- Title: 그들이 사는 세상 / The World That They Live In
- Also known as: Worlds Within……
- Genre: Romance
- Episodes: 16
- Broadcast network: KBS2
- Broadcast period: 2008-Oct-27 to 2008-Dec-16
- Air time: Monday & Tuesday 21:55
This drama is about the process of a television drama producton. Jung Ji Oh(Hyun Bin) is a charismatic drama PD whereas Joo Joon Young(Song Hye Kyo) is a PD who is direct and confident.
Take two of the most gorgeous and arguably most talented actors from the land of Korea. Add an intriguingly unusual storyline, a compelling title, and a stunningly beautiful setting.
What do you get?
One of the most soulless, blank, boring pieces of media I’ve ever seen. I had as high hopes/expectations for The World That They Live In as most of Korea, and like most of Korea, the same reaction after watching it. For many people, their boredom/disatisfaction with World crept up slowly, almost without them realizing it; they had to watch several episodes or more before coming to the saddening and baffling realization that they were bored almost out of their minds. For me, it took a shorter time; approximately one episode. I started watching, with full expectations of enjoying it immensely, or at least of a sharply-cut, fast-paced drama, and about halfway through, realized dimly that I wanted to turn it off and do something else. Dismissing this as some weird aberration, I kept watching, but when that episode was over didn’t go on to the next one. Coming back to it later, I started the next one, then skipped around a bit through the third – then stopped. I realized that, quite simply, I was bored – and not just mildly bored. Deathly bored.
I’m not quite sure how to describe exactly what’s wrong with Worlds Within; I’ve never seen anything like it before. But it seems dry and clinical; the drama itself doesn’t seem to care about its characters, or if it does, to care about them only in a distant, objective way, and when a drama doesn’t care about the characters, it’s hard for an audience to. The point of view of the drama feels panoramic and, as I said before, clinical – it’s as if the characters are test subjects which the camera is watching for a case study; with care for their well-being and an eye for detail, but no real warmth, emotional depth, or concern. These aren’t human beings; they’re far too – blank – for that. That’s how I’d describe the drama as a whole – blank, and soulless. As much as I want to care about the characters, and to be interested in what they’re saying, doing, and experiencing – and I did want to, very much – I simply can’t, and I”m not. There’s simply nothing there to hold onto. I’m not sure whether Song Hye-Gyo was simply miscast, or having a (long) series of bad acting days, or whether it’s the way her character was written(I suspect mostly the last and a bit of the first two) but she is stiff and unconvincing and seems tired – mentally or emotionally checked -out – most of the time. There’s none of her shining appeal, her fragility and luminous beauty from Autumn Tale or her verve and vim from Full House. She walks around like a ghost of herself, and much the same applies to Hyun Bin; there’s no substance behind his performance. He, like Hye Gyo, seems to have simply wandered on set and decided to perform a set of prescribed motions and words without having any real idea what or why he’s doing it, and certainly without believing in it. Again, I’m not sure whether to blame him or the writers/directors more; but one thing I’m sure of – the two leads got a raw deal with their characters. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to root for/care about Ji Oh and Joon Young whoever played them.
The drama has other problems too. In the first few episodes of the series at least, the plot and conversations are highly confusing; it switches abruptly from scene to scene and character to character, often starting in what feels like the middle of a scene, without explaining the background or who these people are. The pace is uneven; it speeds up when it should be slow, confusing the audience(or at least me) and then slows down for the boring parts, the “emotional”(what passes for emotion) conversations. Moreover, very little seems to happen – and this occurs on a constant basis.
Ultimately, however, the problem isn’t what Worlds Within is. It’s what it’s not – what it lacks. And what it lacks is heart. After only an episode and some of a combination of all these flaws/problems/lacks, I checked out, and I suspect that’s the case for most of its viewers( it currently has very low – and dropping – viewing ratings). Because after all, that’s why we watch dramas to begin with; they have such a combination of heart and emotional depth. I won’t give this drama an official rating, as I didn’t really watch it, but I can’t say that I recommend it.