Category Archives: Reviews

[Fan Review] Yoo Yeon Seok’s Musical “Man Who Walks Through Walls”

Disclaimer: This review is written entirely by a fan of Yoo Yeon Seok, it contains subjective point of view. Spoilers ahead.

When the news of Yoo Yeon Seok doing musical was announced last year, fans embraced it with much excitement and happiness. Excited because Yoo Yeon Seok would embark a new milestone in his career and happy because fans would get to see him performing live on the stage. The musical news was so unexpected, it felt like a jackpot.

Yet for Duttileul (Yoo Yeon Seok), suddenly having the capability of walking through walls was not considered as winning a jackpot. He resented the power so much, he even tried to get rid of it. When he realized what his power can give him (after stealing bread and scaring his boss that is), it suddenly gave him an exhilarating feels he has been lacking all throughout his years of being a pathetic push over. He soon embarked on a Robin Hood journey, stealing all kind of stuff including picture of Monalisa (HA!) and giving it away. Media called the mysterious thief “ddune ddune” and he became an overnight sensation. Downside is no one knew that “ddune ddune” is Duttileul. After realising what a pathetic wallflower he was, he tried to convince his equally loser officemates that he is the “ddune ddune”. Of course, no one believed him. So what did he do to satisfy his crave for attention? Showing off to the police, of course! HA! He got what he wanted, the recognition and imprisonment all at once.

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Sad for Duttileul, his fame didn’t come with a visit from the only person he wanted to see and impress. That one person is Isabelle, the woman he falls for at the first sight. She is a married woman who lives with her scary husband in front of Duttileul’s house. Duttileul, craving so much for her love and presence, decided to escape prison to go to her. He asked her to come with him and run together. Isabelle who’s been suffering in her marriage embraced the new love with happiness. The two soon became all lovey dovey but fate is cruel. He experienced severe headache and took the medicine that was given by a traditional healer, not realizing that it was meant to stop his ability to walk through walls. He went to Isabelle’s house to honour their promise but he got trapped in the wall the moment the medicine took effect. His love and body got stuck in eternity on Isabelle’s house, a woman he wanted to call home.

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Trust Yoo Yeon Seok to deliver pathetic character perfectly. He looked very cute ala Harry Potter when Duttileul was first introduced. With a round glasses and loose hair, he portrayed his early Duttileul as an ordinary civil servant who lead a dull boring life but still try to live life the fullest. Yet, he managed to drag the audience to feel his pain and frustation at work  by showing off dreadful face and voice everytime he got to leave office the latest. He was also on point in showing the audience just how much distrust Duttileul had for himself when he suddenly got the power to walk through walls. Once Duttileul accepted his fate and power, Yoo Yeon Seok turned himself into a bunny energizer who had fun bullying his boss and run around the set wearing yellow wall outfit, stealing stuff. For once, he was more of an oddball in that hillarious thief outfit. He also looks so cute and funny, captivating not only the hearts of his neighbors but also the audience. Even when he tried to get the police to arrest him, he managed to look so endearingly stupid and got the audience to approve his crazy perspective of fame.

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Love changes people, some said. That speaks for itself when Yoo Yeon Seok’s Duttileul falls hard for Isabelle. The mood he brought into the set became more melancholic, symbolizing his longing for a married woman. Seriously, who can forget that loving and longing look he shot at Isabelle from afar. For a whole minute, it felt as if Chilbongie was back on stage again. He maintained the melancholic atmosphere until the very end, overshadowing the cruel fate that awaits Duttileul even when he finally got the women he holds most dear.

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As someone who just embraces his first professional musical, I am in opinion that Yoo Yeon Seok did very well. His voice was stable during the entire performance. He was not joking when he said he got to sing like 50 songs because his scenes epically dominate the musical. Yet, I can tell when Duttileul was happy, or sad, or sappy in love. In terms of acting, I am also fully aware just how much Duttileul has changed. From someone without confidence, he blossomed full force into a person who is determined to chase his love and thrill in life. Job well done, Yoo Yeon Seok!!

In terms of chemistry, I got to say that he has a better chemistry with actress Bae Da Hee than Moon Jin Ah*. Yoo Yeon Seok – Bae Da Hee scenes were more electrifying and connected. I even thought that his character looked more miserably in love when Bae Da Hee plays Isabelle. He also looks very comfortable with Jo Jae Hyun although I personally enjoyed more of Go Chang Sok’s performance**. Go’s overall performance brought so much laughers as he was more comical and enjoyable, in my opinion. Meanwhile, other performers did well too, particularly actress Lee Myung Mi who plays the songstress and street vendor. Her voice is very classic and captures the essence of what a Parisian songstress will do to captivate her audience.

Overall, the musical was very enjoyable. Yoo Yeon Seok’s performance exceeded my expectation and it gave me a sense of satisfaction and proudness as a fan. So when the curtain finally closed down, I am hoping that he is happy with his performance and positively considering another musical in the future. #crossfingers

If you wish to see other videos of Yoo Yeon Seok’s performance in the musical, you can check the following vidoes on youtube: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Little note
Yoo Yeon Seok joined the rest of cast member for an after-performance interview on 12 January 2016. He answered few questions from audience / fan and the answers he provided was pretty funny. He was first praised for his good looks before he got a weird follow-up question on how he became a very ordinary looking civil servant at the beginning of the show. He totally puzzled with the question although the MC said that the audience’s question was ended with another praise that he fits Duttileul character perfectly. So fit, he was later asked about the power he wishes to have. He said he doesn’t want to have Duttileul’s power, but the power to move around places (perhaps, teleport?) because he hates traffic in Seoul.

Yoo Yeon Seok also answered another question about the similarity between himself and Duttileul. He (perhaps half-jokingly) said he liked to collect stamps and likes rose, just like Duttileul. He also loves the outfit that Duttileul has, pointing to the black brick suit he is wearing. He’s totally joking, right?

If you wish to see the interview, you can see it online here

* Bae Da Hee and Moon Jin Ah play Isabelle interchangeably

** Jo Jae Hyun and Go Chang Sok play 3 different characters (traditional healer, police, Duttileul’s lawyer) interchangeably

photo credits as tagged

[MOVIE REVIEW] ‘Whistle Blower’

(WARNING! Potential spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk~)

Considering the controversial topic of stem cell research and cloning,  I was extremely interested and excited to see this movie when I heard of it. Of course it had the added bonus of having as one of its leads,  my favourite Korean actor Yoo Yeon Seok, and despite the fact that I was made aware of this movie due to the news of him being cast in it,  it only served as the launching pad for my growing interest in it.

Based on the real life events and subsequent scandal surrounding the once lauded Professor Hwang Woo Seok – a man once considered a national treasure and hero,  the man who could once do no wrong. In ‘Whistle Blower’, the Professor Hwang character is represented by a Professor Lee Jang Hwan. This change of name was necessary considering this issue is still ongoing and very topical.  The director who was bravely willing to take this stranger than fiction issue on,  was the director Im Soon Rye, and it stars the versatile and talented Park Hae Il; the respected and dependable veteran actor Lee Kyeong Young; the “veteran rookie actor” and Chungmuro’s bright new hope and blue chip star – Yoo Yeon Seok; and admirably backed up by a talented supporting cast,  including Yoo Yeon Seok’ regular acting partner – Ryu Hyun Kyung.

The movie starts out with Park Hae Il’s character, Yoon Min Chul – the PD of a current affairs TV program ‘PD Investigation’, listening to a source who had promised him a scoop. The source turns out to be an aggrieved husband,  who cannot understand why his previously robust and “strong enough to chew rocks” wife had suddenly died post-operatively. PD Yoon is quickly uninterested and as he goes to leave, explaining that the story that the husband had given to him isn’t consistent or reliable, the husband sparks Min Chul’s interest by blurting out that this operation had occurred for the explicit reason of his wife selling her ova for money. The experienced PD Yoon, sniffs a huge scoop and a story to be explored, and sets up surveillance in front of this so called hospital where that man’s recently deceased wife had gone. There he sees a van full of young women entering that building.  From his research, we find out that that clinic is closely linked with Professor Lee’s stem cell research,  and as such it would be tantamount to treason to even suggest unethical or shady dealings were going on. We hear Yoon PD trying to recall the name of a researcher that he knows of from Professor Lee’s lab.

A change of scene, where we see Professor Lee lecturing to an auditorium full of medical students/ health professionals. He radiates charisma and manages to be humble, funny, intelligent and has an aura about him where you would trust him with your life and the lives of your loved ones.  They all look on at him with almost a religious zeal. He is the second coming –  the messiah of stem cell research.  He has put South Korea on the international map in stem cell technology.

We switch scenes and we see a slumped figure of a man sitting in the dark. It is Shim Min Ho played by Yoo Yeon Seok. (Literally biting my lips trying not to squee out loud at this point)

His wife (played by Ryu Hyun Kyung) comes home and wonders why he’s been sitting in the dark. He responds it’s because he doesn’t want to wake their daughter up. We soon find out that their daughter is very sick indeed with an incurable disease, and has frequent bouts of intense pain. It is soon apparent that this is a man who is struggling emotionally, financially and ethically. His eyes speak volumes even without a word being said. We see that Shim Min Ho receives a call from Yoon PD, but as he is out, his wife takes the call and denies that this number belongs to Min Ho. This must be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, as this spurs him on to contact Yoon PD to blow the whistle on the situation.  This is where this all gets a bit cloak and dagger, and they use that well known Korean cliché of meeting at night on the banks of the Han River and the pivotal scene of ‘Whistle Blower’ takes place. Min Ho informs Min Chul that although he has no evidence, that there was never any cloned stem cells in existence. Prof Lee had never succeeded in cloning any of the 11 stem cells that he reported to have done. Min Ho as Prof Lee’s ex-research team leader is the perfect person to know these facts. Yoon PD is both excited, overwhelmed and filled with trepidation. He knows that this is huge and this news will cause seismic waves to reverberate across South Korea.

This sets off a chain of events as Yoon PD goes about gathering information and finding sources to get this story together, despite opposition from his colleagues, his bosses, the prime minister’s office and the South Korean public.  We see the toll that it takes on his personal life, as his family is virtually ignored as he concentrates on getting this story. The other man who puts everything on the line is Min Ho, as he has already quit his job, as his morals do not allow him to continue on with this lie, and something that has detrimentally affected his colleague. This is despite him having a sick daughter whose illness would rack up a lot of medical bill, and having a wife who is still working as part of Prof Lee’s team, and opposing his decisions.  But as he tells Min Chul, he entered the field of medicine to help people, and now he wants his daughter to be proud of her father. He wanted to be able to look his daughter in her eyes,  and know he had done the right thing. There are not many men in the world like that who have “abandoned everything” to tell the truth.

Despite initially thinking that Professor Lee is the villain, I came out thinking that he too was a victim of sorts.  He was a victim of his own success and ambition.  He got caught up in his own mythology and the public’s thirst for a win. He too began in this field to make a difference, to do good in the world.  He truly wanted to help those with incurable diseases.  It’s just that a lie spawned more lies,  and it became too late to undo them.

Overall this movie was paced perfectly. My dad who watched this with me, commented that the pacing was done so well that there was never a dull moment. He also commented that there was a sensitivity and attention to detail present in this movie, perhaps due to it having a female director. As for the acting – I can honestly say without bias, that all of the cast were phenomenal. Everyone immersed themselves completely into their characters, not just in the way they spoke, but in the way they emoted through their eyes and posture. High commendations to Yoo Yeon Seok, whose every emotion was conveyed through his eyes perfectly. I felt his emotional pain and ethical struggle with him through those eyes. They haunt me still… The desperation, determination, and drive was delivered flawlessly by Park Hae Il – can this man do no wrong?! And we can’t leave out the performance of Lee Kyeong Young, who encapsulated the dichotomy of a man was driven by his own ambition, and yet also driven initially by the desire to help those in need. A man who was trapped in the vortex of his own lies. Through his portrayal of the charismatic Professor, I could see why Prof Hwang has avid supporters to this very day. This film showcases how intensely patriotic South Koreans are – anyone who brings pride and glory to South Korea is lauded and considered a “National treasure”. The public are very one-eyed about these people, and it would take extreme courage, perseverance and emotional stability to dare to paint these “treasures” in a bad light. Basically gird your loins for the onslaught of vitriol and abuse to begin. Not only would you have to contend with being the most hated person in South Korea, but prepare yourself for the netizens who are a power unto themselves. It’s due to people like Yoon PD and his team,  and Shim Min Ho and his wife,  that truth still exists, and we are not suckered into a mythology which in the long run would cause harm and false hope. I give this movie 4.5/5 just coz I never give full marks lol, and there wasn’t enough Yoo Yeon Seok in it. To be honest,  considering the amount that he appeared in this movie,  I would not be billing him as a co-leading actor, but as acting in a special role. But that is my only gripe.

This movie does not fail to deliver in thrills or emotions, and every character is crafted and delivered so realistically. It is an enjoyable movie, and will hopefully leave you questioning what you would do if you were in the situations that each of the three main men found themselves in.