Hyperthymesia is defined as “…the condition of possessing an extremely detailed autobiographical memory.” Every day of the person’s life can be remembered in exact detail and only 25 people in the world have been diagnosed with this condition. Remember (aka Remember – War of the Son) is a Kdrama that deals with its main character possessing that specific condition. But a show built just around that premise might not seem that exciting so the writer not only gave the hero a phenomenal memory but decided to take it away by having him develope early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
2016 Kdramas have started off with a huge bang, thanks to the superb show Remember. Seo Jin-Woo is a teenager who lost his mother and older brother in a car accident when he was just a little boy. He has a loving, close relationship with his father who works hard to support his son. One morning he gets a call from his father who hasn’t been home all night. He sounds scared and confused so Jin-Woo immediately sets out to find him. When he locates his father, he is in the woods next to the dead body of a young woman they both know. Sadly, Jin-Woo’s father suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t remember a thing about the night before. That makes it easy for him to be set up by the employee of the real killer and charged with the rape and murder of the girl. The lawyer Jin-Woo hires to defend his father, Park Dong-Ho, has a 100% success rate and he obtains iron-clad evidence that would lock up the real murderer, evidence that Jin-Woo and Lee In-Ah, a young woman studying law, accidentally come across while in Atorney Park’s office. Now they also know who really killed the woman. Unfortunately, Dong-Ho is blackmailed into throwing the case and Jin-Woo’s dad is convicted of the heinous crimes and given the death penalty. Since Jin-Woo knows for sure who the real killer is, he sets out to prove his father’s innocence. Four years later, he is back as a lawyer, himself, and ready to take on the bad guys with his father’s retrial. But Jin-Woo is in a race against time because he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease like his father. He has to win the case before he looses all the knowledge he has that will convict the real killer and help him take revenge on everyone who was involved in his father’s guilty verdict.
Seo Jin-Woo is a darling young man who has had hyperthymesia since he was a little boy. Detailed memories constantly flood his mind, helpful some times and hurtful at other times. He has grown up very close to his father and both are well liked by the people who know them. They are a humble little family who may not have many worldly possessions but are rich in love.
Nam Gyoo-Man is the president of Ilho Group, the tremendously lucrative family owned business his father founded. He is a spoiled, twisted man with anger management issues. He was taught by his emotionally and physically abusive father that people are tools to be used and discarded at will. He was molded into the evil man he is by his father and the fear he feels for that man is visibly apparent and heart-breaking.
Lee In-Ah becomes a prosecutor because of Jin-Woo’s father’s case. She was the one who ran across the evidence in Attorney Park’s office that could have convicted the real killer and her sense of justice won’t allow her to let go of the past. She wants the man responsible for the murder to pay for his crime. She gives up being a prosecutor when she can no longer tolerate the corrupt people she works with and joins Jin-Woo’s tiny law firm as an attorney. Her sympathy for Jin-Woo turns to love as they grow closer, trying to prove his father’s innocence.
Park Dong-Ho was an orphan who became a lawyer because of the influence of a gangster boss. He thinks of the man as a father figure and compromises his beliefs because of their close relationship. His shady law practices have been the cause of him winning every case he has taken on but things change when he deliberately looses while defending Jin-Woo’s dad. However, years later, because of what he finds out concerning his father’s death, he finally develops a conscience and decides to go after the bad guys.
Yoo Seung-Ho, affectionately known in the press as “Little So Ji-Sub” for his resemblance to that actor, began his entertainment career at just seven years old. After staring in his first film, The Way Home, at the age of nine, Seung-Ho was labeled “Korea’s Younger Brother”. He went on to act in many more films and TV dramas, one of my favorite being Operation Proposal. It’s a wonderful romantic Kdrama and he is superb in it. Seo Jin-Woo is his first role since coming back from military service and he proves that two year break didn’t dull his acting skills one single bit. The panic and fear he shows for his father’s deadly situation is soul-stirring. Not since Yoon Kye-Sang’s dramatic performance in Beyond the Clouds have I seen such heart-wrenching acting.
How can someone with a dazzling, innocent smile play the part of an evil psychotic killer convincingly well? It takes talent. Loads and loads of award-winning talent and one actor in Korea that possesses that kind of amazing talent is Namgung Min. Last year he pocketed the Special Award, Actor in a Miniseries award for his stupendous portrayal of Chef Kwan Jae-Hee in Sensory Couple. I can’t even imagine him not taking home another award for his portrayal of evil President Nam Gyoo-Man. His performance is astounding and worthy of extremely high praise, indeed. You’ll feel quite uncomfortable every time he comes on the screen. I guarantee it.
City Hunter, Glory Jane, Dr. Jin, A New Leaf, Healer, all Kdramas in which Park Min-Young plays major roles, and all shows I really enjoyed (accept for the non-existent ending of A New Leaf). This time around she takes on the character of Lee In-Ah and, once again, shows us why she is worthy of being a 10 times award-winning actress.
Park Sung-Woong’s acting debut came in 1997 with the feature length film No. 3. Now, just shy of 20 years later, he tackles the role of Park Dong-Ho and performs magnificently. He has been nominated five different times for Best Supporting Actor and every time the award has slipped through his fingers. Darn. He definitely deserves some kind of an award for his acting in this.
The very first scene in this drama made me feel so horrendously uneasy I actually considered turning it off. I was not about to sit through hours of something that was making my heart race. But it was too compelling to abandon and that’s how I began this 20 episode show that kept me alert and on the edge of my seat the entire time! I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it.
Remember received just shy of a 24% viewer rating. That’s quite impressive. It can be challenging for a show released at the very beginning of the year (Remember started its run in December of last year and finished in mid February) to stay vivid in people’s minds as they watch a full year of other dramas. However, if the show is good enough (like Kill Me, Heal Me which came out in January of last year) it is always fresh on the audience’s mind because we tend to hold it up as the measuring stick for all of the other dramas we watch after it. I think Remember will be one of those “measuring stick” Kdramas. Just watch, I’ll bet people will still be taking about it in December as the awards ceremonies air.
The soundtrack is mainly instrumental with a few ballads thrown in during the sad and romantic parts. I love it when the music intensifies what is happening in an already nerve wracking scene. Kudos goes to the composers of the superb music that reinforces the anxiety in this Kdrama!
A barren, winter forest; a cold, dark prison; a cozy, plain little home; a little pizza shop; an elaborate, costly house; a tiny law firm with a hidden room; a large, expensively decorated office… the scenery in this drama is as contrasting as I’ve seen in quite awhile. But once again we see an outside pathway filled with a zillion little colored lights just like in Sensory Couple, Producer, Oh, My Venus and other Kdramas. Kill Me, Heal Me has a lit fairy tale coach with sparkling lights surrounding the area while Hyde, Jekyll, Me has millions of tiny white lights in the bushes on a sidewalk. What is it with Kdramas and tons of lights at night? I’ll admit it’s romantic but it’s a bit overused. Come on Kdrama directors and location scouts… any other ideas?
Alzheimer’s is a tragically sad disease that some Kdramas have decided to tackle – A Thousand Days’ Promise and Bubblegum are two I’ve seen. I’m so glad Remember decides to end by giving a little ray of light to those who may be suffering from this otherwise dark disease… “Although my memories are gone the truth of my existence will not disappear.”
Diverse and well thought out characters
Perfectly matched soundtrack
Namgung Min’s very scary acting
I didn’t find a thing I’d consider bad