Damo Review

Review. Three lives entwined in childhood, struggle to find their place in Chosun Dynasty era Korea.

Damo, a 2003 historical 14 episode kdrama set in Chosun era, revolves are three characters who are pigeon-holed by society. They each want society to change to offer different opportunities. Their lives become intertwined as they each reach for their individual destinies.

Chae-Ok (central character), is a damo (servant) for the police and amazingly also a police investigator. How could she have this role in a society that valued her only as a possession? Hwangbo Yoon, the police captain, is her childhood friend/protector and facilitates her investigator role. When the police are assigned to crack a counterfeit coin case, Chae-Ok volunteers to go undercover to investigate a gang of rebels. Here Chae-Ok meets Jang Sung-baek, the rebel leader, who dreams of a society that is not ruled by class but equally by all the people. His dream draws Chae-Ok like a moth to a flame. Her struggle to choose between the two men plays out as the plot thickens and the woven web draws them to a fated climax.

What I loved about this drama:

1) Chae-Ok, played by Ha Ji-Won, is smart, determined, fearless, and headstrong. She is one of the strongest women characters I’ve seen portrayed.

2) Equally appealing male leads.

A. Hwangbo Yoon, played by Lee Seo-Jin, was steadfast, honorable, and loyally loved only Chae-Ok. But society would never allow Chae-Ok (a servant) to be in a sanctioned relationship with Hwangbo Yoon (a higher class).

B. Jang Sung-baek, played by Kim Min-Jun, was a visionary with a passion for a free society not ruled by class. His new world would provide Chae-Ok opportunities not possible in current society.

3) Supporting characters that contributed. There were no dead weight characters in the supporting cast. I secretly loved Officer Lee with the dashing scar.

4) Appropriate Ending. I agreed with the writer’s choices, it could end no other way for these three characters.

What I did not love:

1) Wire-work fighting style was over-the-top unrealistic and off-putting. It literally defied gravity. I prefer a hand-to-hand sword fighting style (e.g. Chuno, Warrior Baek Dong Soo).

2) Pacing was ponderously slow in many episodes.

3) Why can’t characters have a complete conversation? So much agony could be avoided if complete conversations took place. You can make this claim for many kdramas as misunderstandings are major plot drivers.

4) Turns out that Chae-Ok’s headstrong ways were selfish at times and the risks she took had a ripple effect of negative consequences for many other characters.

OST. The music in the Damo OST has a haunting quality perfect for the fated feel of this series. My favorite tracks (linked to YouTube):

  1. Fate by Kim Sang Min
  2. A Song Of Sorrow by Kim Bum Soo
  3. A Song Of Devotion by Page
  4. The Last Haven by Jo Kwan Woo
  5. Song of Sad Mind by Shin Seung Hoon

Damo OST Tracklist:
01. Fate – Kim Sang Min
02. A Grove Of Japanese Apricot Blossom – Lee Geun Young
03. A Song Of Sorrow – Kim Bum Soo
04. Pipe Solo – Manos Vafeiadis
05. A Song Of Devotion – Page
06. Oboe Solo – Lee Geun Young
07. Destiny 2 – Kim Sang Min
08. Adagio (Instru) – Lee Geun Young
09. The Last Haven – Jo Kwan Woo
10. Fate – Instru – Jung Ki Song
11. A Song Of Sorrow (With The Strings)(Inst.) – Pyo Gun Soo
12. A Song Of Devotion (On Guitar)(Ballad/Inst.) – Pyo Gun Soo
13. Destiny 2 (Ballad/Inst.) – The Strings
14. The Last Haven (Instru) – Yang Jung Seung
15. Damo Opening Song


Asian drama fan

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Posted in Kdrama, OST, Reviews

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March 2014
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