Dong-gil (played by Choi Kwon-soo) lives with his father Gook-jin (played by an unusually not-scary looking Yoo Oh-sung). There's no mother in the picture- but there is a younger brother Yeong-gil (played by Park Isaiah). As you might have guessed by the name- Yeong-gil isn't quite Korean. Sure, he speaks Korean, and has a Korean name. But it's obvious to everyone who looks at Yeong-gil that he's the son of an African-American soldier. A frustrated Dong-gil works out his frustrations by getting involved in dance, with Seo Taiji as his idol.
On the most basic level "Drama Special - The Brothers' Summer" is about the meaning of family. At the ripe old age of eleven, Dong-gil is convinced that he's going to find his way in the world- and if that necessitates dumping his brother-who's-not-really-a-brother, so be it. There's more important things in life. Like screaming fans. Of course at Dong-gil's age the fans are just eleven-year-old girls but still. It's adorable.
But more seriously, as a coming-of-age story, Dong-gil is moving away from a father he consistently considers to be an embarassment and insteads comes closer to Seo Taiji. The fact that Dong-gil does not know Seo Taiji personally is besides the point. Seo Taiji is aloof and cool. Gook-jin constantly wears these goofy expressions on his face that makes him look like the perfect target for a con. And yet by the end we find out that Gook-jin has been holding an important secret close to heart that neither of his sons could have possibly guessed at.
How does a man with no discernible poker face maintain a secret this big? Well, because Gook-jin's not really lying. He genuinely, seriously loves both of his sons. Remember that this is the early nineties- no one would hold it against Gook-jin if he just didn't want to have anything to do with Yeong-gil. But Gook-jin isn't the kind of man who thinks like that. He has honor.
And that's pretty much what "Drama Special - The Brothers' Summer" comes down to overall. The revelations, while not especially visceral, are quite sweet. What's more, director Lee Jeong-mi has a good eye for what really makes kids grow up- it's not their love of music stars, but the little schemes they go through to help each other out. It's about appreciating the unconditional love of a family member who doesn't care how stupid they look helping out someone they care about. The sentiment is a sweet one, and makes "Drama Special - The Brothers' Summer" well worth watching.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - The Brother's Summer""
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