Director: Yoo Chul Yong (All In)
Starring: Ji Seong (All In), Sung Yu Ri (The Snow Queen), Lee Wan and Yoo Oh Sung
Synopsis, found here:
An illegitimate child of a hooligan and a fisherwoman.
Jung Woo was left at an orphanage as soon as he was born. He has nothing, has no one to lean on, no hope or future in his life – he lives as a lowlife gangster. Then, the first opportunity to change his life is given to him. He saves the life of the fabulously wealthy, well-known, and powerful President Jang. For this opportunity, he is willing to throw away his soul. And he goes to Seoul in search of President Jang’s son Tae Hyuk.
In order to pass Tae Hyuk’s “test,” he must do anything – steal, cheat, fight, and do absolutely everything to move one woman’s heart towards Tae Hyuk. Surprisingly, this woman is Soo Hyun, Jung Woo’s first love.
Ever since they were young, JungWoo has loved Soo Hyun ; she is the one woman who is in his heart although she doesn’t return it. She can’t even remember him from their childhood, and he watches her becoming close with Tae Hyuk. Jung Woo later learns that his father was a cruel, vicious man, becoming devastated and realizes he can’t approach Soo Hyun with his love.
Jung Woo ends up taking the blame for Tae Hyuk’s crime, and he goes to prison. Soon, Soo Hyun becomes slowly attracted to Jung Woo, making Tae Hyuk even more obsessive over her. Now, Jung Woo must find his soul again and search for the love he lost long ago.
This was one of the first Korean dramas I shared with John. I think it's one of the best Korean shows I've watched, to this day. It's a sweeping, multi-layered drama with great characterization, filmed on-site at Jeju Island, Africa, Las Vegas... and did I mention it features a lot about Cirque Du Soleil? Can't hate that.
My only quibble is this: Soo Hyun, played by Sung Yu Ri, was an amazingly one-dimensional character, which I found extremely disturbing because I know Sung Yu Ri is a talented actress. She played a great character in The Snow Queen. So having that background, coupled with having seen All In by the same director, I can only conclude that the director doesn't care to have his female leads take any of the attention away from his male leads. He likes them quiet and in the background, where he no doubt believes they belong. Which is me completely making shit up based on little evidence, so I conveniently dismiss this disturbing thought based on nothing but my love of Swallow the Sun.
I am lucky enough to have found a friend at work who also loves Korean dramas---this must be Seattle!---and I suggested this drama for a "K-drama night" she hosted at her house recently. To be brutally honest, the feedback from the group was "damn that boy is hot, but let's stick to romantic comedies! Like Coffee Prince." Meh, I am a rebel soul -- gimme my sad and heartfelt dramas that make me cry like a split onion!
Not that I didn't cry a little on Coffee Prince, mind you.