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Gaksital: A Drama With So Many Possibilities

Because I’m so behind on Gaksital (a.k.a. Bridal Mask) and the progress is going so slowly, I decided that I should just post what I can instead of waiting to catch up. Screencaps are from episodes 1-2.

I didn’t know anything about the storyline except that it was about a masked hero when I started watching the drama so I watched the first five minutes thinking that Joo Won was Gaksital. So imagine my surprise when he slapped Mok Dan.

And then Gaksital showed up to rescue Mok Dan to leave Joo Won screaming his name.

Kang To wholeheartedly cheering “Banzai!” What a way to set up the hero as a thoroughly despicable person in the context of Japanese-occupied Korea.

Woohoo! Joo Won using his musical background skills.

I love Big but, as I have commented before, the plot in the drama feels very thin. So there are so many moments in an episode when the story drags and I feel like nothing is happening. With Gaksital, there are layers upon layers of complicated relationships that create an intricate drama in which every moment is significant and engaging. Of course as a drama set in a turbulent era, this is easier to do. Stakes are high when the a nation’s future hangs in the balance and lives can be blown out in a second like a candle. So when you have so much at stake, all embedded in the layers of relationships that weave throughout the story, you produce a drama that has so much possibility. It’s not just about whether the hero and heroine will end up together, but about whether anyone will remain alive by the end. And to get to that answer, the journey will be turbulent and twisty, heartbreaking and breathtaking. What a drama to look forward to.

The first layer: Lee Kang To’s family. Lee Kang To is the son of a revolutionary hero in Korea’s independence movement against the Japanese. His older brother was a top university student made into an “idiot” by the Japanese. His mother was once the wife of a wealthy nobleman but now sells rice cakes on the streets, bullied by other Koreans because her younger son is a detective for the Japanese-controlled police.

The second layer: Kimura Shunji’s family. Shunji is a gentle teacher who is best friends with Lee Kang To. He is a thorn in his father’s side. His father is the police chief, Kimura Taro, who also happens to belong to the nefarious secret club, Kishokai, the club that Gaksital is out to destroy. His brother is another police office, Kimura Kenji, who hates Lee Kang To with a passion. Can you say dysfunctional?

The third layer: Lee Kang To is desperate to capture Gaksital who is actually is “idiot” brother. This boy is going to need therapy for years when he finds out what he has been trying to do all this time.

The fourth layer: Shunji and Mok Dan. Shunji is in love with Mok Dan, who 1) is the daughter of a revolutionary leader, 2) has on crush on Gaksital, and 3) also longs for Kang To, her childhood love, albeit unknowingly. Yeah, Shunji really knows how to pick a girl.

Off on a tangent but I love the trees in this forest.

Gaksital and Dan touch hands. I love the shot.

The fifth layer: Mok Dan and Kang To. Dan hates Kang To with a fire of a thousand suns because 1) he has tried to kill her father and 2) he has also arrested and had her tortured. But she is also in love with him, or rather his child version, and later on with his alter ego, Gaksital.

Two fiery people, constantly staring each other down. The heat! The passion! When they get together, it is going to be wild. 😉

The sixth layer: The friendship between Shunji and Kang To. A bromance of loyalty, trust, and unspoken understanding. All that stands between the these two and the title of “Best Friends Forever” are their families that stand on opposite sides of the political war and love for the same girl. And did I mention one is going to try to kill the other, albeit unknowingly?

I love how there are so many shots in Gaksital that can contain so much complexity in plot and emotion.

The seventh layer: Lee Kang To and Korea. Yeah, the Korean citizens hate him as the police detective but they will love him as the masked hero, Gaksital, later on. They will alternate between throwing rocks or flowers at him.

Can I also just say how much I love how certain shots capture Joo Won’s intensity so perfectly. I love the angle and lighting in these scenes. Joo Won looks beautiful, even with all the bruises and blood.

Confident and cool even in jail.

Oh god, his expressive face.

He looked so much Kang Dong Won here. Joo Won is doing a wonderful job but honestly, I thought about how awesome it would be if Kang Dong Won had done this drama.

His eyes. Joo Won looks so fierce and vulnerable at the same time.

More Gaksital please!

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. sonia #

    yeah! you’re watching Gaksital too. I’m a huge fan of this drama.

    “With Gaksital, there are layers upon layers of complicated relationships that create an intricate drama in which every moment is significant and engaging.”
    agree with you.
    Gaksital is awesome! and I can’t wait for new episodes every week.

    now we’re just half way through (episode 14 out of 28). I can’t really imagine what this drama would bring in the future episodes and also about the ending. but…
    “It’s not just about whether the hero and heroine will end up together, but about whether anyone will remain alive by the end. And to get to that answer, the journey will be turbulent and twisty, heartbreaking and breathtaking.”
    you got that right, joonni.
    I don’t care (or I care) whether Kang To will end up with Mok Dan in the end or not, but I just wish he won’t die in the end.

    PLEASE!!!! if he died in the end, it’s so much for my heart to take 😦

    July 14, 2012
  2. “Confident and cool even in jail.” This scene. I really dig it when he provoked Kenji to enter the cell. Boy, he’s good with his words and plans!

    Seeing Shunji in his teacher mode….*sniff* I really miss those times 😥

    July 14, 2012
  3. leahtaro #

    Joonni, you have to get caught up with Gaksital by all reasons!
    So much had happened in the next 10 episodes, it’s insanely awesome! 🙂
    Gaksital is the ONLY drama I look forward to these days, and it is beyond amazing! And I am not a Joowon fan when this drama started, I tell you, and now I am head over heels for this guy. 🙂
    I love that you have captured the layers quite well.
    Insightful thoughts as always! Looking forward to mid-evaluation 9?) if there is soon!

    July 14, 2012
  4. Jooni – I am glad you are watching Gaksital! It is certainly one of the better dramas airing right now. It is really well done, and oh my goodness!!!! Joo Won is so AMAZING!!! Ah, he is playing the tortured soul so well!!! I LOVE THIS DRAMA!!!!

    July 14, 2012
    • joonni #

      I’m dying to get up to the tortured soul part but I dont’ want to skip any episodes or skim through them. This drama needs my full attention. That’s why it’s taking me so long to get through it.

      July 14, 2012
  5. MiHoThai #

    Bridal Mask ! top of the top . Bridal mask is the best drama . I love all actor, actress, directory, camera, …..especially . Joo won is the best actor. Great…Shunji good. Bộ phim này rất hay. Tuyệt của tuyệt. Đỉnh của đỉnh

    July 14, 2012
  6. Woonieluv8 #

    yay!! love what you said about it, practically took the words from my mind, and about kang dong won, as much as i love joo woon you’re definetly right, he would also have been perfect for this role, he’s one of my favorite actors, loved him in Haunters, have you seen it? I plan on eventually watching all the things that they are in, but anywaaaaays you have got to watch the next eps of Gaksital!!! they will make you go crazy! so good 🙂

    July 14, 2012
    • joonni #

      I haven’t seen KDW in Haunters. Thanks for the reminder. I need to do that.

      July 14, 2012
      • Woonieluv8 #

        welcome :p

        July 15, 2012
  7. Timescout #

    Sadly I wasn’t able to get invested in the characters in any way, they left me complitely indifferent. Then I lost interest in the story as well (and started to get irritated by just about everyone) so I ended up droping it just this week. Guess this is one of those cases I’m in the minority for not caring of a drama that everyone else seems to be gaga over. 🙂

    July 15, 2012
    • joonni #

      I’m not gaga over Gaksital just yet. I think it’s because, like you, I haven’t become invested in the characters yet. Narratively, like I wrote, I find this drama to have a complex and interesting storyline that can pull at a number of different heartstrings. But personally, none have been pulled yet for me. I think this is an very individualistic thing as I can’t point out objectively why this hasn’t happened for me yet when it seems to have happened to everyone else very quickly. I’ll see how it goes from here.

      July 15, 2012
      • Timescout #

        I agree, it’s a personal experience for everyone. The things that others seem to find awesome and squee worthy make me want to headdesk… hard. Just reading the recaps of the last few episodes made me oddly angry. Which is when I realised it was pointless trying to continue (got as far as ep 10). Even with the characters failing to draw me in I still thought the story was quite interesting in the beginning but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but round in circles.

        July 16, 2012
        • Luna #

          it’s sad that you chose not to continue watching it. the plot was indeed going slower in episode 7-10 and I felt I want to drop it too. but the show is back on track on episodes 11-14. and I suggest you to give it a try again. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed 🙂

          July 17, 2012
          • Timescout #

            The biggest problem is that I don’t care for any of the characters. They either leave me totally indifferent or irritated. There’s also too much stupidity going on, Shunji seems to be the only one with a functioning brain. IDK, I just don’t think there’s much substance in the story (I read recaps of eps 11-14 and didn’t like what I read). Recurring beatings and torture just don’t do it for me and I’m not feeling the various relationships either. I had a hard time getting onboard Gaksital from the get go so I’m not really surprised I ended up dropping it. We just weren’t ment to be. 🙂

            July 18, 2012
  8. The story and the characters intrigue me, but I’m not totally feeling the drama yet. I am interested where the plot is headed towards but our antihero needs to redeem himself to me big time before I can cheer him on. I mean, slapping and torturing his love interest and beating villagers isn’t something that I can forget about that easily.

    July 15, 2012
  9. eny #

    i really like the story,for me the story is reasonable kang to being evil and ambitious to get better life for his mother and to cure his idiot brother, and change his heart not suddently but with the process. I like Kang to ask what if one person fight for fredom would the world change, and so much scene that left deep impression to me

    July 19, 2012
  10. Woonieluv8 # aaaaaaahhh just realized the pain is real my poor baby

    July 28, 2012
    • joonni #

      On one hand I feel bad for him but on the other, the location of his pain….it’s really funny.

      July 30, 2012

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