There should be a clause in an actor’s contract stating that if said actor becomes objectively more popular and successive as scientifically measured by search queries rise and interests from the blogsphere in the course of his/her current role, his/her current role would be revised to reflect the rise in success or he/she can leave the project without penalty. Wishful thinking, but one can wish. This sentiment comes on the heel of news that Paradise Ranch 파라다이스 목장(the title sounds like something the late Aaron Spelling’s would be pleased to call his own), a simple concept of young newlyweds encountering marital and life challenges in their little neck of the world on a ranch in Jeju Island, has secured a broadcast slot for premiere in late January. The sympathy is directed towards the actor playing the second male lead for this sucrose oozing, almost shelved, thus further disencouraging, drama- Joo Sang Wook.
Fresh off his recently ended, more current rating powerhouse and award-winning drama Giant 자이언트, whose success he greatly contributed to and deservedly lauded for, JSW’s next project is highly anticipated. The only logical consequence for viewers would be to see him next as the male lead in a substantive project or participant in another top-notch ensemble piece deserving of his talent and new status. But instead, due to the chronologically uncorresponding relationship between a drama’s filming and its actual broadcast, JSW’s pre-Giant project Paradise Ranch will be shown now, where JSW was relegated to nondescript second male lead. Since PR was meant to be mega-popular, albeit truncated, boy group DBSK member Choi Kang Chang Min’s acting debut, he is the naturally the lead. ‘Curiosity killed the cat’, and in this case, curiosity can lead to eye-gorging, muscle-cringing experience from watching newbie idol-turn-actor try to act. There’re too many painful past experience as data support.
It might really be a service to everyone if PR gets shelved. SBS will continue its recent winning run ahead of the network race since the last quarter of 2010 with uncannily entertaining dramas i.e. Giant, Daemul, Secret Garden, Athena. The two leads, Chang Min and Lee Yeon Hee (East of Eden) get paid training in acting free of audience’s criticism, and Joo Sang Wook and management can stop fantasizing about stealing and burning those PR tapes and move on to selecting bigger and better projects. The only potential loser in this scenario is the production company, but even then some degree of tax-deductible business loss write-off is possible. A retraction anyone…?
Giant‘s steady and strong audience support and praise has sealed the deal on another 10 episodes extension to its already long (and tiring) initial 50-episodes run. Although it’s a well-performing drama so far, really hitting its stride midway around episode 23-24, the producers’ reason for dragging the story out is unquestionably monetary. One can only hope the pace, story, and characters do not suffer in the aftermath of this greed à la Dong Yi (2010), and even High Kick Through the Roof 2 (2009-2010), which may have the worst twisted, bitter ending in the history of Korean dramas! The only sure bright note to this is seeing more of Hwang Jung Eum, who plays the youngest sister Miju in the drama and reigns as the current Queen of CFs in real life.
Giant’s extension has another more immediate fallout- the subsequent delay of the debut of Athena: Goddess of War, which is next in the line up. It is now slotted to air in December.
In Episode 36 of Giant, Jo Min Woo takes over Manbo Construction Company after secretly buying a large amount of the company’s stock and stopping all funds to build a new apartment. Jung Yeon is dismissed from the company and she lost her hope. However, two people try to help her by giving advice.
On the day before the announcement of a new owner of Manbo Construction Company, Lee Kang Mo sits down for a drink with Jung Yeon. He tells her, “Should I give you the reason [why the company fell apart] or should I tell you how [to recover from it]?” Kang Mo describes a time when Jung Yeon played with soil. “The more you want it and grab it, the soil breaks up and escapes. That is the reason why you lost everything.” He tells her that it is better to let go of it and that if she goes after something else she will become much more successful. He tells her that she has to be strong. “You’re giving the company to them; you’re not getting it stolen from those crazy people. Pretend that you’re giving everything and smile.”
Jung Yeon’s birth mother also gives her advice. When she asks her what she will do with her life after she stepped down as the CEO of the company, Jung Yeon answers “I am not sure what to do.” Her birth mother asks her, “What do you think you can buy with 100 Won?” “Do you know how much a token is for a bus?” “Do you know how much a fish costs at the marketplace?” Her mother tries to explain that people who make big money can not possibly know the power of small money. As small money adds up, it can overrun the big money of a company. That is a private loan business. Her mother tells her to come see her if she is interested but only if she throws away her life as the heiress of the Manbo Construction Company. Her mother does not help her in the form of money but she gives her advice and opens up a new road for her.
How will Jung Yeon regain her career and stand tall again?
Giant is a drama that contains typical ingredients, love, betrayal and revenge. But why has this drama received such high TV ratings in Korea? There are several factors that make this drama a big hit.
Let’s first look at the cast. Lee Bum Soo and Park Jin Hee are two of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry of Korea. Jung Bo Suk, who was last seen in the High Kick Through the Roof, makes a return to the television scene as a totally different character. In the Korean sitcom, he played the role as a foolish and rather easily manipulated person and in this drama, he is Jo Pil Yun, a cruel and deceptive government officer.
Yeo Jin Goo and Nam Ji Hyun, who played the role of the young Queen Seon Duk, does an excellent job as the young Kang Mo and Jung Yeon.
The second factor that makes this drama a huge success is the story itself. Giant begins its story during the 1970s and Kang Mo describes how the value of the land in Gangnam, a region is Seoul, increased several hundred thousand times during just a forty year time period. All the conflicts in this drama occur during these forty years. Kang Mo’s father is killed by Jo Pil Yun, the family gets separated and he and his older brother, Sung Mo, try to have their revenge to the people that ruined their lives.
One aspect of this drama that I found a little bit unfitting is the transition from teenage Kang Mo and Jung Yeon to what appeared to be their early 20’s. Lee Bum Soo is now 40 years old and Park Jin Hee is 32 years old. They are too old to look appropriate for this age.
Giant portrays the corruption between politicians during this time period very well. Overall the drama is quite good and it will attract many viewers.
In episode 31 of Giant (aired on August 31st), Jo Pil Yun told Sung Mo that he read many history books in the prison cell and he is going to use one of the tactics from them to get Manbo Construction Company. He told Sung Mo that tactic is “이이제이” (yi-yi-je-yi) – 以夷制夷. That is one of the four letter Chinese phrases meaning “barbarians were defeated by barbarians.” Jo Pil Yun means he is going to use Han Gang Construction Company to make Manbo Construction Company his own.
이이제이 (yi-yi-je-yi) is one of the war tactics from a famous Chinese book, Three Kingdom. One of the kings, Jo Jo, defeated his two enemies, Yoo Bi and Yu Po, with this tactic. He drove Yoo Bi and Yu Po to fight each other and defeated both of them when they were weakened.
In this drama, Jo Pil Yun gave Han Gang Construction Company a permit to build its apartment on purpose, to make Gang Mo and Jung Yun to fight each other and he is trying to take advantage from that.