[SPOILERS INCLUDED]

Title: 49일
Genre: Fantasy, romance
Episodes: 20
Average Episode Rating: 11.7% Nationwide

Main Cast: Interestingly enough, this drama has the typical four main characters, but there are two other characters added in this drama, rounding out the main cast to six members in all. And all of these people are connected to each other in some way.

Lee Yowon as Song Yikyung:

Lee Yowon has acted in a number of dramas and movies, but perhaps her most acclaimed role in a drama has been that of Queen SeonDuk in Queen SeonDuk (hope that makes sense). This is the first drama that I’ve seen her in so I don’t have much (or anything at all really) to write about her.

Song Yikyung works during the night and sleeps during the day. She works at a convenience store and lives like a zombie. In fact, she finds no purpose of living, especially after her lover died five years ago. She isolates herself from society and lives in an apartment that’s always dark and filled with various boxes. She wears a sad expression on her face at all times. Over time, she notices that another presence is by her side and that strange things are happening to her.

Nam Gyuri as Shin Jihyun:

Nam Gyuri was not always an actress. She first started out as the leader of Kpop group Seeya, but I guess she just said “see ya” to them. In 2009, she split from the group in order to pursue acting. I don’t know much about Nam Gyuri, seeing that I was never a fan of Seeya, but I did read many articles about her in the past. She is infamous for looking different every time she gets pictured on camera (meaning that she fixes up a part of her body via plastic surgery). Anyways, Nam Gyuri has acted in Death Bell and Sadder Than A Sad Story, two very popular movies.

Shin Jihyun is an innocent, naive, and kind girl. She grows up in an affluent household with loving parents and many friends. She gets engaged, but then gets into a tragic accident. She gets into a coma, but she has a chance to come back to life, if she completes a certain mission in 49 days. Within these 49 days, she discovers many things about herself and others that she never knew before. To complete her mission, her soul goes into the body of Song Yikyung.

Jo Hyunjae as Han Kang:

Jo Hyunjae is not a super popular or known actor, but I have seen him in One Mom and Three Dads. Only thing is, I didn’t recognize him until I looked up his actor profile on Dramawiki, and then it all clicked. I remember that when I first saw him in a drama, I thought to myself, “this guy needs a bigger part, and he’s pretty good looking too.” I’m glad that I can finally see him as the main man in a drama.

Han Kang seems cold-hearted at first, but it’s because he’s hiding his feelings for Shin Jihyun. He owns an Italian restaurant called “Heaven,” but that’s not his main career. His primary job is being a designer who designs buildings. He won various prizes for his designs in the past, and he manages both the restaurant and his independent designing jobs. He’s perhaps the smartest cookie of the batch in this drama, as he figures things out pretty quickly and he’s not afraid to give a helping hand to Shin Jihyun.

Bae Soobin as Kang Minho:

I’ve previously seen Bae Soobin in dramas like Shining Inheritance, one of the most popular dramas of 2009, and Temptation of Angel, the spin-off sequel to Temptation of Wife, both of which I’ve watched. He’s always had nice guy characters in these other dramas, but it’s not so in this one. A nice change I would say.

Kang Minho is first seen as Shin Jihyun’s fiance as one of the drama’s first opening scenes is of the two at their engagement ceremony. However, Shin Jihyun soon discovers the ugly truth – Kang Minho has been in a relationship with her best friend Shin Injung for the past 5 years, and the two tricked her. Kang Minho plans to take the company of Shin Jihyun’s father and bankrupt them. He has many tricks up his sleeve and he’s not afraid to take action. He wasn’t as perfect and great as Shin Jihyun thought, not at all.

Jung Ilwoo as Scheduler:

Jung Ilwoo starred in the first season of the famous sitcom Unstoppable High Kick, and he has been in dramas The Return of Iljimae and Take Care of the Young Lady. Since I’ve seen the latter two that I mentioned here, Jung Ilwoo is a pretty familiar face to me.

The Scheduler (human name Song Yisoo) is the reaper that comes to Shin Jihyun’s soul. He tells her of the mission that she has to complete in 49 days if she wants to remain living. The Scheduler is also a soul and his human body died many years ago. He has a schedule of the deaths of people every day and he comes to take their soul into the elevator, the place that brings them into the afterlife. He comes to Shin Jihyun during her journey to help her out and to instruct her as well as give her some advice. Yet, even he has a past that he doesn’t know of.

Seo Jihye as Shin Injung:

Seo Jihye – there’s a list of dramas under he name, but I’ve seen none of them, and I recognize only a small number of those dramas. So this is literally the first time that I’ve seen and heard of her.

Shin Injung is the evil lady of this episode. She is first portrayed as Shin Jihyun’s best friend from high school and after, but she’s hiding a lot more than what meets the eye. For one, she’s trying to take all of Shin Jihyun’s money and she’s plotting with Kang Minho. She’s ruthless, but even love makes her weak and when Kang Minho dumps her, she loses all the power she once had.

Producer + Screenwriter:

The producer of this drama, Choi Moonsuk, has produced Sign, which aired earlier this year. He is also a director, and he directed What Happened in Bali.

Screenwriter So Hyunkyung wrote for a few dramas, most notably Shining Inheritance and Prosecutor Princess

Synopsis (from Dramawiki):

A young woman named Jihyun was enjoying absolute bliss as she was about to be married with her fiancé, but her perfect life is shattered in a car accident that left her in a coma. She is given a second chance at life by a reaper, but it comes with a condition: she has to find three people outside of her family who would cry genuine tears for her. In order to do this, she borrows the body of Yikyung, a part-time employee at a convenience store.


First Few Episodes:

I started this drama when 12 episodes were already out. I never thought that I’d catch up, but within 4 days, I manged to do so (and while balancing my time with homework too). The first few episodes only seem as a blur of images to me since I’ve seen so much in so little days. But for me to have gotten this far in the first place – it’s obviously because the drama hooked me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that all dramas I start hook me during the first few episodes. In reviews, I keep writing about how I became hooked onto a certain drama and so, but I guess it’s natural, since the goal of directors and the whole drama-making staff is to get more viewers and rake in ratings in order to earn a profit.

Anyways, back to the main point. So yeah, I got hooked and addicted. Yet it wasn’t a hard addiction, it was a softer one. I’d watch episode after episode in a day because it was interesting, and I wanted to see more. But I wasn’t addicted to the point of not being able to live unless I saw another episode.

It’s taking me a while here to finally get to the main point of this part of the review. The beginning was interesting, and the unique plot prompted me to keep watching to see the unraveling of it all. The main characters are beautiful and hot, and I love some eye candy, so the first few episodes were definitely a must watch and they gave me something great to anticipate for the next few weeks.


Highlights:

I loved the main guy character, Han Kang. He’s hot. I don’t really have to say anything other than that, but it’s nice to have good eye candy in dramas. Of course, it’s not everything, but it does give some spice to a drama. I also like how although he’s rich and seems cold-hearted and indifferent to everything, he’s actually someone that really cares for Shin Jihyun. In addition, the fact that he had a crush on her ever since high school is really cute.

Is anyone sick of those generic and cliche plots? Because I know I am (although I am a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to this). Nevertheless, it is nice when something sort or original and fresh comes out onto the small screen in drama world. Because of the creativity of this plot and the weaving in of many other situations and small factors, I was very interested in watching this drama before it even started airing. When I got the chance to watch it, I was hooked (as I already mentioned above) and the new plot was very intriguing and it really made me think. Plus, all the little twists and turns made this drama unpredictable, keeping me hooked and excited for the next episode to come.

The complexity of the plot and the intricate story-telling was so impeccable – really, the screenwriter must’ve been a genius to think of something like this. It’s certainly not 100% new and original, but it’s unique compared to many of the cliche plots that we’re seeing nowadays. And the way that the writer ties everything together without making the whole story fall apart is just amazing. There are no loose ends and all the situations are clearly explained. She’s able to weave everything together without making things seemed rushed our out of place. I truly commend her, for not many dramas have such great quality in the plot and the progression of the storyline.

As the drama progresses, Shin Jihyun changes. She’s no longer ignorant and innocent little girl – she has matured into someone that sees the world as what it is, and someone that realizes that she’s a lucky person to have those around her that care for her. She also finally sees who her true friends are and who’s just using her to get rich.

I also loved seeing Song Yikyung change from someone who wanted to meet death to someone who would keep on living. She started to see someone who loved her, and she felt prompted to change herself and the way she was living because of that person. Through this drama, we see two people changed. One from an innocent female to someone who’s more aware of what the true world’s really like and what it means to suffer, and another from a person seeking death to one who sees the value of having life. These transformations were beautiful to see and the drama would have been very empty without these two changes.

I also love the story of redemption that we see in this drama through Shin Injung’s character. She starts off as this evil woman who harbors jealousy in her heart against Jihyun because she’s never been as fortunate or happy. She suffered because of her family’s financial conditions and she lived a rough life. Even though Jihyun helped her out, Injung felt like she was being pitied and she hated that. So as a result, she started to plan this whole revenge plan out against Jihyun and began carrying it out with Kang Minho. She tricked Jihyun for a few years and when Jihyun got into a coma, she even tried to pull the plug. However, she later regretted all her past actions and she wanted to earnestly stop her plan of revenge. She felt so sorry to Jihyun and surprised us all by crying 100% sincere tears for Jihyun, helping her to complete her mission and come back to life. Despite her hate for Jihyun, Injung still loved her. I personally liked seeing Injung’s change for the better because it’s always nice when someone sees what they’re doing wrong and when they take action to do the right thing.

The ending of this drama was satisfying and it left me feeling at peace. I did not feel like there was something missing (okay, I kind of did- read shortcomings) and I loved the last scene, where Han Kang and Song Yikyung peacefully stand in front of the trees that hold the nameplates of Jihyun and Yisoo. I love how both of their thoughts mingle and combine to create one unified thought- that those who died gave them joy and happiness for a moment of time during their lives. It was satisfying to me and not over-the-top or anything.

For some reason, I also like how Yikyung was Jihyun’s long lost sister, although I feel like the screenwriter and director just kind of shoved it in last minute, and it wasn’t really needed. But I like how there’s a real blood connection between Yikyung and Jihyun. We’re first led to believe that Yikyung sheds the last tear for Jihyun, but then we get another surprise as Yikyung is blood-related to Jihyun, so there’s no way that she could’ve done that. Yikyung is given a family and I liked seeing that.

Shortcomings:

Shin Jihyun is annoying, I’m not gonna lie. Well, she’s only annoying when she’s in Nam Gyuri’s body, not when she’s in Lee Yowon’s body. I was thoroughly annoyed with the way she acted and her character, but it’s all good once her soul goes into Song Yikyung’s body. Maybe I’m just bothered by the actress, not the character Shin Jihyun. I don’t know, but I’m just saying that it kind of irked me a bit, so the drama wasn’t quite as enjoyable as it would’ve been if someone else was cast for the role of Shin Jihyun.

Uhh, so can we say that this drama was a bit unrealistic? I don’t believe that souls will really inhabit other souls to fulfill missions so that they can return to life – it’s like playing with death. I also think that for four people to find out that Jihyun’s ghost existed in the body of Song Yikyung was far-fetched. Do people really believe things like that, no matter how similar two people may be to each other? It’s sort of ridiculous.

This drama was quite unpredictable. This is good and bad, but I’m putting it in the bad section because the most surprising and shocking part of this drama was very disappointing to me. We go through the entire drama watching Jihyun struggle and try to get 3 tears so that she can regain her life, and once she does manage to collect all 3 tears, we rejoice at her success. We’re glad and happy that she can live and not die. But then in the last episode, we find out that she’s actually going to return to death. She has been scheduled to die in a matter of days right after she comes back to life from her coma. How sad is that?! We reach the climax and we are made to believe that the resolution will be a joyful one, but in the end, Jihyun dies. That’s just great. We expect good things to come but we get the opposite. (But the ending was still satisfactory, I guess. Check highlights above.)

So how can there be a Korean drama with a “romance” genre that is void of kisses? I mean, there are kisses between Yisoo and Yikyung, but not between Han Kang and Jihyun. Those two only shared a few hugs together, but I was really looking forward to a kiss. For me, a kiss seals the relationship, makes it official that both characters like each other. But that was absent here. Luckily, I’m not too sad about it since I didn’t like Jihyun in her own body that much, but still…it would’ve been nice to see. I’m not being too greedy by asking for some sweet lip-locking now, am I?

 

Additional Commentary:

This drama was a nice watch and I do not regret starting it (although I think that I could’ve waited to start it during the summer). However, it’s not one of those dramas that I will watch again. It was a great drama and all, but not amazing enough for me to go back to re-watch it. I have only re-watched two dramas out of hundreds so far due to the fact that there are constantly dramas coming out that I want to watch (and older dramas that I intend to watch), and because re-watching dramas takes up too much time for me. I’d rather watch a drama that I never saw before instead of taking time out of my life to re-watch a drama, especially since I already know what happens.

The ending was the best and worst part of this drama. It really was. It caused me to have conflicting feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. I think that the ending really caused my rating for this drama to change from what I was going to initially give it.

Overall, this drama is a nice one to watch- I don’t think that it’ll be a waste of time since the storytelling is absolutely marvelous and amazing. However, if you’re looking for a Secret Garden-esque drama, this one is not for you. Instead of lots of cute and adorable moments, there are more profound ones (and the few occasional cute scenes).

My Rating: 3.7/5

What a critic’s rating would be: (This is a new addition to my review. Different dramas have different appeal to different people – duh. So of course I will be biased in my personal ratings of dramas. However, others who watch this drama with a more objective viewpoint and little to no biases at all would give a rating such as the one we put here.) 4/5