Imagine someone invents a pill that is capable of wiping out all your rotten memories, will you take one? Wrap your head around this… “Memories make us take responsibility and memories serve justice. No matter how torturous, brutal, or awful our memories are they’re who we are.” That’s a quote from the new science fiction Kdrama Circle: Two Worlds Connected (aka Circle).
I can’t really tell you the plot without spoiling the mystery so you’re just going to have to settle for two very undetailed storylines that are 20 years apart but very connected (which is probably how they came up with the title).
When twins Kim Woo-Jin and Kim Bum-Gyun were young they encountered an alien. The experience was terrifying to Bum-Gyun and he blamed their father’s later disappearance on that creature. As a teenager, it literally drove him crazy and he spent some time in a mental hospital and, eventually, jail. Now that he’s been released he is determined to renew his search for both his father and the alien. His younger brother, Woo-Jin, is a neuroscience major at Handam University of Science and Technology where students have been committing suicide. When he finds out his older brother has been released from jail he worries the deaths of the students could be linked to Bum-Gyun and his crazy thoughts of aliens. Will Bum-Gyun be able to count on Woo-Jin for help or will he have to track down their father and the alien on his own?
There is a city in South Korea called Smart Earth where Human B helps to keep the place like a utopia. Thanks to the Stable Care System there is no crime, people are happy, and the whole city is clean and beautiful. However, the price of living in Smart Earth is a chip in your head. The chip helps to regulate emotions which, in turn, keeps the people content and safe. When a murder occurs in this perfect city, Officer Kim Joon-Hyuk, of Normal Earth, is given special permission to enter Smart Earth to investigate. While he’s there he decides to look into the disappearance of twin brothers Kim Bum-Gyun and Kim Woo-Jin who were last seen 20 years earlier, and what he discovers will change his life forever.
When Yeo Jin-Goo, who plays Kim Woo-Jin, was a kid he said he wanted to be on TV. His parents supported his dream and allowed him to take acting lessons. By the age of eight he had already made his acting debut in the motion picture Sad Movie. He auditioned along with 150 other kids and landed the role of Park Hwi-Chan even though he had absolutely no prior acting experience. The following year his dream came true when he appeared in his first TV drama, I Want to Love. He was given the nickname Nation’s Little Brother due to his wonderful acting in all the child roles he had. At 16 years old he became the youngest person to win the Best New Actor award at the Blue Dragon Film Awards. He has performed the narration for many documentaries and has appeared in musical theater as well as TV and film. Jin-Goo is currently majoring in Theater at Chung-Ang University.
After winning the Best Looks portion of SM Youth Best Contest, Gong Seung-Yeon, whose character is Han Jung-Yeon, trained for seven years at SM Entertainment but lost interest and left after not being allowed to debut with either f(X) or Red Velvet. Her acting debut came in the form of a commercial and shortly thereafter she began appearing in small roles on TV dramas. She began to draw mainstream attention when she and Lee Jong-Hyun were paired up in the TV reality show We Got Married. She was most recently in the Kdrama My Shy Boss.
I first fell in love with 38 year old actor Kim Kang-Woo, who plays Detective Kim Joon-Hyuk, when I watched him in the romantic Kdrama Haeundae Lovers. He was excellent in Golden Cross, Missing Noir M, and Goodbye Mr. Black as well. Other than the fact that his acting skills are top notch he is also extremely handsome, his crying breaks your heart, he kisses well, and his fighting skills are amazing. Like Yeo Jin-Goo, Kang-Woo majored in Theater and Film at Chung-Ang University. He earned the nickname Mr. Right because of all the honest and upright characters he played (which may have been why seeing him play a bad guy in Goodbye Mr. Black was a bit difficult for me). We can also add singing to his many talents since he has sung on some soundtracks of shows he’s been in. He married his long-time sweetheart, Han Moo-Young, in 2010 and became a daddy the following year.
Circle‘s writing is superb, which is a very difficult feat to accomplish considering the number of writers it had. It’s hard enough to organize the thoughts of one person but to weave the ideas of six individual writers, and have everything be coherent, is quite amazing. You know the old saying, “Too many cooks spoil the brew”? Well in the case of this drama’s writing, that idea certainly does not apply. If I wanted a saying that pertained to Circle‘s writing it would be, “The more, the merrier.” I was really impressed with how difficult it was for me to figure out who the bad guy/girl was and why they were bad. I bounced back and forth thinking it was one person and then another, which is a sure way to tell if a mystery is good or not. And it wasn’t just the writers that had to cooperate. Circle had one main director and five creative directors. Wow.
Except for Doctor Who, I’ve never been a huge science fiction fan but this drama really pulled me in. The plot is very interesting, the kind of thing you could have a good debate about with a friend, and I like those kinds of things. Circle is just 12 episodes, each an hour long, but it’s loaded with lots of very interesting ideas and characters.
There was a little too much hand held camera work for my liking but the filming angles were very good. Each episode is split in two parts – the first half is the 2017 storyline and the last half is the one that takes place in 2037. The make-up folks did a fine job making certain actors look twenty years older than they did in the first storyline. And the futuristic gadgets are pretty cool. I loved the see-through computers and cell phones.
With the show being so tense and thought provoking it’s not surprising the music is mostly instrumental. During chase scenes and encounters with danger we hear fast-paced music that often adds those intense, operatic voices. The song Alive is a gritty sounding piece performed by Andup and UJi. I can’t think of anything that could represent this drama better than that song. As a stand alone piece it’s just so-so but as part of this show, it’s perfect!
I kept wondering how many sets the crew of Circle had to build. After all, there’s probably not that many places already in existence that look futuristic so I’m guessing some backgrounds had to be constructed just for the show. The vast contrast between dirty, dangerous, Normal Earth and clean, peaceful Smart Earth is undeniably clear. Great job!
This drama may not have experienced all the hype others have this year, but don’t think that means it’s not as good. Circle: Two Worlds Connected is plain, old good entertainment that will make you think, and maybe even question something you thought you always believed.
Makes you think
Some hand held camera work