Again My Life premiered to high ratings in April and hasn't looked back since. The fantasy drama starring Lee Joon-gi, Lee Geung-young, Kim Ji-eun and Jung Sang-hoo is based on a web novel and webtoon of the same title. The exciting premise and uncomplicated plot made it an entertaining watch.
Kim Hee-woo (Lee Joon-gi) is a fearless lawyer out to punish Korea's corrupt and powerful. Inevitably, he gets himself murdered. Through some fantastical means (that never quite gets explained) he gets a second chance, and finds himself reliving his life several years prior. Entering law school again with all his memories from the future intact, he sets things in motion to plan for his ultimate revenge.
The Short Review
Most revenge dramas start with the main character being an underdog for the first part of the series and with a time lapse that lasts only about ten minutes on screen, gives the underdog every opportunity to put himself in a situation of power. No such thing for Kim Hee-woo. The character bides his time and we get to see him go through the slow and arduous process of laying down the chess pieces for his ultimate move.
The drama's fast and linear storytelling makes it enjoyable and easy to follow. There are no moral ambiguities in this drama, no scruples to weigh down the escapist feels for watching the bad guys being taken down one after the other. This Count-of-Monte-Cristo-esque plot is helped by an interesting mix of side characters and the overall likability of Lee Joon-gi’'s portrayal. It's a good, easy watch that doesn't demand much emotional investment but still provides plenty of entertainment. The last thirty minutes of the final episode didn’t land as smoothly as I had hoped but all things considered, I would still recommend this drama with managed expectations.
What to Watch after Again My Life
If you wish that the drama had delved more deeply into the alternate timeline or redux theme, then you might enjoy some of our other recos from our article "Seconds to Saranghae."
If you enjoyed the whole revenge theme, you might enjoy the following:
After a two-year hiatus, Song Joong-ki came back in a big way in 2021 with the first Korean space movie Space Sweepers and the black crime comedy Vincenzo. He stars in the titular role, an Italian mafia consigliere who returns to Seoul to retrieve his secret multi-trillion won stash of gold buried underneath the decrepit Geumga Plaza. His mission, of course, turns out to be anything but straightforward as he finds himself up against the powerful (and evil) Babel Group, which is out to redevelop the property into Babel Tower.
Aided by the building’s oddball tenants and a smart but zany lawyer (Jeon Yeo-been), our ridiculously handsome anti-hero whips out his mafia playbook to take on the villainous Babel Group in this deliciously entertaining (though often violent) crime drama.
Taxi Driver (2021)
Jang Sung-chul (Kim Eui-sung) is the CEO of Rainbow Taxi, the legal front for a ragtag team of vigilantes who use highly-specialized skills to exact vengeance on parties that somehow manage to slip through the law's fingers. On his team are taxi driver Kim Do-gi (Lee Je-hoon), tech expert Ahn Go-eun (Pyo Ye-jin), and mechanics Choi Kyung-goo (Jang Hyuk-jin) and Park Jin-eon (Bae Yoo-ram). Among the five of them, they strategize, execute, finance, and troubleshoot elaborate plots of vengeance. Read the full review here.
Money Flower (2017-18)
Jang Hyuk is Kang Pil-joo, a gifted orphan who is determined to play the long game for revenge. He turns himself into such an indispensable legal confidante to the powerful Chung Ah group that they are practically lost without his expertise. The access they grant him and the trust he enjoys from the Chairman gives him the initial levers to destroy the Group from within. To finally seal the deal, he recruits a free-spirited woman to seduce the group’s lone heir and eventually destroy him.
But the gods laugh at man's best-laid plans, and soon enough, Kang finds himself falling for her instead. This unexpected twist even helps him understand his own humanity beneath his anger. So when all the cracks begin to show, will Kang remain cold and ruthless enough to destroy the Chung Ah group? Or will a woman — and his secret fondness for his adoptive family — melt his resolve?
My Name (2021)
My Name offers itself as a fresh addition to Korea’s already vast trove of gangster shows with a simple twist: The lead character, whose thirst for revenge is strong enough to overpower dozens of other well-trained men and defy biological laws about how much torture the human body can take, is a woman.
There aren’t any complex gender commentaries in this show, which sees the versatile Han So-hee in her most challenging role to date as a gang member who infiltrates the police. This eight-episode series simply aims to show that a woman can lead a hard-core action series as effectively as a man. And on that front, My Name succeeds. Read our full review here.
Military Prosecutor Doberman (2022)
Ahn Bo-hyun stars as a corrupt and apathetic military prosecutor Do Bae-man who has a change of perspective (and heart) when he meets his replacement, captain Cha Woo-in (Jo Bo-ah), a prosecutor who is bent on inflicting revenge on all those who had a hand in disgracing her late father and their firm. Soon, Do Bae-man realizes that he has also been victimized by the powers that be in the military, and now therefore has his own very personal reasons for taking revenge.
The series showcases the numerous scandals and issues that both prosecutors have to untangle before they can take down the most corrupt and powerful players in the military, mysteriously referred to as “The Patriotic Society.” Not only do the duo have to deal with their own private demons, but they also have to serve justice to fellow victims who have been subjected to the worst military experiences, from excessive power trips, horrific discipline tactics, fake heroic narratives, medical “accidents,” rampant abuse, mass shooting, and even murder.
Read the full review here.
If you can't get enough of Lee Joon-gi, then you might enjoy his performances in the following:
The King and the Clown (2006)
An unknown Lee Joon-gi was catapulted into the Hallyu stratosphere and launched the massive "flower boy" trend after delivering a memorable performance as the beautiful and effeminate clown in this 2005 film. But there's more to The King and the Clown than just Lee’s convincingly feminine performance: it was, after all, directed by Lee Jun-ik, who has contributed this and The Throne (2016) to the Oscars category for Best Foreign Film. Box-office wise, this film is still one of the most viewed films in Korean cinema largely due to its strong performances, a rather evolved LGBT representation, and how it powerfully shows how art is a powerful weapon against tyranny and persecution. Read the full review here.
My Girl (2006)
After finding fame in King and Clown, Lee Joon-gi continued his lucky streak into k-drama by playing second fiddle to Lee Dong-wook in the romantic comedy My Girl. As the second lead who harbors a secret crush on the female lead, Lee Joon-gi was part of one of the more intriguing love triangles of that era. Watch for his outlandish outfits and emo bangs. Those were the days.
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)
Are we so heartless that we would recommend Moon Lovers to our followers? Yes. Yes, we are. Mwahahaha.
To the k-drama newbie, Moon Lovers is quite the sageuk ensemble made up of the biggest names in k-dramaland. But what we tragedy-loving enthusiasts really love about it is the incredibly doomed romance between a time-traveling makeup artist (IU) and the bad-boy-turned-king (Lee Joon-gi). Watch for the pain, enjoy Joon-gi’s trademark bangs (again!) and wait with us for the second season that will never come.
Flower of Evil (2020)
In this modern marital thriller, Lee Joon-gi plays a loving husband and father with a murky past. But when strange things start to happen, his wife — who is a detective — grows more suspicious of him by the day. Could her very own husband be the killer she has been tracking down all this time? And if he were indeed the killer, would she bring him to justice, or break the law to save him for herself?
If revenge is a tiresome long game, why not be happy and whole? Take a break from the greed and anger, and go in a completely different (and less stressful direction). We recommend the meaningful and poignant Hospital Playlist Season 1 (2020).