I want to start with self disclose that unlike the rest of review where it is as objective as I can be. This review is not. I fell in love with Kim Jung-hyun watching Mr Queen, well actually even in Crash Landing on You as well as Waikiki. He has peculiar sense of comedic and at the same time able to move from comedic to romantic moment quickly without losing essence one or the other. Many of his scenes showcase his sensitive nature, as his acting came through in totality through his entire being sometime departing from typical body language and expression for given scenes, some actors you can see where their actings nearly formulaic. He is one of the actor I enjoy watching and hoping he will only grow from strength to strength. I was devastated to hear he took a break due to his mental state and the personal story he has, wondering whether he will make a come back or not and what would be his come back look like.
As and when he made his come back, I am thrilled and given rough situation he was in, I half expected he will take something like a light romance to ease his way into acting something more complex. Then Kokdu: Season of Deity came and Kim Jung-hyun is announced as the male lead of the series. I still wonder why he is taking such difficult series as his come back with huge potential of low rating because the story is quite unusual and complex to act on. I commend his courage to take on such difficult and risky challenge and happy to say that while I watch Kokdu at first to support him but I end up enjoying the series a lot.
The story centers around Kkok Du who was once Oh Hyun who fell in love with Seol Hui – a love story who should not happen – given Seol Hui was about to marry the King. Both died prematurely due to their love story. Oh Hyun transformed to be Kkok Dua who is a grim reaper (yet another story of grim reaper – quite a few in Korean series, quite favorite theme) who visited the world every 99 years and punish humans for their bad behaviors. This time around he took over the body of Do Jin Woo who is a super talented doctor. In this reincarnation he finally met Han Gye Jeol who is also a doctor from low ranking medical school. This time around Kkok Du found he was for some reason under the control of Han Gye Jeol to the point doing his duty becoming difficult.
Kim Jung Hyun carries three roles in this series, Kkok Du, Do Jin Woo and Oh Hyun. All of three with different personalities that requires him to switch characters swiftly. It is at best very difficult even for the most experienced and talented actors, let alone someone who is relatively new and staged a comeback from difficult mental state condition, I know I am being repetitive but I could not help but pay respect to Kim Jung Hyun courage, it is a very steep relearning and highly risky move. He acted very well and able to bring his A+ game to each of the role. Kkok Dua annoying outsize personality, Do Jin Woo aloof tortured genius doctor and honorable soldier much in love Oh Hyun, the three personalities are managed to be played well by Kim Jung Hyun. His love scenes with both Seol Hui which is typical Saeguk love scenes and then modern bickering scenes with Han Gye Jeol, they are all shown strength of Kim Jung Hyun. His tortured soul scenes as well as chilling scenes as Kkok Du also played well. Im Soo Hyang played well as well as Seol Hui and Han Gye Jeol although I wish she played Han Gye Jeol more like her character in Doctor Lawyer and not Woori the Virgin flavor but in general she bring her strength into the series. I always think that supporting casts in Korean series equally defined the quality of the series, this time Cha Chung Hwa and Kim In Kwon as Gak Shin and Ok Shin brought the comedic level to another level. Some people dislike slapstick comedy and prefer understate cerebral comedy, the slapstick comedy scenes between Kim Jung Hyun, Cha Chung Hwa and Kim In Kwon to me are one of the great ones that played on heightened natural slapstick like what we do in real life but played really funny. Thoroughly enjoyed the series.
Worth mentioning that Director Baek Soo Chan with his track record in Alice, The Girl who Sees Scents and Tazza brought excellent cinematography I do not see often in Korean series. Poetic dream-like scene cinematography is trademark China Directors while heightened yet realistic scene is more of Korean Directors for their series, but Kkok Dua is chock full of poetic dream-like soft lens scenes that emphasize Kkok Dua surreal three lives adding the beauty of the series for us its like eye feast.
To think this is the first come back series for Kim Jung-Hyun,while am thankful for the effort he put into acting extremely difficult series I thoroughly enjoy, I am absolutely excited to see him in the next series and hope that he will be kind to himself and not take even more difficult series / movies but take an easier one to give himself a bit of breather and build his craft from strength to strength.
This is one of the sleeper hit and underrated series but truly something we can watch and have conversation over dinners given the rich stories that can be drawn and debated into. For sure, a must watch !