Jirisan (2021)

Drama: Jirisan (지리산)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Release Date: October 23 – December 12, 2021
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:00

This drama is about the national park rangers of Jirisan.

Main Cast
Jun Ji Hyun – Seo Yi Gang
Ju Ji Hoon – Kang Hyun Jo
Sung Dong Il – Jo Dae Jin
Oh Jung Se – Jung Gu Yeong
Jo Han Chul – Park Il Hae
Joo Min Kyung – Lee Yang Sun
Go Minsi – Lee Dawon

I didn’t know what I was expecting to see in Jirisan. All I know it’s a drama starring the JJH couple – Jun Ji Hyun and Joo Ji Hoon and I was sold. Thus, episode 1 was an unexpected surprise. Sexy leads? Fantastic secondary leads? Grand rescue attempts? and then what? One of the leads show up on a wheelchair and the other is in a coma? Count me in!!!

I was definitely invested in watching because I want to know what happened that snowy day. There were a lot of red herrings along the way, although halfway through I already had a guess who is the killer (he looks too guilty and there’s no other person who has a possible motive). Was I surprised by the reveal and the real reason behind the killings? Not really. But I though the fate of the killer was just right. The killer messed with the mountain, and the mountain punished him (but why took the mountain so long to punish him???). And no one even knew what the killer was doing all these years!!!

The drama may be confusing for some, as it flips back and forth in the past and in the present time. But I honestly liked it and didn’t feel confused. I thought the story telling was alright — we start with how we first met Hyun Jo and Yigang, jumped to the present, then slowly went back to the past year and we see their journey on what happened and what could have happened leading to the snowy day. And to get to the bottom of the story, the drama also went back further to 30 years ago, and linked it back to the present.

What I loved most about this drama is the episodic cases the rangers face on a daily basis. I didn’t feel bored at all. I was interested in seeing them, and how they were able to write dangers of rescuing people esp during calamities like flood, rain, heavy snow, and fires. I didn’t realize how much they risk their lives everyday for hikers (some of them stupid).

I did feel that this would have been even better if the story was more slice of life about the rangers rather than a murder mystery fantasy case.

I loved the special bond between the leads. I couldn’t quite put a name of their bond. Is this bond as partners, or best friends, or could it have been more? Yigang probably felt guilty for what happened to Hyun Jo and wanted to help finish what he started, but I also wish that they also had more romance – it could have made the reason why Yigang was so emotionally invested and the ending even more impactful. I was expecting a dramatic kissing scene atop Jirisan too bad, but we didn’t get it. I still squealed when they stared at each other across the screen.

This drama is probably the only kdrama I can remember where the main leads didn’t have a love story as I was expecting (Cmon, JJH couple sounds and looks so sexy! I also think Jun Ji Hyun doesn’t do romance or kissing scenes that much). However, the secondary couple’s love story (Guyeong and Yangsun) was so sweet and beautiful, it made up for it. Guyeong crying Yangsun’s name over and over again when she got swept away by the water was heartbreaking. Oh Jung Se is a wonderful actor. And in the last episode where Guyeong was reminiscing about their relationship and showing his promotion was just 😭😭😭. I’m sad that they never found Yangsun’s body, but I remember she said that she wanted to travel the world. So I’m just imagining that when she got swept away by the river, the water continues to flow and her body (spirit) is still traveling around the country like she wanted to.

Another character I didn’t expect to exit so early is Dawon!! I thought she was going to be the bridge between Yigang and Hyun Jo since Hyun Jo can’t talk to Yigang, so that was a big shock to me. I also feel bad that people may have forgotten about her after a year. I’m still not happy with the lottery winning girl who caused Yangsun’s accident and wanting to become a ranger. Ugh! I can’t!

I also loved the 2 buddies, Gu Yeong, Ilhae plus the rest of the team. Except for the main villain, you can see and feel the support and they give each other whenever there are issues and dangers in their rescue efforts.

I wasnt really minding the soundtracks but after the ending, I listened to each one again and bought the OST 😀. Personal favorites are Falling (Kim Jong Wan), Little Garden (Taeyeon) and Always with You (Paul Kim).

Rating: 8.75/10 (8.5 story + 0.25 for the leads)

Along With The Gods: Last 49 Days (2018)

Movie: Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days (신과함께-인과 연)
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Runtime: 141 min.
Genre: Fantasy / Drama / Afterlife
Distributor: Lotte Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

The sequel to the smash hit continues from the first movie but this time revealing the stories of the 3 guardians.

Main Cast
Ha Jung Woo – Gangrim
Ju Ji Hoon – Hae Won Maek
Kim Hyang Gi – Duk Choon
Lee Jung Jae – King Yeomra
Ma Dong Seok – House God
Kim Dong Wook – Kim Su Hong
Do Kyung Soo – Won Il Byung
Lee Joon Hyuk – First Lt Park

The theme of the sequel is about forgiveness. This time it’s Kim Su Hong’s turn to go through the trial. But turns out this movie is more about the story of the 3 guardians — who are they, where did they come from and how they became guardians — and not really about Suhong’s. Just like Suhong, I felt like the trial was just a convenient excuse to go through the final judgment and reveal all the twists (which were a lot!)

In the first movie, Gangrim was in Seoul and the other 2 were with Jahong. Now it’s the other way around. The 2 were in Seoul trying to find out what happened to them while Gangrim was obsessed with winning Suhong’s case. In Seoul, the storyteller was the Housegod, while Suhong was the person prodding Gangrim to tell his story. The action/effects in the underworld wasn’t as extensive as the first movie, the 2 biggest scenes were when they were at sea and the weird scene with the dinosaurs (someone’s a fan of Jurassic Park!). In Seoul, the story about the Housegod and the old man and the kid weren’t as compelling as the first movie’s story about Suhong’s death.

Suhong’s character was a little annoying so I didn’t really care much about his case. Or maybe it was because he didn’t really have a story to tell. He was just coming along with Gangrim and waiting for his trial. He didn’t really had to do anything. But I loved how perceptive he was in catching Gangrim’s real motive. Although I already predicted halfway through the story that the 3 guardians will somehow have an illfated relationship with each other, it was still shocking to find out how what it was and why they ended up being guardians. It’s almost like Goblin kdrama’s backstory without the romance. Ha Jung Woo again was amazing, Ju Ji Hoon was funny and Kim Hyang Gi was precious. Lee Jung Jae as the king was added an interesting concept.

The final reveal about Gangrim’s father was the last twist I didnt expect!! If only Gangrim knew all along!! I loved what he said:

Did the thousand years of regret feel like hell?

No. The fact that I cannot beg for his forgiveness and that I cannot be forgiven. That has been my worst hell.

This second one had more stories than the first so the scenes flipflopped from the underworld, to Seoul, to Gangrim’s story and to Hae Won Maek and Duk Choon’s story. A little long but still enjoyed every scene. Not sure if they will ever make part 3, because they wrapped up everyone’s story, but I wouldnt mind seeing the 3 guardians again!

Rating: 8.5/10

Along With The Gods: Two Worlds (2017)

Movie: Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds (신과함께-죄와 벌)
Release Date: December 20, 2017
Runtime: 139 min.
Distributor: Lotte Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

This is about a fireman who died saving someone from the fire and was guided by the 3 guardians. If he is able to pass the 7 levels in 49 days then he will be reincarnated.

Main Cast
Cha Tae Hyun – Kim Ja Hong
Ha Jung Woo – Gang Rim
Ju Ji Hoon – Hae Won Maek
Kim Hyang Gi – Duk Choon
Kim Dong Wook – Kim Su Hong
Do Kyung Soo – Won Il Byung
Lee Joon Hyuk – First Lt Park
Ye Soo Jung – Kim Ja Hong’s mom

I already watched this in 2017 and rewatched it today. Mainly because I’m been binge watchinging Ha Jung Woo’s movies and also watching Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Dong Wook’s current dramas (Police University and You Are My Spring).

I loved the action and the effects. I was bawling the first time I watched this but this time around I only cried at the last level. Some of the situations maybe dramatic and emotional but it made me think and reflect about my own life. If I died and had to go through the same levels will I pass or fail?

Sometimes I feel like the levels were unfair. It’s hard to judge a person because of 1 incident in the past or when you were younger, it’s not as if Ja hong was a repeat offender. Let’s face it, every human has lied, stolen, felt greedy and jealous, had evil thoughts at some point in our lives. That doesn’t make us evil and go straight to hell, that’s what makes us human in the first place. If everyone was perfect then we will all be robots and the world will be paradise. But then what’s the point of living if it gets too boring?

i also loved the cameos of top movie stars acting as the gods in each level. This movie also had some light and funny moments, mostly from Ju Ji Hoon’s character, who reminded me of his Hyena character. I super love Ha Jung Woo, he just looks so cool the entire time with his long black coat and those eyes and voice 🥰

Now i’m off to watch the sequel. I’m looking forward to Kim Su Hong’s story (although not sure what other story there is if we already know what happened to him?)

Rating: 9/10

Hyena (2020)

Drama: Hyena (하이에나)
Network: SBS
Episodes: 16
Release Date: February 21 – April 11, 2020
Runtime: Friday & Saturday 22:00

To survive in a highly competitive environment, two rival attorneys with only high-class clientele tear apart anything that stands in the way of their ambition.

Main Cast
Ju Ji Hoon – Yoon Jee Hae
Kim Hye Soo – Jung Geum Ja

Gah!! I loved this drama!! The flashy directing and styling, the posh office, the trendy suits and the intense story are reminiscent of Suits. I’m surprised this show came from SBS – it looked more like a cable tv drama.

Where do I start? I didn’t know I needed to see Kim Hye Soo and Ju Ji Hoon pairing until I saw this drama! Kim Hye Soo was amazing as the rough and street wise Jung Geum Ja. She is tough and willing to do what it takes (legally of course) to win her cases. Yoon Hee Jae is the complete opposite – he is suave, smart and polished. He is used to winning his cases but is at a loss when he gets pwned by Geum Ja every single time. He can’t believe he got duped by a “trash” and fell in love. The worst was in that episode where Hye-won poured wine on Hee Jae’s head and Geum Ja saw and made fun of his humiliation.
I have to say, what Geum Ja did at the start was really awful but Hee Jae should have been smart enough to know that he is being played. I was wondering how they can get past that when people find out their secret. I believe Geum Ja also somehow fell in love with Hee Jae even when she was playing him, except that she is not a romantic and prefers to stick to her goal. At this point in her life, she is hungry for money and success and does not need love to complicate and confuse her.
I loved their angry dog-cat fights, their witty back and forth taunts and their too potent sexual tension coming off every time they are near each other. That “push Hee Jae to the wall and kiss him deeply”, all the drinks and real talks they shared, and that one and only bed scene.
It took some time for Hee Jae to like and respect Geum Ja but once he did and they started working together as a team, they were unstoppable! Although they didn’t end up together romantically in the end, I didn’t mind because being equal partners is even better. and I’m sure that Geum Ja can buy her dream building in a few years’ time (with Hee Jae’s help).
I love their little legal team of misfits – from the cute rookie lawyer, Geum Ja’s sweet secretary, pretty and feisty Ms Boo, funny Atty Ga, sharp minded Atty Kim and police detective Joo Ho.
As for the legal cases, the main stories revolve around Issume Holdings and Chairman Son, so every 1-2 episodes is either about the son or the daughter or the mistress, etc until we are able to connect the dots and find out the bigger secret why Issume is so important to Song & Kim. I liked each case and how Geum Ja/Hee Jae handled them. The worst guy is Attorney Song – I really liked him at first when I thought he was Hee Jae’s mentor until we learn that he is the a$$ that has been manipulating his wife, his clients, even the government all along! Feel bad for Hee Jae – he was betrayed by Atty Song and further disillusioned with his father.
The inclusion of Kevin as AP EON was great! it was fun to see Hee Jae feel jealous of another guy – who is either his equal or even better. I found Kevin so handsome at first although I am team Hee Jae all the way! But when he started to team up with Atty Song, his handsome face became ugly to me! Not only did he not get the merger that he wanted, Geum Ja also rejected him! haha!
Just to go back to Geum Ja – her childhood trauma was painful and hard to watch. Even when the father died at the end was anti-climactic. He somehow redeemed himself when he interrupted Geum Ja’s attacker but he never really apologized to her. At least, he’s gone and she is free from her past!
This is one show you shouldn’t miss!
Rating: 9.5/10