Kang Ha Neul is back following the massive success of “When the Camellia Blooms” in 2019, so how was the premiere of his newest drama “Insider”? Let us discuss.
“Insider” stars Kang Ha Neul and Lee Yoo Young and is an action-suspense drama that tells the story of Kim Yo Han, a judicial trainee who experiences a crisis while working undercover for an investigation. This leads him to become a prisoner. He ends up struggling to obtain a hand of cards that could change his fate.
Note: this article is a first-impression review, it doesn’t mean this is the writer’s final thoughts on the drama. This is a spoiler review.
I found the premiere of “Insider” to be difficult to watch and on more than one level, lets get into it.
For a premiere, I think “Insider” is very interesting in its presentation thus far. They did not go the cliché route in character introductions and it feels like somebody just threw you in the middle of mayhem expecting you to follow along as the story progresses.
“Insider” premiere was rated 19+ which is where the line above in the review comes from. It was surprisingly difficult to watch because it was at times, brutal. This is coming from someone who is a bit used to morbid scenes, so I’d think for people who enjoy Kang Ha Neul’s milder roles, this might have been the biggest shock.
His character is a punching bag on a figurative and literal level. He’s so pitiful but at the same time so mysterious, you just don’t know how to feel about him. This doesn’t extend to his circumstances as most of them were out of his control, but he, as a character, is very intriguing.
Since the drama just threw us into the mix, it was at times, difficult to follow. There were so many moving pieces and information that it became a bit overwhelming at times. Aside from the character names, it feels like every moving piece matters but we just don’t know how much or why yet.
There is a lot of exposition in the premiere episodes of “Insider,” but there is still so much left unsaid. This makes sense since we’re 2 episodes in. It would be weird to expect otherwise. I had to keep a tab open of the drama’s Wikipedia so I can go back and forth recalling the character names and what roles they play. It requires a good amount of concentration and even with that, I’d be lying if I said I understood about 30% of what was happening.
I don’t necessarily think this is a bad move on a writing level but I can tell the screenwriter is relying heavily on Ha Neul’s star power to literally power us through this difficult introduction period.
The other part about why this drama was a difficult watch for me is the gambling part…. The first part of this article is probably understandable to many of you, however, I realize this part is very subjective so I feel the need to stress it before tackling the topic at hand.
I personally don’t find gambling in dramas and movies interesting. I don’t find montages of gambling in voiceover interesting either. Setting aside what I personally think of people who gamble and gambling itself, I feel its difficult to grab attention for a project using long montages of gambling scenes. Of course, many of you might understand the games they play, but many more might also be unaware or simply fail to understand how the games are played, this includes me. This makes it difficult to become invested.
Going in, I didn’t expect “Insider” to feature so many gambling scenes and at length. It was difficult to sit through because it wasn’t interesting to me. The situation surrounding it is super engaging and high stakes but the gambling part wasn’t something I expected to see so much of nor was it something I enjoyed seeing. There are also Korean games played with money on the table, and of course, as a foreigner, those scenes were even more difficult to comprehend.
A minor gambling scene to raise the stakes in a drama or movie is welcomed, there is nothing wrong with that, however, in the case of the “Insider” it feels that it will be a big part of the plot at least for the next couple of episodes.
This is why I would say I had mixed feelings about “Insider” premiere. On one hand, I appreciate the different take on the introduction episodes, and on the other hand, I struggled to follow along due to the gambling scenes being really uninteresting to me.
Setting aside those parts, I believe the actors are doing a marvelous job. Ha Neul specifically excels here, yet again, showcasing just how talented he truly is. I like his take on the character, the poker face he has and how he made the character so difficult to read. His take on the character is amusing to me.
I felt so bad for him and so angry with Prosecutor Mok who just threw him under the bus like that, so annoying. The poor dude ate so much sh*t because of his sunbae’s so-called sense of justice. He just threw an innocent man to the wolves. How did he even expect him to survive?
Considering how Yohan has no resources by his side, I bet Oh Soo Yeon will play a big role in his life going forward. This is an interesting take in my opinion. I am so excited to see how he’ll manage to even come close to paying back the people who hurt him.
I am excited for this week’s episodes, although the gambling scenes are not my favorite thing in the world, I shall persist. I like the plot otherwise.
So what about you guys? what are your thoughts on “insider” so far?