In 2017, Ho-yeong (played by Kang Tae-oh) is a normal young person who works as a cleaner at an ice rink that just so happens to be hosting a major competition that will be used to factor who South Korea's short track speed skating representatives will be at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Ho-yeong enters the competition, not because he wants to go to the Olympics, but solely for the cash prize. Ho-yeong doesn't have a sick mother or anything. He just likes money.
Ho-yeong's character in "Short" is probably the most intriguing aspect at play. Rather than put it any effort at trying to make Ho-yeong a tragically noble figure who embodies South Korea's national spirit, writer Kim Jung-ae instead just makes him an immature idiot who has to be browbeaten by his grandfather (played by Min Kyung-jin) into understanding that being invited to join the national team is a really big deal. It is, at least, a bigger deal than whatever Ho-yeong is doing right now.
Unfortunately I can't say as much for the other cast members. Eun-ho (played by Yeo Hoe-hyun) is about as generic a sports character as you can get- he's a legacy from a wealthy noble sports family that's always going on about how he's dishonored himself, and is generally rude. Granted, Ho-yeong is rude too, in a much more low-class way, so the two have surprisingly good enemy chemistry. What they lack is frenemy chemistry, which is what the story calls for.
Meanwhile, Ji-na (played by Kim Doyeon) has a very terrible character introduction. We first see Ji-na trying to force her way into a nightclub, having supposedly forgotten her passport at home. Are we really supposed to be siding with her against the bouncers here? I was further confused when the inevitably clichéd rescue ends with no main characters shown to be suffering meaningful consequences, when they had attacked bouncers for doing their job.
But then I was disappointed with Ji-na in general because I was expecting her to be a short track speed skating athlete too. Instead she does...K-Pop stuff, I guess. "Short" can't really hope to compete with actual Olympics short track speed skating, so really, what I'm hoping for here is more story about what it's actually like to train with the national team. I want more reminders about how these athletes are just stubborn post-adolescent meatheads. That makes them endearing- but only if we also see them grow up.
Review by William Schwartz
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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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Short" Episode 1"
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