Review South Korea

Review of South Korean Movies and TV Shows

The Grand Heist

The Grand Heist (바람과 함께 사라지다) is a South Korean historical comedy film that was released on 8 August 2012.

About

The film is set in the late 18th century of the Joseon Dynasty when ce is a commodity more valuable than gold. Corrupt officials conspire to form a monopoly and fix its price, a gang of 11 professionals is formed to stop the scheme..

Cast

Cha Tae Hyun (차태현) as Duk Moo
A popular and very funny actor who is also a director and singer. Went through some controversy in 2019 which made him withdraw from all his shows but seems to have bounced back pretty well.

Oh Ji Ho (오지호) as Dong Soo
An actor and model who is also very popular in Japan thanks to some of his shows being imported in there.

Lee Chae Young (이채영) as Yoo Sul Hwa
One of the reasons I watch this show as she was in it, known for her roles to use in Man in a Veil and Woman in a Veil.

Review

This was a really cute film which was very funny, I enjoyed it very much. It was somewhat similar to other costume comedy films from Korea but I never get bored of them.

As I said above, I knew it starred Lee Chae Young, and was curious to see her in another role apart from a soap opera format. Unfortunately, her skills weren’t utilized as much as the they could but she was good in it.

The story was well put together, I was mostly kept engaged all the way through although it was slow in parts. It was slightly saucy as well, in a flirty kind of way.

Cha Tae Hyun was so good in this lead role, cheeky looking and was the centerpiece of the movie. All the actors had their own story lines with important parts to play.

The two children in the movie was exceptional, very funny and great actors.

My only negative was how they kept repeating “okay”, it was moderately humorous the first time but after that it was slightly annoying. You will know what I mean when you watch the film.

Overall I would give this movie a 4.5/5.

Where To Watch

The movie can be found, at least in Canada, on Tubi and Viki.

2024-03-04T23:31:32+00:004 March 2024|Review South Korea|

The Uncanny Counter 2

The Uncanny Counter 2: Counter Punch (경이로운 소문2: 카운터 펀치) is a South Korean TV program that was broadcast on tvN, OCN and Netflix between 29 July to 3 September 2023.

About

In season two The Counters face an ultimate evil being that has take possession of one of their friends.

Cast

Cho Byeong Kyu (조병규) as So Moon
He initially wanted to be a footballer but then went into acting enjoying Shakespeare type roles until his big break onto the small screen in 2015.

Yoo Joon Sang (유준상) as Ga Mo Tak
He started his on screen career in the mid-1990s but is now directing his 3rd movie.

Kim Se Jeong (김세정) as Do Ha Na
She is a South Korean singer having been in two girl bands. She has been in TV Drama since 2016.

Yeom Hye Ran (염혜란) as Chu Mae Ok
Her first main role came with season 1 of Uncanny Counter although she has been acting on the big screen since 2003.

Yoo In Soo (유인수) as Na Jeok Bong
He plays a new main character for season 2, his career started in 2017 on the big and small screen.

Review

The story line was ok although slow in parts. It was interesting to see them introduce a character of ultimate evil, so to speak. It was fairly slow in parts and maybe they didn’t have enough content to fill the 12 episodes at the length that they were. Probably more content or less number of episodes.

The black slime parts of the alternate world to me was unnecessary, I felt for the actors having to do that.  I wouldn’t have done.

The special effects were brilliant going to new lengths than the first season. However, it was more violent than it needed to be, could open it to a wider audience if some of the gore wasn’t there.

I liked how the first season was based out of a cosy restaurant but not sure the Amazon like warehouse really worked for me. Maybe they did it for the specific fight scenes they were introducing later on.

I’m sorry to say that season 2 was a bit of a let down. The first season was new and original but the second felt like a repeat. Maybe there should have been only been one season, I don’t think they should do a season 3 although I have no idea if one is planned. Having said that it was entertaining and managed to get through all 12 episodes.

Where to Watch

The show can be found on Netflix along with season 1.

2024-01-06T00:24:20+00:006 January 2024|Review South Korea|

Woman in a Veil

Woman in a Veil (비밀의 여자), or Secret Woman, is a 103 episode melodrama from Korea that was broadcast between March and August 2023.

About

The story centres around three women.

Jung Gyeoi, who witnesses her husband, Nam Yoo Jin, having an affair with her friend Joo Ae Ra. Her Father is murdered, she loses her eyesight and becomes a victim of lock-in syndrome.

Oh Se Rin is arrogant and cold-hearted but her sister is murdered and seeks revenge.

Joo Ae Ra is desperate to be the first lady of a large corporation and nothing will get in her way, but she also is seeking revenge.

Cast

An all-star cast from the world of South Korean soap operas, too many to list here.

Lee Chae Young (이채영) as Joo Ae Ra
A talented actress who we don’t see enough of, she seems to appear a lot on non-drama TV shows including playing football.
Instagram

Choi Yoon Young (최윤영) as Oh Se Rin and Jung Gyeol
Her notable appearance to me was in Uncanny Counter season 1 probably because this was one drama that got international exposure.
Instagram

Han Ki Woong (한기웅) as Nam Yoon Jin
As far as I’m aware he hasn’t had any movie roles but I’ve seen him in daily dramas “Love to the End” and “Second Husband”. His characters were quite hen-pecked in both Second Husband and Woman in a Veil.
Instagram

Lee Sun Ho (이선호) as Seo Tae Yang
Haven’t seen this actor anywhere else, he has been in TV dramas since 2005 including a fair share of dailies. To date he has been in 5 movies. In Man in a Veil he spoke English for a short while, he seemed pretty fluent.

Lee Eun Hyng (이은형) as Jung Young Joon
A growing list of main and support roles for this talented actor, we’ve not seen him in anything else but hopefully more soon.
Instagram

Shin Go Eun (신고은) as Jung Gyeol and Oh Se Rin
She was listed as a main character but jumped in and out of the series. She is a Korean pop singer and seems to have made her on-screen debut with a guest role on a drama series called The Last Empress.
Instagram

Review

The makers of this show packaged it as though it was the follow-on from Man in a Veil, however, it wasn’t. The only similarity was the cast lineup and maybe the slightly “different than normal” daily drama twist. Man in a Veil was definitely better but I also enjoyed Woman in a Veil a lot too.

Episode 20 was quite prominent whereby many reviewers said “Oh this is ridiculous” but I thought “This is brilliant”. Even though many thought the twist was ridiculous they appeared to keep watching. I think it gave actresses Shin Go Eun and Choi Yoon Young interesting challenges since they were both playing two different characters, and both of them did well in switching between “evil” and “good”. Lee Chae Young is such a good actress, even though her performance was better in Man in a Veil I am hoping to see her in other non-daily drama performances. The “evil” characters were written such that you had sympathy for them at some point or the other.

The script was well-written and had numerous surprises throughout. There was a slight issue with either continuity or directing, something didn’t quite feel right. They made some scenes longer than they should have been, maybe killing time.

The script was written to give every actor a major role, even if it was for a short while, I really like how this was achieved. One of the actors, who I won’t name, just appeared to be going through the motions and could have given a more believable performance. Han Ki Woong appeared to be the most excited about the role on and off-screen. From the behind-the-scenes clips, I saw Bang Eun Hee, who played Jung Gyeol’s mother, appear to be the life and soul of the party. The most annoying character was played by Lee Jung Young, he played such a great evil character in Man in a Veil but the role he was given in Woman in a Veil wasn’t great.

I liked how they had similar incidental music used in “Man in a Veil” even though the decibels could have been higher in some of the dramatic scenes. The first end theme was good but that changed just after halfway through which turned out not so exciting.

Summary

Despite everything this was such a good drama and I will put it near the top of my list of dailies. I will give it 5/5.

Where To Watch

I saw this on Viki.

Trailer

2023-10-28T21:33:36+00:0028 October 2023|Review South Korea|

Bear Man

Bear Man (웅남이) is a South Korean action comedy movie that was released on 22nd March 2023.

About

From IMDB:
Based on the Danggun myth that bears become humans after eating garlic and mugwort, it depicts the story of twin Asiatic Bear brothers, who were managed by the Pro-North Korean Institute of Technology, disappearing one day after eating mugwort and garlic.

Cast

Park Sung Woong (박성웅) as Woong Nam
Maybe his character name is a play on his real name. A popular actor in both in movies and TV shows although this is the first time I’ve seen him in anything. I believe the TV shows “Crash Landing on You” and “Life on Mars” that he was in were both highly popular.

Yeom Hye Ran (염혜란) as Jang Gyung Sook
She played Woong Man’s adopted Mother. A very popular actress maybe due her notably international fame on Uncanny Counter playing Chu Mae Ok (Mrs Chu).

Oh Dal Soo (오달수) as Na Bok Cheon
He played Woong Mam’s adopted  Father. He started his acting career in 2001 in Busan. His first movie was in 2002. He is very popular in film but hasn’t appeared much in TV shows.

Lee Yi Kyung (이이경 ) as Mal Bong
A very popular actor who was born in 1989. His acting debut was in 2011 on the TV show Heartstrings. He has been very popular in mainly TV dramas but also movies.

Review

This was a very cute movie with a lot of comedy and some action. I would also add superhero as one of the genres.

The story line felt a little disjointed because there was something odd with the continuity, like it was cut down with some little pieces missing. Maybe it was the directing, I couldn’t tell.

I would say the action was divided into two. Mostly it has real action with fights and chases. Then there was the action that was quite in the slapstick genre, when it was part comedic.

Every actor did well and had an opportunity to shine in the movie. Yeom Hye Ran played a great “concerned” Mother and Lee Yi Kyung was great at Woong Man’s vlogging geeky friend.

The great parts of the movie was when Woong Nam played the superhero, some of the special effects were subtle but very well done too. They could have improved on the CGI animals.

Summary

Worth a watch but I would only give is a 3/5. Sorry.

Where To View

We saw the movie on Viki, I don’t know where else it’s playing.

2023-10-23T04:24:03+00:0023 October 2023|Review South Korea|

Troubleshooter

Troubleshooter (해결사), aka Trapped, is a South Korean movie that was originally released on 9th September 2010, the duration is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

About

When Private Eye Kang Tae Shik enters a motel to take pictures of a couple for an unknown client he finds someone who has been murdered. At the scene a video plays of the actual murder. The video will show Kang Tae Shik’s innocence but a disembodied voice blackmails him into doing a “job” before he is able to get the evidence. Then life turns very chaotic for the ex-Detective.

Cast

Sol Kyang Gu (설경구) as Kang Tae Shik
He has been making files since 1996 and has won numerous awards.

Lee Jung Jin (이정진) as Jang Pil Ho
He has appeared in more TV shows than films, as far back as 1998. I see that he was in the daily comedy/sitcom SoonPoong Clinic which ran for 682 episodes.

Review

The movie was actually pretty good.

The script was good. The film explains bit by bit what the “job” entails. I wasn’t quite sure where it was leading up to but I will give a hint, dodgy politicians are involved.

There was quite a bit of action and anybody wanting that would be satisfied with this movie. There wasn’t any unique elements of action as I’ve seen it all done bore but it was enjoyable and most of it family friendly.

The best bits for me were the comedy especially from actor Lee Sung Min. At first I was really fooled into thinking he was a scary character then a little later he turned into the comedy element. That part was well done.

All the actors did a pretty good job especially the cute daughter taking no nonsense from her incompetent Father.

I don’t actually remember the theme score or the incidental music.

I’m not sure I would watch it again.

I will give it a 4/5.

Where To Watch

This movie is available on Tubi. I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

Trailer

2023-08-10T21:52:58+00:0010 August 2023|Review South Korea|

Black Knight

Black Knight (택배기사) is a Korean Sci-Fi drama created for Netflix and placed online on 12 May 2023.

Black Knight

About

The year is 2071 and toxic air has left the world in devastation. People rarely leave their homes and they receive deliveries through the legendary drivers. While many people live in the devastated world many also live in a domed city in comfort. The truth starts to come out about the other world.

Cast

Kim Woo Bin (김우빈) as 5-8
He is an actor and model. We haven’t seen him in any other productions but has a mix of TV and Movie related work.
Instagram

Song Seung Heon (송승헌) as Ryu Seok
He has had quite a long career, since 1996 in both TV and film. He is an actor, model and singer born in Seoul.
Instagram

Kang Yoo Seok (강유석) as Sa Wol
He has appeared in many TV productions since his career started in 2018, and he’s been busy.

Review

This show reminds me a little bit of Circle: Two Worlds Connected, however, Black Knight didn’t do so well.

The production quality and special effects were good, I cannot fault it at that. The actors did a good job too.

The show wasn’t written well though and it was tough going at first. I would say things started to come together after the 4th episode and the last episode was the best. I was expecting more, a little bit more context to the show. It felt as though they rushed to put it in a 6 episode format but left the action and the story out.  It appears Netflix-created South Korean content is very much like this, I do better with non-Netlfix shows, maybe it’s just a coincidence.

It can be enjoyable if viewers lower their expectations and want entertainment where thinking is not required.

I give it a generous 2/5.

Where To Watch

As far as I’m aware this can only be watched on Netflix.

Trailer

2023-06-24T04:12:35+00:0024 June 2023|Review South Korea|

Cheer Up, Mr Lee

Cheer Up, Mr Lee (힘을 내요, 미스터 리) is a movie from South Korea that was released on 11 September 2019.

About

Cheol Soo has a perfect appearance, but he is a bit slow. One day, his daughter Saet Byeol appears in front of him. Saet Byeol has been sick and she has been in the hospital. They start on a trip.
via AsianWiki

Cast

Cha Seung Won (차승원) As Cheol Soo.
He received an engineering degree before embarking as a model and then into acting which established him as a major star. I don’t recall seeing him in any other show. His performance in this movie was amazing.
Instagram

Uhm Chae Young (엄채영) as Saet Byeol
She must have only been about 12 years old when making this movie, what an amazing performance. Haven’t seen her in other productions but has a long list in her resume.

Park Hae Joon (박상우) as Young Soo
Another great performance, he began his career in theatre arts in 2007 and has been in many different productions since. I haven’t seen him before this film.

Kim Hye Ok (김혜옥) as Hee Ja
Long list of credits to her name, and she started her career in the 1980s. She was in the TV series Manhole which I saw a few episodes of but don’t recall her. She was born in Japan.

Review

This was a brilliant film. Such an emotional roller coaster too of comedic, sad and emotional uplifting scenes.

The story was very well done, at first I thought the script was leading us to one place in Cheol Soo’s mind but was in fact reality. It was such so cleverly done.

As an avid fan of daily Korean dramas it helped me understand some of the tongue in cheek scenes. Those who are watching their first Korean from might not appreciate the references.

The whole movie script and production was so cleverly done you felt emotionally drawn into and part of what was going on. I would want to watch out for other work by the Director Lee Kye Byuk and Jang Yoon Mi.

On many review sites people were scoring 10/10 for this movie and I totally agree. This is a must see film. Totally family friendly.

Where To Watch

The film is available on Viki and Tubi. Also on Netflix and Amazon depending on the region.

Trailer

2023-06-12T22:14:37+00:0012 June 2023|Review South Korea|

Jung_E

Jung_E (정이) is a South Korean movie released on 20th January 2023 commissioned by Netflix.

Jung_E

About

From IMDB:
Set in the 22nd century, climate change has caused the planet to become uninhabitable and humans live within a man-made shelter. A war takes place within the shelter. Jung Yi is the elite leader of the allied forces. She becomes the subject of a brain cloning experiment. The cloning experiment is a potential key to win the war.

Cast

Kang Soon Yeon (강수연) as Yoon Seo Hyun
Sadly she passed away from a cerebral haemorrhage on 7th May 2022, while the movie was in post-production, she was only 55 years old. She is a veteran award-winning actress with her first film being in 1977 and TV drama in 1979. The Korea Times has this interesting article.

Ryu Kyung Soo (류경수) as Kim Sang Hoon
He is best down for drama series such as Itaewon Class and Confession. Jung_E is not his only Netflix production, previously in the 2021 series Hellbound in the upcoming series Glitch.

Review

The best thing about this film was the special effects. Very interesting landscapes and the robot scenes were faultless, including the fight scenes.

The film was let down by the script. They should have focused on improving that.

I take this as a more action movie than anything. So, don’t expect Shakespeare.

With the exception of Kong Soon Yeon the acting wasn’t that great either. The three elements of the film just didn’t come together ie CGI, story and acting.

Unfortunately, when we started watching the movie Netflix defaulted to the English dubbed version rather than the Korean voice and English subtitles. I never watch anything that is dubbed in English because the voices they use are patronizing. This was the case with this film, it was just dreadful, especially the voice of the character Kim Sang Hoon.  Later on, I did watch parts of the film that hadn’t been dubbed and it was much better.

Summary

I don’t want to rate this movie since it was all over the place, I suggest viewing it and deciding for yourself.

Where To Watch

This film is only available on Netflix, it’s in their Top 10 in Canada.

Trailer

2023-01-23T18:14:36+00:0023 January 2023|Review South Korea|

6/45

6/45 is a military comedy movie from South Korea that was released on 24th August 2022.

About

This a story of South and North Korean soldiers meetings up secretly when the wind blows a first-prize lottery ticket, with a substantial win, into Korea’s military demarcation line.

Cast

The cast seemed very familiar but don’t recall where we have seen them, certainly not in any of the productions that are listed in their bios.

Go Kyung Pyo (고경표) plays Chun Woo
He has a decent list of TV shows and films in his bio. He did his military service between 2018 and 2020.
Instagram

Lee Yi Kyung (이이경) plays Yong Ho
A longer bio than Go Kyung Pyo. He has been in comedic roles before. Not sure if he has done his military service. His father is the CEO of LG Innotek.
Instagram

Review

Although I’ve seen South and North related TV shows and films before this one feels very different as it has a comedic aspect and the story is very well written with more than one meaning.

The film did go into a small number of cultural differences between the South and North. They did seem to learn from each other regarding each other’s good points.

While it is a comedy film I think there is a more serious part of the film seeing the South and North work together on a common goal and they all were in agreement that they look forward to unification.

The best moments of the film were the animal scenes in North Korea and the German translation in South Korea. These scenes were just so well done and very memorable moments.

This film couldn’t have been made by any other country as the scenarios just don’t exist.

One of the best Korean films I have ever seen, I will give it 5/5. It is a must-see movie, great for family holiday viewing.

Trailer

2022-12-19T23:42:25+00:0019 December 2022|Review South Korea|

The Secret House

Secret House (비밀의 집) is a 124-episode South Korean soap-opera style show that aired between 11 April through 10 October 2022.

About

Lawyer Woo Ji Hwan, who comes from a poor family, goes against a rich family to seek revenge for the dreadful things they did to his mother who is suffering from dementia. He discovers many life-changing secrets along the way including revelations about his past.

Cast

Seo Ha Joon (서하준) plays Woo Ji Hwan
He was the main character in the show which some have said to see a male leased is unusual for a daily soap. It looks as though he was the main driving force behind the scenes too. The media tried to make a big deal of a recent controversial event the actor went through but fans wasn’t having it. He has been in soaps more than any other shows.
Instagram

Lee Young Eun (이영은) plays Baek Joo Hong
She has been in a large variety of soaps, regular TV shows and movies, I haven’t seen her in any other of her productions.  She won the New Star Award at the SBS Drama Awards in 2007.
Instagram

Jung Heon (김정헌) plays Nam Tae Hyung
He is an actor and model and appeared in a number of soap opera’s and TV shows, plus some movies.  I’ve not seen him in any other productions.
Instagram

Kang Byul (강별) plays Nam Tae Hee
She appeared in Rooftop Prince, one of my favourite Korean shows, but I do not recall her in it but it was just a support role. She has played in 3 other soap type shows and a variety of regular shows.
She hasn’t updated her social media since 2019 and it looks as though her Instagram page has been deleted.

Lee Seung Yeon (이승연) plays Ham Sook Jin
An actress and talk show host who has had a lot of experience.  She won third place in the Miss Korea beauty pageant and was South Korea’s representative to the 1993 Miss World pageant, she ended up in the top ten.

Review

There was something about this soap opera that just didn’t click, maybe it was just COVID making it difficult to film and keep things together.

The storyline was good, plenty of twists and turns. However, I don’t think there was enough content within that story to keep the pace going for the first 80% of the show.

At first I got the perceptions that the acting just wasn’t that good. Some actors just stood there like wooden planks and didn’t have much to contribute, such as Jo Yoo Shin.There was the nurse of the grandfather, played by Bang Eun Hee, she played an odd character who seemed to periodically talk to the camera to give commentary on what was happing on the show. Then I thought, well, maybe, the directing was pretty bad. It was difficult to pin point.

So, the musical score. There was little of someone singing the end theme, it was more dramatic like western soaps. However, the music was over dramatic for some scenes, or there was a gap when people were staring into space before the closing sequence happened. Kind of odd.

There were the usual product placements through the series, mostly the same brand of health supplements seen in other soaps. Also, some kind of vibrating bed and a food company where they send you the ingredients then make at home.

Overall, I did enjoy the show though. Certainly a memorable soap opera. It’s tough to score as some parts were a little dull but others were outstanding.  So, I will be coward and don’t score it at all, just watch it.

Trailer

2022-11-30T05:10:21+00:0030 November 2022|Review South Korea|