Goodbye, Mr. Black
안녕, 블랙 씨
MBC (2016) 16 Episodes, Grade: A-
Thriller, Crime Melodrama, Romance
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA


Goodbye Mr. Black (2016) is a stirring romantic thriller with a smooth-flowing energy level, excellent cast, lots of great chase scenes, cool location shots in Thailand, lovely music, and fun cliffhangers, which will compel you to continue through the story with great anticipation once you start it. It is a drama adaptation of a Korean manhwa of the same name, written by Hwang Mi Na, first published in 1983, which was itself a loose adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' classic tale The Count of Monte Cristo.

I just have to say upfront, as honestly as possible, that there was one huge drawback to this show and it had nothing to do with talent: the acting was fine throughout. However, not for one minute could I warm to the leading actress' (Moon Chae Won's) short short haircut for this drama. Every time Korea films a story with a leading actress playing a tomboy type of girl character they cut the leading ladies' hair so short that she almost looks like a boy. Whenever Miss Moon kissed handsome Lee Jin Wook, the leading man in this drama, I cringed every time, and that's the LAST thing I should be doing during love scenes! LOL! I tried not to, but I just couldn't stop myself! He looked like he was kissing a young man! And this actress is a sublime beauty in real life -- WHY does Korea keep sticking with the same old stereotypes in their dramas, over and over again? Even a mid-length hair cut would have been better and shown off her exquisite, feminine beauty. I will show you what I mean by comparing her in two pictures, below:

Please, Korea, stop! Tomboy girls can have long hair too!

The Story:

The drama revolves around an assertive and ambitious man named Cha Ji Won (Lee Jin Wook, from Nine: Nine Time Travels), the son of wealthy business owner Cha Jae Won (Jung Dong Hwan of Nine: Nine Time Travels), who becomes a member of the Navy Seals in Korea. He enters a special unit called the Underwater Demolition Team and is happy training with his buddies, but one of his favored companions in the unit, Min Seon Jae (Kim Kang Woo, from Missing Noir M and Story Of A Man), who grew up with him as an adoptive brother, is out to betray Ji Won's trust due to latent jealousy, at first it seems over a girl named Mari (Yoo In Young from Mask and My Love From Another Star) who seems destined to marry Ji Won, but really stemming all the way back to childhood events when he saw the biological son being treated like royalty, while he, the adopted son, was often neglected.


Jealous Seon Jae is successful in his quest to malign Ji Won personally and professionally. Although not directly responsible for the death of Ji Won's biological father Jae Won, he does not call for emergency help when his adoptive father is critically injured by his corporate enemy
Baek Eun Do (Jeon Kuk Hwan, also from Nine: Nine Time Travels). Sometimes I felt like I was watching a Nine: Nine Time Travels cast reunion while enjoying this show!

The father who had raised both men dies, and Seon Jae lies about the causes of death, being promised a lucrative head job at Sun Woo Corporation if he keeps mum about the details of the death. Then Seon Jae goes even deeper into the dark side by helping to frame his adoptive brother Ji Won for a murder he did not commit.

Ji Won attempts to flee to China, with the help of a ragamuffin street girl named Kim Swan (Moon Chae Won from Painter Of The Wind, The Princess' Man, and Good Doctor), who takes a liking to him and helps him procure a fake passport. However, he is caught on the border and after a big, incredibly filmed chase he manages to hide away in Swan's little hut while recovering from a gun shot wound. You can guess what happens next, as he recovers: True Love. So much for the girl waiting at home for him. Now all she has left is the cunning Seon Jae, who wants her for himself.

Why does Lee Jin Wook look even better when he's scruffy? LOL!

When sufficiently recovered, Ji Won begins to set up his own plan for revenge against those who killed his Dad and attempted to ruin his life and / or get rid of him permanently. He also wants his father's company back and to re-unite with his younger sister Ji Soo (Im Semi) who is in the dark about facts behind her Dad's death and brother's disappearance.

As a first step Ji Won uses a fake marriage
to Swan to return to Korea. Ji Won didn't expect to, but he falls hopelessly in love with the free-spirited, compassionate Swan. She had been a victim of the big tsunami in Thailand years earlier and when rescued by a man named Kim Ji Ryoon (Kim Tae Woo who played the villain in That Winter, The Wind Blows) she had no memory of a former life. She was essentially raised by Ji Ryoon and a funny con-man named Ko Sung Min (Lee Won Jong from Remember).

Eventually Swan's father is discovered to be none other than Ji Won's arch enemy Baek Eun Do, who had ordered the killing of Ji Won's father and who had taken over his father's company! Will this frightening development threaten the ongoing relationship of "husband and wife"?


Will his new love for his "wife" stop his quest for revenge against his enemies, especially when he finds out Swan's real parentage? Or will she join him now in his quest for justice, even if that puts her on a collision course with her own domineering, overly controlling father?
Along his emotional journey Ji Won makes new friends to counterbalance his enemies, like his late father's co-worker Seo Jin Tak (Choi Jung Woo, my favorite veteran actor), who sees right through Seon Jae's real motivations, and together they try and take back Ji Won's father's company which had been stolen from him.

Kim Kang Woo blew me away with his performances in
Missing Noir M and Goodbye Mr. Black

While I loved all the actors in the show I think at times it was obvious that the most incredible performance of all was coming from Kim Kang Woo as the bad brother Seon Jae. In past performances he's played cool as a cucumber characters very well, either villains or good guys! But here he delivers his part with raw emotions that I've never seen from him before (and I couldn't help but notice how many fans praised his acting during the drama). His character has never really gotten over the fact that he was adopted and felt less loved than the biological son of his adoptive father, nor that he was so easily given up by his own biological father. In that respect he reminded me at times of incredible actor Do Young Seo from Spring Waltz, whose own character's father had severely neglected him and injured his psyche. These untreated abuse and neglect scars affect children into adulthood, although they often do not want to admit that fact. I know I shouldn't have, but on the strength of Kim Kang Woo's incredible performance I still pitied that character. An amazing acting feat by Kim Kang Woo. Enjoy!