Song Kang stars as ‘symbol of seductive beauty' in Netflix K-romance Nevertheless

Song Kang stars as ‘symbol of seductive beauty’ in Netflix K-romance Nevertheless

Unless Korean tastes are about to suffer a seismic shock, then heartthrob Song Kang is unlikely to be out of work any time soon.

A familiar face from several recent romance-dramas, Song now stars as lead head-turner Park Jae-eon in Nevertheless (Netflix, series one now showing), a love-conquers-all saga that starts in unusual surroundings. These are the clay- and paint-splattered workshops of a university sculpture course, in which the students, when not hammering, welding, moulding and carving, or shrinking from their bitchy, aggressive professor, are dreaming about girlfriends, boyfriends, what’s for lunch and what drinking game they should play next: normal student behaviour, I suppose.

Curiously, in these enlightened times, they are also a bunch of dedicated smokers – although that could be down to product placement.

Scrubbed to the point of having a translucent glow, Jae-eon, because he isn’t brash and doesn’t take advantage of the girls swooning in his very presence, is considered by some to be just a big tease. The paralysing shyness of Yu Na-bi (Han So-hee), however, allied to her naivety in emotional affairs, appeals to Jae-eon, who is really just a simple lad at heart. Or is he?

Na-bi drags out the will-they-won’t-they question as long as possible (when we know they will), but not just through diffidence or because she wants to gaze into his eyes in slow motion. She is suspicious of this “symbol of seductive beauty”, as one student dismisses him, partly because of his obsession with butterflies – and not just those in young lovers’ stomachs.

This is where Nevertheless cleverly does whatever the Korean is for cocking a snook at public opinion. Last year, Han suffered a backlash from the righteously indignant for having tattoos, which she has since had removed (no doubt painfully). Here, Na-bi sports what looks like a small item of body art – rendered in nothing more than marker pen. Jae-eon, meanwhile, prominently displays what purports to be the real thing.

Male and female public personalities having to play by different rules, perhaps? Who would have thought it?

Behind locked doors

Song Kang stars as ‘symbol of seductive beauty’ in Netflix K-romance Nevertheless

Sean Bean (left) and Stephen Graham star in Time. Photo: BBC

Serving a prison sentence is arguably the least optimal use of anyone’s time – even if they are guilty. And for passive, apologetic schoolteacher Mark Cobden (Sean Bean), who is accepting of his nightmarish fate, it feels as though “doing jug” is going to be more terminal than redemptive. Screaming voices, snarling aggression, violence ready to erupt – and that’s just in the prison van on the way from court at the beginning of Cobden’s four-year sentence.

Famed screenwriter (and here, series creator) Jimmy McGovern returns to his native Liverpool for a taut, grimly mesmerising examination of the lives of men subjected to a process so dehumanising it comes as little surprise that many of them are repeat guests of Her Majesty. Nor is it a surprise that through much of the three episodes of Time (now showing on BBC First, via Now TV and myTV Super), the sensitive Cobden is far less Bean-the-granite-Yorkshireman than intimidated pushover – until suddenly, he isn’t.

If Cobden is an ordinary man devoured by extraordinary circumstances for which he has no guidebook, then Eric McNally (Stephen Graham) is in a similar position, but – thanks to years of experience of the criminal fraternity – better able to cope with, in effect, being on the inside himself, as a prison officer. That is, until his job unexpectedly puts his son in mortal danger and McNally is compromised by blackmailers.

Meanwhile, for Cobden, who believed, before he was even jailed, that, “You just get ground down”, time goes on, while life hardly seems to.

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