So, during my month long hiatus, I binged some k-dramas and I thought I would share my quick thoughts on each drama for anyone who comes across this post and may be interested.
I watched 4 dramas presented below in the order I watched them. All are on the American Netflix, if you are interested.
Cinderella and the Four Knights
As the subtitle under the picture states, this drama is pretty trope-filled. Let me preface this first entry by explaining that I am not an avid watcher of k-dramas though I have watched my fair share of them over the years, so I do recognize the most basic of themes. I only clicked this drama because I saw that it stared Park So-dam of Parasite fame and I wanted to see her in something completely different.
It’s been weeks since I watched any of these dramas, so for the basic plot of the show, I’ll put in the Wikipedia synopsis (Thank you, kind stranger editors!).
Eun Ha-Won (Park So-dam) is a bright high school senior who dreams of becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, she loses her mother in a tragic accident. When her father remarries and a cruel stepmother moves in and steals Ha-Won’s college tuition, Ha-Won is forced to take on part-time jobs to make her college downpayment. One day, she meets an old man who convinces her to move into a gorgeous mansion with three equally gorgeous men, who also happen to be billionaire cousins and heirs to the Kang family fortune. Between the rebel-minded loner Kang Ji-Woon (Jung Il-woo), playboy money machine Kang Hyun-Min (Ahn Jae-hyun) and the super-sweet singer Kang Seo-Woo (Lee Jung-shin), Ha-Won finds herself in the middle of the hottest love quadrangle to ever befall a modern fairy tale princess. Rounding out the mansion’s chaebol lifestyle are Lee Yoon-Sung (Choi Min), who serves as the cousins’ handsome bodyguard, and Park Hye-Ji (Son Na-eun), a gorgeous girl, who’s been neighbors/in love with Hyun-Min since childhood.Wikipedia
Can you guess which one she ends up with? If you’ve watched enough dramas, you probably can make an educated guess. I won’t spoil anything.
As you can see, the writers stay pretty true to the Cinderella narrative with twists, of course. If you go in expecting that among the other sappy romantic elements, then you’re golden, my friend. You won’t feel as if this is too romantically extravagant and superfluous.
When I realized that I could write up a post about this on the blog, I did end up writing down notes, so buckle up because this is probably going to be the longest entry as I only wrote notes for this entry (I know, stellar writer I am).
It was alright and I was properly amused for the four days that I binged it. Of course, it was the sappy superfluous romantic k-drama filled with the dramatic amour music whenever some romantic tension enters the scene. Overall pretty trope over as it included (spoilerish beware):
- a childhood friend or really they met as children once and they dump this information on us in the very last episode.
- obstinate adult figure who gets in the way of the main characters love (usually a future mother-in-law but it’s an old future father-in-law this time! What a twist!)
- poor girl meets rich guy/s (Bonus: one of the rich guys is the usual cold, rude, brash love interest)
- someone has a medical condition like amnesia, a tumor, cancer, etc. and this time it was cancer – lung cancer
- Rain, always rain during the sad scenes
- Love triangle or really quadrangle but the Wikipedia entry neglected to really include Hye-ji in that so it feels more like a love pentagon.
…among other stereotypical romantic comedy k-drama characteristics.
All said and done, I would recommend it actually. If you want to watch peak k-drama sappiness, then this is your drama. That or the Heirs or something.
My one gripe of this drama is that it does that thing that k-dramas like to do to strong woman and undermine their abilities and self-reliance in favor of showing the guys as strong 남자 or strong men. Park So-dam’s character is shown to be a strong woman who is able to take down guys in the middle of a club for not accepting her pizza delivery to be saved by her princes from some bullies at school who manage to rough her up quite a bite. There are still traces of her original character there but she certainly becomes soft as the drama goes on and I’m sure for some people that can be mildly annoying to see. Oh well, at least we still have her character, Kijung, in Parasite…
The Bride of Habaek
When the narcissistic water god Ha-baek (Nam Joo-hyuk) visits earth in order to find three stones powerful enough to help him claim his throne, he seeks out the help of his servant and destined bride, psychiatrist So-ah (Shin Se-kyung), whose family is fated to serve the water god for generations. The problem is that she has no belief in the gods and initially mistakes him for suffering from delusions. Things get even stranger when the wind god Bi-ryeom (Gong Myung), the water goddess Mu-ra (Krystal), and the semi-god Hu-ye (Lim Ju-hwan) show up to complicate thingsWikipedia
This one was a bit interesting. I believe this is the only drama on the list that was originally a webtoon. I took a peek through the webtoon after I finished the drama and oh boy, it’s different from the onset. For instance, the webtoon doesn’t even take place in the modern day but back in the past. Another thing that I remember is that So-ah is more of a sacrifice than a fated heavenly servant like she is in the drama. I guess if you read the webtoon and were a stickler for seeing the adaption be completely in tune with the original source, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
However, I don’t care about that and while Ha-baek’s character could be understandably (sort of) dense to the human ways, he was an alright male protagonist and I even found his clueless expression at times in the drama to be somewhat cute. I also sort of felt for So-ah because she didn’t sign up for any of this. Overall, it was pretty funny and amusing with enough romance in it to satisfy me, so I would recommend it. I don’t recall it being as overly sappy as Cinderella and the Four Knights, but it’s still a romantic k-drama so if you don’t like that than skip this whole post because all the dramas are romance-based.
Man…I shoulda said that sooner, huh?
My main qualm of this drama is one thing that’s been on my mind since it ended. Firstly, and it’s a minor thing, but in the first episode (or second), they show So-ah and Ha-baek being chased to their car by this wild boar who mysteriously flashes them a human-like smile. The boar disappears soon after at the arrival of Ha-baek’s sidekick (?) but the boar is never seen again and it is never explained why the boar smiled like that. It’s such a small thing but I want answers.
Also, I neglected to mention so far but Krystal from (f)x is in this drama and I have never seen her act before. She was pretty interested and I could feel the cold coolness she’s known for as an idol radiating from her character in this. Though she was very “oppa saranghae” towards Ha-baek that it was a bit of a surprise to me, but again, it’s her character’s personality, not her.
So, ultimately check it out if you want some romance with the supernatural mixed in.
My Shy Boss
Eun Hwan Ki (Yeon Woo Jin) is the CEO of a public relations company, but he is extremely shy. Due to his personality his employees do not know him well.
Chae Ro Woon (Park Hye Soo) starts working in the company of Eun Hwan Ki. She is very energetic and receives recognition for her good work, however she is interested in CEO Eun Hwan Ki and plans to reveal who he really is.Wikipedia
Okay, so don’t be confused because I kind of was when I was deciding to watch this one or not. I went to YouTube to watch a couple of trailers to make my decision. It seems like some places have this drama listed as “My Shy Boss” or “My Introverted Boss” in English, but most importantly, they are the same drama. At the very least, that’s what came up in my Google search.
Personally, out of all the dramas, I found this one to hold the more healthier of romances you can find in k-dramas. As we all know, there are plenty of dramas that hold toxic relationships especially if you put them in action in a real world setting. If I’m remembering more correctly, the relationship between Hwan-ki and Ro-woon while rocky at first (along with some secrets and drama here and there, of course), it progresses in a somewhat natural way from Ro-woon’s intense dislike and suspicion for Hwan-gi to understanding and finally love. Because listen, Hwan-ki really is an intense introvert and some of the things he would agonize over related to me quite a bit so obviously I rooted for him to overcome some of the more harder aspects of social and company life (ex: the first time he gave a presentation to dozens of people, he was overcome with so much anxiety, he could literally just say one or two words before running out).
Interestingly, now that I think about it, I don’t believe the drama assigns a specific name to his condition so the viewer is free to interpret it as just being massively shy or introverted or something more like social anxiety. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Ultimately, this drama has a good mix of comedy, romance, drama, secrets, and some moments that may hit home to some introverts (or just socially awkward people in general) out there that may appeal to some.
I would also like to say that as I watched, of course it’s a drama so sometimes the way the characters act can be overdramatic, but while there were moments here and there that Hwan-gi had those kind of moments, I never felt the sense that the writers were disrespecting or poking fun too much at his social awkwardness/shyness. For a k-drama, that’s not too bad. However, I understand everyone’s perception is different, so if you think you’ll be easily triggered by the portrayal of socially awkward/shy/social anxiety stricken people than I would skip this one.
My Secret Romance
Jin-wook and Yoo-mi meet at a Gangwon-do resort and get caught up in a series of misunderstandings and accidents. Yoo-mi is there to attend her mother’s second wedding while Jin-wook is there working as a bellhop (a position given to him by his Chairman father to teach him responsibility). Yoo-mi is charmed by Jin-wook’s sly and playful personality, and they unexpectedly spend the night together. However, Yoo-mi disappears in the morning, leaving Jin-wook feeling perplexed and insulted.
Three years later, the two meet again when Yoo-mi becomes a nutritionist at the company cafeteria where Jin-wook works. It seems that once a playboy Jin-wook, has given up his carefree life and works at the company owned by his father. He has feelings for Yoo-mi and has kept her bra-pad as a memory of the night that they spent together. At first, he is strict toward her, though it is only because he is looking for reasons to be near her. He later confesses this to her and agrees to wait for her.Wikipedia
The Wikipedia synopsis for this drama was cut in half by me because not only was it getting too long but it basically spoils the whole drama. If you don’t care, than hop on over to Wikipedia and be taken on a mini rollercoaster if you haven’t already.
I thought I was going to like this one since I had seen scenes from it in one of those k-drama funny compilations on YouTube, but as I began watching, I realized those were lies. Okay, not altogether, but if reading the Wikipedia description is any hint then I think you may have a clue as to what I find an issue with.
“He has feelings for Yoo-mi and has kept her bra-pad as a memory of the night they spent together, At first, he is strict toward her, though it is only because he is looking for reasons to be near her.”
Those two sentences alone should bring some level of discomfort to most women, if not all, who read that. In the drama, he literally keeps he bra-pad in a little charm box in his home office. He kept it for three years, guys, THREE. Though the drama has him questioning why he kept if for so long, I don’t know, man, that’s sketch behavior to me. I know it’s coincidentally she ends up at his company but the way he acts towards her was a mix of amusing and upsetting. I think the moment I was done was when he was purposefully holding her back from going out with her close male friend by basically forcing her to stay to make him a late dinner essentially giving her overtime when she had been rightfully done for the day. Of course, he did it out of jealousy but I also see it as a lack of respect for her and her time on his part.
But naturally, when I saw the previews for the next episode and saw her going moony-eyed for him, I just felt pretty done. The drama had some good parts but if a woman is going to act so easy towards a man like that when she has another guy who is so much better, then I just don’t see that as an enjoyable experience to continue watching. I know she continues to resists him, I’m sure, but she gets with him eventually. This is one of the dramas where second-lead syndrome is really smacked in the face because usually as these things go, at the very least, the first male lead as some or most qualities to make up for his shortcomings or grows into a person that is worthy of the girl. Yet, this drama, I feel like the second male lead is the better guy and is robbed of his friend here.
Granted, Jin-wook may grow to be even better than Hyun-tae (the second male lead), who may be a jerk in the end, but I’m not sure my feelings would’ve changed that drastically by the end of the drama. This is considering the formula that most of these kind of dramas follow.
My final verdict for this drama? Don’t watch it if you think anything I just wrote out would leave a bad taste in your mouth if you experienced it first hand. Mayhaps I will go back to finish this drama just to see how bad it gets, but even though I’m one for watching bad movies, bad dramas, etc. I’m just not in the mood for this one.
Perhaps this drama is the reason I just haven’t gotten into another k-drama to binge just yet.
Or maybe it’s because the 2nd season of The Umbrella Academy came out around the time I got to the 4th drama and I just went to watch something more classier instead. The world may never now.