Kdrama Review: The Village – Achiara’s Secret
I do like Moon Geun Young. She’s a good actress who is willing to take risks, but I haven’t really liked her last few works. Admittedly, I haven’t watched Jung Yi, but I quickly dropped Cheongdamdong Alice and while I finished Marry Me, Mary! that drama fell horribly flat of any expectations for me. The Village – Achiara’s Secret had some promise, but in the end it again didn’t live up to what it could be.
The plot revolves around the seemingly peaceful village of Achiara where crime is supposed to be practically non-existent and everyone knows everyone and secrets aren’t really secrets. Police officer Park Woo Jae (BTOB’s Yook Sung Jae) longs to investigate a meatier case (like the Rainy Wednesday serial killer) but is instead called upon to do various odd jobs for the citizens. Han So Yoon (Moon Geun Young) receives a letter from Achiara containing a newspaper clipping stating that both herself and her older sister died in a car accident in Korea. She then discovers a school in Achiara in need of a an English teacher and is quickly accepted due to the fact she’s lived in Canada most of her life. On one of the first days of school she discovered a skeleton and then learns her apartment’s former tenant disappeared a few years ago. The skeleton’s discovery sends the town in a tither and So Yoon searches for any information about her family and who could have sent the letter.
Besides ultimately being a murder mystery, The Village does cover some weightier topics, including adopted children vs. blood children, rape, cross-dressing, and children who were the product of rape. It can be seen in Asian dramas quite often with parents treating their natural children better versus adopting or where the parents don’t necessarily treat the children differently, but relatives will. It’s sad to see the fallout of what happened to Kim Hye Jin (Jang Hee Jin) just because So Yoon’s grandmother did not want to accept the granddaughter who was adopted. It was also interesting to see different reactions to the children who were products of rape. Gyung Soon (Woo Hyun Zoo) treasured her teenage daughter while Yoon Ji Sook (Shin Eun Kyung) treated her child as a monster (although we do learn at the end that she didn’t wholly consider her daughter a monster). I guess it’s to be expected, but it was disappointing how Kang Pil Sung’s (Choi Jae Woong) “aghassi” was treated. Even though he turns out to be a psychopath, you do have to feel bad when he makes the comment that anything he likes makes other people unhappy. Of course, secretly taking pictures of people is creepy and not right, but the dressing as female…that shouldn’t be that big of an issue, should it?
About half way through this drama or so, you can pretty much figure out the birth secrets and just who the serial killer is, but there are enough twists left to give you some unexpected happenings, which is good. I really wish I could put my finger on just what went wrong with this drama, but I can’t really. I don’t hate it and it’s not bad for at least a one-time watch, but I did feel disappointed. I’m not wholly certain that the psychic connection with the dead was necessary although it did provide for some interesting clues. At times, some of Moon Geun Young’s acting seemed unnatural or not quite fitting for the situation. Shim Eun Kyung…well she does crazy well. How any could think that woman was sane is beyond me! She had this wide-eyed look that showed her craziness. Although…given what did happen to her when she was a young girl and how the village treated her family, it’s no wonder she and her sister really weren’t all there. I also think that her husband being under that old man’s thumb was kind of irrelevant in the long run as well.
I did find myself enjoying Choi Jae Woong’s acting as well as Park Eun Seok’s, Choi Won Hong’s (he played austic boy Ba Woo), and Kim Min Jae’s. They had some standout performances. Yook Sung Jae did help to bring some comedic relief to the heavier moments and his crush on So Yoon was cute. On Joo Wan’s acting as Seo Gi Hyun…well his acting wasn’t bad but maybe it was just the character. Given his screwed up family, it shouldn’t be surprising that his character’s rather screwed up as well.
With some acting issues or character portrayals, part of the problem does come with the predictability of the plot. Some of the mysteries and secrets were pretty easy to figure out rather early on, which doesn’t help the drama. The character of Ji Sook does get her comeuppance, but when you do learn what tragedy befell her, there is some sympathy there. If you had gone through what she had, would you be in you right mind? I get that Gi Hyun realizes his stepmom isn’t playing with a full deck, but it’s kind of weird that he decides to try to air the skeleton’s in his family’s closest but then isn’t certain he can handle the truth. After everything Ji Sook did…how could he still stand by her side in the end? Even if she never was quite sane?
Between this and White Christmas…I’d pick White Christmas which I would give another watch.