The World They Live In/Worlds Within (2008)

So I admit that I started this drama after Secret Garden for Hyun Bin. I’ve never seen Worlds before but did hear quite a bit about the initial buzz and the resulting rating failure. Pyo Minsoo’s work can be a hit and miss, but overall I have a good impression. Especially after news broke out that the leading actors Hyun Bin and Song Hyekyo hooked up after doing this drama, I had it on my radar as one of the To Watch.

The biggest factor that always kept me from starting is the fact that the drama is written by Noh Heekyung. Now, I know she’s a popular writer, critically acclaimed, and all, but from the few episodes of Goodbye Solo that I saw, her writing struck me as overly heavy, pretentious, and self important. I mean it’s great that she always explores deeper into human connections, her characters’ emotions and interactions, but at times she just rambles on and on and I’m left wondering what is the point of all these narrations and lengthy lines??

It does happen in Worlds too, lots of conversations, lots of narration, sometimes I get lost as well. But I think in general she’s easier to swallow this time around. They still get long and confusing, but I do appreciate that Noh really takes great care in her script. Her dialogues can be a bit trying. But at the same time, her lines are just firecrackers, they’re lots of fun. They’re daring, they’re witty, and sometimes they’re crass. I love it!

Plot is secondary and to be honest, almost irrelevant. I have read a lot of comments saying how boring the drama is. But for me, Worlds is SO far from being boring. It is such an engaging drama, one you can’t tear your eyes from. I fall asleep to a lot of dramas, but this one, you can’t stay away. Keep in mind that plot moves at a snail pace. And really, there is few plot points to boast about anyway. But it grabs your attention and keep it.

Worlds Within is about the daily life of people working in a TV station doing dramas. Song Hyekyo is the cool but fiery new drama director. Hyun Bin is an idealistic director who approaches drama making passionately. Basically the drama is them navigating through their work life, love life, and possible future. They are surrounded by family, coworkers, friends, and rivals, who all have distinct personalities and make an impact throughout the drama.

You can say that it is a slice of life drama. Doctor Champ is also a slice of life production, but man, it’s 50% sleep inducing. Here’s the difference. Worlds can be meandering in making a point, but it has a slew of solid actors and wonderful characterizations. While let’s face it,  Champ’s interesting parts are really a)Jung Kyeowon and b)bromance. But I’m not here to stab Champ. I’m here to emphasize that unlike Champ, Worlds line up of characters are WAY stronger, more eccentric, more passionate, and better acted.

Worlds is probably 90% propped by wide variety of characters alone that literally, THEY are all the stars. Sure, the drama’s top billing actors are Song Hyekyo and Hyun Bin, but at the same time Yoon Yeojung’s presence cannot be ignored. Likewise, I remember almost every single one of them. From the aging glamorous leading lady played by Bae Jong-ok, womanizing director Uhm Kijoon, dedicated Kim Gabsoo, meddlesome Kim Changwan, crazy dude Daniel Choi, and kickass writer Kim Yeojin. They are what makes Worlds so intriguing.

For someone with a pretty short attention span and a general impatience, I think Worlds proves that it is not boring, it is not dull, in fact it is past paced, it is sharp. I started the show, being on the fence about Song’s character Joo Joonyoung. She can be really selfish, stubborn, and it’s like ME, ME, ME all the time! But throughout the drama we get to see her growing a heart. She becomes friends with people she initially hated, she learns to be more tactful dealing with people, and she learns to love deeper.

Hyun Bin’s Jung Jioh, on the other hand, came off super perfect in the beginning. He’s a caring friend, he’s so good to his mom, he’s passionate about his work, and he’s so freaking hot (and not underweight like Secret Garden’s Joowon!!). Little by little, we get to see that really, he’s just human. He can be a coward, a hypocrite, and he can be cruel with people. I really appreciate this contrast because it brings us, viewers, back to earth. Early on, the scale was tipped in his direction (the ‘He’s too good for her!’ sentiment), but by the end, we see a more balanced relationship.

Overall, this is definitely a must watch. It’s such a refreshing drama, laced with wicked realism that after hours of watching fairy tale-like dramas, this is a completely welcome change. 9/10! Recommended!

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7 responses to “The World They Live In/Worlds Within (2008)

  1. I went from getting really annoyed at Joon-young to getting really annoyed at Ji-oh instead. And Eom Ki-joon was friggen’ hot!

    • lol, true! i was just cheering on joonyoung to annoy the hell out of jioh, was a bit disappointed that she melted after he kissed her and all.

  2. So I admit that I started this drama after Secret Garden for Hyun Bin.
    > lol I watched it for the exact same reason ^^ and I did enjoy the all thing despite the Oh SO Messy Editing Crap (especially toward the end).

    I think I also watched it, haunted by Noh Hee Kyung’s words, which I discovered through her essay, a few months before :

    ” For a time I was controlled by a harsh instinct for self-preservation.
    It was even worse when I was in love.
    Even while dating, I always made sure there was a way out for me.
    […]
    Let’s treat it lightly, lightly.
    […]
    I thought that was the right thing to do.
    I truly believed that that would ensure that I wouldn’t get hurt, or hurt others.
    […]
    However, one day this thought suddenly came to mind.
    “Am I really happy living this way?”
    I wasn’t happy. ”

    (Translated from Korean to English by Dahee Fanel)

    Funny thing is, those words came to my mind too while I was watching Coffee House the same year… Directed by Pyo Minsoo. The main character is a crazy writer, lunatic enough to compete (or compare ?) with HB’s character in SG. And now that I ended up watching Worlds Within in which the 3 of them worked, I realized that :
    – it was a a weird case of 6 (well 3 actually) degrees of separation.
    – and how much those 3 influenced each other.

    p.s : as much as I love NHK’s first chapter of her essay, I couldn’t get through Goodbye Solo either.

  3. I have to agree with you. I really enjoyed TWWI when it was airing. I was surprised when the ratings were not good but I can understand why. IMO, most Kdramas will appeal to a wide range of age groups. This one and The Women Who Still Wants To Marry as well, will appeal more to and be understood by the ladies who are likely to be in the late 20’s and early 30’s age range and have had professional work experience. I can see myself and my friends experienceing similar situations as the characters in these two dramas. Our experiences, having had relationships and worked in various setting, somewhat mirrors the events in these dramas. Even though I love MP, BOF and other rom-coms, they, in no way shape or form, relate to me personally. Maybe the Korean viewers, who’s taste in dramas are reflected in the ratings, are more interested in watching lives that mostly will not happen to them vs the dramas that could happen to them. Nothing wrong with that either! LOL.

  4. this is one of my favourites as well, for pretty much the same reasons as yours. when i first started watching, I was put off by the slow pace but somehow coukdnt’ stop watching either. And then somehow along the way, I realized that its brilliant 🙂 Lol – and OMG Hyun Bin is so friggin hot! 🙂

  5. hyun bin and her crzy woman and secret grden is great together…in real life..hope when he came back from militiry he find this girl….

  6. Love this drama .. .. watched this after watching SG as well… since I am fans of HB .. watched kim sam soon too .. but love HB in this movie 🙂 He looks so hot ! 🙂 in SG, he is too skinny. But the way, anybody checked his left mole ? doesn’t he have one in the kim sam soon but is it all gone by now ?

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