Tamra, The Island Review


The adventure in Tamra Island/Jeju Island has ended for good.

A wonderful and lovely journey which ended with a teeny weeny feeling of regret  and disappointment– yet was all worth the toil and turmoil.  A journey filled with fun and pain, and yet was worth all our our laughter and tears. A journey filled with magic and fantasy, which gave us endless joy. And lastly,  a journey to be remembered for a very very long time.

What I liked about Tamra, The Island was that it came in an unusual package — an ensemble combining a unique (fantasy-like) setting, a refreshing storyline, spectacular scenery  (plus music) and most of all, a breathe of fresh air which set it apart from the trite and norm of Korean dramas that we’re so used to seeing.

It had lovely close-ups and portrayals (but which may not be entirely realistic) of the Jeju female divers, going on their daily routines, searching for sea food/creatures to feed their families. It allowed us to see how simplicity in lives of the Jeju villagers , or even the slightest and most trivial gifts and blessings rendered upon their door steps, can actually bring about the greatest joy. It served as an eye-opener to us non-Koreans or even Koreans alike,  in opening our eyes to the rich and abundant history on how Jeju Island came to its being today. It gave us a closer look on how a small and negligible community, when united, can bring about a big impact to its people, government and nation. It showed us how conscience and one’s own happiness can clash at any point in time and how one can be sacrificial to the extreme just for another’s sake. And last but not least, it gave us wondrous fun – in seeing Beo Jin strive to break out from her normal life, going all out to see the world outside with William and and at the same time, savouring all her endearing moments with her family and her dearest Exiler- Park Kyu. In short, it was an enjoyable and meaningful journey of discovery/lesson of self-worth and happiness. =)

Everything from the plot, acting, chemistry to the music/OST has been pretty much a wonderful treat for me. Acting was good across the board, with an exceptionally breakthru performance by Im Joo Hwan as the righteous and self-sacrificing Park Kyu. Seo Woo was spot on as the cheerful and bright Beo Jin whilst Pierre Deporte and Lee Sun Ho were decent enough to get the drama rolling with fun. Chemistry between the characters was good thru out, enhanced by the ligthhearted and spunky music (added with a flair of European and Korean mix) – giving the drama a breathe of excitement and thrill. And most of all, the scenery – BREATHTAKING.

Save for occasional glitches in flow and pacing of the drama and some redundant scenes of Beo Jin going back and forth between William and Park Kyu (and her crying like an emotional wreck in almost every episode), Tamra’s nothing less than a  wholesome package of wonder and amusement. Definitely a blissful journey worth the 16-episode ride.

However, that’s not to say that Tamra’s without any flaws at all. The ride was meaningful, yes. The ride was fun, no doubt. BUT, again, nothing is perfect. What started out to be an exciting drama ended in a very simple note, satisfying (enough) to some, rushed to many. I myself thought it lacked the “punch” and intrigue it had in the first three quarters of the drama – mostly due to it having fallen into the trap of “Korean drama endings”. You know what I’m talking about.  But I guess the broadcasting station MBC ‘s partially to blame for this. Had MBC not cut off 4 episodes of the drama (just because the ratings faltered), the drama could have been better, and definitely could have ended the same way it did without disappointing its viewers.  Had MBC not done what they’d done, Tamra would have been a brilliant piece. Not that it wasn’t a great drama or anything, but it definitely could have been better.

Let’s just hope the full DVD/20-episode version would not disappoint, and would give us viewers a altogether different viewing experience.  I personally have nothing to complain (tho the wait is agonizing), as 4 more episodes of Park Kyu/Im Joo Hwan is definitely going to be <3333 for me.

Last but not least, I’d give this drama a 7.5/10.  (Might be an 8 if I get to see the uncut version?)


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