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  1. Faith 신의 Director: Kim Jong Hak Writer: Song Ji Na Genre: Romance, Fantasy (Time-Travelling), Politics, Fusion Sageuk. Broadcast: 2012.08.13 - 2012.10.30 Episodes: 24 Casts: Kim Hee Sun as Yoo Eun Soo Lee Min Ho as Daejang Choi Young Ryu Deok Hwan as King Gongmin Park Se Young as Queen Noguk Yu Oh Seong as Ki Chul Philip Lee as Jang Bin Plot Summary Review & Thoughts The drama has another title "The Great Doctor"; however, its original title "Shin Eui" is definitely a more fitting title to the story and the characters involved as "Shin" and "Eui" conveys a much deeper meaning. Shin Eui doesn't work on one person and it can only happen when describing "relationships" of two or more people. In combination Shin Eui means "Faith" and "Loyalty" but separately they also have their own meanings. Shin (信) = faith, trust, letter, sign Eui (義) = justice, righteousness Whether it is two words combined or each individual word by itself, Faith accurately describes the underlining message writer wants to convey and what the characters are upholding or working towards. In my humble opinion, Faith disguises itself in a time-travelling fantasy fusion sageuk that may seems like a light fun watch at the time, but it is actually not light-hearted at all. It challenges you to think as it explores the topic of politics, love, honour, faith and what country means to each of us. An old friend summarises her love for Faith beautifully below: Faith was so long ago that I cannot recall most of the events that took place. I just know that no matter the time that has passed and no matter the dramas that came and gone, it remains as something special in my heart. Perhaps it was the complexity of the lonely and sad Choi Young, who I deeply felt and rooted for. Perhaps it was the beauty in the way these two contrasting souls found each other and changed and grew together. Perhaps it was the dying Choi Young who gradually learned the meaning of life and what it feels like to want to live. Perhaps it was the way Eun Soo hugs him and teases him, placing a flower on his hair, laughing and reminding him about the happiness in life. Perhaps it was the way she suddenly came into his life and melt away the ice cold barrier he'd been building and saved him. Perhaps it was the way he traced her shadow or the way she made his heart flutter simply by placing her head on his shoulder. Perhaps it was the sweet, subtle intimacy of their love that was deeply felt without much physical contact. Perhaps it was the way she turned his world upside down. Perhaps it was the way he waited for her, visiting their tree every day in hopes she may return. Whatever it was, they created something magical and everlasting, something that, search as I may, I have never found again in other dramas. Faith is by no means a perfect drama. No, it has many flaws. But Eun Soo and Daejang made it special in every way. The imja couple is dear to my heart and Lee Min Ho as Daejang is still my favorite Lee Min Ho's character. I'm just a sucker for characters with depth and layers. I look forward to the day Lee Min Ho plays a character that replaces Daejang in my heart. But let's be honest, it's probably never going to happen because Daejang was the first and he's left such a deep and lasting impression. Yes to all the perhaps. And I'd add that it all comes down to Song Ji Na's: (1) Writing Her writing challenged our brains and kept forcing us to think. We all know it's killing our brain cells, but we sadistically enjoyed and willingly let her kill our brain cells. She made us question a lot of things thrown in the script. I went into watching the drama for enjoyment purposes but in the end I find myself and others looking up on the history of Goryeo, to get a better understanding of Goryeo's history, King Gongmin and General Choi Young. Another friend even went into deep research on the Goryeo soldier's ranking. (2) Characterisation Faith, is by far, very flawed and poor in terms of directing, editing, action, costume designs and visual quality etc. I'd say it's very bad, especially compared to what we get these days. But then there's that Song Ji Na's magic where she introduced me to her Choi Young—an uptight, but upright and always proper conservative man; a broken and quiet character who has very little words and speaks his emotions to me with his eyes. Yoo Eun Soo, whom she throws into Choi Young's world and mess it all up—was a LOT of fun to watch. I love seeing a flustered Daejang in episode 6, and love seeing him being teased by his Woodalchi puppies. I love Song Ji Na for giving me a sageuk where the heroine is spunky—yes, she is physically incapable of protecting herself, but mentally, she is as strong as the men and she confronts fear head-on. She was written and presented in a way as an obstacle for Daejang, a Healer, a Lover, a conflict, a miracle, soul mate and many more. The imja couple face many tests, but it's not those typical Korean drama gimmicks e.g. amnesia, third wheel, birth secret, noble idiocy or any other makjang. I also love that even though Song Ji Na did not have time to explore further on all the vast characters in Faith, she somehow managed to make most of them memorable and interesting. Ki Chul ended up being a ridiculous villain, but so much parodies were made out of him by the Faith fans that makes him unforgettable. The side characters had little screen time, but they all possess colorful personalities and thus, stand out. I'd never forget Kim Mi Kyung's Lady Choi, the one & only who dares to abuse our Daejang. Yoon Sang Kyung is now a male lead in his own dramas, but I'll forever remember him as the cute and dumb dumb Deok Man. Choong Suk, who disrupted the possible hot kiss imja couple nearly had. Daeman, the puppy with explosive hair that follows Daejang everywhere; Do Chi, the cheeky eunuch that teaches young Gongmin and Noguk's what it means to be husband and wife. Flaws aside, which mainly stemmed from financial and uncontrollable circumstances during production, Song Ji Na gave us a really good history-based story with well written, layered and in-depth character growth for Gongmin, Choi Young and Eun Soo. Like a baby bird, Gongmin was forced to lead a nation corrupted by Ki Chul. To do so, he has to gather his own people, build up his own force and Choi Young played a big part in all of it and by mentoring him into who he later became. Having served many useless kings before Gongmin, Choi Young lost his faith in the kings and the country. Before he met Eun Soo, he was alive but wilted inside, Eun Soo gave him a purpose to live and Gongmin restored his faith. Throughout the drama, he was faced with many challenges and conflicts, forced to make difficult decision and choose between Eun Soo and Gongmin. It was interesting, to watch him juggle and balance between serving the king, fighting for the country and protecting Eun Soo all at the same time. And that makes him a very charming male character because he is not portrayed spending various episodes fawning over a woman and neglecting other things. On top of being in love, romancing Eun Soo, the man has a lot of responsibilities and duties. P.S. I would look out for top-notch excellent performance from actor Choi Min Soo's cameo in episode 4. Plot/Story: 8 Cast/Acting: 9 Production values: 5.5 Re-Watch value: 9* Overall value: 7.8 *Many have rewatched it countless times and throughout the course of 8 years, fans of Faith have done a total of 4 recaps. If you happen to fall in love with Faith, follow up with the omitted script tidbits (link) which Song Ji Na that helps us better understanding story she wanted to tell, and the translated novels (link) to get more insights and details of the story.
  2. What would you do or say if a stranger approaches you with the unbelievable opportunity of going back in time — a year earlier — to do it all again? Would you take it? What would you do differently? This is the predicament that detective Ji Hyung-joo, played by the versatile Lee Joon-hyuk, is presented with as he grieves inconsolably over the brutal murder of his beloved partner and brother-in-arms, Park Sun-ho (Lee Sung-wook). He isn’t the only one. 9 others in his cohort are similarly invited to partake in this “reset” — individuals who all carry some kind of emotional baggage and compelling personal reason to get onboard this seemingly farfetched proposition to change the past. What all these individuals have in common is perhaps an inhuman desperation to act. It is almost always the case that time travelling to fix the past in Kdramaland is a dubious notion fraught with problems. It is no different here. For Hyung-joo, things goes well at first immediately after the reset. Armed with foreknowledge he apprehends his partner’s killer preemptively and earn commendation for preventing other related crimes. For Shin Ga-hyeon (Nam Ji-hyun), a popular crime writing web cartoonist, she manages to avoid the car accident that paralysed her waist down but the law of unintended consequences come to haunt her in other punishing ways. Soon, one by one, members of the reset group fall prey to inexplicable deaths which cause our resident detectives to become embroiled in a fight for survival. One of my favourite parts of the show is watching Hyung-joo, initially a second-rate cop grow as a detective and character while navigating the biggest mystery of his career. Lee Joon-hyuk is adorable in the role and especially in his interactions with Nam Ji-hyun. Romance isn’t a key feature here although their chemistry is delightful and there are subtle hints all throughout that these two collaborators have growing feelings for each other. The razor sharp Ga-hyeon is a great sounding board for Hyung-joo who in both his official and unofficial capacity is forced to grapple with a series of deaths related to the “reset” group. Is there something inherent in the reset mechanism that is flawed? Or are there other unknown sinister forces at play? The cast and the performances are undoubtedly the best thing about it and so it should be because as one peels away the insanity one layer at a time, it is clear that this rollercoaster of a drama ultimately about character. Central to the reset idea is its enigmatic proponent, Lee Shin, a clinical psychiatrist whose good intentions of wanting to give people second chances might be a cover for something possibly less altruistic. Her motives are unclear all throughout and the show has viewers questioning them all throughout as she deals with the fallout from the reset. The show benefits greatly from the 12 episode format. The plotting is tight and the mind-bending storyline keeps viewers on their toes. Just when you think you know exactly what’s going on, the show throws in a twist or takes a different turn which leaves you re-evaluating your cherished assumptions. Of course I never expected the show to satisfactorily explain the temporal device although some explanation is offered. In the end the time travelling element is merely a vehicle (no pun intended) for the show to explore age old questions of predestination and individual choice. Plot/story 9 Cast/acting 10 Production values 8 Rewatch Value 8.5
  3. Basic Information | Cast of Characters | Trailers |OST | Episode Guide | Ratings | Gallery | Review
  4. I have often wondered about K dramaland’s ongoing fascination with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Drama after drama in 2020 have made obvious reference to the classic English work of satire and imagination. It begs the question: Are they genuine homages to the source material or are these references merely cynical and blanket justifications for the lack of coherence and consistency in plotting? The answer is important to me at least, because often as a member of the viewing public I am asked to accept things “just because” and often in science fiction or should I say, serious science fiction “just because” just ain’t good enough. The industry has had a checkered relationship with science fiction for as long as I’ve been watching K dramas and there’s little doubt that the best ones have come from the cable networks. Why that is the case is perhaps a subject for another time. So perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise that this production goes wobbly half way. At the start Alice seemed to have all the makings of a good science fiction-time travel story. The elements were all there: fascinating ideas, good production values, a seemingly intriguing plot and even extended action sequences. On top of that, the show was attempting to do what others before had done in combining crime with time travel and in those early days, it seemed to hit all the right notes. Everything seemed to be solidly falling in place in those first six episodes. So what went awry? Joo-won, another recent returnee from military service, plays Park Jin-gyeom, a highly competent detective who was diagnosed at an early age with alexithymia, a condition that renders him unable to empathise and process emotions in ordinary fashion. Even as a child, he shows himself incapable of interacting with other kids and his only friend is the boisterous but good-hearted Do-yeon (Lee Da-in). At age 19, his mother was murdered and he went to stay with the investigating officer (Kim Sang-ho) and his wife. He then made it his lifelong goal to track down his mother's killer. What Jin-gyeom doesn’t know at first is that his mother, Park Sun-young aka Yoon Tae-yi (Kim Hui-seon), was a time traveller from the future. By all accounts she was the one who started it all — discovered time travel and led the way. With the help of colleagues she made time travel a genuine enterprise for individuals with past grievances. Hence the birth of Alice, an enigmatic organization that engages in what I call, time travel tourism. It is established early on that Tae-yi and her partner travels back in time to 1992 in search of a mysterious tome known as the Book of the Prophecy because it contains crucial information regarding the end of time travel. While in 1992, Tae-yi inadvertently discovers that she’s pregnant by her partner and is advised to abort the baby because of the radiation effects of wormhole travelling. During an attempt to retrieve the book, the physicist who was in possession of it then is murdered by a rogue time traveller. Disposing of their adversary not long afterwards, the book soon falls into Tae-yi’s hands. She takes a gander and then absconds with it, much to the chagrin of her partner and lover. Now acquainted with its contents, Tae-yi resolutely decides to remain in 1992 to raise her son as a single parent. Soon, Jin-gyeom in his capacity as a detective is led into one inexplicable crime after another. A girl goes missing, presumably kidnapped and then returns later unscathed claiming that she had been with her mother the entire time. Her mother however, had been on an overseas trip. Then a murder takes place in an apartment and the murderer disappears without a trace. This leads Jin-gyeom into a series of altercations with a key member of Alice, Yoo Min-hyuk (Kwak Si-yang) in the drama’s most exciting action sequences. It’s not really a spoiler to say that unknown to both men initially, Min-hyuk was Tae-yi’s lover and is Jin-gyeom’s biological father. As if this isn’t mind-boggling enough, Jin-gyeom during his investigation into the plausibility of time travel encounters a younger version of Yoon Tae-yi, a physics professor at a local university who may or may not be his mother’s doppelgänger or younger self. It is a question that pervades the entire drama and I for one don’t believe that the show ever deals with it satisfactorily. To be fair time travel is always a tough nut to crack. Sometimes it’s just best to assume that the temporal mechanics works the way it does because it does. No scientific explanation can be given. Often that works as in the case of Signal or 365: Repeat the Year as long as the show doesn’t willy nilly break its own rules, the plot is engaging and the storytelling flows. When the storytelling is good no one really cares how a walkie talkie without batteries can suddenly work so precisely at a particular time without warning. However, in the case of Alice, the temporal mechanics purports to be explained by Choi Won-young’s character as parallel universes. Or is it alternate timelines? I’m never sure. Perhaps something's lost in translation. When a person travels back in time, it supposedly creates an alternate future (a branch timeline) but it doesn’t change the future of the original timeline from which the traveller came. The use of terminology here is somewhat confusing but what is doubly confusing is the insistence of SBS promo department that Prof Yoon Tae-yi is a different person. We are expected to believe that when the maternal version went back into the past and changed it, she may or may not have created a parallel world with another Yoon Tae-yi. The lack of clarity there was, to my mind, the beginning of the downward spiral of the drama. What also upset and sent viewers running in a different direction were the possible Oedipal implications of all of this especially when Jin-gyeom spends the rest of the drama doing “The Bodyguard” routine with damsel-in-distress Professor Tae-yi. As he realises how much trouble he caused his mother as a child, he starts to relive his missed opportunities with the professor who may or may not be his mother's younger self. Especially when he takes her to his childhood home as a refuge from murderous time travelling miscreants. There are hints too that Professor Tae-yi could be developing romantic feelings for Jin-gyeom. The show, it seems to me, repeatedly and deliberately obfuscates the identities of the various Tae-yis. It seems to me that this is an attempt to game the audience right up to the 11th hour but the resolution leaves one more dissatisfied than in awe. There are far too many unnecessary red-herrings particularly in the second half being pulled out of the magician’s hat for my liking. The ideas are interesting in and of themselves but they’re not well incorporated into the bigger storyline. Clearly parts of the show are better than the sum total. Consequently it points to a colossal waste of potential and good will. The ideas are all there for a decent drama and perhaps for the more forgiving that might be enough because the cast do their best with the madness that’s inflicted on them. I wanted far more from the ensemble cast but it seemed to me that the show gradually shifted into Jin-gyeom and Tae-yi melodrama gear which didn’t interest me after a while. One of the bright spots for me was Kwak Si-yang as Min-hyuk. He really came to my attention in this drama and I was rooting for him all the way. His emotional arc was one that I was so looking forward to seeing expanded but alas that was not to be. Furthermore, the entire Alice angle — the origins, the relationships — was completely ignored. I didn’t want just to be told about the good o’l days, I wanted to see evidence of it. Flashbacks would have been nice. Other characters like Do-yeon and fellow detectives essentially became props and scenery. When the show delves into the importance of families — birth ones or the ones that those orphaned find their way to, it does well enough exploring the relationships around Jin-gyeom. It’s certainly one of the highlights of Jin-gyeom’s trajectory to understand himself and his place in the universe to appreciate the people around him who have done so much for him despite his seeming indifference. Yes, I also accept that the show is an unabashed celebration of mother’s love. But they can only do so much drum banging on that theme before it gets really irritatingly old. The ending is for me a nonsensical one. It’s a cop out. A plot hole large enough for two elephants and truck to go through. That’s why I keep mulling over the Alice reference. Do the show runners really believe that we’d be happy going on this journey to accept that the incoherence as something deliberately built into the plot? Like Alice who woke up relieved to find out that it was all a dream. If they did, it was a serious miscalculation on their part. Story: 7 Storytelling: 6 Cast: 9 Production Values: 7.5 Rewatch value: 5
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