Since he’s gotten back from the military and started acting again, Ji Chang Wook’s dramas have been misses for The Fangirls. His newest drama, If You Wish Upon Me, comes loaded with star power, including Sung Dong Il and Girls Generation’s Choi Soo Young. Will this be enough to get us to watch? Read on to find out more!
Courtesy of MyDramaList.com:
“Yoon Kyeo Re is a young man who has known nothing but misery ever since he was a child. He was abused while still a boy and had a horrid time at the orphanage where he was raised. He then spent time in a juvenile detention center. And as an adult, things got no better, leading to him serving time in prison. Beatings and misery are all he knows, and he finds himself at the end of his tether, finally facing the void…
But when he is ordered by a court to serve his community service at an end-of-life care facility for the terminally ill, things begin to change for him. Here he meets the tireless Kang Tae Shik, a middle-aged man who leads the volunteer team at the facility. Kang Tae Shik has created a unit called Team Genie, which is dedicated to granting dying patients their last wishes. No matter what people ask for, Team Genie will work their hardest to make those precious last wishes come true. He also meets Seo Yeon Joo, a young nurse who refuses to give up on her patients and tries to keep them physically active at all times. Will working at this facility help turn Yoon Gyeo Ree’s life around? Or is it too late to change his destiny?”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS – the mains
Ji Chang Wook’s character in If You Wish Upon Me is a far cry from his usual roles. His bright smile is missing, and instead he mumbles his way through the uncomfortable situations he finds himself in. However, it’s not a bad thing – we learn early on that Yoon Kyeo Re has lost the ability to trust anyone, and that he’s on the run from his former gang. Keeping a low profile has served him well, but under the care of Team Genie, his true personality starts peeking through.
Karie the Maknae: I think “gangster with a heart of gold” is a good look for Ji Chang Wook. His love for his dying dog and his reluctant willingness to help Team Genie make miracles happen is a delight to watch.
Drama Geek: I am in love with his dog Son! I will bawl a bucket of tears if we have to say goodbye to him by the end of the show.
Sung Dong Il is playing Kang Tae Sik, the director of Team Genie. He sleeps in the Team Genie ambulance, is friends with three quirky homeless men, and genuinely cares for the people Team Genie serves. He has regrets, but they don’t hold him back – very little does.
Karie the Maknae: This is a pretty restrained role for Sung Dong Il, compared to the roles I’ve seen him in before. He’s got a past, clearly, but he’s doing good with determination and his overflowing compassion is touching.
Drama Geek: He’s the driving force behind the wishes being granted, and I love his determination to bring the patients some joy before they pass. He has a sad past that is possibly connected to our lead, and I love their budding relationship.
Choi Soo Young’s role as a nurse who wants to be strong so she can help her patients is admirable. Four episodes in and we haven’t gotten much of her backstory, but there have been glimpses here and there of a possible fiancé and a mother who needed care. She’s bubbly and uncompromising, and the sparks she has with Kyeo Re are like the ones you get from striking flint and steel – they’re constantly butting heads.
Karie the Maknae: I’m liking Soo Young as the spunky nurse who only follows the rules when they make sense. She has a tendency to fight against people who don’t understand her, but she’s never short on love for the people she’s caring for.
Drama Geek: I’m really enjoying her caring personality that doesn’t allow anyone to stand in her way when it comes to her patients. It has to be hard watching people is so much pain, and she seems to take in all to heart. Granting wishes seems to be therapeutic for her, and probably how she’s able to continue working at the hospice center.
UNFILTERED THOUGHTS – the story
This story is reminiscent of Move to Heaven, but instead of focusing on people after they’ve died, we get a glimpse of their last days. The writer, Jo Young Soo, is brand new but very adept at evoking emotion immediately. Director Kim Yong Wan is not far behind, adding the visual emotional touches that promptly bring the viewer in and hold them captive. The feel of the drama is just serious enough, with the right amount of humor to keep things balanced.
Karie the Maknae: I can tell that this is going to be a moving, healing drama for me, and I’m looking forward to it. The emotional resonance is already AMAZING, and has been from the very first episode. I don’t think I’ve ever choked up during the first episode before, but If You Wish Upon Me managed it.
Drama Geek: One of my favorite relationships in the drama is the woman who cooks at the hospice and Ji Chang Wook’s character. She wants everyone to love her food, and when he snubs it, she makes it her mission to find his favorite food. Little does she know that he’s avoiding her yummy offerings because it’s too painful for him. The show gives us backstory on how she ended up there, and why it means so much to her when people love her food. Both of their stories surrounding food, and where the show seems to be going with it, are a perfect example of the little character touches that I think will make this show shine for me.
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO – the found family
So a gangster and a dog walked into a hospice, and they didn’t just encounter a determined director and a passionate nurse. Team Genie is truly a team, including a cook, a social worker, a janitorial staff, some nuns, and other volunteers who keep the hospice running and full of a quiet joy, a respite from the sadness ahead.
Karie the Maknae: Drama Geek mentioned the wonderful cook, who will be mothering the life out of Kyeo Rae before he knows it. But there’s a connection between the entire crew of Team Genie and the hospice staff that comes out in little touches here and there. The nuns and the members of Team Genie are adorable, and I really love how everyone gives the teenager a hard time about missing school to come to the hospice every day. There’s a comfortable sort of connection between them all that pulls them through the hard times.
Drama Geek: They each have a story of how they ended up working or volunteering there. Many had family members who needed that type of care at one time. The team ends up connecting with one another and supporting each other to keep doing their jobs, despite how hard it is to face death every day. The teenager seems to be a lot like Kyeo Rae when he was younger, and I can’t wait to see more of her story. Can we get Son a Team Genie pin, too?
DO WE RECOMMEND?
Karie the Maknae: Yes. The drama feels sincere and looks like it’s headed in a good direction with the story. I’m really loving Ji Chang Wook’s performance — he’s got just the right touch for this character.
Drama Geek: Yes! My only warning is there is going to be a lot of death in it, and a lot of patients are suffering from cancer. If you think you can handle that, then you should definitely give it a try.
What about you, drama fans? Will you be getting your weekly dose of If You Wish Upon Me? Let us know in the comments below!
Until the next miracle, we remain —
Karie the Maknae & Drama Geek
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi