New K-Drama Alert! “Our Blues”

I would love — LOVE — nothing more than to not follow-up a heartbreaking Korean drama with coverage of the next heartbreaking Korean drama. This little trailer almost had me in tears, for God’s sake. But more importantly, this blog is not a K-drama blog — not theoretically. There are other things happening. Coming up: more Sisters of Mulan, perhaps? A look at the three Mo Brothers movies? I’m hopeful!

This looks really great, and it’s special for a number of reasons. But first, especially after Twenty-Five Twenty-One, I appreciate an “older” cast. Older than 19, which is what Ji-woong was, by the way. Our Blues reunites Shin Min-a and Lee Byung-hun, two of Korea’s biggest stars who co-starred in A Bittersweet Life as well as a show called Beautiful Days, possibly as siblings. Also starring is Kim Woo-bin, who’s dating Shin Min-a in realidad. It’s like a big happy reunion, with at least one more notable name — Noh Hee-kyung.

Now, I probably would’ve watched this just for Shin Min-a, but now that I’m a K-drama sophisticate, I’m also sure to look at the behind-the-camera credits, as I would for anything else. I didn’t recognize the writer Noh Hee-kyung, and wow — I had a lot to learn.

Following the death of her mother, Noh wrote 1996’s The Most Beautiful Goodbye in the World as a tribute, and this was a huge hit that won her industry awards and would be adapted into a novel, a play, a movie, and another show in 2017. She continued working, often with heavy, realistic themes, and while this was a period before my time (my time being up to two years ago), I did recognize her That Winter, the Wind Blows, which costars Eunji, who has the most epic Wikipedia picture right now:

Of course, I skipped that one because she wasn’t the lead. Remember? That’s how I used to watch K-dramas, and granted, it did lead me here, through Lee Da-hee. Another notable Noh drama is It’s Okay, That’s Love, which was novel for its sensitive portrayal of mental illness. Clearly, this is someone I was describing when describing Kwon Do-eun, as a talent “with either ideas beyond the form or a sense for how to bend the form into compelling shape” and someone who “isn’t content to tell easy stories.”

She’s a screenwriter, playwright, and essayist, and you can actually read some of her essays translated into English on Dahee’s Plastic Castle. Here’s an excerpt I found both reflective of her unique character and pointedly relevant:

I want to ask not only the viewers, but also my fellow writers … why must dramas be light? Who dares to say that that is the reason they exist? I’m saying this firmly, but that is prejudice. It’s possible for dramas to belong not just to the majority, but also to the minority (although since even a low rating of 10%, once calculated, has 4 million viewers, I wonder if you can call this a minority). It’s possible for them to be a time for reflection instead of entertainment, and for them to last forever instead of just for a moment.

Noh Hee-kyung

Our Blues premieres April 9, 2022 on TVN and Netflix.

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