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Saharial reviews Beethoven Virus

Story: Ru Mi, a violinist for 17 years has had little or no luck playing in orchestras, they all seem to disband or fall apart. Now working as a copywriter, she comes up with an idea to make Sukwon, where she lives, a capital for classical music. Her luck has not changed though and the initial grant vanishes because of a fraudulent businesswoman and she has to turn to the amateur circuit to get the musicians she needs. She has however hired a famous conductor, maestro Kang Gun Woo, whose perfectionist ways have earned him the nickname ‘orchestra killer’…
Cast: Kim Myung Min, Lee Ji Ah, Jang Geun Suk, Lee Soon Jae
Year: 2008
Genre: Romance, drama, comedy
Reason I watched: I had heard good things about it from reliable sources both online and through Korean Friends.

I was in love with this drama from episode 1. There was something so appealing and sweet in the whole concept, the idea that everyone can identify with – having a dream of success. The characters were easy to identify with, a wide range of them to appeal to more than one age group, the situations often comical (particularly the auditions) and the whole atmosphere feels warm and friendly. The uphill struggle of the misfit versus the establishment is a common global theme in many dramas and it finds a very comfortable home here as they have to deal with politicians and obstacles that get in the way of what they dream.

The love triangle story arc is as intertwined as real life, Conductor Gun Woo (aka Kang Mae) vs. Trumpeter Gun Woo and the relationship they each have with Ru Mi. The character development is really well thought out with the complexity of Gun Woo’s relationship with Kang Mae adding depth to the performance.

The music is of course excellent, with familiar favourites to keep those less well informed of classical music comfortable and introducing lovely pieces that are less well known. Being classical too, it’s not intrusive or overly repetitive – with such a wide choice to select from how could it be – though Brahms, Haydn and Beethoven are more commonplace names. The music is selected well for the mood of the scene and there is a fabulous rendition of ‘A Goose’s Dream’ by In Soon-I towards the end.

What emerges from the drama is how wonderful music is as an escape from daily grind and how it can fulfil what is missing from a life more ordinary. The use of experienced actors with a long history in the business with new faces adds to the feel of the drama and the range of abilities in the orchestra. The lives of the members are often touching and sweet and always engaging.

Only one particular piece was produced and that was ‘Maestro’s Choice’ of classical music which was a popular release and a nice touch to the drama. There is of course the usual OST of songs and classical pieces.


Kim Myung Min
A regular actor in dramas whose profile was more low key and unglamorous, the drama elevated him in popularity to a level usually experienced by the younger generation. Since then he has taken on some more sturdy roles in films such as ‘My Love By My Side’ where he plays a sufferer of Lou Gherig’s disease and lost 20kg for the role. Soon to be appearing in a new drama ‘Giant’ set in the 1970’s, ‘Beethoven Virus’ seems to have given him the recognition he deserved. As Kang Mae, he is very believable, the character’s actions and inability to develop personally at times frustrating and yet still endearing enough to feel warmth towards him.

Lee Ji Ah
First appearing in ‘The Legend’ (2007) with Bae Yong Jun for which she won four awards, Beethoven Virus was her second drama. She does very well as Ru Mi, even though the role itself is a little weak, particularly in comparison to that of the two men in the ‘love triangle’.

Jang Geun Suk
In 2008 he on the best Newcomer Award at the MBC Drama Awards for his role in ‘Beethoven Virus’ and Jang Geun Suk has grown in popularity at a steady rate until he went stellar at the end of last year with the drama ‘You’re Beautiful’ (review to come soon). Soon to be having fan meetings in almost every Asian country to promote this latest drama it’s easy to forget he’s been building his career since 2002 and is actually a talented young man with a lot of potential. As Gun Woo, the trumpeter who is possibly a genius musician, he adds humour and strength to the cast and is very likeable.


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