First Impressions and Unfiltered Thoughts: Room No. 9

Two powerful actresses headlining a drama? Yes, please!! Kdrama Jen and Drama Geek scooped this first impression up and are delighted to bring you a drama with a little less romance, a lot more body swapping, and some murderous intrigue on the side.

Kim Hae Sook isn’t one of those actresses who just shows up to play the mom and then fades to the background. She always leaves an impression, and in the first two episodes of this drama she put forth a pretty award-winning performance as an inmate who’s been on death row for 34 years.

Kim Hee Seon‘s character makes you gleeful that she ends up in the body of someone who is locked away in prison. She seems to be evil just to gain power, but as the show unfolds, you can see that she has a personal investment in this case, and maybe she isn’t so bad. Though I still giggled in glee when she woke up handcuffed to the hospital bed.

Who doesn’t love a good body swap drama?

Drama Geek: Me, actually. Let me back up. I do love them when they’re pulled off and the ending isn’t convoluted. Because Kdramas tend to focus on romances, a lot of the body swap dramas I’ve seen have gone all wrong because of how the romance develops. But Room No. 9 has set this up where romance is not the main factor in the drama and I think that’ll lend to a more Freaky Friday type ending. Both parties will learn from the swap and come out better people in the end.

Kdrama Jen: So, this is a premise that has been tried with different levels of success in different dramas, but I think these two actresses are able to pull it off.  They both established their characters so solidly within the first episode, so when the body swap happened, they fully convinced me it was happening.  Kim Hae Sook’s reaction (playing Eulji Hae Yi inside the body of Jang Hwa Sa) when she looked in the mirror was just show-stopping.  Her scream of terror as she confronted her new reality gave me chills.  I am not always a fan of body swapping dramas, but these two actresses have drawn me in completely.

More murder, please!

Drama Geek: Oh wait, that’s Kmuse’s line. Jang Hwa Sa (Kim Hae Sook) was convicted for the murder of a man, and Eulji Hae Yi (Kim Hee Seon) is somehow connected to the case. So when she is put on the parole review board, she makes it her duty to ensure that Hwa Sa stays in prison. She pulls some pretty dirty tricks and tries to get a senior partnership with her firm out of it. She’s then put in charge of petitioning for a possible retrial. This makes the body swap a perfect opportunity for Hwa Sa, the accused. She’s now the one person who might be able to clear her own name.

Kdrama Jen: I tend to be right there with Kmuse when it comes to revenge dramas, so more murder is fine with me!  I am not sure at this point if this will be a revenge drama or a redemption drama.  There are too many unanswered questions at this point.  Also, is it just me or does it seem like Eulji Hae Yi inside the body of Jang Hwa Sa is a bolder criminal?  It definitely feels like poor Hwa Sa was set up years ago.  I can see Eulji Hae Yi getting revenge FOR her once she sees how she has been wronged.

Oh yeah, there’s a guy in this drama too.

Drama Geek: I’m not gonna lie. I was hoping for a bit more moral greyness from Kim Young Kwang’s character. He’s delicious when you’re not sure if he’s good or bad. The nice guy persona could still be an act, but I didn’t get any hints of that so far.  His character Ki Yoo Jin is a doctor, and he’s dating Eujil Hae Yi. He’s also connected to the murder case because the murder victim is a half-brother he never knew about. Apparently, Daddy had lots of hidden women, even Yoo Jin isn’t a legitimate heir to his late father’s fortune, and he seems happy to be a doctor. Because of some evidence that’s anonymously sent to him, he starts thinking Jang Hwa Sa could be his mom. Uh… that’s going to AWKWARD if she is since she’s now in his girlfriend’s body.

Kdrama Jen: We were both thinking Kim Young Kwang would be a little bit shady; that’s probably because we loved him like that in Lookout.  I am pretty sure Drama Geek is right, though.  He seems pretty upstanding and kind of sweet.  I do kind of wonder how he ended up with Eulji Hae Yi.  I picture his character with a kind-hearted veterinarian who saves homeless kittens and works in a soup kitchen on the weekends.  Eulji Hae Yi seems too mercenary for this guy.  I agree with Drama Geek that it will be super awkward if he tries to put the moves on his maybe-mommy.

Rando cop.

Drama Geek: I have no idea how the cop Oh Bong Sam (Oh Dae Hwan) will play into the mystery, but he’s out to get Hae Yi because she got him demoted to a traffic cop. I think he’ll play an important part in helping Hwa Sa solve the murder. He will probably drag the cutie cop along with him, and they’ll form a little detective team.

Kdrama Jen: I could not figure out where this guy had come from.  He clearly has a grudge against Hae Yi (and we get a courtroom flashback that kind of explains it), but then he hires someone to break into her house?  There is clearly more to this story.

Slightly creepy, and very intriguing directing.

Drama Geek: I have to say that part of the appeal of the first two episodes was the directing. There’s a scene where Hwa Sa (in Hae Yi’s body) dances in front of a window after she’s finally alone. The lighting and music really helped you get a sense of her quiet joy from her newfound freedom. Both actresses are seen dancing, the outside body and then the soul within.

Kdrama Jen: That was a very memorable scene.  They also use rainy nights with low lighting to create an eerie feeling.  I was so invested in one of the rainy night scenes that I jumped when someone came into my room to ask me a question.  The director is able to create a palpable tension with light, music, and camera angles.

Final Thoughts:

Drama Geek: I love when Kdrama’s go outside their normal formula. I also love the new trend where older women are getting to be center stage in dramas. Kim Hae Sook and Kim Hee Seon have fantastic chemistry together. They play off of each other’s strengths and are a delight to watch. I’m always wary about body swaps, but I am hopeful the lack of romance will make this a solid show and lend to a good ending.

Kdrama Jen: There are many new dramas out right now, but this one is moving up on my list.  I love it when there is a drama that allows great actors to really shine.  I think this is one of those dramas.  I have enjoyed Kim Hee Seon in the past (especially in Angry Mom) and I always think Kim Hae Sook is captivating as the warm-hearted older friend or the domineering mother or mother-in-law, but this drama is giving both of them the chance to show us a broader spectrum of their acting abilities.  It is like watching acting magicians at work, and I am completely under their spell.

Do you plan on checking it out? If you have already, what are your thoughts?

Kdrama Jen and Drama Geek

Drama with a Side of Kimchi

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4 thoughts on “First Impressions and Unfiltered Thoughts: Room No. 9

  1. The body swap theme lured me in, however I’m staying for the excellent acting and the (hopfully, well executed) redemption arc! I also like Kim Young Kwang and am happy that he’s a beacon of sweetness. Although, I too question how on earth he ended up with Hae Yi???

  2. I’m intrigued. I absolutely love Kim Hae Sook, but I have a limited amount of seriousness that I can take in my dramaverse. I think I’m going to have to wait until the Smile Has Left Your Eyes is done (or I give up on it) before starting this one. You guys have me interested though 🙂

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