Drama Review: Gaksital (Bridal Mask)

by: A-Doorama Queen

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  • Title: 각시탈 / Gaksital / Bridal Mask
  • Genre: Action
  • Episodes: 28
  • Director: Yun Seong-Sik (The Slingshot)
  • Writer: Huh Young-Man (manhwa), Yoo Hyun-Mi (Green Rose, The Scale of Providence, Home Sweet Home)
  • Broadcast network: KBS2

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Summary:

Gaksital is a period drama based on the popular Korean manhwa by Huh Young-Man. The setting takes place in Seoul, Korea during the 1930s Japanese colonial era.  The plot of the TV drama is slightly different from the original graphic novel. The story follows a man named Lee Kang to, who starts off aiding the annihilation of the Korean rebellion as a Korean Police officer commissioned by the Japanese Police.  He started off to in hopes to buy a bigger house for his mother and to take his older brother, who became mentally challenged after he fought for the Japanese, to the best hospital so that he could get better.  However as he gained rank he took his job more seriously and  during his mission, he encounters a notorious masked man who dons a traditional Korean bridal mask to fight for Korea’s independence.  With unforeseen events as well as his eye being opened to the treacherous deeds he has been doing to his own countrymen our villain turns to hero as he choses to put on the Bridal Mask and take on the duty left to him and fight for Korea’s independence by assassinating Japanese key officers.  Along the way the mystery unfolds as to who holds power and who is on which side.  Our hero gains new supporters such as his first love Bong Yi, who stands by him as he takes on the new challenge of becoming one of Korea’s saviours. He also new enemies such as his dear friend Kimura Shunji, an Japanese man teaching Korean.   However, Shunji who decided to put on the police uniform because of major changes to his life, just like Kang To, in hopes to save the people he cares about only it seemed a bigger challenge.  To please his father who is partly behind the annihilation and losing his first love Oh Mok Dan who is part of the Korean independence party to his new enemy Gaksital, he unravels as he claps for his chance of heroism.  Will the Japanese supporters win with the annihilation of the Korean Rebellion and Make Korea theirs or will the Independence party rise up and take back what is rightfully theirs, bot just for them but also for their people?

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Main Cast:

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  • Joo Won as Lee Kang To/ Sato Hiroshi
  • Kim Woo Suk as Lee Young (Kang-To’s childhood name)

A pro-Japanese Korean police officer hated by his own fellow countrymen, who label him as a traitor to his homeland. He is infamous for being heartless and inconsiderate of others’ feelings. He later reaches a turning point, after which he becomes the masked vigilante known as “Gaksital” (meaning “Bridal Mask”) who fights for Korea’s independence.

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  • Jin Se Yun as Oh Mok Dan/ Boon Yi/ Esther
  • Kim Hyun Soo as young Boon Yi

A young woman who is part of a circus troupe and is the daughter of Dam Sa Ri, an important general of the Independence army. Her real name is Boon yi, though she has also been referred to as “Esther.” As a young girl, she had to part ways with Kang-To, whom she referred to as “Young Master” and knew as Lee Young, after being chased by bandits but not before he gives her his dagger. Years later, she spends most of her time looking for him. She falls in love with Gaksital, but despises Lee Kang-To, whom she regards as her arch-enemy, not knowing that he is the Young Master she longs to see.

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  • Park Ki Woong as Kimura Shunji

Kang-To’s best friend. He is a Japanese born into a prominent Samurai family but chooses to defy his father and becomes a music teacher for Korean children. His first love is Mok-Dan, whom he knew as Esther. Due to certain circumstances, Shunji later swears to kill Bridal Mask with his own hands, turning him into the main antagonist. His father, Kimura Taro inducts him into the Kishokai, replacing his older brother, Kimura Kenji

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  • Shin Hyun Jun as Lee Kang San
  • Yoon Hong Bin as young Lee In (Kang San’s childhood name)

Kang-To’s older brother, who is known as the “village idiot” after the Japanese police tortured him for joining the Independence Movement, rendering him mentally-disabled, or so they thought. Kang-San later becomes an important catalyst for Kangto’s transformation into Gaksital.

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  • Han Chae Ah as Ra Ra/ Ueno Rie/ Chae Hong Joo

A Korean woman whose aristocratic family was murdered after they refused to send monetary support to the Independence army. Orphaned, she voluntarily becomes a “gisaeng” at the age of 9 but was then adopted by a prominent Japanese man who saw her deep hatred for Korea. She receives military training and becomes a spy in charge of a mission to kill Gaksital. She inadvertently falls in love with Lee Kang-To, whom she admires.

Amazing Supporting Cast

  • Song Ok-Sook … Madam Han (Kang-To’s mother)
  • Lee Il Jae … Lee Seon (Kang To’s father)
  • Ahn Hyung Joon … Jun Katsuyama (Ueno Rie’s bodyguard)
  • Lee Byung Joon … Shin Nan-Da
  • Chun Ho Jin … Kimura Taro (Chief of the Police Force- Kishokai member)
  • Jun Noh Min … Mok Dam Sa Ri (Mok-Dan’s father and fugitive of the Japanese)
  • Son Byung Ho … Circus Master Jo (Takes care of Mok-Dan as his own)
  • Yoon Bong-Kil – Abe Shinji (Private of Jongro police station)
  • Ahn Suk Hwan … Lee Shi-Yong (Royal Count- Kishokai member)
  • Lee Kyung Shil … Oh Dong-Nyeon (Jo’s wife who had close relationship with Mok-Dan as her own daughter)
  • Kim Tae-Young – Park In-Sam (Kyeong Seong Ilbo Newspaper Owner- Kishokai member)
  • Son Yeo-Eun – Sun-Hwa (Mok-Dan’s best friend)
  • Seo Yun-A – Gye-Soon (Mok-Dan’s enemy who became Shunji’s spy in order to earn money to take care of her family)
  • Park Joo-hyung – Kimura Kenji (Former Superintendent of Jongro police station- Kishokai member)
  • Jeon Kuk-Hwan – Ueno Hideki (Chairman of Kishokai, adopted Ra Ra)
  • Bruce Khan – Ginpei Gato (Chairman Ueno’s samurai bodyguard)
  • Kim Eung-Soo – Konno Goji (Former Chief of the Police Force)
  • Yoon Jin-Ho – Goiso Tadanobu (Sargeant of Jongro police station)
  • Ban Min-Jung – Jeok Pa/Anna (Comrade of Dam Sa Ri)
  • Ji Seo-Yun – Tasha (Madame of Angel Club)
  • Baek Jae-Jin – Director Bong
  • Choi Dae-Hoon – Lee Hae Suk/Minami Tamao (Count’s son- Kishokai member)
  • Bang Joong-Hyun – Park Sung Mo (Newspaper Owner’s son- Kishokai member after replacing his father, In Sam)
  • Jang Joon-Yoo – Merry
  • Lee Jae-Won – No Sang-Yeob
  • Kim Kyu-Cheol – Woo Byung-Joon (Hospital Director- Kishokai member)
  • Ko In-Beom – Jo Young-Geun (President of Jo Il Bank- Kishokai member)
  • Kwon Tae-Won – Choi Myung Sub (Judge- Kishokai member)
  • Kim Bang Won – Kim Deuk-Soo
  • Jeon Hyun – Baek Gun (Subordinate of Kang-To’s father)

**Cast info was taken from dramawiki

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Ratings ★★★★★

This drama was amazing.  The fact that at the end of every episode I thought my heart would be safe the drama laughed in my face and accepted the challenge and always seemed to amp it up every week.  Each character pulled you in even the supporting characters were strong with their storyline.  The action was brought full throttle and kept you on the edge of your seat.  The soundtrack was amazing, adding to the energy of the movement of each scene.  I loved the song “judgement day” by Joo Won himself.  The set and costume design obviously did there bit to make us believe that they were in the time this all happened, It was all done so well. The directing was amazing obviously because he was able to bring all the actors on set and get them to deliver.  What was amazing is that he was able to get all the different levels of characters to produce what they needed to, and each and everyone captured our hearts….both good and bad.  The editing was well done, knowing when to cut a shot and how long or short a shot should be, all helped the movement of the action and intensity of the scenes.  Now of course the actors did the “heavy lifting” for the characters to bring the emotion every time and I was so exhausted just watching each episode and completely drained by the end. So I can only imagine how they were having to “live” it in each take.  Although I have seen that they found ways to keep sane (check out the photos below).

Joo Won and Park Ki Woong were the champions of this show with Shin Hyun Joon very close behind.  The emotional ride that Joo Won had in the beginning was crazy to watch. However you felt a bit relieved to see him not have to be so intense later on even though the weight of being this hero I am sure wasn’t that easy but still rewarding.  I think that the friendship relationship was what would have been the most work for Joo Won.  There was so much that happen to them and especially as the drama came to an end.  Now on to Park Ki Woong.  This guys was amazing as much as I love Joo Won I have to say Ki Woong stole the show.  He had to go from a lovable character and ever so slightly change into this monster….yet still be human at the core.  He was able to burrow into my heart and curl up all cuddly and made me feel all warm and fuzzy.   Only to then, as I watched, bring out the sharp teeth, claws, red eyes, foaming mouth and went all shredder rabbit on my heart.  I loved watching him every episode make the subtle changes that left a huge impact.  What I liked with this character was that even though he went to the dark side I didn’t hate him.  His struggle as he made those steps closer to no return grabbed at my heart more than anything. The fact that I could still cheer him on in parts, then be scared shitless of who he became, of what he was doing and then to breakdown when it was the end for his character.

As for the ladies, Han Chae Ah did more for me than Jin Se Yeon.  I love strong female characters however Mok Dan’s story didn’t really pull me in….I mean she had moments that I love her for but not many.  Especially her turn in relationships it kind of made me hated her a bit.  For example her quick hatred toward Shunji, even though he was going down the dark path there was no heart towards him at the beginning of that turn.  Also when it came to turning her hatred toward Kang To to love it seemed so quick that everything he did din’t mean anything….so my confusion with her reaction to Shunji’s turn since he started out so kind to her and even saved her a couple of times.  Don’t get me wrong I loved what she did for Kang To’s character especially at the end.  I just happened to like Ra Ra’s strength and struggles and how she handled everything.

We see Ra Ra come in as this woman who had a hold on her feelings and would kill when ready.  However as the drama went on we see her struggle as she fell for Kang To and cared for Shunji.  She became a stronger character at the end because of all that she went through.  Now this is why I liked her character, it was how she dealt with her relationships with the others, unlike Mok Dan.  Kang To became her enemy but she didn’t hate him her struggle to put her feelings aside was really beautiful to watch.  A strong character with heart.  Even to help the enemy she loved escape with the woman he loved is the strength that won me over.  He relationship with Shunji was an interesting one to watch and I will be honest with you I am still playing their scenes over in my head to truly understand the depth that was really there. I loved that in the beginning they had this “hate” for each other and even in the end Shunji had this coldness toward her but the feelings (of what I am not sure…almost family like??) was ever so present beneath the cold words and tough exterior.  I still hoped that Ra Ra could have ended up being Shunji’s salvation, not romantically but almost as a sister I think, I really don’t know, I just got this family connection from them.   What really had me routing for her happy ending was when she tried to save Kang To and Shunji’s friendship. She saw what this fight for freedom was doing to these two people she cared for and had hope for and specially knowing their history as friends just gave her so much more character.  I liked the way Ra Ra’s relationship with Katsuyama ended even though deep down I really wanted them to live happily ever after.  She was right in saying what she did to answer his last plea to live with him…her heart wasn’t with him the way his was for her.  In taking the step to find her way in the world and not making them settle was her way of showing her respect and love towards him as well as toward herself finally.  Not depending on anyone for power but to find her own.

All the supporting characters left just as big of a impact on me as the leads did.  Which is what I really love about this drama.  Each character had depth even if their part was not big.  The supporting characters definitely filled out this drama giving it more heart and soul and sometimes a drama filled with so many story line can get lost.  However like I said the writing was well done to create such characters, the directing was do well to guide the characters and the acting was done well because you felt each and every emotion they delivered and they never held back.

For some this drama starts off with taking hold of you with the first episode and for others it starts steady and gradually with out you knowing hooks you in for the long run.  For both kind, once your in, there is no turning back.  I came for Joo won and Ki Woong but stayed for all that made this drama addicting.  I am not sure if it is because I am still recovering from the show (HAHAHA) that I have very little bad to say about it.

Highlights

  • The fight scenes for sure and that the actor did most of those scenes themselves
  • Costume and set design
  • Kang To and Shunji’s friendship even till the end
  • Ra Ra’s character’s Journey
  • Hyun Jun as Kang San his switch between playing the mentally challenged brother/son and Gaksital the first.
  • Ki Woong as Shunji taking each step, slowly and leaving no crook and cranny left of this character undiscovered.
  • Abe at the end finally seeing the light
  • Abe’s connection to Kang To
  • The emotions
  • The two comrades that came with teacher Yang Baek
  • Joo Won singing and dancing
  • Deuk Soo’s fanboy moment when he met Gaksital
  • Duek Soo and his adorableness towards Seon Hwa
  • Great cliffhangers every episode every week

ugh factor

  • Taking time to nod at everyone on a time restricted mission
  • The Teacher not moving from his safe house because he wanted make sure Kang To and others got out…only to result in Dam Sari’s death
  • Mok Dan’s character journey

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Photo spread:

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You wouldn’t think that so much aegyo could come from such a serious drama set but I am sure this was their way of keeping sane after taking on these deep characters. HAHAHA why so cute ^_^

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아이구! ㅋㅋㅋ ^ these two seem to be epic aegyo princes kyaaa how adorkable are they! I love it! ^_^

(I would have posted a lot more of the on set photos but then this would be a long post hahaha) For more onset photos click here

If you want to see a few more aegyo pictures of Wonnie, Kiwoongie and some of the cast that were uploaded through their twitter and other social N accounts click here

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**Photos cred goes to their rightful owners**

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