Lee Soo-jung is a travel agent who is seeking her good luck in Bali after a harsh and unforgiving childhood. She meets Jae-min, Kang In-wook, and Young-joo in Bali, three seemingly perfect people entangled in a triangle of love. When Lee Soo-jung finds herself back in Seoul, her desire for success leads her to seek Jae-min for a job, unwittingly setting off a course of events that further complicate the love triangle. What Happened in Bali is a drama that reveals the inner materialistic desires of people. It reflects upon the sometimes ugly (but truthful) side of man where nothing matters more than money.
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For me the angst was done well. After seeing so many dramas, these days I tend to fast forward through parts that bore me, usually dealing with secondary characters and such. However, this drama was twenty episodes long and I did not fast forward it once. Not even for a minute. I was completely engaged throughout. It was fast moving, and I wanted to hear what ever single person had to say. For me it was all a meaningful part of the progression of the story.
I'll admit this story is brought about by a series of contrived, coincidental incidences that are used to bring the four forever together. But seriously, if you're going to complain about that, then you shouldn't watch k-dramas, because that's basically how they all are. It's a tried a true plot device. It's easy for me to look over this and chalk it up to "fate" as they do in the drama itself.
There are four main leads in WHIB and they all get a good amount of screen time. You never know who the main male lead really is, because they both get equal screen time. At first, none of them are all that likeable. However, by the end, I really enjoyed them all. That included all their faults and wackiness too. They each make choices in their lives and we get to see the consequence (usually a fall out) of that choice.
I gave the acting for this drama a 10, mostly because of Jo In Sung. I had read somewhere that he was the most anticipated Korean actor to return from the military, and I just didn't understand that as I hadn't seen any of his dramas and had never heard of him. However, he knocked my socks off. This guy can act. He was great! No wonder he won all the best actor awards for this drama! (As a side note, at the time of airing this drama rated in the 20s and even got up to the 30s so it was pretty popular at the time). Seriously, the guy impressed me, and I look forward to watching his other work. Anyway, he plays the rich guy to a T.
Ha Ji Won (of Secret Garden) was one of the appeals to me when I decided to watch this drama. She did a fairly good job as well. She plays the poor girl. The other two mains played their parts perfectly and fit the roles great. The drama was cast perfectly in my opinion all the way down to the secondary characters. I just loved the psycho rich moms!
The main thing that got me to even notice this drama is I was looking through best couples in k-drama videos and such. This drama was on a top five list, with Ha Ji Won and Jo In Sung being like third best Korean drama couple in dramaland (just someone's personal opinion) as their characters in this drama. One of the pictures posted of them just really caught my eye and I could totally see their chemistry just from that. And they were right, they made this drama rock, and their interactions throughout were just awesome. However, this in no way, shape, or form, is saying that they get together. They might, they might not. You have to watch to find out. Watching them in this drama was great, and it would be neat if they could do another project together.
The music was uneventful, but it did it's job with blending into the story and providing the feeling of things like foreboding and such.
The rewatch value is a seven. Mainly because, I will probably eventually rewatch this again although it won't be the same. Normally, there are is so much angst in dramas that in order to prevent myself anymore personal anxiety, I read all about the drama I watch before hand, and if I can find out the ending in advance, that's a good thing. It helps me enjoy the drama with out feeling my skin crawl. Or, you just tend to know from the very beginning how a drama is going to end. Well, like I said, this is not your typical K-drama. From the very start, you may have an idea of how it's going to end. Your going to have your own opinion of who she's going to end up with based on which main guy you like the most, most likely. However, you will not know who she ends up with until the very end. And unless you found a spoiler some where, you will not know how this drama ends. Period. That in itself is kind of appealing and new in dramaland.
This of course brings me to the ending. I could not find out how it ended anywhere I looked on the net. I decided to watch it regardless, because I was so intrigued that nobody wanted to share the spoiler. I also found where most people that commented on the end didn't like it. That doesn't sound good right? Well, I've learned not to base my decisions on how other people interpret an ending. I have found it all has to do with personal taste and opinion. After watching the ending, I felt it was brilliant. It even made me smile. It was completely unexpected until it actually was playing out, however, I thought it was great!
But this is why the rewatch value of the drama is only a seven. Because, part of the appeal of this drama the first time around is not knowing what is going to happen next, what choices our leads are going to make, and how those choices are going to effect them and everyone else around them. Throughout the whole drama, you don't know who she really loves, who she's going to choose. Is she going to choose love, money, a combination of both, or neither?
Overall, I would give this drama a shot. I gave it an eight, because I truly felt it was very good. The overall tone and vibe aren't for everyone. I like it though. So, if you're interested, give it a shot!
BUT, and it's a BIG BUT, this was one of the most unique, compelling and batcrap crazy Kdrama joyrides I've ever been on, and I can't recommend it enough to those who aren't afraid to feel dirty, take a walk on the darkside, and see something they've never seen before in a Kdrama. Because this drama turns everything you know about Kdramas on its head and it did so 9 years ago, which makes me wonder why hasn't anyone else done it since? *(More on that at the bottom.)
Some of the common Kdrama tropes that get turned on their heads are the Cinderella story, the Candy/Mary Sue female lead, the spoiled chaebol son, and most notably the OTP concept.
Without trying to spoil anything, I will just say that even to the end I never really knew who loved whom, and how much and whether any of it was love at all. The truth behind all the lovelines in this drama was so well hidden behind the directing, the very good writing, and the fantastic acting, that even at the end the lovelines were still a confusing mess. And I loved that about this drama because it was so much more realistic. Contrary to Kdramaland, in real life, people can be conflicted about whom they truly love. A person really can love two people at the same time and love is icky and messy. That this drama embraced this fact was so refreshing.
In fact, not only was the romance totally unpredictable but the show itself was, which is why I say it is so compelling. Even someone like me who usually needs either action or humor to keep watching a drama, absolutely could not take my eyes off of this train wreck. This show is ultimate drama-crack, and I owe all of that to the writing and the acting. How many times have you watched a drama only to be pretty sure by about episode 4 how everything is going to play out? Well, not with WHIB. I had some guesses, but they were really just wild guesses and I wasn't confident about any of them. It was that uncertainty that kept me glued to the computer all day yesterday to marathon the last half of this drama.
WHIB is best known, probably, for its ending, so if you want to watch this drama, whatever you do, don't spoil yourself. It was hard for me not to because I am a bit of a spoiler addict, but I avoided it and was the happier for it. Some people, I've read, hate the ending, and some people love it. I LOVE IT! The more I thought about it the more I realized that it was not only totally earned, it was also perfectly fitting. It made sense in every possible way, and that is a rare bird for Kdramas because if there is one major complaint I have about most Kdramas it's that the endings are usually dissatisfying at best and just plain crappy at worst.
Finally, I'll just say that if you do decide to watch this drama, be prepared for a wild and sick ride. Starting WHIB is like going down the rabbit hole. As I said before, this drama made me feel dirty. But it also was exhilarating, with each episode heaping tension upon tension and crazy upon crazy until I couldn't tell which way was up or right from wrong. There is no black and white here, only many shades of dirty gray. If you choose to watch WHIB, enter at your own risk, but I don't think you'll be disappointed.
*(In truth, I think that the abomination that was Fashion King was trying to achieve something like WHIB, but failed miserably on every level but shock value. I chock it up to terrible writing, awful characterization, and mostly to not having a clear idea of what kind of drama they really wanted to make. One of the best things about WHIB that I neglected to mention earlier is how unapologetic it is about being purely character driven. Every event occurs just to put the characters where they need to be, making the choices they need to make, in order to up the tension and tangle the lovelines a little bit more. Normally this kind of artificial maneuvering is a flaw, but because WHIB has no doubt about what kind of drama it is, it works. Characters and the decisions they make are all that matter in this drama. Everything else is irrelevant.)