Swallow the Sun is a 2009 action melodrama that follows the story of a man named Jung Woo (Ji Sung) that grew up as an orphan on Jeju Island who gets involved in complicated relationships with a rich man (Jun Kwang Ryul) and his son (Lee Wan) and also meets his first love (Sung Yu Ri) in the midst of things. On a quest to learn about his father, Jung Woo embarks on a journey of love, betrayal, and revenge that spans the globe.
Get ready for an exciting ride with this one! It’s a drama filled with love, action, adventure, angst, and revenge. A whole lot happens in this story, and it all feels quite grand. So let’s meet the players in this tale.
We have the amazing Ji Sung as Kim Jung Woo. He’s had a difficult life after being abandoned by his parents as a baby. Seeing an opportunity to better his life, he takes a job offer from a very rich man on the island named Jang Min Ho. But things soon become complicated as he seeks to right some wrongs and get answers about his family.
The talented Jun Kwang Ryul plays Jang Min Ho. He’s rich, powerful, cold, and calculating. He worked hard to acquire his fortune, and he will do what is necessary to keep it. Another wonderful performance by him!
Sung Yu Ri plays Jung Woo’s first love Lee Soo Hyun. They briefly met as children and then rekindle their relationship as adults. But things are complicated for the pair who have many external forces getting in the way as well as another man who has feelings for Soo Hyun.
And than man is Jang Tae Hyuk (Lee Wan). He’s the son of Jang Min Ho and has some daddy issues concerning his father and looking for his approval. He is less than thrilled when Jung Woo becomes competition for him with the girl he likes as well as for his father’s affections.
Then there is Jackson Lee (Yoo Oh Sung) who is a talented gambler and mercenary who finds himself at odds with Jang Min Ho. He becomes a key piece in the ensuing power battle that takes place on the island.
Now this is the kind of drama I have been looking for! It’s a classic style that I absolutely love. The atmosphere this drama creates is just phenomenal. First, Swallow the Sun is an adventure melodrama that feels so exotic because of the many locations the drama is set.
With gorgeous island shots on Jeju Island to an active city life in Las Vegas and to multiple locations in Africa, the scope of the drama feels very big. Even being almost a decade old, I relished all of the gorgeous scenery on my screen.
This was a big budget production, and it is very evident from the locations to the action sequences. There is even an awesome scene in Africa that features a crazy shootout between a jeep and a helicopter! This is not something you see in kdramas very often!
It also has an absolutely amazing soundtrack that is thoroughly utilized each and every episode. The songs completely embody the feel of the drama and give it a unique mood. I was very much content watching whatever was happening just because of the awesome music!
The drama is a product of it’s time where it actually takes the opportunity to not rush though everything. We get plenty of non verbal scenes that showcase the character’s emotions set to music. It is much more common in older dramas and is something I greatly enjoy when done right.
The story is quite interesting as we follow one’s man journey to better his life and find answers about his family. It leads him down an exciting path of adventure and thrills, but it is also filled with danger.
The whole story is presented in a more typical melodrama format. There are complicated love stories with lots of longing stares and broken hearts as well as a revenge theme that runs throughout. It’s a wonderful blend of love, angst, revenge, and adventure.
And not to neglect the plethora of talented actors mentioned above. The drama is packed full of wonderful people who play our heroes and villains beautifully. Ji Sung and Jun Kwang Ryul were the standouts who completely brought their characters to life.
At 25 episodes, the drama definitely could have tightened things up some with a shorter episode count. The last third gets a bit draggy with a lot of business power plays taking over the story. There are also a few plot threads that don’t get tied up.
But honestly, even in the few slower spells the drama had, I still enjoyed the atmosphere and the amazing music so much that I didn’t find it particularly bothersome. Plus, it brings things back around nicely for the wrap up episodes. I just think it’s really special when a drama is able to capture a unique feel that stirs up a lot of emotions just from the overall presentation.
All of these things combined to give Swallow the Sun an almost magical quality to it. I seriously just felt so comfortable yet still excited as I enjoyed this world that was packed with love, betrayal, and revenge. It’s a fun drama from another time and the sort of classic that I will always keep my eye out for.
My Rating: 8/10
Click here for more Kdrama Reviews.
Sign Up to receive email updates of kdrama casting news, trailers, reviews, and more.