Bad Guy
나쁜 사람 2010 SBS 17 Episodes
Revenge Melodrama, Grade: A

Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

This Korean melodrama, Bad Guy (2010), is impressive for a number of reasons. First of all, its director was Hyung-min Lee, who directed I'm Sorry, I Love You (my first Korean drama that got me addicted in the first place), the gorgeous The Snow Queen, and the beautiful film Heaven's Postman, co-directed Winter Sonata, and produced Autumn In My Heart. So I knew going in that I was going to be watching something special. He always manages to get exciting performances out of his cast and shoots at exotic locales which gives the audience a fun cinematic experience.

Second of all, we have the perfect anti-hero in the casting of sexy Nam-gil Kim (Shark) as the main male lead. He nails his complex character down perfectly, a man set on vengeance but with a heart that's actually longing for love and someone to believe in. Third, we have a great part for an older woman (which I always like to see), actress Hye-ok Kim playing the villainess and stealing every scene she was in. I had only seen this actress playing nice motherly roles before but here she is simply a real and total .... dare I say it? .... BITCH! The other casting is nice too, but a few months after watching this, while writing this review, it's mostly the evil character that Hye-ok Kim played, Mrs. Shin, major player behind The Haeshin Group started by the Hong Family, who lingers in my mind the most. She really should have been included in the above poster for this show (maybe hovering over the other characters with an axe in her hand!). LOL! Because she is missing from the official poster I am going to show you this actress because she deserves a solid round of applause for creating such an unbelievably nasty selfish and rotten to the core character!

Mrs. Shin (Hye-ok Kim)
one of the nastiest characters in K-drama history
Note the prison garb? You'll have to watch the drama
to find out why she's wearing it! :)

Fourth, we have another great score, including a memorable title song called "Thorn Flower" (as I type this I am singing "Haru! Haru!"), and great tension music that builds suspense, plus a gorgeous love song called "Where?" sung by Mee. DOWNLOAD FULL OST in MP3

Lyrics: "When I see myself within the gaze of your eyes I want to tell you that I love you.
When your hand skims by lightly touching me I want to hold you tight in my embrace.
My thorn grows larger day by day (haru haru!), because my thorn causes you so much pain.
I try my best to hide away the tears, but in front of you my tears are exposed.
Even though I painfully push you out, you're always in the same place within my heart."


The Story: Our show begins with a nighttime death scene and an accident scene, all taking place a few minutes apart. A young woman is apparently murdered by being pushed off the top of a building by a faceless foe; around the same time our heroine named Jae-in Moon (actress Ga-in Han, who is married to actor Jung-hoon Yeon from Sad Love Story), who is driving and upset from a breakup with her boyfriend, hits a grown man with her car. She runs out to investigate while calling emergency services on her cell phone, but the victim, Gun-wook Shim (Nam-gil Kim) merely gets up in a daze and walks away; but not before she happens to see a big scar on his back which will help her to remember him later in the drama when they meet again. The police start an investigation of the girl's death but can't locate her missing boyfriend. All she left behind was a paper folded into parts to look like a bird. Later we see Gun-wook, a stunt man, making the same paper bird while on Jeju Island filming a drama. Detectives can't decide if the girl's death was a suicide or murder. When you watch the show pay attention to the timing of the scream and the thud of the girl's body hitting the ground in relation to the car accident!  

After doing an aerial sky dive for the drama he is working on at Jeju Island, Gun-wook mistakenly (?) lands on the yacht of the two rich daughters of the Hong family, Tae-ra Hong (Yeon-soo Oh) the older, who has a small daughter So-dam (Min-seo Jeon) but who is trapped in a loveless marriage, and the younger sister Mo-ne Hong (So-min Jung), who develops an instant crush on the dashing stuntman. So-dam calls him "Ahjussi Angel" and once on land again spies him in the hotel the family are staying at and follows him to the rooftop. She asks him where he put his wings and he says he can take them out any time he wants, so little So-dam pushes him off the rooftop! However Mo-ne, who had rushed up to the top of the roof following her niece, saves his life and pulls him to safety. The older sister Tae-ra arrives and slaps "Ahjussi Angel", thinking he is a child molester. The sparks between them begin at that moment, which later turns into a secret passionate physical relationship.

Meanwhile Jae-in is also on Jeju Island. She works as a freelance designer for the evil Mrs. Shin (Hye-ok Kim), the wife of the head of the Haeshin Corporation which the Hong family owns. Jae-in is friends with the younger sister Mo-ne and gets her an expensive pen as a present for her birthday, but once again her path crosses with Gun-wook as he is filming a chase scene for a drama, and when he grabs Jae-in, thinking she is the stuntwoman, the gift pen is dropped from its case. Later the real stuntwoman mistakenly puts Gun-wook's prop knife into the pen case, so when it comes time for Mo-ne to open her gift she stares down at a knife instead of a pen and the two girls laugh. Mo-ne says the knife is far more interesting than a pen would be anyway. Gun-wook finds the gift pen in the grass and pockets it for himself. Will Jae-in ever get it back?

The next stunt Gun-wook does is another sky diving shot, and this time he jumps with a fellow actress, but an accident occurs and Gun-wook almost loses his life trying to save the actress. When he is blacked out after being submerged under water he remembers tragic childhood events in his life, like being ripped from the arms of his adoptive parents who loved him, and sent to live with the Hong Family, since the patriarch mistakenly believed that Gun-wook was his illegitimate son. A year afterwards, when it was discovered there was no blood relationship, he was literally thrown out on the street in the rain like garbage, badly injuring his back (which causes the large scar that Jae-in noticed at the time of the car accident).

We learn that Gun-wook is out for vengeance, since he believes his adoptive parents were killed by the Hong Family.

Meanwhile the REAL son of the Hong family, Tae-sung Hong (actor Jae-wook Kim from Who Are You? and Mary Stayed Out All Night) has been living adrift in Japan, estranged from his family. He is called to return home to Korea and to start learning the family business. Tae-sung returns but he surely isn't welcomed with open arms, and the family's dinners when they are all together are filled with arguments. It's obvious there is going to be a huge fight over who will control the company when the patriarch, President Hong (Gook-hwan Jeon) eventually dies.

Gun-wook watches all this secretly from the sidelines and his anger against this family grows and grows. He flirts with Mo-ne and that makes her believe he cares about her and she refuses to marry the fiance the family had planned for her to marry. Mo-ne also argues with her older sister Tae-ra about Gun-wook, which makes Tae-ra tell Gun-wook to stay away from her sister. Then Gun-wook makes a play for Tae-ra, knowing by this point that she is in an unhappy marriage and vulnerable. Step by step Gun-wook is going after each Hong family member to destroy them, even the real Tae-sung, who had been brought into the family after Gun-wook had been thrown out.

The two Tae-sungs, former and present, who both inwardly feel the profound loss of a loving family while growing up

The first real relationship of substance Gun-wook has is the developing one with Jae-in, who at first wrongly thinks that he is the real son of the Hong family, Tae-sung, and tries to get close to him in an attempt to strengthen her ties with them. When it is eventually revealed that he isn't Tae-sung she is embarrassed because it was obvious she had wanted to move in closer to the family.

So both Gun-wook and Jae-in deep down have designs on the family, one for vengeance, one for money and prestige. Jae-in becomes brutally honest with Gun-wook, that she is going to target the real Tae-sung and try and make him care for her. Jae-in is the only human he has ever known who has been so open with him, and he is impressed with her honesty and her warm personality. He also grows close to her adorable younger sister, teenager Weon-in Moon (Eun-kyung Shim, who was in the Korean horror film Hansel and Gretel, and who I seriously wanted to kidnap out of the screen and make my kid, she was that delightful!). Jae-in, Gun-wook, and Weon-in really become like a family to each other - but will Gun-wook risk all that happiness by continuing his vendetta against the Hong family as well as his secret affair with their eldest daughter Tae-ra? What will happen when Jae-in finds out about the affair?

The two people Gun-wook is closest to: Jae-in and her sister Weon-in

Against her better judgment Tae-ra falls deeper and deeper in love with Gun-wook, despite the fact that at the beginning it was all about a physical attraction. Her marriage is a sham, her family is a mess, the life she had before, all comfy and cozy and nicely arranged, is gone. She continues the affair with Gun-wook until she reaches an emotional breaking point. Meanwhile her brother Tae-sung has fallen in love with Jae-in and becomes intensely jealous when he sees her spending time with Gun-wook.

The police are also getting closer and closer to finding out the background story of the girl who fell (or was pushed) from the roof of the building at the beginning of the show. Will the missing link take them right to Gun-wook? Gun-wook and Jae-in finally confess their love for one another, but will they have to give up the risky games they have been playing with the Hong family, in order to find peace?

I think the producers of Bad Guy had originally planned for this 17 episode K-drama to be 20 episodes, but then lead actor Nam-gil Kim received his military draft notice and when the producers asked for an extension so he could finish up the drama the extension was denied. So in some of the last scenes you will see a body double filling in for Nam. Some people claimed that the ending seemed a bit rushed because of that. I'm not sure I agree. I may be the only person who has ever watched this show who thought the ending was realistic and appropriate. But definitely watch Bad Guy sometime if you love a strong melodrama. It's definitely addictive. I marathoned it, unable to stop. I also didn't mind spending 17 hours with Nam-gil Kim, especially after loving him in Shark! He is a force to be reckoned with. His performances seethe with subtle Brando-like sensuality, probably never more so than in this melodrama Bad Guy. Enjoy! You can buy a DVD set on Amazon. I own that one and it's good.





The many faces of Nam-gil Kim in Bad Guy
Sigh! What an actor. Melt worthy.