I watched Ruler of Your Own World back in mid-2004 and fell instantly in love with it.
Here’s what I wrote after I finished the drama:
If you are looking for an atypical Korean drama, I recommend watching RULER OF YOUR OWN WORLD. It will touch your heart and soul. This is the most touching and heartwarming drama I’ve ever seen.
Ko Boksu (Yang Dong-geun) is a reformed pickpocket turned stuntman. He is loved fiercely by two women: Kyung, a rock-band musician (Lee Na-young) and Mirae (Kong Hyo-jin), a cheerleader.
Very early in the drama (Ep. 2) and shortly after he is discharged from prison, Boksu finds out that he has brain cancer. Despite the death sentence hanging over his head (pun unintended) and his criminal past, Boksu sets out to be a catalyst of change for the people around him.
When Kyung’s suitor, Mr. Han (Lee Dong-gun) asks Kyung why she likes Boksu, she replies that she is attracted to Boksu’s heart. “Ever since I saw his heart, my heart has been crying ceaselessly. Boksu is the best person in this world.”
Forget the usual tall and handsome K-hunks. Yang Dong-geun is neither tall nor handsome. In fact, he’s not even famous and there’s precious little to read about him on the Web. But in ROYOW he gives a performance that will take your breath away. I can honestly say his role as Ko Boksu is the very best acting I’ve seen in a K-drama.
ROYOW is not a complicated drama. Yes, it has the fatal disease and the love triangle, but it is as far removed from the usual K-drama as it can be. There isn’t the roller-coaster ups and downs, the “we love each other but can’t be together” teary scenes. There is no one in the story that you want to clobber. There isn’t a scene where you want to say, “Oh, cut out this stupid crap and get on with it.” The dialogue is the most honest I’ve ever heard. The characters in the story tell each other exactly what they think. The honesty is sometimes brutal, but that’s how ROYOW is. It’s about taking charge of your own life and making sense out of it no matter how difficult the circumstances. It’s about being truthful even if the truth hurts like hell.
ROYOW made me cry and laugh. It also made me uncomfortable. I do not know if I can watch other K-dramas in the same way again. Winter Sonata (WLS) was my first K-drama and I loved it so much. But when I was watching ROYOW, I couldn’t help thinking that WLS was so mushy and melodramatic compared to ROYOW. And just several months ago I was so crazy over Attic Cat. Yet Attic Cat seems so trivial and shallow now compared to ROYOW.
Maybe I should just go watch The Sandglass after ROYOW. Sandglass is supposed to be the BEST K-drama ever. Perhaps watching it will help get ROYOW out of my system. ROYOW is making me think and ponder too much. That’s not what a drama should do, right? A drama is supposed to be just entertainment. It shouldn’t make you think so much about life and living.
Postscript: Four years on, reading what I wrote about ROYOW still brings on the tears. I shall always love this drama.
Aside: It tickles me so when I read about my old feelings for Winter Sonata. I certainly don’t feel the same way now! ^^