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  1. Name: Devilish Judge/The Devil's Justice Air Date: July 2nd 2021 synopsis: Is a drama that aims to deliver a message about justice through a “live courtroom show” that the whole nation participates in. Is Kang Yo Han, the titular “devil judge” who emerges amidst chaos and confusion, a hero of the people or a demon who wears the mask of the law? Kang Yo Han is a head trial judge who wears legal robes in order to hunt down villains. He is the “devil judge” who wears the mask of the law and punishes the greedy and power-hungry through the courtroom show. He creates an aura of mystery around himself with his handsome face and elegant tastes, but it is impossible for anyone to know what he is truly thinking inside.
  2. When My Love Blooms 화양연화 – 삶이 꽃이 되는 순간 Director: Son Jung Hyun Writer: Jeon Hee Young Broadcast: April 25 - June 14, 2020 Cast: Yoo Ji Tae - Han Jae Hyun Jin Young - young Jae Hyun Lee Bo Young - Yoon Ji Soo Jeon So Nee - young Ji Soo Background Notes This drama is about love as it’s in the title, but it’s also about the changes that can happen in life and whether love can win out over the jadedness and cynicism that can happen due to those life events. Regarding the title, the Korean title is probably best translated as The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: the Moment that Life Becomes a Flower. “The most beautiful moment in life” is a saying in Korean (analogous to the saying “flower of youth” in English) which refers to that moment in time as children become adults and they are full of energy, enthusiasm, and high hopes, when literally anything and everything is possible, and they face the future fearlessly. The second part of the title “the moment that life becomes a flower” talks about when life becomes something beautiful and worthwhile, and makes it a more nuanced statement. It’s what gave me hope that this would be more of a healing drama than a tragic drama, since I’m not a huge fan of tragedies, though, it wasn’t clear where this drama was going to go when it started, despite the title hints of a journey and resolutions. However, it clearly intended to tell the story of youth, but also the story of what happens to that youthful promise as it has to deal with life. The reason for me to watch this drama was primarily the two main leads who play the grown up versions of their characters. Visually, the two former models make a stunning couple. However, both Yoo Ji Tae and Lee Bo Young are veteran actors who are known for both their versatility and their commitment to their roles while not being stereotyped into any specific sort of character. They are also excellent at demonstrating the sort of intensity that their characters require. The Plot and Review - spoilers The drama is told on parallel time lines, showing the stories of Han Jae Hyun and Yoon Ji Soo, both in the past during their university days and in the present set 20 years later. We meet them first as adults. Han Jae Hyun is the former CEO of a corporation who has just been released from doing 4 years in jail having taken the fall for his father-in-law, the chairman of that same corporation. After prison, he’s made the Vice Chairman since his wife was named as the CEO when he went to prison. He’s married to the daughter of the firm and has a son with her, though it seems the marriage has already fallen apart. Though she had pursued and married him feeling that no other man will do, she doesn’t feel he gives her enough attention and has become dissatisfied. She is having affairs with younger men, but Jae Hyun doesn’t seem to care despite having ample evidence of her infidelity. He’s relatively estranged from his son given that he’s been in prison, and before that, too busy with work to really make time for him. Yoon Ji Soo is a divorced mother, also with a son. She’s working all sorts of jobs to pay the bills, but still takes time to participate in various demonstrations by workers against corporations. Her ex-husband is a lawyer who had originally taken on her case when she was arrested as a demonstrator and had fallen in love with her. However, over time, he becomes frustrated that he can’t seem to win Ji Soo’s heart despite being married to her, and has affairs on her, until she finally divorces him. She takes nothing from the marriage other than their son. In the past, underclassman Ji Soo had fallen for senior Jae Hyun and had pursued him. Ji Soo is presented as a typical happy young woman from a close, comfortable family, even though Ji Soo suffers from being compared to her younger sister who is a much better student than she is. She is a piano major in university. Jae Hyun is all youthful idealism and passion, wanting to fight corruption both corporate and government, and frequently participating as a protestor. Also, from a loving family, he had been raised by his father to follow his own principles. He’s a quiet young man with excellent grades, studying law so that he can help make a difference in the world. He notices Ji Soo, but initially doesn’t take her seriously. However, her sweetness, earnestness, and persistence as well as her obvious crush on him win him over so that they start dating. On her part, after falling for Jae Hyun and joining his world of idealism and demonstrations, Ji Soo slowly takes on the idealism and passions of the cause for workers’ rights without losing her sunny disposition. Jae Hyun and Ji Soo become an inseparable couple. A tragedy in Ji Soo’s life and her interfering father ultimately cause Ji Soo to leave Jae Hyun. Her father who is a prosecutor doesn’t want Ji Soo to date Jae Hyun and cause trouble for Jae Hyun when he’s arrested as a protestor. Her father tells Ji Soo that he will continue to torment Jae Hyun if she doesn’t finish it with him. Her father plans to send Ji Soo to Frankfurt to finish her studies. However, that isn’t enough to keep the two apart and they run away together when she’s supposed to fly to Frankfurt. However, they ultimately decide that this isn’t the way they want to be together and go back. However, Ji Soo’s father causes more trouble for Jae Hyun and he ends up doing his military service instead. The tragedy that happens is that her mother and sister perish in the Sampoong Department Store collapse where they had gone to shop for a birthday present and cake for Ji Soo on her birthday. Ji Soo receives the news about the department store collapse as well as her mother and sister being missing as she’s meeting Jae Hyun at his army base for her birthday. She returns home in shock and horror with Jae Hyun unable to follow her, being physically restrained from leaving the base by other soldiers. Ji Soo’s father unfairly blames Ji Soo for the death of her mother and sister, and Ji Soo carries the guilt of their deaths to the present day. Ji Soo is sent overseas by her father, this time without any resistance from Ji Soo. Ji Soo having abruptly disappeared from his life, Jae Hyun faces his own serious issues, including the disgrace of his father from his corporate job. Jae Hyun’s father had been negotiating with the labor unions, and made to seem as if he had acted in bad faith and betrayal. His father subsequently died, poor and alone, which made Jae Hyun decide to turn away from his idealism and pursue making money instead. Ji Soo and Jae Hyun each carry on living their own lives. Ji Soo loses her smiles, while Jae Hyun actually smiles more now, though not in any way that reaches his eyes. They next come into contact when their sons scuffle at school with Ji Soo’s son taking the blame because he is from a poorer family than Jae Hyun’s son. Ji Soo and Jae Hyun then come into contact again when Ji Soo is part of the protestors who are protesting Jae Hyun’s company and it’s Jae Hyun’s job to clear the protestors. And, in good kdrama fashion, they keep meeting in various coincidental ways. Having met Ji Soo again, Jae Hyun decides that he wants to protect Ji Soo, not as her lover since he’s married, but to make up for the fact that he had not been able to be there for her before and that her life is now so hard. In addition to the divorce, Ji Soo is also caring for her father who had developed dementia. Ji Soo, for her part, resists Jae Hyun’s overtures, especially since he’s so different than the idealistic young man that she had known before, but as she learns more about his things that happened to Jae Hyun while she was not with him, she slowly opens her heart up to him again. Jae Hyun comes to the realization that the man that he has become was not someone who could be with Ji Soo who had retained the idealism of her youth that she had initially gotten from him. So, he takes steps to change things and himself. For instance, rather than staying in his marriage for the privilege and financial gain it had given him, he files for a divorce, while staying respectful to his wife as the mother of their child. He also vows to make more time for his son. Jae Hyun’s wife, for her part, realizes that she really wants to stay with Jae Hyun, and tries to back Ji Soo off. However, Ji Soo responds to say that she had already left Jae Hyun once before, and that she has no intentions of letting Jae Hyun be alone any more when he had asked her to stay with him. Ultimately, ji Soo and Jae Hyun come to terms with each other and their younger selves. Additional Thoughts I love this drama so much. I loved both story arcs, both when they were young students at university and their later arc of meeting again as adults who had changed so much. It was a story about having become adults, and yet being able to capture the essence of their youthful selves and also the love that was so precious to them then, that they had not even realized had continued to be so precious to them until they met again, the implication being that thinking about it would have caused pain, and they couldn't do anything about it then or as their lives diverged and changed anyway. Anyway, I bought into the youthful love story. Jin Young and Jeon So Nee were revelations in how well they acted as their respectful parts and as the young couple who are drawn together. My only tiny quibble was that Jae Hyun must have had a very late growth spurt as he transitions from Jin Young's height to Yoo Ji Tae's height. hee hee And, as I anticipated, I adored Yoo Ji Tae and Lee Bo Young in their roles as the characters who are older, having gone through their separate tragedies and so much more from life. Yoo Ji Tae takes the Jae Hyun character as one who has willingly traded away his youthful principles and ideals, though not completely, but have definitely become hardened and cynical about people, power, and money. The solemn young man who cried at romantic movies and seldom smiled except with Ji Soo or his close friends became more seemingly extroverted as he had to deal with and manipulate people. Lee Bo Young maintains the purity and sweetness of Ji Soo, but her Ji Soo has lost her smiles and laughter, she’s haunted by dreams about her mother and sister, driven by the guilt that she feels that they were there at the department because of her. Because of that guilt, she’s given up on the love of her life and on her dreams to an extent, and yet she’s maintained the protester mindset which seems to be her subconscious connection with Jae Hyung, but also has become something she believes in for herself. A quick note about the Sampoong Department Store collapse. It still figures largely in the South Korean psyche, a tale of corporate hubris, greed and malfeance that led to the deaths of 502 people with another 937 people injured. It continues to be referenced in various films and dramas from South Korea, the most recent being the dramas Chocolate [2019-2020] and Rain or Shine [2017-2018], both of them excellent dramas as well. And, even though it deals with emotional infidelity from the male lead, i.e. Jae Hyun was married to someone else as he’s falling in love all over again with Ji Soo, the drama is careful not to cross the line into physical intimacy until Jae Hyun is divorced, and treating it as a measure of respect that Jae Hyun has for Ji Soo that he doesn’t go there until he is free and available again. One last comment, about a bit of this drama that I loved which became a bit of a through line for this dram. It starts at a scene where Jae Hyun and Ji Soo write on a wall when they were running away together. Ji Soo wrote: For a million years, we will love (each other) 1995 5 12 After Jae Hyun meets Ji Soo again, he goes back to that place alone and writes underneath it: For a million years… (Meaning he has loved her for forever. ) Later on, when Jae Hyun and Ji Soo go back together and see it again: Ji Soo adds: the most beautiful moment in life (meaning that their lives will forever continue to be their most beautiful) Plot/Story: 9 Cast/Acting: 10 Production values: 9 Re-Watch value: 10 since I know I will re-watch this again Overall value: 9.5
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