As always, I was super late to the party when it came to watching what was a hot new drama. All over the internet, I saw people saying different things about The K2, anything from, “It was the worst thing ever.” to “It's the best thing since sliced bread.” I'm here to add my opinion to the pile now that emotions over the drama have cooled off. What is my final verdict for this show? Read on to find out. Also, this review is pretty spoiler heavy, so if you're late to the party like me, steer clear!
Also, make sure to read to the very end for an opportunity to help me with an article I'm working on!
To start, let's discuss the plot. Everything and nothing happen in this show. Looking back, I'm really not sure what I watched. I honestly can't recall much, and yet, I don't regret watching the show. There are 16 episodes, and the characters seem to get nothing done in most of them. This show could have been compacted into 10-12 episodes. Strangely enough, though, the lack of stuff going on doesn't detract much from the show, I think. At its core, it's a relatively simple-minded action show, where a hot guy defeats evil with flashy stunts and smouldering stares. Once you get past the first three episodes, you'll find that there really isn't much of him. In fact, most of the show revolves around someone else: Choi Yoo Jin.
Man, do I love Choi Yoo Jin. I have never seen such a solid villain in a KDrama. The writers made a really great choice when they chose to center the story around her. Don't misunderstand: I liked Jae Ha. He had some depth, and Ji Chang Wook played him very well, but what made him great was his interactions with Yoo Jin. These two had so much chemistry and had one of the coolest villain x hero dynamics I've ever seen. By focusing on Choi Yoo Jin, they sacrificed screen time for JCW (who I originally came for), but at the same time allowed Jae Ha to show off just how cool he was when he was with her. It was so well done. I realize people were a little bitter that the show didn't focus entirely on Jae Ha, but honestly, I think it was better off that way. He wasn't interesting enough to support a whole show all on his own. He needed someone to match wits with. They were a team for most of the show, which helped prop up Jae Ha's character.
Another thing I have to address is the romance. It was a mess. I agree with a lot of people over this. There was so little chemistry between Anna and Jae Ha. I'm convinced that Anna only fell in love with him because he was the first guard to not be mean to her. This is some like... Stockholm Syndrome type stuff, I swear. You know what could have been so much better? Yoo Jin x Jae Ha. Not only would it be a noona -romance (which everyone seems to get a kick out of), but it would also have been between two intelligent, morally ambiguous people. Seeing a powerful, seemingly heartless woman like Yoo Jin reveal such a softness for Jae Ha was really interesting and would have made for a fantastic pairing. The ending would also have so much more impact if the woman that died was one that Jae Ha loved, not that he had mixed feelings for. These two would have had a much more mature dynamic than the whole puppy-love thing Jae Ha and Anna had going on. I wish so much that this had been pursued.
At the same time though, having them apart was also really awesome. It shows that, while Jae Ha would do just about anything for money, he also has a heart. He saves the lives of undeserving people because that's the kind of person he is. He hates Yoo Jin, and yet he saves her from the car crash. After he saves her, she falls in love with him. She shows more care for the man who blackmails and threatens her than she does for her own assistant, Chief Kim Dong Mi, who would do literally anything for her boss. When Jae Ha requests that Chief Kim be killed, Yoo Jin barely bats an eyelash. When Jae Ha is shot, she loses her mind. When he wakes up after being shot, she rushes to Cloud 9 as soon as she gets the call, running in with a big smile on her face. It was so sweet, and as much as I wanted them together, having them apart gave the viewers so much character development, and it kept me on the edge of my seat.
Next, let's talk about the acting. The K2 had a pretty good cast. There was really only one dud: Im Yoon Ah. Was she as terrible as a lot of people were saying she was? No. Was she particularly good? No. She was average. She wasn't memorable. The flatness of the character didn't help much either. Anna was poorly written and poorly implemented. Her only use was as a tool Yoo Jin could use to manipulate Jang Se Joon, and it showed. Ji Chang Wook did his very best like he always does. Jae Ha was complicated and morally ambiguous, as well as good looking and strong. Song Yoon Ah rocked my socks off. She was the best in the whole cast. Yoo Jin's thinly veiled craziness came across very clearly, and Song managed to make the character seem so threatening, and yet so much like a love-stricken girl when she needed to. Song makes for a perfect villain, and I would love to see her in that sort of role again. Other people playing villains should take notes from her.
Also, shout out to Shin Dong Mi, who played Chief Kim. Not only did I love this character, but Shin did a wonderful job playing her. This character was so interesting. Chief Kim would do literally anything (including die) for Choi Yoo Jin. It was clear that Chief Kim cared more for Yoo Jin than Yoo Jin cared for her. I just really loved how strong this character was, and I don't think you can mention Yoo Jin without mentioning Chief Kim. They're the perfect pair of villains. Also, Dong Mi's revenge against Sung Won at the end made me the happiest girl in the world.
I also quite liked the OST. There were pretty choral and orchestral pieces throughout that helped set the mood very well. These songs gave the whole show a more mature tone that I liked. There were, of course, some spots where the show fell into the trap that most KDramas seem to fall into: it has a really obnoxious song with lots of high notes that always seems to come on at the worst time. It's like the song "Moment" from The Heirs. There was also a song that had chants in it that confused me at first, but it grew on me. It worked very well with action sequences and chase scenes. Overall, the OST was pretty solid, and I'm considering buying some of the prettier choral pieces.
Another thing I want to talk about is a complaint that I've seen all over. Lots of people talk about how boring the show gets in episodes 11 through 14. I want to explain why I think this happened because it tells a lot about where the writer's priorities were. As I watched the show, I noticed that the revenge plot that drove the beginning of the show just sort of... disappeared, as if everyone forgot about it. Sure, they would mention it every once in a while to keep it at least a little relevant, but otherwise, it wasn't really covered for a large span of time. I think what happened was the writer wanted to focus on Yoo Jin and Jae Ha but didn't want to distract the viewers from the relationship between Anna and Jae Ha. It's like the writer was afraid to make it a real love triangle, even though it could have fit very well into the story. Trying to make Yoo Jin interact with Jae Ha without detracting from Anna x Jae Ha proved too difficult, and ultimately served as a distraction from the revenge plot.
Of course, since the revenge plot is swept under the rug for many episodes at a time, it leads to the show ending up sort of boring to some viewers. Many of us were very set on seeing a show about Jae Ha avenging his girlfriend's death, and when we didn't get that, we either dropped the show or complained about every frame that didn't have Jae Ha in it. Those who decided to look at the show as a whole though, rather than one character, were actually able to see the good in it. I guess the show really isn't named after him, but after how he impacts so many different people. In that way, it's a very apt title. Of course, I don't think the writer was thinking that deeply, so the title is actually false advertising more than anything.
Don't think that I believe this show is without flaws. Believe me, it has a lot. Just because I think I know why the show got boring doesn't excuse the fact that it did get boring. If I hadn't gone in knowing that it focused more on Yoo Jin than Jae Ha, I would have been bitter just like a lot of you. If I'd had the bad experiences with Im Yoon Ah's acting that the rest of you seem to have had, I probably would have been more negative and biased. There are so many things wrong with this show, but there are also a lot of redeeming qualities that I think people forget to praise. I believe that it's very deserving of the rating it has here on MDL.
I'm glad I waited to watch this show until it was done airing. I think emotions tend to run high while a show is on the air, and it leads to more biased reviews than when one watches the show after the fact. I don't think I'll rewatch this, now that I know how it ends. As much as I loved Choi Yoo Jin, I don't think I would want to slog through the rest of the show just to further analyze her. It was a pretty good show, just not the best thing I've ever seen. I would recommend it to those who are willing to watch the show for Yoo Jin, not for Jae Ha or quality romance.
I have a little project going on right now. I'm going to do an article about good looking Korean actors, and I would like to have you, the readers, comment what you think! Just leave a comment about who you think is the best looking Korean actor (not the actress, I'm saving that for later). I'll be combining the votes from this article and my last one to come up with a list that reflects what my readers think. Thanks! Your participation is important, and I won't be able to include that part of the article if you don't vote. Thank you for reading. See you soon!