KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

a landing site for quick, completely biased, and totally snarky korean drama reviews


Friday, September 10, 2010

First Impressions: Giant (2010)

60 Episodes
May - Dec 2010

Just look at the poster art above, as if it wasn’t obvious!!!

Greed, envy, revenge—and like the hefty 1956 James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson misery-laden saga from which this kdrama clearly borrows its name, Giant is about the putrid side of ambition, one that spans generations. The drama is not an adaptation of the iconic U.S. film, which was about cattle ranching and oil drilling in Texas, but technicalities aside, both are about people fighting a bitter war for their own selfish desires through war and political corruption. It is about the growing pains of a nation as seen through the individuals that were bled and broken for that dream.

Yeo JinGoo/Lee BumSoo and Park HaYoung/Hwang JungEum lose their entire family almost overnight when they get caught in the crossfires of military corruption. National Security Chief Jung BoSuk has an appetite greater than his pay grade and will stop at nothing to satisfy that hunger, including murder. When one family stands in his way, he barely blinks an eye in his efforts to destroy them. Similarly, the young survivors will stop at nothing to avenge their family.

Contemporary South Korea has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and that accelerated growth kick-started in the 60s. Following the events of WWII, the Korean War and the split between the North and South on their peninsula, the latter experienced great political upheaval during the years that followed, but the country also underwent rapid industrialization. Obviously, in that regard, construction companies played a large part in the landscaping of that development period. Giant’s story focuses on one particular construction company and its aim to develop one specific area: Gangnam. Today, Gangnam is the Park Place of the Monopoly board in ROK, the most affluent district within the city of Seoul. Giant wants to share with you the [fictional] story of its birth, from the very beginning—starting with the initial [fictional] drop of blood spilled over money for that land.

First impressions
This period piece is heartrending stuff. I’ve yet to meet the adult versions of the characters, but having seen most of the main actors billed—including Lee BumSoo, Park JinHee and Hwang JungEum—in previous dramas, I have little doubt that they will deliver the goods.

The younger cast who established the main conceit for this fictional tale were all truly remarkable. This wasn’t surprising as casting directors always seem to do a good job finding young talent. The young’uns rarely do a bad job in these types of shows. When these cumbersome generational ones go bad, it’s usually the fault of the adult actors that come later. Here, the young lad Yeo JinGoo, the clear principle for which this story is built around, is growing up in the biz rather nicely and gave a great impression of a young man on his way to becoming a really intriguing kdrama lead. He’s both strong and vulnerable in the way he managed his character.

Kim SooHyun, who played his older brother, was also a study in acting power. He’s definitely a star in the making.

I am beginning this drama in September, although it has been going since May. It is nearing the conclusion of its live airing (after gaining an extension), and while I am not completely marrying myself to this tear-soaked story yet, I do find I am curious enough to see how this revenge thing plays out. It’s doing well in the ratings—in fact, this sucker has been steadily improving its numbers, so that indicates to me that the story is getting better as it grows older, not worse, which is a great motivation for me to continue on. It may take me a while, but I hope to see this to the end. The turbulent historical context with which this drama buries itself almost assures a rich epic.

But the catch is this: it is just sooooooo miserable! Every minute of it! I’m finding that I need to alternate its episodes with ones of Life is Beautiful, another saga about generations, but a Jeju island comedy which is about as polar opposite in tone as one can get from Giant! To watch a drama with this much suffering, I think I’ll be needing lots of medicine along the way.


  1. OMG!! i didnt really expect u to start giant since it's so LOOONNGGG (but not necessarily a bad thing in this case)... i stuck with it since the beginning. im not fanatic about it like i am with trendy dramas but this one is exactly what it is supposed to be, an epic and well-done (which i can't say the same for many other so-called epic). honestly, even though lee bumsoo and the rest of the cast have my esteem in terms of acting, i started to watch it for kim soohyun and expected to stop soon after he left (like i kinda did with east of eden. dear lord.) but i found myself surprisingly still following it until now. let's see how far you go.
    this is one of the few dramas for which think an extension could make sense and where the adult story is at least as compelling as the children's story (which unfortunately for many dramas becomes the highlight instead of the background).
    as for the miserable thing, it becomes less miserable. i guess the children's part goes for touching and emotions, like a background for the adults' part.
    anyways, it's quite a consistent drama and well-acted, of course.
    i still don't know if i will finish it but i think i will if it continues to maintain the same quality. when uve watched more of it, ill look forward to hearing about what you think.

  2. oh forgot...and ill reply about scandal on u 1st impression post then.. sorry for writing all over the place on ur blog.. it's cuz im too lazy to go back. xp my bad.

  3. Oh no! I didn't mean it that way! You can post comments wherever you want, I appreciate the discussion wherever it is! =) I just knew I was going to talk mostly about Scandal on my own comment so I just posted it there. I don't really care where things are, there's no organization! It was a whim!

    Ah, and same here, I won't go so far as say I'm excited about Giant, but it does seem like there's quality there so I decided I will go for it!

  4. out of topic...
    jang geunsuk and moon geunyoung for mary stayed out all night. r u going to watch it? it's been such a long time since i saw MGY doing a comedy that i almost forgot she can be good at it. for me, in my subconscious, MGY=tears. LOL.

  5. oh, i dunno if it's a rumor but seems like lee minho is a playboy for upcoming drama city hunter. im intrigued but i dont know if they can adapt the manga well.

  6. Pretty much anything with Jang GeunSuk, I'll be tuning in! =) I hadn't heard about Lee MinHo's new proj. Wow, that was quick. For some reason, I'd expected him to take a longer break, just CF-ing for a while.

  7. lol. same for me, jgs=must watch, especially after ur beautiful (altho i liked him a lot before that as well). and yeah, i expected minho to get a longer break, since he said so himself in an interview. his new drama is in the works so it's not confirmed yet as far as im concerned.

    and it'd be great if gd gets to be in a drama. the only time ive seen him acting though is in BB's parodies of dramas so it's not really "acting" i guess.

    ive just seen scandal 5. wat do u think? i love how the boys (and girl) are starting to bond in their own way but wat i really got from this ep is wanting for tomorrow's ep. i wonder how things r going to turn out for the competition. and i know i should hate in soo (which i do) but for some reason, i can't hate him completely.

  8. Oh!Oh!Oh! I love the conclusion of Scandal 5! She finally met people on her side! Swoon. That second to last scene in the rain...giggle fits! ^^ I love that the relationships between everyone on the show are so raw and messy and growing...and they are learning from one another because they are so different. They are incomplete people who need each other, and not necessarily romantically. They viewed the world through one set of eyes and now are forced to see it through another's. Their real education isn't books here, it's people. So impressed how it just gets better and better. The characters are all so mesmerizing!

  9. lol. i agree completely! ur right, the real education here is from each other rather than books! (for some reason, i get irritated as hell when a professor begins introducing a class by saying that but i totally LOVE it here) it's so awesome getting to see the change in each character due to another, and i love to see their shocked facial expressions when their views gets challenged. even know-it-all yongha gets confused. and yeah, the rain scene... <3<3<3 i am a total sucker for how all the guys go out of their ways to take care of the girl (like yab) and i KNEW yoo ah in is a total softie underneath. how he helped yoochun and yoonshik (forgot her girl's name). but ur right, the romantic here is not as essential. truth to tell, i watch this more for the developing friendship than the romance.

  10. Absolutely, the development of the grudging friendship is the most engaging part!

  11. currently watching scandal live (til when she managed to shot the arrow far) and i cant help but grin like an idiot every time yoo ah in is on screen. XD
    *continues watching*

  12. ep 6 spoiler what bothered me so far: it's SO obvious she's a girl + how come yoochun wasn't scared at all when he was standing right next to the straw target when she shot.
    and altho the friendship is the highlight, i have to admit that the romance is growing on me. yoochun and park min young are cute together.
    OMG, yoo ah in is talking to her!!! he's transporting here! ^^
    *goes off to watch*

  13. ep 6:
    is it me or it feels like yoo ah in is starting to romantically like yoonshik.
    plus, i love SJK

  14. ep6
    seo hyo rim plays her role well... i sorta pity her chances with yoochun.

    OMG. I KNEW the black guy was him.. (i had my doubts at some point that it was the prof. XD) TT don't hurt

    sorry for the updates. ill stop here.
    i got a bit too excited

  15. i'm stressed out of my mind... moon jae shin!!! please come.

  16. KYA!!!! i'm melting.
    and still can't get over the daemul nickname.

  17. OMG, tell me if im wrong but i just saw a pic of so ji sub and finally made the connection. do u feel like yoo ah in gives the same vibe as well or it's just me?

  18. Show Respect...This is NOT a Live-Chat space.

  19. @anonymous
    I apologize (again). Absolutely my bad. I was just too too excited but I know have to learn to refrain myself. I'm sorry my lack of self-control felt disrespectful.

  20. LOL - wow, this show is SLAYING you, too, I see! Iz gooood stuff. Now that the romance aspect is taking off, it's a great tease. This ep was very exciting, lots of quality Yooey smiles. As for...the So JiSub resemblence...hmmm, I'll be honest, I don't really see it...=) He does remind me of someone, though I can't quite put my finger on it right now.

  21. YES... a LOT of YAI's deadly smiles. but poor him, i was cringing and literally pulling my hair in the last scenes when he was hurt. and yes, this show is getting to me more than i expected. i'm glad i wasnt disappointed.
    as for the so ji sub thingy, it might just be me... i asked my friend as well and like you, she didn't see it. i dont know, i just feel like his acting as jaeshin resembles in style with so jisub other roles, or something i can't pinpoint that has to do with his nose+mouth profile. anyways, i always usually see differently than most people. like for kim hyun joong, everyone as saying how he looked like yamapi (i agree)but my first impression was that he looked like bae young joon.
    anyways, i'm dead excited for the next ep... and playful+MGIAG+baker are tomorrow.
    again, i apologize for getting overly excited this morning. dont worry, the next time i post on scandal would be on your final review of it. ^^ (same for playful)

  22. No worries, it's all good. =) I share your excitment! I was smiling the whole time watching Scandal myself and texting a fellow kdrama friend like a maniac. By, the Bae YoungJoon & HyunJoong thing, THAT I totally see.

  23. i want to start this show because of my kim soo hyun newly found craze and all open for sam gook but idk about the length . i remember watching queen seon duk since everyone kept raving about how kim nam gil did wonders with his character which turned out to be 52 episodes of him being a scheming genius one minute and a total lunatic in the next . yeah don't want to repeat that ever again . i hate quitting dramas no matter how often i do - is this one really worth it ?


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