The Bridal Mask (or Gaksital) is a Korean drama from 2012, with 28 hour-long episodes.
It centers around the mysterious Bridal Mask, who fights the Japanese colonists’ oppression for the people of Joseon. Our main characters are;
Joo Won as Lee Kang To (a.k.a. Sato Hiroshi & Lee Young)
Like many of the other characters, Kang To is conflicting. He is extremely ambitious and works as a dedicated officer for the Japanese police, even though he is Korean himself. His mother and brother don’t accept or understand his choices, even though he does the work he does, in order to provide a better life for them. He becomes obsessed with catching the Bridal Mask, until an event changes his life forever… (I’m not gonna go into the details because it will just ruin the thrill of the drama.)
Like I already said Kang To is a character with many faces. To some he is a japanese mutt,
the horror of all Joseon people, a “prime exemplar” of a police officer, violent and an unforgiving man or a killer.
Meet Kang To with his crazy face on.
To others he is a beloved brother and son, dear friend, a man with forced loyalty to the Japanese, a freedom fighter loved by every one.
What I love most about Kang To’s character (and this drama) is the character development. I’m less than ten episodes in this drama and the change and development we see is HUGE. Kang To changes from a horrible (I loved you anyway, but in all honesty, he was pretty bad), violent police officer to a caring, lovable and cute man. And what is even more amazing, is Joo Won’s acting. He has to hide a big part of himself from everyone and still act like he doesn’t care even though he actually does; and we can’t always see the fight he has to go through. He hides his pain so well, but when it shows, it is heart-breaking.
Kang To as a more stable human being.
Joo Won also acts out the most realistic crying scene I have ever seen.
Kang To isn’t the only one going through a major change -or doing a perfect job portraying it- in this drama.
Park Ki Woong as Kimura Shunji
Where Kang To goes through a change for the better, Shunji is the opposite.
He starts of as a caring teacher, who is loved by his students, but goes through a radical change when his brother is killed by Bridal Mask in front of him. He changes from his family’s black sheep to a crazy, revenge thirsty Japanese police officer, whose only goal is to catch and kill Bridal Mask.
“I think I’m slowly becoming a monster.” -Kimura Shunji
I did not like his character in the beginning. He was too nice, if that’s possible. Now after his change he more human; he has a weakness and even though he does horrible things and realizes it, he can’t seem to change his ways. He repents and regrets but always falls back to his ways.
Despite Kang To being a native Korean and Shunji being Japanese, the two are good friends.
They go through tough times together and support each other through them. They seem to be able to give each other support and understanding that they don’t get from their family. Later on in the series there is a twist added to the relationship, but I won’t reveal it yet.
Jin Se Yeon as Oh Mok Dan ( a.k.a. Boon Yi & Esther)
Ok, Boo Yi, a girl with spunk. She fights for Korea’s freedom and is close with Bridal Mask. This results in constant confrontation and strong hate towards Kang To and the Japanese. She is often caught in order to lure Bridal Mask out, and sometimes tortured to get information.
Kang To; “Why? Are you afraid? Because Gaksital might get caught? Are you two in love?” (a reaction from Mok Dan)
(you know you just said that like Kang To would)
To make this drama have a cliché the writer decided to add a history between her and Kang To AND her and Shunji. So basically, to make this clearer, she knew both of them when they were young but both with a different name.
That’s our main characters, now let’s look at a few other things.
Shin Hyun Joon plays Lee Kang San, Kang To’s big brother. He used to be a freedom fighter, but lost his mind while being interrogated by the Japanese.
Shin Hyun Joon is one of my favorite actors and he, among everyone else in this drama, does an amazing job here.
I’m not going to tell you who Bridal Mask is, and I suggest that you don’t read any spoilers about the plot, it will just ruin the excitement of this amazing drama!
The fight scenes get better every time, the relationships are a mix of love and care along with tactics and psychological warfare filmed so well that you can’t help but wonder, how easily people can change.
Now putting all the well deserved praise I’ve been giving to this drama, there are some things that were hard to understand in the beginning.
The plot and characters (as some of them have multiple names) are simple once you understand them, however it takes you a couple of episodes to be able to do so. In the beginning there are so many places and characters introduced that at least I was a little confused. It gets better quickly though, and the plot captivates you completely.
Bridal Mask is without question one of the best Korean dramas out there, so what are you waiting for?