Ones to Watch: Upcoming October K-Dramas
The weather is cooling down, the days are getting shorter, and there is a decided crispness in the air that just calls for a night in with a good drama or two. So get comfy on your couch, warm your hands around a pumpkin spiced latte, and settle in because October’s drama selection has something for everyone.
(October 4 – Saturdays on OCN)
In the mood for a good murder mystery? Love crime-solving psychopaths? Well, you’re in luck because cable network OCN’s “Bad Guys” pits a group of criminals against an on-the-loose-murder in an epic showdown of criminal minds. Park Hae Jin has been on the up and up lately with his roles in “My Love From the Stars” and “Doctor Stranger,” but in “Bad Guys,” we’ll get to see him show a different, darker side (one that was only hinted at in “Doctor Stranger”) in his role as Lee Jung Moon, a brilliant but psychotic serial killer. And while the concept of the drama is grittier than my usual fare, I love that it takes the idea of the big bad and spins it on its head — that is, using bad guys to catch a bad guy (thereby making the original bad guys… good guys? See where I’m going with this?). I’m also glad it is on a cable network to do the drama justice and really flesh out the creepier aspects of the story. And Kim Sang Joong is an great choice to play the detective that elicits help from criminals Jung Moon, Park Woong Cheol (Ma Dong Seok) and Jung Tae Soo (Jo Dong Hyeok). While the criminals are quite at their leisure and may be convinced to help out the forces of justice, I have a feeling they all have their own ends to achieve and games to play. I’m curious to see how this one pans out.
Watch Park Hae Jin’s character teaser for “Bad Guys” below:
(October 13 – Mondays and Tuesdays on KBS2)
Quite possibly the most anticipated drama of this year, for better or for worse. The Korean remake of the much beloved Japanese series, “Nodame Cantabile,” stars Joo Won, Shim Eun Kyung, Go Kyung Pyo, Park Bo Gum, Do Hee, and Jang Se Hyun, and follows the aspirations and lives of young students as they learn about love, and what it takes to achieve their dreams as classical music performers. It is always a tricky thing remaking such a cult classic because fans will more than vocal in sharing their opinions, as has already been the case, from everything from casting decisions to the haircuts of the actors. Ultimately, the challenge for “Tomorrow Cantabile,” and what will determine its success, is how well it stays true to the heart of the original, but re-imagines it for a Korean audience. It’s a good thing, then, that these characters are in the capable hands of Joo Won and Shim Eun Kyung, who are more than capable of portraying the effortless Cha Yoo Jin and offbeat and lovable Seol Nae Il. What else? By the looks of the first two teasers, “Tomorrow Cantabile” is hitting all the right notes (pun intended) in terms of humor, mood, and all those feel-good vibes.
Catch out the second teaser for “Tomorrow Cantabile”:
(October 17 – Fridays and Saturdays on TvN)
Let’s hear it for workplace dramas and the kind of therapy that happens when workplace antics and drudgery are depicted in realistic, humorous, and relatable ways. If there is one drama that is on my list to watch for October, it is “Misaeng.” Based off a manhwa with a cult following of those in the 20s and 3os, the drama follows the lives of everyday office workers Im Siwan, Kang Sora, Lee Sung Min, and Kang Haneul as they clock in and try to survive the pitfalls of corporate life. For those of us who slave away spend our days in a cube farm, we will get to see all the things that drive us crazy in our 9-5’s played out in accurate, albeit dramatized, ways, and I for one can not wait. The teasers for “Misaeng” have been snappy and succinct and capture so brilliantly the highs and lows of life on the bottom tier.
If this teaser for “Misaeng” doesn’t at least draw pangs of sympathy, you have no soul:
(October 18 – Saturday and Sundays on SBS)
This quirky comedy centers on the members of rock band “Excellent Souls” who escape bustling city life for that of hard labor in the countryside. The drama follows the band as they explore life’s biggest questions of love, friendship, and success while working the land. As quirky or humorous as the setup is for “Modern Farmer,” I actually find the concept for the drama both endearing and appealing. Who hasn’t wanted to just get away from the drama, the business, the complications of the city to escape into the the richness and relatively uncomplicated lifestyle the wilderness has to offer? What life truths can one discover when they actually get their hands dirty and come home from a honest day’s labor exhausted in body but refreshed in mind? If only things were that simple, we say. To which this drama says, resoundingly, it is. Lee Hong Ki, Park Min Woo, Kwak Dong Yeon, Lee Shi Un star as our rockers, with Lee Honey and Min Ah rounding out the cast as characters the rockers encounter in a rural village.
(October 20 – Mondays and Tuesdays on TvN)
“Liar Game” is about a young, naïve college student’s involvement in a fictional “Liar Game Tournament” where cheating, lying, and deceiving others are the keys to success. Lee Sang Yoon plays a former psychology professor turned ex-swindler, Shin Sung Rok is the sharp-eyed game master, and Kim So Eun stars as the much-too-honest college student. I have to say, the casting for this drama is excellent. Lee Sang Yoon is not only a brilliant actor, he’s also pretty smart, holding a degree from Seoul National University in, of all things, physics. Playing the part of university professor should be a walk in the park for him, and given his acting chops and natural charisma, his turn as an ex-swindler should prove interesting. And Shin Sung Rok as our villain? If you tuned into this year’s “Man From the Stars” you know just what a fantastically evil villain he can be. What remains to be seen is how he will differentiate his role in “Liar Game,” and I’m betting we are going to get an even creepier and more ruthless bad guy than we saw on “Man From the Stars.” Let’s not forget about fresh-faced, doe-eyed Kim So Eun as the character at the center of it all. Not only does she look the part, there is just something so wholesome about her that makes you wonder how her character, of all people, would get mixed up in something so underhanded as this “Liar Game Tournament.”
Watch the cast go through the first script reading of “Liar Game”:
(Mondays and Tuesdays on MBC)
Last but certainly not least, we have MBC’s “Pride and Prejudice,” sadly of no relation to Jane Austen or her Mr. Darcy. “Pride and Prejudice” plunges us into the hard-hitting world of prosecutors, public defenders, and the justice system. I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of legal dramas, but this one is drawing my attention because of its leads, Choi Jin Hyuk and Baek Jin Hee. Ever since his role in 2013’s “Gu Family Book,” where he slayed hearts as the tragic Gu Wol Ryung, Choi Jin Hyuk has done no wrong in terms of his project selection. And while his character in “Pride and Prejudice” reads similar to his roles in “The Heirs” and “Emergency Couple,” I am looking forward to him tackling this genre especially as he plays opposite Baek Jin Hee. Her character is supposed to be a tough and passionate intern prosecutor who fights for the weak and under served, but in the stills above she is still a wide-eyed college student. How she joins Choi Jin Hyuk’s character in upholding the law in the face of corruption, one can only guess. What I hope is not left to our imagination is the love story behind these two. I anticipate hot tempers, heated arguments, and passionate words flung in and outside the courtroom. “Pride and Prejudice” will premiere after “The Night Watchman.”
Phew! October is shaping up to be one full of great dramas. Which October dramas are you anticipating the most? Vote below and let us know why in the comments section!