I finally finished watching this show (even though I started it a long time ago). It isn’t really the show’s fault I got through it so slowly, so don’t worry.
Gae-In is the 30-something year old daughter of an internationally renown architect. Her father has always shown little to no affection to his daughter to the point where she is pretty sure he hates her and so she works hard trying to become a famous furniture designer to prove herself to him. Gae-In lives in SanGoJae, a massive traditional Korean-style home designed by her father. SanGoJae is the envy of the architecture world as her father said he would “Create a space that would inspire his wife and child to dream”. After San Go Jae’s completion however Gae-In’s mother died in a tragic and mysterious accident. After her death her father refused to ever work as an architect again, becoming a professor instead. Eventually he left Korea entirely to teach in England, leaving Gae-In alone in SanGoJae.
Gae-In survives her time alone with the help of her two best friends: In-Hee and Yong-Sun. In-Hee is an orphan who came to live with Gae-In as a young child and remained with her through college and both of their professional careers. Gae-In is also devoted to her boyfriend, architect ChangRyul. When In-Hee announces she is getting married everything seems to be going perfectly, until (on the eve on In-Hee’s wedding) Chang Ryul brutally breaks up with Gae-In, calling her a lost puppy he only ever felt pity for. Gae-In survives the first night of heartbreak with Yong-Sun’s encouragement and manages to pull herself together for In-Hee’s wedding, only to arrive and see that In-Hee is marrying Chang Ryul. The whole lie comes apart at the seams: In-Hee stole Chang Ryul shortly after he and Gae-In started dating. He continued to date Gae-In out of a desire not to tell her. In-Hee pretty much laughs in Gae-In’s face.
Just before the ordeal with Chang Ryul starts, Gae-In meets snotty and stuck-up Jin-Ho- a hard working and highly organized architect whose father was cheated and unfairly run out of business by Chang Ryul’s evil and underhanded father.
Jin-Ho’s firm is going under and desperately needs to land the Dam Art Gallery contract- a lucrative deal that could land them in the spotlight. Jin-Ho learns that the director had initially begged Gae-In’s father to design it, but since he no longer works in the design field they have no option. Jin-Ho decides there must be a secret in SanGoJae that would attract the director so much, and so when he learns Gae-In is renting out a room (for complicated reasons that will only confuse you) he decides to buy. He gets Gae-In to let him through the door when, after a complete misunderstanding, she decides he must be gay.
This is a love story between Jin-Ho and Gae-In, who is hounded by Chang Ryul who decides he was a fool and can’t live without her (after In-Hee cancels the wedding, takes the house given to them as a gift, and pretty much does the whole manipulative bitch act). Jin-Ho wants nothing more than for Gae-In to see him as a man, and Gae-In wishes she were one so Jin-Ho might fall in love with her. While Chang Ryul and Jin-Ho prepare to battle it out over the Dam Art Gallery project, In-Hee has plans to steal Jin-Ho from Gae-In’s side. As Jin-Ho and Gae-In fall in love and the secrets start to come to light, Gae-In learns the horrible secret around her mother’s death and her father’s distance.
It’s kind of complicated, and that’s why I took a point off. The interactions between the characters are excellent, don’t get me wrong, but the whole story feels very sectioned. The love between the main characters isn’t as abrupt as in “Oh! My Lady”, but they seem to move from one thing to another too quickly. Also there is a lot of detail in each episode, so after you finish all 16 episodes your mind feels like you watched 26. It’s well written, it’s just a little complex. It could have easily been split into two seasons and then the story could have gone a little slower, but I guess it’s ok… I don’t know, the story with In-Hee and Chang Ryul is really too complex and they are on the fence about if they are working together to ruin Gae-In and Jin-Ho’s relationship or if they are working separately. It’s kind of annoying.
This story’s got a few great actors, so I’m going through them one at a time.
Son Ye Jin plays Gae-In, the female lead. Even though the story is really rushed and Gae-In is kind of an out there character to begin with I think she did a great job portraying her. There is a rough patch for me when Gae-In finds out Jin-Ho isn’t gay (what? It happens in like ep 6, it’s not a big horrid surprise, that’s only the first half of the story). She gets over it really fast and just keeps going. Like I said I get that that’s just the kind of person Gae-In is supposed to be, but it didn’t feel quite right there. I think that issue is more with the writing than the acting though. Her work in this show is consistently great and I really enjoyed watching her act.
Lee Min Ho is Jin0Ho, the male lead. Have I said lately that he’s my favorite Korean actor (or one of my favorites, Choi Si Won is showing himself to be pretty good too)? I think he has the most flawless performance in this show, and I really can never say enough good things about him. You might remember him from “Boys Over Flowers”, in which he was also the male lead (Jun Pyo). Lee Min Ho is fun to look at, and in this show he has to pull on a larger range of emotions and has shown himself as a very capable actor indeed. I hope he gets another award for his work here.
Kim Ji Suk and Wang Ji Hye play Chang Ryul and In-Hee respectively. They both do a good job. Ji Suk is great at playing Chang Ryul as a total jerk, an arrogant prick, and a kind and cuddly guy. His character hits a massive range of behaviors and emotions, and I like it. Whenever they want an attitude change from him though they just show him drunk, and it’s kind of a cheap writing trick. Ji Hye does a pretty good job as In-Hee, but her character is the same from start to end, so she doesn’t show much range at all.
I just wanted to mention this actor, even though he doesn’t have much of a role: Im Seul Ong. His name isn’t familiar, right? Seulong? He’s a member of the idol group 2AM. As far as I know this is his debut as an actor, and I think he did a really good job. The overly goofy role of Tae Hoon (one of Jin-Ho’s assistants) gave him a memorable start, but after his character is the hysterical comic relief early on he kind of becomes a wall flower later in the show and makes a comeback as a more emotionally based person later. I think the problem there is the writing though. It shows he can play a wide range, but the character was kind of all over the place. I hope he does more acting in the future, apart from Lee Min Ho he was the most fun to watch ^^
Invisible directing, always a good choice. There isn’t anything that stands out as “Oh, that was a great camera trick”, but the story has a very natural feel. My only complaint I have I’ll mention later, since I’m not sure if it would fall under directing or writing. I think directing, but I’ll post it separately just in case. Like I said the directing wasn’t especially inventive, and I don’t think I saw anything new, but they made good use of space and got an excellent performance from their actors. The continuity was even quite impressive, which is one of those weird things I’m picky about.
There is a cameo later in the show by Yoon Eun-Hye, my personal favorite actress who has starred in such hits as “Coffee Prince” and “Palace” (aka “Goong”). This is worth mentioning because if you can’t read Korean you won’t get the joke. When her, Jin-Ho and Gae-In are sitting together in a cafe the director went through a lot of trouble to show her coffee cup. If you pause it before her hand covers the logo you will see written in Konglish (when the Korean alphabet spells out English words it is called “Konglish”, at least that is what all of my professors call it) “Coffee Prince”. As I said that was the name of the coffee shop in Eun-Hye’s greatest hit show. It’s a real chain too, you can even visit the one they filmed in, it’s an operational coffee house that kept everything as it was in the drama with autographs from the cast.
Ok, here is what I wasn’t sure about: the transition of time in the drama is HORRIBLE. I’m not sure if it was the director or writer who was supposed to figure out first how to show this, but in the end both dropped the ball. You’d have to see it to understand. One minute it’s day, the next it’s midnight and so on. I think they really needed to find a way to keep track of time within the drama so the viewer isn’t lost.
All in all this is a good show. It’s definitely not kid-oriented, like a lot of Korean dramas. Indeed, I don’t think kids who are too young would understand the story at all. It’s a drama for an older audience, but I understood and enjoyed it just fine. Despite my complaints it really is a good show. Other than the acting quality and the writing (which was pretty good in parts) it doesn’t stand out over other dramas. I can think of dramas I’d rank higher than this one, but it’s not horrendous. It’s… pleasant. It’s not amazing, it’s not horrible, it’s a good thing to watch if you’re bored or killing time.