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28 May 2020

K Drama Review: Worlds Within / The World That They Live In (2008)

When I found out that Hyun Bin used to be in a relationship with Song Hye-kyo, I was already looking forward to watching the drama where they first worked together - Worlds Within. I've always found SHY beautiful ever since I saw her in Full House. I wanted to see what was in the show that made the two fall for each other in real life. This becomes relevant again these days because there are rumors that the two are back with each other. 


After disappointing storylines from  The Snow Queen and A Millionaire's First Love, my expectations for Worlds Within were not that high. It's not even widely-mentioned when Hyun Bin's past shows are discussed or listed so I already had the feeling that it was not going to be as great as CLOY. But it has Hyun Bin and I still need to tick it off my Hyun Bin watch list. :)


Story


Source: http://asianwiki.com/Worlds_Within......


The story is about two drama show directors, Jung Ji-oh (Hyun Bin) and Joo Joon-young (SHK). They were schoolmates in college and they had a brief relationship in the past. The show starts with both of them having problematic on-off relationships with other people. Joon-young was seeing a surgeon, while Ji-oh was seeing his college sweetheart. They both broke up with their partners and decided to give their relationship another chance. Then it's peppered with your usual relationship conflicts - Ji-oh's insecurities, Joon-young's immaturity, Ji-oh's glaucoma, among others. But in the end, they find their way back to each other. 


Cast/Characters


This is probably the most "normal" Hyun Bin character I've seen so far. His character in Ireland would probably come close but he was bordering on pathetic there. He played a rich guy in Sam Soon  and a poor guy in The Snow Queen. Ji-oh was not that well-off either but he was not poor. He had a degree, a stable job, a nice apartment, a car. So yep, he's probably most "normal" here. Ji-oh was mostly a nice guy too so Hyun Bin didn't really need to exert a lot of effort here. Oppa's only complaint was that he yelled a lot or that his anger was always expressed by screaming. But, might be a Korean thing. And I don't think it was overdone the way Bo-ra's shouting was in The Snow Queen. Yes, he was insecure, but I'm sure we all doubt ourselves every now and then. The only flaw I noticed in Ji-oh was his inability to communicate well when needed, pretty much like Hyun Bin's character in The Snow Queen. But I guess that's one way of stretching a show. And it was not as bad as in The Snow Queen where both Taewong and Bo-ra were alternately hiding their feelings to avoid hurting the other person (who of course just ends up being more hurt). What made Ji-oh's communication flaws more acceptable was probably the fact that he was insecure that's why he had to break up with Joon-young. 


Oppa was complaining about how Ji-oh was a jerk for breaking up with Joon-young all because of his pride. I told him that at least, Ji-oh was brave enough to break up with Joon-young in person. And if Ji-oh was a jerk for doing that, how then should we characterize guys who just ghost girls without breaking up with them formally. Knowing that he was trapped, all he could say was that ghosting guys are just shy. :D


SHK was perfect as Joon-young. She is so cute whether she's angry, in love, happy, etc. She has a very pretty face. Her acting was not that bad either. For now, I still prefer Son Ye-jin over SHK in terms of acting but SHK is still good enough. She was best when angry. Oppa is now a certified SHK fan. I might need to rearrange my Hyun Bin watch list because I have to give way to some SHK and SYJ dramas too. :D


The chemistry between Hyun Bin and SHK was great. The way Hyun Bin looked at SHK was different. It was totally different from the way he looked at his other leading ladies. They looked cute together with tall Hyun Bin beside the petite and cute SHK. Throughout the show, Oppa would exclaim, "Oh that must be the reason why Hyun Bin fell for SHK." They were just good together. 


I suppose this show is quite star studded because they were showing a lot of big stars. I don't recall any actor who was improperly cast. Some notable ones for me were: 


  1. Kim Min-hee (Lee Da-in) as Joon-young's assistant director. She looked so frail but she could do a lot of things and most of the time, she was the only one who made sense among the characters. I loved how loyal she was to Joon-young, which loyalty she also extended to Ji-oh. 
  2. The older actresses. They gave me a sense of familiarity because they were in other Hyun Bin dramas before. One was Sam Soon's mother (Kim Ja Ok) and the other one was the mom in Wonderful Days and Ireland (Youn Yuh Jung). It was nostalgic to see their old photos when they were young. Joon-young's mom was also the mom in What Happens to My Family. 
  3. Ji-oh's mother (Na Moon-hee) was the cutest. She always appeared cheerful but you can see that she also carried a heavy burden. She loved and took care of her family, which was her number one priority. 
  4. Song Kyu-ho (Um Ki-joon) and Jang Hae-jin (Seo Hyo-rim). I initially disliked these two. Hae-jin was annoying because she kept on stalking Kyu-ho. Kyu-ho was a jerk whose goal in life was to make everybody's life miserable. But I began to like them when they had to break up because Hae-jin was just a budding actress who had to protect her career and Kyu-ho's dad was running for president so he also had to protect his image. I felt their pain - how you might have fame and fortune but you still can't have that one thing or person you really want. They both turned out okay in the end. 

Music


Music was not so prominent here. There was a song or two that they used constantly and they were nice but the show focused more on the dialogues than on music. 


What I Liked


The show gave us a nice glimpse of showbiz. We already know it's not all glitz and glamor but it's still nice to witness how things actually happen behind the scenes. Everything's fast-paced and highly stressful. Your colleagues tend to be grumpier than your average officemate. The production people and the actors have interconnected/intertwined lives. Watching this show made me realize I was not really cut for a TV production career. It would have been too stressful for a highly emotional person like me. 



I loved how the show depicted different kinds of relationships. Ji-oh and Joon-young's chemistry was great. Although they were bickering most of the time, they looked so cute together. Kyu-ho and Hae-jin and Min-chul and Yoon-young - they all seemed like odd couples who still made their relationships work. Ji-oh's relationship with his mother was very endearing. It was also nice to see how the actors and production people looked out for each other. They might have appeared indifferent in the beginning but they ended up friends. 


I also liked how Ji-oh loved his job so much. It was heartbreaking that he had an eye condition which prevented him from directing. I wonder how it feels to truly love what you're doing that you try to defy the odds just to be able to keep on doing it. It's quite a relatable storyline for me because there are still days when I find myself wondering if what I do is good enough for the world. Yes, the bottomline would always be about what brings food to the table. But on days when I'm feeling sentimental, I can't help but think if I should aim for something more meaningful.


Although it was not prominently highlighted, I loved how the show tried to depict the struggles of women in the workplace. Most of the directors were men and Joon-young had to work extra hard to prove herself. Unfortunately, she had to resort to giving her crew and actors a hard time to show that she's tough and she should be respected. It backfired but she eventually learned how to manage people without being a bully, because, really, bullying would just defeat the cause she's fighting for. 


What I Didn't Like


I'm not sure why but I had a feeling that the entire show was a bit disjointed. It tended to jump from one story to another leaving us confused. 


The show was quite repetitive too. During the first few episodes, Joon-young would repeatedly whine about being branded as "easy." It became annoying at some point. 


I also didn't like the gullible character of Soo-kyung, who was the only who didn't know that Ji-oh and Joon-young were dating so he still kept on pursuing Joon-young. He was funny at times but was mostly irritating. 


I hope they had a more definitive closure on Ji-oh's glaucoma. It appeared to be bad when he went home to his family but a year later, it seemed as if he was directing again. Come to think of it, I'm not quite sure if his condition was connected to the fistfight he had in episode 9 or 10 or the broken glass that entered his eye when he and Joon-young broke up. It was a prominent issue in the last few episodes so it should have been given a proper closure. 


Over-all, the show was not that bad but it was not great either. It was engaging enough to tide Oppa and I over for 15 nights. And it helped Oppa discover the beautiful SHK, so it's all good.  :)


P.S. I didn't really think that the site or app you use to watch these shows matters. I'm especially less picky when it comes to hard to find shows. But having watched the first few episodes of this show on a drama website and the rest of the episodes on Viu (yep, I had to subscribe, haha), I found out that the subtitles were not of the same quality. I was mostly confused with the website's subtitles. I couldn't follow the story that well and if it were not for Hyun Bin (and SHK for Oppa), I might have dropped the show. After switching to Viu, however, I began to understand things better. So yes, if you have a choice, opt for the better app. It can help you appreciate the show more.


Oppa says...3.5 that he'll promote to a 4 because of SHK. :D


Noona says...3.5

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