Korean drama ‘Hyde Jekyll, Me’ has a case of identity crisis

Me, myself and I dunno: Hyun Bin (left) has a split personality disorder but that doesnt stop Han Ji-min from falling in love with one of his identities.

Me, myself and I dunno: Hyun Bin (left) has a split personality disorder but that doesnt stop Han Ji-min from falling in love with one of his identities.

Here’s our review of a show about a man with multiple personality disorder.

Good-looking stars? Check. Romantic scenes? Check. Ingenious plot? Erm, not so. Hyde Jekyll, Me – SBS’s latest dramedy series – boasts Hyun Bin and Han Ji-min as the leads, but that’s about all the stars it’s going to get.

The premise of the show isn’t all that bad. Gu Seo-jin (Hyun) is cold and calculating, and the director of a fun and cheerful theme park. He suffers from a dissociative identity disorder stemming from a childhood trauma and so his biggest fear is when his second personality, Robin, takes over. Never mind that Robin is but a sweet kind soul with a saviour complex.

In comes Jang Ha-na (Han), who has just returned from the Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas to help revamp the park’s circus troupe, and take over as circus master from her late father. Which is unfortunate, since Seo-jin already has his mind set on terminating the failing attraction.

As the two develop a hate-hate relationship, it is Robin who comes to literally save the day (cue dangerous falling objects and manly hero pushing damsel in distress out of the way in the nick of time).

Ha-na starts to fall for Robin, all the while thinking he is Seo-jin’s twin brother.

All this sounds fine and dandy, but within the first couple of episodes, you may already notice tiny cracks in the plot. It’s worrisome, seeing that the show may end up as just another 20-episode K-drama that has outstayed its welcome.

SBS has always had a good track record from The Heirs and My Love From The Star to the recent Pinocchio; the South Korean network has a flair for combining a star-studded cast with a charming storyline.

Much of the anticipation leading up to the premiere of Hyde Jekyll, Me must have a lot to do with Hyun’s return to the K-drama scene – it was five years ago when the 32-year-old made a heart-rending and lasting impression in the mega-hit Secret Garden, opposite Ha Ji-won.

There, Hyun also played the split-personality card to his advantage, although the identities were of a slightly different kind (he played both a man and a woman).

It was a surprise to see the first episode of Hyde Jekyll, Me start off on the wrong foot. Instead of focusing on the fun bits that are a staple of most K-dramas (tragic back story or hints of an epic romance about to unfold), the show opens with a day in the life of a snarky character. Hyun plays Seo-jin’s meanness to the max and we’re left wondering why he is the way he is.

Without reading the show’s synopsis, you might be inclined to think that all Seo-jin suffers from is a heart condition, seeing how he goes about monitoring his heart rate and insisting that it should never go above 150, but without really explaining why. Blink and you might miss the twist that Seo-jin actually has a personality disorder.

It’s hard to come to terms with the show’s premise that nobody in Seo-jin’s life seem to want Robin around, despite the fact that he is the better character of the two.

The lack of chemistry between Hyun and the show’s leading lady, played by Rooftop Prince’s Han, is the biggest disappointment.

Having done great in Rooftop and Padam Padam, Han looks a little out of place here as Ha-na, never fully expressing the character’s likeability. She, presumably, should be ditzy but lovable and graceful/cool enough to perform fantastic feats on the trapeze.

Han’s scenes with Hyun seem very contrived, making his turn as the sweeter-than-marshmallows Robin almost cringeworthy, maybe because he has to really turn on the charm to support their budding romance.

Coupled with a weaker-than-usual supporting cast, Hyde Jekyll, Me seems bound for disaster, though there are hints of better things to come (cue kidnap/murder of the person holding the key to the plot’s mystery).

The show is riddled with a clash of identities far beyond those experienced by the leading character but it would still be interesting to see how everything pans out, if only to determine who’s who.

■  Hyde Jekyll, Me airs every Wednesday and Thursday at 8.55pm on ONE HD (Astro Ch 393).

Korean , Drama , TV