This drama is set in the 1930's when Korea was under the rule of Japan. Na Yeo Kyeong was the owner of a book store and she was also a freedom fighter. Seon Woo Wan was the playboy son of a rich family and he became involved in the independence movement through a bet with his co-workers to win Na Yeo Kyeong's heart. His father paid for the education of his worker'sson, Lee Soo Hyeon, and was disappointed to find him working for the Security Branch of the Japanese government. Cha Song Joo was a famous gisaeng who ran a high class brothel.
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I think it had the potential to be one of the best Korean dramas if not the best one. Alas, inconsistencies killed so many other dramas before and this one isn't an exception either. A killer cast and three-dimensional characters should have done done wonders to this drama but the writing simply left it somewhere in between. I am giving it an overall 8 solely for the incredible actors and the catchy OST.
The drama started off really well, then got lost somewhere in between around episodes 8-10 and then from then on it became something else entirely. I think the second half and first half are like separate dramas squeezed into one. Things happened too repetitively or too suddenly. Every thing in this drama was redundant and boring later on- the romance, the independence struggle and even the humor. Still, I think it was a good drama and is definitely an underrated one.
The thing I loved most about it was how the second leads were so great that they simply overshadowed the main couple. Soo Hyun & Song Joo are magnificently deep and likable. They never got boring and also had the best plot and scenes. I can't believe it, but I'll have to say they were the ones who kept this drama alive. Sure, Han Ji Min and Kang Ji Hwan are good actors but when even good actors get boring roles to play, some one else has to save the drama.
Its ending was weird and rushed. It was a bittersweet one and one couple gets to stay happy while the other gets their share of tragedy
(which I hate). I think this drama served okay as a one-time watch. I will probably never watch it again. Overall a good one but not a great one.
I liked how deep this story became as the episodes moved along. There are nuanced and complex relationships that flesh themselves out completely and are not left hanging. While not every character gets a picture perfect conclusion, you do get the satisfaction of ends tied up nicely. There is a lot of fun, smart and snappy dialog in this drama that I don't feel was lost in the translation of the subs. The love story between the two leads was very sweet. I liked their antagonistic start, middle and end. They had a kind of old Hollywood Hepburn/Tracy feel to them.
The cinematography, color palette, clothing and music were all added delights of enhancing the feel of the time period. The Concubine Cha Song Joo had so many costume changes my head was spinning; but it was wonderful!
It struck me as I was watching Capital Scandal that even as it must have completely stretched the truth of the Japanese occupation of Joseon, (it was much worse, of course) if not over westernizing the time period; this drama speaks to the sense of pride Koreans have of their long, ancient history as a people. They deserve to feel that pride. When I think about all the ancient civilizations that remain intact, I hazard to say that Asian cultures seemed to have remembered if not kept their traditions better than most. As an American mutt, I envy the purity of that tradition and the ability to go back thousands of years tracing your family and owning your people's history. After I watched this drama I dug a little and found out just how close Korea came to being lost by that occupation. God Love Ya Japan...but I'm so glad you lost that war.
Capital Scandal is not perfect but it is a fun show. Lots of intrigue, funny situations, intense drama and a lovely little romance wrapped up in Kang Ji Hwan's special brand of bad boy comedy.
Give it a try!