CAST: Park Seo-joon , Claudia Kim , Wi Ha-joon , Han So-hee , Kim Hae-sook , Jo Han-chul

DIRECTOR: Chung Dong-yoon

As South Korean dramas carve a distinctive niche on American screens, Netflix’s “Gyeongseong Creature” ascends as a testament to the genre’s global allure. This series isn’t just a show; it’s a gripping concoction of history, romance, mystery, and science fiction, all wrapped up with the thrilling presence of monsters. Its narrative is set against the backdrop of 1945 Gyeongseong (now Seoul), a time fraught with the tyranny of a desperate Japan nearing the end of World War II.

The show might not clinch “Squid Game’s” record-breaking viewership, but in terms of entertainment value, it’s a formidable contender, weaving a story that’s both historically poignant and wildly imaginative.

Gyeongseong Creature review: A monstrous historical K-drama - Dexerto

At the heart of this series is Jang Tae-sang, played by the charismatic Park Seo-jun, who you might recognize from “Parasite.” His portrayal of a wealthy pawn-shop owner, adept at navigating the treacherous waters of wartime politics, is nothing short of captivating. Alongside him is Han So-hee’s Yoon Chae-ok, a resilient finder of missing persons with a personal quest that’s as heartbreaking as it is compelling. Their paths cross in a city under siege, leading to an unlikely yet profound connection.

The narrative’s core unfolds within the eerie halls of Onseong Hospital, a place of unspeakable horrors where Japanese scientists, driven by desperation, engage in grotesque experiments on human subjects. This setting provides a chilling “Alien”-style claustrophobia that’s as intriguing as it is terrifying. Yet, the show brilliantly oscillates between this and other locales, incorporating flashbacks that enrich the characters’ backstories, making their struggles and motivations deeply resonant.

One of the series’ most commendable aspects is its ability to weave significant moments for even the most minor characters. Writer Kang Eun-kyung and director Chung Dong-yoon have crafted a story where every character, no matter how small their role, contributes to the narrative’s rich tapestry. It’s a detail that adds layers of depth and emotional gravity to the story, making every scene and every interaction count.

Gyeongseong Creature' Part 1 Review: A Solid First Brick - The Hollywood  Handle

In true Netflix fashion, the show is split into two parts, a strategy likely to keep audiences hooked and eagerly anticipating the next installment. Having delved into the first six episodes, the show’s ability to maintain its intricate juggling act of various genres and storylines is admirable. If the concluding chapters maintain the momentum and mad-scientist insanity of the first half, “Gyeongseong Creature” is well on its way to being a success.

But not the “Sweet Home ” variety.

At its lowest points, the series seems to stretch beyond the limits of its narrative, meandering around its most captivating components. The monstrous entity and the pivotal romance, surprisingly, don’t take center stage until much later, diminishing their impact. While it tries to emulate the success of “Sweet Home,” which recently launched its second season on the platform, it falls short in maintaining the same level of dynamism and enjoyment essential for momentum. There are fleeting instances where the eerie creature and potential for a more compelling story surface, capturing our attention momentarily. However, the series often breezes by these tantalizing prospects, seldom pausing to explore them in-depth, leaving a trail of untapped potential in its wake.

Streams on Netflix

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