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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Festival - Save Wang Jo-Hyeon"

2013/11/14 | Permalink

This drama makes a deliberate decision to cloak itself in the aura of the nineties. In short time both a very fat television and loads of VHS tapes make an appearance. These objects make for a cute few moments of nostalgia-based jokes, but it isn't long before we find out what these items actually represent in the story. Joong-Sik (played by Choi Wooshik) is basically a child. This is forgivable, since he can't be much older than a teenager. Regardless, he still has to grow up and learn that the reality of the world isn't the fantasy he sees in television shows.

Enter Wang Jo-Hyeon (played by Han Bo-reum), the titular woman in need of saving. And she does need saving- that much isn't in Joong-Sik's imagination, but what she needs saving from isn't the kind of clearly telegraphed television villain Joong-Sik is expecting. Jo-Hyeon's older than him, and certainly seems cooler and more aware of her place in the world- but really, this whole drama is about the realization of how these dramatic assumptions of the world around us are just plain wrong.

It takes some time to get to this catharsis, though, and until then the time is filled with Joong-Sik's antics, which are a mixture between cute naivity and awkward cluelessness. A discomforting feeling seeps into the viewer, realizing that Joong-Sik really isn't a comedic caricature. He genuinely believes all this stuff, really thinks that the smallest, most insignificant victories can actually mean some sort of long term progress.

The taste overall is rather bittersweet. I was rather discomforted by the drama's final climax, which clearly and unambiguously reveals the motivation of every character in the story, and it's not really a very good place. Of course, all this happened way back in the nineties- all of these characters have grown up by now, so surely they've learned from their past experiences. Right?

Joong-Sik seems to have at least learned something, I guess. At the end he's still very much the wide-eyed boy we saw at the beginning of the drama, filled with optimism and energy toward the world. Now, though, I guess there's a sort of...temperance to that maybe? "Drama Festival - Save Wang Jo-hyeon" does not depict a life-changing event, so much as the first in a long series of events that will eventually bring a boy to adulthood. The story is a window into the regret of youth- taken from the uncomfortable setting of those same youths who as yet aren't quite mature enough to realize the poor bargains they're getting themselves into.

Review by William Schwartz

"Drama Festival - Save Wang Jo-hyeon" is directed by Kwon Seong-chang and written by Lee Hyeon-joo and features Choi Wooshik and Han Bo-reum.

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