Wednesday, July 04, 2012


   I had my reasons I didn't want to start this drama. Park Giwung scares the living crap out of me and I knew they casted him for a reason. A good, scary reason. Nevertheless, since it's a period drama, I had to check even the first episode, and I sinked. Sinked so deep that I can say hello to Satan himself through his roof.
There is one distinctive trait that separates certain dramas from the rest, some are based on written text preceding the screenplay. This way, a drama usually avoids plotholes, sudden losing of substance or sudden changes that disrupt the flow. I wrote "usually", because sometimes this happens also to said series. And some original works can keep pace and idea clear.

   First, so far, after 11 episodes the story is tight, neat and packed with details. All characters are solid (main heroine is slightly dumb, but this happens everywhere, not only in Kdramaland) thanks to strong performances from all actors. I don't know how they decided those actors would fit their roles, but they fit perfectly. Like Tasha, the Angel Club owner, she is one of those rare female characters in dramas I'm (no, stop!) so curious, yeah! about. Plus Choi Daehun playing Lee Haesuk (that chingu sitting all the time in the Club, or hating on his step-mom, the Countess) - he's awesome, so natural I wonder why I don't see him more often. Plus of kors - Jun Nomin :D

   Second - the settings. Oh yes, I mentioned the watches or haircuts, whatever, I can live with that. I'm not the person who drops or stops liking the drama because of such small details. I couldn't forgive mirrors in Silla, but I doubt I'd drop the drama anyway. I like when in dramas they leave houses from time to time and shoot scenes outside. The ideal was what Padam Padam did - this drama is basically shot outside. So I like all those trees, fabulous forests of Manchuria, groves, fields, etc.
What's also worth mentioning is the way of filming it - movie-like and also using ADHD camera technique.

   Music - very wide. There are similar tunes to Chuno OST in terms of fusion - chorals and modern music. Very powerful, ominous and heavy. Oh well, "Goodbye Day" by Ulala Session is an awesome song too, I won't lie.

   Now, the story. It is set in the 30's when Korea didn't exist on world maps, but was one of Japan Empire's provinces. A rich province, to just add, in terms of mineral resources and exploitation of people. The country was also a testing ground for the army - if Imperial Army needed more uniforms - all south of the peninsula was turned into cotton fields. People have no place to grow rice to eat? Who cares?

   It was a dark period in Korean history. And as a person whose country suffered exactly the same fate - I can actually relate to every single form of oppression shown here. But we didn't have Gaksital... We bled in rebellions and insurrections.
Most of the Japanese officials were of military status, of course, and the drama (I'm referring only to drama since I just read one chapter once) shows that there are bad Japanese and not that bad Japanese. It shows that there are bad Koreans and not that bad Koreans. I laud the efforts of showing that history is not only black and white. Koreans burned Kangto's house down, and we have collaborators, traitors here embedded in one girl -  Gye Sun. And I especially like Konno Goji (played by Kim Eungsu). His mission in life is ruined because of Kishokai and what's worse - he's the one left in complete darkness. He has absolutely no idea what's going on. But he has a nice goal - to get rid of Kimura Taro. I'd handed him the bullets.


   Our main hero, borderline psychotic fucked-up kid, acquired another personality after taking over his dead brother's task. Dead because it was Kangto who shot him (I used all tissues I had). Oh well, another stone for his already heavy soul. Like he needed another one.
And now here small digression, Kangto is nowhere near as disgusting and hideous as Bidam that some people are mentioning. Both suffer, yeah yeah... Kangto knows he's doing a dirty job, and he's doing it with a shutdown consciousness. Bidam enjoyed killing, he had no empathy whatsoever. All that crying that Bidam did - it was because HE was misunderstood, HE was hurt etc. he had other people up his (nice) ass. Megalomania and coldness made him a monster. Kangto, comparing to him, is a kid in the sandbox.

Not saying Kangto is a nice character, he is not. But he has reasons behind - as simple as surviving at all cost. Plus, Kangto is one smart guy (I just loved his retort when Shunji ordered him to watch over the Circus for 24/7), but we all know that a smart guy + love = retard. Let's live and see.
The real psycho here and a tragic character is Shunji. He was a disgrace to Kimura family being a teacher who liked Korean culture and Korean girl. After his brother's death (again, the award goes to Kangto), Shunji shed his skin and is turning now into a monster, played perfectly by scary Park. To make the girl hate him, he tortures her with Kangto's hands (I know I shouldn't say that, but this whip was... oh gutter). Oh, she hates both of them just fine, I guess. The problem is - Mok Dan is the first, almost forgotten love of our main psycho...

   The Kishokai organization is a powerful group of people, like a syndicate, controlling absolutely everything. Two people stay on their way - one is Konno and other is Gaksital. So of course the former needs to be discredited and the latter killed. Such organisms and their power fascinated me for some time in the past, and still it's a huge potential and also a leitmotif in many movies/dramas/books, but this proves its vitality.

   I mentioned that the main heroine is a bit dull. Oh yes, she fights etc. but, I don't know, maybe it's the actress fault I can't somehow connect to her? As I said, it's not only Kdrama problem. It's recurring pain in the neck. Literature is full of such women. Male characters are almost always more complicated, detailed, interesting. Their feelings are more profoundly explored. This is the reason actors have better material to work with. Our both male characters here possess broad range of emotions to use and show and this allows the actor to show more. This is why male characters seem deeper. Plus, all women around the world seem horribly ignorant. A guy standing 1 meter from you has eyes glittering with tears and that doesn't spark a tiny bit of curiosity on why would he cry?
Here's the same, both Kangto and Shunji are fascinating characters, rich in texture and deep with layers, Kimura Taro fascinates in the same way a cobra does. So many interesting and multidimentional characters.

   One more thing. People hate me because I correct errors around. But I have to. Gaksital is not a mask used in Korean shamanism. It is used in talchum, tallori (tal-nori, hence gaksital) that is a wide variety of forms of performance, a play including dancing, saying, singing, music and acrobatics. Gaksi denotes only an unmarried girl. The fact that tallori has as one of the roots shamanistic elements should not be confused with putting an equality mark between mask and shamanism. Saying gaksital is used in shamanism is simply an error.

End of my ranting. I could do more since no one involved reads this blog, eh...