Oh Tae Suk is the supervisor for the society news division and he is someone who never gives up until the truth is told even at the expense of exposing his father, a Member of Parliament. His belief is shared by Seo Woo Jin, his subordinate junior reporter. Together, they go to great length to expose society's injustice and the corrupted relationship between the government and big corporations.
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Where to Watch Spotlight
Cast & Credits
Right from the start, I'll explain that I choose to watch this drama solely because of Son Ye-Jin. I consider her to be my favorite (and possibly the best) Korean film and drama actress, bar none. High expectations as a result, and quite unfortunately Spotlight does not completely live up to them. The success of Alone in Love (2006) is not repeated until Personal Taste (2010), which is a little unfortunate since Spotlight's plot had more potential than either.
Let's start off with the brighter side, because I don't want to give the impression that this is somehow a bad drama, not at all. There's little room for criticism in the casting area, there are many familiar faces from dramas that I have seen before, especially among the support cast. Seeing as this is not a teen drama like Heartstrings, the cast's average age is significantly higher than your average Korean drama, even higher than in Midas. Son Ye-Jin herself delivers a solid performance, but I'll level some criticism at her character because even though it has been said she has been trying to get rid of her "nice girl" image from The Classic, A Moment To Remember and April Snow (all excellent films, go watch them) in her role as supposedly aggressive reporter Seo Woo-jin she keeps falling back into her vulnerable and uncertain character that we're so used to seeing (it fits well in Alone in Love, but not really in this drama). This makes her character a little unbalanced in my view, especially in the final episodes. If I were to recommend any work from Son Ye-Jin to convince others that she's the best Korean actress, I would stay away from mentioning this one. Another quite critical issue is that I would consider her character to be too young for her to be cast as. Son Ye-Jin simply does not come across as 25 in Spotlight, unlikely in Personal Taste from 2010. This makes for some weird moments with the two year older actor Jin Goo, who could come across as 10 years her junior in this drama. Well done on his part, but questionable on whoever decided on the background of reporter Seo Woo-jin.
Next to Son Ye-Jin, Ji Jin-Hee is cast as Oh "Cap" Tae-suk who apparently came out of a time machine from the 90s judging by his hairstyle. He delivers a good performance as well and his character is not burdened by an unbalanced nature. Also starring in this drama are Kim Bo-Kyung (not the singer) as "Vice" (who makes up these titles?) who unfortunately remains too much in the background as Son Ye-Jin dominates the female cast. I would like to have seen more development in her character. This goes for Cho Youn-Hee as well, who plays the female "antagonist" and fellow reporter Myeong-eun Yang. Her acting is done well, but unfortunately her character is flat and doesn't really change too much throughout this drama.
The rest of the support cast performs well, although I would like to have seen some more depth into the group of antagonist characters from the government and the construction company. Unlike the hostage taker/robber Jang Jin Gyu (played by Jung Jin) who showed off an interesting character, the politicians and the company executives just come across as greedy men, a rather flat character. I liked the group of employees at the GBS news station more, but let's not forget the group of police detectives either though they get phased out half way into this drama. As such, no real major complaints about the cast.
The trouble lies more with the script of this drama. Unlike Midas, this drama lacks a romantic element completely. If you can't appreciate the cheesy Korean romance, then this is a recommended drama. However, if you're used to it and enjoy it, then this drama will most likely come across as boring, especially for a younger audience. The story has to rely entirely on the development of Seo Woo-jin's character as a reporter. This development is rather fragmented and lacks coherence. On one site, the synopsis states that this drama follows Seo Woo-jin in her quest of becoming an anchor. This is simply untrue, but also a little unfortunate. Instead it focuses on the development as a reporter. While this may allow for more suspense, it isn't done in an exceptionally streamlined fashion. In the beginning the viewer simply gets dragged around from one story to another, until finally after a few episodes it settles down on the issue with the construction company. That too changes into something different after a few more episodes, but at least we're focusing on the same villains now. The fact that it takes so long to get somewhere makes this drama a little confusing and will leave viewers feeling detached. It's not until the last 2 episodes that we finally get to see a plot that develops along the lines of what we're used to of City Hunter, IRIS or Midas.
This drama is already three years old as this review is written, so it is unsurprising that the production value is not up to par with current dramas. The fact that I couldn't get hold of a high definition release did not help either. It isn't too important for this drama, but it does leave to be desired. The same goes for the soundtrack, which is barely notable aside from Yi SongYol's Stand 4 U.
In conclusion, I am a bit torn on how to rate this drama. While the performances of all the cast are definitely good enough by any standards, the story is quite flawed in various ways and will make this drama too boring for a lot of potential viewers. I feel the script writers let the cast down and thus in the end I can't give Spotlight a rating that is equal to say Scent of a Woman or Shining Inheritence. Despite Son Ye-Jin's effort, she can't bring this one home.