As always, without too much spoilery ado, I’ll say that this one rang pretty much all the bells for me.
I enjoyed the performances by all of the actors, and the blending of Occupation Korea with the modern day, plus the conceit of reincarnation and a ghost with a mission were satisfying on so many levels. There was a thoughtfulness to the way the plot unfolded — which is not to say that there were not a number of subplots left unaddressed (who were Han Se-ju’s parents, or did it not really matter?) — but you know, if it’s a minor subplot I don’t have a problem with those holes. If it’s a major plot point okay, I’ll take issue with unanswered questions, but with minor ones I can just wonder for a minute or two and then move on because they are, after all, minor.
I have to swoon a little over Yoo Ah-in in this one because whether it was the leader of the resistance movement or the successful “Stephen King of Korea” writer in his modernist 50s retro look (baggy clothes, crewcut and big glasses), he looked great. Without being a pretty boy, he has some distractingly pretty features, like the cleft in his chin, gorgeous skin, and oh… those lips. If he were a woman with those lips he’d be doing nothing but lipstick commercials in “her” spare time. He’s playing two incarnations of a guy who’s basically pretty buttoned-up, keeping things close to the vest (albeit for two very different reasons), and it just worked for me.
Im Soo-Jung is equal parts tender hearted and bad-ass in her roles, vulnerable and holding fast to her convictions, and although initially I thought they’d made her look a little too plain (and yes, older than her costars), I have always appreciated her talents as an actress and I was happy to let her grow on me in this drama too. Once her character of Seol starts making the connections work with Se-ju, it all fell into place.
I like Go Kyung-po a lot, but his character was more compelling than he was at times. I just think that he felt a little “greener” than Yoo Ah-in in their scenes together. That’s not to say that he was bad, per se, but there is a naturalness in YAI’s portrayals – it’s as if he underplays a scene just so – and this is due to his experience. He’s done a lot more drama and film work as a lead, so while this is not a guarantee of talent in every instance, it was the case here. I think GKP will continue to improve, and hope so as he’s got a lead role in his next production.
Another performance I can’t overlook is the relatively small one of Se-ju’s manager/publisher. This is the same actor who was ‘Secretary Kim’ in Goblin, and I have seen him in trailers for about 5 different movies coming out or recently released. It is “his” breakout year, it seems. And he’s delightfully flamboyant and loyal to Se-ju here.
One final note: the sets are gorgeous in this one. I know that part of the house used for Se-ju’s was used in another drama and I’m still trying to place it, but they went nuts with the books in this one! Now… I wonder who would dust all those?