KDRAMALOVE KOREAN DRAMA REVIEWS



Remember 리멤버
aka Remember: War Of The Son
SBS (2015-16) 20 Episodes, Grade: A+
Legal Melodrama / Crime / Revenge / Masterpiece
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

There are less than a dozen Korean dramas that I can truthfully call masterpieces -- the unforgettable K-dramas that move you to your very soul and whose characters almost become like family to you because they are so real, so well developed. The shows that are so profound they actually educate you and inspire you, as well as entertain you.

Remember
(2015-2016) is one of those masterpieces. Written by screenwriter Yoon Hyun Ho, who won the 2014 Daejong Film Award (similar to our Oscar) for his hit film The Attorney, his writing for Remember is taut, intelligent, and realistic and never misses a beat. I was mightily impressed that he also had the guts to bring up biblical morality at times, even having characters quoting Holy Scripture. Amazing! You'd wait forever for H
ollywood to make a TV show or film quoting the Bible, unless it was to MOCK it! The pace of Remember is also perfect for a marathon because the cliffhangers at the end of each episode make you want to keep watching without stopping because they're so exciting and dramatic.
The acting by all the cast is SIMPLY OUT OF THIS WORLD STELLAR! This includes the incredible performance by the lead actor Seung Ho Yoo, whom I have watched since he was just a little tyke in the 2002 film The Way Home. Remember was his first big hit drama after honorably completing his two year military service in December, 2014. Previous to Remember my favorite performance of his was Operation Proposal in 2012, and I also loved him in the film Blind with Kim Ha Neul, as well as K-dramas Arang and the Magistrate, I Miss You, Imaginary Cat, and Sad Love Story. Only 22 years old when he made Remember, with all his vast past acting experience, he brought in a far more mature performance than anyone else in Korea could have given at the same age. No male idol actor cutting his baby teeth on his first drama role could have matched him, that's for sure.



I simply adore actor Seung Ho Yoo -
I'd watch him read the phone book!

Remember enjoyed excellent ratings that quickly climbed from around 6% in its first episode to over 20% by the last episodes and over 23% in the Seoul Metropolitan area. Most Korean dramas average under 10% for their entire runs. Usually word of mouth in Korea helps to grow a superior show's ratings by leaps and bounds, since the Koreans will go to school or work the next day and discuss what they were watching the night before. Dramas that are obviously superior to the norm stand out quickly to the Koreans!



Actor Nam Goong Min:
It's a little dist
urbing when your villain
eye candy is this evil and despicable!

A large reason why Remember was so popular, apart from Seung Ho Yoo's incredible performance as the hero, was the shockingly realistic performance by Nam Goong Min (I Need Romance 3, Cheongdam-dong Alice), as the story's main villain. His character was Evil Incarnate, criminally insane, a spoiled rich man's son, paranoid, a clear sociopath, a cocaine and alcohol abuser, and he would fly off the handle at any provocation, erupting into rages, even in public.

His character thought his money, his corrupt father, and lawyer sister Yeo Kyung (Hye Song Jung) would protect him from his sins and his crimes, including rape and murder. The character's absurd twitches, grimaces, and his nervous tics actually made me laugh out loud at times, he was such a total nutcase that you were glued to your set watching him in fascination! I grew to know this character so well that by the middle to end of the show I could predict what he was going to do and say next! In one later episode that I was watching with my daughter his character was handed a tape recorder with some evidence incriminating him in a murder. I said to my daughter, "I'll bet anything he is going to throw that tape recorder onto the floor and stomp on it", and that's exactly what he did, not even thirty seconds later! We both laughed at that scene. Crazy villains who just happen to be genuinely handsome - with touches of sardonic humor to their evil personalities - can be the best villains of all to watch! I just hope the actor isn't type cast as a bad boy due to this memorable role; I like when he plays good guys, too.




The Story
: A brilliant teenager with a photographic memory, Jin Woo Seo (Seung Ho Yoo) lives alone with his menial worker father Jae Hyuk Seo (veteran actor Kwang Leol Jeon from Swallow The Sun, Jung Yi Goddess Of Fire, Hello Monster, I Miss You) and they are a very loving and devoted father and son pair since they only have each other to depend on.

We get the feeling the father has been rarely employed the last few years; he is very childlike and simple and is no doubt taken advantage of by employers. Finally he finds a job as a janitor of a resort off the beaten path that caters to the sons of rich men who like to party on the weekends; he goes off to work there one day to clean the place and his life, and his son's life, will never be the same.

 

Attending a closed, secret party there, where drugs and booze reign supreme, is the only son of the fabulously wealthy Ilho Business Conglomerate, Nam Gyu Man (Nam Goong Min), who takes one look at the old man and tells his often abused personal secretary, Soo Bum Ahn (cool actor Si Un Lee from Late Night Restaurant, Falling For Innocence, Shark, King 2 Hearts) to get rid of him, that he is embarrassing to look at.

Gyu Man then gets high on cocaine and booze and he enters the dressing room of the trot singer hired for the evening, Oh Jung Ah (Bo Bae Han), with a lurid gleam in his eye. She is never again to see the light of day; he rapes and murders her and then deposits her body in the woods to make it look like she was the random victim of some criminal. She was actually a neighbor of Jin Woo and his father Jae Hyuk, and they were close with her father (Mang Sang Hun) as well.

We then cut to the morning, and Jin Woo's father is lost in the woods, he obviously got lost trying to find his way home; Jin Woo calls his cell phone and his father tells him he doesn't know where he is; Jae Hyuk then stumbles on the dead body of the singer, collapsing next to her in shock. Jin Woo tracks his father's location on his new cell phone and finally finds him in the forest, shocked as well to see the dead body of their neighbor and even more shocked to hear that his father doesn't remember who she is: it's the first inkling he gets that his father's memory is failing him. He ends up being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. So here we have a son with a photographic memory, and a father with dementia.

 

In the hospital, the police arrive and try to question Jae Hyuk and can get nothing out of him; he doesn't remember a thing. The murder of the singer makes national news and this is when the audience begins to suspect how deeply corrupt many official justice entities are in reality: the federal and state governments, the police, the courts, the jails. Money talks and Gyu Man's rich father, Nam Il Ho (Jin Hee Han) has been paying everyone off so that his son is not arrested for the singer's rape and murder.



A corrupt detective and cop Han Soo Kwak (Young Woong Kim - excellent performance), paid off big time to subvert justice, arrests the confused Jae Hyuk for murder at the funeral of his friend and neighbor's daughter, to the stunned reaction of everyone there, and especially of son Jin Woo. Poor Jae Hyuk is taken to a secret location and coaxed / forced to sign a confession that he killed the singer -- when he doesn't remember a thing. The perfect set up -- or so the villains think -- blame the heinous crime on a poor man with encroaching dementia who can't defend himself properly. 



Sung Woong Park gives yet another
perfect performance in Remember

Jin Woo, troubled beyond measure, tries to hire a big name defense lawyer to defend his father, an arrogant, cocky man who claims to have never lost a case, Dong Ho Park (Sung Woong Park from Baker King Kim Tak Goo, Bridal Mask, Cain and Abel). The man who basically raised him was gangster Suk Joo Il (Lee Won Jong from Partner) so his morality has been compromised along the way to think of money first, not people. He tells Jin Woo bluntly that only if he comes up with a huge pile of money will he consider taking the case, so Jin Woo goes out and gambles illegally and by using his photographic memory wins big at the gambling table. Jin Woo dumps all the money on Dong Ho's office desk and yells at him to make good on his word. Dong Ho STILL hesitates! This might end up being his first lost case.



You'd Wait Forever On Hollywood To Put A
Scene Like This In An American TV Drama :)
I LOVE KOREA!!! THEY ARE SO BRAVE!

Dong Ho and Jin Woo also have a personal connection: both had relatives die on the same day during the same car accident, Jin Woo's mother and brother had died, and Dong Ho's father had died. Neither understands -- at first -- what really happened that day, so they each blame the other family for the accident. It takes a lot of coaxing, begging, pleading by Jin Woo for Dong Ho to finally take the case, but he does so in such a tentative way that Jin Woo isn't sure until the last moment that he'll show up in court.



Dong Ho is too smart not to know that shady elements are behind pinning this crime on an innocent man with Alzheimer's disease who cannot adequately defend himself. Tragically, the dice are too well set in motion by the bad guys; Jin Woo's poor father is convicted of a murder he did not commit when expert "witnesses" (paid off) testify against him and weapons are manipulated and test results fabricated.



I hope veteran actor
Kwang Leol Jeon
as Jin Woo's father gets lots of acting
awards for this role - he was superb!

Jin Woo vows his revenge. We cut to four years later and he has become a very young new lawyer, since he aced law school and the bar exam in a short period of time due to his photographic memory. He pushes for a re-trial for his poor father, who cannot remember him anymore. He has been on death row all this time, and his health is failing him too. Against all odds a re-trial is eventually granted and the evil Gyu Man is back on the hot seat, with an order by his father to clean up his messes pronto or they will negatively affect the family business.



Gyu Man is just as crazy as before, with a hot temper he uses to frighten anyone in his way, and he even gives orders to target witnesses for death if they dare to change their former testimonies from the first trial. Too many people know or suspect privately that he was the real killer, and someone is bound to break their silence eventually. His right hand man, the bullied Soo Bum, is also in the possession of the real weapon used to kill the singer. Gyu Man has no idea that he has kept it all this time, he thought it was discarded. Soo Bum hands the crucial piece of evidence to Jin Woo out of revenge against Gyu Man, but it's not long before Gyu Man figures it out; his usual punishment against Soo Bum was hitting him with a baseball bat -- now he has him padlocked away in a warehouse with no food or water.

I'm not sure whether the writer was trying to suggest a homo-erotic relationship between these two strangely tied at the hip men, but it sure reminded me of a husband committing domestic violence repeatedly against his oppressed wife! 


A person who does change his mind is the former corrupt cop
Han Soo Kwak, whose lies basically brought about the death penalty judgment against an innocent man; he has a spiritual change, becomes a born again Christian and Bible believer, and wants to make recompense, even if it means he goes to jail himself. He figures he has nothing to lose: Gyu Man has already tried to get rid of him several times. He just might be safer off in jail!



Longing for justice for Jae Hyuk:
In Ah, Jin Woo
, Jae Ik, Bo Mi

Jin Woo is helped in the retrial by his childhood friend Lee In Ah (Park Min Young from Healer, City Hunter) who became a prosecutor because of Jin Woo's father's case. When she realizes people she has worked with in the court system are corrupt, including her boss with gangster ties, Hong Moo Suk (Eom Hyo Seop), she resigns from her position as prosecutor and joins Jin Woo's private practice; they work alongside two trusted professionals and friends, lawyer Song Jae Ik (Hyeong Bum Kim), and secretary with nerves of steel Bo Mi Yeon (Jung Eon Lee). They also have a judge who is quietly sympathetic to Jin Woo's case, handsome Suk Kyu Kang (Jin Woo Kim), and he ultimately grants the retrial.

 

Through lots of risky investigative work, Jin Woo's team finally is on the cusp of getting true justice for Alzheimer's victim Jae Hyuk, but will they be able to prove their case and have Jae Hyuk vindicated before the horrible stress of being in jail without proper medical attention causes Jae Hyuk's body functions to fail him?

There are many more fantastic twists and turns in the story that I will not elaborate on, this show is like being on a roller coaster, so you simply need to watch this masterpiece of a legal melodrama and enjoy it on your own. Some characters change for the worse, and others redeem themselves. It's a not to be missed Korean drama, every minute filled with excitement and tension. You will probably also learn things about the law that you never knew before. The courtroom scenes particularly are DAEBAK! (Amazing!)
   
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THE BEST MOMENT IN ANY K-DRAMA EVER!
I literally stood up and cheered!!!
G
yu Man: "Just what does that mean?"
It means what it says. :)