Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
The Netflix original series My Name tells the story of a person who dies her identity and becomes an undercover police officer to find her father’s killer. And yes, it’s a very familiar plot. Stories of gang members infiltrating the police are now common, as you can see in Infernal Affairs (2002), New World (2013), and more. However, My Name creates a sense of immersion, proving that the “true perfection” of the work depends on how the story is unfolded, not on the freshness of the material. Then what helped My Name become a well-made action noir? We answer the question with three features.
Han So Hee‘s Transformation
The World of the Married and Nevertheless actress Han So Hee turned into Ji Woo, a woman who goes undercover as a police officer to avenge her father’s death. At first, her casting was only followed with questions and doubts. Many wondered if Han Seo Hee, who boasts pretty and glamorous looks, would be able to pull off a character in a desperate revenge drama. But all these worries disappeared just 10 minutes into the show. Han flawlessly expressed Ji Woo’s resentment and anger at losing her father right in front of her eyes, completely wiping out the “pretty” images she had. Also, she delicately portrays Ji Woo’s anxiety of having to lie about her true identity after becoming a police officer, narrowing the distance between her and the viewers.
It’s not only her acting that stands out in her transformation. The actress has also put in a ton of effort in performing action scenes. Not only did she gain 10kg, but she also went to the action school with her co-stars for better teamwork. As her efforts are clearly shown in her character, the action scenes also naturally adhere to the play. Ji Woo’s action is not simply an eye-catching feature as it carries various emotions such as anger, sadness, and revenge. Ji Woo erased her name for her revenge, and Han So Hee took a great leap forward as an actress by pushing away the nicknames that prioritized her looks over her acting.
Story that Focuses on Revenge
My Name centers around a familiar topic of “undercover” of a crime genre, but there is no room for boredom as it maintains its concentration. The show solely focuses on Ji Woo’s revenge and excludes unnecessary subplots. All eight episodes induce dramatic interest without a dragging section and make us curious about what’s coming next. Questions about the identity of Ji Woo’s father’s killer have also unfolded appropriately. Moreover, My Name also calms concerns about the play being monotonous by excessively concentrating on the main character’s story or supporting characters having no presence at all. Supporting characters like Choi Moo Jin, the organization’s boss, Cha Ki Ho, the head of the drug investigation unit, and detective Jeon Pil Do naturally permeate the story of Ji Woo and play an essential role in the development.
R-rated Action Scenes that Capture Characters’ Emotions
Since the story is about the confrontation between a drug ring and the police, My Name has many R-rated action scenes. Having knives and guns is a norm, and even the brutal scenes of chopping off parts of the body are also shown. Some scenes are too much to the extent that the viewers will either love it or hate it. Yet, we love the series despite the savage scenes because the characters’ characteristics and emotions are contained within their action.
In the drama, action scenes play the role of maximizing the cruel and desperate situations the characters face as they run towards their goals. Ji Woo seeks revenge for her father, Moo Jin tries to get rid of anyone who gets in the way of his ambitions, and Cha Ki Ho and Jeon Pil Do use violence as a means to stop evil at all costs. Maybe that’s why. Their confrontation comes more like the instinct of the beasts for survival. In the process, the complex inner feelings of the characters are combined with bloody action to make the play’s overall vibe even denser.
At a time when the success of D.P. and Squid Game marks the heyday of Netflix’s Korean original content, My Name will continue this trend. Even with the cliché of a gang member who goes undercover as a cop, the passionate acting of the cast, the density of the story, and the emotional action scenes are well blended to deliver “time-erasing” fun.
My Name is getting a favorable response, ranking 5th in Netflix’s worldwide ranking (as of October 24th). In November, another Netflix original series Hellbound, which received lavish praises along with My Name at the BIFF, will be unveiled. Will Hellbound, which has been attracting attention since the pre-production, be able to take over the baton handed by My Name? If so, could the undefeated record of Netflix’s Korean original content, which adds credibility every time a new project comes out, continue? Seeing the success of My Name, I am already looking forward to Netflix’s Korean original content to be released in the future.
Verdict: A drama completed by Han So Hee’s blood, sweat, and tears (8/10)
Editor Hwang Hong Sun: A Korean movie buff who wishes that the warm messages in good works will warm up this world at least by one degree Fahrenheit.
Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.