philosophy at age eight

“If you cannot control your peanut butter, you cannot expect to control your life.”
~ Judah-ism

Sunday, February 9, 2014

nine (korean drama)

Nine (Otherwise known as Nine: 9 Times Time Travel / Nine: Nine Time Travels) (2013)
Director: Kim Byung Soo
Starring: Lee Jin Wook (Powerful Opponents), Jo Yoon Hee

Synopsis, found here:
Anchorman Park Sun Woo (Lee Jin Wook) is consumed by a family tragedy that haunts him to this day. One day, he stumbles upon a mystical gift of nine incense, each with the ability to send him back into time. Sun Woo begins to weave in and out of history, creating shockwaves that unravel the fabric of time. Meanwhile, his brother Park Jung Woo (Jeon No Min) is revealed to be at the center of the tragedy. Can he avenge his family and win back the love of junior reporter Joo Min Young (Jo Yoon Hee)? Only time can tell in this thrilling adventure of possibilities.


I was surprised how little fanfare this drama got. It actually slipped right by me with barely a flicker. Perhaps I was not in the right place at the right time. I discovered the drama after the fact by searching for action/ adventure dramas on DramaFever. To be honest, the description put me off slightly, with such a sheepish premise.  Incense stick time machine?! However, since I had really liked Lee Jin Wook in Powerful Opponents (2008), I put it in my queue and forgot about it for months.

As happens, I reached my tolerance threshold for cutsie romantic comedies, and went looking for something serious and intense. I'm really glad I gave Nine a chance, because it's my favorite Kdrama of 2013, hands down. Despite what you'd expect from the description, I found it to have a unique story, and to carry both emotional and intelligent elements with finesse. The pacing was a bit slow for me, as always with Korean dramas, but less so than many I've seen, and it wasn't bad enough to prevent me from watching the entire show in a single weekend. Shit, was I a wrung-out dish towel at the end of that stint.

Park Sun Woo, main male lead, is a news anchorman who just
learned he's got about 3 months to live. 
Park Sun Woo (played by Lee Jin Wook) was a very compelling character. So were his ears -- you could always tell things were getting emotional when they started popping up and down. Pretty fascinating stuff.  He was very well-rounded and engaging, nothing over-acted and always sympathetic.

Park Sun Woo's best friend and doctor, Han Young Hoon, was a great character. The actor they got to play him as a teenager was a perfect piece of casting. Young Hoon provided comedy and an emotional foil for Sun Woo; he grounded the show. While Sun Woo flipped around to past and present, plotting to save his brother, save his father (everyone but himself), Young Hoon kept him and those of us watching grounded in reality. Even while he raved about God and Devils. 

Park Sun Woo and his friend, Han Young Hoon
Han Young Hoon (teenage version)

Beside an overacting villain, the only ho-hum part of Nine was the female lead, Joo Min Young, played by Jo Yoon Hee. I found her character surprisingly boring. I wondered why anyone would suffer such flaming passion for such a boring person. I don't know if it's the writing of the female lead or the actress. She wasn't unconvincing, emotion-wise... simply not compelling.  Especially lined up against Park Sun Woo.

After the emotional roller coaster of episodes 1-19, the final episode (20) wrapped up the show in such a perfect way. I'm too used to the last episode of Korean dramas absolutely ruining the show for me, so this is worth mentioning. (See Iris, A love to kill, I'm sorry, I love you, Chuno and so many others...) But Nine ends ends on the perfect note.  This almost never happens. Bravo.

My husband and I are still trying to pinpoint what implications of the very last scene are. He believes one thing... I see it as being somewhat open for interpretation. :)  What do you think it meant?

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