Korean action thriller drama “Search” is the perfect way to wrap up 2020’s year of dramas with monsters, mayhem, and some good old-fashioned fighting against evil. Sergeant Yong Dong Jin (Jang Dong Yoon) lives a simple life as a sergeant in the South Korean armed forces. He has a tight group of friends, his military dog, Leo, and is one month away from being discharged. All seems well until he’s ordered on an expedition into the DMZ in the middle of the night to investigate some soldiers that have gone missing. Who’s heading the expedition? None other than his ex-girlfriend, Lieutenant Son Ye Rim (Krystal Jung). The two must put aside their past friction to track down their missing colleagues. Yet, something watches them from the dark of the DMZ, and it isn’t human.
“Search” is a must-watch with its blend of heart, action, and bone-chilling moments. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat one moment and tearing up the next. OCN is known for its darker fare and this drama is no exception. At just 10 episodes, it’s a quick, thrilling watch and is easy to fit into a cold Saturday afternoon. If this isn’t enough to entice you to watch the drama, check out these other reasons why you should add this show to your binge-watch list below!
A warm male lead
Yong Dong Jin shatters the stereotypes of military men being stern and taciturn. Like Yoo Shi Jin in “Descendants of the Sun,” Yong Dong Jin is very much in touch with his feelings. He’s caring and supportive with his team, and he isn’t afraid to question authority or show emotion when he loses someone he cares about. It’s especially great in a military drama to have a character who is easy to root for like Dong Jin. You feel his pain and fear as the conspiracy he uncovers grows greater and greater. This connection between character and viewer would not be as deep with a less likeable hero, for example, a stereotypical arrogant male lead.
Jang Dong Yoon is the perfect choice to play Dong Jin. He has these wonderfully expressive eyes that convey every emotion his character feels. The show often has moments where Dong Jin has to remain stoic and show no outward feeling due to military protocol. Yet, one look into Jang Dong Yoon’s eyes and everything Dong Jin feels is laid bare for the viewer. In a tensely-plotted 10-episode drama, he manages to bring Dong Jin to life in a way that feels fresh and lived-in. The abs are the cherry on top, and he loves his dog. What’s not to love?
A charismatic girl-crush female lead
Krystal Jung excels as the tough, no-nonsense Son Ye Rim. In a complete role reversal, she’s the hotshot elite officer who swoops in and heads the first night mission into the DMZ. She’s extremely intelligent, having earned the highest scores during her training as an officer, and even went on to complete training overseas. This is definitely not a damsel in distress.
There’s always the possibility of cold female characters being somewhat emotionless, but this is not the case with Ye Rim. She’s fierce, but she still has a heart. She’s able to keep her history with Dong Jin separate from their work together while also comforting him when he’s hurting. She saves his life and the lives of the team numerous times. In addition to all that, she’s also the first to figure out that something’s not quite right about the soldiers found dead in the DMZ and that there’s more than just rabies going on. Definitely girl-crush material.
Krystal is really good at portraying these somewhat cold yet extremely competent characters and always finds a way to make them her own. Ye Rim feels like a real-life military officer and it’s hard not to root for her brand of toughness and heart. She makes for a perfect match with Dong Jin.
The slow-burn romance
Ah romance. That invisible pull between two people that keeps us all glued to the screen. “Search” may be a thriller but it finds a way to weave in a subtle undercurrent of romance between the two leads that feels organic and lived-in. There may be monsters to fight and conspiracies to unravel, but sometimes, there’s nothing better than karaoke night with your ex-partner whom you still have a crush on. At least, that’s what Dong Jin and Ye Rim end up doing, albeit not on purpose. The lingering feelings between the two lend themselves to quite a few deep stares, longing glances, and them repeatedly saving each other’s lives (because nothing says true love like that!).
These two convey a romance that feels deep and organic. Not the heart-fluttering connections and shy stares between a couple that has yet to come together, but the enduring ties between a couple that had it all, lost it, and want to return to each other. It feels like a mature romance and is blended well with the rest of the show. There’s no genre whiplash here!
The high-octane twists and thrills
“Search” is a compact drama. Sitting at 10 episodes, this show means to pack a punch and it definitely does! The first episode alone has birth secrets, numerous deaths, monster attacks, and introduces the conspiracy tying everything together. Each following episode is a zippy ride with twists and turns coming left and right. What’s especially thrilling about this show is that everyone has more information than the heroes. Dong Jin, Ye Rim, and their team are running blind into what is essentially a death trap. They have to work together and quickly in order to defeat the monsters, both human and not, while evil lurks within their own team.
A host of supporting characters with vivid fleshed-out stories of their own only add to the ride. There’s the mysterious Captain Song Min Kyu (Yoon Park) who is in danger for being court-martialed for unknown reasons. Despite his poor standing with the military, he is strangely given the chance to head Dong Jin and Ye Rim’s team in return for being absolved of all wrongdoing. There’s also Kim Da Jung (Moon Jung Hee), the former head of an all-female squadron who quit the military until mysterious circumstances and now works as a guide at the DMZ memorial center. All these people have a part to play in the conspiracy around the DMZ, and it makes for a nerve-wracking, intense watch!
The deep questions
“Search” asks difficult questions. How far would you go to cover up your greatest mistake? At its core, the drama is an exploration of the human psyche under duress and how mistakes in the past completely reorient the future. The drama explores the depth of greed in the character of Congressman Lee Hyuk (Yu Seong Ju), one of the soldiers who triggered the cataclysmic event that birthed the monsters stalking the DMZ. Lee Hyuk hides the truth behind the tragedy he precipitated to serve his selfish gains and uses it as a means to gain power.
However, it isn’t just Lee Hyuk that serves as the great mastermind behind everything. “Search” demonstrates that the monsters of this world may be closer than we realize, as Lee Hyuk’s insidious brand of evil surfaces in the military and in members of Dong Jin and Ye Rim’s team. The question then becomes whether it is possible to eradicate such evil without losing one’s humanity. “Search” says yes.
Start watching “Search” below!
Hey Soompiers, have you watched “Search”? What do you think of the drama? Let us know in the comments below!
Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram and feel free to ask her anything!
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