Friday, September 23, 2005

Lovers in Paris

Currently aired at NTV7

What is the drama about? In my humble opinion, it is about love. Love between a man (Ki-Joo) and woman (Tae-Young), love between uncle (Ki-Joo) and nephew (Soo-Hyuk) and love or in this case, lack of, between mother (Ki-Hae) and son (Soo-Hyuk).

Where to begin? I think this drama works first and foremost because of the chemistry between the leads, Park Shin Yang and Kim Jung Eun. They also look so good together. I can believe that Han Ki-Joo (Park Shin Yang) and Kang Tae-Young (Kim Jung Eun) do meet and fall in love despite their different personalities. I can believe that their love is so strong that they continued with their relationship despite family objections and guilt from hurting Ki-Joo's beloved nephew (who is also in love with Tae-Young). It is of course thanks to a highly amusing and clever script that the scenes between the two are so funny and real. Unlike most other Korean dramas where the couple could be engaged and are so reserved with each other, it is difficult to imagine them being in love, Ki-Joo and Tae-Young do hold hands, hug and kiss (twice even). They also tease each other and have fun together, just as a real couple would

The script is incredibly refreshing with a good amount of humour in it. I have never laughed as much with any other dramas. The story itself may not be original but the writers injected the script with enough humour, meaning and emotions (without going over-the-top) to make it new . Although it got soppy at times, there were a lot more laugh-out-loud moments. Such as when Tae-Young loses a bet with Ki-Joo and has to fulfill three of his wishes. His last wish was for her to spend the night and looking shy, she refuses, then she cracks a smile and say "is that what you think I would say; do you know how long I have been waiting for you to ask me!" And that is perhaps the best insight into Tae-Young's character. In her, the writers have created someone who is spunky, unafraid, cheerful, warm-hearted and steadfast in her love and devotion to Ki-Joo. When threatened by Moon Yoon-Ah (the woman chosen for Ki-Joo by his father) to stay away from Ki-Joo, Tae-Young stood up to her and told her off. Again, not done in most dramas where the sweet, long-suffering heroine would cower under similar threats. So, hurray for girl power. (WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD)

Unfortunately, towards the end of the show, Tae-Young's spunk deserts her and she breaks up with Ki-Joo for the most absurd reason, even despite his assurances once he learns of the "big secret" (which really wasn't such a big deal). And depending on your interpretation of her reasons for returning to Paris without Ki-Joo, you could surmise that she either got her courage back (wants to continue her studies to fulfill her dreams) or not (running away because she couldn't face up to what happened to Soo-Hyuk). I personally saw it as the latter. If she had wanted to fulfill her dreams of being a writer, she could have done so without breaking up with Ki-Joo (although they declared their love for each other, they left it up to fate to decide if they would meet again in the future - he said he would find her but it didn't really look like he put much effort into it)

I would like to take a moment to commend the lead actors for their outstanding work. I did not know Park Shin Yang, not having seen any of his work before, but I am now a fan. He successfully conveyed the emotions carefully hidden beneath the arrogant and self-assured Ki-Joo, often times accomplishing this with just a look or a change in expression. Kim Jung Eun I had seen in "All About Eve" and she could not be more different as Tae-Young. She definitely has a flair for comedy. Lee Dong Gun was at his best when his Soo-Hyuk was most vulnerable. And my heart went out to Soo-Hyuk at the end when he stood alone crying. I have to also mention the young actor who played Tae-Young's cousin, Keon. He was so natural and each time he cried, it felt so real. He has tremendous potential.

After investing so much emotion in the love affair between Ki-Joo and Tae-Young, I was very disappointed with the ending. Although I can understand the desire by the writers to do something different and give the audience a surprise, I nonetheless felt cheated. I suppose I am one of those who wants no surprises at the end with a neat and definite ending, preferably a happy one

Overall though, I think this is one of the best and most charming Korean dramas made to date. You will smile and laugh when Ki-Joo and Tae-Young are on screen together, shed a tear or two for Soo-Hyuk's unrequited love, glower at the "bad" guys plotting their schemes and shed more tears when Ki-Joo and Tae-Young have to part. It is simply story telling at its best.
Credit to Lovekdrama, spcnet review.


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