I’d been meaning to finish this review of jTBC’s 2015 series D-Day (디데이) for a while now. It’s actually been a while since I last watched the entire series. But having started Sweet Stranger and Me starring Kim Young Kwang, I was reminded of how great D-Day was so I quickly rewatched the first couple of thrilling episodes before finishing up this review.
And “thrilling” is a perfect word to describe D-Day. The series is about the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that levels most of Seoul and focuses on a ragtag medical team operating out of one of the few remaining hospitals in the city. There are heroic doctors and nurses, selfish cowards and evil hospital administrators concerned more with their bank account and reputation than helping their dying fellow countrymen.
It sounds like the plot of any big Summer disaster blockbuster. But what makes D-Day different and unique is that it is a 20 episode drama series. And because of that, D-Day is able to tell a fuller and more interesting story than a 2-hour movie.
D-Day is essentially a slice of life medical drama masked as a disaster epic.
Indeed, the centerpiece of any disaster film is the execution of the initial earthquake itself and the destruction it immediately brings about. And D-Day‘s almost 10-minute sequence of that first tremor is impressive, especially with only an above-average drama series budget.
There are other tremors throughout the series and there are sprawling sets, both indoors and outdoors, of just utter destruction. Visually, D-Day gets it right almost immediately.
But what makes D-Day even more engaging and fascinating is that the story and writing is actually right on par with its set design and special effects. That is, the medical drama aspect of the plot holds up well and seamlessly blends in with the disaster spectacle. The earthquake scenes are legitimately exciting. And there’s life and death situations at every turn.
But what makes D-Day truly stand out is that it is a character-driven story at its core.
The series puts a surprising, but welcome focus on human relationships and personal reaction to disaster than simply mindless blockbuster action scenes. How do people respond to such a life-changing event? Who rises up to the challenge? Who succumbs to the worst of humanity? Being a 20-episode series, D-Day is able to tackle those questions and more while offering up legitimate action.
The ensemble cast is great. But our leads truly knock it out of the park with their excellent performances.
Kim Young Kwang proves once again that he is leading man material. I’ve followed him since KBS’ White Christmas and he has been able to get better and better with each project. And a series or different genres as well, showing his versatility. As the noble Dr. Lee Hae Sung, Kim Young Kwang commands the scene, but remains relatable and down to earth.
Jung So Min as his leading lady and orthopedic resident Jung Ddol Mi is great and fun while able to take on very dramatic scenes. I first saw her on Came to Me and Became a Star where she also turned in a wonderful performance. But here, she is able to stretch her acting chops with a likewise versatile performance.
Ha Seok Jin, one of my favorite Korean actors, flexes his experience as Han Woo Jin who is definitely locked into his gray area throughout the series. But gives the main trio that extra bit of strong heft to seal the deal.
D-Day (which is available on Viki) is definitely a must-watch. An intriguing, exciting series reminiscent of big summer blockbusters, but with a character-driven story that engages until the last minute.