One evening when Ji-woo’s father decides to visit her risking his life just to see his one and only beloved daughter, he gets killed just before opening the door, with Ji-woo seeing the whole thing helplessly through the peephole. When she tries to get out and help her father, Dong Hoon locks the door from outside to save her and dies before even telling her his last wishes.
At the funeral of Dong Hoon, the head of the giant Dongcheon drug ring, Choi Mu-Jin (Park Hee-soon) appears and tells Ji-woo that her father was his gang member and his trusted friend. As the cops drop the case with the lack of evidence and the culprit is still free, with nowhere else to turn, Ji-Woo takes matters into her own hands and decides to join the Dongcheon gang. All she wants is vengeance for her father’s murder, so Choi Mu-jin gives her a route by taking Ji-Woo to his organisation as a newbie at the fighting gym. Given that her father once saved his life, Choi Mu-jin eventually decides to teach her lethal skills.
As she continues to establish herself in this new persona, she encounters bigger, meaner, and lethally armed opponents as the show progress. After tough fight training montages and a big ‘prove yourself’ final battle, Ji-woo gets a special assignment, which is to go undercover in the police and find her father’s killer, who used a police-issued gun to kill him.
In the process of finding her father’s killer, Ji-Woo teeters on the edge between a life of crime and keeping up her image in the precinct. Ji-Woo gives up everything, even her name, for revenge, but it comes at a price. From an everyday teen to a crime gang member, Ji-Woo becomes a feared individual with her new identity as Oh Hye-jin. By joining the narcotics squad of the Inchang Police, she also shows duality in working for police and thugs at the same time. The drama also stars Ahn Bo-hyun as Jeon Pil-do, who becomes her partner at the narcotics squad, and Kim Sang-ho as Cha Gi-ho, the unit leader, who once suspiciously darkened her doorstep soon after her father’s death.
Revenge is a popular topic in Korean dramas. Storylines often use heartbreaking details to illustrate the reasons a person might seek revenge, but also explore what revenge can do to those who pursue it. Usually, the price exacted by revenge is too high, as the quest can easily consume a life. But ‘My Name’ employs all the usual tropes of a revenge drama without being tedious or old hat. It’s nothing new, but it’s an old thing executed very well, with a generous helping of gore and violence for good measure. The creators of the series have wittingly organised the plot so that the interesting cliffhangers are intriguing, which definitely keeps audiences at the edge of their seats.
The series is quite the spectacle packed with a mixture of emotions, preferences, and connotations. ‘My Name’ features a profound emotional connotation at its core which surrounds the lead character. Ji-woo’s sadness and heartbreak are obvious, and the emotional situations that she has gone through in her life are what propels the story forward and allow the audience to connect with the protagonist and understand what she has been through. Just the mere fact that she is a woman makes her be perceived as a weak person in the gym of Dongcheon gang.
Her days there were filled with creepy glares and constant threats. Insults are hurled her way, and she even faces sexual harassment. Being a woman, in a male-dominated field is obviously no easy feat, especially when the job is in the mafia. But the most admirable aspect amidst all these obstacles, her eyes are focused on the target, and she is determined to reach her goal no matter what. With her determination and hard work, we see her rise like a phoenix above those who looked down on her.
The action scenes are superbly crafted. The action sequences are where Ji-woo shines the most, delivering brutal beat downs that are nonetheless grounded and oddly elegant in their choreography. Contrary to the clichés in the genre where the protagonist beats the bad guys into a pulp solo, it is not really what happens in this show. In fact, the action is so thrilling that it makes watching them quite a charming affair. Altogether, everything in the entire eight episodes is extremely intense. The cinematography is splendid, and the scenes are bathed in red, black, and brown tones enhanced by the liberal amounts of violence, making this series an exciting watch.
The rising South Korean actress Han So-hee who played the role of Song Ji-woo, is on a roll for her multiple hit K-dramas. She recently acted in the drama ‘Nevertheless’ and ‘The World of Married’, where her roles were totally different from ‘My Name’. Director Kim Jin-min said in an interview that Han So-hee didn’t think twice about joining the series even though she knew the risks of getting injured throughout the action scenes. Regarding how she came to choose this project, she said, “I could see the desperation in the script of someone having the one goal of revenge and only working towards it. As I didn’t have a chance to show my different sides of acting before this series, I wanted to try it and show my best.”
While all the other members had to get involved in heavy physical training and go to action school two months prior to filming, So-hee actually started a month earlier than others. Aside from attending action school, So-hee shared that she would always carry a knife with her just so she could get used to it and as she worked out a lot and got to eat what she wanted, she gained 10 kilograms of muscle weight for the series. Overall, her performance in this series was outstanding.
Ahn Bo-hyun’s character as Jeon Pil-do is also garnering immense love majorly because of his cold yet warm personality. Even though the actor stepped into acting in 2014, he rose to fame with a negative role in the 2020’s ‘Itaewon Class’. He is also currently starring in ‘Yumi’s Cell’ and will also be in ‘Yumi’s Cell 2’. As Bo-hyun is a gold medalist in boxing and is from Busan Sports High School, he didn’t have much problem pulling off his character. Though Ahn Bo Hyun also gained weight and worked out for his role as detective Jeon Pil Do. In an interview, he expressed his admiration for the show’s director and said, “I had so much fun watching ‘Extracurricular’ that I became a fan of the director. I read the script and fell in love.”
Another main character of the drama, Choi Mu-jin was played by Park Hee-soon, who also outshone Han So-hee in some scenes. The actor has been in the industry for almost two decades, having seen the times change. Park Hee Soon’s experience really spoke in the drama even though he is rarely seen in them. He is known for dramas like “Beautiful World,” “Missing Noir M,” and more. However, the list of movies done by him is never-ending. The actor has done some great films like “1987: When the Day Comes,” and “The Witch Part 1.” As for Park Hee Soon, who plays the head of the Dongcheon cartel aka Choi Moo Jin, he mentioned that he watched a lot of classic noir like “The Godfather” to depict the inner workings of a boss. This is on top of the extensive training he went through, which is unlike his past projects where he had to do physical exercise only for a month.
The first three episodes of this amazing drama premiered during the 26th edition of the ‘Busan International Film Festival’ held in Haeundae-gu, Busan, on October 7 to critical acclaim. Since ‘My Name’ began airing officially, it gained rewards from followers worldwide on the storyline, the dedication from the solid when moving into their roles, and rather more. In explicit, it has been praised for casting Han So Hee as the principal character, in a task that’s not seen usually in K-Dramas. According to data from an analytics platform, the series has ranked at Number Four on the charts for the top TV shows on Netflix, as of October 21.
According to The Korea Times, My Name has also topped the streaming chart in South Korea on the day of its release (15 October) and ranked Number Five in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The series also ranked among in the Top 10 counties like the US, Turkey, and New Zealand. “My Name” success has also boosted the stocks of South Korean producers after the huge success of “Squid Game”.
Overall, the story of the drama keeps the viewers' attention hooked from start to end. At certain points, it might even feel predictable, but the small plot twists keep the viewers glued. It flows smoothly without dragging many scenes. One more thing that stood out was the OST (Original Sound Track). A drama or a series needs a good soundtrack to add further depth to the story. All on balance, the drama is like a cherry on the cake.
* Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 10th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka