A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
After visiting his dad in Bangkok, Jung Se Ro (Yoon Kye Sang) is wrongly accused of murdering the fiancé of Han Young Won (Han Ji Hye), a jewelry designer for Belle L’Affair and the daughter of a business tycoon.
During the course of one night, Se Ro loses his dad and his freedom. Five years later, he is released from prison with plans to seek revenge against the family whom he blames for his situation. As his first step towards infiltrating and destroying their family, the innocent Young Won becomes his first mark.
I am always wary of melodramas because the emotions in those dramas are riding high and too close to the surface which comes off as being implausible to me. Despite that, the action and intensity from the promo grabbed my attention. So I settled in knowing full well that I might have issues with the makjang elements in the drama but the great thing about having great actors is that they can sometimes make you forget or forgive those eye rolling elements.
Yoon Kye Sang and Han Ji Hye had a lot of great chemistry here. However, the thing that aggravated me the most about their characters was their naiveté. I couldn’t quite grasp why smart people like Se Ro and Young Won couldn’t see that they were surrounded by deceptive people.
However, I do think the drama does attempt at an answer for that. The answer is that denial is part of both their natures and that’s the same thing that attracts them to each other.
They’ve both experienced a lot of dark times in their lifetime. Se Ro grew up with a con man father and ultimately loses him to the con. Young Won lost her mother at a very young age and also loses her fiancé. They want to see the good in the people they love, even if they have their own corrupt agendas, because without them they’re all alone in the world.
Through their love for each other, they have their own awakening about the people around them and who they can trust. It’s a flimsy excuse for their stupidity but I’ll buy it since Yoon Kye Sang and Han Ji Hye are both great at showing the desperation in their characters.
Yangpa – 태양은 가득히 (Full Sun)
Although I think the desperation is more palpable with Park Kang Jae, played beautifully by Jo Jin Woong. Jo Jin Woong has played a lot of gangsters, nefarious type of characters as well as the strong, silent types through the years. But he does something really unique with the Park Kang Jae character.
On the outside, Kang Jae is a guy who had it rough growing up. He’s served time as a young teen after innocently helping Se Ro’s dad and has been on the wrong path ever since. I even understand his motives for continuing the con even though Se Ro and everyone else in the crew calls it quits after a certain point. The guy who financially backs the con is one man you don’t want to mess with. He’s like the Terry Benedict of the gang.
However, Kang Jae’s austerity is at odds with his inner emotions. On the inside, he’s just a big ‘ol teddy bear as he cares deeply for Se Ro like a younger brother and harbors a serious crush on Seo Jae In (Kim Yoo Ri). I really loved his scenes with Kim Yoo Ri.
While Kang Jae is literally a big and intimidating man, one word from the petite Jae In cuts him down to size. I love that she has this power over him but there’s an interesting scene when Kang Jae reaches his rock bottom.
His determination to keep the con going puts him at odds with Jae In so gives up and leaves the group. He shows up at her door and tries to force himself on her. He could have had his way if he wanted to but she stops him. You could literally see his hands trembling as he pulls back. It’s the little touches like that which makes Jo Jin Woong’s performance in the drama very watch-worthy.
Parallel that with Kim Young Chul who plays not only another villain but another bad father to a daughter who ends up defying him. While the father-daughter dynamic is commonplace in Korean dramas, is there seriously no other actor who can play this role besides Kim Young Chul? So I was disappointed to see him but not at all surprised.
This revenge-driven, melo plot certainly isn’t breaking molds with its predictable plot and pacing but the acting does somewhat make up for a lot of its faults. Even though the subpar ratings didn’t entice anyone to extend the series, keeping it contained to the 16 episodes kept the drama manageable.
I’d say if you’re going to give this drama a try, know what to expect from the story as the drama requires some patience. While the emotional soundtrack does sweep some of the drama’s problems under the rug, there’s nothing getting past the repetitiveness of the plot. Even though the character’s motives hindered the pacing at times, the drama does attempt to pay things off even if it wasn’t as satisfying as I had hoped it would be. However, if you are able to look past these rough elements, there are some hidden gems to uncover. Certainly Jo Jin Woong shines at the top of that list.