Friday, April 25, 2014

K-drama review: God's Gift — 14 Days

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Genre: Melodrama, crime/mystery
16 episodes
My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Lee Bo Young as Kim Soo Hyun
Cho Seung Woo as Ki Dong Chan
Kim Tae Woo as Han Ji Hoon
Kim Yoo Bin as Han Saet Byul

Plot Summary

Kim Soo Hyun is an investigative journalist who writes for a television show that covers unsolved crimes in an attempt to present all the evidence, expose the perpetrator, and encourage viewers to call if they have any leads.  Her current project involves a serial killer who’s been killing young women in back alleys, and she’s pretty sure she’s found the culprit.  While they are on air, the show’s hotline receives a call from a man who claims to be the killer, but says he’s bored with what he’s been doing and has decided to do something different – this time he has kidnapped a child and she will die, and this will be the president’s fault.  He puts the child on the phone to prove he actually has her... and it’s Soo Hyun’s nine-year-old daughter Saet Byul.

Soo Hyun spends the next week regretting what a lousy mom she’s been and is devastated when her daughter’s body is found in a reservoir.  Apparently she drowned while trying to escape from her captor. At the end of the traditional forty-nine day long period of mourning the police have gotten no closer to finding the culprit, and in a fit of despair Soo Hyun goes down to the place where her daughter died and throws herself in.

At the same time, our other main character, private investigator Ki Dong Chan, has been chased down by goons (long story), tied up and thrown into the reservoir just downhill of where Soo Hyun has thrown herself in.  Somehow his ropes come untied and he’s able to swim over to her and pull her out of the river.  After they get back to their homes they each realize that they’ve been sent back to 14 days before Saet Byul’s death.

The mother is determined to do everything in her power to stop her daughter’s death, but her only ally is Dong Chan, since he’s the only one who knows what’s going to happen – her husband understandably thinks she’s lost her mind when she starts babbling about their daughter being kidnapped and killed.

What I liked about it

The characters are well-written.  They have solid, believable motivations and the conflicts are built in, not ginned up for the sake of furthering the plot or creating emotional tension.  The acting is really good, especially by Cho Seung Woo who plays Dong Chan.  He is a bitter ex-cop, who’s really sweet underneath, and he’s clever and can be funny at the most unexpected times.

There’s lots of politics (which I mostly didn’t understand) and cover-ups and scandals and red herrings, and the mystery begins to seem impossible to unravel.  Obviously there are many layers of intigue or Mom would simply be able to prevent the kidnapping.  I like complications in this kind of show, trying to figure out what was really going on, who was really behind all this, who knew what when.

The pacing was good – the plot kept moving forward, sometimes rapidly, sometimes more slowly, which was a good mix to keep it from getting either overwhelming or boring.


Sometimes it was TOO complicated and I lost track of the details and all the sub-plots and sub-sub-plots and who was actually a suspect and who’d been cleared, and sometimes there were plot threads that got dropped and never picked up again. 

I didn’t much care for the end, but that’s a common failing of Korean drama.  It wasn’t a bad ending... it just seems like, given the way things worked out it should have felt inevitable, and it really didn’t. Maybe the writers meant for it to be sort of open-ended, but it didn’t feel that way, either.  But unsatisfactory endings are so common with K-drama that I’ve come to accept them – I just rewrite them in my head if I dislike them enough.

Would you enjoy this show?

If you like crime or mystery shows where you have to pay attention to the clues, this should be a good fit.  There’s no romance and there’s nothing light and fluffy about it except for a few scenes with the little girl and some of her grown up friends, but even those are bittersweet, given the context.

Watch it on DramaFever or Viki.

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