Kdramas have been a hit among various streaming platforms as of late. Their popularity is widely noticed that the likes of Netflix decided to create their own original KDrama shows. We have seen this so far with Kingdom and Squid Game—both being incredible hits to their audience—and the popular streaming platform is not losing its momentum with My Name.
My Name became widely talked about because of Han So Hee, who has pulled off spectacular performances in The World of the Married and Nevertheless. Both KDrama shows became a hit on Netflix as one of the most-watched shows on their platform. Joining her is an all-star cast that includes Ahn Bo-Hyun, who made a hit with his role in Itaewon Class, and Park Hee-Soon—who is best known for his role in Seven Days.
We watched the entirety of My Name over the weekend after it has dropped on Netflix, and we review the streaming platform’s latest original KDrama show. Is it another win for Netflix?
My Name Review: Spoiler Warnings
To avoid any spoilers on the show, we will focus more on the complex characters of Yoo Jiwoo (So Hee) and Choi Mujin (Hee-Soon) and how they shaped the whole 8-episode affair. Understanding both characters is important, as it is one of the very good elements of My Name.
More than just police vs gangster plot
While the synopsis of My Name revolves around Jiwoo’s quest in avenging her father’s death, the TV series goes way beyond that. The character of Jiwoo herself is very complex: while she plays the role of an undercover cop in the majority of the series, her backstory—which includes how she misunderstood her father—shaped her throughout the series.
The complexity of the plot of My Name goes further with the cunning and deceitful nature of Mujin, who plays as a top-level drug lord who tries to keep his position on top at the expense of people’s lives.
While I admittedly felt that My Name had a similar plot to On the Job, I was blown away at how the story progressed in later episodes—especially with the latter three where things take a really wild turn. The way My Name was written is far from the usual story plots of KDrama series where you can easily predict the ending. Just like with Squid Game, the viewer will be very surprised with the characters that will die throughout the series.
Of society’s ills and different stages of betrayal
In a nutshell, what makes My Name’s plot great is how it explores society’s ills and the different ways betrayal is seen. The former is very evident with how members of the Dongcheon cartel have to struggle—even to the point of killing co-members—to make it to the top. This is also seen in the side of the police, where My Name explores the dangers of being an undercover cop—specifically, one that investigates a big-name drug cartel.
Looking deep into the society ills My Name presents, the biggest takeaway among all eight episodes is on how it approached trust and betrayal in different aspects. This helped in character development, especially for Jiwoo as she uncovers more facts while she is on a quest to avenge her father’s unjust death.
The complexities of betrayal are very evident with the character development of Mujin as well, as it depicted how he has a variety of tricks up his sleeve to make people work for him—and throw them away when he felt that he no longer needed them for his drug cartel empire.
Generally dark look and feel
Similar to On the Job, My Name goes for gritty and dark cinematography that is a staple for action-thriller TV series genres. Colors are mostly desaturated in all scenes, and there’s a heavy emphasis on the use of top shots—these are important to My Name’s story plot as the shot selection perfectly symbolizes how someone from the top like Mujin looks down to what’s happening below while being perfectly comfortable at where he is.
While the TV series has a noir vibe, the camera movements are very refined even in POV scenes where the camera follows the movements of Jiwoo and other key characters in the story. The polished movements can be attributed to Netflix’s big gamble to invest $500 million in 2021 alone for developing original KDrama shows.
While I do like Netflix’s overall treatment of My Name, inconsistencies are noticeable with the last episode, where there are scenes that felt like it was shot at 60FPS and not the usual 30FPS or the cinematic 24FPS we are all accustomed to. Despite the nitpicking on that particular aspect, Netflix’s big gamble on the production budget for My Name (and its other original KDrama shows) did pay off: as of writing this review, My Name is at number 2 in Netflix’s top 10 shows in the Philippines.
Han So Hee’s best performance to date
Prior to My Name, I have been following So Hee with Nevertheless, which is also a KDrama show that gained a lot of popularity on Netflix. While I do acknowledge that she has the makings of being the next It KDrama actress, I found her character (as Yu Na-Bi) in Nevertheless quite lackluster, as it depicted a rather stereotypical role that I usually see in most KDramas that I have watched.
My thoughts about So Hee changed dramatically with My Name, as the TV series has to be her best acting performance to date. Far from the roles she had in The World of the Married and Nevertheless, So Hee’s role as Jiwoo paints a perfect picture of women empowerment—where she is willing to face a misogynistic society in order to make the truth prevail. What also made So Hee’s performance in My Name very good is how she remains consistent from being a high school student who was constantly bullied in the early part of the TV series to being an undercover cop who is determined and focused on her goals.
So Hee may only be four years into her acting career, but her stellar performance in My Name is the best proof that she is indeed going to be the next big-name KDrama actress to look out for.
My Name Review Verdict
Following Netflix’s immense success with Squid Game, our review shows that the streaming platform has another big hit in the making with My Name. Beyond the amount of money, Netflix has poured in for its original KDrama shows, what makes My Name worth watching is that it makes an excellent job in exploring the police vs. gangster plot in a whole different light, adding in elements like the complexities of betrayal between characters and showcasing society’s ills.
My Name is also a big milestone for So Hee as well, as the TV series perfectly showcased her untapped acting potential, outperforming her memorable roles in The World of the Married and Nevertheless.
With Netflix going hit after hit with its own original KDrama shows like Kingdom, Squid Game, and now My Name, the streaming platform proves that their high-stakes gamble with original KDrama content is definitely paying off.