A drama that has, and will forever, teach me about life and how grateful I should be of each day I am given. With its impeccable writing and an amazing cast, this drama took me on a journey that was thought-provoking, moving, memorable and inspirational.
Hello~~ Welcome back to the site! Today will be another Kdrama review!!! I’ve been enjoying my holidays quite a lot by catching up on a couple of dramas that I’ve been eyeing on for the past couple of months, years even. “49 Days” was one of them, a drama that I had put aside for at least a year or two as I wasn’t too sure about what is was about. Not wanting to ruin too much for myself, I left it and kind-of forgot that I wanted to watch it in the first place!
But, after realising that Bae Soo Bin was in the drama (I’ve been on a recent witchhunt-like routine with him for the past week or so LOL), I wanted to see into his other works apart from the famous classic ‘revenge’ Kdrama “Temptations of an Angel”. But, after I had watched the first two episodes, I realised that my love for Soo Bin’s acting wasn’t the main reason for me finishing the drama in just under 2 days; it was due to the amazing and wonderfully talented Lee Yo Won who truly made this drama one of the most popular Kdramas of 2011, and possibly one of my most favourite dramas of all time.
So, shall we begin??
Note: It may be impossible for this review to be spoiler-free, and I would recommend anyone who is considering to watch this drama, to avoid any possible spoilers at all costs. Knowing anything about the ending may possibly ruin the experience. I will be making notices before and after any possible spoilers in the review. Regardless you have been warned.
Name: 49 Days
Broadcast Time: 16th March 2011 to 19th May 2011
Total Number of Episodes: 20
Note: Watched the drama 3 years after its broadcasting period, but with no knowledge of story whatsoever
Synopsis (borrowed from wiki-addict):
Shin Ji Hyun (Nam Gyu Ri) was enjoying absolute bliss as she was about to marry her fiancé, Kang Min Ho (Bae Soo Bin), but her perfect life is shattered when she gets into a car accident that leaves her in a coma. She is given a second chance at life by a reaper, but it comes with a condition: she has to find three people outside of her family who would cry genuine tears for her. In order to do this, she borrows the body of Yi Kyung (Lee Yo Won), a part-time employee at a convenience store for 49 days.
When I first came across the drama, it didn’t really hook me. The synopsis (shown above) was terribly vague, and the poster got me more confused. Being a person who tried everything in my own power to not spoil the drama for myself, I didn’t watch any sort of previews or trailers. Which, as I have realised in hindsight, was probably the most smartest thing I could have done (good job me hehe ^^~)
The first two episodes were definitely brilliant. Imagining how this would have turned out during its broadcasting period, there was plenty for the audience to be curious about. The main thing that definitely got to me was the characterisation and depth in plot, which has now become something so rare and sacred. To think that a drama’s writing was the main reason for watching it…it almost sounds abnormal! That’s mainly the reason why I continued onwards with the drama.
But the characterisation certainly should not be ignored. Lee Yo Won, to me, seemed amazing. Being able to portray two entirely different people with two entirely different personalities is not something easily done, and especially not easy to be able to convince others of. At times, I almost imagined seeing the ‘real’ Shin Ji Hyun (Nam Gyu Ri I mean) inhabiting Song Yi Kyung’s body – she was that believable. And thankfully, this was maintained throughout the entirety of the drama.
Opinions about the drama:
Firstly, I would like to thank the wonderfully amazing writer So Hyun Kyung (Prosecutor Princess, Shining Inheritance, Two Weeks) for writing a story as inspiring and solid as this one. She never wavered, and never gave in by telling a story that was not what she wanted. From the beginning, she wanted the drama to work and unfold in a certain manner, and stuck to it. And so for that, I applaud and thank you.
This drama is honestly one of the most poignant dramas I have ever watched ever since I started watching Kdramas. Some others that comes close is possibly The Princess Man (2011) or Stairways To Heaven(2006), but they certainly did not leave such a large mark on my heart as this drama, 49 Days. Truthfully, this is possibly the first time I have ever been so emotionally-invested into a drama. Typing this review right now is still making me slightly emotional (as in, I am still crying over this drama, 5 hours after I have finished watching it), since this drama has brought up a lot of thinking for me personally. As someone who has had to deal with the loss of a loved one, it makes me curious to think as to whether or not they had such a chance, and if they ever did, what would they have done?
It is slightly silly of me to think of this, but never before has a drama provoked me so to think about my life, and whether or not I am living it the way that I “should” be. “Should” is written with the apostrophes, as there isn’t exactly a defined way of living – it is more of “have I lived my life to the fullest, and done everything in my power to make sure that the people I’ve left behind are going to live on the way I would have wished them to?”
There has been plenty of reviews that I have seen and read ever since I finished watching the drama. For many, views clashed, and complained about how the drama ended. It was certainly one of those dramas in which you either loved it, or hated it. I, for one, join the group of “though it wasn’t the ending I would of wished for, it was undisputably the most correct ending”. And that is why, fellow viewers and readers, I absolutely loved this drama.
Firstly, the story-writing and dialogue must be spoken about. It is flawless, and I’m sure that a lot of people probably can’t argue against that. As I have mentioned above, I commend So Hyun Kyung for telling the story that she wanted to express to everyone, without deviating. What made this drama so perfect is that it wasn’t the story pushing forward the characters, and controlling what they did and said – it was the actual characters who pulled the plot along with them, hence the bends and curves that the story took without it seeming unnatural or predictable. This couldn’t have happened without a well-thought out idea of how each character is, and who they are as a person. The story just seemed to be how our life is like – a course or a journey in which none of us are well aware of what could happen, today, tomorrow or even in the next hour.
The main part that I loved about this drama was certainly the idea that this drama isn’t simply about life and death – it was a drama about relationships that people form with one another. Probably the best of those relationships that formed is not the romance (though many may possibly argue against that), but rather the relationship that formed between Ji Hyun and Yi Kyung. It was refreshing to see a relationship between two women simply form from caring about one another. It wasn’t from some sort of rivalry, or the attempt to snatch a guy from one another – it was just them developing a relationship that only they can understand between each other, which made the drama so much more moving. 49 Days was also a drama that didn’t allow itself to become unrealistic. Despite the fantasy aspect which was well embedded into the drama throughout, it never seemed to become a drama that was ridiculous, or was logical. It never entered that realm of ‘well, this is stupid’ or ‘that could never happen’ – it stayed true and solid right to the end.
The next point I need to highlight is certainly the actors/actresses and their characters. Boy, where do I begin?! Hands down, Lee Yo Won stole the show in portraying both Ji Hyun and Yi Kyung, who certainly felt ‘alive’ (haha, get it?) when both souls enter her body. Also, her chemistry with her other co-stars was fantastic. It truly seemed to be her inhabiting either soul and truly playing her part in each relationship. But, that is not to say that her other main leads weren’t in par or even greater in acting than she was.
Not much needs to be said about the Scheduler, portrayed by Jung Il Woo. I have never seen him act badly in a drama before, so I certainly had no doubts that he would be great in this one. But wow, he seemed to steal the show from everyone else at times. He was so flexible in this drama, from being the comedy relief to the terribly poignant. He just sold that character for me. For anyone who believed that he played a minor in this drama wellllll you were wrong! He truly made a standout performance in this drama, and I applaud him for making this drama even more great than it already was. I won’t go into too much detail into his role in the drama, but he…wow~ Thank you Il Woo oppa, thank you!
AND BAE SOO BIN OPPA!!! What should I say? I didn’t think that his character would develop into what he ended up becoming (great wording there Hyunnie, j-j-j-just great!) Despite him being that “evil” character in the drama, I couldn’t help but still feel sympathetic towards him at times. There is a particular scene towards the end of the drama, where he is with his mother…that scene got to me, and I can only say that it wasn’t just due to the writing of the drama, it was Bae Soo Bin expressing what Kang Min Ho would have felt in that scenario. And I just welled up in tears when I saw that scene. Once again, I am not surprised by Soo Bin oppa’s greatness LOL!
By far, these three truly stole the show for me. Without them, I’m pretty sure that the drama would have been as great as it was! But now, here comes the hard bit – the not-so-positive positives…
The Not-So-Positive Positives:
Despite the amazingness (is that a word??) of this drama, not every drama is perfect and it is my duty to try and highlight those flaws, no matter how minor they could be.
Firstly, about the characters and their actor/actresses. Nam Gyu Ri was a so-so actress. I can not blame her for this, considering that she was an idol-turned-actress, and that this was the first time that she had had a main lead role. It’s just that she didn’t seem to portray Ji Hyun as well as Yo Won did initially. Eventually, she seemed to grow into her role much better, which was successfully highlighted in her acting near the end of the drama within scenes involving her parents. A particular scene just brought me to tears, with the whole dramatic irony going on at that moment. So, even though, Gyu Ri initially couldn’t seem to develop that uniquely cute and ‘innocent’ Ji Hyun as well as Yo Won did early on, I won’t exactly say that she did a terrible job overall. Eventually, I did end up loving her Ji Hyun, especially towards the end when both her and Yi Kyung appear in the same scenes.
Likewise with Gyu Ri, sadly I also thought the same with Jo Hyun Jae’s character, Han Kang. Even though he was certainly a lovely eye-candy to look forward to every episode (I swear, he is A-TTRAC-TIVE!), he wasn’t exactly the most unique character I’ve seen. A handsome knight in shining armour who was capable in solving the mystery bothering his damsel-in-distress – a role which he played solidly, but without much else. However, regardless as to whether or not he was unqiue or not, I still loved him to bits, and ended up just naturally calling out “HAN KANNNNNGGGG!” whenever he entered the scene. Damn, it was just so adorable to see Ji Hyun just call out her Han Kang everytime in order to grab his attention. So, it wasn’t that I hated his character or anything – it’s just that his character was not a character that I’ve never seen before, like Yi Kyung or Min Ho.
However, the main thing that really bothered me was just that last episode, and how they wanted to tie one plot string together once and for all.
WARNING: SPOILERS MAY BE EXPRESSED IN THIS SECTION. PLEASE PROCEED FORWARD AT YOUR OWN RISK!
So, that whole long-lost sisters plot twist did not really sit well with me. When I went back and looked through the drama more thoroughly, I did find those subtle hints that were dropped here and there in preparation for that ending, but the problem with that was the whole fact that it was just too subtle. Dropping a line or two is not enough to justify your course of action, ever! The drama was subtle to the point that I just laughed out loud when I realised where the drama was going with it. I was gobsmacked, and I thought to myself “But, you were going sooooo well! How could this happen?!” If the drama had perhaps started hinting on this search for the long-lost sister from roughly episode 18, perhaps this twist would not have been as rushed and disliked as it eventually became. Yes, if they did hint it slightly too early, then it wouldn’t really be a twist, wouldn’t it? However, I am sure that the purpose of having a twist such as this, is for the audience to be caught off guard but not to the point where they would all go “Well, this drama was terrible since nothing made any sense!”
END OF SPOILERS!!!
Despite the negatives that I did discuss briefly above, this drama was still absolutely amazing overall. For those who truly like watching melodramas (though, I would be slightly worried if that was what you only ever watched…) and have not watched “49 Days” yet, I highly highly recommend this drama to you. And yet, for those who don’t often watch melodramas, this drama should be an exception, as the drama allows you to experience a wide range of emotions (not just sadness peeps!), but still try to soothe your cuts and bruises gained during the journey.
To avoid hinting too much about the drama, I will make this final statement brief. In the end, this drama was not simply a journey entailing of a person who was given a chance to prolong their life – it was a chance for them to make things right in their lives, during a period of 49 days. Ji Hyun, who was unfortunately living a life filled with secrets, lies and betrayal, was given an opportunity to settle matters, and to make sure that when she wakes up, everything and everyone in her life are where they belong. That was her purpose, and the reason behind the 49 days journey. And so, through those 49 days, we see her grow from that oblivious, innocent Ji Hyun, to a woman filled with wisdom and knowledge beyond her years.
So, borrowing the rating system from the lovely goddesses of Kdrama reviews themselves Javabeans and Girlfriday, I would rate “49 Days” as:
How much I liked it: 9/10
How good was it objectively: 9/10
“49 Days” will forever remain a drama that will remind me to value the life that I have so far, and to continue living a life where I would not be filled with regret when that ‘moment’ comes. Ji Hyun, the heroine of the drama, stood up bravely against our biggest fear, death, and it was through her that we saw how crucial it is to appreciate the life that you have right now. Making the most of your day, your life, should not be something dismissed so simply – it could be the difference between a life filled with regret, or peace and gratitude. Thank you “49 Days” – you will be a drama greatly missed.
Thank you all for reading, and I’ll talk to you guys soon.
❤ Yami Hyunnie ^^~
August 13, 2014 at 11:42 pm
I feel the same as you about this series. To date, I’ve watched only about 10 kdramas, but I’m sure this one will be one of my favourite forever. I found the ending unfair, but it was the only ending possibile, even if it made me cry a lot (I’m still crying, and I watched the last episode 2 days ago by now…). The OST is amazing, too.
August 19, 2014 at 9:18 pm
Hi Chiyako, thank you for your lovely comment!
I wholeheartedly understand how you feel. Yep, the ending was indeed unfair but as we look upon it in a rational manner, it may have been the only possible ending that made the most sense without going into the realms of being ridiculous.
Let us cry together sister; I will shoulder your grief, and thank you once again for your comment! ^^
P.S. That OST is truly amazing~ I totally forgot to mention it in the review! I am so guilty!
November 3, 2014 at 5:19 pm
(I’m terribly sorry for stalking your blogposts heh but they’re too good)
Ah, this brought back memories. I couldn’t stop smiling when I read this post. I remember watching this last year during my holidays, and boy was it good! Loved the storyline, it was so much different from the normal k dramas I used to watch before that. (Betrayal, then revenge, and then satisfaction.. gets boring after a while)
Speaking of k dramas, I think I need to expose myself to more of it! Going to look through more of your posts to see which ones are good..
November 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm
Haha Constellations don’t worry about the stalking thing; it’s a crime that I myself am quite guilty of.
About K-dramas, it really depends on what genre you have a great interest in. Rom-com, melodramas, supernatural, family etc? For me, a good rom-com is perhaps a recent one called “It’s Okay, That’s Love” (I did a first impressions post on it) and I feel that it was another drama that was truly refreshing and different. If that isn’t your thing, then I would maybe recommend something like “Vampire Prosecutor” as a solid crime/mystery/thriller/supernatural type of drama lol. That was quite a good one too since it doesn’t focus on romance or revenge (sort of)
But yeah, what type of genres are you interested in? Maybe I can share with you some suggestions that I have watched it he past, but might have not written on the blog. Hope you have a wonderful day, and thanks again for the lovely comment. “49 Days” will forever remain in my heart as one true highlight in all of Kdrama history (no exaggeration lol!)
November 5, 2014 at 12:51 pm
Haha I love rom-coms! Supernatural sounds really cool, though I haven’t watched that kind of genre. Hmmm.. I’ll go check out ‘It’s Okay, That’s Love’ soon, thanks for the suggestions! 😀