As I was scrolling through Viki.com’s extensive webdrama list I saw a tiny picture of Kim Ji-Suk so I stopped, clicked on Irish Uppercut, and quickly read the plot synopsis. It sounded interesting enough so I began watching.
Feeling overwhelmed with money trouble, grief at the death of an old woman he loved as a boy, frustration at a career that is going nowhere, and depression from his girlfriend’s betrayal, Woo Shi-Hyung comes to the conclusion that his life is no longer worth living and is desperate to end his misery. However, mere seconds away from carrying out his suicide, he suddenly decides he wants to continue living. Unfortunately, one small mistake he makes ends up completing his earlier plan and he wakes up only to find himself dead. In a desperate attempt to escape the person who has come to collect his soul, he accidentally falls into purgatory and is taken to a small restaurant known as Irish Uppercut. When the owner of the place finds out Shi-Hyung had been a chef, she begs him to work for her in the hope of turning her failing restaurant into a famous one. He agrees to stay and become the chef, only to participate in a cooking contest, the first prize of which is one wish granted – and his wish would be go go back to the land of the living.
Since he was young, Woo Shi-Hyung has loved to cook and, although he is simply a sous chef (working 11 hours a day, seven days a week for the past five years) he hopes to one day be the head chef in a fancy restaurant. His family isn’t financially well-off so he sends what money he can back home to pay for his sick father’s medication. His girlfriend is sympathetic and encourages his career choice. Although she would like for them to move in together, Shi-Hyung doesn’t feel he can contribute to the relationship what he would like to, now or in the near future.
It is Do Hae-Na’s responsibility, as a grim reaper, to beat the memories of mortality out of the new people that come to purgatory and then drive them to the fairy that will take them to their next destination. However, Hae-Na just wasn’t cut out for the job and laments the fact that she’s not good at anything – “I don’t have the gift to be able to work at the executive branch, I’m a bad driver, can’t write good reports, and don’t like to beat up people,” and that is why her boss refers to her as “Defect Do.” Hae-Na and her older brother own Irish Uppercut, a small, failing restaurant.
Kim Jin-Kyeong is an official from the executive branch in purgatory. She is directly responsible for mentoring Do Hae-Na and is very critical of the young woman. Official Kim is engaged to the head of the Immigration Internal Investigation Center and doesn’t want him to know that she goofed up concerning Woo Shi-Hyung’s entrance into purgatory so she’s anxious to find a way to put all the blame solely in Hae-Na’s lap.
For information about Kim Ji-Suk, the actor who plays Woo Shi-Hyung, you can go to my 20th Century Boy and Girl review.
The part of Do Hae-Na is played by Yoon Bo-Ra, better known as Bora, who began her career in 2010 as a member of the girl group Sistar. Three years later she became a host, opposite Park Seo-Joon, on the TV program Music Bank for which she won the Best Rookie Award. Her acting debut came in 2014 by way of the medical Kdrama Doctor Stranger and the following year she became one of the MCs on the fashion/beauty show A Style For You. In 2015 she graduated from Myongji University after majoring in Musical Theater. I’ve seen her in High End Crush, Hwayugi, My ID is Gangnam Beauty, Chocolate, and Doctor Romantic, Teacher Kim 2.
Fifty-seven-year-old veteran actress Kim Mi-Kyung tackles the role of Official Kim Jin-Kyeong. She began her acting career in the theater and has been a member of the Yeonwoo Mudae Theater Company since 1985. She has been in several movies but has appeared most often in TV drama supporting roles. I think she was excellent in Healer and I’ve loved her in everything I’ve seen her in, even if she just played a very minor role. A few Kdramas she’s been in (small supporting roles) that I suggest you see are Hi Bye, Mama!, Spring Waltz, Secret Garden, Just an Ordinary Love Story, and It’s Okay, That’s Love.
Since the whole premise of the show is that Woo Shi-Hyung regrets taking his own life and wants to go back to earth, I appreciated the fact that the writer gives us a couple background episodes before the actual deed is done. It’s important we learn enough about how very distraught and hopeless he is feeling so we have the information we need to help us feel sympathy for the poor man.
The story clearly points out that Shi-Hyung deeply and sincerely regretted his decision to kill himself. It reminds us to take courage in our trials; that when we feel overwhelmed and think there is nothing more to live for, a different set of circumstances that can lift us out of the pit we’re in maybe hiding just around the corner.
This webdrama is only 8 episodes long, each one lasting about 20 minutes so it’s about two and a half hours, start to finish. The show’s title, Irish Uppercut, comes from the name of the restaurant Do Hae-Na and her brother own. I just wish the characters would have explained why they chose to call it that.
Do Hae-Na’s older brother is often playing the guitar and singing so it’s not surprising that he takes the stage in an outside festival and sings with the band that is performing. The song starts out soft and slow and then bursts into a rock-n-roll type song. Keep Puzzling Me and Show Me the Way are two songs on Irish Uppercut’s soundtrack. I don’t know who sings either one but both are nice songs.
The thing that stood out the most to me was purgatory’s scenery. The director did a fantastic job letting us see that it resembles earth but has an entirely different tone to it, with the colors being the biggest difference. One cool thing is that Official Kim Jin-Kyeong’s fiancé‘s office is outside! It’s quite unique and very clever.
Irish Uppercut is an original webdrama with an interesting premise and a moral we should all internalize – if you are in despair, don’t give up because the best may be yet to come.
Kim Ji-Suk’s acting
Unusual purgatory backgrounds/settings
Not a lot of wow