When it comes to watching Korean dramas, everyone knows that once you make the decision to watch that drama in its entirety, it means that you have made a commitment that will last you sixteen to twenty four episodes, each of which might be a little bit more than an hour long. However, as Korean drama fans, more often than not, we are more than ready for this. However, sometimes, there are moments in which you do hope that you could enjoy a once and done drama that doesn’t take so much time to finish. There have been dramas that do have a lesser episode count, but this is precisely want OCN wanted to address when they decided to launch the OCN Dramatic Cinema project, in which they would air a one season short drama that boasted cinematic qualities in terms of production. And, they kicked this off with the seven episode “Trap”, which was a wonderful bite-sized psychological thriller that boasted great actors, great production quality and a compelling story.
The drama aired from February 9 to March 3, 2019. It was written by Nam Sang Wook (“Special Affairs Team TEN”), and was directed by Park Shin Woo who directed and wrote the 2009 movie “White Night”.
“Trap” follows Kang Woo Hyun (Lee Seo Jin), a famous but newly retired news anchorman whose seemingly fun family vacation turns into a bizarre tragedy. He then ends up teaming up with Ko Dong Kook (Sung Dong Il), a veteran yet grumpy detective with a tragic family past of his own, and Yoon Seo Young (Lim Hwa Young), a young and persistent profiler. Together, the trio delve deeper into the incident and try to solve what really happened to Woo Hyun’s family, and to discover who was behind all of this. Along the way, bizarre truths are discovered, and the audience is taken through an emotional journey of unpredictable twists and turns.
The drama also starred Seo Young Hee as Woo Hyun’s wife, Shin Yeon Soo; Lee Joo Bin as Secretary Kim Shi Hyun; Kim Kwang Kyu as Squad Chief Jang Man Ho; and Oh Ryong as the ruthless businessman Hong Won Tae, among others.
Based on OCN’s original objectives for this experiment, I do believe that they were very much successful in creating a short drama that boasted movie level qualities in terms of its actors, quality and production; which proves that a mini-series as short as this one is doable and very much viable in a landscape full of longer dramas. As of late, the production of Korean dramas has gotten better and better, but this drama raised the standard for dramas that do want to have that movie like quality, and proved that it can be done. And based on the good ratings that “Trap” had, I really do hope that OCN and other Korean TV channels and studios will make more of these one day.
The line up of the entire cast was nothing short of impressive, and their performances lived up to their names, especially with big name actors such as Lee Seo Jin and Sung Dong Il.
Lim Hwa Young is an actress that I’ve been keeping an eye out for, and has continued to delight in dramas such as “Chief Kim” and “Prison Playbook/Wise Prison Life”, and this outing proved that she really does has some impressive and serious acting chops. I cannot wait to see how she does in future projects.
Story-wise, the pacing of the narrative was great, and I loved how they showed how the key players of the drama were connected to each other even before this incident happened, in a very realistic manner instead of the usual “red string of fate” trope that’s always used in dramas.
I also liked how we were able to go on this investigative journey alongside Dong Kook and Seo Young, and that the big plot twist was something that I could not have predicted at all. Aside from this, I do like that this drama was actually an exploration of the darker side of human nature.
There was a lot of action, and violence in it, and there were at least a few things in which I did have to look away as I couldn’t really take it, or think of it.
While the main big plot twist was great, there was a smaller plot twist that may have been great to others, but for me fell a little bit flat, although it did have a meaningful and good purpose as to why it existed in the story. I was just not extremely fond of that.
OCN’s “Trap” proved that changing up the drama formula and the drama game within networks is plausible and viable, with a one off story told in a more cinematic manner than the usual fare. It is an experiment that worked, and I do hope that OCN does continue to have at least one or two of these every year.
Now, you know the drill, from here on out, there will be spoilers!
I thought that OCN did great with its casting, as I cannot imagine our three main characters being played by anyone else but these three-Lee Seo Jin, Sung Dong Il, and Lim Hwa Young.
Lee Seo Jin was perfect casting as the Kang Woo Hyun, as he definitely was able to, alongside Dong Kook and Seo Young, to be fooled the entire time. He portrayed both sides of his character to perfection- the grieving and devoted father, and on the other side of the coin, a psychopath who would do absolutely ANYTHING in order to get what he wants, which, in this case, was his ambition to run for government office. I mean, who in their right mind would go to the lengths of using his own wife and son for the sake of his own ambitions? Only someone truly psychotic would. However, at the same time, I liked that even though he was able to fool everyone around him, it was still totally believable that he could be capable of doing all the things that he did.
I really liked this plot twist, and did not see it coming from a mile away.
The plot twist I wasn’t really so fond of was the fact that in this drama universe, a group of other psychopaths exist that basically control everything, from businesses to politics, and that also hunt humans for sport. I understand the need for such a group to be there, as Woo Hyun did all of that as his main “audition” to get the attention of this group whom he knew he could use to get into power, but I also wasn’t fond of it as plot twists like this are a dime a dozen these days. However, this did not detract at all to my overall enjoyment of the drama.
I love Sung Dong Il in whatever role he portrays, and this one was no exception. However, this time, I was able to see him shine more in terms of what he can do when it comes to acting, as I’ve never really seen him portraying a lead role. More often than not, in the dramas I watch, he’s usually just a supporting character in the form of the grumpy yet wise mentor or father.
Lim Hwa Young was really able to expand her acting chops here, and impressed me even more. I also love that even though the case was supposedly done, her character, Seo Young, wasn’t lulled into that fall sense of security and allowed her gut instinct to prevail by addressing and going after that 1% of the case that she wasn’t fully convinced about, because, as it turned out, she was right. I also didn’t mind that her twin sister, also portrayed by her, popped up at the end, because if there ever was a second season, I would have wanted her to still be involved in some shape or form.
All in all, OCN’s “Trap” was a successful experiment, and a great bite-sized psychological thriller that boasted cinematic qualities and great performances all around. If you are not in the mood to watch a full drama, and want a good watch, if you can stomach some violence and gore, then this one is for you.
Have you seen “Trap”? What did you think of it? Would you want a second season of it? Let me know what you think in the comments below!