Yoo Jin Woo (Hyun Bin), CEO of a huge investing company specialized in optical device drags himself to Granada, Spain after receiving a mysterious yet intriguing tip from Jung Se Joo (Park Chan Yeol) about a groundbreaking AR game he created. However, Jin Woo’s trip to Granada seems to be messy as he has to stay at a lowly hostel owned by Jung Hee Joo (Park Shin Hye), meet his ex-wife along with his friend-turned-enemy Cha Hyung Seok (Park Hoon), and the fact that Jung Se Joo is actually missing. But after witnessing the “magic of Alhambra”, Jin Woo determines to search for Se Joo with the only links he has: the game and Se Joo’s older sister, Jung Hee Joo. As Jin Woo immerses in the game, he begins to question his sanity as the real world and the AR world mixed up and mysterious incidents happen around him.
- Hyun Bin as Yoo Jin Woo, a genius, fearless and loyal CEO of J One Holdings. He failed his marriage twice and has complicated family-friends relationships, resulting him to be cold and blunt. His life gets messier after playing the “Memories of the Alhambra” game.
- Park Shin Hye as Jung Hee Joo/Emma, an former guitarist who becomes the family’s breadwinner by doing many works including hostel owner, guitar maker and tour guide. Busy with her own life, she knows nothing about her brother’s work or whereabouts. In the game, Se Joo created a NPC named Emma based on her.
- Park Hoon as Cha Hyung Seok, CEO of Neword who used to be Jin Woo’s best friend and co-founder of J One Holdings but turned into nemesis after he left the company and marries Jin Woo’s wife.
- Park Chan Yeol (EXO’s Chanyeol) as Jung Se Joo, a genius programmer who created “Memories of the Alhambra” AR game. Right before selling his game to either Jin Woo and Hyung Seok, Se Joo went missing.
- Yoo Jin Woo is definitely not your typical main lead in K-drama. While we have tons of cold CEO as the main leads, Yoo Jin Woo offers a different charm. His love life is messy and he never promises “one and only” love. He even divorces twice! But then again, who can resist the charm of money and Hyun Bin’s face at that! Although unlike the other dramas, they don’t emphasize on Jin Woo’s handsomeness even though this is Hyun Bin we are talking about..
- Not only Jin Woo’s more realistic love life, Memories of the Alhambra definitely not your stereotype K-drama with lots of cliches and cheezy lines. The romance is more like an additional spice that feels good. We get the chemistry between Jin Woo-Hee Joo even without those cringe-worthy and too poetic to be true words.
- Awesome acting skill particularly of Hyun Bin. See, he is not young anymore but he did a great job at doing all of that action scenes. Hyun Bin brings Jin Woo into life perfectly: charming when he needs to be, professional as a businessman, cool as a game player, weak and vulnerable after facing bad incidents, sad yet romantic when he sees Hee Joo.
- Daebak chemistry between Jin Woo and Hee Joo. As mentioned above, this couple doesn’t need to speak romantic words, they don’t even have much scenes together but here we are, knowing their love to each other, sharing their burden, and knowing the right time for them to embrace each other.
- The unique theme. Okay, IT or gaming in Korean drama is not entirely new. We have robots (I’m not a Robot/ Are you Human too?), we have gaming company (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon), and many more. But to let the audience immerse in the game or better yet having us questioning which one is real and which one is not, it’s something we never have before and it’s good to have a good change.
- Intense story. Among the 16 episodes, there is no space for boredom. They keep us feeling the tension and successfully play with our curiosity.
- Cool CGI effects. It’s good to see how much K-drama’s CGI effects have evolve, we daresay that the effects even look good enough for the big screen.
- Beautiful scenery and cinematography. Despite all the tension that we get from the drama, we can’t help but to admire the beauty of Granada and basically all the spots in it.
- Memories of the Alhambra definitely thinks out of the box as they seem to put a lot of efforts in breaking the Korean drama stereotype. Here, you will not see the typical chaebol (rich man) mansion, there is not really “rich-poor” drama, realistic relationship dramas, everybody seems to work their jobs, etc.
- Great and unthinkable plot twists, also the incredible imagination especially on “translating” what happens in the code into real world situation like when they make Emma thrusting knife as bug deletion process.
- If we may speak for the majority of romance-loving audience: the ending. Well, truthfully it’s not a bad ending (it’s actually a really good ending) as it solves almost all the issue despite it’s open-ending style, but from the “romance-loving” point of view, the ending is depressing and feels incomplete.
- Jin Woo aside, some issue are left unexplained. Like one time, there is a scene where Hee Joo awaken by the sound of someone knocking on the door and it turned out to be Se Joo. But then, Se Joo come back in a very different way. Or, how other tester not going through the same incident as Jin Woo although they have been playing the game for months. Or why Marco is not classified as a bug that needs to be deleted too.
- Truthfully, expect a more humiliating end for both Go Yu Ra and professor Cha. Also at least name clearing for Yoo Jin Woo.
This drama is a drama that makes us think, because the plot goes back and forth mostly without announcement whatsoever.
More High Tech drama: I Am Not a Robot Korean Drama Review