A New Leaf

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A New Leaf was a gift from drama god when I was in search for good dramas; there was a lack of gripping dramas during those times, and I was dying for something good. I hadn’t planned on watching this one when it was first announced, or when the trailers were released. I wasn’t enthuasiatic about it; mainly because I wasn’t interested in Kim Myung Min, or the storyline. I also thought it would be extreeeeemely melodramatic. Boy, was I so wrong!

Seriously, I am glad I pick this drama up and gave it a chance. I love the dynamics between the actors! The show has great, solid main casts; they all gave a well-balanced and stable performance. Kim Sang Joong was absolutely awesome in his role. Oh Jung Se once again made a deep impression in his supporting role and lastly, Kim Myung Min – how he portrayed a wooden, dull, monotonous and expressionless person into a multi-faceted, and layered character so interesting to watch is beyond me – *clap* *clap* *clap*

Official Title: 개과천선 / Gaegwachunsun
Genre: Drama, legal
Broadcast network: MBC
Broadcast period: 30.04.2014 to 26.06.2014
Total Episodes: 16
Director: Park Jae Bum, Oh Hyun Jong
Screenwriter: Choi Hee Ra
Official Website: http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/ggcs/

CHARACTER RELATIONSHIP CHART

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PLOT SUMMARY

Kim Suk Ju (Kim Myung Min) is the infamous, ace lawyer working at Cha Young Woo law firm, owned by Cha Young Woo (Kim Sang Joong). He is the best in the law firm; he’s the most wanted lawyer by large companies, and with one reason – he wins all his cases. Suk Ju is a workaholic that lacks compassion and has no conscience, as he would do whatever necessary to win a case. However, one accident changes everything that he has worked for. With his memory wiped out, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery as he struggles to handle the cases he once handled before his amnesia. His boss, Cha Young Woo cherish Suk Ju as an employee, and does whatever he can to help him get back on his feet after the accident.

Suk Ju and Lee Ji Yoon (Park Min Young) had a run-in with one another at a wedding that resulted Ji Yoon thinking the two of them had spent a night together. The next day, Ji Yoon attends her internship at Cha Young Woo law firm and is shocked to find out she will be working under Suk Ju. She later becomes his personal assistant.

Park Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se) is a happy-go-lucky sort of guy and he is Suk Ju’s best buddy. He too, works at Cha Young Woo law firm and is in charge of leading the interns.

REVIEW

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— May contain spoiler —

Just judging at the legal side of story-telling, A New Leaf puts I Hear Your Voice to shame. While I Hear Your Voice’s legal case is presented in the “user-friendly” for Dummies kind; A New Leaf on the other hand, is definitely catered for Intermediate and Advance levels.

After experiencing A New Leaf’s mind boggling, complicated and confusing legal story-telling, I do appreciate I Hear Your Voice’s choice of dumbing it down for the viewers, lol! But even if three quarter of the time I couldn’t completely grasp what’s happening with the legal cases, I could not turn my eyes away from the screen.

I definitely have a hard time catching on with all those business law terms, and I can’t say I understand all of it, but the story is gripping, and I don’t think I can fully explain why. The show makes me eager to know what will come next, whether Suk Ju can overcome it and how, with the amnesia lurking and haunting him. I had thought I would probably fall asleep with all the boring stuff going on, but never once had I felt bored by the show.

It is a real pity that the show lost two episodes that resulted in a less than perfect drama (due to election and football). I reckon it took away the time for the screenwriter to properly round up Suk Ju’s loveline(s). Previously, I do believe the screenwriter was going to give us a triangle love between Suk Ju, Ji Yoon and Yoo Jung Sun (Chae Jung Ahn), but this idea was definitely scrapped, and s/he decided to put more focus into giving Suk Ju a character development and exploring the corruption of law.

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Kim Myung Min does expressionless and monotonous so god damn well, it’s not funny. He isn’t an eye-candy or a handsome man, but he has this charming aura enveloping him. He has superb acting skills; the sort that I like – subtle acting, which is why even though he starts off as a wooden character, he didn’t come across as boring to watch. And then it just gets even more interesting as we see the transition from wooden to amnesia Suk Ju, who starts to have different expression(s) or emotions.

A side note, I was surprised to find out Kim Myung Min is one slim man with a small bottom. LOL! I was completely fooled by his big head when he was in suit, thinking that he has a meaty body.

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Kim Sang Joong – Ahhhh, my evil daddy from City Hunter. Good lord, this man is just plain awesome as an actor! He gave me chills down my spine as the ruthless, devilish and scheming big boss – Cha Young Woo. If Cha Young Woo is the devil (hiding in the dark/bts), then the pre-amnesia Suk Ju is the devil’s advocate. Suk Ju was his replica, his best student, and his right hand man before the accident. I would kill to watch him taking on a case against Suk Ju actually – the ace versus the ace. Oh my god, how awesome will that be? My PC screen may light up in flame from the sparks between them, and they are not even lovers!

One of the things I love about this show is that it did not make Cha Young Woo the villain that harm Suk Ju. On the contrary, it shows him acting as part boss, part a father figure in helping amnesiac Suk Ju get back on his feet. He acknowledges Suk Ju’s ability, and he is smart enough to know not to anger the sleeping lion. I like that even though he had to let Suk Ju leave, he still treasures him, admires his intelligence and talent. it seems that he feels pity and a waste that he has lost the pre-amnesia Suk Ju, the one that did great but evil things with/for him.

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Park Min Young‘s character, Lee Ji Yoon, is an intern full of compassion and possessed a strong sense of righteousness. She disapproves of the law firm and Suk Ju’s ruthless dealings against their opponents, thus she finds herself a misfit even though she is capable and delivers good quality work. Ji Yoon acts as Suk Ju’s voice of conscience, helping him find balance between getting to know his past ruthless self and developing compassion after post-amnesia.

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Her encounter with Suk Ju resulted her being that one other person who knows about his amnesiac condition. Hence, Cha Young Woo appointed her as Suk Ju’s personal assistant, and move her into his neighbourhood to watch over him. I had cheered for the next door neighbour’s plot-line but unfortunately, the screenwriter didn’t bother to take advantage of the given situation. BOO!

It’s a pity that this character started out strong, but faded into the background when Suk Ju’s fiancée Yoo Jung Sun (Chae Jung Ahn) appeared. BOO! There was a serious lack of bickering between them in the mid episodes, and Jung Sun’s appearance halted any possible relationship development between them. Although the final 2 episodes made up for it, it wasn’t good enough because I want more!

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One notable thing is that it was a lot of fun watching Kim Myung Min, Park Min Young and Oh Jung Se interact with one another on-screen. Oh Jung Se plays Park Sang Tae – Kim Myung Min’s best buddy, and the two’s constant back and forth with one another were one of the most enjoyable scenes to watch. The three of them ROCK the screen, and never fail to put a smile on my face.

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Above mentioned are what’s good about the drama, and now we take a look at the flaws. I don’t know what’s the point of introducing a fiancée for post-amensia Suk Ju. Though I believe originally, the screenwriter had something big planned for Chae Jung Ahn‘s role, which would impact Suk Ju greatly. Her character description stated that she was the reason Suk Ju got into the accident in the first place; however, this never play out in the show.

In the end, she is just this boring and bland passer-by. The one thing I am grateful about is that she isn’t bitchy. I hadn’t seen Chae Jung Ahn in any likable roles before, she tends to play a bitch that only cause nothing but trouble. Thus, this time I’m glad she isn’t like that (or at least ended up not being like that). However, I cringed thinking that Suk Ju had asked her to give him a chance: to be a better lover, and work on their relationship. Nooo~ you two are always so awkward with one another, it won’t work!

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Jin Yi Han plays Jun Ji Won – an ex-judge personally scouted by Cha Young Woo to replace Suk Ju. He is supposed to be an elite, the best replacing the best, but in the end that didn’t fall through. He is mostly seen sitting in the meeting room for decorating purposes, or looking shocked at the devil, Cha Young Woo, manipulating the whole legal system like puppets instead of showcasing his ability against Suk Ju.

If we look at the bigger picture, we wouldn’t care much for Ji Won or Jung Sun. But if we zero in on them and try to analyse their supposed influence in the drama, then we would realise how little screen time these two have. Judging by this, I would say even though the legal cases are interesting, perhaps the screenwriter had focused way too much time on it, and forgotten to develop these two significant characters.

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Though the under-developed characters’ flaw was disappointing in the writer’s aspect, but it didn’t bug me all that much because I was too busy being captivated by the legal cases Suk Ju tries to avoid, but kept getting suck back into. I was more interested in other things and the man himself.

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Not to mention we have the side-kicks joining hands to form Team Suk Ju, that was indeed more fun to watch than getting to know Jung Sun and Ji Won. I especially enjoyed the humour thrown in every now and then from post-amnesia Suk Ju with brother Park Sang Tae. Sang Tae’s ex-teennage crush on Prosecutor Lee Sun Hee (Kim Suh Hyung) is especially amusing to watch as well.

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Suk Ju’s broken-but-on-the-mend relationship with his father also have some really tear-jerking and touching moments that I love and cry along with (although it’s not reflecting in the BTS pic I attached). There were at least two very memorable and emotional scenes wonderfully acted out by Kim Myung Min and his father Kim Shin Il (Choi Il Hwa). I’m not big on mellow, but the supressed and subtle emotions display through acting by them both were just right, and the type of performance click with my preference in acting with emotions (I dislike exaggerated, over-acting).

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Kim Suk Ju is a man with a strong desire to win his battle, so as a viewer who cheers for him, I also want to see him win all his cases. Thus, I was a little annoyed when the show made him lose against Cha Young Woo law firm. I have utmost confident that Suk Ju would win if it was a fair play, but I supposed there was too much at stake that Cha Young Woo law firm must play dirty to win. But what’s consoling is Suk Ju didn’t walk away empty handed or losing his confident; he continues to find a way to help his clients/people, and in the process Cha Young Woo still acts as a mentor and teaches him some lessons, and helps him grow.

On a whole, I think A New Leaf is a pretty good and entertaining drama. It isn’t the kind that will suit or interest everyone, as the main core of the drama is all about Suk Ju and the legal cases he deals with. It may be difficult for viewers to stomach the show’s heavy focus on law if they have zero/low tolerance of law talks, and/or if they are not a fan of any actors. But what I love about it, is that the story and its (main) characters are very well-written and consistent throughout the show. They were all good characters, easily likable and interesting… except that loud and arrogant company director (Tsk, motor mouth Jo Il Shin from Faith!) in the last legal case. 

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2 thoughts on “A New Leaf

  1. “screenwriter had focused way too much time on it, and forgotten to develop these two significant characters”
    100/ right, at the beginning of the show I was excited, but in the last episodes I skipped them, I think the judge character deserve more attention.😉
    Kim suk ju dog seems a little bit bigger, but Iam soo in love with him 😝
    Thank You ,you are the best 😍😘

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, thank you for writing this piece on an excellent drama (albeit to me, short of 2 episodes).
    I agree with you in everything you wrote. My favorite parts were all linked to Kim Myung Min’s subtle acting. I was not able to see Park Min Young shine like her other co-stars. She seemed a bit forced here, as if she did not have enough time to really sink into character (granted, K-drama production style is incredibly rushed). But maybe it’s a matter of experience. She’s sweet and cute though.

    I really hope they give Kim Myung Min (thank you for calling actors with their complete name and not just “Kim”, or “Park”, by the way) more roles like this one in the future. It was great seeing him play the other side of the spectrum: instead of a strong, opinionated dude, he played a subtle, calm, flat-line character with all the little subtleties required.

    Like

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