If Gyeongsuk, Gyeongsuk’s Father (2009) is a forerunner for what we can expect from Korean dramas this year, then 2009 looks like it’s going to be a great year. At least streets better than the dismal pickings of 2008.
Set during the turbulent years of the Korean War, this four-episode drama is a delightful surprise. Extremely funny but also suspenseful, quirky but also sad, affecting but disturbing, it is a perfect concoction of comic and tragic. I lost count of the number of times I burst out laughing, squealed even. Or the times my heart pounded, afraid for the characters’ well-being.
The antics of Jung Bo-seok, playing a rascally and irresponsible father, further entrench him as one of my favorite actors. Although his conduct is reprehensible indeed (abandoning his family in the middle of the war), just like Jung Bo-seok’s characters in Shin Don and La Dolce Vita, it is impossible to hate Jo Jeolgu. He is tremendously flawed, yes, but he still manages to make me shed tears for him. That is the power of Jung Bo-seok’s acting.
But the best acting in the drama comes from someone who is only one-third of Jung Bo-seok’s age. Playing his daughter, Shim Eun-kyung is magnificent as Jo Gyeongsuk. She is the heart of the drama, the one her mother depends on, the one sent out to search for her missing dad. Smart as a whip and more mature than some of the adults in the drama, yet never letting us forget for a moment that she is still a young girl who gets easily afraid and hurt, Shim Eun-kyung is a joy to behold. Put daughter and father together in a scene and watch the sparks fly!
Let’s revisit the first episode of Gyeongsuk, Gyeongsuk’s Father, a shoo-in for my Top Five dramas of the year.
What is Gyeongsuk holding and why is she all sweaty?
What’s the prize for winning the ssireum contest?
Why is everyone aghast at Manggeun?
Are Gyeongsuk and Grandma happy eating potatoes? Why?
What prize awaits Gyeongsuk if she completes her mission?
Why is Gyeongsuk’s dad looking furtively behind him?
Why is Gyeongsuk sitting alone and wailing?
Will the wives approve the topic of discussion?
Why is Gyeongsuk’s dad furious with her?
What “shocking” information did Yunseop’s parents receive?
Why is Gyeongsuk looking so smug here?
Why is everyone all agog?