How happy am I that Lee Junki picked a drama for his drama comeback after military service? The combination of a fantasy sageuk, Lee Junki and Shin Mina just seem to be destined for some awesome crack.
Arang and the Magistrate is based on a famous tale of a young woman named Arang who was murdered and returns as a ghost to haunt the magistrates that are posted in her town. In the drama, Lee Junki shows up as the new magistrate and they- with Shin Mina as Arang- fall in love. It will be directed by Kim Sang Ho, who also did the excellent Can You Hear My Heart. The drama is written by Jung Yoon Jung who penned seasons 1 and 2 of Chosun Police. I didn’t watch the series, but obviously this woman knows her sageuk stuff.
The drama is described as a fantasy-melo-sageuk so I’m expecting it to be angsty. I mean, it’s a love story between a ghost and a human. If it is not comedy, we know where this is headed. I’m glad that there is this fantasy trend in K-drama land these days. The fantasy genre regenerates normal, everyday things and makes them strange again. When you throw four men from the Joseon era into modern Seoul (à la Rooftop Prince), you are able to look at the world through their eyes- the things we take for granted everyday are really a marvel of technology and human development. As they say in anthropology, “To make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.”
I also enjoy the fantasy genre in K-dramas because they inject the all-too-familiar love stories with some epic-ness. I love my epic dramas (see Damo) but that trend died down with the rise of dramas like My Name is Kim Sam Soon. I enjoy dramas about everyday people but dramas these days take these regular people, paint them in extremes, and push them into makjang territory. The fantasy element buoys the same ol’love stories without fauxcest, interfering mothers, and birth secrets. The world keeps our hero and heroine apart, not their own stupidity. (Okay, maybe I’m making QIHM too much of an example of the fantasy drama, but its on my mind…what can I do?)
Faith stars Lee Minho (YAY!!!!!) and Kim Hee Sun. Set further back in history, the story takes place in Korea’s Goryeo dynasty, where a modern day plastic surgeon, played by Kim Hee-Sun, is kidnapped and brought back in time. She falls in love with Lee Minho who is bodyguard to the king.
The drama is helmed by director Lee Jong Hak and writer Song Jin-ah, who together have produced some of the greatest dramas in K-drama history, like Sandglass and The Legend. I don’t remember a lot of Sandglass but I have watched The Legend. All I’ll say is that you can look forward to some really high quality production and carefully thought out writing. I thought The Legend was one of the most tightly written fantasy-sageuk-political drama out there.
I know Lee Minho will deliver but I’m not sure about Kim Hee Sun. I used to watch every drama she starred in the late 90s and early millenium but I feel like her acting never improves. She just doesn’t have enough charisma on screen. And chemistry-wise…Lee Minho and Kim Hee Sun? I don’t see it but we’ll see how this turns out. Anyway, hurray for watching Lee Minho wield a sword. Can you imagine the hotness just exploding on screen? Except he will be wearing all that gear and I won’t be able to see the long legs I love so much.
I’ve also included below some pics of the drama set that a fan took. I love it already.
Interesting tidbit- The cast also includes Lee Philip who has starred in three of Song Jin-ah’s dramas- The Legend, Story of a Man, and now Faith. That’s three out of four dramas he’s been in since debuting in 2007. Either Song really love him or he just follows her around like a puppy.
Arang and the Magistrate will air Wed-Thu starting at the end of July after I Do, I Do finishes on MBC. Faith will air Mon-Tue starting August 13 on SBS.
Now give me some news about Nice Guy, Korean media, instead of ridiculous speculations. I want Song Joong Ki on my screen so badly!