Jang Dong-geon, All About Eve (MBC, 2000)

Oh why doesn’t JDG star in dramas anymore?

All About Eve. Source - Hancinema

JDG as Yoon Hyung-chul in All About Eve (MBC, 2000)

I just got the box set of All about Eve (MBC 2000) for my birthday which has put me in Kdrama retro mood.

I love this drama. It’s one of the first Kdramas I watched.

It’s about the rivalry of two young women who both want to become news anchors. Jin Sun-mi  (Chae Rim, Oh my Lady, currently airing on SBS) is kind and sweet, her rival Huh Young-mi (Kim So-young (IRIS) is the beautiful but manipulative baddie of the drama. (I much preferred Kim So-young in this drama to IRIS. All she seemed to do in IRIS was follow Lee Byeong-heon around looking sullen. I wasn’t keen on IRIS in general though. Too glossy. Over-styled fashion and hairdos. Did LBH really have a chance to go to the hairdresser’s every day while he was on the run. Yes, I know it’s only a drama but… )

Jin Sun-mi (Chae Rim) and Huh Young-mi (Kim So-young. All About Eve (2000) MBC

Anyway, In All About Eve, Young-mi has had a difficult life with her violent father. After he dies she moves to Seoul to fulfill her dream of becoming an anchor newsreader. She is determined and ambitious and tough coming from a poor background. But she is also envious of Sun-mi who is the same age as her and studying the same subject at university, but seems to have  had such an easy life compared to her. The “love square” is completed with Kim Woo-jin (Han Jae-suk) Sun-mi’s childhood friend and of course the rich and handsome Yoon Hyung-chul (Jang Dong-geon).

2009 Lost Memories. Source - Hancinema

The first I knew about Jang Dong-geon was around six years ago when I was working in Tokyo. I happened to rent the sci-fi action thriller 2009 Lost Memories, (2002) where he stars as Sakamoto, a Korean-born JBI (Japanese Bureau of Investigation) agent.

I’m not usually a sci-fi or action fan and had very little experience with Korean films so it was an odd choice. But I had been watching some Kdramas at the time and the fact that a lot of the film was in Japanese appealed to me too. (JDG has to speak a lot of Japanese and Nakamura Toru who plays Saigo, his friend and partner who later becomes his enemy, apparently helped him with the script)

Sakamoto (JDG) Lost Memories 2009

The film presents an important part of Korean history about the assassination of the Japanese general, Ito, by the Korean patriot Ahn Chung-gun in China in 1909. But what if he hadn’t assassinated him? In the film the assassination has failed and so in 2009 Korea is no more and is just part of Japan. But a group of Korean freedom fighters want to go back in time and correct history. The film is nationalistic of course, but visually stylish (not just because of JDG!) with an interesting story-line and great cast. I loved the sound effects too, the slow motion John Woo style action, and the charisma of JDG.

I didn’t realize till later that JDG was the biggest male star in Korea at the time since in Japan it was All About Bae Yong-jun. But after watching the film I promptly went back to the store and rented a chain of Jang Dong-geon dramas starting with All About Eve. This was actually the last drama he was in before concentrating on films. Too bad.

Watching this again 6 years later is very nostalgic for me. In the opening scene we find Hyung-chul (JDG) in Britain cycling to the shops to buy bread. But while I am reminiscing, Mr Kim is sitting next to me pointing out that when JDG arrives at his flat he has a lot more bread than when he came out of the shop! Is he going to be nit-picking all the way through? It would appear so because soon he’s saying things like, look at the size of that mobile phone, (it was ten years ago) and, what’s the matter with his hair?

Bad hair day? JDG in All About Eve (MBC, 2000)

What is the matter with his hair? It’s dyed a strange shade of green/grey in the first few episodes – a bit like mine when I go wrong with the dye – gets better later when he goes back to his natural colour. I must admit, that does look like a lot of bread for one person, though…

I think I’m going to get hooked again. Even though I know what’s going to happen. The first time around I had to rely completely on Japanese subtitles. This time I can at least understand some of what the characters are saying. Kdramas are so great for studying Korean. This is why I reckon it’s fine to watch dramas twice – It’s not just entertainment. It’s language study. That’s my excuse anyway.

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