[RECAP]: Gap-dong — Episode 1

Gap-dong is a South Korean Drama from the thriller genre and made it’s appearance on tvN from April 11th to June 14th, 2014. The show spans 20 episodes and is based on the real-life unsolved Hwaseong serial murders case, which involved the rape and murder of ten women from 1986 to 1991 in the Taean neighborhood of Hwaseong City (Wikipedia).

Part of the reason I’ve finally come to watch this drama is because I’ve always been a fan of thriller/horror/crime themed media. I’m aware that I’m very late to the party, seeing as this aired back in 2014 and we’re now on the verge of entering 2016, (yikes, time flies…) but I’ve been wanting to watch this drama for a while and figured it’s never too late to take the plunge. What particularly peaked my interested about this drama in general was the serial killer theme and also the fact that it’s based off a true story. It carries a “Jack The Ripper” type aura, and this is even alluded to in the drama itself. The fact that some of these events actually took place makes it extra eerie, which is something I look for in dramas of this category.

Now for the verdict. Episode one proves to be a gripping entrance into the world of these heinous crimes much to my relief. Honestly, these types of dramas can go south quickly, but the first episode is a promising start. The pace was just right. I never found myself getting bored and it never went too quickly as to lose me in terms of comprehending the action. All of the characters were pretty interesting. Ha Moo-yeom (Yoon Sang-hyun) is our main hero, and I do find myself already rooting for him. His tragic past and determination to prove that he’s not a monster following in his father’s footsteps, evokes empathy from the viewer (…even though we still aren’t exactly sure whether his mentally ill father is actually guilty of being Gap-dong in the first place). Yoon Sang-hyun does a good job of being believably emotive in these key beginning scenes. Our antagonist, Yang Cheol-gon (Sung Dong-il) is clearly there to make Moo-yeom’s life miserable (as if he hasn’t already done enough damage to begin with) and I can say with 100% certainty that I already hate him, which is a good thing because it means Sung Dong-il is doing a great job of— ..well—…being an asshole.

This is my first time seeing Lee Joon as an actor; I’ve only ever seen him in terms of MBLAQ promotions. I must say, it was daring of him to take on such a difficult role. Playing a dark, psychotic character is no easy task, but so far I like what I’m seeing in terms of his overall portrayal and expressions. He definitely has a handle on how to give off the creepy vibe so hopefully he’ll continue to do so. His character, Ryu Tae-oh, is pretty mysterious for now. All we really know is that he’s a patient at a mental health prison and holds Gap-dong in high regard (even referring to him as his God and hero. uh oh.) By the end of the episode, however, he’s released from this facility.

We also have Ma Ji-wool (Kim Ji-won) a young mischievous high school student. Ji-wool has a fascination with our main hero, and seems to be pretty popular with the small children at the monk’s temple. Every time we see her, she’s drawing something whether it be portraits of Moo-yeom or some simple comic sketches. Moo-yeom seems a bit protective of her, especially in one scene when she’s being admired by a high school colleague. We only see bits and pieces of her, but surely there will be more to come.

For now, the only other seemingly significant character that stood out to me was the facility’s psychiatrist, Maria Oh— also referred to as Maudy (Kim Min-jung). Much to Moo-yeom’s dismay, she has a very hands-on approach with these mentally ill prisoners. Moo-yeom is active in voicing his disapproval for her ways, explaining that they’re all viewing her with hungry eyes. He warns her that they’re dangerous, but she doesn’t heed his warnings and seems pretty set in her ways.

It’s definitely an intense and suspenseful start so I look forward to what’s coming in future episodes. Hopefully the drama will be able to maintain it’s pace and keep enough tension to maintain the interest of viewers.

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