Vagabond is a new action-based Korean drama currently airing on Netflix. Action-based Korean dramas are rare in Korea, making Vagabond all the more precious. As a K-drama veteran for the past nine years, I can tell you with complete certainty that the drama is a great one, and here’s why.
Cha Dal Geon (Lee Seung-Gi) is a stuntman who cares for his recently orphaned 12-year-old nephew, Hoon. They’re both the only family they’ve got left. Hoon, growing up with Dal Geon, wants to be a stuntman too and takes up taekwondo. Hoon gets offered to go on a trip to Morocco to perform a taekwondo act with his team in front of the Korean Embassy of Morocco.
Hoon flies on the plane with his classmates and teachers, and everything appears fine. Halfway through the flight, the plane, B357, malfunctions and crashes. Everyone dies.
Or do they?
In Korea, Dal Geon is grieving the loss of his only family, the nephew he regarded as his own son. The Korean Embassy of Morocco, where intern and secret NIS (National Intelligence Service) agent, Go Hae-Ri (Bae Suzy) works, offer to fly the bereaved family members to Morocco. At the airport, Dal Geon finds a video that Hoon took on the plane and had sent him before he died. He recognizes the face of someone in the video and sees him at the airport.
How did someone survive the fatal crash?
Dal Geon and Hae Ri spend the rest of the series discovering the true corruption of the government of Korea, secrets about the plane crash, and about their own feelings for each other.
Vagabond has many strengths, such as its well-thought out action scenes that take place both in Morocco and Korea. The drama had a whopping $25 million budget and the action scenes reflected it with realistic stunts. Another strength is the powerful advancement of the plot. It’s not stagnant; the writers and producers don’t spend unnecessary time over usual K-drama tropes, like misunderstandings or cliché romances that do not make sense. Instead, they focus more on making each scene fast-paced and dynamic.
One of its biggest weaknesses lies in the fact that there is barely any romance. I love the lead actors, Lee Seung-Gi and Bae Suzy, and think they make a great pairing. They have been cast as a couple before in K-drama Gu Family Book, but Vagabond focuses more on action and drama rather than romance.
Another weakness is its broadcast schedule. Unlike other shows that release entire seasons on Netflix, Vagabond follows the traditional Korean broadcast schedule by releasing two episodes per week. This is annoying because I’m forced to wait instead of binging all the episodes at once.
Despite my annoyance, I highly recommend Vagabond for its unique approach on action in K-dramas.