A Thousand Days Promise debuted last week after the end of Warrior Baek-Dong Soo. This is probably one of the dramas I’ve been waiting for because of how promising the story is: I’m a sucker for amnesiacs since it gives actors the chance to mine such depths of emotions, but primarily fear and anxiety.
It stars Su Ae as Lee Seo Yeon and Kim Rae Won as Park Ji Hyung, the main characters of the story. Seo Yeon is losing her memory while Ji Hyung is getting married to a woman he doesn’t love. The premise is bound to be melodramatic but if it has any shades of 49 Days, like I think it will, then we’re in for a good show.
Like the trailer and the poster for the show, the show is beautiful to look at; it rivals the gorgeous shots of “Scent of a Woman”. The camera creates atmospheric shots, with each angle or lighting meant to suggest something about the characters.
The first four episodes give us such rich dialogue full of wonderful metaphors that doesn’t state the obvious but lets the audience think of the meaning behind the words. The show uses flashbacks not just to give background but to suggest something about what the characters feel in the present and to explain why someone is like so. It’s a great use of flashbacks because it doesn’t hinder the story and it doesn’t drag on too long. I also love how fast it moves the story along. By episode 4, two important people already know Seo Yeon’s secret when usually no one knows anything in Korean dramas until episode 10 or so.
Still, my favorite part of any movie is the performances of the cast. Kim Rae Won plays Park Ji Hyung very well. He’s very thoughtful about his expressions–body and words–even if sometimes, I think he’s a little too distant. He shows lots of vulnerability and yearning as well as fatigue. I guess that’s part of his character’s personality but it may take time for me to warm up to him. Lee Sang Woo plays Jang Jae Min, Seo Yeon’s cousin, who acts as a hovering guardian for Seo Yeon. He’s stern, wise, and caring and he emphasizes all three points in his character without being insufferable. Jung Yoo Mi is Hyang Ki, Ji Hyung’s fiance. Her naivete is quite intoxicating but you can’t help feeling sympathetic towards her, especially given her love and passion towards Ji Hyung. Kim Hae Sook is all kinds of scary because of her iciness as Ji Hyung’s mother. There’s something scary about the way she says “Take care of it. Or do you want me to take care of it.” It’s in her cold eyes that makes it seem so intuitive to her. Park Young Kyu plays a small role as Hyang Ki’s father. He’s reliably funny and lighthearted so far, especially while teasing his wife’s plastic surgery, the complete opposite of his character in Protect the Boss.
Of the cast we’ve seen so far, there are two that stand out to me above all other members. Among the supporting cast, Lee Mi Sook is the stand out, as Hyang Ki’s plastic surgery-obsessed and vain mother. The first time we meet her, she’s wrapped up in bandages, almost coming off as Rebecca Romijn’s character in Ugly Betty. Then, in the second episode, we see her in a family meeting wearing sunglasses, but we can’t ignore her. Even without seeing the eyes, we can feel so much presence emanating from her–she’s vicious with her quips without raising her voice, deciphers Ji Hyung’s feelings, and can cut down her husband with just a tilt of her head and a pout. It’s extraordinary what she can do with limited screentime.
But the best thing about this drama is without a doubt Su Ae as Lee Seo Yeon. Batting early onset Alzheimer’s, she puts on a strong fort even if the walls within her are crumbling. I love how she internalized everything when she’s in public but we see her quietly struggle inside. Her worries about losing her memory are clearly etched in her face. Even if she tries hard to stop her ailment, she still comes up short of what she desires. I love how strong she is for everyone else but can’t even keep it together when she’s alone. That painful cry in episode 3 while drinking, it’s utterly devastating. She’s so raw and vulnerable when it counts.
A Thousand Days’ Promise is beautiful in every respect of the show. There are so many good things working so well here, especially the performances, that I can’t even begin to fathom how many teardrops I might shed from watching this drama.