[K-DRAMA] Bridal Mask (2012)

warning: may contain spoilers


A drama set during the Japanese occupation, Gaksital is about a man wearing a bridal mask who fights for Korean independence.


The drama is set during the 1930s when the Japanese took over Korea peninsula. Lee Kang To is the only Korean officer in the Japanese Police. He helps in annihilating the Koreans who fight for freedom. One of his missions is to catch Gaksital, a man who wears a traditional Korean bridal mask. No one knows his identity and he is also a freedom fighter. Kang To’s chase seemed like forever until one day, he shot Gaksital, only to find out that Gaksital is his own brother. His brother, Lee Kang San, was a known freedom fighter, and he was caught and sent to jail. He pretended to be insane just so he could be released. King San still pretends to have mental problems at day while donning the bridal mask at night. Kang To deeply grieved as he was the one who killed his brother with his own hands. This served to be an eyeopener to him as he sees how the Japanese maltreated the Koreans. He dons the bridal mask in honour of his brother and becomes Gaksital. Kang To’s problem continue to arise as his Japanese best friend, Kimura Shunji becomes his enemy. Will Kang To be able to handle being a police officer who is patriotic to Japan during the day but is Gaksital who fights for independence during the night?



Bridal Mask is my third period drama and I think I’ll search for more period dramas in the future.  This drama that was set during the Japanese occupation showed a clear presentation of what happened back then. The Japanese are steps higher than the Joseon people. A vast difference in social class is evident. People were tortured and put inside a nail cage if they don’t follow the Japanese’ orders. Male students were forced to serve the country by being a soldier. The drama also tackled about the case of comfort women; how young girls thought that they would go to China to be nurses in the war or go abroad to study, but they were all lies. Despite of these, there were patriotic groups who secretly fought for freedom and planned to revolt. This drama really depicted how Koreans were oppressed by the Japanese. It’s so touching yet insightful. This reminds me of the drama, Basketball. I know many people were looking forward to that drama but it was such a mess. Bridal Mask has effectively shown not only how Koreans were treated, but how they revolted successfully. I’m sorry but Basketball failed to do so. Speaking of dramas, Bridal Mask also reminds me of City Hunter just that it’s set during the 1930s. They’re the same in the way that Gaksital has a list of people that he needs to make revenge on. No wonder I liked City Hunter too; both were badass dramas!


This is the longest Korean drama I’ve watched so far. I heard good reviews about this drama so I watched it, and I didn’t regret it. Although having 28 episodes was a bit long for me. By the 20th episode, I felt that the show started to get draggy. I mean, are the police officers that dumb and clumsy that they’re unable to catch Gaksital? Moreover, Gaksital was carrying a wooden stick to fight the police and the army, but these men are all armed with guns, bullets and bombs. I think the drama should’ve ended during the bombing at the inauguration or that should be close to the end already. The writers made it more complicated with the addition of more characters. They didn’t just have only one leader, not two, but three leaders! I think long dramas or daily dramas that air up to 50 episodes are not really meant for me, so I’m scared to try or I’ll be bored to death. Nonetheless, Gaksital is forgivable because of its strong plot and badass characters. I’m really weak at these types of dramas.


This drama does not dwell much on romance. Even though there’s a love triangle, it’s not something to look forward to. Kang To and Mokdan’s love story was just ordinary as well. Mokdan used to hate Kang To for being anti-Korean, but after finding out who he really was, she just completely forgot about those thoughts. Seriously, there’s not an ounce of hate left?! Joo Won and Jin Se Yeon’s chemistry was not quite a match. They looked like brothers and sisters and it seemed like Se Yeon is too young for him. When romance can be a miss, go for bromance! Kang To and Shunji used to be the best of friends despite of their differences in social status and nationality. I think the bromance in the drama is so much worth seeing than the romance. Joo Won and Ki Woong had better chemistry. lol Even in behind the scenes photos and videos, they seemed really close. In short: bromance > romance.


I would like to commend the actors in the drama. They were really really well-chosen up to the littlest role. Count and Countess were definitely a laugh. I was familiar with the Count as I’ve seen him in numerous dramas, but it’s the first time that he’s acting such a role. The son was such a cute addition. I mean he doesn’t care a bit of what’s happening and just drinks at Angel’s all day long. Yet, he made a great sacrifice in the end. Katsuyama, the bodyguard, was an interesting character too, following Ueno Rie all day, yet in the end, he’s still forever a bodyguard. The first bridal mask, Lee Kang San, I think, was the best among the cast members. He played an insane person during daylight but he was a hero during night. I wished he stayed in the drama for a longer time. I also noticed that these actors play a lot with their eyebrows especially Shunji, Kang To and Mokdan. Their eyebrows were knitted every time they want to express their anger. Hmm..


Anyway, the whole cast deserved a round of applause for making the show as interesting as possible. The plot was good and the cast was a huge plus.




Joo Won as Lee Kang To / Sato Hiroshi — When I first saw Joo Won as police officer Lee Kang To, I was completely taken aback because this role was totally different with his role in Good Doctor. My bad.. I discovered Joo Won so late and Good Doctor was my first Joo Won drama. I find it funny when he has a super serious face, shouting and beating up innocent citizens. I wasn’t really used to it yet. One wouldn’t notice that he’s the Good Doctor! These two characters’ personalities are extremely opposites, but how can he portray them both so well?!  He’s not even my favourite or bias but I really admire him as an actor. To be honest, he deserves a lot more attention than Lee Min Ho, Lee Jong Suk, etc. Joo Won, even with his kindhearted face, managed to bring a badass Lee Kang To to life. Thanks to a lot of eyebrow acting and also special mention to his eyes when he’s checking things around. lol I mean, that’s a bit of overacting right there but yeah, it makes sense. He really pours his heart out every time he acts. I’ll never see Joo Won the same way again.


Park Ki Woong as Kimura Shunji — Park Ki Woong is new to me. I’ve never seen him in any dramas I’ve watched. The first time seeing him as Kimura Shunji, I was like: “aww..this guy’s cute like a puppy”. I really find him cute and unique because he doesn’t look like Korean at all. I thought he was a foreigner until I googled him. But things do change right? After his brother’s death, Kimura Shunji changed from a good music teacher to a bad police officer who kills people. One factor of this change was wanting to catch Bridal Mask. But I think the biggest impact would be his father. There were times when his thoughts and decisions were wavering but his father pushed him further just so he could attain a higher position. I really believed his father brainwashed him. His change was a 360 degree turn to a villain. There’s a lot of really wicked and bad villains but they’re just plain old and boring. Finding someone like Kimura Shunji as a villain was something new for the audience. A very young villain but an effective one. He could go into extremes to the point of killing innocent beings. Park Ki Woong may be a bit overacting at times, but he succeeded to make everyone pissed. Honestly though, he’s one of the very few villains that I pity. I don’t hate him actually despite of all those mistakes and wrongdoings he’s done. Until the very last episode, I pity him more than hate. I may consider watching Ki Woong’s past dramas. Such an eye candy villain!


Jin Se Yeon as Mokdan / Esther / Boon Yi — I can’t believe this girl is younger than me! Jin Se Yeon as Mokdan wasn’t the perfect choice in my opinion. Many commented that her acting was dull and bland. I don’t completely agree though. I think she did her best despite of all those criticisms about her. I know she’s still young and she doesn’t have enough acting experiences. It’s just that both her co-actors, Ki Woong and Joo Won, were too good for her. She may be the most forgettable among the four lead casts, but I really think she exerted a lot of effort on her role. I have yet to see her other dramas but her performance was acceptable for me in here.


Han Chae Ah as Ueno Rie / Lara — Even if Han Chae Ah is only the second female lead in the drama, she shines with her intriguing role. Ueno Rie is not the real daughter of Kishokai’s leader after all, but she is Korean. I pity her character too because she’s secretly in love with Kang To, yet she needs to kill him. She also doesn’t have anywhere to go except Kishokai so it’s a tough decision to make. Han Chae Ah is so lovely in this drama. I like the fact that people notice her much more than Se Yeon. I knew her from Marry Him If You Dare, and the writers definitely wasted her talent with that drama. I know she’s capable of more and I’m glad she was able to show it here.



The ending was quite expected but sort of unexpected. lol The way how they killed so many characters without so much thought throughout the drama means we could expect that one of the important characters may die. The wedding could’ve been perfect if not for Shunji’s wedding crash. What’s more saddening was Mokdan’s death. I expected this to happen the least. She’s such a strong and courageous young girl who fought for freedom. Kang To deserved a happy ending with her. On the other hand, it was just to let Kimura Shunji die in his own hands. It’s also logical since he’s Japanese, he believes that suicide is the ‘way’. He killed so many innocent people and I think there’s no chance for him to go back to his old self anymore. He can’t and shouldn’t rebuild Kishokai too, so I guess letting Shunji die was the most peaceful idea. The ending wasn’t a perfect one, but I believed they presented it the best way they could. The last scene was so touching and sort of felt accomplished with Bridal Mask. It showed the patriotism of the citizens and that’s what matters the most. Many lives were sacrificed in order for this to happen. Kang To may not have a happy ending for himself, but he made the Koreans happy.



Like the drama, the soundtrack is also badass! The instrumentals as background music made the drama more alive and fun to watch. Every time Gaksital appeared, his theme song was also played in the background. Those action scenes required a good music and the track called “Gaksital” was perfect for it. “Holy” is also an instrumental used for sorrow and sad scenes. “Judgment Day” by Joo Won and Lee Jung Hyun is my favourite track. At first, I thought the chant was in Chinese but later I found out it was in Italian. It was a  good song to express the patriotism of the Koreans. “Goodbye Day” by Ulala Session is a good ballad. “Love and Love” by Joo Won is another beautiful song. I’m really amazed by Joo Won’s talents; not only he can act, but he can sing and dance as well. Overall, the soundtrack is highly recommended.


Final Thoughts:

It’s been quite a while since I watched a drama wherein I got so hooked. The story might not be very original but the plot and the pacing was just right. Many episodes were cliffhangers and I wanted to keep on watching. I could’ve given it a perfect rating, but 28 episodes made it too draggy. Gaksital is really a hard to forget drama. I think it will be included in my all time favourite dramas. This should be included in the top 10 Korean dramas of 2012. I really recommend Bridal Mask if you’re into dark, action and period themes. It doesn’t have much romance, so don’t expect your heart to flutter, but prepare your heart for some exciting twists.


Rating: 9/10



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