap to director Lee Kwon for getting me to feel slightly psychotic as I laugh during a religious cult thriller drama* Well done, sir. If that isn’t psychological thrill, I don’t know what is. I suppose that just as quiet is much more significant after noise, terror is far more acute when surrounded by lightheartedness.

“Save Me” — on the other hand — is essentially void of comic relief. If you’re looking for a break between the tension, this isn’t the drama for you (but it’s utterly excellent, so I mean…you should give it a shot anyway). Thank goodness for David Lee‘s brilliant comedic timing in his portrayal of the lovable Jung Hoon, whose cheeky attitude (especially with his cop father) provides some of the drama’s sparse lighter moments.

David Lee and Kim Kwang Kyu in “Save Me”
dagotsu

Final thoughts

Through all of the comparisons between “Save Me” and “Save Me 2,” the two dramas both raise some thought-provoking questions:

  1. How far will hopeless people go to find something they can believe in or hang on to?
  2. How do these leaders get people to follow them? (It’s fascinating to watch the subtle manipulation tactics used.)
  3. Would the dramas be as creepy if the antagonists were some otherworldly beings instead of just…humans?
Cheon Ho Jin as Choi Kyung Seok in “Save Me 2”
Thank you for reading! What do you think of "Save Me 2" so far? 
Let me know in the comments!

image sources:

http://program.tving.com/ocn/saveme2/8/Board/List http://program.tving.com/ocn/saveme/8/Board/List