This one was a longer drama and not the kind that you necessarily wanted to do a marathon viewing of given the subject matter. I’ve seen enough dead bodies of soldiers and civilians to last me a life time..lol! I won’t touch on the background political issues because really my interest was in the characters..though there is NO doubt whatsoever that Japan IS THE BAD GUY (just in case you might have been wondering.)
I must say it was a pleasure to discover (or rediscover) these actors. I knew more OF Lee Byung-Hun than really being familiar with his acting so I appreciated getting more familiar with his work. It was a pleasure to finally see Yoo Yeon-Sook in action – first time and how lucky that I saw him in THE most awesome role..strutting around like a Samurai. Another discovery was Byun Ho Han – what a complete charmer he was! The biggest surprise was Kim Ming Jung who was just blah in Man to Man, but here she was really awesome and she had the most fantastic wardrobe I’ve ever seen (I’m partial to the turn of the century western fashion)..she looked gorgeous.
I think the writers made a real effort to flesh these characters out. Each one of them had a back story that deserved his or her own drama. All had suffered and all had taken different paths and all paths crossed in Joseon.
I think the relationship between the leads was handled respectfully (given the huge age gap) but for me the biggest plus was the relationships that grew between them all, not necessarily having anything to do with romantic love. These were strangers who came to care about each other – though not everyone cared for the CAUSE – they cared because someone else did. The bromance was strong and oh so satisfying. There was even a lightness at times (much needed, of course); how can you watch a drama like this, filled with human sacrifices and fighting for something so much bigger than them without spilling a tear or two or three? That should come as no surprise at all.
Lastly, the incredible cinematography continued until the very end and it was a visual ongoing feast!