Chicago Typewriter follows the modern day story of a bestselling writer (Yoo Ah In) who falls into a slump, a ghostwriter (Go Kyung Pyo) who helps him, and a fan (Im Soo Jung) of the writer. A mysterious typewriter connects them to their past lives in the 1930’s where they were independence fighters during the Japanese occupation.
Chicago Typewriter was a bit of a mixed bag for me. It had a really unique story set during two time periods including one of my favorites being the 1930’s. While portions of the story were wonderful, I never fully clicked with the drama as a whole and it ended up quite average.
Yoo Ah In plays our bestselling writer Han Se Ju. He has a cold personality and has a hard time trusting people. When a difficult circumstance causes him to fall into a slump, his world becomes very complicated.
I greatly preferred Yoo Ah In in the 1930’s portion of the drama. It just seemed to suit him better. I just had a difficult time connecting with him during the modern portion.
Go Kyung Pyo is our ghostwriter Yoo Jin Oh. He’s mysterious and charming and seems to be full of secrets. When Se Ju falls into his slump, Jin Oh is the one who is ready to step in and help in.
For me, Go Kyung Pyo was the scene stealer of the drama. The drama just always got better when he was on screen. I enjoyed his character’s story, and he took me on a very moving journey.
Im Soo Jung is Han Se Ju’s number one fan, Jeon Seol. She has admired him for years, and when she gets the opportunity to meet him, she jumps at the chance. But they get off on the wrong foot, and she struggles to win him over because of his distrusting nature.
I can’t quite put my finger on why I had a hard time connecting with Im Soo Jung. I didn’t really connect with her in either time period, but her character was much more interesting in the 30’s portion.
Kwak Shi Yang is our villain Baek Tae Min. He has a history with Se Ju and is filled with greed and jealousy. I didn’t find him to be particularly well fleshed out, but he does his villain thing well and causes some problems for our trio.
First, the positives to Chicago Typewriter. The premise is quite unique with the narrative featuring two story lines, one in the past and one in the present, that are connected through a mysterious typewriter. The drama is filmed very beautifully with a lot of attention to detail in creating some very impressive shots.
The 1930’s story line by far had the most appeal for me. It gets much less screen time than the present one, but I was much more intrigued by it. Because of the setting, the stakes are very high and it adds a layer of suspense.
And I was very interested in the story of these three freedom fighters, how they ended up where they were, and what eventually became of them. Of course, I also loved the costumes and sets. As far as I was concerned, I wish the whole drama would have just been set in the 1930’s.
Sadly, there were quite a few negatives for me. The modern story was just not that engaging. The actual plot was weak, and it felt like the story just crept along with very little actually happening. And the modern reincarnations of Yoo Ah In and Im Soo Jung just felt hollow. I just had a hard time warming up to them.
Now there are definitely moments where some of that emotional connect came through, but most of these moments happened in the second half of the drama. Once some of the walls finally start coming down with our characters, things did improve.
And Go Kyung Pyo always stole the show whenever he was on screen. This role was great for showcasing his charm as well as his comedic talents. We also got see his dramatic side for a change, and I was thoroughly impressed. His character moved me in the past, and he is the only one that really moved me in the modern time. He was the highlight of the drama.
For me personally, I think the drama was too stingy with the 1930’s story for too long. Since the plot in the modern time was thin, it would have helped to have seen more of the time period with the thicker plot.
Also, it was easy to connect with the characters in the 1930’s while the modern ones felt cold. If the drama would have revealed more of their story in the 30’s, I would have felt much more for the modern characters by having more knowledge of what they had went through in their previous life.
The drama does a major info dump at the end by spending a good chuck of the last few episodes in the 1930’s. These were by far the most engaging episodes, and by getting the full story, I felt myself immediately warming up to the modern characters. I just kept thinking why did this have to wait until the very end of the drama? If they had spread out some of this story better, I could have felt for the modern characters so much more.
So overall, I give a lot of credit to Chicago Typewriter for its unique story. Better pacing and a thicker modern plot could have made this drama fantastic. The 1930’s portion was wonderful, and it did have its moments in the modern portion. The drama does well at highlighting the strong friendship between our trio, and at least it went out on a very moving note.
My Rating: 6/10
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