Monday, 9 June 2014

by Chin Wye Mun, Junior 2 Cempaka, Class of 2014

White Christmas
As lovely as a white christmas sounds, this Korean drama is far from lovely. This is a drama that breaks the image not only presented by its very own title but the image of Korean dramas (K-drama) as well. There's a stigma carried by K-dramas that they are formulated and very cookie-cutter-shaped. In other words, they're predictable and focus more on beauty and looks rather than on actual plots. K-dramas always include unlikely (which have now become rather likely) relationships, silly conflicts and happy endings. Let me give you a few examples, unlikely relationships equal to the rich guy falling head over heels unexpectedly for the poor girl living in a small rooftop shed or two bickering enemies finding love within their spite. The silly conflicts often hang around somewhere between I'm Not Good Enough for Him/Her and Uppity Parent Takes Control and Bans Further Contact. Finally, happy endings, are of course, happy endings. The guy always ends up with the girl. The very predictable, happy endings of K-dramas are what kept me away from them for a while. 

Boys Over Flowers
After having watched the likes of Boys Over Flowers, Coffee Prince and Secret Garden, I'd come to figure out that K-dramas will always end happily. Therefore, having already reached that same conclusion in the first couple of episodes, no conflict or momentous plot twist could actually make me cry or be in shock or suspense for I knew at the back of my mind that a happy ending would always prevail. 

However, White Christmas is not one of these cookie-cutter K-dramas. In fact, it isn't even centered around romance. White Christmas is a psychological thriller drama. The setting is up in the mountains in Susin High School, an elite high school for the cream of the crop - the top 0.1% students in the nation. Basically, it's South Korea's little geniuses all pooled together in one building. They concentrate on studies and studies alone; co-curricular activities are limited. 

Susin High School
The time is Christmas break and who wouldn't want to get out , right? Well, 7 students stay behind and one teacher to look after them. These 7 students are all recipients of a strange letter whose contents have supposedly cursed them and this holds them back from going home. A series of eerie events follow the group and what might have originally seemed/been planned as a harmless stunt soon turned into something a lot darker and deeper. Do note that when I say dark, deep and eerie, I do not mean ghosts (and that's another plus to the beauty of the drama!). There are no ghosts or spirits, only the brutal reality of life. White Christmas has you picking your brain and debating about real-life issues even after you've finished watching it. It deals with themes of humanity, judgement, punishment and also the popular nature versus nurture discussion.


The series only consists of 8 hour-long episodes, which is super short for a drama/TV series as you would all know. American/European series lasts for seasons on end and normal Korean dramas can go from 20 to 40 episodes so it was refreshing to find a drama so short but yet just as, if not more, substantial in comparison. 

The cast is completed by a beautiful set of young actors and actresses who not only portrayed their characters wonderfully but really absorbed themselves into the role (or at least, I felt so). For some of them, White Christmas was a great kick-starter for their career. Take a look at Kim Woo Bin. Most of you will know him from the popular K-drama, The Heirs. What you may not know though, is that White Christmas was one of Woo Bin's first appearances in the acting scene and at that time, he didn't even go by the name Woo Bin, but rather Kim Hyun Joong (his real name). 

Kim Woo Bin
Besides Woo Bin/Hyun Joong, the cast is equipped with the likes of Lee Som (the female lead, who isn't your regular Korean ulzzang or pretty face), Baek Sung-Hyun (who stars in Big and Iris 2), Hong Jong Hyun (who will be on We Got Married with Girls' Day's Yura), Sung Joon (who acts in Gu Family Book with Suzy and Shut Up Flower Boy Band), Kwak Jong Wook, Kim Young Kwang, Lee Soo Hyuk, Kim Sang Kyung and Jung Suk-Won. 

This drama was well done and does the Korean drama industry proud. It stands out from your regular romance dramas that have earned K-dramas the stigma of being (let's face it) stupid. I'm not saying that all romance K-dramas are stupid. There are beautifully-made romance series such as Secret Garden and The King 2 Hearts. However, there are also dramas that went down the drain with terrible plots and terrible acting.

This drama would be perfect for people who like to watch murder mysteries, psychological shows and even crime shows. If you've shunned Korean dramas for their predictability and uninteresting romance plots, check this one out. It might just bring you back into the K-drama world and into a new world of psychological thrillers. 

Lastly, I use the word psychological thriller a lot to describe this drama but do not expect super mind-blowing plot twists. It's not anywhere near Inception or Shutter Island-type stuff but it's good enough for a drama and more thought-provoking than mind-boggling.

Rating : 4.5 / 5 stars

P.S. There's more to come! Look out for Part 2 of this review, one that's filled with spoilers galore. 
Read Part 2 here! http://bit.ly/1qIgop9
by Wye Mun Chin 20:00 4 comments | in , , , ,

4 comments:

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