[Soju Drama Queen] Review of “The World that They Live in 그들이사는세상”
Falling under the heading of “How in the heck did I miss this one?”, ‘World Within’, also known as ‘The World That They Live In’, is a hidden gem, to be sure. It wasn’t on anyone’s ‘Must See’ lists. It wasn’t on KoreanDrama.org’s ‘Most Shared’ list either. Yet it stars Hyun Bin (Mr. Gorgeous, himself) and Song Hye Kyo of ‘Full House’ fame and now starring in the new drama ‘That Winter, The Wind Blows’.
Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10
Ok, so it’s a drama about making dramas, which in and of itself can be somewhat tiring as a theme. The writer, however, took off in a nice direction: “Live Your Life Like a Drama.” Focusing episodically on different characters in the drama production company, the writer (and actors) were able to make truly interesting characters real. Had it just been a story of how dramas are made and the stresses involved, the drama probably would have been a flop. This however, was about character development.
Script/Acting: My rating 8/10
Those now familiar with my peculiar tastes, may know that I have a particular fondness for great characters and good character development. This drama sported some unusually complex characters. Painstaking attention to detail was used in creating realism in the characteristics of the players. Our heroine learns to love and respect countless personalities that she (and the audience, to be sure) despises at first blush, by coming to understand the human side of their nature rather than just the surface characteristics. Take Bae Jung Ok as actress Yoon Young: at first glance a promiscuous, shallow and completely unlikable persona develops into a rich, complex, intelligent, strong woman who knows herself well, including her weaknesses.
There are frustratingly realistic relationship woes – people so wrapped up in their own twisted feeling that they can’t express what they really feel. Frustrating in the sense that we can empathize with the feelings, not that it creates dissatisfaction in the viewing. Even the people we see as total jerks or idiots in the beginning (sorry, Uhm Ki Ju and Daniel Choi) become real human beings by the end of the drama without sacrificing their personality traits one iota in doing so.
The relationship between Jung Ji Oh (Hyun Bin) and Joo Joon Young (Song Hye Kyo) was also convincing and captivating. Real love, real fights (about real issues), real break-ups and make-ups. Nothing seemed forced or inauthentic.
The cast, by the way was stellar: Along with those mentioned above – Seo Hyo Rim (Sungkyunkwn Scandal, Scent of A Woman, Me, Too, Flower), Kim Yeo Jin (Can You Hear My Heart, Road Number One), Lee Joon Hyuk (City Hunter, Secret Garden, City Hall, Equator Man) and veteran actors like Kim Gab Soo (Sungkyunkwn Scandal, Cinderella’s Sister, Chuno), Kim Chang Wan (Coffee Prince, Iljimae, Queen of Reversals), Kim Ja Ok (Coffee Prince, High Kick Through the Roof), Lee Ho Jae (Goong, Flames of Ambition), Na Young Hee (Rooftop Prince, Baby-Faced Beauty, Style), and the inimitable Yoon Yeo Jung (King 2 Hearts, Unexpected You, Can Your Hear My Heart, What’s Up Fox).
Cinematography: My rating 8/10
The cinematography for a drama about dramas would be expected to be exemplary. I will admit that I was not disappointed. Fun and interesting tidbits enticed my sense throughout the series. The retelling of an old story was acted out ‘Broadway-stage-style’ by the main characters with spot lighting and stage set-up. The directors’ imaginings were dramatized using pencil/pastels for one director, photo-shop style for another. Great special effects abounded – fun (or sad, as the case may be) dissolves as fantasies faded, etc.
The locations were limited but put to good use. Great lighting and sound.
Music: My rating 6/10
While the music was appropriate to the drama, there was nothing that I’m going to go running after to put on my iPod.
The ballad is really nice, though: ‘Care’ sung by Sung Si Kyung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NaVjjnMrPE
“It Was You All Along” Kim Jo Han (Spanish subs was all I could find!) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBR9a21jlNQ
Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10
There was an ineffable quality to this drama that made everything work. I loved the characters. I loved the tensions. I loved the theme. I loved the realism. The writer did a remarkable job creating memorable people that I wanted to empathize with. Not something I can say about every drama.
Put this one on your ‘To Be Watched” list!