So apparently "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is still in the basic exposition stage. That's the only explanation I can come up with for why it's taking so long for Gil-dong to grow up and become a major force to be reckoned with. To date Amogae (played by Kim Sang-joong) is the main lower class character showing any kind of agency. Now granted, while Amogae is Gil-dong's father, Hong Gil-dong is the legendary historical figure who's headlining the drama.
The set-up would probably bother me a lot less if we were actually learning more significant background. So far "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is still dealing with small-scale corruption. I can see now why King Yeonsangun had to show up in the first episode in such an out of place way. Who knows how long we're going to have to wait for Amogae to move on from the local aristocratic thugs and start waging war on the people who embolden these guys in the first place.
Small character building moments are effective, although they remain few and far between. Take the big scene where the next generation of horrible aristocracy has to practice his Chinese pensmanship. We can tell that the little guy isn't all that bad, but he's clearly being set up to be a sadistic jerk to lower class people because that's how everyone treats them for the mildest possible slights. This also works as good background, explaining why Amogae and Gil-dong are eventually going to have to take arms.
The material's all relevant, and effectively sets up the worldbuilding. I'm just...getting a little bored at the moment because the very first few scenes of "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" clearly set up this massively brutal war and ever since then I've been wondering. Who are these allies? Where did Gil-dong find them? What did they do to make King Yeonsangun so angry that he sent the literal army after them?
It's admittedly a pretty tough line to toe for a commercial product. The first episode has to sell us on things getting epic eventually, but in general "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is doing the standard extended historical drama set-up. I don't think this episode is bad so much as I'm just being impatient. Sooner or later we're going to have to get to the main plot, so for now, these mysteries aren't that big a deal.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 2"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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