Puck (2015)
Starring Lee Kwang Soo
SBS Drama Special, 2 Episodes
Sports / Melodrama / Crime
Grade: B
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA


I watched this two episode short drama Puck (2015) with actor Lee Kwang Soo shortly after it premiered, and even though this kind of story usually isn't my primary cuppa tea (I would think a sports themed drama would appeal more to men), I still enjoyed it quite a bit as his fan, and loved Kwang Soo's gritty yet inspirational performance as a loan shark's assistant turned college hockey player. He apparently had been pushing to appear in a show about sports for quite awhile and SBS took a chance on one. I was very proud of him, that he had been proactive on the drama front to bring people something different than the usual standard revenge melodramas and romantic comedies.

I think he is mostly considered a variety show star in Korea, but whenever he acts in a drama I am always impressed with his unique performances, like when he played a
Tourette Syndrome sufferer in It's Okay, That's Love, in 2014, with Gong Hyo Jin and Jo In Sung. He is one of those actors who can make you laugh one minute, and then make you pause and think quietly and seriously about something he says or does the next minute.

The Story:

In Puck, in the first half of the first episode, it's hard to like Lee Kwang Soo's character Jo Joon Man, since he works for a nasty loan shark named Gye Sang Soo (Kim Byung Ok, who also played the same type of loan shark guy in Kang Goo's Story and Mask). Joon Man bullies people for money they don't have, even threatening them physically on occasion (this kind of thing is illegal in America but according to K-dramas it must not be illegal in Korea because we see loan sharks in them too many times to count!).

Not until you see his back story in a flashback do you understand that this was not his first choice for employment but that he was forced into working for Sang Soo to wipe off his ex-wife's debts after she abandoned him, or they would have sought her out and roughed her up instead. She sees him from a distance being beaten up in her place by the goons, but she runs away from the scene rather than face paying off her own debts herself.


At one point Joon Man approaches a hockey coach from Hankook University named Heo Myung Geun (Jung Hae Kyun) who had borrowed a bunch of money from the goons to pay off his wife's medical debts. The coach's hockey team at the university has had a long losing streak and he is about to be fired if they cannot at least win the last game of the current season, and if they lose the team will be disbanded permanently as well. Since many players had left the team and it would be a miracle if they could win any game, Myung Geun says he has no way to pay off his debt to the loan sharks if his team loses the last game and he is fired. At this point, knowing his own job would be threatened if he didn't get the money back from the coach, Joon Man volunteers to become a hockey player for the team, even though he knows nothing about the game, and doesn't even know what a puck is! His offer is accepted and he gets a crash course on how to play hockey, leading to some funny situations.

Hockey Team Actors: Jo Yong Hoon, Lee Kang Min,
Kwak Dong Yeon, Lee Kwang Soo, Kim Jin Woo, Sul Jung Hwan
Missing, joining later: Jo Yoon Woo, Girl Aide: Son Soo Hyun

In becoming close to the coach and the players during training, Joon Man starts to acknowledge his own humanity, which he had squashed down inside himself for years after his wife left him. He even starts to care for another woman, Ga Yeo Eun (Lee Si Wan), the battered, traumatized woman of a low life who abandoned her. She barely speaks, and pathetically tries to offer him food instead of money, and his heart goes out to her. Here is yet another case where a spouse is being hassled for debts she did not incur herself, so Joon Man understands her pain all too well.

At one point he even brings her fresh flowers to replace the sad half-dead flowers in the vase in her front yard. However, the next time he sees her she is being beaten up by her "husband" and Joon Man moves to slug the creep ... but Yeo Eun sides with her violent man and tells Joon Man to leave! Heartbroken, Joon Man throws himself into his friendships with the young men on the hockey team instead, becoming as close to them as a brother. His boss Sang Soo beats him viciously in the office and tells him not to lose his focus: that this is all about MONEY and not PEOPLE. Joon Man knows the team has to win if he has any chance to collect this big debt, so he doubles his efforts to play for the team, even though he is hurt physically and mentally from all the suffering he has had to face.

Joon Man's hope to be able to resign permanently from this line of "work" looks done for, when the loan shark boss shows up at the rink during the end game, and threatens him before the whole team. Joon Man has to promise publicly to work like a dog forever to the loan shark if he can be allowed to play in this last game and help the team survive.

Will the distressed hockey team win or lose? Will Joon Man be able to leave the loan shark life, despite all the threats against him? You'll have to watch the show to see the outcome for yourself. Enjoy!