Our Blues -- Episodes 1 & 2: Soul Searching: Finding Oneself
I knew of Our Blues over a year before its release, and was excited by its star-studded line up. How often can one boast they watched a drama that starred Lee Byung Hun, Shin Min-a, Cha Seung-won, Lee Jung-eun, Uhm Jung-hwa, Han Ji-min, and Kim Woo-bin, and many others not often. A star-studded line up alone doesn't guarantee success or brilliance, a good story, skilled acting, compelling script, and top-notch directing does. Our Blues has that and more. Its story revolves around the sweet and bitter life of people standing at the end, climax, or beginning of life, and depicts their stories in an omnibus format against the backdrop of beautiful Jeju Island.
As I searched the internet for more information about the series, I came across an interview with writer Noh Hee Kyung, who explained her reasoning for deciding to make an omnibus-style drama. She said she was tired of stories with one male and one female lead, noting that all people are the main characters of their own lives. So rather than restrict the lead to just two characters, she decided to go with multiple leads whose lives interconnect in one way or another. Just reading this interview convinced me even more that my first impression of the drama was spot on -- a drama worthy a million times over of the watch, not just because of its star-studded line up. We are first introduced to the drama, it's to the backdrop of the refreshingly beautiful Jeju Island, known as the Beautiful Islands of the Gods, and it lives up to the name, everything from the magnificent beaches to the clear blue/greenish waters to the brick roof tiles and the fish auction market, just everything.
The first two episodes set up the drama nicely, introducing us to our first potential couple in Cha Seung-won as Choi Han-soo, who returns to his hometown of Jeju as a Bank Branch Manager, who at outward appearances seems to have made a good life for himself and his family. Next follows Lee Jung-eun as Jeong Eun-hee, the owner of several fish stores and a coffee shop with a bubbly charm. She is considered one of the Island elites. Choi Han-soo and Jeong Eun-hee were high school sweethearts who might still have unresolved feelings for each other. Strangely enough, I would've never imagined Cha Seung-won and Lee Jung-eun together, but boy, it works. I love everything about them in the present and the past, especially the past as Kim Jae-won as young Choi Han-soo and Shim Dal-gi as young Jeong Eun-hee.
Our second potential couple are Han Ji-min as Lee Young-ok, a first-year female diver who makes a living harvesting sea life from the ocean. She also works at the Island bar and seems to have a reputation with the men. Park Jeong-joon (Kim Woo Bin), is a warm-hearted ship captain who seems to have developed feelings for Lee Young-ok, which she tries to discourage for some reason. Our third potential couple are Lee Byung-hun as Lee Dong-seok, a native of Jeju Island, who makes a living selling goods out of his truck. His love interest is Min Seon-ah (Shin Min-ha), a woman with either a secret or a backstory.
From its opening, Our Blues gives the impression of a charming, bubbly set of characters enjoying or at least doing their best to enjoy their lives. But beneath the surface, one can sense the trails and tribulations of life on them, from financial stress to job troubles, loneliness, troubled relationships or circumstances, even the fact that some blessings, when misused, turn into life lessons, and that experiencing pain is the only way to achieve happiness. And it's this notion coupled with the star-studded line up that makes Our Blues an interesting watch. Of course, there is the matter of having a Kim Woo Bin back on the small screen, after a hiatus of six years. I am glad to see him as healthy and beautiful as ever. I cannot wait to see how his character and Han Ji Min's develop. And last but not least, it's a pleasure to have Lee Byung Hun back again in drama. It's been a long time since Mr. Sunshine, and I cannot wait to see how Uhm Jung-hwa fits in the story. Watch Our Blues here.