Lee Sun-Kyun Is Compelling In K-Drama ‘Payback: Money And Power’
Best known for playing the insensitive wealthy dad in the Academy Award-winning film Parasite and for his role as a compassionate engineer in the Korean drama My Mister, Lee Sun-kyun is a consistently compelling actor. His portrayal of Eun-yong in the drama Payback: Money and Power is no exception.
Eun-yong commands the screen, whether he’s cracking heads with a truncheon, riding horses across the steppes or boarding a lavish private jet. The character is vulnerable and ruthless, kind to small children, loyal, but also occasionally vicious. Despite his often unforgivable behavior, viewers will likely want this character to succeed whether it’s in business or revenge.
When Eun-yong, played as a younger man by Yoon Jung-il, leaves jail in 1990, he’s not sure what to do. With no money or education he has few legit options. So, to provide for his sister and young nephew he intimidates people for a thug, then manages money for a loan shark. “You’re nothing without money,” the loan shark tells him and Eun-yong takes those words to heart.
Working for the loan shark allows him to support his sister and fund his nephew’s education. Eun-yong has a gift for numbers and soon learns how to make money of his own, creating a successful financial business, before moving to Mongolia where he spends his time buying land.
His nephew Jang Tae-chun, played by Kang You-seok, grows up to be an ambitious prosecutor. When Tae-chun gets a tip to investigate the loan shark who previously hired his uncle, his corrupt superiors don’t seem eager to pursue the case. Yet the news prompts Eun-yong to leave his idyllic life in Mongolia and return to Korea. The anonymous tipster is Park Joon-kyung, played by Moon Chae-won, who starred in the 2020 hit drama Flower Of Evil.
Joon-kyung and Eun-yong are so close they consider each other family. When Joon-kyung’s mother mysteriously dies, Eun-yong suspects that it was murder and his former boss may be involved.
The drama’s screenplay was written by Kim Won-suk, who wrote Descendants of the Sun and The Queen’s Classroom. The storyline cleverly jumps back and forth in time to reveal new and sometimes surprising perspectives on the characters and their relationships with each other. The cast also includes Park Hoon, Kim Hong-fa and Kim Hye-hwa. Directed by Lee Won-tae, the SBS drama airs on Amazon Prime in the US.