First Impression and Unfiltered Thoughts: Jirisan

There are some dramas that are just perfect for fall weather, when a cool wind is blowing and the night comes earlier and earlier. Jirisan is set in the mountains of Korea, and it’s full of intrigue and heroic people and heightened emotions and all the things that set the Fangirls’ hearts fluttering for an autumnal watch. Come see if it should be on your watchlist!

The Plot

(courtesy of our friends at – Jirisan is set against the backdrop of towering views of Mount Jiri, where rangers and other employees of the Jirisan National Park climb through the mysterious and unexplored regions of the mountain, trying to rescue the survivors and lost trekkers.

Seo Yi Kang is the park’s top ranger who has vast experience in navigation, making her knowledgeable when it comes to tracking down lost individuals. One day, she becomes the partner of Kang Hyun Jo, a rookie park ranger who is a military academy graduate and an ex-lieutenant who experienced a horrific incident on Mount Jiri, leading him to become a ranger.

The drama is centered around a mystery surrounding the mountain’s many visitors–those who come to kill, and those who come to end their lives.

I Know Those Faces!

If you’re a fan of Jun Ji Hyun from My Love from Another Star or Legend of the Deep Blue Sea, brace yourself for a very different kind of role! Jun Ji Hyun is playing Seo Yi Kang, a brusque and passionate mountain ranger who has earned the nickname “Demon Seo.” She’s nimble on the mountains, climbing rock faces with the ease of a mountain goat, and absolutely determined to save anyone who has a chance to be saved. Mount Jiri has been her home away from home since she was a child, and no one knows it better. 

Fans of Hyena or Along with the Gods will recognize Joo Ji Hoon, who is playing Kang Hyun Jo, a ranger new to the Mount Jiri Ranger Station. He’s calm and relatively level-headed, and quickly proves to Demon Seo that he’s capable and dedicated to saving everyone who can be saved too. But there’s something a little different about Hyun Jo, an ability that sets him apart from his fellow rangers.

Rounding out the cast are Sung Dong Il (Sisyphus, Reply series, etc.), Oh Jung Se (It’s Okay Not to be Okay), Jo Han Chul (Hometown Cha Cha Cha), Jun Suk Ho (The Uncanny Counter, Kingdom), and Go Min Si (Youth of May, Sweet Home), all rangers who are dedicated to keeping the mountain and the people on it safe. 

Wait. Where Is This Story Going?

It’s only been hinted at in the first two episodes, but writer Kim Eun Hee has thrown in supernatural elements and a possible serial killer already. Known for her works Signal and Kingdom, Writer Kim specializes in well-told stories that focus as much on the characters as the stories they find themselves in, and Jirisan is shaping up the same way. She’s cleverly crafted the script to include the mountain itself as a character. 

Director Lee Eung Bok has captured Kim Eun Hee’s marvelous vision so far, using panoramic shots of the mountain with excellent results, and incorporating the secret signals that Hyun Jo and Yi Kang use to communicate with each other. Director Lee is no stranger to creating a hit series — he’s responsible for Sweet Home, Mr. Sunshine, Goblin, Descendants of the Sun, Secret, School 2013, and Dream High, among others. As a viewer, I already have a strong sense of place, the characters have firmly established themselves, and the twists at the end of each episode have been expertly revealed. 

Watch or Not?

I’m firmly in, drama fans. The set up has been phenomenal and the mystery intrigues me. As a bonus, the mountain cinematography makes me feel like I’m there, almost, a feeling that I tend to crave this time of year. Will you be watching with me?

Until the next twist is revealed, I remain —

Karie the Maknae

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

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