Been searching over a month for a Korean drama worth watching since I completed The Legend some time back. Good news is that my personal Korean drama drought has finally ended 2 weeks back when The Lobbyist started its run on Starhub Channel 55. Now that's the reason why I burn a hole in my pocket to subscribe to the increasingly expensive cable subscription!SBS' The Lobbyist is one drama that truly deviates from the stereotypical storylines of most Korean dramas which I have seen so far. In a definitive break from revolving on the love lives, plus trials and tribulations, of individuals, The Lobbyist puts under the microscope the little known commercial activity of the international arms, read weapon, trade, conducted by lobbyists, around the world. This international flavour to the storyline is really a wonderful breath of fresh air for the rather staid Korean drama scene.
The extended filming in America, and apparently parts of Africa, from what I read elswhere, is a also wonderful break for the eyes from the now over-filmed city-scape of Seoul and its environs. The staid grey buildings and neon lights of Seoul are replaced with stunning panoramic shots of various key buildings in Washingston. Guess that's the reason why it is one of the most expensive dramas to be made this year.
Pity the perfect panoramic view of America is not matched by the diction of the Korean stars when they converse in English. Perfect diction may not a pre-requisite when targeting the Korean market, but it's definitely hard to stomach for those of us who uses the English language more or less as the native language.
That said, The Lobbyist is helmed by one of my favourite male leads - Song Il Gook who plays Harry the suave lobbyist which the drama is named after. The ever youthful looking chap once again makes blokes like me wonder how he manages to look like a youth in his 20s when he's hitting 40 soon! Partnering Song is Jang Jin Young who plays the role of Maria, a childhood sweetheart while Han Jae Suk takes on the role of Korean military spy - Kang Tae Hyuk.
Song Il Kook looking cool in his James Bond set-up.War of Money. I just hope it doesn't go on the path of War of Money where a great drama simply ended up rather flat.
In The Lobbyist, the story begins with Harry moving to a small border coastal town as his dad, a South Korean military officer, was posted to. There Harry meets Maria and a fast friendship cum puppy love develops between the new kid in town and the small town girl.
One day, a North Korean, those troublemakers, submarine beached at the coast of the town and released its human cargo - spies, into South Korean territory. This twist in the story sets the stage for the eventual trip of both Harry and Maria to US.
Harry's dad was killed in the ensuing manhunt for the North Koreans. With no other relatives in Korea, Harry and his sister travels to US to live with his aunt and American husband. As for Maria, her dad, disillusioned with the South Korean government decides to uproot the family and migrates to the land of opportunities - US.
The paths of Harry and Maria did not cross again till 10 odd years later. By this time, Maria is a tour bus driver while Harry is a small time gambler deep in debts. Although Maria still thinks of Harry, they no longer recognise each other when Harry, through some bizarre twist of fate, was asked by his debtor to kill Maria.
Think I have let on more than I should. Judging by the 6 episodes thus far, I would rate this drama a 7.5 out of a score of 10. So do keep a look out of this space to see what I have to write once I finish watching it.