Showing posts with label Happiness (Kdrama) 4.5 || 4.5. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Happiness (Kdrama) 4.5 || 4.5. Show all posts

13 December 2021

K Drama Review: Happiness (2021) 4.5 || 4.5

This is the first full year that we're watching on-air dramas. And I didn't realize that a loooot of really good dramas are released towards the end of the year. It didn't help that we had to skip watching for a couple of weeks. So Oppa and I had a lot of catching up to do. Fortunately, we're all caught up now. Just in time for the finale of two of the on-air dramas we're watching. Whew. 

We had a lot of reasons to look forward to Happiness. It's Park Hyung Sik's first drama after completing his military service. And it's our first Han Hyo Joo drama. And it's relevant because it's about the pandemic, which has been absent in other dramas. So yes, our expectations were really high for Happiness. And while it wasn't initially what we it thought it was, it still managed to hook us in. 


Happiness is set post-COVID 19 pandemic. A pneumonia drug called Next was initially released to address the virus but when it was found ineffective, the drug was repackaged as an ADHD cure. However, when serious side effects were seen, the drug was recalled but some people still managed to get it. One of its worst side effects was that it could cause mad person disease where those infected practically turn into zombie-like creatures who thirst for human blood. No cure has been found and the infected persons are practically left for dead. It didn't help that the government was keeping everything under wraps so people are not able to protect themselves against it. 

Then comes Yoon Sae Bom (Han Hyo Joo), a member of the Special Operation Unit police squad. Sae Bom first gets wind of the disease when she saw her junior transform into a monster-like creature. Sae Bom was taken in for observation after she was scratched by her junior. But when her results came out negative, she was eventually released under quarantine. As reward for her promise to keep quiet about what happened, she managed to get a unit at a newly-built apartment building. However, to get enough points for the apartment, she had to get married. Sae Bom enlists the help of Jung Yi Hyun (Park Hyung Sik), her former classmate and a guy she rescued from an alleged suicide attempt back in high school. The story takes us through how Sae Bom and Yi Hyun, who initially just planned to enjoy their honeymoon stage after their arranged and pretend union, end up becoming protectors of people in their apartment building as they navigate through a government-imposed martial law/lockdown. 

Park Hyung Sik as Jung Yi Hyun

Way before I got hooked into Hyun Bin, I was already in love with Park Hyung Sik, who is part of my list. I first saw him on Strong Woman Do Bong Soon. And there was just no turning back for me after that. I went on to watch him on Suits, High Society, What Happens to My Family, and Juror 8. I didn't realize he was also on She Was Pretty. So, yes, I'm proud to say that I've watched almost all of Hyung Sik's major shows. It was unfortunate that he was on military service when I went crazy over him. So you can imagine how long I've waited for this one. 

I'm happy to report that Hyung Sik still has those lovely, piercing eyes. And thanks to the military, we even have a buffer and more mature version of Park Hyung Sik. He was definitely worth the wait. :)

Park Hyung Sik was perfect as the frustrated baseball player turned detective Jung Yi Hyun. He was totally badass in all of his fight scenes. He really projected an image of someone who can protect and take care of you, especially Sae Bom. 

The great thing about Hyung Sik is that he does not solely bank on being an idol. Actually, he does not need to. Because he is a very competent actor. He's never over the top. He always has just the right amount of angst and softness, depending on the situation. 

I had no problems with Yi Hyun either. Except perhaps that he lied to Sae Bom in the end despite their earlier agreement to be honest with each other if they were infected. But yep, I understand why he had to do that. He didn't want to hold her back knowing it was safer and best for everyone if she got out. 

I can't wait to see more of Park Hyung Sik now that he can truly focus on his acting. 

Han Hyo Joo as Yoon Sae Bom

Prior to this show, we've only seen Han Hyo Joo as a guest on the variety show Hometown Flex. It might have been short but she made a huge impact on us with her simplicity and great rapport with Lee Seung Gi that she immediately made it to Oppa's list

And while we had to wait a long time to finally get to see her, again, this was worth the wait. Hyo Joo was perfect as the funny yet very feisty police officer Yoon Sae Bom. I loved how she was even feistier than Yi Hyun, a fact that the latter acknowledged like when he told one bad guy that he should be thankful Sae Bom didn't punch him. 

Hyo Joo was really credible as Sae Bom. She was both cute and cool at the same time. I totally get why her little girl neighbor Park Seo Yoon (Song Ji Woo of Record of Youth and Itaewon Class) was so fond of her. 

It was great to finally see how Han Hyo Joo is a well-rounded actress. She can be dramatic and all girly when the scene calls for it but she can be totally badass too. And her delivery of her funny lines is just right too. I think it's time for us to explore older Han Hyo Joo dramas so we can see more of her. 

Sae Bom and Yi Hyun

I am in love with Sae Boom and Yi Hyun. They have such good chemistry. The way they exchange their lines seems so natural and flowing. They're credible as youthful high schoolers yet they're also believable as a badass cop and detective tandem. I love the way they corner people and how they team up to get the information they need. 

I love how Hyung Sik and Hyo Joo amaze me with their fight scenes yet they also manage to make me giddy with their quiet moments together. I super love that heartbreaking confession scene on the elevator when Sae Bom found out that Yi Hyun was infected. That line about Sae Bom's heart beating faster when Yi Hyun's near because she likes him. And that super heartfelt video Yi Hyun left on Sae Bom's phone where he apologized for not proposing to her properly. It's amazing how they've always loved each other all those years and how they've always been there for each other for the longest time. Ahhh. Who would've thought that a thriller show can bring you such a great and loving couple?  

Supporting Cast

Han Hyo Joo and Park Hyung Sik were enough reasons for us to watch. But I would also like to acknowledge that they were backed by a strong supporting cast that made the show more interesting. Their neighbors, although borderline crazy most of the time, were really effective because they really annoyed us. Special mention to the crazy doctor, Oh Joo Hyung (Baek Hyun Jin of Samjin Company English Class), the pretentious residents' representative, Oh Yeon Ok (Bae Hae Sun of Samjin Company English Class, Hometown Cha Cha Cha, Start-Up, and Hotel Del Luna), and the spineless lawyer, Kook Hae Seong (Park Hyung Soo of Confidential Assignment, Hospital Playlist, Crash Landing on You, and Prison Playbook).

I also enjoyed watching Lt. Col. Han Tae Seok (Jo Woo Jin of Seobok, 1987: When the Day Comes, and Guardian: The Lonely and Great God), as the firm yet compassionate person-in-charge of the pandemic response. 

And of course, Han's cute but feisty assistant, Lt. Ji Soo (Park Joo Hee of Run On), who was instrumental in Sae Bom's final escape to get Yi Hyun. 


I would have to say that production-wise, the show is well-crafted. The opening credits and music were really suspenseful. I was surprised to know that the building shots were not actually shot inside buildings but were mostly done on sets. 

As I mentioned earlier, I liked how the show is relevant with the way it addressed the pandemic, a first in our K drama viewing since the pandemic started. I like how plausible the COVID-pill gone wrong angle was. 

I would have to admit though that the pandemic meets zombie theme was quite shocking and scary, and it might even be off-putting for some. Since Oppa and I are not zombie fans, we really thought we won't be able to last this one. But just when we thought we were only staying because of Park Hyung Sik and Han Hyo Joo, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves actually engrossed with the show. I believe my turning point was when the lockdown started. 

If those reasons are not enough for you to continue watching, try focusing on the social causes and moral dilemmas that the show's trying to advance, especially with regard to people who are in the midst of pandemics and/or crises. 

There's greed in getting a scoop and monetary reward to leak information about the disease even if it means risking your life. 

There's also greed in irresponsibly getting ahead of the medicine/vaccine race without researching thoroughly about potential side effects and the bigger harm it could bring. And even using illegal versions of potential drugs in the hope that it can save you. 

And greed in protecting oneself to survive while putting others in danger. Pretty much like an every man for himself kind of scenario. And I loved the real talk about how irrational people can get when forced into a situation like that - going to the point of killing people and condoning murder just to get supplies they need. 

And how despite the difficult situation everyone is in, some people still find ways to take advantage of their fellowmen by extorting money from them, or even stealing their stuff. 

I also like how the show highlights how important it is for governments to be logical, decisive, and firm, yet compassionate during times of crises. And how a selfish government response can endanger the lives of so many people. 

And while it was still wrong, I also liked how the show was realistic in dealing with moral dilemmas like choosing to save the mother or the child and ones family or humanity, in the case of Lt. Col. Han. 

I loved how the show was mostly clever. Like Yi Hyun thinking of switching the pills in the gym guy's van with his own supplement, knowing that the crazy Dr. Oh was planning to take the Next pills. I liked the Andrew twist too. Although I was surprised that a murderer like him chose not to kill Yi Hyun only because it was too boring. Given the dire situation he was in, I don't think that was really realistic. 

Having said all of that, I had some issues with the ending. First was my fault actually. I didn't realize there were only 12 episodes in this series. I was prepared for a 16-episode one so I was extremely surprised (and heartbroken) to learn that there were only 12. A fact I only discovered during the show's final week. Huhu. 

Second, I could not understand why the military could not extract Yi Hyun when Sae Bom was able to escape the compound. That was the least they could do for Sae Bom. 

We also noticed how the infected persons conveniently disappeared during crucial times of the show like during Sae Bom's final escape or when the door was left open in the basement when Andrew went out. But I liked the surprise twist of having a second person with antibodies in the building. 

My biggest problem with the finale was how more than half of it did not have Sae Bom and Yi Hyun together. I get the need to explain what happened after Sae Bom escaped but could they not have used episode 11 for that so that the two could have more screentime during the the finale?

We also felt that the finale should have spent more time explaining what happened after Yi Hyun was shot and how the disease was resolved in general. I find it quite baffling that the entire show was built up around the issue of resolving the disease but it didn't bother explaining how it was actually done. I get that the antibodies worked but how did they find others with antibodies? Did those people have special conditions that made them possess those antibodies? Looking back, the Andrew storyline could have probably been removed to give way to more important stuff. 

But the show gave me a happy ending so I guess I should not complain? And overall, it was actually a smart and entertaining show so I was really mostly happy with it. :) 

Oppa says...4.5

Noona says...4.5.