Saturday, April 12, 2014

Gap Dong Episode 1 Recap

It is a dark night and a lone child  (seriously what the heck is the child, possible early teen, doing out alone) is walking on a road surrounded by two empty fields full of reeds.  We see a hand caress the reeds (which is surprisingly creepy yet beautiful) as he starts stalking the girl.  Suddenly the silence is broken by whistled tune and the girl starts to get freaked, she glances to the side and a figure rushes towards her.

That is the intro we get to our brand new kdrama, Gap Dong, starting this weekend on Tvn.  Those of you who follow me know that I have been waiting for a couple months for this drama to finally be released since I am a huge fan of the macabre, and personally I don't think that we get enough suspense/horror in our kdrama lineups. 

This is actually the first time I am trying to recap this style of drama so please suffer with me as I figure out how best to express my thought in a logical way.  My comfort zone is definitely the light and fluffy romantic comedy so we are going to have to learn and suffer through the early recaps together.  However, I just could not resist at least attempting to recap this drama, the previews, posters, and setup have been a thing of genius, letting us get to know the different characters without giving up too much of the plot beforehand. 

I think that the way I am going to start (at least in the beginning) is introduce the synopsis followed by the main characters and important events related to each in episode 1.  Please keep in mind that I am not one of those recappers that gives you a play by play of the episodes, but instead prefer to give my insights and opinions on scenes instead.  So if you are looking to see what happened word for word you might want to try a different recap (and then come read my opinions afterwards of course).

Synopsis (courtesy of 
Twenty years ago, a series of gruesome murders rocked the city of Iltan. With very few leads, police focused on Ha Mu Yeom's father as the prime suspect in the case. Though he was innocent, the police's suspicion took its toll and he confessed - forever tarnishing both his name and his family's. The serial killer became known as "Gap Dong." Mu Yeom grows up to be a police detective, focused on clearing his father's name. Shortly after the statute of limitations ends on the cases from 20 years ago, suddenly new clues appear and Mu Yeom finds himself on the trail of the real Gap Dong.

 Mad Monk - Ha Moo Yeom (Yoon Sang Hyun - I Hear Your Voice, Secret Garden)
 I am LOVING this character.  And that is coming from someone who is not really a Yoon Sang Hyun fan, especially when I am forced to watch him in romantic comedies.  Who knew he would be so amazing at suspense since his character had me from his first scene.  The son of the prime suspect for the murders in 1996, he grew up determined to prove his fathers innocence and catch the serial killer known as Gap Dong.  Becoming a police officer and gaining the title "Mad Monk" he is known for his leniency towards the poor and crazy bursts of anger.   His temper is pushed to the edge when Yang Chul Gon returns after twenty years as the new head of his department.  Chul Gon had relentlessly persecuted both his father and himself during the first murders.  The intensity of this character is almost always spot on and you quickly feel yourself as a viewer begin to feel empathy for him as he is attacked over and over because of his fathers unproved involvement.

 Scary Tiger - Yang Chul Gon (Sung Dong Il - Reply 1994 & 1997)
The lead detective of the original murder investigations, Chul Gon has risen through the ranks in Seoul until he was given his choice of where he wanted to spend his last years before retirement.  Choosing Iltan due to the lack of closure in the Gap Dong case, he  becomes the head of the criminal affairs division and Ha Moo Yeom's boss.  Yang Chul Gon or scary tiger, as he is nicknamed, is a very very very unlikable bigoted, jerk of a character.  There was one point in the episode where I literally felt like reaching through the screen and decking him for his horrible behavior. Obsessed with the idea that Moo Yeom's father was the serial killer Gap Dong, he has returned to find the evidence to prove his theories correct.  The fact that Moo Yeom has become a cop enrages the veteran since as he yells at him in front of everyone "you are nothing but a son of a murdering beast."  I have a feeling we are really going to love to dislike this guy even as he pushes onwards towards finding the murderer.  Lets just say that I don't see any bromantic moments happening anytime soon.

Maria Oh (Kim Min Jung-Thornbirds)
A new doctor at the mental hospital, she is extremely involved in her patients well being as we see her offering free foot washes to all of the inmates.  
I would just like to say that this seems like a very very very bad idea and I truly wonder what she is thinking.  Giving any type of skinship to grown men (crazy or not) is not something that would actually happen at a prison facility.  For some reason her character makes me very suspicious.  It is fairly obvious that she is the lost witness to the final murder in 1996, but I am not sure if she is really what she seems.  Through the whole episode I kept wondering if maybe she was pulling a Nancy Drew and trying to find Gap Dong by herself.  It will be interesting to see where her character leads us since at least for now she seems to be a strong, I don't take crap from anyone, female lead.

The Psychopath - Ryoo Tae Oh (Lee Joon - Iris 2)
And now we finally get to the reason I was so excited to watch this drama.  I personally am just barely figuring out who MBLAQ is so this is my first experience really noticing the idol turned actor Lee Joon.  Friends who are a lot more obsessive in their fandom then I, began posting stills and teasers for this drama featuring him and I was instantly hooked.  This guys creepy smile is spectacular and now I can't help just thinking he is a psychopath anytime I see his photo.  But it was his ability to instantly go from normal guy to crazy killer by a twist of facial muscles that really brought this character to life.  An inmate in the psych ward (we currently don't know for what) he makes even other inmates nervous and he always seems to be wherever there is Gap Dong drama going down.  His pointed interest in our leading man is sinister from the get go and when he interacts with the doctor I get the super creepy shivers.  Not only is he oozing evil but he is also a Gap Dong superfan and when he supposedly figures out who the serial killer is he becomes euphoric.  I love how our resident psycho figured out who he is and becomes his protege/fan.  The Koreans really know how to be rabid fans, even when you are the fan of a serial killer.  I also like that it shows us right away that Gap Dong stopped since he was in the mental institution (or was he, I wonder at times if it is all in Tae Oh's head).

Best Scene of Episode 1
Now that you have a sense of the main characters lets talk about my favorite scene from episode one. Yoon Sang Hyun and Sung Dong-Il (aka Mad Monk and Scary Tiger) have crazy chemistry with each other.  I find it fascinating that both actors (who I had associated primarily with comedy) can blow the roof off of these serious and angst filled roles.  Every time they come on screen together you can literally feel the electricity bouncing out of the screen.  And that chemistry came to a climax when Moo Yeom confronts his boss when he illegally obtains his DNA to compare to a DNA poop sample they had from the 1996 murders. 

Random fact - I guess it is a superstition that if you poop outside after committing a  crime it is believed that you would not be caught...   Huh, you learn something new and gross every day. 

Moo Yeom screams that when Chul Gon finds that his father is innocent that he cut of a finger in compensation for all the pain he caused his family.  Chul Gon, in true bigoted fashion, refuses since he states that whether his father was Gap Dong or not he was somehow a killer and that there is no way that he will ever see Moo Yeom as anything but the son of a crazy beast which makes him a beast as well.  Wow way to do true police work and not convict the innocent you jerk.  This fight is of course held in front of the whole department and eventually goes to the higher ups.  Both men are screaming for the DNA to be analyzed so that they could be proved right, however their bosses kibosh their fight.  Saying that it is stupid to focus on a case that has already passed the statute of limitations, they order all the DNA (including the DNA taken by the inmates) to be destroyed so there would be no public backlash.

Silly pointless things like DNA evidence.. Lets just toss it all out if it is going to cause the department to lose face.  SIGH  How I hate you're Korean cop mentality. This scene also shows how the imprisoned "real" Gap Dong is able to avoid detection from the DNA sweep.  You have to appreciate how often the crazy inner police politics lead to helping the perps avoid paying for their sins.

#1 WTH Scene.
Until this point the drama was actually staying really solid in its writing and concept.  I can honestly say everything (except maybe the weird feet washing moment) was totally believable.  But then the writers got together and decided that they needed an action scene.  I imagine it was late at night, maybe a tad bit to much coffee and someone said "Let's end on a random stabbing spree."  So that is how we arrive at the end of episode one.  The police get a frantic call and yell that there is a crazy person stabbing people at the marketplace/mall.  People are being stabbed right and left by a younger man who is just running and stabbing, running some more and another person stabbed.  And yet there is still a huge amount of spectators not running from the oncoming serial stabber.  Not to mention no mall security, cops, or brave bystanders trying to help all these stabbed women.  At least not until our Mad Monk cop comes racing to the rescue pushing through the crowd to confront the stabber in a water fountain.  AND THEN.........................we flash to him and the perp up on the roof with the poor student shield being held on the edge.  So right there I am wondering how everyone made it up to the roof instead of the water fountain.  Did the writers think this would be more suspenseful?  I suppose that stomping through the water does not look as cool as walking the edge of a building, and you can not contemplate suicide in a 2 ft reflection pool.  Luckily our plucky therapist is there to taunt and distract the bad guy with her snarky barbs, until the hostage can jump away and our hero can tackle the stabber, all before the other cops even arrive.  
But all is not flowers and sausages since our Mad Monk somehow got himself stabbed and gushes blood until he passes out in front of the pretty doctor (although I would like to point out that we never actually saw him get stabbed in the first place).  Now I would like to make an observation that at 70 min this episode was very very long (good job TVN in fooling people into thinking they are watching 16 episodes instead of the 25 hrs that you sneak in) and possibly they had to edit out some of the action for time.  It just felt like we missed a few steps in the editing.  But one "eh" scene out of a whole episode is not that bad.
Luckily our closing scene makes up for it as we are again transported to a lonely deserted road.  A lady walks hesitantly after receiving a text that the cabs don't come that far out of town.  We hear whistling off in the distance and then a figure rushes towards the women as she screams.
My Thoughts:
I loved the symmetry of the opening and closing scenes in showing how the past and present murders are eerily similar.  It was beautifully done and combined just the right amount of scary/suspense mixed with amazing cinematography that spoke to the photographer in me.  All three male actors are knocking it out of the park with their performances.  There is rarely a moment where the tension is not notched to the nth degree which combined with good writing is what makes a good suspense drama.  Add to the fact that they make me feel the urge to cheer, punch, and run away screaming from each guy and I think they have successfully engaged me, the viewer.  Also I am constantly wanting to figure out a deeper meaning to everyone's actions.  For example, was the doctor cleaning inmates feet to try and see some type of identifying feature that she saw as a child?  What is her real hair color?  Is Ryoo Tae Oh really just a fan of Gap Dong, or is he possibly the son of the famous killer and is just a schizophrenic imaging his idol in the prison.  The DNA testing/loss could support either of those theories.  And last but not least, I like that the drama used the tradition police political issues in moderation since there is nothing I hate more then a good drama being reduced to cop kdrama cliches.
I hope you enjoyed my first recap for Gap Dong.  Again I thank you loyal readers for putting up with my need to expand my horizons and hopefully as time goes on I can bring you even better formatted recaps of this intense drama.  If this show is not really your thing be sure to check back next week as I start (or at least I am going to attempt recapping both) my recaps for Witch's Romance.  This quirky noona romance is a lot more in my wheelhouse and suits my personal blogging style.  For either extreme I will try and keep you covered.  Til then, have a wonderful weekend filled with Kdramas.


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1 comment:

  1. awesome Amber. you got me all excited which is huge considering my drama funk i've been in. ... EunSoo :D


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