1986. Detective Park Kwang-Ho (Choi Jin-Hyuk) investigates the brutal murders of several young women. As he chases after the culprit, however, he finds himself thirty years into the future, where the murders are still happening
Tunnel has got to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. I know a lot of people were worried, when they saw the synopsis, that it would be a cheap imitation of the very successful Signal, but from what I’ve heard, those fears were very quickly laid to rest. In fact, the show managed to stand on its own two feet, be very different, and break ratings records for OCN. I’ll say it right away: go watch this show. Now.
After Signal, an Unforeseen Success
There was a lot of room for error with a premise such as Tunnel‘s, really. For one, because of Signal‘s precedent, and the risk that things would turn out very similar, but also because it would have been easy to lose the plot by putting too much emphasis on Park Kwang-Ho’s shenanigans as he tried to adapt to this modern world. Yet, the show beautifully evaded that tripwire, and instead allowed the plot and the character to work together so that things would fall in naturally.
The writing, while it took its time laying down some groundwork, managed to make the entire time leading up to the time travel organic enough that instead of clamoring for the show to get to business, the audience grows attached to this straightforward, honest dude trying to do his job and falling in love with a beautiful girl in a flurry of awkwardness at the same time.
More than that, however, it managed to keep up a fast pace and episodes packed with tension, action, bromance and shenanigans all at once, with cliffhangers that will drive you up. the. wall. I’m not kidding. The wait was pure torture for those of us who started watching from the start, and we barely survived the week the show was preempted due to the elections. One thing is for sure: the way everything, every single piece, every tiny clue falls together and ties in perfectly borders on art. I was seriously amazed by the time we reached the end.
A Show That Remains Full of Empathy
The best part lays with the character development. There was this moment, when I was watching the final episode, where I paused and just thought: “man, they’ve come such a long way.” And truly, they do change a lot. The writing is great in the sense that it never falters in driving the plot towards the ending, but also that you don’t even realize how much the characters are growing until you’re at the end and it just… hits you in the face. It was right there, under your nose, but you never noticed because it was just that smooth.
And while, in a procedural featuring a bunch of seriously twisted serial killers, there could have been a significant lack of humanity, Tunnel managed to stand out precisely because it chose to emphase it instead. The victims are very human, and their loved ones appear as more than just witnesses. You can see just how ravaged they are by grief, and some episodes will just tear you apart.
And on that note, all three leads’ acting was excellent. Lee Yoo-Young (Shin Jae-Yi), in particular, was impressive, as well as Yoon Hyun-Min (Kim Sun-Jae). Their most remarkable performances were of a completely different nature, but they were good. And of course, Choi Jin-Hyuk as Kwang-Ho was heartwarming at times, heartbreaking at others. I also feel like VIXX’s N should be mentioned. Although his role wasn’t that big, what he offered was on par with the rest of the cast, and really made me want to see more of him.
Finally, and because everybody loves a good bromance, I’ve got to say something about those that appear in this show. Of course, the first one is Park Kwang-Ho and Kim Sun-Jae, but Kwang-Ho and Sung-Sik definitely merit a gold medal, and Tae-Hee and Min-Ha are just so perfectly synchronized sometimes I couldn’t help laughing out loud.
All in All…
Add to that some really beautiful shots, and you have a drama that borders on perfect. Go watch it immediately, you won’t regret it.
Country: South Korea
Starring: Choi Jin-Hyuk, Lee Yoo-Young, Yoon Hyun-Min, Jo Hee-Bong
Aired: 03/25/2017 to 05/21/2017
Number of Episodes: 16
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Procedural, Time Travel
My grade: ★★★★★