directed by Sin Hyeon Chang
Korea 2006

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The Series: 6
10-year old Gun and 6-year old Ha-Neul are orphaned after the sudden death of their parents and are just dramatically separated: Gun, to live with the Gu family, in Australia; Ha-Neul to be adopted into the family of other friends, ostensibly to replace the untimely death of that family's mother's daughter, Hye Won, whose name Ha-Neul is given. Pretty sick, huh! To make bad matters worse, her new "brother" Tae Won develops an obsessive love for Hye Won which, in the second episode some fifteen years later (and when most of the action in this drama takes place), he takes things as far as attempted rape, excusing himself on the grounds that Hye Won is not really his sister.

Meanwhile, back in Sidney, Gun's new sister, Hyo-Ju, is similarly obsessed with her new brother. In her way, Hyo Ju's love for Gun is as peculiar as Tae Won's for Hye Won. She dotes on Gun nearly to the point of suffocation. Hyo Ju also has a serious heart condition that requires the sort of medical attention that the Gu's cannot afford. Gun, for his part, does not return Hyo-Ju's love romantically but does love her as a sister. He takes to a life of crime, sans bloodshed, to try to raise the money needed for her surgery.

Gun hits upon the idea to return to Korea, look up his long lost sister, Ha-Neul, and extort money from her adopted rich family. (Just how he would accomplish this is never really explained.) Now, if you're still with me, comes the first of many twists, and the only one that I'll reveal for the sake of understanding the basic set-up: Just before the two children were separated after having been siblings for only a couple of years (did you catch that!) Gun told Ha-Neul that he would return in just a few days. Fifteen years later, she's still waiting. But from the moment she drops into Gun's arms, quite literally, trying to make good her escape from the clutches of Tae Won, she has the emotional maturity and perspective of a 6-year old in love with her older brother. Gun counts on this as he makes his move on her – or fails to make his move, depending on which act of Hamlet he's playing. As Gun piles up secrets and lies that would stretch the fidelity of a truly "adult" woman, his own true affection for Ha-Neul catches up with him.

Theatrical Release: Originally aired in Korea MBC, May 31 to July 20, 2006

DVD Review: YA Entertainment (USA) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

YA Entertainment (USA)

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 16 hour
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: avg. mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio Korean DD2.0
Subtitles English
Features Release Information:
Studio: YA Entertainment (USA)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
•  Complete series, one box set, 2 volumes, 6 discs
• 16 episodes, approx. 1 hour/episode
• Extra Features:
• Bloopers (10:15)
• Gong Yoo vs. Nam Goong Min (7:20)
• Behind the Scenes (10:10)
• Interviews (14:00)
• Making Of (18:30)

DVD Release Date: May 27th, 2008
1 box set

Chapters

 

Comments

Korean soap opera is seriously devoted to the notion of "First Love." [My personal opinion is that this and other themes current in K-dramas are given a shot in the arm by the effects of the separation of the two Koreas, but that's another story.] First Love is heavily romanticized in TV fictions and can be seen in the expectations of behavior for what remains, in many ways, a reserved society. Even in more adult K-dramas such as Alone in Love, Someday and Goodbye Solo, the idea of dating (with or without sex) one partner after another is considered bad behavior. A woman, especially, is expected not to date a man unless she is believes the two are likely to marry – and it takes more than a simple "let's see who else might be available" to break off such a relationship once a commitment is made. From a Western perspective, Korean dating comes with all the baggage of an engagement – even before kissing or even hand holding.

We have seen how First Love operates in one romantic soap opera after another (Winter Sonata and The Snow Queen leap to mind right away.) One Fine Day combines the concept of First Love with the fatalism of Romeo & Juliet in a context of incest, kidnapping, murder, jealousy, rape, suicide, extortion, corporate theft, and the usual Korean fondness for the separation of siblings at a young age. No matter what our Western inclinations are about the more perverse or criminal aspects of such things, First Love trumps all, even - as in the case of One Fine Day – if the lovers are – in their minds at least - siblings.

Now a moment ago I said that "First Love trumps all." That's not entirely true. Korean dramas of this genre stack the deck with two Aces of Spades: the other being the male's responsibility to (first) the parents or grandparents and (second) the love interest. We've seen how this operates in The Snow Queen, and much the same principal is at work here. The clever thing in One Fine Day, though I felt the plot overwhelmed the ethical dilemma, is that Gun is not only torn by his new found feelings for Ha-Neul, but by the fact that he planned to extort money from her. In this respect, his efforts to protect her from both Tae-Won and Dong Ha would be laughable if the situations weren't so brutally criminal on the one hand and none of his business on the other – again, from a Western perspective.

I think it's fair to say that One Fine Day is an example of what we in the West would call "trash" – fairly well done trash (except for the preposterous opening sequence whose sole purpose is to get the audience to tune into MBC), but trash nonetheless. Koreans don't quite see it that way. From their perspective, One Fine Day is a Romance about First Love. True, just about every imaginable ethical, moral, and legal obstacle is thrown in their way, to say nothing of a much "better" catch for Ha-Neul in the person of Kang Dong Ha, the director of the aquarium (supplied by Seoul's stunning Coex Aquarium) Dong Ha is everything that Gun is not – sensitive, witty and well off – but he's also more than a little detached (part of his charm, actually) and certainly no scoundrel (which is a good part of what attracts women to Gun).

As is usual for Korean dramas, the performances here are, for the most part, compelling and heartfelt – or, at the very least, intense. It is this fact that Koreans cotton to, while ignoring plotholes large enough to drive a Hummer into. We are probably familiar with Sung Yu Ri from her recent tour in
The Snow Queen. Here she is Ha Neul/ Hye Won, moving between lost and found as in a daze. The other leads are unfamiliar to me. As a character, I found Nam Goong Min's Kang Dong Ha to be most unique among K-dramas. Goong Min has a way of making "detached" feel "warm." I was most impressed with 18-year old Lee Yeon Hee's long-suffering and insufferable Hyo-Ju – a difficult character to bring off sympathetically - which, of course, goes quadruple for Gong Yoo as Seo Gun, who rarely has a moment of peace with himself – and well-deserved, I might add.

One final comment about my reaction to Gong Yoo's performance, or his character, I admit I couldn't be certain which: I had the feeling from the outset that the actor was not entirely convinced by the story he was in. To be sure, Seo Gun is confused about his own motivation, so perhaps the actor is right on target, but I wasn't convinced. In a way quite different from, say, Bae Yong Jun playing an equally, though differently, confused character in an out-and-out fairy tale like Winter Sonata, Gong Yuu struck me as uncertain – and, in his uncertainty, overreacted to (or overacted in) just about every moment, whether he was trying to be charming or romantic, stud-ly or tough, protective or invasive.

Image : 8.5/7
The score of 8.5 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other standard definition DVDs on a 10-point scale for SD DVDs. The second score represents a value for the image on a 10-point scale that accommodates both standard and high-definition DVDs – where any score above 7 for an SD is outstanding, since the large majority of high definition DVDs are 8-9.5.

What I wrote about MBC's Truth, applies to the production values for One Fine Day, where lighting adjustments are made for some situations, especially outdoors, with the usual tendency to overexpose areas lit by a strong source such as sunlight. Enhancement and artifacts are at a minimum – hardly noticeable unless you're looking for them. As is usually the case with YAE DVD productions, the image is not progressive; even so, it is surprisingly lovely. Particular care was taken with the shots in the aquarium, of which there are many, and worth the price of admission just to indulge the view. One Fine Day may be YAE's best effort to date. It is certainly one of MBC's. Now, if they could only solve that progressive issue.

Edition: n/a
I know of no other edition. One Fine Day is the first Korean TV series I've seen whose title card indicates it was shot and broadcast in HD.

Audio & Music : 8/7
While less inspired than some, I found the musical score to One Fine Day to be effective, if not memorable. The audio is clearly recorded with well-balanced dialog, music, and ambient sounds, especially in the aquarium.

Translation & Subtitles : 8/8
As hoped and expected, YAE continues to improve their translations into idiomatic English – this being one YAE's excellent efforts. There are very few grammatical errors or misspellings, and I never felt confused about the action. . . which reminds me that spoken English is subtitled in Korean as well as the English, which can get messy (see screen capture.) Subtitles are white, bordered in black so as to always be clear against any background and, except as just noted, not so large as to become intrusive.

Operations & Box Design : 7/6
One Fine Day comes in one of YAE's more cheaply constructed boxes: a thin outer shell, housing two volumes with 3 discs, one of them on a plastic page. One good thing: the release clasp is of the strain-relief kind that I first saw back in their much more elegant Dae Jang Geum edition. The menu is easy to follow and makes use of video thumbnails to make scene identification easier.

I guess this is as good a moment as any to underscore a misdirection common in YAE/MBC menus and cover art, which make the series look far sweeter and more charming than it really is on balance. One Fine Day, despite its hopeful title, is 20% charm, 80% anguish – and I dare a Korean audience to see it differently.

Extras : 8
There's an hour of extra features in varying 4;3 or letterboxed formats on disc six that provide fascinating insights into the marketing of K-dramas. The hour is an MBC promotional piece for Korean fan-based audiences. The editing and voiceover narration (not by the actors themselves) focus on the show's delights, rather than its torments, and on the actors, rather than the characters. For example, one of the segments is titled "Gong Yoo vs. Nam Goong Min" not "Seo Gun vs. Kang Dong Ha" – the narrator consistently refers to the actors' names rather than the characters', which tells us that MBC is selling personalities more than stories. Though it's not spelled out in YAE's menu, there is even a short piece titled "Actors With Great Bodies". That's "actors" not "actresses" – an important point that these shows are not about T&A, even though the men are often seen shirtless.

Recommendation: 7
I found One Fine Day to be an extraordinary emotional roller coaster that placed my Western judgments and perspectives squarely at odds with the behaviors of its protagonists. I recommend the series if you want to see just far your own prejudices can stretch – or even if they are different from mine. That said, I did feel that the producers, writers and director did not fully appreciate their own material, going only as far as questioning the ethics of romantic love between siblings unrelated by blood. The irony of three (count them!) pairs of siblings, all of whom share a similar predicament was never developed. We see it, but the characters don't.

 - Leonard Norwitz

 



DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures


capture #1: subtitle sample (English)

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 
Subtitle sample (English & Korean)

 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

Distribution

YA Entertainment (USA)

Region 1 - NTSC

 


 

CONTEST: Our Korean Drama Contest Winner this time is: Jon Paul of Burnaby, BC. He will receive a complimentary set of the complete drama series, One Fine Day. Congratulations, Jon Paul!

The correct answers for the contest are:

1. Groundhog Day
2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
3. Twister
4. To Die For
5. Days of Heaven
6. The Duelists
7. 5 Centimeters per Second


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

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