I normally don't like period dramas but decided to give Damo a go anyway since there are so many positive reviews about it. Besides, it only weighs in at 14 episodes, so it's not too much of a heavy burden if it turned out to be less than what I expected. Thankfully, it was as good as what the reviewers have been raving on about, but there was one major deterrent which put me off what would've been a magnificent drama. I'll elaborate a bit later on.
You Are So Beautiful, To Me
After the first 2 episodes, one thing becomes glaringly obvious - Damo is visually stunning. The cinematography is breathtaking; everything was shot so beautifully. The locations, costumes and props were also very beautiful and thus far, Damo is the most aesthetically pleasing series I have ever seen.
The OST's another thing that's so beautiful because the songs were not played repeatedly like in other k-dramas and were only played at key emotional moments. There were however, a couple of electronic tracks which I felt didn't quite suit the period setting of Damo and was more suited to a series like The Nine-Tailed Fox
. But that's just a minor gripe, especially since they were played less frequently towards the end.
Save The Best For Last
When I watch Korean dramas - or any drama for that matter - I prefer the final episode to be the best with the first episode being the 2nd best. Damo comes close to that, because the finale is definitely my favorite episode, and the 2nd episode would be my 2nd favorite. But besides those two fantastic episodes, I just can't really think of another one that was that good.
You see, the problem with Damo is that it's very hard to "get into". It could be just me, but it took a good 4 to 5 episodes for me to finally give Damo the respect and attention it deserves. There were just too many characters to get to know in the early stages and since most of the men looked almost the same, it can be very easy to feel lost and lose interest. But if you can hold on for those few sluggish episodes, you're in for a pretty good ride.....up until episode 12 that is.
*** WARNING: SPOILER & TABOO TOPIC DISCUSSED ***
You have been warned. Still here? Ok, let's get this out of the way.
I've only been around the korean drama scene for about 9 months, but it's been long enough for me to notice that korean dramas tend to glorify incestuous relationships. Now, I'm not sure about anyone else, but an intimate relationship between a parent and child - or in the case of Damo - a brother and sister, just doesn't quite appeal to me. In fact, I find it downright vulgar. I've tried to be open minded about it, but I don't see how an intimate relationship between siblings can be justified.
During the 2nd episode it became blatantly obvious that Chae-Ok and Sung-Baek were blood brothers and sister. What was not so obvious was how they felt for each other as the series progressed. Prior to episode 12, I had always thought their feelings was due to them subconsciously knowing they're long lost siblings and therefore loved each other in a brotherly/sisterly way. So it came as a huge shock to me when they both said "I love you" when they were stuck in that cave, and the way they both said it was definitely not the way siblings would've normally said it. I guess you could argue neither of them were aware that they were siblings (how could Chae-Ok not? Is she dense? Sung-Baek virtually plastered a "I AM YOUR BROTHER SIGN" on his forehead), but that's beside the point. The viewer
was well aware of it early on, and to see a brother and sister declare their love for each other in that fashion just put me right off. Thankfully episode 14 was so good, and I could forgive...somewhat.
Damo is the most polished drama I've seen. It has beautiful cinematography, terrific acting (Ha Ji Won's best performance by far), an enthralling storyline and a lovely OST. It could've easily been an 8 or even 8.5 for me, but because of a slightly low-key start, and THAT issue I mentioned in the spoiler section, I can only give it a 7