As the hot and sultry summer gives way to fall, Korea’s major TV networks are revamping their primetime roster with new series.
From a period piece retelling the story of an ill-fated Joseon crown prince to heartthrob Rain’s rom-com comeback, the fall TV lineup looks as diverse as ever.
Here’s a closer look at some of the most anticipated dramas.
A suspenseful period drama with a fresh premise, SBS’ new Monday and Tuesday night series aims to repeat the success of its critically acclaimed Joseon-era predecessor “Deep-Rooted Tree.”
Han Suk-kyu, who played King Sejong in the 2011 drama, returns as King Yeongjo in the upcoming series. In defending his reign, King Yeongjo ends up killing his own son, the crown prince Sado (played by Lee Je-hoon), by locking him in a rice chest.
“Secret Door.” (SBS)
Sado is a much-debated historical figure. In some records, he is described as being insane, erratic and sadistic, but in others he is just a man in agony who falls victim to a court power struggle.
Through its 24 episodes, the new series takes the latter view, portraying him as an idealist who believes ultimate power resides with the people. That faith pits him against his father, the king, who wants absolute and supreme power.
Penned by Yoon Sun-joo who wrote such period blockbusters as “Hwang Jin-yi” (2006) and “Sejong the Great” (2008) and directed by Kim Hyung-shik of “Sign” (2011), “Phantom” (2012) and “Suspicious Housekeeper” (2013), “Secret Door” will premiere on Sept. 22.
‘Misaeng (Incomplete Life)’
The long-anticipated TV version of “Misaeng,” a sensational office-themed webtoon, will air on cable channel tvN from Oct. 17.
The comic series by Yoon Tae-ho was an online sensation when it was serially published on portal website Daum from 2012 -2013 with enthusiastic support from office workers in their 20s and 30s. Fans dubbed it the “bible for salarymen,” as it depicts the trials and tribulations of office workers using baduk, a chess-like strategy board game called “go” in Japanese, as an analogy.
The 20-episode series tells the story of a failed pro baduk player named Jang Geu-rae, played by actor and singer Yim Si-wan of Korean idol group ZE:A, who takes a job as a contract worker at a large conglomerate.
Actress Kang So-ra will take the role of Ahn Young-yi, a highly competent new employee of the company who is the opposite of Jang in every possible way ― a well-educated, confident full-time employee.
It airs every Friday and Saturday at 8:40 p.m. on tvN.
‘My Lovely Girl’
SBS’ new rom-com “My Lovely Girl” is one of the most anticipated dramas for hallyu fans around the world this fall.
Directed by Park Hyung-gi and written by No Ji-seol, the Wednesday-Thursday drama stars several singer-actor hotshots, including Rain, Krystal from f(x), L from Infinite, Kim Jin-woo from Winner and Haeryung from BESTie.
“My Lovely Girl” (SBS)
With the drama, Rain is making his TV comeback after a four-year break and more than a year after completing mandatory military service.
“We tried to give the happiest hour to the audience,” the director said in a press conference in Seoul on Monday. “It was great to have the lovely actresses and actors work with us.”
“My Lovely Girl” is a romantic comedy about entertainment label chief Hyun-wook (Rain) and aspiring singer Se-na (Krystal), who overcomes her painful memories through music.
Se-na is an orphan who lives without realizing her musical talent until she encounters Hyun-wook, the hidden Midas of Korean music.
Hyun-wook stops working after the tragic death of his lover, Se-na’s sister Soeun. After being diagnosed with “earworm,” a hearing disease, he loses the sense of meaning in his life until he meets Se-na.
The first of the series’ 16 episodes will air on Sept. 17 at 10 p.m.
KBS’ upcoming fall rom-com “Cantabile Tomorrow,” set to launch in October, is seeing snowballing anticipation from fans here and overseas.
The popularity of the Korean drama, a remake of Japanese graphic novelist Tomoko Ninomiya’s original 2001 “Nodame Cantabile” and eponymous Japanese TV series, echoes the “Nodame syndrome” of over a decade ago.
“Cantabile Tomorrow” (KBS)
The graphic novel portrays the romantic story of two musically talented young students at a school of music: Shinyichi Chiaki and Megumi Noda, or “Nodame.” Born to into renowned maestro’s family, Chiaki turns his nose up to his mediocre classmates until he meets troublemaker and incredible weirdo, Nodame. Never admitting to falling in love with the naiive young woman, Chiaki learns to be more open-minded toward strangers and eventually grows up to be a global maestro.
In a step up from the original work and Japanese drama, KBS’ “Cantabile Tomorrow” strives to top the original’s creativity and Korea’s trademark rom-com genre. It stars actor Joo Won as Cha Yoo-jin (Chiaki) and actress Shim Eun-kyung as Seol Nae-il (Nodame).
“Cantabile Tomorrow” will air in mid-October every Monday and Tuesday, following the conclusion of the currently broadcast drama “Discovery of Love.”
By Lee Sun-young, Chung Joo-won & Ahn Sung-mi
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