Golden Cross: First Impressions

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I was quite impressed by the first two episodes of this drama, and it’s left me wanting for more. Kim Kang Woo can do no wrong, and when combined with the excellence of Jung Bo Suk and Uhm Ki Joon, and the subtle acting skills of Lee Si Yeon, I feel like this drama will do well no matter what.

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The first five minutes of any drama are really important nowadays for me because it determines how much of the drama I’m going to watch. For example, I’ve tried Gapdong, which is something that I think is totally up my alley being a crime drama and all. However the first five minutes did not hook me in. It started as typically as any other crime drama would start – with a murder. A well-executed murder, but not so surprising. In this instance, I knew that Golden Cross was going to be a revenge drama. What I didn’t expect was to see such a loving family and Kim Kang Woo being absolutely adorkable. And I think that’s really what hooked me in. What happened that made this fun, loving family that reminded me of my own fall apart?

 

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We know right away that Do Yoon’s sister, Ha Yoon, will die and that his father, Kang Joo Wan, will be framed for the murder. What’s disturbing is that she’s an aspiring actress who must have a “sponsor” in order to become famous. It’s really unfortunate because Ha Yoon knows that she’s being used and that this is the most unsavory path to becoming famous, but she can’t find herself getting out of it because she believes her family will suffer from it. It hurts me because she is not naive at all. If she were more naive, I think I wouldn’t have had as much sympathy for her. I don’t usually buy into the whole “should I do the wrong thing to help my family” conflict in dramas because it’s rarely played out convincingly. From my perspective as a viewer doing the right thing usually outweighs the wrong thing. However, Seo Min Ji portrays Ha Yoon’s dilemma so well that I really do buy into her conflict. I want her to do the right thing, but at the same time I can understand completely the desperation in wanting to do the wrong thing (which in this case is to allow herself to be peddled to a sponsor).

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Her sponsor is none other than Seo Dong Ha (Jung Bo Suk), the father of prosecutor Seo Yi Re (Lee Si Yeon), who is both a loving father and a cowardly powerful man. Though he wields a great amount of influence, he cowers in the presence of his father-in-law and is cuckolded by his flirtatious wife. He doesn’t seem to be the smartest one of the Golden Cross group, as Attorney Park (Kim Gyu Chul) seems to be more of the brains and the schemer of the group. Michael Jang (deliciously portrayed by Uhm Ki Joon) exploits these weaknesses by making sure Dong Ha is aware of his wife’s affairs and setting him up with Ha Yoon so that Dong Ha has a chance to maintain some sense of masculinity. It’s disturbing to see this because he basically rapes a woman who is younger than his own daughter, and he treats Ha Yoon as if she were his daughter. It is also that much more devastating that both are simply pawns in Michael’s plans for financial domination.

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But all of this does not even compare to Kim Kang Woo’s character. I was most surprised to see that he is not your average “righteous” prosecutor. That role goes to Yi Re. Instead, Do Yoon reminds me a lot of Kim So Yeon‘s character in Prosecutor Princess. In both instances, the main characters are becoming prosecutors for dubious reasons. Kim So Yeon’s Ma Hye Ri becomes a prosecutor to make her father happy but does not even care about exacting justice. Do Yoon becomes a prosecutor for the money and the prestige of being called a “prosecutor,” which he views as infinitely more impressive than his father’s current position at the bank. He even asks his father to bend the rules a bit so that his mother could get a loan to buy out the restaurant she’s been working at for a decade. I thought that was incredibly brazen because he’s honestly got no qualms about breaking the rules. It’s his father who is saddled with the responsibility of making the right decisions for him! It also makes Do Yoon’s father that much more of a tragic figure; He does his best to keep his family ‘clean’ even though all of them are willing to go ‘black’ for the sake of money.

Within the first couple of episodes we can see how complicated the Kang family is. There are so many reasons to dislike any of Kang Do Yoon’s family, but at the same time they all have good reasons for acting as intolerably as they do. For example, Do Yoon’s mother Geum Sil (Jung Ae Ri) drives me crazy because her desire to own the restaurant is one of the reasons why her family is having so many issues with money. However, I understand her concern in wanting to have a steady income to support the family in two years’ time when Joo Wan retires, and her frustration at having been swindled by her brother-in-law.

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Similarly we see how complicated the Seo family is. The mother, Se Ryung (Lee Ah Hyun) is absolutely hateful, Yi Re is completely good and Dong Ha is ridiculously complex. You like him for being a wonderful father, and yet you hate him for being a total sleazeball. I’m pretty sure my hate for him will eventually outweigh my liking towards him, since it really bothers me how a man can be so different in and out of the house. Se Ryung is someone I have yet to understand, but from what I see she’s been spoiled relentlessly. It seems that Yi Re is not Dong Ha’s biological daughter, which then makes me wonder how much longer Dong Ha is going to tolerate being considered a “fool” in his family. We’ve seen him snap with Ha Yoon’s “betrayal,” so I can’t wait for him to snap at Se Ryung.

The first two episodes were a great set up for what is to come. Not only am I curious about how Do Yoon will exact his revenge and how the fates of the two families will intertwine, but I am also very curious at how the ‘Golden Cross’ works as a secret group and how Michael Jang will maneuver all of them to doing his bidding. And I so rarely get taken by corporate dramas. It’s great to see Kim Kang Woo as a protagonist in this kind of a story, which parallels Story of a Man in some ways and where he was the brilliant antagonist there. I am also enjoying Uhm Ki Joon as the bad guy, just as I enjoyed him in Ghost. He’s so great at being the artful villain while at the same time being a huge man-boy. His immature antics while plotting devious plans remind me of Choi Won Young in Three Days. Choi is also great at being the villain and throwing around his money like a spoiled brat to get what he wants at any cost of life, but he takes everything more seriously than Uhm does.

I’m really looking forward to more episodes to come.

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