The Era of Innocence (2002) by Lee Jung-sun RECAP & REVIEW

“The Era of Innocence” is a Korean drama series broadcast by SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) in 2002 and it’s the first series of scriptwriter Lee Jung-sun. The drama‘s core theme is the decisions we are forced to make when we fall in love with someone and at the same time, our closest friend falls in love with the same person.

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The story begins with Tae-suk (Ko Soo) being a senior high school student and living with his divorced father, played by Kim Kap-soo. One day, Tae-suk learns about an art exhibition in his hometown held by his mother who left them, and frustrated by the pressure from his father to meet her, he leaves school class. His best friend and classmate Min-soo (Yeo Hyeon-soo) follows him and tries to persuade him to return to class but his efforts do not pay off. In addition to this, Tae-suk starts to tear the art exhibition’s posters, but his actions cause the anger of Ji-soon (Kim Min-hee), a new transfer student, who at that time was putting up the posters. Tae-suk is unapologetic about his actions, even though it’s obvious from the look in his eyes that he shows interest in Min-hee, who also seems to be on the same page. Soon after their encounter, Min-soo arrives and he is also mesmerized by Min-hee and apologises on behalf of Tae-suk.

The Era of Innocence (2002) by Lee Jung-sun

Tae-suk at first tries to hide his feelings from Ji-soo for the reason that his friend confesses to him his love for her, but not for long. When Min-soo sees the two kissings, this love triangle leads to a tragic ending with the death of Min-Soo. Tae-suk, full of guilt, leaves the town without saying goodbye. Fast-forward to present, 7 years later, and Ji-soon tries to move with her life. She meets Dong-Hwa (Park Jung-Chul) and she has a love relationship with him. In a twisted game of fate, Dong-Hwa introduces his best friend to Ji-soon, who is not other than Tae-suk. Ji-soon and Tae-suk find themselves in the same position as seven years ago. Now the question is, what choices are they going to make?

The premise of the drama is utterly interesting and captivating. The main story is repeating itself in the past and in the present with minor differences. In this fashion, the viewer is wondering if the protagonists will proceed with the same actions and make the same mistakes of the past. The drama succeeds to keep viewers’ interest until the middle of its run when it drags a little bit. Fortunately, after the middle, it continues to be compelling until its final episode.

Furthermore, credit for being a worth-watching drama is bestowed to the writer that creates completely different characters for the three main protagonists, Tae-suk, Dong-Hwa and Min-soo, with Dong-Hwa’s character standing out.  He is impulsive, but also he is very compassionate – at least for a great part of the drama. Moreover, he is ambitious and when he puts something in his mind, he fulfils it, even though this may be for the best or for the worst. Park Jung-Chul as Dong-Hwa is excellent, to say the least, and he completely commits to his character, breathing life into him. This applies also to Ko Soo but to a lesser extent since Tae-Suk’s character does not give much space for Ko Soo to display his full talent. Also, Kim Min-hee is convincing as Ji-soon, despite the fact that her personality is by far the least favourable, mostly due to her indecisiveness.

As for the technical department, the two directors Kim Hong-hyuk and Kang Shin-Hyo do a decent job and the scenes with the three protagonists being in the same frame are the highlight of their effort. Finally, a special kudos must be given to the heart-melting soundtrack by Yiruma and Zdenek Bartok.

‘’The Age of Innocence’’ is a drama about the difficult decision that someone may face choosing between friendship and love, but at the same time gives an important message: if we are honest from the beginning, thereupon maybe we do not have to choose between the two. Regardless of the ending, which may disappoint some viewers, it’s a definitely worth-watching drama with its target audience being mostly adults. In that essence, fans of lighthearted and feeling good dramas may find it difficult to watch.

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