The Asian Games of Historical Drama Openings

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As is tradition with our Twitch-o-Meter installments, this baby will stay on top for the next 24 hours.

When I was handed a guest spot in this ToM thingy, the first thought coming to mind was rather scary, I might say. That is, some bell among that ocean of neurons (all three of them), sharing space in that big thing over my eyes, telling me “but, but... you hate lists.” I don't hate the idea of making lists per se, and I even enjoy reading other people's lists profoundly (you are what you watch, after all). Problem is, if I make a list, about 3 milliseconds after completion it's very likely I'll change my mind, at least when it comes to details (first place is always first place). That is why, if you ask me my list of Top 10 Korean films of all time, I'd probably give you about 200 titles or ten slightly different lists in a two week span; and why even the mere thought of listing my favorite 10 dramas would be akin to asking Uncle Bill what his favorite dead president is. On paper. The dead president, that is.

Nominations started flowing: “craziest Korean films with the longest (Korean) titles,” in which case 대학로에서 매춘하다가 토막살해 당한 여고생 아직 대학로에 있다 (Teenager Hooker Becomes Killing Machine)'s madness could have prevailed. Or, how about “best 60s Korean film that you've never heard of?” Then again, it would be like a cook reminiscing of his best filet mignon dishes to a vegetarian. But then I accidentally popped the wrong DVD inside my DVD player, and something gave me an idea. It was the opening of an historical drama, a pretty bad ass one at that. So, how about it, The Asian Games of Sageuk (of course sageuk is only the Korean spelling of the genre) openings? On your marks...

The reason why drama openings are interesting, especially for what concerns sageuk, is because they also highlight the industry's slant on the genre, and how it changed over the years. In theory, they more or less started in similar ways: rather long, and with a strong focus on just listing the cast, sometimes with names only. Who could forget the intro of the 1994 CCTV classic 三国演义 (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), beginning in great fashion with huge battles (complete with elephants), and then spending the following three minutes just listing the cast, over the current? Yet, to anyone even remotely familiar with works from the three major producers of historical dramas (Korea, Japan and Mainland China), you'll find some subtle, but fascinating differences.

In the past, Korea gave a rather operatic slant to their sageuk openings, particularly for what concerned KBS weekend sageuk (and the endless, Im Taek-Soo style “aahh aahh ahh” choir over most of those openings). There were a few alternatives, but until the market moved to the HD format around 2003 and the rating wars became paramount, that was the style. Lee Byung-Hoon might have modernized those openings with his fusion sageuk revolution, using 국악 (traditional Korean music) for 허준 (Hur Joon) and 상도 (Sang Do), but the real pioneer in that sense was 1996's 임꺽정 (Im Kkeok-Jeong). Ratings becoming more important means these days opening credits in Korea are usually just a 30 second long afterthought, used to show how many companies bought ads, and highlight a few of the stars. This is why, predictably, most of the Korean entries in the list come from a few years ago.

Japanese taiga dorama openings are, on average, the most fascinating. Although when it comes to excitement or even innovation Japan lags a little behind, even insipid works have had marvelous orchestral openings, with some insane use of animation and/or live action visuals. They're often masterpieces by themselves, regardless of the drama they're opening. And, as you'll find out, there's even a few surprise to find among the composers. China is much more difficult to pinpoint or label, because of the huge amount of dramas produced over a year. Hong Kong and Taiwan tend to stick to wuxia and historical comedies (which are generally... rubbish), but if you really enjoy Chinese history, Mainland China's product, especially from national broadcaster CCTV, is a must. Production values are the best in Asia, historical consciousness tends to bet a little less daring than Korea's best works (it's CCTV after all) but they're generally very faithful to the records, and the casts are usually excellent, led by veterans like Chen Baoguo, Chen Daoming, Zhang Fengyi and more.

I first thought of doing a complete Top 10 including the three countries, but that would break the traditions of ToM's top five lists, so I came to a sort of compromise: top 5 separated for every country, since it's kind of silly comparing openings whose goal is completely different. More than singling out just the best openings as a stand alone, music-video like project, I tend to highlight good openings from great dramas (or great openings from good dramas, in some cases), so your mileage may wildly vary. Let's begin.

MAINLAND CHINA

NUMBER 5.
贞观长歌 (The Zhenguan Era)
CCTV - 2007, 82 Episodes
PD: 吴子牛 (Wu Ziniu) / WRITER: 周志方 (Zhou Zifang)
CAST: 唐国强 (Tang Guoqiang), 张澜澜 (Zhang Lanlan), 曹培昌 (Cao Peichang), 聂远 (Nie Yuan), 杜志国 (Du Zhiguo), 王绘春 (Wang Huichun)

Paradoxically, one of the hardest subjects to tackle for historical dramas are actually rulers who did well. It's somewhat easier to put the spotlight on despots and incompetent rulers, particularly if you're going the Shakespeare way, but not so much so when you actually have to explain why they were considered great. The "Zhenguan" era is the period when one of the most lauded emperors in Chinese history ruled, that Taizong who set the Tang Dynasty on fire between 626 and 649. This drama, interestingly, solves the difficult question of dealing with Li Shimin's (his real name) legacy by painting him as a real person, a father, someone's friend, and all the responsibilities which fall upon you when you sit on the Imperial Throne. It's very far from perfect, as its middle part loses focus on ancillary characters to buy time, and it often falls into the kind of historical distortion (although the basic outline is followed more or less faithfully) its main competitor and much more praised - by historians - 贞观之治 (The Reign of Zhenguan) never had. Yet, it's an interesting show because, despite its humongous scale (as you can see in the opening), it rarely draws one-dimensional characters, both for what concerns the Tang and their enemies, the Gokturks. Certainly not perfect, but well worth watching, with some truly excellent battle scenes and amazing work from lead Tang Guoqiang.

Clip courtesy of CCTV

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NUMBER 4.
成吉思汗 (Genghis Khan)
CCTV - 2002 (production), 30 Episodes
PD: 王文杰 (Wang Wenjie) / WRITER: 俞智先 (Yu Zhixian), 朱耀庭 (Zhu Yaoting)
CAST: 巴森 (Ba Sen), 萨仁高娃 (Saren Gaowa), 赵恒煊 (Zhao Hengxuan)

What would happen if a John Ford-era western and the tale of the greatest conqueror of all time collided? Probably something like this. Actually I'm cheating a little, since this is pretty much an all-Mongolian production, whereas CCTV only provided some funding, and edited the whole production down to 28 episodes (the DVD version is 30, and should be the full monty). Zhu Yaoting, a Beijing academy scholar who published a biography of Genghis Khan in 2004, also wrote the script for this, and the hand of a historian is felt all over this production (I guess both in good and bad terms). Born Temujin in 1162, Genghis Khan is the greatest conqueror history has known, but his life has rarely been told with a human approach to that period -- they mostly focused on the Mongol expansion. This drama starts from his grass roots, his eventual growth as the Khan, and his later conquests. Of course its slant is definitely "heroic," but lead Ba Sen's portrayal is almost unbelievably "human." That is, when it's time to kill the Tatars or any tribe that gets in his way, he's ruthless, but otherwise there's an air of familiarity, like the nice guy next door. Battle scenes and production values in general cannot possibly compare with recent fare (even the fights are a little choppy), but its with authenticity that this drama wins points. This feels like Inner Mongolia, circa 12th century, for real. The issues at play don't just smell of the same old dramatic canon, they have a no-bullshit historical panache that's both charming and very fascinating. Not exactly an entry level drama in terms of background knowledge needed, but perhaps the best portrayal of the man. Think of it like reading the Монголын нууц товчоо (Secret History of the Mongols) on the screen. Corny, yes, but ridiculously fun.

Clip courtesy of CCTV

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NUMBER 3.
大清风云 (The Great Qing Empire)
CCTV - 2005, 42 Episodes
PD: 陈家林 (Chen Jialin) / WRITER: 鲁新国 (Lu Xinguo)
CAST: 姜文 (Jiang Wen), 张丰毅 (Zhang Fengyi), 许晴 (Xu Qing), 王绘春 (Wang Huichun), 孙淳 (Sun Chun)

Ahh... Chen Jialin. What could Chinese historical dramas do without him? If you envision him as part of the big three who made the last 8-10 years of CCTV historical dramas great, then Zhang Li takes the cake for historical consciousness, Hu Mei for quasi-Shakespearean drama, and Chen is the king when it comes to spectacle. The 1965 Beijing Film Academy graduate had a past in the film business, particularly during the 80s, but it's with historical dramas that he really made a name for himself. His 2001 extravaganza 太平天国 (The Taiping Rebellion) and its insane climax with the Third Battle of Nanking made Master and Commander or any recent film with naval battles look like a bunch of teenagers playing with toy boats; the masterpiece 康熙王朝 (The Kangxi Dynasty) made Chen Daoming a megastar, and 2004's 江山风雨情 (Love Against Kingship) is one of the best Chinese dramas of the last five years. Yet, this is my favorite of his works, as it synthesizes all that is charming about his style. Ironically, the "menage a trois" between Dorgon, Emperor Taiji and Empress Dowager Xiao Zhuang (what is with me and Mongol princesses?) takes a whole lot of liberties, but with actors like Jiang Wen (making a rare drama appearance), the great Zhang Fengyi and the criminally underrated Xu Qing, you end up caring very little about those details. This has it all: spectacle, history, romance, drama. And a kick ass opening to boot.

Clip courtesy of CCTV

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NUMBER 2.
大明王朝 1566 (The Great Ming Dynasty 1566)
Hunan Tv - 2006, 46 Episodes
PD: 张黎 (Zhang Li) / WRITER: 刘和平 (Zhao Liping)
CAST: 陈宝国 (Chen Baoguo), 黄志忠 (Huang Zhizhong), 王庆祥 (Wang Qingxiang), 郭东文 (Guo Dongwen)

If you ask any Chinese historical drama fan what the most controversial work in the genre during the last few years was, many people will mention Zhang Li's 走向共和 (For the Sake of the Republic). The drama dealt with the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the rise of the Republic of China, with a shockingly innovative portrayal of Sun Yatsen (enough some episodes broadcast on TV were cut even by half an hour). It was inevitable whatever Zhang Li would touch next would become a hot potato, but what he did with the second installment of the "Ming" series -- first was 大明王朝 1499 (The Great Ming Dynasty 1499) is staggering, simply because this is like a breathing, burning history book thrown at the viewers. Almost excessively dark, wicked even; decadent, painfully original, and with a phenomenal performance by Chen Baoguo, in some ways even topping his work as Han Wu. Painting the relationship between one of Ming dynasty's most reviled and corrupt rulers (Emperor Jiajing) and one of its most beloved officials (Hai Rui), the vibes in here are very similar to 신돈 (Shin Don), making history into a vibrating, ever changing creature, more than just a bunch of letters on some old, dusty paper. Zhang Li's next project could actually catapult him into legend, if his last two dramas are of any indication.

Clip courtesy of Hunan Tv

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NUMBER 1.
汉武大帝 (Han Wu the Great)
CCTV - 2005, 64 Episodes
PD: 胡玫 (Hu Mei) / WRITER: 江奇涛 (Jiang Qitao)
CAST: 陈宝国 (Chen Baoguo), 焦晃 (Jiao Huang), 归亚蕾 (Gui Yialei), 张世 (Zhang Shi), 宋晓英 (Song Xiaoying)

El super classico. 雍正王朝 (The Yongzheng Dynasty) was Hu Mei's calling card to stardom, but I'd be very surprised if she ever gets the chance to top something like this. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was mostly known for his territorial expansion (which even involved Gojoseon, although they had already left the barn open when they came), for his strengthening of the Emperor's authority, replacing the Empress Dowager's clout; and of course his paving the way for Confucianism as the state religion. But he also had a very controversial later reign, one that made sure this wasn't exactly the easiest of emperors to portray, unless you just planned to eliminate chunks of his rule. Hu not only humanized Liu Che (his birth name), his relationship with his power-hungry mother Empress Wang and her viperous tongue, and the clashes of power within the Imperial family. She also gave this drama an irresistible atmosphere, with creativity oozing from every corner (from music to cinematography. I mean, they tied cameras to horses during the battles) akin to experiencing a sort of Chinese version of Shakespeare's King Lear. It's also one of the few historical dramas (from anywhere) legitimizing and even giving ample space to the "baddies," in this case the fearsome Xiongnu. Edge of your seat battles, some of the best acting you'll ever see, and just power, power, power. This is like a fireball hitting the screen for 64 episodes (or, if you get the "Government's Cut" DVD, 58), extremely loyal to its sources but also very daring in its portrayal of complicated figures. Simply a must see for any history buff.

Clip courtesy of CCTV

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JAPAN

NUMBER 5.
武蔵 (Musashi)
NHK - 2003, 49 Episodes
PD: 尾崎充信 (Ozaki Mitsunobu), 野田雄介 (Noda Yusuke) / WRITER: 鎌田敏夫 (Kamada Toshio)
CAST: 市川新之助 (Ichikawa Shinnosuke), 堤真一 (Tsutsumi Shinichi), 阿部寛 (Abe Hiroshi), 北野武 (Kitano Takeshi), 寺島しのぶ (Terajima Shinobu)

Perhaps the fact 五輪書 (The Book of Five Rings) advocated for no excess in creative flourishes, sticking to a no-bullshit military strategy, is the most fitting description of NHK's 42nd taiga dorama, exactly focusing on the life of the famous swordsman Shinmen Takezo, perhaps better known as Miyamoto Musashi. Partly based on Yoshikawa Eiji's 宮本武蔵 (Miyamoto Musashi), the drama was filled to the brim with taiga veterans and even some surprises (Kitano Takeshi and Terajima Shinobu, for instance). Yet, directing was a little bland, with very little flair and passion. What gave it flair, save for the predictably excellent acting, was a little detail. Watching the opener should be a good enough hint already, but... yes, music was by a certain Ennio Morricone.

Clip courtesy of NHK

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NUMBER 4.
風林火山 (Fuurin Kazan)
NHK - 2007, 49 Episodes
PD: 清水一彦 (Shimizu Kazuhiko) / WRITER: 大森壽美男 (Ohmori Sumio)
CAST: 神威樂斗 (Gackt), 内野聖陽 (Uchino Masaaki), 千葉真一 (Sonny Chiba), 仲代達矢 (Nakadai Tatsuya), 市川亀治郎 (Ichikawa Kamejiro)

NHK had aired something similar to this drama in the late 80s already, albeit the focus was not on Uesugi Kenshin (played by former singer Gackt here), but on his future rival Takeda Shingen, in that case played by Nakai Kiichi. But Fuurin Kazan is a strange beast, continuing NHK's rollercoaster of quality after the terrible 義経 (Yoshitsune) and the much better 功名が辻 (Komyo Ga Tsuji). It has sparks of excellence, but never really rises above good, although it also never falls to dangerous levels (in some ways the biggest praise and criticism one could stamp on most taiga doramas of the last 10 years). What I really love about this intro, other than Senju Akira's music, is its focus on the horse. Seems silly, but a lot of sageuk bank on battles, and even only the aesthetic beauty of troops riding horses has a mysterious charm. This is one of those cases.

Clip courtesy of NHK

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NUMBER 3.
篤姫 (Atsuhime)
NHK - 2008, 49 Episodes
PD: Various / WRITER: 田渕久美子 (Tabuchi Kumiko)
CAST: 宮崎あおい (Miyazaki Aoi), 堀北真希 (Horikita Maki), 長塚京三 (Nagatsuka Kyozo), 瑛太 (Eita)

If there's any genre that can show "new is not always better," historical dramas are certainly fit for the job. NHK tried with Fuurin Kazan by casting a rock star and it was a mixed bag, they tried a few years earlier with Yoshitsune (a.k.a. Yoshitsune) which, to put it bluntly, sucked donkey balls. And now is the turn of Atsuhime, one of the key figures of the Meiji Restoration. The key here was Miyazaki Aoi becoming the youngest lead ever to star in a NHK taiga dorama, in what is perhaps the most female-oriented taiga in the last 10 years. Female-oriented as more focused on emotional resonance (family relationships, friendship vis-a-vis nobility, a woman's maturation process etc. etc.) and humanism than good old history. In that sense, Atsuhime is a resounding success, as the very high ratings prove. But the biggest concern, as the show is still in its middle part, is that switching between four-five producers breaks the flow of the show in terms of production values and storytelling, making this drama a little too uneven than expected. One episode feels like a badass political drama, the other a small scale story focusing on almost useless details (all those "Atsuhime gets used to life at the Ooku" specials do have a point, but the cuteness there is so forced it's scary), and the overall feeling is often that Atsu's choice of breakfast semms more important than Perry's "black ships" getting closer and closer to Japanese coasts. And that's not kosher, nope. Still, that intro... pure poetry.

Clip courtesy of NHK

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NUMBER 2.
功名が辻 (Komyo Ga Tsuji)
NHK - 2005, 49 Episodes
PD: 尾崎充信 (Ozaki Mitsunobu) / WRITER: 大石静 (Ooishi Shizuka)
CAST: 仲間由紀恵 (Nakama Yukie), 上川隆也 (Kamikawa Takaya), 西田敏行 (Nishida Toshiyuki), 舘ひろし (Tachi Hiroshi)

The beauty of this drama (title roughly means "the crossroads of resonance"), although at first glance it might seem like a low-key version of 2002's 利家とまつ (Toshie & Matsu), is that it sort of sets aside the usual politics (once again Nobunaga Oda, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu) to focus on two people's struggles and mutual support. Of course it has its fair share of politics (couldn't be helped, with all those frenetic changes), but it feels a little more, what's the right word... human? Even better than the drama is the intro, which would easily stand out on its own as a masterpiece. Sometimes I get the urge to rewatch this thing just for those opening two-three minutes.

Clip courtesy of NHK

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NUMBER 1.
北条時宗 (Hojo Tokimune)
NHK - 2001, 49 Episodes
PD: Various / WRITER: 井上由美子 (Inoue Yumiko)
CAST: 和泉元彌 (Izumi Motoya), 渡部篤郎 (Watabe Atsuro), 渡辺謙 (Watanabe Ken), 寺島しのぶ (Terajima Shinobu), 柳葉敏郎 (Yanagiba Toshiro)

Let's just forget for a moment this is one of the best Japanese dramas of the last ten years, and pretty easily the best taiga of the 2000s. But just how insane can an opening get? First they start like some old school KOEI strategy videogame, then turn into that Great Wall 2D game, with Kuriyama Kazuki's great music as background. Just listening to this every time the drama started would prepare for the ocean of badassness (?) that is this drama. Perhaps the biggest complaint one could direct at NHK's taigas is that they tend to be a tad parochial in terms of subjects (what's a sageuk without foreign diplomacy and/or neighbors beating the crap out of each other?). Japanese history is very complicated and fragmented, so focusing your attention on a clan will ease the way. But this being Hojo Tokimune, a regent of the Kamakura Shogunate just as Mongols invaded the place, things were a lot different. You get war, politcs, drama (and it's high octane drama here, not the cruise control type you'd usually get in taigas, at least compared to Korea or Mainland China's output). No surprises, with that writer. This is the perfect starting point if you want to get into taiga doramas. But, then again, the problem will be finding something this good after...

Clip courtesy of NHK

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KOREA

NUMBER 5.
정조암살미스터리 - 8일 (Eight Days)
Channel CGV - 2007, 10 Episodes
PD: 박종원 (Park Jong-Won) / WRITER: 김원석 (Kim Won-Seok)
CAST: 김상중 (Kim Sang-Joong), 정애리 (Jung Ae-Ri), 김희정 (Kim Hee-Jung), 박정철 (Park Jung-Cheol), 김기현 (Kim Gi-Hyun), 박찬환 (Park Chan-Hwan)

As we talked about with PD Kwak Jung-Hwan, the fact not one but three dramas aired in the same year focused on Jeongjo cannot be a coincidence, but it's almost a miracle two of them were actually excellent, particularly in today's sageuk landscape. Eight Days was technically the first ever sageuk on Cable TV, and although holding the title of "Best Cable Drama" is like first place at the "First Annual Sahara Ski Competition," this one would certainly hold its own even on network TV. Or perhaps it's the freedom allowed on cable that made it so great. This might be the very last political, or hell, even "authentic" sageuk for the time being, unless KBS wakes up and improves things with 천추태후 (Empress Cheonchu). Very much inaccessible to anyone not familiar with Late Joseon politics, and perhaps so entertaining because of it. It's finally a drama for sageuk enthusiasts, and those who went a little beyond the simple history book. Pure history, and very daring at that. Intro is very simple, but also has a certain personality, just like the drama.

Clip courtesy of Channel CGV

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NUMBER 4.
임꺽정 (Im Kkeok-Jeong)
SBS - 1996, 44 Episodes
PD: 김한명 (Kim Han-Myeong) / WRITER: 김원석 (Kim Won-Seok), 유동윤 (Yoo Dong-Yoon)
CAST: 정흥채 (Jung Heung-Chae), 이정길 (Lee Jung-Gil), 김원희 (Kim Won-Hee), 박인환 (Park In-Hwan), 윤유선 (Yoon Yoo-Seon)

Before Lee Byung-Hoon "invented" fusion sageuk with 허준 (Hur Joon), Im Kkeok-Jeong was already there, with similar storytelling techniques, but a lot more historical consciousness and panache. But the most striking thing about this show is how much like a film it felt. Mostly shot outdoors, with great cinematography and hyper-realistic action (no wires, just good old mano-y-mano), and the kind of pathos some of the best Korean period films of the 70s and 80s showed. But, most importantly, a terrific central performance by Jung Heung-Chae, who was unknown at the time, before the drama started hitting ratings in the high 20s. Perhaps one of the two-three most important sageuk of the 90s, for its influence and innovation, and just a ball to watch, with an amazing score using Jang Sa-Ik's traditional sounds, as you can hear from the opening.

Clip courtesy of SBS

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NUMBER 3.
帝國의 아침 (Dawn of the Empire)
KBS - 2002, 94 Episodes
PD: 전성홍 (Jeon Sung-Hong), 김형일 (Kim Hyung-Il) / WRITER: 이환경 (Lee Hwan-Kyung)
CAST: 김상중 (Kim Sang-Joong), 전혜진 (Jeon Hye-Jin), 최재성 (Choi Jae-Sung), 변희봉 (Byun Hee-Bong)

Take the twenty year old tradition of KBS weekend sageuk, and one of the biggest "cliches" you'll find are their opening credits. Im Taek-Soo, who took care of them for over two decades, had his talents, but his works sounded so much alike you could literally mistake one opening for the other. Anything with a choral hook, mostly consisting of "ahh ahh ahh ahh!" would instantly remind you of this format. But this one is a little different. Dawn of the Empire is pretty much the worst of the Goryeo series, and not really a good drama in itself (despite the good acting). But the music here was just art. If only Jung Ha-Yeon could deal with music like this back in the 90s.

Clip courtesy of KBS

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NUMBER 2.
천둥소리 (Roll of Thunder)
KBS - 2001, 50 Episodes
PD: 이상우 (Lee Sang-Woo) / WRITER: 손영목 (Son Young-Mok)
CAST: 최재성 (Choi Jae-Sung), 김주승 (Kim Ju-Seung), 최정윤 (Choi Jung-Yoon), 선동혁 (Seon Dong-Hyuk), 김명수 (Kim Myung-Soo)

Roll of Thunder was one of those lost gems -- lost as in almost completely ignored when it aired, and pretty much forgotten now -- that will have a hard time working their way into people's memory, unless they end up watching it. Yes, unless they watch it, because this is one of those near-masterpieces, oozing cult status from beginning to end, with the kind of opening you'd find in a badass action films from the 70s, complete with that "I'm so cool I could burn you to death with my glare" cast laughing confidently, as if they knew this was going to turn into gold. Telling the story of Prince Gwanghae and Heo Gyun, the man who wrote 홍길동전 (The Tale of Hong Gil Dong), it's like a Joseon version of Shin Don, sans the Buddhist slant and with an even more pungent political satire. Once again taking advantage of Jang Sa-Ik's genius, this is one of those openings that perfectly set the pace for the rest of the show, enough people like me still remember it (much more so than the drama itself) almost a decade later.

Clip courtesy of KBS

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NUMBER 1.
한성별곡-正 (Conspiracy in the Court)
KBS - 2007, 8 Episodes
PD: 곽정환 (Kwak Jung-Hwan) / WRITER: 박진우 (Park Jin-Woo)
CAST: 안내상 (Ahn Nae-Sang), 이천희 (Lee Cheon-Hee), 진이한 (Jin Yi-Han), 김하은 (Kim Ha-Eun), 정애리 (Jung Ae-Ri)

EXCERPT FROM THE review: "I really could go on and on and on for days about this drama. It was a special experience for all those involved, as the tone of all the interviews, and the fact the cast and crew just completed a 1 year anniversary meeting with the DC Inside guys show. It wasn’t just a masterpiece, or something you put on your DVD shelves and smile at anytime you glare at it. It was something almost spiritual, one of those shows, just like Shin Don, that change your outlook on dramas in general, and leave you something positive, like a good friend’s advice. But, you know what’s really funny? That, at the end of the day, this Citizen Kane of Korean dramas contradicted itself. How? It focused all its power on showing people’s shortcomings and imperfections, and forgot about one little detail. That it was just that. Perfect....."

Clip courtesy of KBS

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