Don’t Go Breaking My Heart: First Impressions of the Amazing Cruel City

I can sum up the entirety of this post in eight words – This. Is. The. Best. Drama. Airing. Right. Now. Three months ago I wrote that the first quarter of 2013 was by and large a disappointment. I wondered then if the new dramas premiering in the Spring would end the quality drought and herald a return to addicting and memorable K-dramas I’ve grown accustomed to on a consistent basis. There needn’t be a lot, but there has to at least be a few each season worth spending time on. I hate to write a blog about dramas and then have no actual good dramas to talk about! Oh the irony. So far this year I’ve liked a handful of K-dramas and all of them are on cable networks. tvN’s Flower Boy Next Door was unexpectedly melancholy and low key and right now its Cyrano Dating Agency is breezy and charming. Mnet’s high school music drama Monstar brings forth all those great feelings of caring about a cast of characters and enjoying their journey towards discovery and growth. That’s all good and fine, but I was feeling a bit unsatisfied without at least one substantive product to gnaw on. Never fear, once again cable comes to the rescue.

jTBC’s dark and gritty crime drama Cruel City (Heartless City) has flat out knocked me off my feet and gobsmacked me with its visceral unflinching tightly controlled power. If this drama stays true to its narrative integrity and doesn’t suddenly throw in a Disney-fied transformation, it has the potential to be the best K-drama this year and all newcomers will be playing catch up. It took me three weeks to get in the mood to check it out and mid-way during episode 1 I felt the need to go scream hallelujah or something similar (okay, I went to tweet my love for it, which is kinda like standing on a roof and screaming in this day and age). Starring Jung Kyung Ho, Lee Jae Yoon, and Nam Gyu Ri, this is the first K-drama that digs into the seedy underbelly of crime culture in Korea with the same nerve and energy usually reserved for K-movies. By the end of episode 1 you’ll meet the Doctor’s son and you’ll never look at Jung Kyung Ho the same way again. I always knew you had it in you guy, and I am honored to take this cruel journey with the most fascinating anti-hero lead in K-drama lore. Continue reading