KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

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


Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Impressions: 49 Days (2011)

49 Days
20 Episodes
Mar - May 2011

Nam GyuRi is not your typical spoiled rich girl, in that she’s not a nasty human being...but unfortunately she is oblivious to the real world and lacks perception when it comes to other people’s feelings, which easily gets misconstrued as snobby disregard by most everyone around her. Her background in sum: she’s the pampered only daughter of a wealthy family and she’s about to marry the man of her dreams with her two best childhood gal pals supporting her. Life is the perfect diamond engagement ring on her finger…until she’s accidentally robbed of it because of Lee YoWon’s disruption to her life’s schedule.

Speaking of scheduling, that’s how we meet Jung IlWoo’s very hip and hair-tastic spin on the grim reaper, or as he tartly [and awesomely] calls himself, a “Scheduler,” a supernatural gate planner for the greater beyond; he is responsible for all the post-life transitions that happen in Nam GyuRi’s neighborhood.

I’m going to keep the more intimate details of the plot undisclosed as a lot of this drama’s charms hinge on the slow unwrap of mystery in everyone’s stories. But needless to say, when the supernatural elements make havoc between Nam GyuRi, Lee YoWon, and Jung IlWoo (and also with handsome restaurateur/architect Jo HyunJae), they find that the meaning of life becomes all the more clearer when an unexpected derailment changes the course of all their lives.

First Impressions
Sprinkling a little supernatural mischief on an old kdrama convention seems to be the big rage these days. Hey, this is not me complaining because really, in this case, it works pretty well, and I’m so happy that it does because I really needed a drama pick-me-up. I’ve been kind of not grooving on the recent offerings. Why are they all so gloomy? It is the end of winter, damnit! Let’s have some sunlight! 

Anyway, back to 49 Days:

1) The special effects that were bound to be present in a supernatural drama are thrown at us in a fun manner and done within reason, and therefore feel well-employed instead of stifled by budget considerations. They don’t take me out of the story but enhance it, making it way adorable, which is pure happiness for me. The reaper stuff is actually quite cheeky. Love it.

2) We have a likable Nam GyuRi, which is good, because she is the main character we follow.

3) Even after only a few episodes, Lee YoWon’s acting quality shines through. She’s giving a very heart-tattering performance and I can see her only getting better once the meat of the story gets cooking. This is also very important to note because her acting ability is the main character we follow...if you watch the show, you’ll know what that means. I’m being cryptic on purpose.

4) There’s a sassy and sexy reaper with a Buddhist bent that pops in and out on a whim, clearly played with total acting happiness by Jung IlWoo (who knew Jung could be so damn funny on top of being so adorable? Although his rapping is something to behold…yes, I said rapping...)

5) We got ourselves a rather handsome antihero male in Jo HyunJae.You know you love the type, he’s the bad boy that is all mean and pissy on the outside, but soft and mushy on the inside. Delightful! In general, there is a nice variety of personality textures in this one.

6) Then there’s the duo of complex kdrama troublemakers in Bae SooBin and Seo JiHye. These two are bizarre and I want to know more about them, pronto! What the hell are they up to?

7) Last, we have Bae GeuRin in this drama. This is an actress I keep in my personal pocket. I’ve liked her ever since she played A.N.Jell’s fan club president in You’re Beautiful. I think she’s really spunky, talented…and there is something about her acting delivery that really appeals to me. One day we will see her as the main lead, but for now she gets these mini-parts.

Right away, I feel good about this one, I mean it is chock full of actors and actresses I like, plus its plot is thus far awesomely confusing. It is kind of an ambitious drama, which means it could definitely fail later on. 49 Days wants to put a trendy spin on a favored melodrama crutch (by following the victim, not the mourner). Granted, it is not a completely new idea, as other dramas have tried it before with less successful results, Who Are You? comes immediately to mind as one I didn’t like, but this one feels more sharply done and has an emotional resonance that others have lacked. For one, it is not sacrificing characters in order to be overly fashionable.

BUT it is the nuggets of comedy gold that keep popping up scene after scene that really have me sucked into this one. Here’s the thing: the first time Jung IlWoo yelled at Nam GyuRi, it was thumbs up for me. I thought, “Holy shiznit, this show is awesome!” It jumped right over mildly interesting to pure adoration in a heartbeat. It felt funny, ironic, emotional, but also light enough for spring despite its subject matter.

Any Dead Like Me fans out there (Showtime’s dramedy about grim reapers)? It’s got that kind of a feel.

Here’s hoping 49 Days continues to pace and plot itself well.

(Although I will say, I don’t like the poster art at all!)


  1. Exact same moment! Jung Il Woo for the win! I'm a diehard Dead Like Me fan and I thought 49 Days was sort of like the kdrama version of it and holy shiznit do Bae Soo Bin and Lee Yo Won got sparks, the hot kind of I-hate-you Secret-Garden-ish chemistry I love!

  2. 49 Days was an amazing drama. I loved it. I laughed and cried. You'll enjoy it :) Of course, it's a drama so I'm not going to say it's not totally cliche, but there are so many things that caught me off guard as I was not expecting them to happen.
    Tbh, I took a break from dramas for about a year or so~ because it was all the same, blah blah blah, but then my friend convinced me to watch 49 Days and I didn't regret it at all. It was amazing. :)


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