Chicago Typewriter Review: The Hope of being with you guys Again Someday
Wow… I am left speechless… I just watched the last episode of Chicago Typewriter and I am left with such a warm feeling inside. I experienced so many emotions within those 50 minutes: sadness, anger, fear, happiness, and hope. This is an overall review of the series, since I haven’t reviewed each episode individually.
The plot of this series was simply AMAZING and GENIUS. Personally, I love historical setting dramas, especially stories with historic significance…. and Chicago Typewriter combined both the modern and historical aspect beautifully with a touch of supernatural magic. The historical setting was placed during the 1930s when Korea was under Japanese rule… but what made this drama enticing were the elements of reincarnation and time-traveling by flashbacks. This drama did well to use both of these elements to highlight important events and progress the plot. Not only do we get the historic story of the main characters, but we also get to see the struggles of the main characters’ present lives and how their decisions/actions compared to their past selves. At first, I was worried about the drama because it started out quite slow in terms of character development and progression of the plot, as well as, the modern story was beginning to be overshadowed by the historic story. At one point, I became so heavily invested into the historic story that I almost didn’t care about their modern lives. On the other hand, wonderfully, they brought our attention back to the present by Se Ju’s exceptionally well-crafted character development and the teaming up of the main characters to write ‘Chicago Typewriter.’ Definitely, the strongest aspect of this drama was the plot/story-telling… I cannot emphasize how simply amazing the plot is. At first, we were made to think the moral of the story was for Se Ju to overcome his writing slump and ultimately finish writing ‘Chicago Typewriter’ with Yoo Jin Oh (Shin Yool); however, that was not the case.
Let’s take a step back and understand why this drama is called, “Chicago Typewriter.” Literally, one can interpret the title to symbolize the typewriter itself and the submachine gun… but in a deeper context… I believe the title represents the dreams and the promise between Se Ju (Hwi Young), Yoo Jin Oh (Shin Yool), and Seol (Soo Hyun) and this can be described by Hwi Young’s letter he gave to Shin Yool in episode 16. Physically, the typewriter is an empty object with no significant meaning. We learn that the typewriter was bought by Shin Yool as a gift to Hwi Young… and later this typewriter became the source of the resistance fighters’ communication. Soo Hyun also compared the submachine gun and the typewriter to each other. She quoted that the pen is mightier than the sword… thus explaining how significant the written word (communication) is the most essential aspect to obtain independence for their country, other than killing/violence. However, notice how important both the presence of the typewriter and the submachine gun were throughout the drama. Especially how the Chicago Typewriter gun was used by both Hwi Young and Soo Hyun in the last two episodes… In the end, Hwi Young sent his prized possession, the typewriter, to Shin Yool and replaced it with the gun - thus symbolizing how he was putting down his pen and accepted his death. As for Soo Hyun, she used the Chicago Typewriter gun to kill the Japanese officials because that is the only thing she can do for her country… she made a statement by taking revenge through extermination.
Now in the present, Se Ju was in a slump because his writing “caused” his stalker to kill himself and, thus, him losing confidence in his skills. However, the return of the typewriter not only brought him to meet Seol and Jin Oh, but he was also able to regain his confidence in his writing through trust and friendship. Combined with all the experience the typewriter has gone through, one could say that the typewriter symbolizes time and fate… by bringing the main characters together and tying up the loose end of their story. However, the greatest impact for me was how Shin Yool sealed himself in the typewriter so that he could keep his promise to Hwi Young. After he finished writing the story… his existence was basically over. But, what touched me the most was that Se Ju wrote a new story… the story of their present day lives… so that Shin Yool could seal himself in that story to be reborn one day. Truly, this drama showed how powerful the written word and communication is in our daily lives… and that it can both kill and save. This lesson was not only seen through the main characters’ struggles, but also by Tae Min who struggled to take responsibility for his actions, their mother who held a grudge against Se Ju, their father who failed to protect both of his sons, and Seol’s mother who abandoned her daughter because she couldn’t face her past actions.
The plot and the lessons weren’t the only amazing aspects of this drama. The character development was also well done… especially Se Ju. Personally, I think there was a lot of focus on Se Ju, that many of the other characters didn’t receive the same spot-light. Se Ju changed from a cold, haughty, and lonely person to loving, forgiving, and understanding. He changed his outlook on life to appreciating it and valuing friendship, love, and faith. But, I also think that Se Ju was always that person to begin with… however, he just locked his true self away due to his troubled childhood and the betrayal of his family. I must also say that Hwi Young was an amazing character who exemplified what it meant to be a true leader… cunning, brave, strong, and steel-hearted when it came to making clear-cut decisions. I loved how very different Hwi Young and Shin Yool were… and how one could distinguish between the two’s leadership. Hands down, Yoo Ah In stole the show with his masterful acting as Se Ju/Hwi Young (who didn’t cry when Shin Yool was reading Hwi Young’s letter? I freakin balled like a baby cause it was the most heart-felt letter I’ve ever read along with Shin Yool’s crying, Hwi Young’s narration, and the music in the background T___T).
Hey Shin Yool, are you alive? Are you reading this letter now? I was cleaning up before leaving for Manchuria and decided to send my three most precious things to you to keep for me. By chance, do you remember the ay we first saw this typewriter? Actually, I didn’t mean it when I said my pen was plenty at that time. I was bluffing. After receiving that gift of the typewriter from you, I was so happy. I’ve received so much from you, so much so that I can’t repay you in this lifetime. Now at the point of that I might not see you alive again and I am sorry because these are the only tings I can give you. And on top of that, I can’t even give it to you for free. I need to attach a favor. Will you be able to handle it? Can you? I’m hoping you will finish my novel for me. With this typewriter you gifted to me. Please write our story in my place now. The story of us living on this land at that time. How we lived diligently in the dark reality. How we hurt fiercely and hoped in desperation. How we found happiness within the danger. How we loved and fought with all our might. As for the pocket watch, I am giving it to you for wishing you to cherish Soo Hyeon every minute and every second. So that Soo Hyeon will never be alone again, you stay by her side. And lastly, Yool… just how much I trusted you and loved our friendship, I regret that I didn’t tell you in person. So let’s make sure we meet again alive. No, let’s meet again even in our death.
If a god asks me if I was happy in this life, I’ll answer. I was happy because I met you guys. If a god tells me, “Good job living a hard life.” “You lived it well.” And pat my shoulder, then I’ll ask for a favor. If I am to born again, I’ll ask to be with you guys again.
Jeon Seol’s (and Soo Hyun) character was very lovable and I loved how she remained true to herself in both the present and past lives, but I also loved how she showed times of weakness to indicate that, despite her amazing skills in various fields, she is human. Im Soo Jung did a great job to capture Seol’s liveliness and her strong determination. I really loved that Soo Hyun finished the job of exterminating the traitors (especially Heo Young Min), as well as, it was truly admirable when she killed Shin Yool… but it also showed that she had no purpose to continue on living because she was exhausted and lost everyone she loved… in the end despite killing all the traitors with her gun, she ended up losing herself in the process. Overall, the acting done in this drama was absolutely great! You could feel each characters’ thoughts, emotions, and understand their reasoning for their actions/decisions. You could feel their fears and how each character was on the edge of their sanity… just barely trying to survive. You honestly couldn’t really hate a single character, even if they betrayed their comrades (except for Heo Young Min… that bastard had to die). As for Shin Yool, I loved him so much! Poor sunshine loved Soo Hyun so much that he ended up betraying Hwi Young… but he couldn’t handle the guilt and didn’t stay with Soo Hyun in the end because of his friendship. I really loved his character… you can see how he slowly opened his heart to Se Ju and Seol… the actor, Go Kyung Pyo, did an amazing job to showcase such an emotional character. That was the biggest difference between Shin Yool and Hwi Young… Shin Yool just couldn’t contain his emotions and let his feelings get the best of him — which was why his bluff as being the leader didn’t trick Heo Young Min.
I also have to admit that, despite the romantic touch in the drama, the romance wasn’t really the focus of the series. Se Ju and Seol’s romance was very sweet and I enjoyed every moment they had together, however, the most touching aspect of the relationships in this drama wasn’t the romance… but the aspect of trust. Seol’s character, along with Yoo Jin Oh, brought trust back into Se Ju’s life. At first, we thought that Seol was Se Ju’s muse… but the most surprising muse in Se Ju’s life was Yoo Jin Oh because he was the one who brought the two together in the first place. We were made to believe that Seol was Se Ju’s muse to regain his trust in his writing ability, but actually it was both Seol and Jin Oh who helped him. And the best scene to show how Se Ju’s writing evolved from writing for others to writing for himself, was when he told Ji Seok that he wanted to write ‘Chicago Typewriter’ his way and not how the fans want it. At this point, Se Ju had already defeated his slump. Friendship and trust were the most important elements in this drama and it can be seen by 1) how Hwi Young and Shin Wool both loved Soo Hyun but didn’t force her to choose someone, 2) Shin Wool kept his promise of letting her go because of his promise, 3) Shin Wool didn’t get together with Soo Hyun in the end, despite Hwi Young asking him to take care of her, because he felt guilty for Hwi Young’s death, and 4) both Hwi Young and Soo Hyun had already forgiven Shin Wool. Especially, the last scene truly symbolized how strong the bonds of friendship can be with both Se Ju and Seol wishing for Shin Wool’s rebirth… and later on we see that Shin Wool was finally able to reunite with Hwi Young and Soo Hyun. Most importantly, the ending showed how the past was finally put to rest with meeting the present (notice how Hwi Young said, “Done.” when he finished typing his story… I think this symbolizes that the story of ‘Chicago Typewriter’ was finally over)… with how the typewriter, the gold watch, the story ‘Chicago Typewriter,’ and the picture were shot together in the last scene.
This drama may not be perfect and sometimes you may feel that the drama is slow, but please give it a try (especially if you’re interested in this era). Honestly, this drama deserves way more recognition and it saddens me that it didn’t receive higher ratings… this drama did well to showcase some of the real struggles during the 1930s, as well as, the struggles that writers face. The storyline, the characters, the music, the cinematography/visuals, and the supernatural touch all makes this drama very unique and intriguing to watch. Remember when I said how I felt a warm feeling inside after watching this drama? The reason being is because each character had a closure but the ending wasn’t absolute. Se Ju’s career is back on track and he is happy with his writing. Seol is finally with the man she loves, while also providing him strength and support. Shin Wool finally reunited with his old friends and, as well as, he can look to the future to meet with them in a liberated Korea (indicated by how his image became visible in the picture). The story of the Independence fighters that the typewriter brought to the main characters may have ended with episode 16, but a new story also began… and I believe that is the moral of the story. With every closed book, comes a new chapter to be written of an entirely new book because even after when we think it is the end… the written words and hopes of those before continue to live on through you and others. The story of “Chicago Typewriter” continues through us, the viewers. Just as Korea’s liberation did not end with the death of their comrades, but lived on through the hopes they wrote to the future generation.
If you’re looking for a drama that combines elements of romance, friendship, and the suspense of real-life struggles, then this drama is perfect… as you will truly witness the growth of each of the characters as they unravel their past lives and make amends to long-kept promises/dreams. Regardless, you’ll definitely be in for a roller-coaster ride of feels T____T
I low-key wish we could have seen Shin Yool/Yoo Jin Oh being reborn and reuniting with Se Ju and Seol in the future….
Music: 7.5/10 (maybe just a little more variety would have been nice, but the music is definitely catchy and pleasing to listen to)