These cute BTS pictures snapped by the cast on the set of Cruel City (Heartless City) are exponentially cuter once you take into account the context. The gritty and tension-laden noir thriller airing on cable network jTBC has crossed the halfway mark of its airing and is still as taut and well-written as ever. Starring Jung Kyung Ho, Nam Gyu Ri, Lee Jae Yoon, Son Chang Min, Kim Yoo Mi, and Choi Moo Sung, this is the best K-drama I’m watching right now and is easily the front runner for best K-drama I’ve checked out all year so far. I appreciate that its not slick and big-budgeted, going for more grounded action and letting the complicated relationships and interconnected stories carry the weight of the narrative. It’s not perfectly written, with some coincidences necessary to get out of dangerous binds and plenty of questionable decisions made by the characters that don’t always comport with reality of crime fighting, but the suspensions of disbelief are brief and used merely as a bridge to usher in meaty conflict that makes plenty of sense. The original title of the drama was Undercover and now by episode 12 that title is even funnier in retrospect because there are so many undercovers running around the drug ring I’m wondering who isn’t a spy (whether still legit or gone rogue).
The central romance between Shi Hyun and Soo Min is heating up like a steady slow burn, and no, I didn’t think the sleeping together on a first official date qualifies as ratcheting up the feelings too fast. That was pure physical connection but what’s building is a sense of shared pain that is alleviated only when around this person who seems so inexplicably thrust into each other’s orbit. I thought about doing recaps since I’m loving it so much but oddly that recapping itch isn’t around for this drama. I much rather watch it and soak up the ambiance and tension. In a great about-turn from the onscreen physical, mental, and emotional fighting between all the characters, that cast appears to be a happy bunch and seeing them pose so gamely for funny pictures makes me love them even more. Jung Kyung Ho is so good at channeling tightly wound caged tiger Shi Hyun that its actually weird to see his real life personality pop up. His doofy smile is so precious! I’m used to Choi Moo Sung being the world’s most loveable lunk from I Live in Cheongdamdong and that image sticks even when he’s being the scariest ahjusshi EVER in CC. Thus far the drama has done masterfully in always being one step away ahead of the audience so I’m eagerly anticipating what next week’s new episodes will bring. Until then, enjoy the goofing around on set.