Oct 23, 2011

korean drama review: New Tales of Gisaeng

** There are spoilers ahead, do beware.

This one is considered a long drama comprising of 52 episodes altogether.
I'm totally blown out by this one, because it's so good!
I've never watched drama more than 16 episodes that captures my attention so much. I bulldozed the entire 52 episodes within a week of nightly marathons. I just could not stop watching.

Main leads:
Im Soo Hyang as Dan Sa Ran
She's born in 1990! but hah, she looks like she's in her mid twenties already. Matured look.

Sung Hoon as Ah Da Mo
This guy is new and its his first drama. But hey, considering his first job, i'd give him a pat on the back and wish him "well done"!. He's certainly not a pro yet, but i think he did very well throughout. Plus, he looks delicious. His physique is highly admirable!~~~

What's it about?
Well, don't be put off by the description given in the internet:
"new Tales of Gisaeng depicts the love, sadness and pain of people surrounding a gisaeng house, where only VIPs can enter".......... i read this and was very hesitant because i thought it'd be boring just watching gisaengs in a gisaeng house.
It turns out it's got nothing to do with gisaeng in a gisaeng house. 

It's more of a very difficult and painful romance between the two leads. Really difficult and painful, especially for Dan Sa Ran. The amount of pain she goes through is enormous and heart wrenching.

It's not too smooth for Ah Da Mo either. A bit on his background: He's obnoxious and is aware of his good looks and charm. As he comes from a well-to-do family as an only child, he is even more arrogant and on the spoilt side. 

When he first saw Dan Sa Ran, he is immediately enraptured by her beauty. Fate makes their paths cross again and he is very much aware of how attracted he is to her. So much so that he could not understand why he kept thinking of her. Sa Ran is also attracted to Ah Da Mo. They did try to go out but Ah Da Mo only wants to bed her. In his mind, he keeps thinking that he is only attracted to her because of her beauty. Once he beds her his desire would be satisfied. Or if they had gone out for a month or two, he would start losing interest in her. Little did he know that he is already tied soul and spirit to Sa Ran when he first laid eyes on her.

 Sa Ran on the other hand, does not have any desire to engage in a fling relationship. She views a love relationship as something valuable and treasured. She does not understand when Ah Da Mo tried to break off with her time and again when their relationship had been going well. He hurt her many times and the final round came when Ah Da Mo could not get ahold of his feelings for Sa Ran. He became fearful of how important and heavy a role she played in his heart, how much he needed her. His fear made him reject her and he broke off abruptly with Sa Ran hurting her very badly.

At the same time Ah Da Mo could not go by a day without a strong dose of Sa Ran. He badly needed to see her , to be by her side. And he comes up with this crazy idea of having his rich father adopt Sa Ran as a daughter. That way, he can help Sa Ran financially (as she's poor and her family needs financial support badly) and also get the excuse of having her by his side everyday. Ah Da Mo's denial of his love for her is very strong yet he could not bare to go by a day without her. Such conflict tears as his heart. Poor Ah Da Mo.

Of course Sa Ran rejects the absurd idea. She glares at him with tearful eyes and retorts with "you want me to be a sister to the man i love??? with the man whom i loved dearly and broke off with me???". Really, what and absurd suggestion from Ah Da Mo. Terrible.

Ah Da Mo continues to pester her, going to neighbourhood to meet her and threatening to come to her house and meet her family if she fails to come to meet him. He just could not stop himself. He pestered her each time with the same absurd idea of being his sister! 

Finally, Ah Da Mo could not take it and disappeared for a month or so, leaving poor Sa Ran to suffer from all the hurt and after-effects of the pestering. Sa Ran's life is a bag of resentful twists and turns. The hurt from her love life made her resent men and she vowed never again to be so stupid to fall for men. Then when her stepmother cunningly weaves her web of kicking Sa Ran to a gisaeng house, the stepmother revealed to Sa Ran that she was adopted. The stepmother makes Sa Ran feel guilt. She implied to Sa Ran that Sa Ran needs to pay back her once-thought-of-as-biological father for all the years he has taken care of her. The stepmother wants Sa Ran to enter the gisaeng house and pay back.
This final blow on her fate makes Sa Ran falter terribly. She falls into a deep hole and deluded herself that she's a nobody with no parents , no love and she's  just a piece of thrash. Finally, with these thoughts and a ton of grief on her shoulders, she enters the gisaeng house thinking it's her fate.

Hah, and the story goes on with Ah Da Mo not being able to let Sa Ran go. When he learns that she became a gisaeng, he went crazy! He caused havoc frequently at the gisaeng house trying to make Sa Ran leave the place. He confesses his love for her and sincerely wants to marry her. He even confessed that she's like rice to him. He cannot go by without eating rice, that's how much he needed her. Back then he did not know the value of rice, he did not know that rice was part of his life and took things for granted. When all things failed, he comes up with an absurd solution. Since Sa Ran won't leave the place, he will enter the place. He will enter as male worker there and keep his eye on her! ahhaha, Ah Da Mo always has absurd ideas.

And the story goes on with how he tries to win her heart all over again. Ah Da Mo finally understands that he cannot live without Sa Ran and that he needed her badly. Not as a sister but as a lover forever. Once he understood and acknowledged this fact, he went all out to try and win back the heart he crushed and threw away back then. It was a very very difficult journey for him as Sa Ran is biting with bulldog tenacity on her ill fate and will not give in to any love. Many times he wanted to give up but in the end he always comes back again to Sa Ran.

I've never cried so emotionally watching a drama. Episode 33 was the star of emotions. My heart was in such pain watching Ep 33. ........................ you should watch it!~~

Hurdle upon hurdle the two leads go through. Each hurdle tougher than the next. Really, by the end of the drama you will feel such great immense relief that all hardship has ended and at last bliss arrives. 

Well, from ep 40 or so onwards, it's more about Ah Da Mo's father and his fated encounters with ghostly ancestors. From here onwards, its quite comical and funny. Not bad.

All in all, i really really enjoyed this long drama and highly recommend it.

rating: 8.5/10


  1. hello i just started watching this drama too recently, however i'm really anxious as to when will Sa Ran reunites with her real parents. I tried google for sypnosis of each episode of this drama but can't find. Maybe u can tell me when will the funny old couple grandparents and the low esteem-mother who's a crippled and the doctor father finally comes together with Sa Ran knowing she's the daughter?

    1. hi selena, i bet you are impatient. The scenario you mentioned actually happens toward the end, if i remembered correctly, so you will have to sit through it. But the drama's pretty good, so i didn't have to drag my feet to watch it.

  2. x.x impatient not really, just anxious about the story... seeing how the grandfather who's supposed to be very healthy in the beginning became so filled with guilt and took a bad turn for his health. The step-mother also pissed me off every time she came in the scenes. She and the foster father like treat her as their "money tree". Even if her foster father claimed they treated her as her own but he's surely treating her as main source of income. The lame excuse of sick and can't work also... He could have find a job suitable for his condition and not let his 2nd wife work only.
    52 episodes still ok some korean dramas are even longer, like ai qing wan wan shui 57 episodes also quite nice.

    Anyway I'm at 30epi now. Story at its peak i believe.... Sa Ran wanted some old guy to "keep" her and ah da mo trying to get his mother's consent for marrying Sa Ran. Really cool drama.

    1. oh yes, story at its peak. very touching scene is around there too.
      what other dramas have you enjoyed?

  3. You were right, episode 33 is the best dramatic scene from all episodes, I saw it & it's keep trembling my heart X(

    1. hehe, yes i remember that scene. it was truly heart wrenching.
      i miss Ah Da Mo. Wish he had more dramas where he is the lead.

  4. This is one of the best Korean dramas and I would rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

    Pros: A good story and for the most part, it doesn’t drag. Also it doesn’t have an abrupt ending like so many Korean dramas.

    Cons: It has a total of several hours of ghosts that appear to be nothing more than fill-in and ads nothing to the drama. In fact, since the story is not a ghost story, the portions is out of character for the drama.