Netflix has been quietly serving up some great offerings on the Kdrama (Korean drama) front. This is one of their ‘originals’ (though that term seems to cover just exclusives to Netflix that weren’t commissioned by Netflix, such as Riverdale). Black is one of those exclusives to the UK, and I was hooked from the first couple of scenes.
Before you scroll past, take heed that this genuinely is a good show to watch if you either don’t think you’re into Kdrama, or you’re not interested in soppy romantic girls yelling ‘oppa!’ at her love interest. This one is different – I promise.
OK, there are several instances of the lead girl calling our guy ‘oppa’ (a bit like the multi-meaning ‘dear’ for a friend, relative or boyfriend), but said lead is nothing like the dewy-skinned, Rapunzel-curled, doll-eyed dressed fashion plate that almost every Kdrama features. This lead, Kang Ha-Raam (Go Ara) is sloppy, surly, cold, full of insults, dresses down, and wears sunglasses indoors. Why does she wear sunglasses indoors? Because she can see the literal shadow of death on someone who’s about to die, of course.
But she’s tired of seeing it. After ‘failing’ to prevent her own father’s death, and her strained relationship with her mother, she lives alone, in a shitty shack with a broken door that’s so dangerously dated that it doesn’t even have a digital passcode on it, I bet it doesn’t have heated floors, either.
After a beautifully horrifying scene in which Ha-ram fights tooth and nail to get off a doomed plane, she’s questioned by police, including Han Moo-gang (Song Seung-heon), who seems to the only one empathising with her, despite not quite believing her story.
Events soon get hit with a fantastic curve ball in which the tsundere (socially cold) becomes the tsundered. It has the weekly cliffhanger appeal of an anime, and some natural acting, to boot. No overwhelming love plot so far, and zero pop song placements. This isn’t that kind of show.
Ten episodes have aired and its viewership is increasing steadily (both worldwide and in Seoul). I’m only two episodes in so let’s hope that, once it hits its supernatural stride, it’s still got that understated, deadpan lack of cheese so prevalent (but welcome) in other Kdramas.