Cable Channel jtbc 10th Anniversary Drama (2021)
Melodrama, Mature Themes (16 Episodes)
Available Free With Amazon Prime Video
Masterpiece, Grade: A+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
(Some Spoilers)

A remarkable, poetic stream-of-conscience style masterpiece Korean drama, Lost (2021) was the first and so far still the only television drama directed by the world-famous Hur Jin Ho, who has done only films since the 1990's, many my top favorites, including Christmas In August, April Snow, Happiness, Season Of Good Rain, and The Last Princess. I was majorly hooked on this drama from episode one, and watched all sixteen episodes in only two days! I just couldn't tear myself away from the screen; it has been a long time since I had that experience watching a K-drama. Then I had the worst withdrawal pains after it concluded. I felt like I had just watched a great novel come to life on film, with its quiet, introspective, philosophical narrative style. The OST was extremely beautiful, mostly evocative instrumental pieces by composer Cho Sung Woo. I downloaded the entire soundtrack on iTunes immediately. The drama was written by Kim Ji Hye, who also wrote the unforgettable films Hansel and Gretel and Architecture 101. Incredible!

Genius Director Hur Jin Ho

The main actors were simply phenomenal in their roles, including popular, hard-working actress Jeon Do Yeon (Crash Course In Romance, Shoot For The Star, Star In My Heart, On Air) and newer, smouldering young actor Ryu Joon Yeol (film The King); the wonderful Park Byung Eun (Because This Is My First Life); cutie pie Yu Su Bin (who played the funny North Korean soldier in Crash Landing On You); accomplished, gorgeous Kim Hyo Jin (Mary Stayed Out All Night, film Genome Hazard, who was fortunate in real life to marry favorite actor Ji Tae Yu from Ditto); beautiful Son Na Eun (Dinner Mate, Ghost Doctor) who reminded me a lot of I.U.; delightful character actress Jo Eun Ji who always brings humor to every drama she's in, (i.e. Personal Taste); and a jaw-dropping, brilliant performance by veteran actor Park In Hwan (Lovers, A Love To Kill, Dream Racers, My Love Patzzi) who played Jeon Do Yeon's sweet aging father in the story.

Lost was intense, often somber in tone, but with touches of humor here and there that made me smile warmly; it wasn't a flower boy idol show that gets all the teenagers watching. Lost is a drama for people who are more mature in their outlook on life, sort of like My Mister. It's a slow-burn experience, but one that is totally addictive.

The Story:

Forty year old Lee Bu Jung (Jeon Do Yeon) was a prolific ghostwriter and copy editor for a top publishing firm's authors. Sadly, she got in trouble when ghostwriting a bio book for a popular but narcissistic actress named Jung A Ran (Park Ji Young); they had a falling out professionally, with Bu Jung accusing the actress of plagiarism after the book was published and she was not credited for her work on it. The publishing firm unfairly fired Bu Jung in an effort at damage control, and she, angry and embarrassed, did not bother informing her family of her job loss, instead quietly becoming a cleaning house manager for a major hotel in Seoul.

Bu Jung's emotionally distant husband Jin Jung Soo (Park Byung Eun), who has had a good job as a manager for a supermarket chain for years, feels Bu Jung is majorly depressed over issues that seem out of his control; she hardly talks to him and they have taken to sleeping in separate bedrooms at night (uh oh, watch out!). It is revealed that part of Bu Jung's depression is due to a recent miscarriage she had had at five months of pregnancy. She had longed for children and this was the first time she had finally conceived, so at age forty she knew the time was waning for her to ever have children. This sad experience adds to the depth of her clinical depression. Husband Jung Soo gives her the space she seems to need in order to completely heal from the loss, but with that forced distance between the couple obvious perils are beginning to rise up in their marital relationship.

It also doesn't help much that Jung Soo's fiery, critical mother, Bong Min Ja (Shin Shin Ae) often fights with Bu Jung. Just what a woman needs after a miscarriage: a mother-in-law who won't shut up! The husband Jung Soo also becomes increasingly involved with an old girlfriend named Kyung Eun (Kim Hyo Jin) who is going through a hard time because her husband is dying of cancer. Will his pity for her turn into something sinful?


The only time Bu Jung seems to smile is when she visits her beloved father, Lee Chang Sook (Park In Hwan - outstanding performance! Applause! Applause!), at his modest apartment complex; he is the kindest person to grace her very unhappy current life. The old man gets an allowance from Bu Jung and her husband, and in his spare time he collects boxes for recycling money, and also puts ad fliers up in public places in the city. He figures even earning some spare change can help alleviate the financial burden his daughter experiences because of his dependence. Sadly, however, as time goes on it becomes apparent that her Dad is getting Alzheimer's. He often forgets his apartment's pass-code and his loved ones' telephone numbers, even their names on occasion.

When Bu Jung visits her Dad they often run into a mysterious young man with long black hair who lives in the apartment down the hall. They nod at him respectfully when he passes them but he does not acknowledge them and goes on his way. Bu Jung asks Dad why this stranger seems so rude but Dad does not take offense. Then one day, when Bu Jung is on the bus after visiting her Dad, she starts to cry uncontrollably, thinking of how hopeless and lost she feels. Sitting behind her happens to be the same young man with long hair who had ignored her and her father many times before. He seems touched yet also exasperated by her loud weeping and he reaches over to hand her an expensive handkerchief that is a favorite keepsake of his. Surprised, she takes it and wipes her tears away with it. When the young man gets up to leave the bus Bu Jung grabs his jacket, asking him when she can return his handkerchief. He kindly tells her to keep it. They talk for a few minutes until the next exit and then part ways.

After a nasty public fight with the actress who had not acknowledged her ghostwriting, Bu Jung is devastated yet again. Her depression is so deep now that she climbs to the rooftop of her father's apartment complex and screams out her frustrations to God, and moves to jump off the roof to her death. But lo and behold, the young man who had given her his handkerchief arrives, after hearing her screams, and distracts her from her attempt to kill herself. They have an amazing conversation that finally shows Bu Jung that someone in the world seems to care about her besides her loving father. They exchange phone numbers and talk about the chat programs they frequent. The young man doesn't put Bu Jung's real name in his cell phone's address book, instead just calling her Unknown, and Bu Jung, in turn, calls him Last Unit because his apartment is the last one on her father's floor.

Later, Bu Jung does some detective work to find out more about this young man, who has now kindly helped her out on two occasions. She discovers his name is Lee Gang Jae (Ryu Joon Yeol) and that he is twenty-seven years old and works for a male escort and stand-in service. She knows she has to be on her guard but each time they run into each other their emotional ties grow stronger. Neither wants to harm the other, only be helpful. They eventually boldly accept each other as friends, and even decide to visit a planetarium / observatory together to look at the stars (the same one featured in Angel Eyes - I recognized it immediately!).

Soon Ju's Favorite Cell Phone Pics Of His Friends

Gang Jae has two best friends, a good-hearted young man named Lee Soon Ju (Yu Su Bin) and flirty female Kang Min Jung (Son Na Eun). They all struggle for money and for places to crash for the night, especially after Gang Jae grows a conscience and gives up his male escort work. When he can't pay the rent how will he keep his apartment? He even decides to cut his long hair, to look more retro and conservative. Often these friends will crash at video game parlors at night, or at the apartment of Soon Ju's older sister, Soon Kyu (Jo Eun Ji), who is a pharmacist. When they do crash there they often have to buy food and drink elsewhere since Soon Kyu is a notoriously bad cook!

Early on the three friends had had a close male friend commit suicide because he had lost all hope in life; he died with his lover, holding her hand, after driving his car into a reservoir. The young man's favorite song had been Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah, so they thought he would never do something so hopeless as ending his own life. The song had even been his cellphone ringtone. When they listened to the lyrics carefully they could understand their friend's depression more clearly. The shadow of this doomed friend, even after his death, has a profound, long-lasting effect on Soon Ju and Gang Jae, especially since they were put in charge of his burial details because his cold older, neglectful sister couldn't be bothered.


Gang Jae is then offered a job by his former boss at the male escort business, Seo Jong Hoon (Ryu Ji Hoon), to secretly follow Bu Jung around and take pictures of her, to see whom she is associating with currently, a job being paid for by Bu Jung's old adversary, the actress Jung A Ran, in the hopes of getting some dirt on Bu Jung to blackmail her. When Jong Hoon finds out that it is Gang Jae himself whom she has been spending secret time with, he warns him, "She's married. She'll never give up what she has for you." Gang Jae is hurt, and tries to back away from Bu Jung, but fate continues to throw them together so that they can't forget one another, no matter how hard they try. Despite all their trials in life both Bu Jung and Gang Jae had had wholesome, loving relationships with their fathers, and sought to please them. They don't want to do anything that will make them ashamed, even after both Dads have passed on. This deep love for their fathers is a character trait that bonds the two loving friends even closer.


Will both Bu Jung and her husband ever admit to themselves that they are no longer in love with one another, and that their marriage should come to an end, or will they remain true to their marriage vows and make it work somehow, despite all the set-backs they had experienced after the death of their baby? Can they ever experience a moment of honesty, to admit to their failings, and to try and improve their lives together? Or would they both be happier separating and finding love with someone else?

It All Started With A Handkerchief
Kindness Is The Best "Aphrodisiac"!

Lost was so different that a lot of people who watch standard style Korean dramas regularly, and are used to seeing more flamboyant, in-your-face style scenes, were probably initially confused by this one, with lots of quiet narration from the lead characters, and many moments of silence (except for the exquisite OST music!), and its rather unconventional, introspective story arc. I loved it! It wasn't the "same old, same old", so I was thrilled to experience it in a marathon watch over two days. It wasn't predictable and I liked being kept on the edge of my seat, wondering how it would all turn out in the end. Again, you can watch it for free if you pay for Amazon Prime yearly. The link is here. Enjoy!




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