Review: Chicago Typewriter

2017
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Written by: Ji Soo-wan
Directed by: Kim Cheoi-kyu
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Im Soo-jung, Go Kyung-pyo
Number of episodes: 16
Average rating: (unspecified)
Original network: tvN

Hi guys! So today’s post is another review of a drama I just finished yesterday. I’m currently on a semester break to sophomore year. It’s an almost 3-month long holiday and I’m so excited to make some to-do-list to fill in this holiday. I will watch a bunch of drama of course, but I don’t know if it’s just me or I’m just not really interested in some of the new releases. To be honest with you guys, I haven’t watched something mind-blowing in such a long time.

This one? We shall see..

What’s it about?

In 1930, a period when there was no guarantee of tomorrow, both friendship and relationship ended in tragedy. But even after solid 87 years, the urge to reunite again with one another still smoulder like a rapid fire. To confess, to apologise, and to live a liberated life.

What to expect?

  • A gradually building plot
  • Well-written and well-developed tale
  • Lovable characters
  • Time-traveling/reincarnation kinda
  • Deep and meaningful story
  • Something different than what you usually watch

What not to expect?

  • Family drama
  • Guessing who-ends-up-with-who
  • Your typical K-drama guy
  • Lot of action scenes
  • Lot of melodramatic scenes
  • Lot of kiss scenes
  • The perfect happy ending

My long review starts here

Spoiler alert.

First, let me tell you that this drama is probably one of the most underrated drama ever. I mean, it’s a fairly new drama and I heard nobody talking about it at all. I do not get why it isn’t marketable when this is such a great drama to enjoy.

At the beginning, I did not really buy the story because I just have no idea which direction it was going to take me. It was not until the 3rd episode that I finally got into the story. I hated and despised Han Se-joo at first: I did not like his attitude and look (sorry, his hairstyle is just not my type). But reading so many comments saying how underrated this drama was just challenged my inner spirit to continue. I always have a thing of underrated things—whether it is a product, book, movie, etc—as it makes me want to give them some love and attention at least from one more person.

But when I reached the middle part of the show, I realized that the writer was just taking his time to gradually build a strong base for the story. He did not reveal everything at once, but rather one at a time with his meticulous choice of dialogue that left the audience wondering  “what the heck is happening here?”.

If you are like me who is not really interested in the first couple of episodes, please keep going! You will get to see something amazing later on.

I will now continue with the comparison between the 1930 period and present day story. First, let’s start with our villain: Baek Tae-min (present) or Heo Young-min (1930). We already knew from the beginning that this guy was going to be the villain of the show. For me personally, he was average and rather a one-dimentional character. However, I was quite impressed with his performance as Heo Young-min in the “interrogation room” where he turned Shin Yul’s plan into a tragedy. He figured that Yul was not the leader of the Joseon Youth Alliance already and used Yul’s emotion for his advantage. The present day Baek Tae-min? I did not really care for him honestly. But I still want to give him credit for his performance, who woukd know that he’s that sweet guy Seo-joon in Oh My Ghost?

Finally, let’s jump to my favorite part of this drama. I love everything about the 1930s to death. I feel like this is what makes this drama stood out from another “time-travel/reincarnation” dramas. We usually get a Joseon vs present or present vs future, but they seemed to forget another important period in the history. The period when the people fought with tears and blood to be liberated as a nation.

This might be a personal preference matter, but I always love the idea of “classical romance” when one needs to put everything aside, including love for the greater cause. When there was no certainty of tomorrow, those who fought for the nation sacrificed themselves to ensure a better future for the next generation. Seo Hui-young and Ryu Soo-hyun sacrificed their feelings and lives to grant Han Se-joo and Jeon Seol the happiness that they could not afford to have at that time. 

For me, the spotlight of the show hands down laid on the 1930 tale. I will watch this show alone for Seo Hyu-young, Ryu Soo-hyun, and Shin Yul. This is the second drama I watched after an oldie Chinese drama called Romance In the Rain which was also set in the 1930s. I love all the hopelessness, danger, and consequences for romance to spark in that period of time. And I truly wish to see more of those kind of dramas in the future.

Well, I can go on and on talking about my love for the 1930 period but I feel like you are bored already so let’s move on.

I mentioned my dislike for Se-joo at the beginning of the show, but later on I became very fond of him as the writer developed his emotional and angered character into a mature and emotionally stable man for people around him, especially Seol. One of the most heartbreaking yet beautiful scene in the drama was when Seol asked Hui-young to promise her to do everything he could not do in this life, in the next life. Back then, he did not get the chance to show her enough love rather than protecting her from afar and let Yul save her in his place. But Hui-young/Se-joo fulfilled it in the present day. He was not late this time. 

I want to dedicate this part to our ghost, Yoo Jin-oh/Shin Yul. Part of me want to hate him for betraying his friend and comrade for a woman, but part of me believe that I would also do the same if I were in his shoes. That was why Hui-young only let very few people knew of his identity, as he said, there was a difference between admitting what you did not know and lying about what you knew.

I feel like the relationship of our trio was really complicated. It was expected for a romance to bloom in a friendship of two guy and a girl, but nobody was prepared for this heartbreaking tragedy that eventually separated those three. I personally think that it was necessary to turn Shin Yul into a betrayer in order for Hui-young and Soo-hyun to be together without hard feeling. Learning that his best friend had loved the woman that he loved, Yul wanted to think of himself for once. I feel like deep down he already sensed that Hui-young was the one Soo-hyun loved, but he still wanted to bet that things probably could change if he saved her life. But the guilt after betraying his best friend haunted Yul like nothing else that he did not even try to keep Soo-hyun by his side after everything ended because he knew that he did not deserve her at all. What another emotional ride in this show!

I will put an end to the character analysis here and move on to some minor plot holes I found. I did not buy how easy Seol believed in the existence of ghost Yoo Jin-oh when previously she was so against the idea. I mean, sure, Se-joo and her were now in a relationship that built on trust but I hoped that they would have added a little more of the “process” in between. And the super weird and annoying music that played right before a “dangerous” scene in 1930. Seriously? You could not do better? At first play, I thought the next scene was a light and comical scene that could made me relax. It was nothing but a bad pairing.

But despite that, I really want to give credit to the drama that took me on an emotional ride I had not experienced in a while now. I do not really want to complain for the bittersweet ending, although I wished that we could get to at least steal a glance at the reincarnated version of Yoo Jin-oh. But they chose to show us the happy moment of the trio together once again before the tragedy stroke.

Han Se-joo: Hey, you. The ghost who has been living for 80 years. When was your happiest moment? Or will you feel the happiest when your soul rests in peace?

Yoo Jin-oh: Mine… is right now.

Han Se-joo: Right now?

Yoo Jin-oh: Yes, right now. The moment where the three of us have gathered together again. We don’t have to worry about what might happen tomorrow. We also don’t have to worry about our country’s independence. This moment right now is as light as a feather. This moment where we don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying a bowl of noodles.

Rating

Objective: 9.5/10
Subjective: 9.9/10

Last but not least

I don’t have anything more to say, just go watch this drama right now! You will not regret it.

Do you guys have any recommendations of another romance drama/movie set in the Japanese invasion period? I’d love to watch them!

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