리멤버 (Remember:War of the Son)

I saw the finale of Remember: War of the Son earlier today. The overall story tends to get a bit disappointing due to the number of times they have come too close to cornering Nam Gyu Nam only to let him get away. Just as Lee In Ah said, bad things just keep on happening to Seo Jin Woo but this sad angle of the drama is compensated by the strong performances of its actors.

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Yoo Seung Ho’s innocent face and remarkable dramatic skills elicit all kinds of noona feels from me. He’s still pretty but has gotten a tad manlier post-army. He’s swoon worthy enough to lead a romantic genre but he shines more in a melodrama. His character, Seo Jin Woo, has come a long way from being the hapless, powerless boy to a grown up lawyer in search of justice for his wrongfully accused deceased father. And it’s definitely not an easy journey considering the betrayals and the lives ruined until he was finally able to take the almighty Ilho group and the invincible Nam Gyu Man down.

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Nam Gyu Man! I literally had goosebumps when watching him. I was swooning and getting intimidated at the same time. I think Remember would have just ended up as a typical memory-related, melo courtroom, revenge drama if it weren’t for Namgoong Min’s insane acting skills. I enjoyed watching his angry outbursts and yet I felt bad to see him fall apart even though he actually deserves it. More than just the incarceration and worse than death itself is his father turning his back on him.The moments of sympathy that I felt for him showed just amazing Namgoong Min’s performance was. He gave depth to a character who has reached the point of no return.  He deserves a Best Supporting Actor trophy for this but I hope he won’t get typecast as a psycho villain.

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But if one thinks Namgoong Min takes the best performance out of the cast, there’s still Park Sung Woong who plays charismatic lawyer Park Dong Ho whose fate seemed to have intertwined with Seo Jin Woo’s in the most heartbreaking ways. He is definitely the most interesting character with the way he speaks satoori while strutting in the courtroom in his flamboyant suit that stands out among the usual neutrals. It represents the same way his personality differs from stereotypical lawyers. It’s quite hard to predict what he’ll do next since he’s got all mafia badass, law school knowledge and street smarts altogether.

The acting department is just solid that it somehow made me overlook some plot holes and the unbearable sufferings Jin Woo had go to through.

My gripe is that the female characters are quite underused especially Gyu Man’s sister Yeo Kyung played by Jung Hye Seong. She is playing a prosecutor so I was expecting that there would be a kind of Lee Bo Young-Lee Da Hee (I Can Hear Your Voice) moment between her and In Ah, but well, I expected too much.

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Park Min Young still has bits of Chae Young Shin (Healer) in her since she can do plucky characters really well. Seo Jin Woo says Lee In Ah is being nosy but she argued that if it weren’t for her meddling, then they wouldn’t have met and they wouldn’t have gone through the good and bad together. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel their romantic chemistry that much. I like them better with the noona-dongsaeng relationship.

Remember: War of the Son broke the 20% ratings in its final episode. I can’t say the ratings is equal to its quality. It speaks mostly about the Korean audience’s preference and I think they go for the makjang type. The whole wrongfully accused father and loss of memories are both overdone. It’s already sad that Jin Woo’s dad had Alzheimer’s, I wish the writer didn’t have to make him have the same disease. As we get closer to Jin Woo clearing his innocent father’s name and taking down the corrupt chaebols, we also get closer to his deteriorating memory. With all the bad things he’s been through, I thought Jin Woo deserved a happier ending than this bittersweet open-ended one.

But then again, regardless of one’s memory, or the absence of it, what matters is that we survived the toughest of times and have touched other people’s lives. We will continue to exist in other people’s memories even when we forget ours. Besides, he didn’t throw his notebook of good memories so I’m pretty sure Jin Woo remembers In Ah and she knows it, as she follows him with a smile.

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