When "Inspiring Generation" started and the adult cast finally kicked in after its opening flashback, everything was looking wonderful. It looked like KBS had another potential 'Bridal Mask' in its hands; an epic story with epic battles. Good cast of both popular and seasoned actors, lovely visuals and sound, great choreography and interesting characters. It was doing great. Sadly, the Korean drama industry has a habit of destroying potential, which is what happened to this series.
Sin Jeong-tae (Kim Hyun-joong) had a hard time growing up. With an absent father and having to care for his ill sister, he had to work hard to survive. The series depicts his story as he becomes connected to various groups and gets caught in the middle of their confrontations, before having to face his own issues and take a stand in the events that take place around him.
If that premise sounds short and generic, it is because attempting to describe all the different plot points in what is essentially two series glued together would fill this review up before even getting to the assessment part. The production went through a lot of problems during this series' run. From payment issues to disappearing characters to the ultimate plot destroyer, having its leading writer replaced shortly before the midpoint. A writer is a creator. A story is seen through their writings and their style. No matter how much someone tries to stay close to another writer's work, the changes will be obvious.
What really started the decline of "Inspiring Generation", however, was that the new writer did not even continue the story the previous one started. Instead, they began a whole different arc, with new characters. Everything that happened in the first 10 or so episodes, the characters introduced, the goals set for the leads and even the characters' function in the series changed. Not a subtle change, to boot. Off-screen deaths and disappearances left without closure, poorly done characterization and lack of consistency took over, making the plot more and more convoluted until reaching a messy and rushed ending.
Now, this is not to say the series did not have its good points. The sets, wardrobe department, props and everything else related to the practical and tangible things were mostly solid. The directing, although also slightly suffering in quality, presented things nicely even until the end. The music was great, the actors did their work well, the choreography and martial arts part was stunning throughout and on a surface level, it remained a nicely presented series and quite a good effort.
Perhaps those who will go into it knowing of this complete shift and its problems will not find the issues so devastating. But slowly seeing the quality decline until nothing was left but a series about sharply dressed people having brawls over petty turf wars is frustrating. Going from thinking about the plot, caring about the characters and excitedly anticipating the grand developments to simply wanting to see how it all ends without being engaged by it anymore is sad.
"Inspiring Generation" was unfortunately anything but inspiring. It failed on a writing level, on a production level and it failed its cast, crew and viewers. The higher up one gets, the more shocking the fall and witnessing the fall of this series is a bitter experience. That said, this is a drama that can still be enjoyed. Considering the level of quality it did manage to maintain, it is still a watchable show. It is just something that can only be enjoyed on a superficial level, as are a lot of Korean dramas, and the inconsistency of which will have to be accepted in order for that enjoyment to be possible. But producing mediocrity from the makings of excellence is regrettable.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Inspiring Generation""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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