I found episode 1 of the SBS drama The New Tales of Gisaeng quite a mix. The two leads Sa Ran and Da Mo are sullen and serious and have issues with their parents. Sa Ran’s spoilt friend Ra Ra looks like she is capable of creating lots of trouble along with her materialistic aunt. And there is the classic K-drama feature of identity issues and family secrets to be discovered. The episode jumps around filling in the story from three different families plus the gisaeng house. And there are some bizarre humour elements too.
Episode 1 has a quirky start. We see Dan Gong Joo, Sa Ran’s step sister, in pajamas and curlers dancing to funky music in her bedroom in the evening. She looks sullen and seems to be taking her dancing very seriously, twisting her hips and throwing her arms in the air. The scene goes on for quite a long time to the point where I’m wondering why it’s going on for so long! At this point I’m thinking she must be the lead. Then suddenly we see a thief on the roof outside her room with a stocking over his head and he’s staring in at her through the window. It’s dark outside and she’s oblivious to the fact that she’s being watched. Then the stockinged man (still on the roof) starts dancing too! Gong Joo’s friend Son Ja is walking outside and calls her mobile. When she stops dancing to answer the phone she glances out of the window and sees the thief dancing on the roof and their eyes meet. At the same time Son Ja looks up from the street and sees the thief too. The fast paced music stops and Son Ja shouts “thief” into the silence.
There’s a dramatic shift in mood and pace as the modern music changes to slower, sedate traditional Korean music. Now we are in a wealthy home where the dance student Sa Ran is dressed in elaborate hanbok doing a traditional dance in front of her teacher’s friend (Da Mo’s grandmother). Sa Ran performs slowly and gracefully and we can assume she has spent hours perfecting this at her dance school. Da Mo’s grandmother sits on the floor in her hanbok watching Sa Ran with an appreciative gaze. Continue reading