Old is Gold- ‘All In’

My exams are still not over but I cannot stay away from blogging anymore. I have some time off now, so I decided to do a post today.

Today I introduce another segment on my blog, called Old is Gold. This section will feature classics and works of art that are really “gold” and have earned the title of being a classic. As to how old something needs to be, to be a classic is actually a huge question. A classic could have might as well have been born yesterday. But this section is for those old movies, TV series, books etc. The ones that never grow old, no matter how much times change.

This post will be on an old K-drama called ‘All In’.

Promotional poster for ‘All In’

Country of origin : South Korea

Language : Korean

Written by: Choi Wan Kyu

Directed by : Yoo Chul Yung, Kang Shin Hyo

Starring: Lee Byung Hun, Song Hye Kyo, Ji Sung, Park Sol Mi

Opening theme: “Just Like The First Day” by Park Yong Ha

Seasons: 1

Episodes : 24

Status: Completed

Aired: 15 January- 3 April 2003

Genre: Action, Romance, Drama

Lee Byung Hun as Kim In Ha

The story starts with an orphaned boy, Kim In Ha, who is adopted by his gambler uncle. As he spends more time with his uncle, he learns the tricks and art of gambling. He is reckless and doesn’t pay attention in school although his uncle tries telling him to.

He befriends Choi Jung Won (Ji Sung) while in school. Unlike In Ha, Jung Won is a model student with a rich and influential father. Despite his background Jung Won hangs out with In Ha and his friends in the basement of the theatre. In Ha slowly develops feelings for Min Soo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo), the projectionist’s daughter.

But fate has a different story set out for them, as Soo Yeon’s father is killed and In Ha and Jung Won get arrested for the murder of the leader of a local gang. Jung Won’s father uses his influence to bail Jung Won out, leaving In Ha in jail for many years.

From right to left, Ji Sung as Choi Jung Won, Lee Byung Hun as Kim In Ha, Song Hye Kyo as Min Soo Yeon and Park Sol Mi as Seo Jin Hee

Now adults, Jung Won has finished his studies in casino management in America and has a fling with Seo Jin Hee who he meets in America. Once back in Korea, Jung Won’s father makes some huge investments into a casino business bringing in a tight competition to another casino, owned by Seo Jin Hee’s father. Both their fathers are fuelled by their bitter relationship from the past and the story entails a long route of business, gambling and maneuvers involving extremely high stakes.

On the other side we see In Ha now out of jail, and working in the security section of Seo Jin Hee’s father’s casino. There he runs into Soo Yeon, who is working as a dealer in the casino. What starts as an innocent love story then develops into huge twists and turns, with In Ha being dragged back into the fights with the local goons from his neighbourhood and his renewed friendship with Jung Won. The journey eventually takes In Ha all the way to America, where we see his journey of becoming a professional gambler and solving the problems in his life which has escalated to something he never imagined.

This drama was very popular during its broadcast with immense viewership ratings. It earned it’s actors and crew numerous awards and recognitions as well. But apart from these statistics, ‘All In’ is not an ordinary K-drama but definitely a classic.

One, it entails a storyline and character development seldom seen in Korean dramas. And the development of the story was immense. It wasn’t stagnant but had continuous development. There was action, there was drama, there were tears and laughs and it was definitely a thriller. Throughout this roller-coaster of emotions and thoughts this drama takes us through so much situations and plot twists as well.

On one side, it was a small little town where local gambling and gangs ruled the place and the people. And on the other side, we see a huge casinos and luxurious hotels and huge amounts of money pool into the business of casino management. Having the theme based around gambling (whether it be the ones in casinos or in the streets) and casinos was very interesting and a refreshing theme.

The relationship between Soo Yeon and In Ha had just the right balance of romance to not over throw the drama into a romantic direction that I wouldn’t have preferred over the gambling theme. As Soo Yeon said, their relationship is “destiny” not a mere coincidence. And we could feel it through the whole show.

Jung Won wasn’t a villian, nor was he a hero. He was an example of a man who tries to gain success through the wrong means, and how those methods could pay too large a price.

The constant references the drama made on the film “The Godfather” was also very interesting.

Unlike the alpha male and disadvantaged female characters we see today we see most of the characters having deep rooted problems of their own. Whether they are the rich and infuential Jung Won or the poor and incredibly unlucky In Ha. Despite the presence of casinos and gangs of teenagers fighting goons, jail serenades, gambling, big time bosses with hundreds of security guards and Mafia somehow it all blended together and worked. I didn’t doubt it even for a second .

What did you guys think of this theme and drama? If you guys have seen this,let me know in the comments on what you felt about this drama!

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