Mermaid Story
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2007 TvN 4 Episodes
Fantasy, Melodrama, Crime, Grade C+

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Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA


I watched this intriguing, compelling ... and surprising! ... 2007 ghost-like Korean drama Mermaid Story on Dramafever, but must warn the squeamish that it is really only for adults eighteen years or older. Dramafever should have a disclaimer before people watch this, but they don't. There is a simulated sex scene between an older man and a young girl that was offensive to me, which is the only reason this drama came down my list of favorites; I turn to my Korean fare partly to avoid scenes like that, which are seen more often on American television.

Otherwise Mermaid Story was very interesting and unique, brilliantly acted, boasting lovely cinematography, and with a challenging ending left open to your own interpretation. Was the lead female character really a mermaid, or not? That is what you will have to decide for yourself by the story's conclusion. This Korean drama was written by the same writer of My Lovely Sam Soon, so the K-drama fan knows going in that they will be in for something different and special.

A young woman named Soo In Nam (Young Hee Seo, from the film The Classic and popular K-drama Dahlia's Spring) shows up at a country cottage near the ocean-side ready to claim occupancy through a lease with option to own, but when she arrives another woman - an artist named Mi Na Sun (Ji Hyun Lee) - is still there staying at the place, with her artwork displayed abundantly in every room in a messy fashion. She knew she had to be out on a certain date but she's a procrastinator and glibly asks Soo In for more time to get her stuff out of the cottage. Soo In, a quiet unassuming type, reluctantly agrees. The two women share the house together on the first night, but it is blatantly obvious that Soo In is very uncomfortable around the more flamboyant and talkative Mi Na, and we sympathize with Soo In, for who would want to show up at a place they are renting to have another, prior tenant still living there? (Plus, Mi Na hints that she got to stay there rent free because of a sexual relationship with the owner).

Then Mi Na's good-natured, far too trusting boyfriend Min Suk Lee (debonair actor Nam Jin Kim), a medical doctor, shows up at the cottage and invites both women to come out with him in his car since it's a gorgeous sunny day. Mi Na states a colleague of hers is having an art exhibition so why don't they all go to the museum together and get something to eat at the same time? Soo In doesn't really want to go, but after being pressured by Mi Na she goes along anyway and sits in the back seat of the car while boyfriend and girlfriend chat and joke away freely about their supposedly upcoming nuptials. The dating pair had known each other since childhood so they are very comfortable with one another, while Soo In is an awkward third wheel.

However, while at the museum Soo In happens to see
Mi Na break away from her boyfriend and kiss another man in a dark corner. She carefully steers the approaching Min Suk away from the scene so that he doesn't see his girlfriend cheating on him.

It's pretty obvious right at the beginning that Soo In thinks Min Suk is attractive, but she tries her best to keep it to herself. She certainly doesn't seem to be the flamboyant type, but we sense she might be hiding something. Min Suk is the gentlemanly type and is always kind to Soo In. Is she mistaking his kindness for more than he really feels, or is Min Suk himself falling in love with the quietly sensitive Soo In? Despite the nice Min Suk, Soo In REALLY doesn't like
Mi Na, and eventually she has a temper tantrum and tells her to leave. Mi Na seems shocked that Soo In finally got up the courage to tell her to get out of the house.

Character actor Shin Il Kang gives an excellent performance as a police detective

Then Mi Na strangely disappears for good, leaving no note. The police, especially lead detective Kang (prolific character actor Shin Il Kang who does a fine job here), think she might have been murdered and their investigation focuses on Min Suk since he was her boyfriend. Soo In turns to help him in support, and defends him. The two grow closer and eventually fall in love, get married and have a baby. (The nature scenes as they conduct their courtship are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen in any K-drama. Just gorgeous). Eventually the police begin to uncover Mi Na's sexual exploits with a wide variety of men so the investigation moves away from Min Suk as the primary culprit in her disappearance and possible murder. 

Then Mi Na's body is finally found. Through a series of dramatic events the police investigation turns on Soo In as the murderer. Did she do it? And what could have been her motive? Her other family members, an austere sister (Jung Nan Kim) and a shady, handicapped father (veteran actor Dong Hwan Jung), try to take the burden of the murder on themselves (which makes the audience suspect Soo In really did it and they are protecting her, OR that they feel guilty in some way for her troubles due to past family problems), but as the police question them they are both eliminated as suspects. Investigator Kang becomes convinced Soo In is the murderer but he can find no evidence.

Young Hee Seo gives a fascinating performance as a young woman in denial

We are given a series of flashbacks which lead the way to understanding the truth. As the story progresses we see more and more that Soo In was always in a tenuous, fragile mental state, which she covered well, that she was targeting Mi Na in a twisted revenge plot, and that her new relationship and her new baby only added more pressure to her already fragile mental state. She starts to crack emotionally and mentally. For those audience members who love to watch a K-drama exploring various mental conditions in the characters, they will have a field day trying to decipher Soo In's! I must say the actress did an exemplary job playing Soo In! She really seemed to be this character. 

However, the character I felt the most sympathy for was the chivalrous Min Suk. He so wanted to protect his new little family and a man like that is always impressive to me. So many men today walk away from their families at the least problem showing up, but this character would never do that in a million years. It was so refreshing to witness. I hope to see this fine actor in other dramas or films in future. I read that he got his degree in piano performance. I would love to see him play the piano in some future show or film. 

Mermaid Story is only four episodes so it will not take up much of your time, and I do recommend this unique romantic and suspenseful story, as long as you are over 18.