BusinessKim Nam-Gil Seeks Badlands Justice In ‘Song Of The...

Kim Nam-Gil Seeks Badlands Justice In ‘Song Of The Bandits’


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Kim Nam-gil plays the lonely and tortured Lee Yoon in the Korean drama Song of the Bandits. Lee Yoon is tortured by his memories of the innocent Korean civilians who died while he sought independence fighters as the youngest Korean-born major in the Japanese army. The independence fighters dared to defy the Japanese rule of Korea, which Japan made a protectorate with the forced Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905.

The character joined the Japanese army because he was born a slave and the master that freed him insisted he sign up and serve. While enforcing Japanese rule his fierce fighting skills made him a hero, at least to the Japanese. His former master, Lee Gwang Il, played by Lee Hyun-wook, claimed to be his friend and helped him rise in the ranks. But when Lee Yoon decides to leave Gwang-il plots to kill him.

Lee Yoon is lonely because he has few real friends. He’s become the enemy to his countrymen. He tries to end his life by drowning himself in whiskey, then decides to travel north to the lawless land of Jiandao in China. In Jiandao, he seeks Choi Chung-soo, played by Yoo Jae-myung, an independence fighter with every reason to kill him. Consumed by remorse, that seems a fitting way to die.

His only fond memories are of Nam Hee-Shin, played by Seohyun, who he met when he was a Japanese officer. Hiding her true identity, she works in the railway bureau for the Japanese controlled government.

When Lee Yoon arrives in the badlands, a cruel incident changes his priorities. He sees how his countrymen there are preyed upon by roving gangs of mounted bandits and decides it would be better to die protecting them than to invite someone to kill him. He takes the law—and justice—into his own hands.

If the badlands of Jiandao remind you of the Wild West that’s probably no coincidence, even if they are found half a world away. The sepia tones of the drama’s sandstorm ravaged setting seem designed to evoke just that comparison. The time frame is right too. Set in the early 20th century the drama takes place only decades after Wyatt Earp moved to Tombstone and during his tenure battled roving gangs of bandits. Like Earp, Lee Yoon has some serious character flaws. He’s worked for the bad guys, betrayed his countrymen in the past and has no compunction about exacting revenge. Even though he’s a morally gray character, everyone else in Jiandao is so vicious or ambivalent, he becomes a hero just by taking a stand. Lee Yoon is a great role for Kim since the actor seems to viscerally understand characters who are dark and tortured. It’s easy to feel Lee Yoon’s pain. And Kim is good at action scenes, of which this drama has plenty.

The character will need his fighting skills. If he can manage to overcome the area’s bandits, he may next have to face the Japanese army. Hopefully, he will have allies.

Kim previously appeared in the dramas The Fiery Priest, Island and in the disaster blockbuster Pandora; the crime thriller Memoir of a Murderer and adventure film The Pirates. Seohyun, a member of the k-pop group Girls Generation, starred in the dramas Jinxed At First and Private Lives and the film Love and Leashes. Yoo Jae-myung appeared in Vincenzo, The Sound of Magic and Juvenile Justice, as well as the films Switch, Harbin and Hunt.

The drama airs on Netflix



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