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Friday, January 15, 2016

[K-Drama Review] The Village: Achiara’s Secret (2015)




Happy new year everyone! Wow, I still can’t believe that it is 2016 already. The beginning of the year always gives off a bittersweet feeling for me. It’s bitter because I realized that a year has passed and many of my resolutions for the past year have yet to be realized. It’s sweet because a new year means a new beginning, a new page, a fresh start. The beginning always gives me a clean and bright vibe. I’m always so excited and vibrant in starting something new, including finishing off my 2016’s resolutions.

Anyway, I’m going to start this year’s entry with a review of SBS’ recently ended drama, The Village: Achiara’s Secret. Shall we begin?

PLOT:
  

Han So Yoon (Moon Geun Young) move from Canada to a small village in South Korea, named Achiara. She felt like someone called her to Achiara after she found a letter sent from the village to her place in Canada. In Achiara, Han So Yoon work as an English Teacher. On the first day of her work, So Yoon discovers a corpse buried in the forest. Achiara, which once known as the peaceful and calm village, then turn into a scary and full-of-mystery rural community.

FIRST IMPRESSION:


I have to thank Stuart who wrote this amazing Year-In-Review article in Couch-Kimchi. If only I didn’t read it, I probably might pass this amazing drama.

To be honest, Village: Secret of Achiara is not my type of drama. But so does I Remember You, which had me hooked from its first episode. Just like what I Remember You did to me in the second quarter of last year, Village: Secret of Achiara has also put me in an interesting and thrilling ride. And just like I Remember You, I’ve also finished this drama in only four days! That’s how attention-grabbing this drama is.

I have to say that Village: Secret of Achiara reminds me a lot of I Remember You. No, not in terms of its story and characterization, but in terms of its “fate,” as it released simultaneously with the highly-anticipated and idol-filled dramas, such as Sassy Go Go and Because It’s The First Time. And similar to I Remember You, Village has also fall under the bright light of such dramas. I’m not blaming viewers because just like me, the drama enthusiast might looking for something romantic, bright, and funny, rather than watching a scary and full-of-questions drama.


And just like what I thought the show would be, it started off with a strong eerie ambiance, in which a body seen crashed into a pavement and blood was splattered all over the body. It continued with a weirder storyline, but in a good way of course. The show introduced me to a number of intriguing characters.


The show had hooked me from its first episode, thanks to its characters. Why? Because all characters look suspicious of doing something wrong and bad in a calm and “lovely” village. Another attention-grabbing part of Village’s first episode is the questions about who “call” Han So Yoon to the village, what relationship does Yoon Ji Sook (Shin Eun Kyung) have with her step son, is the corpse Han So Yoon found is really the corpse of Kim Hye Jin (Jang Hee Jin), is Park Woo Jae (Yook Sung Jae) is really an innocent police, what relationship does Kang Joo Hee (Jang Seo Yeon) has with Nam Gun Woo (Park Eun Seok), why are they exciting (in an eerie way) about the arrival of Han So Yoon to Achiara, and who is the guy with a chest nut who freak the shit out of Han So Yoon. All of those questions were twirling around my head the minute I saw the credit title of Village’s first episode. And that thought instantly put me into an exciting and gripping journey to Village: Secret of Achiara.

STORY:


Given the fact that the dramaland was filled with something cute, young, funny, and romantic that time, I can say that the story of Village is quite fresh and exhilarating. The story makes its viewers keeps guessing on something that the lead character has also been questioning throughout the drama.

I have to salute the consistency the writer took in writing Village story, in which she stayed in the dark ambiance and not once involving romance or something cheesy to liven up the moment, even though there is one or two scenes which I found funny and can be a breath of fresh air in a shortness of breath-watching-experience.


A scriptwriter often took another lane from what she/he had originally planned if the rating of the drama sunk. I love the fact that the scriptwriter and the director of Village have stayed in their lane and not once took a U-turn or swift to another lane, just to please others or to achieve a high rating. Now, that’s an absolute brave move and deserves a high appreciation.

The absence of romance is probably made this show fall deep in rating station. But seriously guys, if you’re the fan of a rollercoaster-ride-type-of-romance-drama, you must watch this drama as it also offer the same feel of such ride (minus the romance). I mean it. The show really put my heart ups and downs.

I love the fact that the drama has a number of surprising elements.

SPOILER ALERT


When I watched episode 15, my mind was set and concluded that the one who killed Hye Jin is his own father. But the show took me on a surprising ride when in episode 16 I found that the one who really killed the beauty in town is her mother and her father’s wife.


Other surprising elements I find interesting is Yoon Ji Sook character. I always knew that she has something dark within herself. I never thought that she actually love her daughter and willing to sacrifice part of her body for her daughter, who she called monster. This character is the most interesting character of the show. I found Yoon Ji Sook is actually has a kindhearted nature, but an unfortunate incident in her childhood has made her into a mess. She is a basically a mentally-sick ahjumma who only long for a quiet and peaceful life.

The second most interesting character of the show is Kang Pil Sung. FYI, he is the villain and a psycho. But don’t know why, I never see him as a villain. He’s more like a confused psycho. He never thought that what he has done were criminal acts, even though he has killed a number of innocent people.  

END OF SPOILER

I also love the fact that Han So Yoon, who I thought is the lead is actually not the lead character of this drama. I don’t know, but I think Han So Yoon is only having a “mediator” or a “liaison” role. The lead roles in this drama are actually Yoon Ji Sook and Kim Hye Jin.


Despite of its brilliantness, I found the supernatural element of the show slightly distracting. It somehow made the show looks cheap (no offense).

To sum it up, I would like to say the story of Village: Secret of Achiara deserved an A grade and a standing applause for its brave move to take a step outside mainstream zone, genuineness, consistency, and a remarkable twist.

CAST:

 
Moon Geun Young as Han So Yoon

Well, Moon Geun Young was choosing the right drama for her comeback. Though, I found that her acting skill was somewhat deteriorating. Her acting in Village was lacking compared to other actors and actresses in this drama. She still good, but she lacks something. It’s probably because I expect better from her, considering how popular and talented she was in her previous works. Is it just me or is she really lags behind others? Anyway, the fact that she has not aged at all is pretty amazing. What’s your secret Ms. Geung Young?

It’s funny that her role in the drama is the teacher of a junior high school. She still can fit the character of a junior high school student, I think. Or maybe a senior high school student? So, I still find it hard to take seriously the fact she took a more grown-up role in this drama. But she still put a quite fine effort to fit that role, though, still, it lacks something. Sincerity, perhaps?
 
Shin Eun Kyung as Yoon Ji Sook

Shin Eun Kyung’s performance as Yoon Ji Sook is definitely a class. She really one with the character and she played it like nobody business. I’ve loved Shin Eun Kyung since her performance in Oh My Ghostess. I knew she is that talented as an actress. But her performance in Village is beyond amazing. Her eyes and body gesture really showed what Yoon Ji Sook is all about. Her eyes are full of obsession and fear. And she is pretty as well! I adore her looks in this drama. Can I have one of her outfit, please?

Anyway, I think Shin Eun Kyung is a versatile actress. She can wonderfully play the role of a full-of-herself and slightly annoying mother in Oh My Ghostess and a full-of-fear-and-ambition mother in Village.

 Yook Sung Jae as Park Woo Jae

It’s probably too early to name Yook Sung Jae as the next generation of successful actordol (actor & idol), but looking at his performance in Village, I would say that he has promising elements to be one, though it will be a long journey. I’m not saying that I’m surprise with his acting ability, since I’ve been showered with many talented actordols nowadays (e.g. D.O). Sung Jae managed to play the role of a rookie and hungry-for-heavy-cases policeman quite incredibly. Though, he can’t explore his acting skill more since his character is that ordinary. But I’m not disappointed with his performance as Park Woon Jae. I did sense a “rookie actor” feel from him when he interacted with senior actors and actresses in Village. But overall, he did a good job.

 On Joo Wan as Seo Gi Hyun

I find him charming in a peculiar way. He’s not that handsome, but there is something appealing and sexy about him. I never truly realized how attractive he is. My first drama of him is Surplus Princess. His character in that show is nothing but a blah. Thankfully, his character as Seo Gi Hyun in Village is an interesting one. On Joo Wan succeed in making me guessing on who his character really is. Is he bad? Is he good? Is he only confused? Well, he is eye-catching for sure.

Honorable Mention

 Choi Jae Woong as Kang Pil Sung

Now playing a dual character is hard, especially when those characters were consist of the good, the bad, and the weird. Yes, as Kang Pil Sung, Choi Jae Woong managed to portray a good-bad-weird character. Oh, and he also pretty as the Agassi.

SCORE:
Finally, I will give Village: Secret of Achiara a sincere 9.5 out of 10. Well done drama!


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