Jirisan (2021)

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

Plot
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

Review
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)

Kingdom: Ashin of the North (2021)

Profile:
Drama Special: Kingdom: Ashin of the North (킹덤: 아신전)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 1
Release Date: July 23, 2021
Country: South Korea

Main Cast:
Jun Ji Hyun / Kim Shi Ah – Ashin
Park Byung Eun – Min Chi Rok

Review:
Perfect prequel/side story that gives a background about Ashin and how the resurrection plant and the zombies started in Joseon.

After watching Kingdom S2, I was hoping that Ashin will be the person who can help Chang and Seobi solve the plague. But turns out it all started with her story. (Dont want to spoil for those who havent watched it yet.)

The special episode took time to build the narrative as the adult Ashin only comes out almost halfway through the story (and the scene was fantastically shot). As always, my Queen Jun Ji Hyun slayed the role. Even when Ashin barely spoke any lines, you can feel the pain and anguish (and lifelessness) in her eyes and her actions.

When the zombie scene starts, I felt both horrified that “omg, that’s where it all started” and triumphant “yes, go Ashin burn those lying scumbags”. Ashin is the definition of “You dont freaking mess with my tribe.” 😡

I was slightly disappointed with Min Chi Rok. He was one of my fave sidekicks of Lee Chang and want him to stay alive. But he was terrible here. I know he did it for the sake of peace but I think Ashin will not let him live once they meet again 😭 my only complaint is Min Chi Rok didnt age in this movie. He looks the same when Ashin grew up.

That final twist at the end was shocking🤯 but it also made my eyebrows raised thinking how Ashin managed to do it alone. 🤔

I’m excited for yet dreading when Chang meets Ashin in Season 3. Chang needs to find a way to sate Ashin’s hunger for vengeance while keeping his people alive. Maybe they can find a compromise, but I think Ashin will die once she gets her revenge (and I want her to have it just dont kill all the other innocent people).

Rating: 9/10