Monday, June 13, 2016

Playing Favorites: Liar Game


I have many favorite Korean dramas, dramas I would (and have) happily rewatched. But as time goes on, Liar Game remains my consistent favorite, constantly re-emerging as the victor whenever someone asks me, 'So what are your favorite Kdramas?' I unroll a long list, with Liar Game as #1.

At only twelve episodes, it's quite short as most Kdramas go. Loosely based on the Japanese manga, Liar Game follows kind, naïve Nam Da Jung, struggling in debt her father left when he ran away. She is approached by Kang Do Young, the emcee of a new show about money, lies, and betrayal, aptly called 'Liar Game.' If she wins, she'll be able to pay off her father's debt. She enlists the help of genius psychologist and 'human lie detector,' Ha Woo Jin, to help her beat the other contestants. But as the game progresses, Ha Woo Jin begins to realize just how deep lies run, and Da Jung is drawn into a far more dangerous game masterfully concocted by Kang Do Young, who has intentions of his own.

I like to joke that if the writers behind Liar Game wanted to, they could take over the world. Liar Game is the sharpest, most intelligent, complex, and multilayered Kdrama I've seen - in almost nine years of watching them.  

The cast is relatively small and keeps the story centralized around Da Jung, Woo Jin, and Do Young as they navigate their way through a labyrinth of lies, truths, and plot twists. Psychology is the show's largest element - what moves people (Is it honesty? Is it trust? Is it money?), what causes people to change, is trust wise or foolish? Psychology has always fascinated me, and my fascination with it continues to grow (probably why this show is my favorite) - but never fear, this drama has several different elements. 

For those who like to ship people (and really, who doesn't?), this show provides you with the opportunity to ship Da Jung with Woo Jin or Do Young (I do both, honestly) based purely on chemistry and interest. It also provides dry, subtle humor, while not being a comedic show.

My favorite element of the show, however, is Shin Sung-Rok's fantastic portrayal of Kang Do Young. It's hard to find an accurate, detailed portrayal of a psychopath, but Shin Sung-Rok brings perfectly creepy, perfectly sympathetic dimensions to the antagonist of the drama. Everything from his body language to his perfectly calculated facial expressions are designed to send a chill down your back - and he's the snappiest dresser in Dramaland, too.

If you want intrigue, psychological tests, plot twists, and mystery, this is probably the show for you. If you want to find yourself questioning every reality show you've ever seen, this is definitely the show for you. And if you finish season one, I guarantee you'll want a second season as much as I do.

 Are you ready to play the Liar Game?


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