A romantic comedy about a non-married, low ranking office worker who is given numbered days to live.
Lee Yeon Jae is given the grim prognosis that she only has a short time left to live, so she decides to quit her job at a travel agency and live her life to the fullest.
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Imagine you are sold a book with the cover of a travel guide and on reading discover that in fact it contains a romantic novel. You are captivated by the story and read it to the end, but you'll have to go out again to buy that travel book you didn't get in the first place.
That's exactly what happens when you start watching Scent of a Woman. You prepare yourself for a romantic comedy and find out that there isn't even a hint of comedy. The scenes which are meant to elicit a laugh range from painfully embarrassing to bitter-sweet.
But I loved it nonetheless. If the definition existed, I'd call this drama an "urgent passion". Urgency is the undercurrent of the whole show, to the point as a viewer I found myself praying for more time along the main female character. And passion for life is the glue that keeps all plot lines together.
The actors are amazing. All of them. I can safely say this is the best acted drama I've seen in a while. If you want to feel true empathy, cry, smile, grit your teeth or fall in love, watch this. The chemistry between the leads is tangible, and it grows so subtly and gradually it becomes a natural process in their story. I understood why they loved each other and not because the writer wanted me to, but because they were so incredibly believable.
The same applies to all the secondary characters. You'll grow to love them or hate them, they are not bi-dimensional people. They stay consistent to their nature and when/if they change they do so without pomp or unbelievable u-turns.
And I love that the message of this show is not a simple "live your life to the fullest". There's so much more. As I see it, the main theme of Scent of a Woman is: we are not alone here; everything we do, and the way we do it, effects the lives of those around us in a huge domino effect.
Message subtly told and beautifully executed.
Photography and attention to details are spotless.
I didn't really care for the music, but this is just me. It was chosen with sense and I appreciated the fact that it was in line with the show: elegant. I'm glad they didn't go for any lalala pop song, which would have ruined the mood.
Without spoiling the end of it, I need to say the last episode was simply perfect and beautiful, one of the reasons why I'm giving the drama a full 10.
Therefore, I'm going out now to buy that travel guide book I wanted, but I'll keep this beautiful love story bought by mistake on my shelf, for future re-reading/watching.
Are you sure you want to watch this drama? Chongmalyo?
Then you need a few things: a mind that understands, a heart that feels and loads upon loads of tissue paper.
As any Korean drama, Scent of a Woman starts of with the cliches: an indifferent chaebol (Kang Ji Wook) falls for a poor spinster (Lee Yeon Jae--who looks like she's in desperate need of a make-over) who turns out to have a terminal illness. The supporting male lead (Dr. Cha Eun Suk) has eyes for the heroine but could not confess his feelings, and there's the secondary female lead (Im Sae Kyung) who is a b*tchy daughter of a rich businessman and is arranged to marry the chaebol.
However what makes this drama special is how it successfully weaved its exceptional story to the growth of the characters episode by episode.
Yeon Jae develops a determined outlook in life to fulfill the things she had only dreamed of as a lowly desk employee of a touring agency and starts a bucket list of 20 things she wants to accomplish before she dies of gall bladder cancer. From her meek and docile character she learns how to appreciate herself and live life in search of her happiness. She develops a romantic relationship with Ji Wook and tries to stay away to prevent him from heartache in the future, but soon realizes that his love runs deep.
Kang Ji Wook, for his part, was painted as a mature and understanding person. From the meaningless and routinary life that he led, Ji Wook learns to appreciate life and to live life diligently. For all his worth, Ji Wook became Yeon Jae's pillar of strength and the most stable source of love she is able to draw from.
Secondary contradictions and side-stories also developed well in the drama--this makes for an air-tight storyline, with each side-story supporting the main one. Best parts are Hee Joo and her mom (this convinces Yeon Jae to confess to her mom), Ji Wook and his dad (he fights for his love and the right to be with Yeon Jae), Dr. Cha Eun Suk's character development (from a cold, detached doctor to a person who feels), Yeon Jae's mom and seongsangnim Kim Dong Min (she says sorry and lets her mom re-marry).
Prepare to cry your eyes out by the latter episodes from heartaches. However these heartaches are necessary to drive at resolutions at the end. I found the heaviest part when Yeon Jae finally confesses to her mom of her condition. Her mother's wail, tears and 'Eottoke' lines delivered like she was going crazy drove ME crazy. Interestingly, I felt this was the climax, not scenes with Ji Wook as their reconciliation was resolved earlier.
I could not have asked for a better ending. Like many others I was cringing at the end because I knew from the start that it was a tragedy and death was inevitable. And yet, Scent of a Woman chose not to end with a tragic note. It provided closure to unresolved relations, uplifts us and leaves us with a strong desire to do the same with life. Fighting and living it to the fullest.
Great writing, great cast, awesome soundtrack although I can't say I'd like to watch and go through this pain all over again.