Beautiful Days

Reviewed by: Lin

October 27, 2007

Rating: four-point-five

Main Cast:
Lee Byung-hun as Lee Min-chul
Choi Ji-woo as Kim Yeon Soo
Ryu Si-won as Lee San-jae

Lee Jung-hyun as Kim Sae-na
Shim Min-ah as Lee Min-ji

When orphan Kim Yeon-soo (Choi Ji-woo) leaves her best friend Kim Sae-na (Lee Jung-hyun) to seek a livelihood in Seoul, little did she expect to be embroiled in a love triangle with two brothers. Yeon-soo's superior, Lee Min-chul (Lee Byung-hun) is the confident and astute manager of Victory Records while his step-brother Lee San-jae (Ryu Si-won) is a medical student who has aspirations as a song-writer.

When Min-chul offers Yeon-soo the position of a governess to his wilful sister, Lee Min-ji (Shim Min-ah), Yeon-soo seeks a favour in return to groom Sae-na as a singer. Min-chul and Yeon-soo fall in love while San-jae develops a secret affection for her. However, San-jae's secret love for Yeon-soo aggravates the long-standing hostility between the two brothers.

Ever since Min-chul's father's second marriage to San-jae's mother, Min-chul and his sister have been estranged from the family. San-jae and his mother have been constantly blamed for breaking up Min-chul's family. However, a two-decades old secret reveals San-jae's birthright, shattering Min-chul and threatens his relationship with Yeon-soo. At the same time, Yeon-soo discovers that she is ill...


With a cast like Lee Byung-hun, Choi Ji-woo and Ryu Si-won, "Beautiful Days" is destined for success from the very start. Ratings sky-rocketed as Korean audiences remained glued to the goggle box week after week, awaiting the explosion of the great family secret and playing witness to the love between the lead characters Min-chul and Yeon-soo.

"Beautiful Days" is addictive. There are hardly any dull moments and the drama moves at a fast pace. Moreover, the cast is excellent -- from award-winning actor Lee Byung-hun to newcomer Shim Min-ah.

With several acting accolades to his name, Lee Byung-hun soars to greater heights in his acting career as the arrogant and enigmatic Lee Min-chul. As with Lee Byung-hun, it is always impossible to separate the character from the actor as each emotional transition of the character is delivered with finesse and ease. As the emotionally-ridden Min-chul, Lee Byung-hun interprets the different emotional states of the character just by a simple facial expression of a mere gesture, and it is a sheer delight to watch him in a complex role.

Choi Ji-woo is praise-worthy as the love-tormented Yeon-soo. She delivers her emotional scenes convincingly and leads the audiences into feeling her pain and sorrow without trying too hard. I personally think that this is one of her more successful roles. She is able to switch comfortably between her roles as the independent and strong sister to a woman who is easily crumbled by love.

More accustomed to watching Ryu Si-won as the optimistic and playful character, I found it difficult to accept him as San-jae, who is burdened by circumstances. Without the freedom to pursue his music interest, faced down by his hostile stepbrother and subsequently, the alarming revelation of his birthright -- San-jae is an emotionally demanding role and I thought Ryu Si-won could have done better. However, his scenes with Lee Byung-hun were excellent, constantly ridden with shouting matches and angst. The two men complemented each other with their realistic acting.

Lee Jung-hyun's role as Kim Sae-na is the wannabe singer and orphan friend of Yeon-soo. Having misunderstood Yeon-soo, she returns Yeon-soo's love and care with utmost hostility. Despite the general feedback that Lee Jung-hyun's character is irritating, I think she has done well in mirroring the insecurities of an orphan.

Worthy of mention is newcomer Shim Min-ah in her debut role as Lee Byung-hun's wilful sister. As the tantrum-throwing poor little rich girl, it is easy to feel empathy for her as she brings out the troubled nature of a young girl caught in the affairs of a broken family. The scenes where she shows her love for her brother (Min-chul) and the gradual trust in her governess (Yeon-soo) are endearing to watch. These are signs that that her acting career will be promising.

If you still need more reasons to watch "Beautiful Days", then look out for Lee Byung-hun's on-screen chemistry with Choi Ji-woo. They are definitely worth the watch as they sizzle amazingly in their first collaboration. On a last note, be prepared to be mesmerized by the beautiful soundtrack, it complements the drama to perfection.

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