Song Seung-Heon has proven many times over he’s more than just a gorgeous man who is completely worthy of his Hallyu Star title for pulling off sincere, deep drama (such as his performances in Autumn in My Heart, Summer Scent, Dr. Jin, When a Man Loves, and Black). However, watching the political Kdrama The Great Show reminded me of something I had completely forgotten since seeing My Princess – he’s also excellent at light comedy.
“There’s a saying in politics – If a monkey falls off the tree, it’s still a monkey. But if an assemblyman loses an election he’s not even a human being.”- Wie Dae-Han
In the eyes of Korean citizens Wie Dae-Han is “a sinner” for ignoring his father during a political rally. Although he made a “three step pilgrimage” as a gesture of repentance, the people show their distrust by not re-electing him as an assemblyman. After a few years of being a designated driver he is approached by a 17 year old girl who claims to be his daughter. After telling him her step-father has been missing for two years and her mother just passed away she asks if he would take her in, along with her teenage step-brother and eight year old twin half-siblings. At first Dae-Han is 100% against the idea but then decides taking in four orphans may be an excellent way to rid himself of his “sinner” title and provide a way for him to get back into politics. However, things become complicated when former assemblyman Wie Dae-Han begins to fall in love with the kids and the idea of being their father. Can this elaborate hoax remain a secret, and what will happen if it can’t?
Wie Dae-Han’s name means “great,” and he jokingly claims he has a superhero’s DNA. When he was fresh out of college he got a job as the mayor’s aide and from there he went on to become the youngest ever assemblyman. He was great in parliamentary politics, received an award from the country, and even wrote a book entitled Dreaming of Great Politics. After loosing his seat in the assembly, Dae-Han went through a bout with anxiety, serious enough to put him on panic disorder medication. With no savings, a loan balance of $169,000, the bank owning half his house, and no other job to fall back on he decides to be a designated driver because, in his words, “Both [an assemblyman and a designated driver] take the steering wheel on behalf of the citizens and go in their desired direction at their desired speed to drive them safely in comfort.”
Jung Soo-Hyun first met Wie Dae-Han when they were in college. Although they liked each other, Soo-Hyun’s family went through a tragedy and she distanced herself from him before a serious relationship between the two could even begin. After 14 years of no contact, she coincidently moves in next door to Dae-Han and sparks begin to fly once again. She is presently the head writer for Dispute, a popular current events program where her writing team collects the hot issues from around the country each week and a progressive and conservative representative duke it out on the show. She also helps out her parents, who own a chicken restaurant in a old market area.
Kang Joon-Ho and Wie Dae-Han attended school together from a very young age, Joon-Ho always taking a backseat to Dae-Han academically. However, unlike Dae-Han, Joon-Ho was raised in a wealthy, influential household. His father is a political figure who holds dreams of his son following in his footsteps. But although he has the nickname “the nation’s son,” Joon-Ho has no desire to go into politics. He is a successful attorney who has also been the conservative panel member on Dispute for the past four years. While working on the show, Joon-Ho has come to like Soo-Hyun and is hoping to convince her to date him.
The four kids who come to live with Wie Dae-Han are…
Han Da-Jung, a 17 year old junior who has been single-handedly taking care of her younger siblings since their mother’s passing.
Han Tak is in ninth grade. He feels shame and sorrow over his father abandoning the family two years earlier and consequently has a huge chip on his shoulder.
Han Tae-Poong and Han Song-Yi are eight year old twins. According to Dae-Han, Tae-Poong can’t stay focused at all and Song-Yi has anxiety issues.
Song Seung-Heon was just 24 years old when he starred in the show that kick-started his amazing Hallyu Star career, Autumn in My Heart. Now, 19 years later, at 43 the man only looks as if he’s aged 10 days! It’s amazing! See for yourself. Find a still picture of him in the 2000 Kdrama Autumn in My Heart and compare it to a still photo of him as Wie Dae-Han. You won’t believe your eyes! For more information on this ageless actor, check out my Black review.
You can read about Lee Sun-Bin, the beauty that plays Jung Soo-Hyun, by going to my review of Sketch.
Information about the man who plays the part of Kan Joon-Ho, actor Lim Ju-Hwan, can be found in my Bride of the Water God review.
As soon as Dae-Han finds himself the father of four kids he draws up a “Family Constitution.” He gathers everyone around and in perfect former-assemblyman fashion explains, “Everyone of us lacks in many areas… A happy family isn’t made up of perfect people. It happens when we all complement each other and make an effort. Everyone here is lacking, but to be a perfect family let’s all make an effort.” Instead of having a family “meeting” like most dad’s would call for, the politician in him comes out and he frames a family “constitution” – perfect in staying with his personality!
This is another drama that shows excellent character growth. Each one of these people discover they can be better than who they are and takes the steps necessary to do just that, even the little kids. It’s inspiring.
In The Great Show, in order to apologize to the people for being what they considered to be a bad son, Wie Dae-Han undertakes a three step pilgrimage to his father’s final resting place. He takes three steps and then prostrates himself on the ground, over and over again. I was curious as to what that was all about so I did a little searching online and came up with this – the significance of cultivating the three-steps-one-bow is to eradicate pride and ego. It’s kind of like the ultimate show of humility. From what I read, it is mostly monks that perform this action so for a politician to do it, that would really be something amazing.
Just as he did in My Princess, Song Seung-Heon entertains us with his simple comedic timing. The Great Show has some fun moments thrown about here and there in every episode, each one being a natural consequence of what has just happened. It doesn’t seem as if the writer looked for a spot to place humor, but that it just happened organically. I didn’t laugh out loud but I did smile a lot.
I once saw an interview with Jackie Chan talking about what a difficult challenge it is to work with children because they are so unpredictable. Well, I have no idea what it was like on the set of The Great Show but Song Seung-Heon is either an amazing actor or he really had an excellent connection to those children because the chemistry between Dae-Han and the twins is super. He seems like he’d be a great dad in real life.
The two most notable songs on the drama’s soundtrack were performed by members of The Great Show’s cast. Lee Sun-Bin (Jung Soo-Hyun) sings a pretty ballad called Sad Night. The voice that harmonizes with her sounds exactly like her own. I don’t know for sure but I’ll bet she sang both parts. Han Sang-Hyuk (who plays the part of Han Da-Jung’s Boyfriend, Choi Jung-Woo), better known as Hyuk from the boy group VIXX, sings a soft rock song entitled You, Me, and Dream. It’s one his character writes and sings on the show. Both songs are excellent.
A lot of the drama takes place outside as Wie Dae-Han is campaigning among the people in his district, trying to feel the pulse of his constituents. There’s also a lot of filming done in Dae-Han’s house, which is nice but not over-the-top fancy, and Soo-Hyun’s parents’ small but pleasant chicken restaurant.
I really enjoyed this political, family drama. It’s the first thing I’ve seen written by Sul Joon-Suk and I was very impressed with the originality of the story, the character development, and the comedy. Throw in the superb acting and this really is The Great Show.
Unique, entertaining story
Cute, comedic moments
Great character development
Chemistry between characters