The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: All About Eve

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

One of the early hits that helped to launch the Hallyu wave, All About Eve is the kind of drama that’s so old that it actually feels new.

A fairly light, ultimately warm melo that doesn’t have too many of the classic kdrama tropes coz, well, they hadn’t been established yet, at the time. There isn’t a jerky male lead, nor a damsel-in-distress female lead; in fact, for a good long stretch, I couldn’t even figure out the dynamics of the love square. That sure kept me on my toes. So refreshing, and mildly cracky in the best way too.

Plus, I totally see the Jang Dong Gun appeal now. Finally. Thank you.

All About Eve OST – True Love

THE LONG VERDICT:

In a sea of newer, shinier drama offerings, it’s easy to overlook a classic like All About Eve, especially if you boarded the drama train fairly recently. I almost overlooked this one myself, and man, am I glad I didn’t!

Reason To Watch #1

I’d had it at the back of my mind, to check out All About Eve, after watching A Gentleman’s Dignity and failing to fully comprehend the Jang Dong Gun appeal. I mean, the man did give us some impressive smoldering stares, like so:

Review: A Gentleman's Dignity

But I knew there was still a big chunk of the puzzle that I was missing. There had to be a good reason that all of South Korea adores – like really, really ADORES – this man to bits, right?

His last drama, 10 whole years before A Gentleman’s Dignity came along, was All About Eve. I figured that if I checked out All About Eve, I’d find the treasure map to solving the puzzle. And I was right. More on that later!

Reason To Watch #2

I have to thank Lady G for providing me with the push that I needed, to finally pull out All About Eve from my collection and put it at the top of my watch list.

In November last year, after momentarily disappearing into the lurking closet, Lady G re-emerged on the blog to rave about this drama. Here’s a snippet of what Lady G said:

“I recently finished watching a fabulous ‘old’ drama- All about Eve, from 2000. and I was thunderstruck. It’s so refreshing to see a drama without all the over-dramatic pauses, stares, and stilted dialogue and miscommunications. People actually talk to each other and work out their problems, and the story flows. They touch and hug right away w/o waiting for an hour with shaking hands or swelling music. Life happens realistically. Some consider this the best Korean drama. What happened in 13 years since?”

Wow. High praise, right? I was intrigued. I knew I had to watch this drama.

Initial Bump

So I pulled All About Eve out of my collection, plonked it on my iPad, and.. stalled on episode 1 several times.

Heh. Talk about déjà vu. This is exactly what happened to me when I first started watching A Gentleman’s Dignity. There was a similar bump in my viewing journey there. It took me 4 tries before I got through episode 1 of AGD. And it also took me about 4 tries before I got through episode 1 of All About Eve.

Somehow, my mood and the show just couldn’t find a way to jive, so for the first little while, it felt a little like an awkward blind date. Each time, I would watch about 2 minutes of it before I clicked stop and moved on to other shows.

But! I pushed on. While pushing on in AGD gave me a pleasant but nowhere near satisfyingly cracky drama experience, with All About Eve, once I got over that initial bump, I was sucked in, and in the best way too.

REFRESHING RETRO

It’s the little secret that so few people actually take advantage of. When you go back far enough in time, all the firmly entrenched drama tropes – that have us rolling our eyes and wishing waves of fresh creativity on our drama writers – actually sort of disappear. Coz they just weren’t invented yet. (See, time travel is possible in dramaland!)

At a Year 2000 vintage, All About Eve is a prime example of a drama that came sufficiently before the tropes that we all know too well, that I was kept sufficiently guessing and felt quite nicely kept on my toes. I found that I couldn’t quite predict plot points like I often can in many more recent dramas. (Well, not all recent dramas, but you know what I mean. The less inventive ones.)

1. The Love Square

Even though I sort of knew that our leads were Jang Dong Dun and Chae Rim, I still couldn’t quite predict how the love square worked, and who was who in that love square, and for a fairly good stretch too.

I believe one of the major factors that made this love square feel different, was that the frenemy-ship between our female leads Jin Sun Mi (Chae Rim) and Suh Young Mi (Kim So Yeon) felt more the focal point of our story than the OTP.

From the very beginning in episode 1, Young Mi is jealous of Sun Mi’s seemingly perfect lot in life compared to her own hardship, and sets out to steal whatever Sun Mi has or wants.

[SPOILER ALERT]

It’s precisely because what Sun Mi has or wants changes over time, that the love square feels so different for much of the drama.

When we first meet Sun Mi, she’s crushing on Kim Woo Jin (Han Jae Suk), long-time Oppa and family friend. So of course that’s where Young Mi sets her sights too. And for a good while in our initial episodes, the love triangle is squarely (hur) between those 3 players; Sun Mi, helplessly crushing on Woo Jin, while Young Mi slyly puts the moves on Woo Jin, who in turn wanders into Young Mi’s trap none the wiser.

Even though Sun Mi and Yoon Hyung Chul (Jang Dong Gun) cross paths fairly quickly in the show, they remain firmly platonic for a good stretch while Sun Mi continues to carry a silent, unrequited torch for Woo Jin.

[END SPOILER]

In a drama climate where we’re so used to the general rhythm of the typical romance -

  • an early episode OTP meet-cute,
  • a solidification of the relationship by the halfway mark, often accompanied by the OTP’s first kiss,
  • followed by an angsty stretch where misunderstanding &/or separation of the OTP is likely to occur, and
  • some kind of resolution by the final episode

- it felt refreshingly different and somewhat unpredictable. It’s like I knew who my leads were, but had no idea how they were going to get from Point A to End Game. This drama wasn’t a cookie-cutter kdrama romance. At least, not from the cookie cutters that I’d become familiar with, at any rate.

I really liked that feeling of freshness in the story-telling, and this factor ranked very high on my personal list of reasons of why I enjoyed this show.

2. Communication Patterns

In a drama climate where certain Reactions and Misunderstandings are stock, this was another particularly refreshing aspect of the drama for me.

People talked about things. Misunderstandings didn’t go on for extended periods of time. Characters confronted one another and hashed things out.

Just when you think, “Uh-oh, here comes a Big Misunderstanding,” characters will surprise you by actually facing it head-on with a matter-of-fact conversation aimed at clarification and understanding, rather than stew for episodes on end amid increasing suspicion plus lots of tears and gnashing of teeth.

[SPOILER ALERT]

An early example of this occurs in episode 2, where Sun Mi, growing quickly suspicious of Young Mi’s true intentions, finds out that Woo Jin has recommended Young Mi for a job at the broadcast station. This, despite knowing that Sun Mi is dying for an opportunity to work there herself.

We get the set-up that we’ve come to know so well: Sun Mi finds out about the job from Young Mi, then sees Young Mi being cozy and flirty with Woo Jin as he walks her home. Sun Mi hides around the corner and watches and listens.

And just when you think, “Aha, this is where a Big Misunderstanding is going to happen,” Sun Mi seeks Woo Jin out and asks him plainly, to his face, “Oppa, how could you do this to me?”

How refreshing, that she doesn’t stew silently, but confronts the issue head-on, with candour and honesty.

At the end of the conversation, Sun Mi is unhappy but accepts Woo Jin’s explanation. And then they leave the cafe together, Woo Jin with his arm around Sun Mi’s shoulders.

I totally didn’t see that coming.

I love that I got a sense of the unexpected, all while getting scenes of actual healthy communication on my screen. It was like getting to have my cake and eat it too. Very cool.

[END SPOILER]

I love that the writers didn’t feel the need to rely on Big Misunderstandings in order to drive the story forward. And yet, the pace of the story hummed along in a pretty zippy manner. Kudos, writer-nim, for not reaching for easy crutches.

3. Gender Stereotypes

I enjoyed the fact that both of our female leads had strong ambition, career-wise. They both wanted to be newscasters, and everything they both did was an effort towards that goal of becoming anchor-women.

Refreshingly, romance didn’t cause that ambition to disappear into thin air. Nor cause strong female characters to suddenly become helpless damsels in distress (vs. say, Heirs where our initially feisty female lead gets quickly tamed into a helpless, weak, crying damsel by her leading man).

In fact, both male leads in All About Eve were extremely supportive and understanding of the female leads’ career ambitions. So supportive, in fact, that the notion of romance often felt like an almost-though-not-quite-screensaver in the background, while career concerns and ambitions occupied front-and-center of not only our screens, but our characters’ consciousness as well.

Thank you, Show, for demonstrating to us that romance isn’t all that matters; that a girl doesn’t have to choose between having a solid career and having romance in her life.

4. Treatment of Social Class Differences

After so many kdramas have convinced us that chaebol parents care Very, Very Much about social class, the way the different social classes of our leads is treated feels refreshingly matter-of-fact.

While not quite a chaebol, Young Chul is clearly in a different social class than Sun Mi. He’s the Director at the network by virtue of being the Chairman’s son, and Sun Mi’s your regular girl-next-door. Yet, Young Chul’s father (Han In Soo) never makes an issue of it.

[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]

The introduction is made simply and in a very matter-of-fact manner in episode 10.

Young Chul simply introduces Sun Mi to his father at a company dinner, and Chairman Yoon smiles and asks if Sun Mi is the girl that Young Chul met while in England. No dramatics. And it never becomes an issue for the rest of the show either.

All we get is a scene in a later episode where Young Chul receives a call from his father, who enquires when Young Chul intends to bring Sun Mi home to officially meet him.

No Evil Father-in-Law, nor Bitchy Mother-in-Law either. How very refreshing, right?

[END MINOR SPOILER]

5. Parents

Besides Young Chul’s father, every other parent in this show is nice, too. Wow, right? I’ll just give you a minute to let that sink in. ;)

Sun Mi is the jewel of her father’s (Hyun Suk) eye, and we often see them teasing each other, smiling and laughing together, and just generally being the sweetest chums ever.

Woo Jin’s mother (Park Won Sook) is, likewise, a loving, pleasant lady who loves her son and only wants to see him happy. Sure, we get some angst from her when Woo Jin makes some troubling choices, but we are always, always crystal clear on one fact: she would do anything for her son; she loves him that much. And no, I don’t mean that in a crazy-makjang way either.

Given that dramaland regularly serves up some really nasty parents, and in a drama climate where every drama has to have at least one Awful Parent, All About Eve is refreshingly devoid of dysfunctional parents. Sure, there’s some angst, but only to the extent of what any normal, loving parent would experience along with their children’s growing pains.

All About Eve OST – 지금처럼만

THE CHARACTERS

I really appreciated that the characters in this show felt like real people. No one was all good or all bad. Everyone had specific backstories and motivations, and each of our characters had their strengths and their flaws.

Yes, the good guys were more inclined to kindness and forgiveness than most folks, but they were flawed enough to still feel real. And even our resident trouble-stirrer had enough of a backstory and enough strengths to make her feel more like an actual person than a 2-dimensional villain.

Although there are likable secondary characters, I will only touch on our main characters in this review.

Chae Rim as Jin Sun Mi

I thought that Chae Rim was very well-cast as the sunny Sun Mi, who’s received lots of love in her life despite losing her mother at a young age, and therefore has a cheerful, kind disposition.

All in all, I found Sun Mi a very likable character. She smiles even when she’s hurting and always looks for the bright side, the right way of thinking. And yet she doesn’t come across as a typical Candy. She’s no self-sacrificing noble idiot, and gets upset and angry when provoked. Sometimes she cries angry tears, and sometimes she gets jealous too.

I thought it was a nice touch that she’s actually not quite as good as Young Mi in terms of work stuff. She has her shortcomings, and she works hard to overcome them.

Besides her infectious, bright smile, perhaps my favorite thing about Sun Mi is her good-heartedness. She doesn’t harbor bitterness in her heart – well, never for long, anyway – and is quick to give kindness and love to those around her.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In episode 3, I really appreciated that when Sun Mi goes to England to get out of Young Mi’s way, that she doesn’t spend all her time moping.

She continues to smile and make the best of her days, even though she has moments where she sheds tears in solitude. She jokes with her aunt, and she makes friends, including with Hyung Chul.

On a side note, I’d like to mention that while her trip to England has a tinge of noble idiocy to it, that it felt acceptable to me because she had made her feelings for Woo Jin clear to him. She wasn’t just slinking away in silence. And she had no intention of staying away forever either.

Plus she felt indebted to Young Mi for saving her from thugs, and perceived that she owed it to Young Mi to give Young Mi and Woo Jin some space, at least for a little while.

The scene where Sun Mi left the deepest impression on me is in episode 7, where Sun Mi and Young Mi are walking together after a work dinner.

Sun Mi’s a little tipsy, and says a little sheepishly to Young Mi, “Since I’m a little drunk I’ll be honest. Sometimes there were times when I wanted to give you a hug. Even when I see you throwing tantrums like a kid, I felt sympathetic and wanted to hold you.” Aw. Considering the terrible things Young Mi’s done to her up till this point, I was really quite blown away by the largeness of Sun Mi’s heart.

When Young Mi rebuffs Sun Mi’s words, informing her that she’s crossing the line, Sun Mi simply smiles and says, “OK, sorry, I’ll stop. Go get some rest.” 

There’s no hint of self-righteousness about Sun Mi’s response; no “look here, I’m being the bigger person here, you should appreciate it.” 

Instead, Sun Mi is calm and totally doesn’t press the issue.

They say when you’re drunk/tipsy you speak what’s really on your heart. And in this scene, Sun Mi bared for us a truly good heart. How can one not like this girl?

[END SPOILER]

Kim So Yeon as Heo Young Mi

Kim So Yeon has always been a bit of a hit-or-miss for me. In some roles, she completely blows me away (like in Iris), and in some roles, she just rubs me the wrong way (like in Prosecutor Princess).

I like Kim So Yeon a lot better when she’s edgy, and I think All About Eve tapped into her strengths. Kim So Yeon got to portray many facets of her character, and often had to switch between two opposites in a matter of seconds. One moment, she’d be a frail, simpering victim, and the next moment, she’d be a glowering, manipulative schemer who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

It’s her gaze, which can switch in a moment. And it’s also her voice. When she’s Scheming Witch, her voice is strong and confident. But when she’s Frail Victim, her voice is soft, breathy and manipulatively piteous, eventually to an annoying degree.

While she could have afforded to give Young Mi more depth and nuance, I thought Kim So Yeon did a pretty great job at portraying the two faces of Young Mi.

[SPOILER ALERT]

As a character, Young Mi stoops to appalling lows to get what she wants, including sleeping with Woo Jin, and then faking an abortion in order to always have him around her little finger.

And when she finds a new target in Hyung Chul, she promptly dumps Woo Jin, telling him that she never loved him. Granted, we see in Young Mi’s private moments that she sheds tears for Woo Jin, but it’s never enough to actually stop her from being cruel to him.

She is unable to overcome her own ambition, basically. She knows that she’s being awful and evil to Woo Jin, but she does it anyway, in order to advance on her chosen path.

Young Mi as a character managed to actually make my skin crawl. Yet, I couldn’t actually thoroughly hate her, coz over the course of the drama, we’re privy to several moments where she shows genuine private pain.

All in all a memorable character, even if not a likable one.

[END SPOILER]

Han Jae Suk as Kim Woo Jin

Han Jae Suk does an acceptable job of portraying Woo Jin as a good-hearted man who’s ultimately too square and naive for his own good.

I admit I didn’t feel extremely interested in Woo Jin as a character. At times, he felt more like an object that the girls were fighting over, than a fully fledged person with thoughts and motivations of his own.

I definitely believed that Woo Jin loved Young Mi in his own way. But he always felt more interesting in terms of what his existence brought to the plot, than in and of himself as a character. This possibly also had something to do with Han Jae Suk’s fairly wooden delivery.

Overall, a decent effort towards fulfilling a necessary element of the story.

All About Eve OST – Somewhere

Jang Dong Gun as Yoon Hyung Chul

Ahhh. Jang Dong Gun as Yoon Hyung Chul.

Such a lovely leading man, played to subtle perfection. I wasn’t immediately taken with Hyung Chul, to be perfectly honest, but by series’ end, I was definitely pretty melty over him.

Hyung Chul isn’t written as a perfect character, and is presented early on as someone with attachment problems stemming from parental issues. He’s jovial and pleasant with his friends, but try to get too close and you’d come up against a firm – but honest – wall.

As a character, Hyung Chul certainly isn’t perfect. We see him struggle with challenges both at work and in love, and it is his struggle to make sense of both that makes him feel real.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Young Chul is that he consistently has a gaze that isn’t hard. Even when he’s challenged in work or in love, his gaze is matter-of-fact, leaning a little soft. It’s really nice. I love how his first instinct towards Sun Mi is almost always amusement and affection.

It’s the almost always bit that makes it believable. Coz there are occasions when he doesn’t, particularly when Sun Mi is being unreasonable. These are the details that makes Hyung Chul believable as a character; we know he isn’t some perfect patient saint. And that makes the times that he does regard her with affection all the more real. And melty.

Truth be told, his affectionate gazes had me very, very melty.

For the record, while All About Eve doesn’t feature the kind of ab-full shower scenes that have become a drama staple of sorts, it does boast possibly the most gorgeously shot shower scene I have ever seen.

There’s nothing fancy about the camera-work; no fancy lighting nor angles. Just a shot of Jang Dong Gun from the neck up, with rivulets of water running down his face and through his lashes. And it’s beautiful. He’s beautiful:

Right?

While this wasn’t the main reason that I found Hyung Chul melty in this drama, it certainly didn’t hurt. ;)

[SPOILER ALERT]

Hyung Chul was pretty awesome as a character, and I’d like to just highlight a few of my favorite things about him.

#1. His honesty

I really appreciated Hyung Chul’s honesty in general.

Importantly, he’s honest with Joo Hee (Kim Jung Eun), whom he knows nurses a deep-seated crush on him. He never leads her to believe that he reciprocates her romantic affections. At the same time, he never lets her crush get in the way of their long-standing friendship either.

When Joo Hee notices a change in Hyung Chul’s behavior and asks if there is a new girl in his life, he tells her the truth about his feelings for Sun Mi. He’s gentle with Joo Hee, but never sugar-coats anything for fear of hurting her feelings.

It just really appeals to me, that Hyung Chul treats Joo Hee like an adult who is capable of making her own choices and protecting her own feelings.

In so many other kdramas, the men are shown making I-know-better decisions for the women; Me Ah Ri’s crush on Choi Yoon in A Gentleman’s Dignity comes to mind. Both Choi Yoon and her brother Tae San decided that her crush was a bad idea and treated her like an errant child, deciding that her crush needed to come to an end. That was aggravating to watch, and to have Hyung Chul take such a completely different approach, where he couldn’t accept Joo Hee’s feelings, but could respect that she had them, was very refreshing indeed.

On a related note, I really liked that he was also honest with Young Mi. When Young Mi starts coming on to him, he simply tells her that he finds her scary.

#2. His instinct for affection – at least for Sun Mi

There are many instances in the show where Sun Mi messes up, and often in ways that might inspire aggravation in most people. But Young Chul consistently demonstrates that at least where Sun Mi is concerned, his first instinct leans more towards amusement and affection.

It isn’t that Hyung Chul is painted as being blind to her faults. Rather, I got the impression that he was fully aware of Sun Mi’s shortcomings, and he chose to believe that she would eventually grow and mature out of them.

Like in episode 9 when Sun Mi storms into his office, (wrongly) accusing him of making things difficult for her by sending her flowers.

He doesn’t say anything, and when her phone rings and she realizes the flowers had come from her father, Hyung Chul’s quiet, affectionate amusement is heart-melting to behold:

Aww. Melt.

And then there’s the incident in episode 11, where Sun Mi reacts strongly to a story about kidnappers while live on-air. Everyone else is scandalized, yet, as her boss watching the same thing in his office, Hyung Chul simply stops to chuckle aloud, with affection and mild exasperation, “Jin Sun Mi, where are you crying now?”

Aw. Where can I get one of you for myself?

I just love that Hyung Chul knows her that well, coz the very next scene shows us that Sun Mi’s crept into a darkened auditorium to cry by herself. Just like Hyung Chul predicted.

Hyung Chul then sends Sun Mi a card as her anonymous supporter “Y,” saying exactly what she needs to hear, “To Sun Mi, You did a great job today. You’re one of a kind. Keep up the good work.”

Sun Mi manages a tearful, rueful smile. And I melt, just a little more.

#3. His patience

One of the most moving things about Hyung Chul’s love for Sun Mi is how patient and giving he is, in loving her.

In a later episode, Hyung Chul says to Woo Jin that it’s because Sun Mi is the only one for him, that he has to let her do what she wants. I believe it is this clarity that he has – that no one else will do – that gives Hyung Chul the strength to be as patient with Sun Mi as he is.

In episode 9, when Sun Mi realizes Hyung Chul’s true identity and grapples with what that means in the context of his feelings for her, she tearfully pouts, “I hate you. Why are you doing this? This is too hard for me.

Young Chul’s quiet answer is, “Let’s look at it this way. I’ll wait for you, but for now, you forget that I’m waiting for you. If you can’t love me that’s fine.” Melt.

And then Hyung Chul even jokes that now he doesn’t have to hide whenever he sees her at the office, and gives her his jacket so that she won’t feel cold as they walk. Melt some more.

A leading man who doesn’t try to force his feelings on his leading lady, and instead gives her time and space to figure out what she wants? You just can’t not swoon at that.

#4. He runs to her

I love too, that when Hyung Chul perceives that Sun Mi needs him, he literally runs to her. He never wastes a moment or stops to think. It’s clear as day that all he’s thinking about, in the moment, is getting to her. Because she needs him.

Hyung Chul runs to Sun Mi more than once in the drama, but I particularly love this instance in episode 12, when she calls him crying and leaves a message. All she says is, “Sunbae-nim, what should I do?”

The second Hyung Chul hears her message, he takes off, racing to be by her side. You can totally tell that he can’t and won’t think of anything else except finding her.

It’s moving and swoony.

And when he finds her, he doesn’t say a word. He just holds her.

Melt.

#5. His sheepish faces

As swoony and steady as Hyung Chul is, I just love the sheepish look he gets on his face whenever he contemplates doing something romantic for Sun Mi.

Like in episode 13 when he’s browsing possible birthday presents for her:

Or in episode 20, when he contemplates how to propose to her:

You can just see what he’s thinking: I can’t believe I’m doing this. What have I gotten myself into? Aw, but I love her.

Ack. How does one resist that sheepish look?

What an adorable, swoony, melty man.

[END SPOILER]

Fun Fact

In episode 11, we get a cameo by a very young Song Il Gook, who plays a reporter. This was one of Song Il Gook’s earliest TV appearances, preceded only by Into The Sunlight, in 1999. Doesn’t he look super young and fresh-faced? ;)

THE RELATIONSHIPS

While there are various relationships in this drama that we could talk about, I’d like to highlight just the two that were most interesting to me.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Young Mi & Sun Mi

The frenemy-ship between Young Mi and Sun Mi was often the focus of attention, and I found their relationship intriguing and quite compelling.

Young Mi totally plays dirty, all the time. She often baldly, without-batting-an-eyelash switches between Scheming Witch mode and Simpering Victim mode right in front of Sun Mi &/or Woo Jin’s mother, the two women she most wants victory over.

It was aggravating to watch, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but grudgingly admire Young Mi’s ballsy attitude and sometimes reckless audacity. Like the time she adds acetone to Sun Mi’s toner and also lies about Sun Mi’s father being in a serious car accident coz she wants to prevent Sun Mi from hosting a show.

Or the time in episode 11 when Young Mi plants Sun Mi’s phone in the studio and calls her phone during a live broadcast. Shudder. I wouldn’t want her coming against me, that’s for sure. But Sun Mi doesn’t ever get a choice in the matter; Young Mi chose Sun Mi as a target, just for being her. Young Mi wants to steal whatever it is that Sun Mi has, whether it’s Woo Jin or Hyung Chul; her happy family or her career.

Interestingly, Young Mi often ‘fesses up when Sun Mi confronts her, which happens more than a few times.

To me, what makes their frenemy-ship different is how baldly they confront each other, instead of hiding behind lots of smoke and curtains.

I love that Sun Mi stands up strong to Young Mi, and doesn’t cower in front of Scheming Witch. Sun Mi stands up strong enough that the match between them feels fairly even.

Tellingly, they each have occasion to slap the other in the course of the show. Sometimes Young Mi marches up to slap Sun Mi in the face. And satisfyingly, there are times when Sun Mi marches up to Young Mi and slaps her in the face.

The two even have an all-out, hair-pulling, screeching cat-fight fairly early in the show.

Meowr.

I love that Sun Mi doesn’t take Young Mi’s bullying sitting down, but fights back without stooping to Young Mi’s level of underhanded tactics.

In the end, the two women make peace, and it does feel a little contrived, the way Young Mi loses her memory and gets a start-over. But at least the show explains it in a way that fits.

Hyung Chul & Sun Mi

The development of our OTP’s relationship felt organic and believable, and I really enjoyed watching their scenes together. These scenes were a significant part of the reason why I marathoned this show in just a few days. I just wanted more of them on my screen.

I really enjoyed the fact that their romantic relationship grew out of a firmly platonic friendship. I loved that long before their relationship took a romantic turn, that they shared deep-reaching conversations and a genuine sense of closeness and affection.

I loved this little scene early in the series where Hyung Chul comes back to Korea and Sun Mi, seeing him for the first time in months, is so delighted that she runs up to him and hugs him. How cute is that?

This moment is so clearly platonic – Sun Mi’s still pining for Woo Jin at this point – that her overflowing happiness at seeing Hyung Chul feels particularly pure and unadulterated.

Over the course of Sun Mi’s time in university, and into her initial days on the job at the broadcast station, we see that she continues to share meaningful conversations with Hyung Chul, even in the midst of their banter and jokes.

Through it all, their interactions are marked by smiles, good conversation, and the occasional gesture of affection, which I found really cute.

Look at that bemused surprise on Hyung Chul’s face. It’s no wonder that he can’t help but fall for the happy, bubbly Sun Mi, in spite of himself.

Once their relationship starts taking a turn for the romantic, I loved how it is obvious that these two are good for each other.

Hyung Chul doesn’t stifle Sun Mi’s little acting-out tantrums, and neither does he pander to her either. He consistently feels like the solid, more mature half of the equation, led equally by common sense and affection. And Sun Mi is the refreshing wind in Hyung Chul’s heretofore jaded life. She makes him smile. And that seems pretty priceless, considering that hardly anyone else in his life had been able to tease that kind of reaction out of him.

With Hyung Chul’s steady, self-sacrificing support for Sun Mi’s career ambitions, I really was wondering whether we would get a happy-ever-after. After all, Sun Mi gets the opportunity to further her studies and career in England, and he tells her without hesitation that she can and should go.

In the end, the turnaround, where he tells her not to go, feels a tiny bit convenient, but it’s handled quite nicely.

Sun Mi tells Hyung Chul as she stifles tears, “I feel like this is something I have to do right now, or I won’t be able to. I’ll try to be strong and make my own way in London. I was grateful for everything. Goodbye.”

For an awful second, I think that Hyung Chul will really let her go. But he suddenly gets a look of resolve in his eyes and chases her down on the cross-walk.

In a nice echo of her earlier words, he tells her, “I feel like this is something I have to do right now, or I won’t be able to. Will you marry me? Don’t go. I love you, Sun Mi.”

Sun Mi nods, smiling, and he kisses her. Tenderly. And swoon-inducingly.

Sweet. Sigh.

And perhaps this is how the kissing-in-the-middle-of-a-crosswalk kdrama trope was born. Heh.

Yes, the way we get our happy ending is a little bit of a convenient turnaround, but it’s still pretty believable. And I felt that deep down, Sun Mi kind of hoped that Hyung Chul would ask her to stay.

On a career note, I’d also like to think that even after the wedding, that Hyung Chul would continue to support Sun Mi’s career the way he always has.

All in all, an OTP that gave me the warm melty feels.

[END SPOILERS]

FINAL THOUGHTS

There’s a whole lot of retro fashion, thick-as-pancake make-up and teased hair to remind us of the vintage of this drama, but at its heart, this show feels fresh and engaging in a way that we don’t quite see in more recent dramas.

There are moments when we do see some recognizable kdrama tropes, but those are few in number and honestly, these probably weren’t tropes when this drama was made. If anything, we might actually be witnessing the birth of those tropes. So when you do encounter those, just think of it as.. history in the making? ;)

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Retro drama crack at its best. They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to. Highly recommend.

VISUAL TREATS:

Here’s a trailer-esque MV set to the All About Eve theme song:

And the lilting, thoughtful ballad that sums up the show’s feel quite nicely:

To top it all off, here’s some Jang Dong Gun Pretty. You’ll get a sense of his Leading Man appeal, as well as another glimpse at his beautiful-as-art shower scene:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

92 thoughts on “Review: All About Eve

  1. Thanks for this review….I didn’t even know about this drama….maybe only read its name somewhere when I was browsing Dramawiki….
    Actually the old fashion and everything never bothers me…I think that is also the charm of watching a relatively older drama….it adds to that period’s feel (even when it is pretty odd :-D)
    I liked Chae Rim a lot in Dalja’s Spring…and wow…is that Kim So Yeon!! So young and fresh….I should add this drama in my plan…thanks again :-)

    • Charm – that’s a great word, snow_white! :D AAE has a lot of retro charm. And it’s such a classic, you just hafta see it! Part of the fun is seeing people like Chae Rim and Kim So Yeon in their younger days, but really, even without taking that into consideration, this show is a very worthy watch. So much to enjoy. And it feels so fresh, despite its vintage. Go watch it!! :D

  2. omg! Yay!!!!! I’m going to thoroughly read and comment on this soon. It’s just busy right now. But I want to give it my full attention. I LOVE this drama!!!

  3. Ack! You quoted me again. :D Thank you! I still stand by those words. ;)

    • I quote only the truly worthy ;) *ahem* Thank YOU, for giving me the push I needed to actually get started on AAE. Otherwise it would’ve languished indefinitely on my watch list. For someday. And where’s the fun in that? This show needs to be enjoyed. And that shower scene too. ^.~

  4. I’ve been wanting to watch a movie or a drama with Jang Dong Gun but I didn’t know where to start. I think now I may have found a starting place, thank you! :)

    • Oh yes, this IS a great place to start, Muffin!! :D He’s very melty in AAE. I didn’t appreciate him much in AGD, but AAE is a whole different story. Definitely a worthy place to be introduced to the JDG awesome ;)

  5. This was one of the earlier kdramas I’ve seen. Back at the time when I watch it subbed and I didn’t give a care about who the actors were. And it’s been a decade already! My oh my. Must be that long… all I can remember, before reading the review, is that I finished the drama despite hating that envious gal. She’s very effective. Oh… SIG was there! Nice. But the vintage drama I’d like to see is where SIG and GY worked together, Hard Love.

    • Yes! I squealed like a pig when I saw SIG! LOLOL. There’s a drama with SIG and GY???? Must see one day! I get very excited when its my dream casts. :D Still didn’t get to read this yet, but I had the page open overnight and saw new comments. lol.

    • I recently watched the draggy, draggy Into the Sunlight too. It’s cool to see early Jang Hyuk, and I liked his character, but it was such a bore. I got real excited again to see SIG have a bit part as thug. It’s almost a blink and you miss him role in the latter part of the series.

    • Yeah, I was definitely late to this drama train! Most people who’ve been around kdramas awhile have seen AAE. Kudos to Kim So Yeon – she managed to leave a deep impression on you, even though you don’t recall much else about this show! XD

      I haven’t heard of Hard Love, actually. That sounds like a hard-to-find vintage drama! SIG and GY together does sound like a good combination tho!

  6. Great review! This review was a great walk down memory lane. :)

    • Aw, thanks Grace!! :D Glad I could give you a little walk down memory lane! And I’m so glad I checked out this classic. It so deserves its cult status! ^^

  7. This time it’s my turn to ninja duck and weave through a review. :D Okay — I just skipped the middle part. ;) But the beginning and end of your review tells me this is one to put on my list!

    I suspect it’s a good idea to check out some of the classic dramas like this. Just to get a broader perspective! (I also have “Sandglass” in mind — though I suspect that one brings a lot more tears to the table.)

    • oh my gollies DO IT. this one and “sandglass”!!! i would looove to hear your thoughts on them! ^^

    • I third that! Watch thisssss Betsy! SUCH a classic, you really can’t go wrong with it ;)

    • Hee! Okay if both pinkblossom and jandoe are saying do it, I must of course make it so. ;) I’ve added them both to my “to watch” list. Which is a big deal because I am all about my lists. :D

    • You’ve done well, Ninja Betsy!! :D You managed to avoid spoilers AND be convinced that AAE is a show worth checking out! My job here is done *bows* That is, until you’ve actually seen the show – coz then I’d love to hear all about what you think! ^^

      I’m putting aside a couple of older dramas to check out too – not so much for the broader perspective.. I just liked AAE so much that I’m thinking maybe there’s something about these older dramas that the newer shows just don’t have. It’s like S2013, where Heung Soo went out looking to see if there were more like Nam Soon out there. Although, in this analogy, I should probably quit looking and just rewatch AAE, since there wasn’t anyone quite like Nam Soon out there..? XD

      • Aww… That was such a sweet revel, that Heung Soo was looking for another Nam Soon… *sigh* *completely misses point* *wonders if maybe bromance as analogy is just a dangerous thing all around* *ponders a School 2013 rewatch*

        • Tis probably true – a bromance analogy is probably going to trip me up good and proper. It’d just lead me to a S2013 rewatch, which I’ve JUST completed, by the way! It was just as good on the second serve, so if you’re looking to do a rewatch of S2013, I can only say, Doooo eeeeet!! ;D

          • This is one where I could do a fast-forward watch — skipping to those scenes dealing just with the characters I’m interested in. :D

            • That FF button sure does come in handy sometimes, doesn’t it?? Zooming you right through to the goodies that really matter! ;) Although I will say that sometimes the emotional payoff is so much greater when you don’t fast-forward.. Context resonates so much more when it’s actually given space to breathe, I find. But definitely, nothing beats the FF button when one doesn’t have time for a full rewatch! Oh FF button, what would we do without you? XD

  8. I remember we had the discussion about the K-drama Tropes and how they were for the most part, missing in this drama,

    Some were there-plot convenience amnesia, kissing in the crosswalk, screeching Mother-in-law, noble idiocy, etc. lol. But because it was all new, it felt so delightful and fresh to me. :)

    All day I hum the theme songs! Particularly the love song…You can say, gwaenchanhayo…haha. I wish I could find it in the instrumental that gently played throughout.

    Jang Dong Gun was a treasure I discovered by watching this drama. I had often seen the page for Gentleman’s dignity, but it just didn’t appeal to me. And I didn’t think much about him or anything from it. I just happened to be looking up Lee Jong Hyuk dramas. So I put that aside and eventually watched some of it two months ago. The men were good, but it didn’t hold my interest. Even with Woobie (who was also great.)

    Yep, November was when I watched AAE. I practically marathoned it, I just had to know what happened next. Because it WAS twisty and cracky in ways. I was so excited to see an early Chae Rim drama because she’s one of my favorites. And AAE came with that reputation as one of the best dramas ever. I was intrigued. It was my first ‘old’ drama. Pre-2005 anyway. I’m going to have to check out some more old ones.

    I thought the love-square was kind of brilliant in this. I felt for Sun-Mi carrying her torch, but all deals were off once Hyung Chul came onto the scene (after getting rid of that floppy Mcdonald’s fry-kid, mushy colored gray hair!!) I got sick of Woo Jin’s waffling and pining before long, and only had eyes for Hyung Chul. My dream man. Although not the best circumstances, i love how HC and Sun Mi meet in England.

    One thing I love about this drama is that they don’t drag out the scenes and nothing is endlessly repetitive. There’s a crash, and next thing you know she’s treated and they part ways. The writers knew how to really trim the fat with this drama. I love them for that! The blossoming OTP love was so sweet, but not sugary. And I wasn’t able to predict how it would turn out.

    LOL to – no endless misunderstandings, prolonged silence and ‘gnashing of the teeth’ here! – Unless you count Woo Jin’s mother. It was her that got under my skin with her constant yelling during the melo parts. However I cried during that really important part much later. I felt that pain. But then again, at times I actually felt she was justified in her feelings, even if she overreacted. Woo Jin’s her only son, and this witch of a woman was taking advantage of him. Slowly destroying him with her poison. Otherwise, his mom was a jewel.

    The supporting ‘comic relief’ players from the news station made a good couple, but at times they were just in the way for me and so annoying. But that’s a minor quibble. I also liked Hyung Chul’s ex, she wasn’t crazy jealous or anything. A very mature lady, and I was glad when she found her happiness where she least expected it. :)

    “Thank you, Show, for demonstrating to us that romance isn’t all that matters; that a girl doesn’t have to choose between having a solid career and having romance in her life.”

    Yes! Thank you, Show! The girls had their cake and ate it too. Only Sun Mi eventually treasured the beautiful blessings of having a gorgeous, supportive man/boss. But Young Mi was vindictive, dissatisfied and greedy and lost out on a lovely prospect as well. Woo Jin loved her more than she deserved.

    I thought it was funny that they were named Sun-Mi and Young-Mi. They were like 2 sides of the same coin. Bubbly and bright, solemn and dark.

    And kudos for the drama not relying on endless scenes of mean chaebol parents. A simple introduction to Sun-Mi as the girlfriend and that was all. Young Chul was obviously a very independent man who knew exactly what he wanted, but he wasn’t reckless or needlessly ruthless like many of the Chaebols in modern dramas that are shoved in our face. The rich boys we are forced to accept as the ‘heroes.’ All the while they kick and stomp on the girl’s heart (and everyone else) until episode 19, then suddenly all’s right with the world and he’s Prince Charming for 1 or 2 episodes? I don’t think so.

    *Don’t get me wrong. I love the mean Chaebol like the next girl, but when it’s done right. A truly, truly fabulous example of that is, ‘Can love become money?’ If anything, watch it for the amazing performance by Yeon Jung Hoon (Vampire Prosecutor). You will hate him and fall in love. He’s not just the spoiled rich guy with no manners. He has his mental quirks and share of traumas that make him react the way he does. *plug over* lol!

    Chae Rim was perfect for Sun Mi. Yes, she was sunny in the face of adversity, but shouldn’t we all try to be? She wasn’t the perfect ‘Mary Sue’ character cut-out either. (I find those often in Taiwanese Dramas and it’s soo irritating.) When Sun-Mi got mad, she got mad. When she was sad, she cried her eyes out. She didn’t melt into a puddle of goo for Hyung Chul (though I would have eventually! haha) Their relationship was a natural progressive growth of mutual and professional respect and clean genuine love and affection. Only one instance of wrist grab, but that’s because the girl was going to make herself sick worrying over that twerp Woo Jin in the rain. A real man like HC would have dragged her to his car for shelter. LOL. Drag away, Hyung Chul, drag me away!…where was I?

    I just love Chae Rim’s joyous baby doll smile and features, yet she’s not the ‘perfect’ character in any of her dramas. She can at times be stern and prickly, but never outrageously so. She knows how to add dimensions to her roles.

    She does have bouts of noble idiocy, but who doesn’t when they think they are in love? I also loved that she went England and managed to enjoy herself too. She laid her cards on the table with Woo Jin and took off. Only to meet someone far better for her there. Yay! She wasn’t a stalker and let Woo Jin and Young Mi “enjoy” their toxic, noxious relationship. She suffered in silence, but it was real. I’m sure if the tables turned, Woo Jin and Young Mi would have been a terrific couple also, had his character not been reduced to a simpering, love-struck wimp. Yes, I had issues with him. But ultimately pitied him. Chae Rim and Han Jae Suk get their chance to be a real couple in another K-drama a year later called ‘Four Sisters’ I want to see that one!

    http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Four_Sisters

    Young Mi was the ultimate K-drama witch. She has no shame. It drove me through a wall when she pretended to be a victim. Even when she cried in secret, It was so, so hard for me to feel sympathy toward her, because she knew exactly what she was doing to everyone. There was no mention or hint of mental illness. Just an insatiable appetite for power and success no matter who she had to stomp on. If anything I pitied her because she let those wicked emotions always win. I liked the way the girls would spar, and they didn’t mince words or drag their feet about their feelings either.

    One thing I loved was how she tried unsuccessfully to seduce Hyung Chul and he was having none of it. He was for Sun-Mi only. Oh that melted me.

    I laughed at the short length of Woo Jin’s synopsis, but I believe you hit the nail on the head. He was just there to mope around and have the girls fight over him for a time. I believe he started off strong in 2 or 3 episodes, but once Sun Mi went to London it was all downhill from there.

    I was immediately in love with Hyung Chul either. I think it was simply that hairstyle. hahaha. Otherwise, he was a little bit underwhelming…until he ate her kimbap and she scolded him! That was too funny. I melt with the way he looks at and treats Sun-Mi, even when he has to reprimand her on the job. Or those moments when he turns the car around to come to her aid. Or listens to the answering machine. I can’t tell you how many times I replay that scene, or the one where she falls ill at the radio station. I just love watching his reaction. I think after I post this comment I’m going to watch it again. :D

    As a side note: Isn’t that so quaint in this day and age?? I loved that it was a cell-phone, piggy-back, drunk free drama!! Now I do like the ‘drunk girl’ trope from time to time, and of course the piggy back anytime. But some dramas make them excessive. This drama had none. These two girls didn’t have time to drown their sorrows in soju every night. They were career women. It was great.

    Thank you for that absolutely beautiful shower gif. Who needs Chocolate abs when you have Jang Gong Dun’s lashes, big doe eyes, and handsome nose?

    I love how he treats Sun-Mi like a human being. There’s no incessant teasing and nonsense going on in their relationship. And when you really think about it, she is so young, just 21. I remember those days, and I can relate to how she would get in her moods, jump the gun, or have too many expectations. He on the other hand was probably 28, 29? HC had been through all that, so he was able to sympathize with her emotions. And his patience with her and Woo Jin. He knew how hard it was for her to let go. They met under those circumstances, with her bemoaning her lost love. It might seem like noble idiocy in less capable hands. But Jang Dong Gun brought it across as a man truly in love and willing to make a sacrifice. SWOON!!

    I said the same thing! I need a Hyung Chul in my life. Right. Now. haha.

    I totally adored the hug scene when Hyung Chul comes back to Korea! For me that felt so real. And like I stressed, it was just natural. No shaking hands, funky camera shots, swelling music. It was simply a big affectionate hug! Why can’t they do that in dramas today? Why does it have to be such a huge deal for friends to hug? That silly, eye-roll inducing, tentative pat on the back just grates my nerves when I see it in new dramas.

    Their relationship was a beautiful buildup to that final sweet kiss. So lovely. And the way he stared at her and smiled, and her eyes are closed, lips puckered waiting for more! Oh the feels on that one! One of my favorite drama kisses of all time. I really loved this drama!

    • too much goodness to comment on.
      but i hafta say: yeeee “four sisters”!! so many memories… chae rim and han jae-suk in their heyday! ^^
      btw. have you seen her brother (park yoon-jae) in anything? they look EXACTLY alike hehehee!

      • Her brother is gorgeous! I know he was recently in ‘Her Legend’ I skipped around that one. It was okay. There is another where he’s a lead, but I can’t remember the name.

    • Okay, sorry I’m riddled with typos. “Thank you for that absolutely beautiful shower gif. Who needs Chocolate abs when you have Jang Gong Dun’s lashes, big doe eyes, and handsome nose?”

      Make that Jang Dong Gun! LOL. I was too busy dreaming over the gif. lolol

      Speaking of which, this popped up just recently today. Aww.

      http://www.allkpop.com/article/2014/02/go-so-young-and-jang-dong-gun-welcome-their-second-child

    • Oh yes, I have to agree with you Lady G! I found the absence of those tropes completely refreshing! I mean, the fact that ALL the parents in the show were actually nice? GROUNDBREAKING. Lol. And the fact that Sun Mi wasn’t going to England out of noble idiocy? Love. That’s why everything felt so fresh to me too. It felt like the writers were actually making an effort to create something, rather than pencil in a mold that they felt they had to follow.

      It’s interesting that you mention the OST – I really liked it too, despite it being extremely simple, with very few tracks. And they kept using the same songs over and over again, and yet it just somehow.. worked. The love song is such a representation of its time.. It’s simple, lilting, unhurried, and it just feels sweet. It’s like I know in my head that the song is, musically speaking, on the boring side. But I didn’t actually tire of hearing it. I actually even liked it. Go figure. It’s retro magic at work, I think!

      Oh, I definitely finally appreciated the Jang Dong Gun charm in AAE. FINALLY. He didn’t grab my attention in AGD, so this was a very pleasant surprise! I didn’t love the floppy hair on him either (we have such similar tastes sometimes!), but I really did like the more mature, neater, combed-away-from-his-face look that he sported for most of the show. Very nice!

      I actually felt sorry for Woo Jin’s mom most of the way through the show. Young Mi was being terribly two-faced right in front of her, and she felt helpless coz Young Mi had successfully turned her son against her. So I could understand her yelling and tears. I would probably yell and cry too, in her place! :P

      Ha. The comic relief couple – I like how you christened them so aptly! XD Yeah, I sometimes found them amusing, and at other times, I was rolling my eyes. Some of those parts were incredibly convenient and obvious. They were clearly convenient plot devices. Need something leaked? Let the comic relief couple talk about it! Loudly. In the most public place possible. *cue eye roll* Lol.

      If I understand it correctly, Hyung Chul never dated Joo Hee. She was the one who nursed a crush on him. But yes, I really did like the way her relationship with Hyung Chul was handled. He didn’t avoid her, and she sucked it up and put on her best Big Girl face and did the right thing. Such a refreshing change from most dramas where it’s a lot more melodramatic, with a lot more clingy foot-dragging and poor-me tears.

      And I loved Sun Mi for feeling so real despite her very sunny disposition. I loved that she got mad. And I loved that she was frank and acted on her feelings. She didn’t suffer Young Mi’s bullying in silence, that’s for sure! That cat fight was just epic, seriously!

      For me, the most annoying thing about Young Mi was her simpering voice. The breathy, I’m-so-weak soft voice. I found that supremely annoying the more it went on, to the point that I almost felt it grating on my ears, argh. I suppose that’s.. praise for Kim So Yeon? For making Young Mi so effectively annoying? XD

      I did love the kiss at the end too – enough to forgive the convenient turnaround that they used to get us to Happy Ever After Land. But given a choice between easy fix or no fix at all, I’d suck it up and go with the easy fix for sure. How could Hyung Chul not get to kiss his girl, right? ;D

      • I’m sorry I hijacked your wonderful review with my super long commentary. LOL. As for the OST, you are right, it’s really simple. Sweet and simple. And it’s the melody I love most. It lends itself beautifully to an orchestral piece. I guess I did pity Woo Jin’s mom, it was probably just the screaming that grated my ears. lol. I do think Kim So Yeon was extremely effective in making me hate her character, so that’s a win. At the end of the drama I really thought Sun Mi was going to England again. And I rolled my eyes and thought, here comes the “2 years later” drama trope, but the drama surprised me again! And Hyung Chul swooped in like the man he was and proposed. Sigh and butterflies. So cool you agree with me about the early episode floppy hair. It made a point to show him as an average Joe. It gave him this beefy slacker look I didn’t like. haha. But he was still a sweetheart.

        • Aw! Super long commentaries are always welcome around these parts, Lady G!! :D

          It’s a pity the OST doesn’t have an instrumental, orchestral version. Or an acoustic guitar version. I think that would’ve been really nice. And yes, the mom screaming was a little annoying at times, but in the grand scheme of things, I’ve encountered much worse, and have been way more annoyed. So I classified this as mild and wasn’t too distracted by it. ^^ Benefits of having watched some truly makjang dramas? XD

          I did wonder if Sun Mi was really going to England! It seemed like such a sure thing, the way things were going! That it all changed just coz Hyung Chul changed his mind was a little convenient to my mind, tbh. But to have an immediate happy ending instead of a time jump, that convenience was a small enough price to pay, I thought! ^^

          As for JDG’s early episode hair, it was less the floppiness that I didn’t like.. I found the color kinda unflattering. It just didn’t make him look all that good, at least in my eyes ;) Still, I was pleased as punch when he finally showed up in Korea, floppy bleached or no ^.~

          • Oh the color of JDG’s hair was horrible. It was like old ashes. haha. I adored the scene where he comes back and they hug. It felt so real. :) I was grateful they didn’t do the time jump. I think Sun Mi really DIDN’T want to go to England at all, but Hyung Chul was not making any firm moves so I guess she figured, why not?

            • Old ashes! That is true, lol! When he showed up on my screen with that old-ash hair, I really wondered whether I would ever take to him. The moment he showed up with darker hair, all slicked back, though, I felt MUCH better! XD

              And yes, that scene when he comes back and she runs up to him in a giant bear hug is just SO natural. I love that despite her still-hurting heart over Woo Jin, that she was full of smiles and cheer for Hyung Chul. She’s just that kind of bubbly girl, and he brings it out in her too, which I love.

              That’s true, it’s very possible that Sun Mi didn’t actually want to go to England. Or at least, she didn’t want to go at the cost of giving up Hyung Chul. She was always asking him for his opinion, and when he said immediately that she should go, I guess she felt like she kinda had to. I’m so glad he decided to throw caution to the wind and just stop her. Happy-ever-after and kisses were of higher importance, at least for that point in time ;) He’d have found a way to let her have a successful career even after the wedding, I’m sure ^^

              • LOL. Just thought, after Sun-Mi marries Hyung Chul, everyone will cry nepotism whenever she’s successful on the Network! Those 2 are one of my favorite K-drama couples. :D

                • HAHA. This is true. Even before they started actually dating, the rumors of nepotism were already rife! Poor Sun Mi. But then again, she’s got Hyung Chul – dreamy, sweet Hyung Chul – so NOT poor Sun Mi after all? XD I’d have loved the show to have delved a little into the happy-ever-after. Y’know, show us the wedding, the honeymoon, and the settling into marriage and Sun Mi’s career, and all that. Yes, it sounds protracted, but somehow I think it could’ve worked. Or maybe that’s just my inner fangirl talking! XD

                  • No, you are absolutely right! Just one more episode showing all that, and maybe a baby! :D

                    • Omo. Hyung Chul as doting dad. Thud. That would be so awesome! :D

                    • Oh I can picture Hyung Chul being so loving and tender with Sun-Mi, not letting her do anything. Setting up the baby’s room and cradle by himself (trying to, lol) that would be so sweet. And i can picture him wanting a girl and her wanting a boy. haha

                    • Awwwww!!! ❤ That would be PERFECT, Lady G! Just perfect! :D Hyung Chul doing all the Good Daddy stuff is so squee-worthy! I can totally see that. And him wanting a girl too – SO him! He’d want a girl so that he can pamper Daddy’s Girl. Sweetness! Now I really wish they had made that extra episode. This would’ve been one extension that I would’ve happily lapped up ;) If only they’d consulted you and gotten you to write it for them! ^^

                    • Arrh! I had a whole comment written and I lost it before I could post! This gave me another idea for a dream drama: All about Eve part 2.

                      Sun-Mi and Hyung Chul get engaged and she goes to England for a few months to get more training. When she returns they have a big wedding. This takes place within the first 2 episodes. Time jump 2 years later. They are blissfully married and enjoying their relationship and careers. But dun, dun dun!!! Young Mi returns! During that time, her memory came back and she fell into a rage, realizing she was left at this place with no real identity. Just like always she plays the victim. She wants revenge on the ones who wronged her- Hyung Chul and Sun Mi. She vows revenge at Woo Jin’s grave. She gets involved in illegal and scandalous dealings and with her smarts, builds up a small fortune. She re-invents herself to get back in the broadcasting game. But she wants to ruin Hyung Chul by buying out the entire network. We have to have one of those board of director’s meetings where she comes in as the new stockholder. LOL. She plays super nice to Woo Jin’s mother to get her on her side. And after some hair pulling and slapping she does, as well as playing on Sun-Mi’s father’s sympathies. Imagine Sun-Mi’s shock when she comes home for a visit and see’s Young Mi there for dinner! Then she gets mad at Hyung Chul for not telling her that she’s back, but he didn’t want Sun-Mi to worry. All the while Young Mi is playing everybody, setting up crazy traps for Sun-Mi (At this point she’s definitely not above dirty dealings and trying to harm her) But Hyung Chul always stands in her way and he starts to suspect her. Young Mi is power hungry and worse than ever. And now she actually has the money and power to be that way without interference. ooohhh
                      The baby girl will come in toward the end! We need at least 2-3 episodes of seeing Hyung Chul playing a doting dad! He would spoil her to death, but Sun-Mi won’t have it all the time, because she wants her daughter to work hard and earn whatever she’s given. LOL.

                      I have to get pictures for this drama idea. Arr, and I really want to tie up my KWB drama. Working on it slowly. I need to get a laptop to take to my 2nd job for the quiet days. lol

                    • LOL!! XD Your AAE sequel made me laugh with all its makjang elements! The return of Young Mi and her memory, all the scheming & slapping – HAHA! I don’t think I’d last the drama that way! XD

                      I do like the visual of Young Chul doting on his baby girl though. Aw. So sweet! :D Given Hyung Chul’s steady sort of character and how he didn’t let Sun Mi’s little tantrums get to him, I don’t think he’d be the one spoiling his daughter.. Maybe it might be the other way around? Sun Mi’s a lot more impulsive than Hyung Chul after all? ;)

                      Ah yes, our beloved KWB drama!! I need to get that 2nd dream dramas post cooking too. I’ve been.. distracted lately, with all the Pretty, LOL! XD I will get to it, I promise!! *pinky swear*

                    • Hmm, good point, but the ballgame changes when it’s your precious daughter. Still, yes, SM may spoil her more. I actually like my idea for a 14 Years later with the original cast that I put on the FB page. That would be fun, and give Young Mi a chance to grow and mature and become rich, powerful and ever more scheming. And don’t worry about the 2nd dream drama post, unless of course you want to do one anyway! haha. I want to get all the thoughts for the KWB drama in one coherent page. It’s almost ready. LOL.

                    • Despite my best intentions, I think it’s going to be a while before I get that Dream Dramas post out. I’ve got 2 work trips happening in the next few weeks, plus I just finished watching YFAS, which I’d like to review while it’s relatively fresh on my mind. But I WILL GET TO IT. I promise! Too much awesome to not make a new post! ^^

                    • Oh that’s okay about the dream drama post. I keep getting sidetracked too with other projects and family issues demanding attention. I look forward to whatever you write up next! :D

                    • You are sweet and patient and just the absolute BEST. ❤ Clearly, I’ve fallen behind on the writing (just look at all the Pure Pretty, LOL!), but I will not forget! *pinky promise!*

      • “If I understand it correctly, Hyung Chul never dated Joo Hee. She was the one who nursed a crush on him.”

        My mistake, that’s right. She harbored this major unrequited love for him. And it seemed like they were the perfect fit. But then he goes and crashes into adorable Sun-Mi and is immediately smitten. I loved the idea of the 2 of them the minute he walked into her aunt’s restaurant as that ‘VIP’ customer, and Sun Mi gets startled to see him and gives him that big smile. I think he melted there. ;)

        • True, Joo Hee was a perfect match for Hyung Chul – on paper. But she never was able to help him look beyond his heavy emotional baggage. In fact, her family’s connection with Hyung Chul’s made him be even more wary of being romantically involved with her. I remember he said something to that effect in an early-to-mid episode. I did love that even this one-sided love was dealt with in an upfront manner. Joo Hee never beat about the bush about her feelings for Hyung Chul, and I loved that they were actually able to talk about it. So, so rare in dramaland!

          And I loved Sun Mi’s smile! So bright and cheery and.. pure. It’s no wonder Hyung Chul couldn’t help but melt ;) And I also think that even if he hadn’t run his car into Sun Mi, that they would’ve probably still become friends through his connection with her aunt’s restaurant. In that way, their friendship felt like something that was almost guaranteed to happen, and not dependent on whether she walked into his car. Somehow I like that ^^

  9. oh no. i did it. i just hit “play” on one of the ost’s… and now i want to watch it all over again (for the millionth time)!!! aaaaaaackkkk!!!
    someone stop me.
    now.
    gaaah i’m squeeeaaaling like no other!
    chingu, what have you done?!?! ^^

    LOVELOVELOOOOVE IT!!!!!

    • Tee hee. You never fail to make me giggle, chingu! ;) YAY that you enjoyed the walk down memory lane! ^^ I can’t blame you for wanting a rewatch, this show has so much retro goodness in it, it’s hard to resist the idea of re-immersion in that world.. where Hyung Chul is affectionate and all kinds of dreamy. ^.~ I hope you made it through finals week without actually starting on an AAE marathon though! :P

  10. This one’s such a CLASSIC! I’m soooo happy you reviewed it, such an oldie gem that totally deserves the love :)

    • Oh yes, it definitely does deserve the love!! :) SUCH a classic, and such a worthy, engaging watch, despite being watched in the midst of newer, shinier dramas. I’m glad you enjoyed the review, jan! ^^

  11. I absolutely loved your review ! All About Eve is one of my favorite dramas. It’s just one of those dramas that I love to watch over again from time to time. Although I love the new dramas out there, I enjoy older dramas just because some more realistic and it’s conservative which I love xD
    I must agree with you that although Youngmi gave me alot of headaches, I couldn’t really hate her.
    I think the Sunmi and Hyung Chul couple was perfect ! I loved their interactions with each other and the fact that although he was a lot older than her, there was that chemistry.
    I think my favorite part I loved of Hyung Chul was that because he was older, he was wise and could see right through Youngmi’s flirting and hypocritcal personality. I needed at least one smart person in the drama that would believe that Youngmi’s not all innocent.
    Anyways, loved your review, I’m probably going to rewatch it again haha.

    • Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed the review, Kira!! :D I’m reminded all over again of the appeal of older dramas.. I plan to check out at least a few more in the next couple of months. Feelings is definitely on the list – that one is such a classic!

      Oh, I loved Hyung Chul with Sun Mi too! I loved that they talked and joked and bantered, and it was just so sweet to watch them. I loved the affectionate way Hyung Chul looked her. Those were the best parts of the drama. Well, those and the sheepish faces. It’s hard to pick one over the other!

      I am SO with you on Hyung Chul not falling for Young Mi’s tricks. I did wonder whether he would possibly fall for her nonsense, since he’s a fair person and would probably give everybody a fair chance. But I was SO glad when he managed to be fair to her and yet totally see through her fake-victim facade. That made me melt a little more over Hyung Chul, I hafta confess ;)

  12. Well, the oldies probably have their own recurring tropes, we just don’t really notice them as there is not a continuous stream of them oldies flowing by our eyes. :)

    I haven’t seen that many of the, say before 2005 dramas myself but I’ve mostly loved those I have. They have this oddly innocent feel to them and many of the modern tropes I can’t stand are thankfully absent, or at least toned down. My favourite is ‘Feelings’ all the way from 1994, LOL! Haven’t seen ‘All About Eve’ yet though but I’ve heard a lot about it.

    Ah, Han Jae Suk… he was the crazy 2nd lead to a very young Jang Hyuk in’ Demang’. What ever happened to Chae Rim? She’s been gone from the limelight for several years now.

    • I read somewhere (probably Dramabeans?) that Chae Rim’s divorce was enough of a scandal to get her blacklisted. I think just because it was a divorce. I can’t source it because my memory is vague, so this is rumor and innuendo really. But that’s what I heard.

      • I don’t know anything about her scandals. But I think she was only married a very short time. Chae Rim has been doing a lot of Chinese dramas! Her last K-drama was Oh my lady with Siwon. It was a really cute one. What’s interesting is that she was always given these ‘ahjumma’ roles or roles where she’s supposed to be older than she really was. Currently she’s only a year older than me around 34.

        Some nice images from Oh my lady. Real nice. lol

        http://www.dramabeans.com/2010/03/oh-my-lady-releases-preview-and-promo-photos/

        There was a Chinese version of “All about Eve” with Jang Hyuk cast in the lead role of the ‘Hyung Chul’ character. He specifically asked Chae Rim to have a guest role as the character’s ex-gf who had died and she was happy to do it. I adore Jang Hyuk but I’m not sure if I want to see it because they dub him. While it’s not so bad for the women, I need to hear Jang Hyuk’s voice. One day I might give it a whirl. But I don’t think the voice actor matched. :p

    • This is a possibility – I enjoyed AAE enough to actually want to check out more old dramas, so I’ve got Feelings lined up, and I’m eyeing Final Match too. While not a continuous stream of oldies, it might be enough to give me a better sense of whether there were different tropes at play during that time ^^

      Oh, All About Eve is definitely worth the watch, imo! If the more recent shows aren’t doing it for you, it might be worth a shot. I didn’t expect to enjoy it this much. Nor did I expect to marathon it in 4 days, lol. I haven’t seen Daemang yet – tho I did take your advice and secured a copy for myself while the going was good. ;) Another contender for the oldies-but-goodies list! ^^

      • Feelings also has a great OST, I love all the songs. :)

        ‘Star in My Heart/Wish Upon A Star’ from 1997 was another oldie I enjoyed quite a bit, even if it was a little too ‘melo’ at times for me to fully embrace it. *g*

        I also own the boxset of ‘Sandglass’ but haven’t yet managed to actually watch the drama. I think it’s one of those you have to be in a right mood for to appreciate it fully. One of these days…

        • Oh, goody! I love me a good OST, so knowing that Feelings has a good OST definitely helps! ^^ I haven’t seen Star in My Heart OR Sandglass, but am putting those on my list based on the good recommendations. Certainly, the right mood is key as well. Especially for retro melo. There’s only so much melo I can take, so I’m gonna spend those drama miles wisely ;)

          • Oh, the songs are sort of charmingly 90’s kpop, including the tinny sound, heh. I think you may have heard at least one of them as it was such a big hit and has been played a lot over the years… With You/그대와 함께 http://youtu.be/Hes89GwN6C4 – Omg, they are ALL so young! ;)

            • Ooh! I like the light, breezy feel of the song – makes me think the drama will be just as light and breezy! Although that isn’t a guarantee by any means, since I’ve loved OSTs on some dramas that I really disliked. Like Romance Town. Such a fun OST for such a blah show. >.<

              And yes, they are ALL so young!! Kim Min Jong is an ahjusshi actor that I've never actually found cute, but he IS cute in this!! So young, so fresh-faced, so CUTE!! :D I think I'm going to enjoy watching this show, lol ;)

  13. Chinese version of All about Eve. The plot seems much different. Unfortunately it’s incomplete subtitling. :p

    http://www.viki.com/tv/1589c-all-about-eve

    • Wow. Thanks for sharing that link, Lady G! I watched the opening and a few minutes of E1, and I’m rather intrigued. Partly coz of the fact that it’s a C-version of AAE, but also, it’s Jang Hyuk! With a mane of glory!! Omo. I mean, I hate not getting to hear his voice, but the hawtness might just entice me to check out more of this show. And of course, I could rationalize it as a chance to polish up my Mandarin a bit.. HA. XD

      • Oh that would be so awesome if you watched and did a comparison review. Oh yeah, Jang Hyuk’s hair…there are no words. I LOVE it!! A true mane of glory. Now I’m very curious to see it. I guess I can get past the voice. Jang Hyuk can do a silent film and he would still be the best with just expressions and body language. lol This stoked my inner fan-girl so much if only because I get to see my two favorites work together, even for just and episode or 2, Jang Hyuk and Chae Rim. :D

        • I watched a few minutes into E1, but haven’t gotten further than that, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a comparison review just yet! :P I did really dig what I saw of Jang Hyuk’s mane of glory, though. I have this particular fondness for seeing his mane of glory when he’s in modern clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I totally dig the shirtless sageuk mane of glory too (rawrrr). I guess I just wish he’d keep it even when not in a sageuk. I think it’s his best hair look, hands-down. Swooon.

          I personally really dislike dubbed voices, despite first watching Goong dubbed in Mandarin (the irony!), so it IS a significant hurdle to overcome. But maybe, for the modern mane of glory, it might be worth it? ;D

          • If I can find the Jang Hyuk Chinese drama in full subs somewhere –maybe Youtube?– I will watch it. I don’t want to miss one of my dream pairings of Chae Rim and JH, nor that mane of manly glory!

            • Hee. This is where I let you take the lead, Lady G! Kinda like how you found AAE, then told me it was awesome. I’m gonna let you check out that Chinese version first, and then take your lead. Y’know, coz you’ve got such impeccable taste & all ;D

              • Thank you :D! I’ll surf around, because my drama watching has slowed down a tad. The only new one I’m watching right now is Three days. Golden Rainbow will be finished soon. And I sort of dropped Emergency Couple for now. I hope I can find it. :D

                • I’m behind on my drama-watching too, so you’re not alone! I still haven’t finished YFAS, I’m on the last leg of that. Even though it’s very good, my mood changed, and I’m now pretty happily in the thick of AM1994. It’s flawed, but there’s something about it that just really jives with my mood right now, so I’m happily distracted ;) I will definitely go back to YFAS tho.

                  • I started watching Witch Yoon Hee, a 2007 drama. Every so often I go to gooddrama and watch an older gem. This one is funny, cute. Gorgeous cast. Dennis Oh = Mixed Korean Hotness!!! Oh my. lol

                    • Oh, I remember watching Witch Yoo Hee! It was mindless fluff, but it was fun ^^ I remember liking Han Ga In quite well there. I think she’s better at fluff than serious dramatic roles. She was the weakest link in MoonSun, but I loved that show anyway, for Kim Soo Hyun *g* And I do enjoy Jae Hee, he’s got great comic timing and these light roles let that shine :)

                      Dennis Oh – I remember him being pretty but not so great with the acting. That is a gorgeous pic of him tho! He’s either grown more gorgeous since I last saw him in Witch Yoo Hee, or my eyes have become more appreciative. Both of which are distinct possibilities, given how men get better with age, and given my increasing appreciation for k-men, LOL! XD

                    • Yeah, Dennis Oh isn’t the greatest, but it’s cute that he’s doing his best speaking all Korean. You can so tell English is his first language though. That Korean accent is just not there. He’s the lead in the drama Sweet Spy, I believe he speaks all English in that. LOL. I’d definitely say he got even better looking with age.

                    • Well, for someone who didn’t grow up in Korea, I hafta say his Korean is pretty good. It’s just that compared to everyone else around him onscreen, the relative lack of proficiency shows. Which is why I think having him speak mostly English onscreen really works. I imagine it’s kinda like that Daniel Henney movie Seducing Mr. Perfect, where Daniel Henney spoke mostly (all?) English. Having him not struggle with a language onscreen just makes him appear hotter, imo. HAHA. Yes, I’m shallow that way XD

                    • I thought Seducing Mr. Perfect was a cute film! He spoke and responded to everyone with English. It was funny. Daniel Henney is a dream boat. Though I’m wondering if he’s a candidate for your new Pretty posts. LOL! (Clears throat.) It’s like watching these smoking hot Korean actors with deep commanding voices etc. and then they are expected to speak English… You can almost see their eyes bug out and the sweat beads come down as their voices raise a pitch and they struggle through the words. Aww!

                    • He’s been.. suggested. AND voted for, so it’d be remiss of me to leave him out, I think! ;) I do think he’s Pretty. And also, not great with the acting. Lol.

                      Having him speak good English is nice, though, coz as you said, it can be a real rude awakening when smoking hot Oppa opens his mouth to speak English and flubs it badly. Like LMH in Heirs. OMGG. It was baaaaadd. So, soooo bad. I still shudder at the memory! XD In my fantasies, though, they all speak great English, HAHA. What? My dreamscape, my rules, right? ;)

                    • Exactly, in dreamworld they speak better English than me and my Brooklynese. LOL. Oxford English! haha. Actually you get to know these actors so well you can just imagine how their English will sound, accent and all. And it’s so fun.
                      And LOL! I forget that what I’m commenting in 2 different places. I’m a broken record sometimes. So yes, DH! LOL.

                    • Heh. In my dreamscape, my k-loves speak great English, and are perfect boyfriends, HAHAHA! XD And you’re so right, I CAN imagine what they’d sound like if they did actually speak great English. Coz I’ve got their voices memorized, heh ;)

                      Lol, it’s not just you, Lady G! There’ve been a number of votes for DH!! He wasn’t quite on my radar for a Pure Pretty post, but by popular demand, he’s gonna get featured for sure! Now all I have to do is the.. research ;)

                    • One more thing, I like watching Taiwanese dramas sometimes and I think their actors are great at speaking English. It seems the Chinese use English much more than the Koreans. In the T-dramas they always pop out with random English words and lines, it’s so funny and cute. And near-perfectly stated.

                    • Oh, I don’t watch TW dramas, so I can’t comment on that at all. But as a Chinese who speaks primarily English, I think switching from Chinese to English is possibly easier than switching from Korean to English? The syllables that we use in Chinese probably include some consonant sounds that don’t get used in Korean.. That’s probably why when Koreans romanize words they can come out funny. Like “pizza” becomes “pijja” and “safari” becomes “sapari”.. That probably adds to the struggle, I’m sure.

                    • Aww, that’s cute. And that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the language lesson. :)

                    • Aw! Far from a language lesson, Lady G! XD Just a thing that I’ve noticed. Like how “fan” becomes “pan” and “chef” becomes “chep” – I found that quite amusing in Pasta, actually. Everyone was all, “Ye, Chep!” XD

  14. Just so you know, I read the blog ‘A Korean in America’ from time to time, and I found this post reblogged there. Very cool!

    http://akoramerica.blogspot.com/2014/02/all-about-eve-review-by-fangirl-verdict.html

  15. I have only seen Chae Rim in one drama, “We are dating now”, which I thought was a nice drama. Chae Rim has that nice cute charming look and feel that is hard to resist. I must watch some more dramas with her, when I feel I have the time. :P

    • Yes, Chae Rim does have a lovely smile, doesn’t she? I loved her in All About Eve – the character she plays smiles often and it becomes her, so well! If you like Chae Rim, I think you’d enjoy this show, Patrik_k.. She’s adorable here, and the story feels fresh and engaging. I hope you have some time for it soon! ^^

  16. Thanks for this post. I love your review and hell yeah… Hyun Chul is an awesome man! :D

    This was one of the earliest K-dramas that I’ve watched circa 2002-2003 and it never hurts to watch it again now. I even bought the drama’s vcd after few months collecting my pocket money back then. Lol. I first fall in love with Jang Dong Gun here and I look forward to watching his dramas/movies ever since.

    Kinda miss this drama. Gonna download it later. The OSTs stuck in my head already. Hihi.

    • Aw, I’m glad you enjoyed the review, almondherb!! :D Hyung Chul definitely is a dreamy, dreamy man. I can see why so many people fell for Jang Dong Gun in this! I never saw the frenzied Jang Dong Gun appeal until I watched this show. And then I was all like, “OHHH.” Swoon Heh. Better late than never, I say! ;) Now I plan to check out Final Match when my next retro mood hits ^^

      Oh yes, I can see how AAE is great for a revisit, especially when you want to step back in time for a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed my watch of it, and can totally see myself rewatching it sometime :)

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  18. Pingback: Korean Drama – All About Eve | sengching

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