It’s a Fantasy. It’s a Melodrama. It’s Science Fiction. It’s Romance.
Director Kim Byung Soo and Screenwriters Song Jae Jung and Kim Yoon Joo, the time-travel dream team that created “Queen Inhyun’s Man” teamed up again to create another stunning drama. It’s like “The Monkey’s Paw” in drama form – a tale in which what the granting of a special power – in this case, going back in time to fix things that went awry in the past – comes with horrible consequences when hitherto unknown side effects occur as a result. Everyone knows that mucking around with timelines is a bad idea, right?
And yet, I found myself desperately wondering, from episode to episode, how and if everything was going to be set to rights.
Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10
Park Sun Woo is a TV anchorman who has been hiding his love for fellow reporter Joo Min Young for five years. His father died years ago in a tragic fire. His mother lost her sanity. His brother wandered aimlessly for years until Sun Woo learned of his death in Tibet. Left behind in his belongings are incense sticks that when lit have a more than curious effect: they transport the individual who lights the incense back 20 years in time. After realizing what it does, Sun Woo decides to travel back and change things around a bit – save his father, bring the culprit responsible for his father’s death to justice and try to make his brother happy by allowing him to marry the girl he chose, but of whom dad disapproved.
The change is managed, but it also set in motion a future far different from the one Sun Woo had hoped for. With 8 more incense sticks, can he set things back on the right track and still keep everyone happy?
Here’s the trailer (Sorry – I couldn’t find one with English subbing!)
Lee Jin Wook, who starred as Park Jung Woo, the main character of our story, is one of my new favorite actors. He recently starred in “I Need Romance” (2012), “Myung Wol the Spy” (2011), and “City of Glass” (2008). His acting style is a little understated but powerful, nonetheless. His ability to convey, with a glance, emotions that are hard to script is incontestable.
Park Hyung Shik who played Park Sun Woo in his younger iteration was also quite compelling. Before I looked up the cast list I kept looking at this young man knowing I had seen him somewhere before finally realizing I had innumerable pictures of him on my hard drive from the Korea Times Music Festival at the Hollywood where he was moonlighting in his ‘second’ job as a member of Ze:A.
Joo Min Young was portrayed by actress Jo Yoon Hee. While the character was likeable and engaging the ‘couple-hood’ of the two main leads was not as appealing. Both characters were very charismatic in their own right and I found myself cheering them on despite the fact that I just did not “ship” those two.
Jun Noh Min played the part of Park Jung Woo, Sun Woo’s brother. The character was a challenging one as he changed personalities frequently depending on the timeline involved. His was a character that, while weak and somewhat wretched, commanded empathy from the viewers. Seo Woo Jin played the young Jung Woo. The emotional struggles of the young man were perceptively portrayed.
And let’s not forget Lee Seung Joon who played Sun Woo’s best friend Dr. Han Young Hoon, a type A personality if ever there was one. Nervous, excitable, constantly worrying but always supportive and ready to give good advice, the quirky doctor added a certain amount of comic relief with his high energy angst. His younger self, played by Lee Yi Kyung might be a familiar face to those who watched School 2013. Although he did not get a lot of screen time, his character was was the perfect foil to the young, serious Sun Woo.
Cinematography: My rating 9/10
Due to the fantasy nature of the drama – time travel, alternate timelines, timelines changing abruptly – special effects were definitely needed and most expertly accomplished. No cheesy, low budget sci fi effects here. Everything was tastefully and artistically filmed. The use of the incense smoke as a method of change – the ‘up in smoke’ changeovers, as it were, were creatively done and effectively used.
In episode 11 there’s a musical number with fabulous cinematography featuring creative close-ups, wonderful blurs and great lighting as Sun Woo chases around town in the rain, searching for Min Young.
The filming in the Himalayas was beyond spectacular. In fact, I very much enjoyed so many aspects of the cinematography in this drama.
Music: My rating 7/10
If you like ballads, this OST is one you’ll definitely enjoy! The music commissioned for this drama was poignant and beautiful.
“Nine Scents” Lee Ji Hye http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8ChD6uZpCM
My favorite: “Because It’s You” Kim Yeon Woo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtFl3MkfSro
“Oh Please” Natthew http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8BHCz7AniQ
A close runner up: “Just a Little Bit” Urban Zakapa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-zQBV97kxY
Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10
Compelling characters, great cinematography, nice music and an intriguing storyline. The only thing that could have mucked it up would be a bad ending, but happily the ending was perfect. Enigmatic, somewhat thought-provoking. No loose ends, but no hasty, conveniently tied up knots, either. My kind of ending. Happy sigh.
For a drama that didn’t get great ratings or much attention, I was more than pleasantly surprised. This drama will go on the favorites list.