There are stories that go beyond drama. With the right combination of writing, directing, acting, and editing, some stories become art. As art, it leaves you speechless with a flood of emotions traveling to your brain and trying to make sense.
Of course, I am able to say such of Chicago Typewriter because as of this writing, I have already watched its 16 episodes a couple of times. I really, really want to recommend this story to people and so it’s a must I blog about it and start with first impressions… lest, I spoil everything at once.
Chicago Typewriter is a story I wish I wrote. The story was so compelling (visually, mentally, emotionally) that it competes with the charisma of its own actors.
Playing with some time element through a vintage typewriter, the story smoothly transports the viewer between 1930s and 2017. We will see this technique played out until the last scene, and it will never be a bore. But for this episode, only a brief scene between familiar faces can be seen through Se-joo’s seeming involuntary trance.Quote below framed in a corner of my room.
Quick background on the 1930s setting: that was during the Japanese occupation in South Korea, and small organizations of young Koreans worked to liberate their country. Pretty much the same as our Jose Rizals and Andres Bonifacios.
As with first date introductions, episode 1 made sure we’d decide to immediately see its lead characters a second time, a third, and so forth.
As one of South Korea’s best actors, Yoo Ah In gave life to Han Se-joo, a celebrated fiction writer in 2017 who is about to go through his first ever slump. I commend the scriptwriter for giving the viewers a glimpse to a writer’s mind through this story.
I like the opening scene were Se-joo is shown observing the world, taking inspiration from real life events.
Breaking the general assumption that writers could be physically weak, Se-joo is also seen calmly fighting a couple of gangsters, and leaving a few words of wisdom to the homeless. Swag.
As a successful author, he has a tight schedule for writing, interviews, book signings. There is an air of overconfidence all over his aura. Sometimes, he was understandably stiff, but sometimes he was just rude. However, later scenes warn that to judge him right away is to forget that “hurt people [tend to] hurt [or sometimes, build walls against] people.”
Still on skillfully introducing Se-joo, we see he could be weird but real in front of the staff he trusts. He likes to reward himself with strawberry shortcake and he has replaced cigarettes with cinnamon sticks.
He was fascinated upon his first encounter with the vintage typewriter, and despite being a little weirded about hearing voices and seeing too familiar scenarios, he thought he wanted the antique for himself. May I add that perhaps it’s difficult to scare writers in real life. Imagine living with a ton of imagined scenarios in your mental compartments that actual horror stories unfold before you and you’d doubt it as just your imagination.
Enough of the typewriter’s moment of mystery. Have I told you that Se-joo’s writing room is a personal library to die for? If he were real, I’d be thrilled to spend days in his room.
Speaking of wanting to see Se-joo’s writing room for myself reminds me of the female lead, Jeon Seol. Right off the bat, she is proudly introduced as an ultimate bookworm and fangirl.
Sorry, not sorry but I’ll spazz a little about Jeon Seol’s fangirl moments in this episode. She represented me and so many fangirls so well. Haha!
Anyway, despite Jeon Seol being Se-joo’s ultimate fan and reader, she has a life outside his world. She is excellent in all she puts her mind to… until something sad and/or traumatic happens, then she’s forced to divert her attention to somewhere else.
In 2017, as her life slowly intersects with Han Se-joo, she is making ends meet by doing stuff for other people. She is a real life version of UpWork and similar sites. In the story, people actually call her for all sorts of errands.
Despite a difficult past, an average present, a mysterious experience, and a heart overflowing with admiration for a certain person, Jeon Seol is firmly in touch with reality. She knows her limits. She is charming, forgiving, honest and brave.
She is not afraid to show her true feelings in a world which encourages masks and walls. It was ironic that from the beginning to the end, a legendary sniper disarms the people around her… sometimes, with her gun, often times, with words unfiltered from her heart.
Yoo Jin-o and the next episodes
Our third main character was not entirely shown in the first episode. A little spoiler: he was just heard, and we might have seen a shadow or silhouette. He will definitely show up on the next episodes, helping the other two leads (and the viewers) make sense of the past (1930s) and the present (2017).
But for now, let me tell you that should you decide to watch Chicago Typewriter, make sure you’d have enough time to spend for more than episode 1; for it will surely end with you wanting to see episodes 2 and 3 right away.