[Writer’s Choice] Underrated K-Drama - 'Live'

BanSeok Shin, May 20, 2019, 4:32 p.m.

What do you first think of when actor Lee Kwang Soo comes to mind? His antics and gags on variety shows like ‘Running Man’? Or the goofy and socially awkward supporting character’s he plays? How about his kind-hearted nature that fellow actors and show hosts like to praise? If you picture this Lee Kwang Soo then it may be bit hard to imagine the thought of him in a serious role. However, that’s exactly what he does as he plays the male lead in the 2018 tvN K-Drama ‘Live’.


Yes, Lee Kwang Soo’s goofiness tends to bleed into his acting. Yes, he’s not as good looking or badass as male leads tend to be in K-Dramas. And NO, this article isn’t just praise for the guy! But I seriously have to commend him for the job that he did in the drama. If you’re a fan of his I think you’ll be proud!

I think, however, that a big part of why I’m so impressed is actually due to the show’s writer’s, actor recruiting, and directors. Because of them (and the whole cast) this drama is one of my all-time favorite K-Dramas! Now Before I continue further let me give you the premise of this drama:

‘Live’ is a police drama that follows the turbulent lives of various ranking police officers of the Hongil patrol division as the try to balance regular life with the high stress and demanding duties of a virtuous police officer. The drama stars Jung Yumi, Lee Kwang Soo, Bae Sung Woo, and Bae Jong Ok, with major supporting actors such as Sung Dong Il, Jang Hyun Sung, Shin Dong Wook, and Lee Si Eon. 

Being an officer of the law is hard, to say the least, and even more so when you’re working at one of the busiest precincts in Seoul. The drama follows main leads and new cadets Jung-Oh (Jung Yu-Mi) and Sang-Soo (Lee Kwang Soo) as they learn – first hand, just how difficult life can be as a police officer.


One of my favorite aspects of this drama is that it doesn’t sugarcoat life as a cop in South Korea – especially as a busy cop. It clearly portrays, in each episode, just how tedious, gritty, political, frustrating, and even dangerous, life as a cop can be. As I was watching the drama I felt as though I was there with the characters (especially having lived in Korea), standing there in the bitter cold, being scolded for mistakes as a rookie, dealing with unpleasant people, enjoying nights out with fellow officers, dying in bed after a long – hard day a work. It seemed like I could feel it all.


This atmosphere created by the show also, in my opinion, really helped to humanize the characters and make them more relatable. It also made those moments of friendship, comradery, loyalty, bravery, compassion, and love, feel more real and a bit sweeter. You even come to love and respect most of the role and minor characters as you see then fight, against the problems in their own lives, as well as those in the lives of their fellow officers.


Finally, the actors themselves do such a great job of working to not only create but maintain the shows gritty atmosphere. Jung Yu-Mi does a wonderful job at playing a strong-willed woman who is pretty good at taking care of herself, but who is also capable of being vulnerable with others. Lee Kwang Soo, while still playing a character who’s a bit goofy and awkward, also portrays a character who is strong willed and motivated to make himself useful as a cop rather than being a liability. Bae Sung Woo plays the hard-nosed mentor who uses a tough-love like approach to train rookies because he’s experienced just how hard life on the force is. Bae Jong Ok plays a veteran detective who’s married to Bae Sung Woo’s character, and who, as a detective, has tired eyes that have obviously seen how life on the police force can wear on a person and on those around them.


‘Live’ is absolutely a great story that will take you on a emotional ride and that will introduce you to many characters that you will make you laugh and cry, feel anger, frustration, and injustice – as well as a greater appreciation for officers of the law who seek to justly uphold the law – even when it comes at a cost.

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