KDRAMALOVE KOREAN DRAMA REVIEWS

God's Gift: 14 Days (2014)
신의 선물 - 14일
SBS 16 Episodes
Melodrama, Grade: B



Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

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Warning: if you've ever tragically lost a child this drama may not be for you. The first two episodes are especially disturbing.

I started watching this suspense thriller Korean drama God's Gift: 14 Days (2014), about the abduction and murder of a little girl, when it first aired on Dramafever, because it starred two of my top favorite Korean actors in the world, Lee Bo Young from I Hear Your Voice (2013) and Cho Seung Woo from my favorite Korean film ever, The Classic (2003). Perhaps it was too soon for me to watch another show with wonderful actress Lee Bo Young after falling so deeply in love with
I Hear Your Voice, because I had troubles switching allegiances to her different character in God's Gift: 14 Days. Whereas her character in I Hear Your Voice was mostly cool, calm, and collected, here in God's Gift her character, a news writer and editor at a broadcast station, was frenzied and so emotionally distraught through the horrific nightmare of her child's kidnapping and murder, that I missed her more calm lawyer character in the prior show. The raw emotions of the first two episodes in this drama were almost too much for me at the time.

In this drama I had to try hard to understand her character's feelings of desperation when her child went missing, after all I had five children of my own, but I somehow kept thinking to myself if her lawyer character in Voice were handling this situation she would have found the child before her murder took place, just because she would have realized that panic serves no function at all when your child's life is at stake, and that it is necessary to work with police to increase the chances of finding a kidnapped child, instead of trying to go it alone appealing to the kidnapper to do the right thing. Criminally insane people don't know right from wrong. Appeals are not going to work with them. They want money, or to make some kind of sick political statement with their reprehensible actions. 

So I ended up putting aside this drama for awhile and then after I read the actress got married and was expecting a child I thought to myself, "Heck, it might be years before I see her in another drama, so I should go back to God's Gift and finally finish it, because I really miss watching her act." I ended up enjoying the drama much more than I thought I would: as it turns out her character DOES become more cool, calm, and collected, especially when God gives her a second chance to save her little daughter by dramatically having her go back in time two weeks so she could try and change events leading up to her baby's death.

The writing was truly excellent in this show and pretty wise about human nature. When the Mom goes back in time, she finds:1) her liberal lawyer husband (Tae Woo Kim, who played the evil villain
Mu Chul in That Winter, The Wind Blows) doesn't believe her warnings about the future and thinks she is nuts, which ends up straining her marriage to the breaking point, and 2) someone else goes back in time with her, the savvy, but on the wild side, private detective Dong Chan Ki (Cho Seung Woo, in a fantastic performance ... but then he's always fantastic!). His character adds several unique layers to this story that I didn't realize at first would be forthcoming in this story. Thank God for him because he even added some much needed humor at times to this dark tale. 



Pretty Lee Bo Young and wonderful child actress Yoo Bin Kim make a very natural mother-daughter pair:
their characters have their ups and downs, just like any real mother and daughter
.

Also, I was impressed by the way the character of the child was written in this show. A classic Hollywood tale would have the kidnapped child a Little Miss Perfect, like a Shirley Temple; instead the character of Saet Byul (brilliant child actress Yoo Bin Kim from The Princess' Man) was often cranky, spoiled, did poorly in school, wouldn't listen to her mother which got her into all kinds of trouble ... you know, more like REAL kids. I love this about Korean drama writers - they aren't afraid to do something a little differently, to yank your chains a bit. I actually read posts on the Dramafever board for this show along the lines of, "this kid is a brat!" or "this kid isn't even pretty!" or "who cares what happens to the kid, she deserves it!" Unbelievable! A child is a child, and always deserves protection and compassion. They failed to see that this is what the writers and director wanted to portray in the first place. A real family, real people, real lives, but soon to be touched by a miracle of God. 



God's Gift begins with a stunning animated opening where Lee Bo Young recites a haunting story to her daughter about a mother who grieves after losing her child, and she is willing to gauge her own eyes out if it can help her get her baby back. Then we open on their family life and learning more about them. Soo Hyun Kim (Lee Bo Young) is a busy working mother, a news writer at a big broadcast station who is happily married to a busy lawyer Ji Hoon Han (Tae Woo Kim); her little girl Saet Byul (Yoo Bin Kim) is often a handful but she loves her dearly, helps her do her homework methodically, and tries to get her into extra curricular activities, which often leave Saet Byul feeling overwhelmed. The child really needed more playtime with other children but the parents are modern yuppie types and have her busy all the time with lessons on everything from English to violin, when she really needed more downtime in order just to be a child.

However, the little girl loves people, and always tries to help anyone who needs extra care, like the retarded teenage boy Young Gyu Ki (Sun Woo Cha) who hangs around her apartment complex with nothing to do for hours, or a little girl who feels like she cannot go to school because she has a new puppy to take care of; Saet Byul is smart on her feet, and helps to find solutions to others' problems, but schoolwork is simply not her forte. Mom is constantly being called to the school because she fails most of her tests. As an escape little Saet Byul fixates on a rocker named Snake (No Min Woo in another bizarre performance) and she wants nothing more than to go to one of his concerts and meet him in person. Be careful what you wish for, little girl, it might come true!



Why does actor No Min Woo always get to play so many weirdo personalities?

On a national broadcast to catch fugitives, a murderer calls the station where Soo Hyun works and announces he is tired of killing adult women and is focusing on doing something a little different. Suddenly we hear little Saet Byul's voice crying, "Mom! Mom!" Soo Hyun is shaken to her core and quickly realizes that the women who were supposed to be watching over Saet Byul had failed her and the child had slipped away from them. Grief-stricken, Soo Hyun and her husband do what they can at first to cooperate with authorities to get their daughter back, especially after a ransom demand comes in for billions of won, but Soo Hyun is led astray by a copy cat criminal who pretends to have her daughter and poses as the real criminal in order to get that money. After a wild goose chase on a train and Soo Hyun being severely beaten in pursuit of the man she thinks has her child, she finally realizes it's all a hoax and tries to appeal to the real criminal in a nationwide broadcast. This missing child case attracts the public's interest and the story reaches all the way to the Blue House and the President of Korea and his Minister of Justice, who ends up being a sneaky, corrupt little devil as the story progresses.



Soo Hyun is desperate to get her child back, even trying an appeal on national television

While Soo Hyun is going through her horrific experience, private investigator / former detective for the police force Dong Chan Ki (Cho Seung Woo) is having his own troubles. He and his cohorts are trying every which way to make hard cash and are not past illegally entering homes to collect debts for clients, or spying on cheating spouses by breaking in on them during the act; one case like the latter goes terribly wrong, and the woman client gets him drunk and he spends the night with her, rousing the jealousy of her gangster husband, who goes after Dong Chan personally to seek revenge. He and his thugs tie him to a rope and a heavy rock and cast him into the lake -- at the same time and in the same place as the shaken Soo Hyun -- having discovered her child was murdered -- is about to commit suicide because the pain of living without her baby is too hard for her to bare. And at the same time as Soo Hyun and Dong Chan are to die, Dong Chan's mentally frail brother is about to be hanged in jail for a murder he did not commit. Dong Chan spies Soo Hyun from a distance and screams "Ahjumma! Call the police!" but Soo Hyun is too dazed to even notice him.



Soo Hyun and Dong Chan sink to the bottom of the lake but in a dazzling underwater scene both are delivered from their watery deaths via God's grace, and when they awake on the ground it is two weeks earlier than the date they "died". They are not even aware of it at first -- Soo Hyun returns home on her birthday to see her husband and daughter surprising her with a cake and presents, and Dong Chan goes to the police station to report the thugs who "murdered" him but of course they have no idea what he is talking about and there is no reason to arrest them.

Soo Hyun and Dong Chan eventually figure out what happened to them and they decide to team up, first of all to try and prevent the murders of the three women that we had heard about on the national broadcast, and second of all to try and save their own loved ones from death, for Soo Hyun it is Saet Byul and for Dong Chan it's his mentally ill brother in jail. Dong Chan also is able to change his behavior for the better, in some ways due to avarice at first: an old grandfatherly type he hung out with on the rooftop of his apartment building, named Byung Ho (Goo Shin) kept promising him he'd leave his money to him if he improved his life. Dong Chan thought the man was kidding, but before he had been cast into the water in the past he had heard that the grandpa was filthy rich and was not kidding at all. Dong Chan even brings Soo Hyun around to meet him so she can give a positive testimony about his changed life, that is now dedicated to saving others. Will the old geezer buy it?

Soo Hyun and Dong Chan put themselves at risk trying to save the three murder victims, hoping to find out and stop the murderer of the women because they believe he is going to be the eventual murderer of Saet Byul. At one point Soo Hyun even has to don the outfit of a lady of the night, to help her escape death. This causes Dong Chan for the first time to notice her as a woman. :) 




At home, Soo Hyun's husband is less than thrilled with his wife's constant ramblings about Saet Byul's future murder, he thinks she is going insane, and he objects to her hanging out so much with Dong Chan and his cohorts to try and stop murders that haven't even taken place yet! The cops even think she is nuts, including an old boyfriend of hers, attractive Woo Jin Hyun (handsome actor Gyu Woo Jung from Love In Memory). With each case they are able to make some changes, although eventually each victim remains a victim, which is heartbreaking to watch. Despair enters Soo Hyun yet again -- how can she expect to save her child from her inevitable fate if the women victims could not be saved? And what if the murderer of those women actually had nothing to do with Saet Byul's kidnapping and death at all?



Jealousy rears its ugly head in the marriage of Soo Hyun and Ji Hoon as she teams up with Dong Chan

There are so many twists and turns in this story that will leave you breathless. The pace goes very quickly and the seventeen hours of the series will fly by and seem like half that time. Both Lee Bo Young and Cho Seung Woo are consummate professionals who have a lot of chemistry together in this drama; however don't look for any mushy kiss scenes in this one - the drama remains focused on preventing Saet Byul's murder, first and foremost. The real murderer is not someone you will expect at all, and the tentacles of this case reach up and have a lot to do with some powerful, high profile individuals. It will take a miracle to save Saet Byul, and Soo Hyun and Dong Chan and his brother as well. However, God is still in the business of miracles so our protagonists never give up while striving to stay alive against a lot of evil influences attacking them.