Memories of the Alhambra Episode 1 gets off to a good start, with the connection between Jung Se-joo, Yoo Jin-woo and Jung Hee-joo solved.
After covering the entire series of Mr. Sunshine, I am now tasked with Memories of the Alhambra. Overnight, I have somehow become the Special Correspondent for Korean Drama Series. It ain’t too bad, but it is such a shame that Netflix decides to release two episodes over the weekend. It is a little heavy. Anyway, let the journey begin: Memories of the Alhambra Episode 1 was a true imaginative eye-opener.
In the opening, cryptic programmer Jung Se-joo (Chan-Yeol Park) is seen frantically trying to get a train to Granada. At this stage the reasons are unknown, but he seems distracted, sweating to keep calm on the train. He is seemingly shot while travelling; however, I would take that scene with a pinch of salt. Memories of the Alhambra is about an augmented reality game, after all.
Memories of the Alhambra Episode 1 then swiftly diverts its attention to Alhambra, which if you are not aware is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. Business executive Yoo Jin-woo (Hyun Bin) is perusing the village almost like he is a tourist, with his well-tailored clothes, a fancy watch and an air of arrogance about him.
He is determined to use a Spanish hostel owned by Jung Hee-joo (Shin-Hye Park), despite her repeated attempts for him to find a hotel. It’s clear the amount of luggage he has, and his demands far outreach the facilities of a shabby hostel.
There is a clear connection between Yoo Jin-woo and Jung Hee-joo that I am confident the Korean series will explore. A significant amount of time is spent on the pair discussing the hostel and forming a type of chemistry that is to be enjoyed until the central theme of the series kicks in, which is the augmented reality game.
Yoo Jin-woo goes out exploring the village innocently, but then the town becomes a game, with the historical landmarks coming alive, and a warrior “kills him” forcing him to log out. I was impressed by the introduction of this game, as it did little to persuade the audience that the level he was on had started. Yoo Jin-woo spends all night trying to kill this warrior, which eventually he successfully achieves.
I was pleasantly amused by the consequences of playing this game, because if you haven’t got the smart lense in your eyes, then it looks like the player is swinging his arms frantically in the middle of the streets. The game looks as real as life, so it is easy for Yoo Jin-woo to become so accustomed to his new reality.
Once Yoo Jin-woo learns of the realism of this game, he wants to invest. However, the elusive programmer hardly leaves any trace, except that he will be in the hostel. Stressed and panicked at the prospect of losing the sale, he speaks to his advisor while trying to cook some ramen noodles, which causes the fire alarm to go off. With an air of privilege and a high tone of selfishness, he insults the hostel owner to the lowest level, making her feel inferior.
Memories of the Alhambra Episode 1 does not place Yoo Jin-woo in a good light at all at this moment, and I was instantly discouraged by his behaviour and treatment towards Jung Hee-joo. As he continues finishing his call, he learns that the programmer is a minor, so the sale of the game will have to be signed by his guardian – which turns out to be his sister, the hostel owner.
The ending served such classic irony, as Yoo Jin-woo instantly changed his tone. He looks at her like a pot of gold, while she is still wiping away her tears from the pile of insults thrown at her. It seems like Yoo Jin-woo has some begging to do.
Memories of the Alhambra Episode 1 teaches the old life lesson to treat people as you would like to be addressed. Don’t be a rich dick.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.