KBS’ recently concluded Angel’s Revenge (천상 여자) is a fully satisfying drama series. As long as you commit to all 103 episodes.
That may seem daunting and this was a daily drama. But committing yourself to the entire series about a nun-in-training leaving the convent to seek revenge for the murder of her pregnant sister will help ensure that this won’t be a wasted experience. In fact, Angel’s Revenge ends as a completely worthwhile and dramatic cat and mouse game with some sweet romance and fun (and short!) detours.
I was never one to binge-watch anything unless I needed to catch up on a show I was already following. Now I was definitely interested in watching Angel’s Revenge, partly because of having been a fan of Yoon So Yi, but also because the story idea of a nun seeking revenge for the death of her sister was intriguing. The title card of Yoon So Yi’s Seonyu half as a nun and half a hot, red-lipsticked woman also helped.
But wanting to catch up and push through the series, I ended up starting to watch a batch of 4-6 episodes during each sitting. Huge thanks to KBS World for uploading subtitled episodes on their YouTube, making it easier and maybe more enjoyable to watch a daily drama.
(Oh those torturous days of following Smile, Donghae or My Bittersweet Life and My One and Only daily.)
If I had watched Angel’s Revenge live and an episode-a-day, I think I probably would’ve given up on the show about halfway through. The series had a great start and solid first third, but the middle part is when things almost screeched to a halt before picking back up 2/3 of the way through and then going full throttle during its last 10-15 episodes.
Still, even through that rough middle patch, the writers were able to craft a cat and mouse game that didn’t give all the brains to one person. We saw all the parties involved, whether it was Seonyu or Taejeong or Jihui or any of their accomplices and supporters, show that they indeed had brains and were able to recover from each respective bumps in the road they may have encountered together or separately.
Seonyu thinks she’s got Taejeong got, he one ups her. He thinks he’s finished Seonyu for good, she pulls out another card from her sleeve. She finds another piece of evidence that should bury Taejeong, he manages to weasel his way out of the hole. It was a legitimate back and forth between them. And usually, that would seem laborious and repetitive. But that Angel’s Revenge always found new ways to one-up each other, smash each other’s expectations and our own as viewers, is a huge accomplishment for the series.
Revenge is Korean drama’s answer to the Philippines’ obsession with adultery. If Filipinos love their soaps with cheating husbands and wives, revenge dramas will never go out of style or be tired in Korea.
Like many other revenge dramas in the past, Angel’s Revenge shows that even the most noble of missions can bring heartbreak and heartache to the one seeking justice, just as much as they intend to bring to the criminal or just plain asshole they aim to bring down.
Angel’s Revenge did a fairly good job illustrating that point. We saw Taejeong go to jail and (surprisingly) his mother Dalnyeo never recovering from the brain damage she suffered at the hands of her son, both ending up having to pay for their letting Jinyu die and their continued efforts to cover it up and maintain clear consciences.
They may have halfheartedly tried to offer Taejeong redemption in the end, but it was actually refreshing to see that he and his mother ended up reaping those evil seeds that they sowed.
We saw Grandma’s secrets and lies blow up in her face and not get neatly cleaned up in the end. We saw Jiseok’s real mother be so consumed with hate and revenge that she couldn’t see the snake or her son right in front of her face. We saw Taemi never get with her sexy “bum” after ignoring her brother and mother’s crimes the entire series. And on the other side of the spectrum, we see Wuhyeon and Bongchang enjoying a brand new pizza restaurant and a happily ever after with Bangtong.
For Seonyu, it was the struggle to be happy and to love while feeling guilty and angry about her sister’s death. Like Grandma told her, the guilt she would feel is enough punishment. But she was willing to sacrifice her true love for Jiseok to bring her sister’s killer to justice.
Some fans may have been looking for a passionate kiss between Seonyu and Jiseok in that final scene. While some Korean dramas or the actors themselves shy away from even simple kissing scenes, Seonyu and Jiseok here have had their own fair share of intense kisses. So it’s not like the show or the actors were averse to the idea.
But from a story perspective, it made sense. They had parted ways and while they both finally proclaimed their love for each other, they still needed some time to fully dive in. Both even agreed, with not so many words, to start anew the next time their paths cross. So when we see them in that final scene, meeting for the first time in a year, but still obviously in love with each other, it’s an understood ending that perfectly fits.
Trust was a big part of the series and especially for Seonyu and Jiseok’s story. Just like deep down they trusted each other even through the most difficult of times, the fans that have followed them for 103 episodes should trust that they do indeed get their happy ending.
I’m still fuming at the horrible ending to SBS’ Warrior Baek Dong Soo. Sure, it isn’t actually a fusion saeguk about an epic gay couple, but they completely rewrote history to pair the title character with the poor damsel in distress instead of the kick-ass best friend who actually shared 100x more chemistry with our hero and was Baek Dong Soo’s actual real-life wife.
Yoon So Yi was absolutely robbed as Jin Joo. She was most certainly the female lead on Warrior Baek Dong Soo. Knowing she was the lead of Angel’s Revenge definitely piqued my interest in the series. And she managed to pretty much carry the series on her own shoulders.
Yes, Park Jung Chul deserves much kudos to for playing Taejeong as sleazy and evil as he could possibly be and more.
But Yoon So Yi was excellent the entire series, taking care of a whole range of emotions from crying for her sister to vengeful fuming to sweet romantic to sly smirking. And yes, like on Warrior Baek Dong Soo, she was able to literally kick some ass.
The rest of the cast did fine work too. Moon Bo Ryung managed to keep Jihui from being a total idiot and really helped turn the character around as soon as she was clued in to what was happening around her. Jiseok was pretty much strung around and pulled along for most of the series by every other character, but Kwon Yool delivered in that last third when finally given meaty material to work with.
Kwon Yool and Yoon So Yi shared a great, innocent chemistry. Like high school sweethearts whose words can go unspoken. For them to be able to keep that chemistry going whether it was the sweet, romantic scenes or the bittersweet melodrama, is a great testament to their talents.
Overall, Angel’s Revenge is a typical daily drama. When it is good, it is real good. And when it’s bad, well… Thankfully though, there was more good than bad and even if it was my binge-watching that makes me feel this way, it was a completely satisfying 103 episodes.
You can watch the entire series on KBS World’s Official YouTube Channel!