Premiere Watch: Individualist Ji-young, Ruler, Suspicious Partner
With all these dramas ready to air, in the works to air, or currently airing, we realized it can be tricky keeping up with the actual premiere dates of all the new shows. It seemed like it would be helpful to give everyone a last-minute notice right before new shows launched, since I know I never like it when forgetfulness leads to missing something new.
Hence this “Premiere Watch,” which we’re using to alert you to the three new shows airing this week, one each on KBS, MBC, and SBS: the short drama Individualist Ji-young, historical melo Ruler–Master of the Mask, and upbeat romance Suspicious Partner. Let’s see what the week has in store for us!
Time slot: Monday & Tuesday
Episode count: 2
Reasons to watch: This looks like a quirky and heartwarming oddball romance with an edge, and it’s that edge that has me intrigued. The teasers showed a dark, troubled undertone for the character played by Min Hyo-rin (Persevere, Gu Hae-ra), who lives as a “perfect individualist,” meaning with zero relationship ties to anybody else. Her life seems anxious and moody, and at first you think that makes her the complete opposite to Gong Myung (Drinking Solo), who’s a bouncy, enthusiastic puppy of a young man who can’t live without affection. But he’s suffering just as much an affliction as she is, since going without human contact actually produces serious emotional consequences for him. I’m expecting a story of warmth and healing as they find each other and perhaps find a better middle ground for themselves.
In the tradition of many Drama Specials and mini-dramas, Individualist Ji-young has a low-budget, lo-fi vibe that I find appealing in its understated way. Sometimes that minimal production value can be a detriment, but then again, sometimes you can find gems among the mini-drama subgenre, so I’ll be hoping for a pleasant surprise here.
Ruler–Master of the Mask
Time slot: Wednesday & Thursday
Genre: Historical, mystery, melodrama, romance
Episode count: 20
Reasons to watch: I know better than to pin all my hopes for a show on the cast, but I can’t help but be swayed by the Yoo Seung-ho/Kim So-hyun match-up here (of Remember–Son’s War and Bring It On, Ghost, respectively). They’re both exceptional young talents from back when they were playing the younger counterparts of everyone under the sun and often stealing the show. (This marks Yoo’s fourth or fifth time playing a king!) Now that they’re young leading stars, I can’t wait to see them tear it up in an intense romantic melo as young lovers turned vengeful enemies (at least on one side—she’s driven by revenge when he becomes responsible for her father’s death).
The story sounds like there’ll be a heavy political component with the shadowy secret society, but the producers seem to know that the young cast is the source of all the buzz, and I expect a lot of work will be put into building up their youthful backstories (all the better to rip our hearts when those bonds are tested by tragedies and challenges). I’m still deeply skeptical of L (She’s So Lovable) having such a prominent role, especially since it pits him directly opposite Yoo Seung-ho when he starts out as the prince’s stand-in and then grows ambitious to claim the throne himself—but if I have to watch with one eye closed, I’ll do it. I also hope the two directors will be able to use him effectively; neither PD has wowed me with past works, but I’m putting an asterisk next to PD Noh Do-chul—his recent dramas haven’t been much to write home about (Twinkle Twinkle, Mother’s Garden), but he did helm old favorite Soulmate, which I always thought was quite smartly directed.
Time slot: Wednesday & Thursday
Genre: Romantic comedy
Episode count: 20
Reasons to watch: I have a lot of hopes for this show, and am trying not to let expectations get ahead of me. First off, I keep hearing about how Ji Chang-wook (The K2) and Nam Ji-hyun (Shopping King Louis) have such amazing chemistry, and it’s something I can picture readily so I’m impatient to see it in action. She’s one of those actresses who can make any character endearing; she brings a winsome sunniness to her roles. While Ji Chang-wook has done light, comedic roles early in his career, he’s been doing so much serious and action-y roles lately that I feared he’d get typecast as the broody lone wolf. Not that he’s bad at brooding, but he’s got a really sweet wide smile (circa Sons of Sol Pharmacy, Bachelor’s Vegetable Store) that hasn’t been on display much lately, and I’ve missed seeing it.
But this is a case where the cast is just a small reason for my interest, because I’m more drawn in by the writer’s involvement; Kwon Ki-young wrote the small but much-loved mystery-thriller-romance I Remember You (as well as the SBS drama All About My Romance). That drama mixed its genres skillfully and created some memorable characters whose story arcs made my heart pinch with emotion. Directing is PD Park Sun-ho, who doesn’t have any solo credits but did co-direct on Legend of the Blue Sea and Jackpot.
Mostly, this looks like a boisterous, fun kind of rom-com, and I’m really ready for a show like that. Assuming it’s good, of course!
- Individualist Min Hyo-rin and people person Gong Myung clash in mini-drama
- The prince casts off his mask to fight for the people in Ruler—Master of the Mask
- Subway misunderstandings and drunken frustrations in Suspicious Partner
- Master of the Mask Yoo Seung-ho extends a hand to knife-wielding Kim So-hyun
- Shockingly suspicious and insanely lovable Suspicious Partners
- KBS schedules drama shorts, delays Fight My Way’s premiere
- The Lonely Shining Suspicious Partner
- Vows made, virtues rejected in Ruler–Master of the Mask’s character posters