All In - SBS 2003 - Lee Byung-Hun - Song Hye-Kyo
Everybody has a different taste in what type of music, movie, k-drama, or tv-show that they may like, so it is really hard for 1 person to make a list of top 5 or top 10 k-dramas in any type of order. However, I can confidently say, there is a #1 Best K-Drama. All In by SBS.
All In aired from January to April of 2003, and had views as high as 40%. For those of you that do not know, All In is a poker term, which means that you have put all of your chips in the pot. You are betting everything you have.
All In was one of the first Korean Dramas that was produced on such a large scale. Not only was All In filmed in various regions of Seoul and Jeju-Do, All In was also filmed in various parts of Nevada and California. The budget for All In was in the area of 6 million dollars.
All in is based off of a book written by Noh Seung-Il, but is not a biography or anything like that. Most of the events and characters in this k-drama were made up for tv purposes.
All In is based around Kim In-Ha, who is played by Jin Goo as a child, and by Lee Byung-Hun as an adult. Kim In-Ha is raised by is uncle (Kim Chi-Soo, played by Im Hyun-Sik) who is a pretty well known street gambler. So naturally, Kim In-Ha who grew up in the gambling scene, is a hustler himself. Kim In-Ha is street smart, a good fighter, and is a natural with people, but I guess you can say grew up in the streets with no support, or direction. Add some bad luck to top that off, and you have a talented person who literally grew up with nothing, but never gives up.
Of course just like in real life and any good story line, there is a female involved. Min Su-Yeon, who is played by Han Ji-Min at first, and then Son Hye-Kyo as a she gets older, is Kim In-Ha’s childhood girlfriend, who goes through as much drama as Kim In-Ha. Fun Fact - Although the 2 play the same character as a child, and as an adult, Han Ji-Min and Song Hye-Kyo are only 1 year apart in real life age.
Min Su-Yeon, Who’s parents also pass away at an early age, goes through most of her life waiting and worrying about Kim In-Ha.
Choi Jeong-Won and Seo Jin-Hui who are played by the famous Ji Sung and Park Sol-Mi have their own story line and share of events in All In. As the hotel casino heirs of 2 now rival owners, and rival organizations, the 2 have their share of a love/hate relationship. These 2 are a good example of how money doesn’t always equal happiness.
With the amount of key roles and famous people in the drama, I can go on for days writing about each one, so I will leave some out. However I did not want to leave out Yu Jong-Gu and Jenny, who play such a key role in making All In what it became. Kim In-Ha meets Yu Jong-Gu while in prison, and form a brotherly relationship with each other who ends up going on their crazy journey together. Jenny comes in to the picture when they illegally come to America to escape the mess they were in while in Korea. Jenny is the person of contact for In-Ha and Jong-Gu once they cross the U.S border. Their relationship with Jenny doesn’t start off too well, but the 3 become good friends and becomes a part of each others life. Yu Jong-Gu is played by Huh Joon-Ho. Jenny is played by Kim Tae-Yeon.
All In is not the first K-Drama that I watched, but I think All In opened my eyes, and mind to the world of K-Dramas. Yes, I am also what I consider a decent gamlber. And yes, I can relate to Kim In-Ha on how when life is heading for a good direction, and then something bad happens to ruin it…which a lot of people can relate to. But more than that, I think All In has a lot of small life lessons you can learn, not to mention a lot of deep quotes that come out throughout the series. Without exaggerating, I think I have watched the whole series more than 100 times now.
You don’t see too many movies or dramas about organized crime, or mafia’s like we used to. This k-drama touches a little on how street gangs were in Korea. They also make a few references to the Godfather, which is the original mafia movie.
This K-Drama also shows Kim In-Ha learning how to calculate odds, and make his way to the final table of the World Series of Poker at Binion’s Horse Shoe. Binion’s Horse Shoe, and the final table outdoors was actually how the WSOP used to be, before Hold Em became huge, and the event is now held in multiple casinos on the Strip.
I highly highly recommend anyone who has not watched this yet to watch it. Even if you have watched All In, and has been a while since you have, I recommend that you watch it again. Even though this K-Drama was released almost 20 years ago now, you will see how grand this K-Drama is, and will see how much effort, money, and thought was put in to this master piece. Which is why I chose All In as the first K-Drama that I will post on my blog as a recommendation. Of course I will continue to post other K-Dramas that I recommend, but I can confidently say, this is the #1 K-Drama made to date.
Some more fun facts for you. I read that Robert Deniro, Mr ACE himself was supposed to make an appearance on All In. Also, the world famous Kim Hee-Sun was actually supposed to play the role of Min Su-Yeon, instead of Song Hye-Kyo. WOW! How different All In would/could have turned out if these 2 were in the K-Drama! All In is pretty perfect already the way it played out, but yes I am curious how it would have turned out with these 2 huge names.
As I was going to close, I almost forgot about these 2. As I mentioned earlier, there are so many key roles and familiar faces in the K-Drama, I cannot mention all of them. Choi Do-Hwan and Seo Seung-Don…played by Lee Deok-Hwa and Jo Kyeong-Hwan. Lee Deok-Hwa who used to work under Jo Kyeong-Hwan, plays the role of your classic bad ass boss who goes all out and tries to beat his old boss. Jo Kyeong-Hwan is your more mature, controlled big boss who will not go out without a fight.
Unfortunately, Jo Kyeong-Hwan passed away a few years back from health complications from what I know. He was in a ton of famous movies and K-Dramas, you might know some of them like Yi San, Hur Jun, Sandglass, and Bitter Sweet Life.
Another person who passed away is the famous Park Yong-Ha, the famous singer/actor who sang this song above all throughout All In. Anyone who watched All In probably knows most of the words to this song because it came out so many times all through out the K-Drama. Park Yong-Ha was known to have performed in Korea and Japan, and was also known as a car racer. He passed away in 2010.