I need to take a deep breath before I start writing about this drama. Why? Because this drama is way too loaded for the few numbers of episodes, and the seemingly slow events. Such a brilliant development of characters is rare. And the realistic approach on what life has become to be, is painful. The drama keeps slapping me in each episode and dragging me deeper in the dark. None of my 19-century romantic themes are here. If you’re looking for love stories that defy everything and win, don’t watch it. If you’re in a positive mode where you think the world is a good place and everything works out as long as you believe and try, don’t watch it. This drama doesn’t embroider a 20th century Gothic tale. On the contrary, it strips reality bare for us to clearly see.
There are many things to say about the character and the issues the drama tackles. I’ll be talking a lot today, bear with me.
So in today’s world, money has become everything. Not because people want to be materialistic, but because this is what life has become. People with money have power and therefore everything. People with no money hold on to ideals and principles and try to feel content. But, not everybody follows what life has tossed at them. For rich people there are a set of rules one cannot break, and for the poor there is a line one cannot cross. But in the two extreme worlds, there are some people who want to break away from that ‘’fateful’’ prison. They mingle together, fall in love, break rules, suffer, defy and try. But, how much sacrifices do they have to offer on the way? How many troubles do they have to go through? And would they really reach a safe shore without getting broken to pieces?
Our heroine Jang Yoon Ha (UEE) is a chabeol’s family youngest daughter. Because of her fortune at birth, she’s been hated by her mother which resulted in a bad relationships with all the family members, except for her older brother. Lacking the affection and attention needed in her early years, Yoon Ha grows independent and sets her own ideals and dreams. She believes money is not everything and dreams of a warm family she builds with the husband of her choice. She tries to escape her harsh reality by hiding her background, working as a part-timer and being friends with a poor uneducated girl. Yoon Ha is kind (or that the image she chose for herself) but at the same time she’s talented and capable. She doesn't let life and circumstances crush her down, but uses them to become stronger. She doesn’t move without being fully prepared, and is highly motivated and focused. Though she doesn’t open her heart easily to people, she gives her all when she does. And if she’s betrayed afterwards, she seeks revenge, till the end.
UEE is doing much more than expected by many. I personally liked her (in Afterschool and all those shows she appeared in) so I’m glad she’s improving. She’s nailing the role and showing many aspects of the character. She makes me cry at moments and at others applaud for her. She has those eyes that can express emotions powerfully. She’s pitiful when she cries and amazingly scary when she’s defying. I’m liking her here.
Yoon Ha has three central relationships in the drama, with her boyfriend, mother and friend Jin Yi.
Yoon Ha has not had time or enough trust to date before. But when Choi Joon Ki (Sung Joon *dies*) invades her life, Yoon Ha finds her heart opening so quickly. She immediately lets him in and places him in the center of her future plans. With him she can be the person she can’t be with her family. The deeper her trust and love are, the harder it’d be for her to realize he’s not exactly what she thinks he is.
Yoon Ha and her mother present an interesting and intriguing relationship. Her mother Min Hye Soo (Go Doo Shim) is cold and tough. Life has made her so. She’s torn between her position as a mother, and trying to save herself from the overwhelming daughter. The more she tries to crush Yoon Ha the stronger Yoon Ha becomes. Yoon Ha hates her mother, but understands her. The mother hates Yoon Ha and doesn’t even take the time to understand the daughter. The verb hate might not be accurate but this is what she has shown us so far. The fact that she treats her real daughter thus is quite shocking. But she’s not mentally stable anyway (nobody would in her position and with that husband). Yoon Ha’s relationship with her mother is the crucial factor in shaping her personality. Yoon Ha wouldn’t have become the person she is if her mother treated her as a daughter once. In her attempts to start her own world, Yoon Ha tries to break loose of her mother’s grip. But that is not as easy as it sounds.
Ji Yi (Im Ji Yeon) is Yoon Ha’s only friend. She considers her family and loves her the most in the world. Though she doesn’t reveal to Ji Yi her background at the beginning, she knows Ji Yi will understand. They have a very beautiful friendship, a friendship based on unconditional love, trust and acceptance. It’s the only pure relationship in the drama and I’m so scared that the writer might actually do something about it. I’ll really hate her then.
Yoon Ha’s boyfriend Joon Ki is by far the most ‘’evil’’ person –if we’d look at his character typically based on good vs. evil theme-. He’s a competent young man with vaulting ambition. He loves his poor family but he doesn’t understand them. He knows how hard it is to be poor and looked down upon. So he plans his actions meticulously as to climb up in society. He’s shrewd and goal-oriented. He endures all kinds of humiliation to achieve his goals and would use anything and anyone. Though his heart gets in the way at one point.
Sung Joon is one actor who would act any role to perfection, it’s pretty out of earth. I mean, how can a person be so perfect. He looks so hot here in all those suits then he wears shirts and looks 17 then he does shower scenes and I faint then he kisses Yoon Ha and goddamit he has amazing chemistry with everyone, he’d be hot even if he kissed the wall! And I need to calm down...
Joon Ki has no leisure for love and friendship. Therefore his relationships with his two closest people are based on benefits. He approached both Yoon Ha and his only friend Yoo Chang Soo (Park Hyung Shik, so hot and charismatic here) for his advantage. Chang Soo helped him step into the high society and he wanted Yoon Ha to escort him in. He knows he can never reach what he wants without using others. He feels guilty and weak at times but he is never reluctant to continue, making him beautifully ruthless.
Yoo Chang Soo is a typical ambitious younger brother hanging on his mother’s good side and trying to win his father’s favor by stressing out his older brother’s faults. He follows the chabeol’s tradition of business marriages and tries to win the most favorable one until he stumbles across Ji Yi, a cheerful and straightforward girl. For the first time in his life he falls in love. But he isn’t the type who’d give up everything for love.
Chang Soo believes his friendship with Joon Ki is real. He has no idea what goes on in Joon Ki’s mind. He doesn’t even notice that he unconsciously looks down at Joon Ki. Their relationship is one fascinating tale with lots of twists.
Lee Ji Yi is poor and uneducated. She lives her life working as a part-timer. She’s bright, caring and forgiving. She trusts people completely and gives her heart away easily. At the same time she’s no fool and she speaks up to herself. Her trust and love for Yoon Ha and Chang Soo are endless and will –so it seems-only bring her scars.
The drama is about the dark –if I was to be an optimist- side of chabeols’ lives. It shows the inner struggles in families for power and position. How emotions and ‘’instinctive’’ feelings are nowhere to be felt. Family or whatever, everyone uses others to win more. Still, you can’t get rid of that family. ‘’If you’re born in a family there’s nothing you can decide for yourself, but you get benefits instead.’’ The father sets the rules. The father decides. The father gives and takes. The father is allowed what the other family are not.
Behind the veil of wealth and elegance lie emotional traumas, pain, dependent lives, divorces, abused wives, abused children, affairs, etc. For a perfect image, family members who hate each other to death would stand in front of the camera and smile. The world doesn’t know what goes on behind closed doors.
What can emotions and ideals do in this materialistic world? Is there really true love? What’s pride? ‘’Not letting others hurt you’’? Are we in a world where we don’t have time or space to worry and feel for others? Or is that ‘’the most useless thing’’? When trust is broken and the heart is shattered, what to do? Give the pain back? An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth?
The drama is honest, way too much. There are some comic scenes and many romantic ones, with no cheesy lines. The chemistry between all the characters is amazing. All the actors are doing great, thankfully. The music is so unique and so fitting. Those lyrics in each situation give me goose bumps. I’m loving the stylist. So many beautiful outfits. Totally enjoying every single second.
I know I haven’t covered all on my mind and yours and once I submit this I’ll be thinking of more but this is enough. We’re not going to spend all day reading this!