The first episode was a shaky, but intriguing beginning to the story of two men who grow up as friends and rivals. It stars Uhm Tae Woong as Kim Seon Woo and Lee Joon Hyuk, of City Hunter prosecutor fame (♥), as Lee Jang Il.
The first two episodes weren’t lacking in drama at all. It’s as if you’re normally a perfectly good driver, but strap you into the seat of a Maserati and suddenly you’re careening off the road. This is what I felt like watching the first episode of Equator Man- so much of everything. So much acting prowess to fulfill, so much gravitas (look at that title). There is so much raw talent in this cast that the story and drama seems inflamed just to meet their ability… This story is DRAMA. The first half of episode 1 is a train barrelling ahead so fast its shaking violently and it feels like it the wheels will bust from the tracks.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the first two episodes of Equator Man despite the chaotic start which was a bit dramatic for my taste. I have a feeling this will be another drama where I suffer because I’m very interested in the teenage story which could be the whole story, except the adult cast is so freaking fantabulous. Lee Hyun Woo plays the young version of Seon Woo, Uhm Tae Woong’s character. He is so magnetic in this role. Lee Hyun Woo just brims over with youth and feeling. Siwan, last seen as the handsomely heartbreaking young Heo Yeom in the Moon Embracing the Sun, plays the young Jang Il. The relationship between these two reminds me of the first episode of The Snow Queen with the best friends, Hyun Bin’s character Tae Woong and his buddy Jeong Kyu…their relationship was short and didn’t end well. Neither did The Snow Queen so hopefully that won’t happen here. But just like with The Snow Queen, I would be content to stay watching these guys deal with the harsh dramas of life as teenagers.
The rest of the cast is also solid. Beginning with Kim Young Chul who plays the President and apparently is still evil. He has got to stop playing bad guys. After his turn as the antogonistic Prince Suyang aka Se Ryung’s not-awesome-at-all dad in The Princess’ Man, he’s back playing the bad guy. No shades gray here though, the President is just the bad guy. As for the ladies, I find them really interesting and I like how they were presented. This story is very much about Seon Woo and Jang Il and the ladies, Han Ji Weon (Lee Bo Young) and Choi Soo Mi (Im Jung Eun) are intertwined within their drama. Still these ladies have their own stories which start out independent of the men. Bo Young is determined and strong-willed. She cares about her family and the future of their company. Soo Mi is an artist and she’s realistic about how people view her and her father. I really like these ladies.
I’m not sure which city these first episode are set in, but it’s not Seoul. It’s refreshing to see another city as the setting of a kdrama although I’m sure the drama will move to Seoul with the adults. [UPDATE] I think this might be Busan…I kinda want to go there now. The topography and landscape there is so interesting, especially with that giant island out in the bay…but I digress.
So far with just two episodes, Equator Man has set up several pairs of characters that overlap and shine light on each other. Of course there is Seon Woo and Jang Il. Seon Woo is the virtuous man in the pair because he has one of the greatest virtues; he has a good and tempered demeanor that deals with whatever situations come, and being a melodrama, he’s in for a world of hurt. Seon Woo is also honest and doesn’t hold prejudices against people. He fights and is a troublemaker, but it feels like the sort of thing a teenage boy can grow and mature out of. Jang Il is a little more foggy. The jury is out on him for me. I don’t have much sympathy for him. Jang Il is miserly in his demeanor. He judges before knowing and he’s filled with pride. I want him to do the right thing, but something tells me it will take all 20 episodes for him to figure out how to do what’s right and that doing it is worthwhile and rewarding.
The two father’s set up an interesting dynamic because they both care about their sons so much, but each goes about it in a different way. I think though that Jang Il’s father, Yong Bae, is best paired with the President as opposed with Kyung Pil, Seon Woo’s father. From the first two episode we’re given really two villains, one who does wrong from greed for power and one who does wrong because of an opportunistic cowardliness. I might dislike Yong Bae even more than the President who at least outwardly appears as bad as he is inside…
So the verdict? I’m staying with Equator man and I hope the drama continues to develop these characters as well as it’s begun. I’ve found my Spring melodrama. Here’s to rainy spring days tucked on the couch rooting for Uhm Tae Woong.
Uhm Tae Woong may be my ultimate ahjusshi crush. I spent 20 minutes looking for a picture of him to post and I don’t regret that time at all.
Episode Guide in progress!