'Memories of the Alhambra' is your next Netflix K-drama obsession
SEOUL, South Korea – Epic romance, exotic locations, stunning cinematography, and incredible fantasy elements are some of the things fans have come to expect from K-Dramas that more or less fall under the same genre as Memories of the Alhambra. But this latest K-Drama offering from Netflix manages to take all that to the next level and even bring something new into the mix.
The story kicks off when Yoo Jin Woo (Hyun Bin), the CEO of an investment company, makes his way to Alhambra, Spain to track down the mysterious developer of an innovative AR game. There he meets Jung Hee Joo (Park Shin Hye), a classical guitarist turned hostel-owner who works several jobs to make ends meet. Magic and technology, medieval and modern, fantasy and romance all collide in a strange and mysterious affair that will bring our characters together.
Meet the cast and crew
Directed by Ahn Gil Ho, the man responsible for the critically acclaimed and globally lauded Korean television show Stranger, and written by W screenwriter Song Jae Jung, the highly anticipated K-Drama promises to offer viewers worldwide something that they’ve never seen anywhere before.
The show also marks the return of its two leads to television: This is Hyun Bin’s big TV comeback after being away for three years, and Park Shin Hye’s after taking a break from K-Drama for two years.
In a one-on-one interview with Rappler, the two stars share what it was about this particular project that lured them back to the small screen.
Hyun Bin shares, “When I first got the script, I read it in one sitting. It was really immersive. I love that we’re talking about AR. It’s a fresh new topic that really caught my attention.” He was also intrigued by how it was all going to play out onscreen after post-production.
For Park Shin Hye, the AR angle and the screenwriter were the two factors that made her decide to take on the the project, sharing that she, too, read the script in one sitting.
“The topic of AR was really interesting. I also like the writer (Song Jae Jung). I looked at her past work and she has a unique world view. I want see her view on AR.” The actress said that she wanted to take on the challenge of bringing the story to the screen.
The real deal with AR
AR is only one aspect of the show — which Park Shin Hye describes as romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery all rolled into one — but it plays a significant role in the storytelling and the visuals, adding a fresh and unique layer to the drama and immediately setting Memories of the Alhambra apart.
In fact, Hyun Bin feels that the way the show explores augmented reality and gaming distinguishes it from other television shows and extends its appeal to a wider audience. “Even if you’re not a K-Drama fan, as long as you understand gaming, you can follow [the story].”
On the other hand, he believes that the fact that the show is still also a melodrama (which is characteristic of K-Drama in general), distinguishes it from more straightforward dramas, thrillers, and sci-fi shows out there. In short, the audience gets the best of both worlds.
Bienvenido a Alhambra
Speaking of worlds, the world they created on the show, thanks to the beautiful filming locations, is one more reason Memories of Alhambra stands out from other K-Dramas.
The sweeping vistas, vibrant colors, and rich culture and history of Alhambra make it feel and look so alive, almost as if it were another character on the show. Not just stunning and gorgeous, it also serves as the perfect backdrop for a series that features an AR game with swords and knights on steeds.
Filming in Spain for a month proved to be a bit challenging, just because the cast and crew were all so far away from home, and they only had a month to shoot everything they needed to shoot in Alhambra.
But it had its rewards, too: According to the Park Shin Hye, filming amidst all that beauty, helped her feel completely immersed in the role. Plus because very few people outside the production knew who she was, it provided her some anonymity on her days off.
As for Hyun Bin, he was grateful that filming in Spain brought the cast and crew closer together and helped them focus on a common goal. He was glad that the camaraderie they shared and the bond they built while shooting on location in Alhambra carried over as they continued to film the rest of the series.
Netflix and chill
The two leads are looking forward to introducing the world not just to the show, but to K-Drama. “I think that it’s great we can take this project and show it to the entire world. That’s something I would really like to thank Netflix for,” shares Hyun Bin.
He also says that making the show available on Netflix gives them a chance to promote diversity and showcase Korean creativity with the rest of the world. “We have a great stories to tell the world and I think Netflix has enabled [us to share that.]”
Park Shin Hye adds, “I also think it’s an honor because it’s the first time a Korean drama is introducing [AR in a television series] to the Korean and global viewership.”
She also feels that because the show will be available to a wider audience, people around the world will see that “we are all the same, in the sense that the emotions we want to express and the relationships we have, we share in common.” – Rappler.com
The show begins airing on Netflix weekly starting December 1, just one hour after broadcast, across Asia and English-speaking territories.