The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Ojakgyo Brothers

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

A family drama that is equal parts comic, sweet, heartwarming and romantic.

Yes, that’s right. Romantic.

Ojakgyo Brothers is kind of like an omnibus. It feels like multiple short romance dramas packed into a large, generous, value-for-money family package.

For the 58 hours you spend on this drama, you get a whole lot of entertainment value. This drama had me in stitches and in tears, as I laughed, cried and melted into a puddle of goo by turn.

With a little something for everyone, it’s a lovely drama to unwind to at the end of a long day.

Ojakgyo Brothers OST – 바라봐요

THE LONG VERDICT:

As a sprawling family drama, Ojakgyo Brothers doesn’t re-invent the wheel all that much. The large cast of characters set in a multi-generational family is a given in any family drama. But it’s in how well the show navigates this premise that causes it to shine.

It’s clear that the writers not only took pains to flesh out each character, but that they also put a lot of thought into giving dimension to the relationships between the characters. Every person felt imperfect and quite real, and their relationships, while traversing a lot of ground, never went too far from an everyday, mundane sort of context.

I liked that a lot, actually. It made the moments between characters feel very real, relatable, and accessible.

During their low times, it made me feel able to empathize with each character’s pain and frustration. And during their sweet moments, it made me feel hopeful for similar sweetness in my own life, even as I smiled with them.

I didn’t like the characters equally when I first met them, but by the end of the show, I was genuinely fond of them all. That takes some doing, and Ojakgyo Brothers managed it quite beautifully.

THE CHARACTERS

Kim Ja Ok as Park Bok Ja

As the mother of the boys, Park Bok Ja is the engine behind the entire family. She cooks, she cleans, she farms, and she simultaneously makes things happen and keeps things together in her cheerful, noisy, bustling household.

She loves her farm as if it is a fifth child, and tends to it with a mother’s love. Every duck has a name, and she calls them her children – which I find kind of sweet, until she starts cooking them.. But then again, I’ve never farmed, so I’m unfamiliar with that ability to simultaneously love an animal and groom it for food >.< I’m just gonna go with it being sweet that she has names for all the ducks, rather than disturbing.

I liked how the show treated her character, in that she also experiences a measure of growth in the course of the drama. I feel like parental figures in kdramas can be easily ignored when it comes to character development, with most of the focus on the younger characters.

Here, though, Bok Ja gets her own growth arc and even grapples with the meaning (or lack thereof) in her life.

Kim Ja Ok made Bok Ja endearing even though her character made infuriating decisions at times.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The fact that Bok Ja loved the farm like her own offspring made it easier to comprehend her decision to protect it by stealing the contract from Ja Eun and kicking her off the premises.

I thought that was a pretty clever stroke of writing, because without that context, Bok Ja’s actions would have been completely reprehensible.

With that context, however, we are able to sympathize with her even if we don’t condone her actions. While we know that she’s doing something morally wrong, we can understand the kind of maternal instinct that causes her to do whatever it takes not to be separated from her offspring.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the show was Bok Ja’s relationship arc with Ja Eun, which we’ll talk about later in this review.

[END SPOILER]

Baek Il Sub as Hwang Chang Sik

Hwang Chang Sik is the hapless father of the large household. Having been a failure in many other areas of his life, he desperately wants to give his family some measure of assurance and security and thus allows them to believe that the farm is theirs, rather than on loan for a 10-year period.

Generally benevolent and kind, Chang Sik doesn’t figure too largely into the story, but fulfills his fatherly quotient on the sidelines. There were some small beats where he got to demonstrate fatherly affection, but overall, I consider him a fairly small screen presence in the midst of the ensemble cast.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Chang Sik was the unfortunate plot device that was used to tear apart our lead couple in the final stretches of the show, and when that happened, it did erode, for a while, whatever affection I had mustered for him. Thankfully, that was only temporary and by the end of the show, he was back to being the benevolent and kind fatherly presence that we’d come to know.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Yong Rim as Gran

The grand dame of the household, Gran is the one who holds the power in the family.

No one eats until Gran gives the word, and if Gran’s in a foul mood, the entire household walks on eggshells.

But Gran has a huge soft spot for Tae Hee, whom she calls her child, and she doesn’t hesitate to show him favor over everyone else in the family.

Over the course of the show, I became used to Gran’s prickly manner, and came to appreciate the grand dame’s oftentimes gruff ways of demonstrating her affection.

The Brothers

The four brothers are written as completely different characters, which is great. Not only do they provide a great deal of texture and variance just by being so fundamentally different from one another, they also spark off one another in meaningful ways.

I love how the show depicts their brotherhood. I love that they fight and argue, cry and commiserate and drum sense into one another as the need arises. Sometimes that drumming takes the form of a brotherly pep talk, and sometimes that drumming becomes literal, with flying fists and bleeding lips. But no matter how aggrieved and frustrated they get with one another, it never overrides their brotherly bonds, and I find that deep-seated connection very real and very sweet.

I love, too, that we get to see the brothers interact with one another in mixed pairs and trios, and as a complete foursome. It adds so much dimension to the relationships between the brothers, that we get to see all manner of permutations in the make-up of their interactions. Every brother shares scenes with each of his brothers, and I really like that. This brotherhood feels whole.

Certainly I have my favorites (I am a biased fangirl, after all), so I’ll warn you upfront that I will spend more time talking about some brothers than others (Joo Won!! ♥ *cough*)

I plan to generally save my favorites for last in this review, so if you’re impatient to read about your favorite Ojakgyo brother, feel free to skip ahead 😉

Jung Woong In as Hwang Tae Sik

Tae Sik is the eldest of the four brothers, and not only is he not much of a success career-wise, he’s also infuriatingly self-centered, self-absorbed and cowardly.

I liked him the least out of the four brothers, and often wanted to throttle him because of his defiant, selfish words and actions.

Jung Woong In capably makes Tae Sik the brother that you most want to smack. And I mean that literally. There were times that I really, really wanted to smack him.

But he does grow up in the course of the show, and that growth arc is satisfying to watch.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I honestly didn’t see the hidden-son card coming, where Tae Sik was concerned. I suppose, seeing how self-centered and cowardly Tae Sik the character was, I hadn’t imagined that anyone would have found him attractive enough to have had a son with him.

But it turned out to be a great arc for Tae Sik, to grow into the brave and loving father that his son deserved, and I found genuine satisfaction in seeing his relationship with his son evolve.

[END SPOILER]

Yeon Woo Jin as Hwang Tae Pil

The maknae of the brothers, Tae Pil dreams of making it big but wants to do it the short, easy way, by using his looks to charm successful older women.

Tae Pil is practically a full-time Casanova, with a long list of tricks up his sleeve, all honed with frequent and extended practice. Otherwise unemployed, Tae Pil spends his time scoping out potential targets based on the pedigree of their clothing and style choices.

While this did not endear him to me, I grew fond of his character too. Not least because he gets a good growth arc and is forced to take a good, hard look at the way he lives his life.

His hair also got better and better as the show progressed, which helped.

Honestly, his hair seemed to be a character indicator all drama long, to show us Tae Pil’s state of maturity. At the beginning of the show, when he’s at his most indifferent and insouciant, it’s a crazy, frizzy, all-over-the-place sort of do. Then as he matures and settles into a more responsible frame of mind, his hair settles too. It’s the darndest thing. If only we could read people as easily in Real Life, eh? 😉

Ryu Soo Young as Hwang Tae Beom

Tae Beom is a successful hot-shot reporter who plays quick and dirty to get his big stories, and basks in his success with self-indulgent roguish charm.

He’s the only one of the four brothers who lives on his own, in an office-tel and he’s quite fiercely independent, though not independent enough to abstain from sneaking around his detective brother’s office to repeatedly steal information for his stories. Even after he’s promised not to.

His poor brother Tae Hee gets into serious trouble for the information leaks, yet Tae Beom is blithely unrepentant.

That’s the kind of rogue we’re talking about.

In the hands of any other actor, Tae Beom could have easily come across as completely distasteful because of his inconsiderate behavior.  But Ryu Soo Young is fantastic as Tae Beom, making him way too charming for us to stay peeved at him for long.

Tae Beom’s growth arc was one of my favorites in the show. To see him finally man up and learn how to be considerate and selfless was particularly satisfying.

Joo Won as Hwang Tae Hee

And then we have Tae Hee. Aw, Tae Hee.

Tae Hee was my favorite of the four brothers for most of the show, though there were (later) stretches where it was a close fight between him and Tae Beom.

Among the four brothers, Tae Hee has the most complex characterization, offering Joo Won a wide scope to play with and demonstrate his acting chops.

Without being too spoilery, let’s just say that it is Tae Hee’s specific context that allows for a relatively more complex characterization, and Joo Won rises to the occasion very nicely.

From the get-go, Tae Hee is painted in heroic colors for us. He’s the badass cop who determinedly and doggedly pursues justice, and doesn’t flinch at (literally!) leaping between tall buildings in order to nail the suspect.

Yet right away, we see how much his family means to him too.

[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]

Early in episode 1, we see Tae Hee in badass cop mode during a stakeout. He refuses his partner’s offer of a change of socks, glowering at the thought of nabbing the suspect they’re tailing.

But that all changes once Gran phones and insists on a video-call to see for herself that her favorite grandchild has washed his face and changed his socks.

Instantly, Tae Hee swipes a wet wipe across his face and smiles sweetly for the camera. Why the sudden turnaround? Coz if Gran is happy, it means that she’ll go easy on Mum, and it’s most important that Mum’s happy. Aw.

[END MINOR SPOILER]

Partly because he’s a cop, partly because of his specific circumstances, and partly because he just seems like that kind of person, Tae Hee is the mature one among the brothers. Even his father turns to him as confidante and advisor, and Tae Hee is unfailingly steady and calm as he evenly offers words of advice. He speaks up for what’s right, not what’s popular, and is the family’s voice of reason.

As the show progresses, we find that Tae Hee is an introvert despite his badass detective hero antics, and Joo Won treads that duality very well.

I love the understated way that Joo Won communicates Tae Hee’s introverted awkwardness. His nervous shifty eyes, his very moderated voice – sometimes he drops his voice such that he half-whispers, half-mumbles his words – and his stiff, slightly gawky way of loping around say so much about the reserved person underneath the kickass, sometimes-aggressive cop persona.

And his expressive bedroom eyes had me mesmerized. Like, the whole time. ~melt~

On a side note, I realize on reflection, that Tae Hee’s character shares some similarities with Lee Kang To, the character he plays in Gaksital, in that both are heroic but lonely characters. Yet, even though I watched both shows simultaneously, I found very little similarity between the two characters. I like that Joo Won approached each character very differently, making each one unique despite the similarities on paper.

[SPOILER ALERT]

One of the most heartbreaking things I found about Tae Hee’s character is how hard he tries to pretend to be ok.

In the scene above, he spies his father and brothers having laughs and drinks at a pojangmacha, and he smiles in recognition. He starts to turn his steering wheel, as if to move to join them, then stops himself, his smile fading to a pensive expression. He looks down and drives away. *tear*

He’s so grateful to his uncle and aunt for taking him in after being abandoned by his own mother, that he continually shuts down his own feelings so as to give them peace of mind. He pretends not to feel lonely or left out, and does his best to be the model son.

It is only in episode 28 that Tae Hee, after promising to never appear in front of Ja Eun again, is edgy enough to divulge how he really feels, in protest of Tae Sik wanting to marry Ye Jin (Yoon Joo Hee) and leave Guk Su (Park Hee Gon) to be brought up by their mother.

In what is possibly the most heartbreaking outburst in the entire series, Tae Hee blurts out, with tears in his eyes, “Hyung, do you know how painful it is to be abandoned by parents? How lonely it is? Did you know that? Always carrying those memories, always being a loner.. do you know how it feels? When I was young, do you know how much I envied you hyungs and Tae Pil? Especially how much love mom gave to maknae. Do you know how jealous I was? Because of fate the life of a loner is written all over my body. The love that you hyungs and Tae Pil got from our parents, for me it is a grateful debt that I would pay.. Everyday I was pretending that nothing was wrong. Pretending to be cool. Pretending not to be lonely. Someday, after living in pretense, I forgot who I really am. I became lacking in feelings towards others. When someone I liked appeared, I didn’t even know it. Hyung, you raise Guk Su. As if being abandoned by his mother is not good enough; the scar, that his father abandoned him, will be remembered. I don’t want him to carry those feelings like me forever. Because in my childhood, I was not all right after all.”

I’m not much of a crier when I watch my dramas, but this scene totally made me cry. *sob*

It’s true that in some ways Tae Hee’s been unable to grow up, even though paradoxically, he was also forced to be more mature than his age.

When he finds out about his mother’s death, his childhood comes rushing back to him. He wanders the streets and ends up sitting on the steps of Ja Eun’s hostel. Sitting with him is a memory of himself as a child, sitting alone in the exact same stiff-faced way, trying to hold it all in, after being abandoned by his mother.

So sad, and so beautifully expressed, I thought.

In his tough, silent way, Tae Hee tries to deal with his grief, and in that grief, there is sometimes a glimpse of the boy within.

In episode 31, when he lashes out at Ja Eun at the shooting range, even in his ragey outburst, there’s a sense of little-boy-lost about his face.

So nuanced, Joo Won. And so heartbreaking.

I love Tae Hee’s arc in the show. He learns to come to terms with his hidden demons, and learns to give and receive love, not only in a romantic way, but also with his family. It is a journey not only of growth, but healing as well, and it is as heart-warming as it is heart-breaking.

[END SPOILER]

UEE as Baek Ja Eun

Ja Eun is the pampered rich girl who appears to have everything, only to have that everything fall apart one day, leaving her homeless and alone. She finds her way to the Ojakgyo Farm to claim what’s hers, only to eventually find what she’d always wanted the most: a real family.

Ja Eun’s character has one of the biggest growth arcs in the show, going from bratty and spoiled at the beginning, to considerate and sweet by the end. So convincing is the transformation, in fact, that by the later episodes, it’s actually easy to forget that Ja Eun ever used to be bratty.

Credit goes to UEE for a very credible, engaging delivery. Sure, there were some things that rang a touch false, such as how her bright persona sometimes seemed a tad too bright, but I grew to really enjoy her character, and soon, UEE became Ja Eun for me.

Another reason that I found Ja Eun’s transformation convincing is the fact that she’s never portrayed as truly nasty. Even in her bratty days, she is sweet and loving to her father, and that shows us that she does have it in her to be loving and considerate. It’s only when her material trappings are stripped away and she finds out how to discern what’s truly important in life, that her innate sweet nature comes to the fore.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Ja Eun’s character is how unconsciously forthright she is. She is candid and speaks her mind, even in the face of an imposing, disapproving Gran, and she just has a knack for worming her way into everyone’s hearts.

Gotta love a such a gutsy girl.

Ojakgyo Brothers OST – 정말 바보야

THE ROMANCES

Each of the four brothers gets his own love line, and each love line is a distinct type, making each different from the others.

While Tae Hee fulfills the show’s quotient for the “main” romance, with Tae Sik, we get the Second Chance Romance, with Tae Beom, we get the Workplace Romance, and with Tae Pil, we get the Noona Romance.

A little bit of everything for everyone.

One of the things that the show does really well, is how it balances out the four romances. At any one point in time, at least one of the romances is doing well so that there’s always something cute, sweet &/or squee-worthy to keep us going.

Watching Ojakgyo Brothers felt like watching four short romance dramas, but better.

See, if you’re watching four short romance dramas at the same time, it’s likely that all four dramas would hit the classic rom-com milestones at about the same time: the meet-cute, the early excitement, the road block(s), the angst and then the resolution.

With one set of writers managing the four romances, however, it’s a lot more concise and efficient. We don’t need other fillers because the romances themselves act as fillers one for another. When one romance hits a lull, another one comes to the fore with something sweet or spicy, and we always get our romance quotient met. Cool, right? I thought that was pretty neat.

Next, I’m going to spend some time exploring the highlights of each romance. I consider these introductions only mildly spoilery, since you can pretty much spot the pairings from a mile away. Bigger spoilers will get their own spoiler warnings.

The Second Chance Romance

Of the four romances, the Second Chance romance between Tae Sik and Mi Suk (Jun Mi Sun) is the most muted, though it is no less moving than the others.

When we start the drama, Tae Sik is continually going on blind dates, looking for The One, and is exceedingly picky despite his own less-than-glorious position. He’s smitten when he meets Ye Jin, who’s young, sweet and pretty, and completely ignores the less glamorous but perfect-for-him Mi Suk who’s right under his nose.

I love that Tae Sik has to learn to look beyond appearances to find the one who is truly good for him and who truly loves him.

More than that, I love that for Tae Sik, this relationship is not just about finding The One, but is also about growing up and about finding and forming a new family.

[SPOILER ALERT]

When Tae Sik’s son suddenly appears and his world comes crashing down on him, I love that it is Mi Suk who helps Tae Sik deal with his sudden fatherhood.

It is Mi Suk who continually talks sense into Tae Sik where Guk Su is concerned, and she plays a large role in influencing Tae Sik’s relationship with Guk Su to go from this:

To this:

Aw. What a truly massive turnaround for Tae Sik. From being devastated that he has a son, he comes to be a father who is proud of his son and makes sacrifices to provide for him.

As for Guk Su, I honestly loved his arc, going from a boy who’s unwanted by his father, to a boy who gains love and appreciation from an entire family.

It is heartwarming to watch Mi Suk mother Guk Su despite them being completely unrelated, just like she does here, cooking him foods that she’s looked up and researched as being familiar to him in the Philippines.

Beyond the children and the growing up that Tae Sik has to do, there are some sweet moments that Tae Sik and Mi Suk share as well.

One such moment is the scene where Tae Sik finally feels ready to propose to Mi Suk, after getting his career back on track. He serenades her on the guitar, then approaches her hesitantly.

Screwing up his courage, Tae Sik says gently, “I didn’t buy a ring, and I don’t have flowers either. Although I don’t have anything to show right now, but today, I was hired by a hospital. I will start my life over again.. If you’re by my side, I think I can do well. Mi Suk.. Will you.. marry me? Stay with this immature Hwang Tae Sik.”

With a sob, Mi Suk embraces him, “Yes, ok, I will do that. I will stay by your side.”

Aw. Sweet.

[END SPOILER]

The Noona Romance

Tae Pil the Casanova actually has a good amount of business smarts, and lands a job at Yeo Eul’s (Song Sun Mi) flailing sports-goods store as the store manager. As Tae Pil and Yeo Eul fight together to save the business, lots of opportunities for encounters of the up-close-and-personal kind present themselves.

The complication? Yeo Eul is not only a fair bit older than Tae Pil, she is also technically his aunt, related by marriage.

I enjoyed watching the budding attraction between Tae Pil and Yeo Eul blossom against all odds and against their better judgment, and I found some of their scenes very squee-worthy as well.

I have a soft spot for a good Noona Romance, and the one that Ojakgyo Brothers serves up is tantalizing enough to be exciting, yet earnest enough to be sweet.

[SPOILER ALERT]

While there are quite a few moments that I enjoyed between Tae Pil and Yeo Eul, I’m just going to highlight my top two.

While their non-relationship is in the throes of mutual I-like-you-but-I’m-going-to-pretend-that-it’s-nothing, Tae Pil and Yeo Eul happen on a couples’ competition in a store. They volunteer to participate, and Yeo Eul is required to guess the right answers to Tae Pil’s descriptions.

As the clock ticks to its final seconds, Tae Pil looks at Yeo Eul with this emotion-charged face and says, “What I want to say to you right now.”

Stunned, Yeo Eul lets out the answer almost involuntarily, “I love you.”

Eeee! I thought the moment was so sweet and completely squee-worthy.

Another of my favorite moments between Tae Pil and Yeo Eul is when Tae Pil interrupts Yeo Eul’s blind date.

Leaning on the table, a tense and determined Tae Pil says, “Nam Yeo Eul sshi, I like you, so I want to take you out of here right now. If you don’t want me to, tell me now. Can’t I?”

Yeo Eul looks up at him demurely and says, “No, you can.” He grabs her hand and they leave.

As they crouch behind a luggage trolley to hide from the multiple people searching for them, Tae Pil tells her, “Don’t meet other men. I don’t like it.” Yeo Eul smiles shyly. “Don’t meet with other women too.”

Tae Pil pauses as he leans in to kiss her, but stops short.

He waits till Yeo Eul opens her eyes, then looking right into her eyes, he says solemnly, “I love you.” And then he kisses her.

Squee!! How utterly romantic! ♥

I loved the earnestness that the writers built into the romance between Tae Pil and Yeo Eul. While there was certainly attraction to begin with, by the time they actually begin their relationship, we’re left without any doubt that these two are sincere about their feelings for each other.

The note on which this relationship was resolved was bittersweet.

Tae Pil comes to realize that he’s not ready for marriage, having achieved nothing much at all in life. Because he doesn’t have a respectable career, he realizes that there will always be doubt cast on his sincerity towards Yeo Eul, who happens to be wealthy. He decides to go away and work hard at building a career for himself, so that he can one day stand proud before Yeo Eul. He asks Yeo Eul to wait for him, and it is Yeo Eul who says that they shouldn’t make any promises to each other, and they tearfully part ways.

Even though they officially break up, as they each nurse their broken hearts, they individually express their determination not to let this be the end.

I thought this was a good place for the show to leave the relationship.

It doesn’t ignore the real obstacles that this couple faces. More than establishing a career, Tae Pil has a great deal of growing up and maturing to do. I appreciate that the show chooses not to overlook these issues, and resolves the relationship in a way that deals with that gap and yet acknowledges their hopes to reconcile in the future.

Realistic, yet hopeful. I couldn’t ask for more.

[END SPOILER]

Workplace Romance

The romance between Tae Beom and Soo Young (Choi Jung Yoon) is one my favorites on the show.

Tae Beom has a contentious relationship with his team leader Soo Young, not realizing that she nurses a crush on him. The two spark off each other like flint and steel, and one of their arguments even escalates into an actual fight.

The chemistry that these two share is clear as day, with them matching each other jibe for jibe and wit for wit.

Watching them bicker their way to romance was lots of fun, with a good amount of jealousy, comedy and hijinks built into the sweet.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I was highly amused when the Workplace Romance evolved into the Contract Marriage Romance upon their drunken one night encounter.

As Tae Beom and Soo Young navigate these unexpected new waters, their bickering tension comes to the fore, and I was particularly tickled by this conversation as they work out the conditions of their contract marriage.

Curious, Tae Beom enquires, “You really can’t cook?” Soo Young pouts, “I can make ramyun. I know how to do that much.”

Tae Beom then asks, “So what benefit do I get, from being married?” Soo Young snaps back, “Are you getting married just to get food? I’m not going to be your mother, I’m going to be your wife.”

Ha! These two, they crack me up.

Amid the bickering, though, there were quite a few sweet moments that these two shared. I’m going to highlight a couple of my favorites.

In episode 25, for the first time, Tae Beom hints that he may actually like Soo Young.

He invites her to a buffet lunch to apologize for having been uncommunicative due to family problems. He tells her that he hasn’t told anyone about it, so it’s not just her. She asks hesitantly, “I’m not your family yet?”

Tae Beom says gently, “Of course. To me, you are a woman. (Eeee!) For a lifetime, while we live together (Eeee!), I wish you could be a woman to me.” He smiles a shy, caddish smile.

He then brings her a ton of food and the table is busting with dishes. He says, “From watching you eat all those times, I brought everything you liked.” (Aw. He’s been paying attention!)

Soo Young says in amazement, “How can I eat all of this? Am I a pig?”

And then she finishes everything. Heh.

In episode 27, when Soo Young loses a work challenge to Tae Beom, she is overcome with disappointment and cries, squatting next to the car to hide her tears.

After gulping down her tears, she gets up to haltingly congratulate Tae Beom.

Tae Beom walks up close to her, takes her head gently in his hand and wipes her tears away for her.

The way he looks at her, with his eyes full of amused affection is completely squee-worthy. Eeee!!

They share A Moment, before Soo Yeong awkwardly breaks it up. So cute.

One of my favorite moments with this couple is in episode 32 when Soo Young awkwardly rewards Tae Beom with a kiss for heroically saving a kid from being stuck in an elevator.

Soo Young plants a quick peck on him and starts to hurry away in embarrassment, but Tae Beom stops her, saying that if she wants to reward him, she should do it properly. He takes her hands in his, and with that same amused affectionate look in his eyes, leans in for a proper kiss. SQUEE!!

Afterwards, they are like shy, playful kids in the elevator, which is just the Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Sure, there is an extended angsty stretch for this relationship when Tae Beom’s ex-girlfriend shows up, but I enjoyed watching Tae Beom and Soo Young come to truly love each other and make their marriage a real one.

In the process, our rogue reporter grows up to become the dependable, loving father and husband that his family deserves, and it is so satisfying and moving to watch.

[END SPOILER]

Ojakgyo Brothers OST – 너일지도 몰라

The Main Romance

From the moment in episode 1 that Tae Hee mistakenly arrests Ja Eun, we know that these two are Meant To Be.

Their chemistry from the get-go is unmistakable, and the show makes the most of it, serving up crackling, chemistry-laden moments by the spadefuls.

This couple was a delight to watch, from the early unconscious attraction days, to their courtship, to the establishment of their relationship.

Besides the very squee-worthy moments, I really liked how Ja Eun is written to fill the gaps in Tae Hee’s heart.

Because we have more time with this couple than, say, in a standard 16 episode rom-com, we actually get many opportunities to listen in on their everyday conversations. I enjoyed watching how Tae Hee and Ja Eun got to know each other through thoughtful, bare-your-soul conversations, taking time to understand each other in a movingly deep manner.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The tension-laden moments as Ja Eun and Tae Hee discover their attraction to each other are some of the most squee-worthy in the entire show. More squee-worthy than some regular-length rom-coms, in my opinion.

Their responses to each other are so nicely nuanced, that as they react to each other, the nuances add so much to the electric air between them.

Here are some of my favorite Squee Moments with this couple. Though I must say, it was hard to narrow it down, even to these.

Squee #1

One of my favorite scenes is when Tae Hee comes home drunk and crawls into Ja Eun’s tent and gets right up close into her face. Just when we (and probably Ja Eun too) think that a kiss might be imminent, he passes out, his face on hers. Eeee! Skinship!

Completely startled, Ja Eun wriggles free and fans herself outside the tent.

Uh-huh. If Joo Won had just looked at me with those bedroomy eyes and fallen on top of me, I’d be fanning myself too. *cough*

Ja Eun creeps back into the tent and thoughtfully considers unconscious Tae Hee. She tellingly reaches out, as if to touch his brow, but stops herself.

A new idea strikes, and Ja Eun cheerily takes out her phone to snap a couple of incriminating photos of the drunk Tae Hee. She puts her face up to his to take a shot with him, but suddenly realizes how close they are in proximity, and she stops.

She covers Tae Hee with her own blanket and settles down to just watch him as he sleeps.

The next morning, Tae Hee is startled to find himself sleeping in Ja Eun’s tent. Worse, she’s fast asleep right next to him. Omo!

He covers her with the blanket as stealthily as he can (wearing the guiltiest look ever) before quickly making his escape from the tent.

OMG. The Cute. So much of it. And you can just feel the electricity in the air. So many feels, so many tingles. ♥

Squee #2

Next it’s Tae Hee’s turn to feel Ja Eun’s electric closeness, when she offers to tie his necktie for him before they leave for Tae Beom and Soo Young’s wedding.

Their nervous, averted gazes say everything about how much they’re feeling each other’s closeness.

I held my breath along with them, the sense of awareness was so thick. *fans self*

Squee #3

Another note-worthy electric moment happens when Ja Eun is in Tae Hee’s car.

Thinking of Gran & Bok Ja’s earlier conversation about how Tae Hee’s never had a girlfriend, Ja Eun broaches the subject, “Ahjusshi. I like men. Don’t tell me you like men too?”

Tae Hee, taken by surprise, asks, “What?”

Ja Eun continues, “I mean, just in case. I have a very open mind. I will surely help to keep your secret, so you don’t need to worry.” She prattles on about how Gran and Mum are very worried about him because he’s never brought a girl home.

Wordlessly, Tae Hee leans across the car, right into her face.

Long heart-thumping pause later, he deadpans, “Stop joking around.” Ja Eun ekes out, “Ok.”

Squee! I mean, seriously. Tae Hee’s so cool like this!

Squee #4

In episode 22, Ja Eun gets Tae Hee to buy her instant ramyun at a convenience store, with a side of kimbap to share. As they wait for their ramyun to cook, Ja Eun notices that there is an odd number of kimbap, and asks Tae Hee to play rock-paper-scissors for the odd piece.

Tae Hee can’t be bothered and asks her to just eat the extra one. But Ja Eun insists, saying she doesn’t like charity, and they play.

Tae Hee keeps winning, and Ja Eun keeps getting flicked in the forehead as a result. When she finally wins a round, she makes the most of the moment.

She gets up close to Tae Hee, sweeps his hair away from his forehead and leaning close, exhales on it.

OMG. Crackling. Sexual. Tension. Completely off the charts.

No wonder Tae Hee bolts in his seat like he’s just been shocked by an electric probe.

Ja Eun is all focused business, though, and tells him to sit still. She flicks him a good one, and it smarts so much that he insists they continue playing. The ramyun and kimbap are forgotten as the two of them embark on round after round, each getting flicked in turn.

Until they leave the convenience store, both grumpily rubbing their smarting foreheads.

Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better mesh of lava-hot sexy and pinch-your-cheeks cute in a single scene. Ever.

Photo Spasm

There are so many sweet, completely awww-inspiring moments that these two share, that it’s impossible to include them all in this review.

So here’s the next best thing: a photo spasm.

One More Thing

Amid the cuteness of this couple, there are various low-key moments where Tae Hee and Ja Eun share their thoughts, and the entire thing is just very low-key yet very sweet.

One of my favorite moments like these, is when Ja Eun tells Tae Hee how she’d always wanted to marry early and make a family quick coz she grew up with just her dad. His understated proposal, that they get married before the end of the following year, is met with her equally understated response: Ok.

All over a bowl of simple sweet bean soup.

I found this such a small yet sweetly romantic beat.

It makes me feel like these two are going to find romance in the everyday things, long after the wedding is over.

And that’s just the sweetest thing one could hope for, really. ♥

[END SPOILER]

Ojakgyo Brothers OST – Good Morning Everyone

Bok Ja & Ja Eun

Aside from all the romance, the relationship that I found most endearing was the one between Bok Ja and Ja Eun.

From being antagonistic enemies on opposite sides of the fence, these two come to appreciate, care for and love each other in the most endearing way.

Bok Ja becomes to Ja Eun the mother that Ja Eun never had. And Ja Eun becomes to Bok Ja the daughter that Bok Ja never had.

Getting to watch their relationship develop over the course of the show is truly one of the highlights that Ojakgyo Brothers has to offer.

I loved watching these 2, and their scenes made me smile and cry.

[SPOILER ALERT]

One of my favorite scenes between Bok Ja and Ja Eun is in episode 16, when Bok Ja rubs Ja Eun’s tummy coz she’s got period cramps.

As Bok Ja rubs her tummy, Ja Eun whispers weakly, “Ahjumma, your hand is so warm. [she tears up] Just like a mother’s hand.”

Bok Ja grumps that she’s not Ja Eun’s mother and that she must be delirious from a fever, but she’s touched. Ja Eun continues, “It’s not like that.. You didn’t cast a magic spell, did you? Suddenly my stomach doesn’t hurt anymore. This must be why they say mothers’ hands are medicinal hands.”

Bok Ja grumbles some more that Ja Eun is talking nonsense again and refuses to rub her stomach anymore. Ja Eun replies, “I won’t say it again. It’s just because this is the first time someone rubbed my stomach during my periods. Every time, it hurt like this, but no one listened to me. Father’s a man.”

Bok Ja gives Ja Eun a long look, then silently starts to rub Ja Eun’s stomach again.

Aw. The stirrings of a mother’s heart, so sweet to behold.

When the dreaded separation stretch occurs, Bok Ja’s tears for Ja Eun are genuine and touching.

Bok Ja even puts her marriage on the line to threaten her husband into keeping mum about Ja Eun’s dad likely being the hit-and-run culprit. She tells him plainly that she is not speaking as his wife, nor as Tae Hee’s mother; that she is only Ja Eun’s mother. Aw. Her love for Ja Eun clearly runs deep.

Over the course of the drama, it is so moving to see the two women find in each other, the fulfillment of hopes that had felt only empty before.

So sweet, and so very lovely.

[END SPOILER]

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Certainly, Ojakgyo Brothers isn’t a perfect drama, and there are, on occasion, plot points that are equal parts eye-rolling and frustrating.

[MINOR SPOILER] One of my peeves was how long the ex-girlfriend plot device was dragged out for Tae Beom’s relationship. [END MINOR SPOILER]

All in all, though, there’s so much heart – and squee! Let’s not forget squee! – packed into this show that I’m more than willing to forgive the fairly minor missteps that it does take.

I found that as I spent time with the characters that people this world, I grew fond of each one as I watched them journey through life. While I watched each one learn, love and grow, I too, got to ponder on life, love, and relationships.

And that was very satisfying indeed.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Sweet, with just enough spicy. Comfort food at its best.

FINAL GRADE: A+

VISUAL TREATS:

Here’s a fun trailer with English subs that captures the cheerful, & sometimes comedic tone of the drama:

And here’s a Tae Hee and Ja Eun cut, with lots of lovely couple moments:

A bonus! A deleted Tae Hee-Jae Eun scene, originally meant for E57. With subs! Enjoy the cute:

Author: kfangurl

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

66 thoughts on “Review: Ojakgyo Brothers

  1. Pingback: What Makes Drama Crack Stay Fresh / Turn Stale? | The Fangirl Verdict

  2. Another wonderful review. Thank you! 🙂

    Ojakgyo is probably my favourite family drama so far and I will always remember it fondly. It had it’s hick-ups allright but for a long drama it was surprsingly solid. Bok Ja / Ja Eun was by far my most fave pairing. 😉

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    • Thanks, Timescout! Ojakgyo is one of my favorite family dramas too, and yes, Bok Ja & Ja Eun were such an endearing pair to watch! ❤

      Another family drama that's high up on my favorites list is Life is Beautiful. Have you seen that one? 🙂

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  3. I’ve read a lot of positive things about this show, and I really love Joo WOn… but 58 ep??? How do you people find time?? T.T

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    • Ahem. If you’re a true Joo Won fan, you’d make time 😉 Seriously, though, I enjoyed having this as a daily nightcap after any other drama I might be watching.. Sometimes I’d watch a full ep, but often, because it was late or I was tired, I might watch just a few minutes – 15, 20, 30, depending – and it worked really nicely.

      And seriously. If you enjoy Joo Won, you’ll love all the squee-moments he is part of in this show. Those are priceless ^^

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  4. As per usual, your review has sold me on yet another one…..goodness when will I ever find time for all of them??!?! Call me sentimental with a gooey soft core, but the MV up there, If Eyes Could Speak, just sold me. Count me in….Joo Won will probably most assuredly be receiving a crush call from me! LOL!! And I don’t even want to begin to discuss the Noona Romance because I already know that I am going to appreciate THAT story line big time!!! 🙂 Thank you for another thoughtful review – with lots of bonus goodies (i.e. those squee and photo spasm moments)!

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    • Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed the review and all the photos & MVs.. I thought the song choice was PERFECT for the Joo Won-UEE cut.. It’s really his eyes that do all the talking – his eyes add so much subtext to the dialogue that’s written. It’s mesmerizing and completely swoony to watch ❤

      If you add this to your current 2 dramas, you can do what I did, and just watch whatever you're up for, for your drama nightcap before bed. I'd do a full ep if I was able, but if I was too tired, I'd do just a few minutes, sometimes as short as 10 minutes, just to get a bit of a taste before heading to dreamland. It made for a lovely, lazy marathon, and even resulted in one very lovely Joo Won dream ^^

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  5. Comfort food is the exact right description. 🙂 And thank you once again for a wonderful re-emersion into a well-loved drama!

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    • Aw, I’m glad you enjoyed it, BetsyHp! I do try to have something for those who’ve seen the show, as well as those who haven’t, and a re-immersion is exactly what I hope some readers get through the review! 😀

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  6. I was so looking forward to this, thank you. OB was the show that introduced me to Joo Won and the fangirling hasn’t stopped since. We are nearing 1000 page on Joo Won Soompi thread so I am totally happy to share this review of yours there, with link to your blog.

    I had wanted to commend you further on your awesome review on Bridal Mask but was too busy with RL and many Joo Won updates on Soompi. Now, I have another delicious read on my plate, not complaining!

    Off to read now

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    • Thank you, mrdimples!! 😀 It’s always great to know that someone looks forward to the next review, and it makes me want to do even better ^^

      Thanks so much for the shout-out on Soompi! Again, I’m honored! As I type this, the blog has recorded 56 visitors from soompi in the last 10 hours! That’s super cool, thanks for sharing in the Ojakgyo love ❤ I hope that you and all the soompiers enjoyed the review!! ^^

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      • You are welcome, kfangurl. I wish I could suggest to you to review Joo Won’s latest drama but that drama is the worst that Joo Won has done. I really wanted to strangle the writer. However, Joo Won still shone in it adding another different character in his bag as Gilro. Gilro could have been an irritating rich kid who refused to grow up, it is to Joo Won’s credit that he made Gilro so freakin adorable and in the end, he was the only character I cared for. Joo Won will be going back to the theatre after his next movie so there won’t be any dramas for a long time. How sad. Back to real life.

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        • I’ve been conflicted about whether to check out L7 actually.. I have the whole series downloaded and waiting, and I do enjoy Joo Won very much, but I heard such great cries of disappointment about this show that I’m not sure whether to even start >.<

          I will probably eventually check it out just to get a Joo Won fix, especially now that he's taking some time to do Ghost.. Such mixed feelings about that! I love that he's multi-talented and has such a strong passion, and that he will be doing something that he clearly enjoys and loves. But, soo sad that it means he won't be doing dramas for a while :/

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  7. You make me want to open the Ojakgyo Brothers folder and watch all 58 episodes again. And that’s not a good thing!!

    Although I am biased towards Joo Won, I found myself falling for Ryu Soo-young as the plot progressed. Most of the time, I was flailing over his portrayal as Tae-beom and also his romance with Soo-young (Choi Jung-yoon). Gahh, they were the cutest couple that I’ve seen, experiencing love after marriage! I was so sad when the angst hit their romance (and I spent my days praying that their relationship would be better-NO KIDDING!) and glad that they managed to reconcile. Eeeep! Must stop fangirling about this couple! I understood why they got the Best Couple Awards back then 😉

    You pointed out each and every thing to like about this drama but for me, there’s another thing that made me like Ojakgyo: there’s no one to be hated in the drama for me, although it varies depending on each person. Even with the in-laws, their actions of hating on Tae-beom were somehow appropriate and I just can’t hate any of them. No. Never.

    I think Ojakgyo Brothers will be a memorable drama to me for quite some time. After I finished it, I found myself missing the drama and the characters. Throughout the two weeks of marathoning it, the characters felt like good friends around me and I felt lonely without them.

    I don’t think I’d find another family drama to be treasured like Can You Hear My Heart, but I found Ojakgyo Brothers. Gotta thank Joo Won for drawing me into this rare gem! 😉

    p/s: Forgive me for the long comment! 😀

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    • Lol! Just writing this review, I felt like I watched OB a second time, and yes, it did make me want to watch it a 3rd time ;D

      I’m totally with you – I was biased towards Joo Won too, but I couldn’t help but be charmed by Ryu Soo Young as we got to the later episodes. Such a charming smile, and the way he looked at Choi Jung Yoon in some of the couple scenes was completely swoon-worthy ❤

      I agree that all our key characters were likable.. The only ones I didn't like were the police chief guy and Tae Beom's ex. Those 2 made me want to growl at my screen sometimes! XD

      I haven't watched CYHMH.. Sounds like it's good? In terms of family dramas, I also really loved Life is Beautiful. Have you seen that one? It's super lovely. I loved it, and in some ways, I like it even more than OB. Though I will concede there's a lot more squee in OB, so my fangirl heart is swayed 😉

      Last but not least – no apologies for a long comment, coz those my favorite kind! ^^ Love! xx

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  8. The main factor I’m not watching this show is its length….and this is the reason why I’m watching You’re The Best Lee Soon Shin live, as that way I can complete it 🙂

    This drama looks like so much fun and I love it when there are so many romantic lines in a show…..that means I’ll have to check out this as well!!

    thanks for the wonderful review 🙂

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    • Yes, definitely check this out, snow_white! It’s one of the most enjoyable family dramas I’ve watched.. and yes, there are a lot of love lines to keep you entertained throughout! A LOT of squee-worthy moments in this show – more than many shorter shows, seriously. Don’t let the length deter you! ^^

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  9. I loved Taesik the most. I really found his arc the most interesting and satisfying to watch,

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    • very good read, your review 🙂

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      • Thanks Li!! I’m so glad you enjoyed the review – & welcome to the blog!! ^^ And yay for some Tae Sik love – I have to agree his arc was very satisfying indeed.. Though I did want to smack him (repeatedly), I guess it made the growth all the more fulfilling 😉

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  10. This really is an awesome review. Makes me want to rerun it already and I don’t usually do that until i have forgotten or a few years later hahhaa..
    I just found out about this series in 2013 when this is supposedly OLD from 2011 but boy was i surprised to have enjoyed it so much and LOL so often during it.
    It was such a refreshing get away w/the plotlines, love lines and just LOL moments that make you feel good when watching it. Any other recommendations on kdramas? Honestly, I think i have watched like 6 so far and this is by the far the best. Some people on utube rec SMILE, YOU or SOL pharmary something I didnt like it at all. =(

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    • Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed the review!! Ojakgyo Brothers is definitely worth a rewatch, and I plan on one myself, sometime! Btw, thanks to your comment, I realized that one of the vids that I’d posted wasn’t working, so I’ve replaced it with another one, and in the process, I found a fun little deleted Tae Hee-Ja Eun scene, which I’ve also posted. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth checking out for the cute 😉

      As for drama recommendations, yes, I have lots! If you’re looking for a family drama, Life Is Beautiful is a lovely watch. That’s another one that I would watch more than once. Among the family dramas that I’ve watched, Life Is Beautiful is my #1 pick, closely followed by Ojakgyo Brothers. I can’t even recommend another one in the same paragraph, that’s how good it is. I’ve posted a not-very-spoilery review, which you can check out for more details.

      If you’re looking for shorter dramas with a rom-com bent, here are some of my favorites in that category: Coffee Prince, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, Queen In-hyun’s Man (less comedy, but so romantic and so well done!), Sungkyunkwan Scandal (a fun fusion historical that feels quite modern), Answer Me 1997.

      If you’re open to checking out non rom-com shows, let me know, & I’ll suggest a couple of other shows for you to consider! ^^

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      • Thanks for the recommemdations but I don’t think I will like any of them ahhaa..LOL..
        My second last kdrama was City Hunter which i did watch when it came out. I like it due to the fact it had some nice action scenes in there. My tastes tend to fall into either the FUNNIES or ACTION no fuss right fighting w/o the shed of blood haha, don’t have to be overly romantic but just right amount of action and LOL moments will do it for me. I don’t watch any scifi, time travel or historic/ancient themes so most of what you recommend will never be on my list. Coffee Prince, i see bits and pieces not my thing n the others are all historic it seems so thanks anyway. I am not a big fan of kdramas thou, but my friend saw this OB and highly recommended it so i gave a shot, the funny was right on even thou plotwise is a bit of a stretch but it managed to capture my attention and even thou she tells me UEE is the main leads I don’t really feel like it since it’s like we hardly see them thru the whole series, everyone seemed to have equal amount of screen time which was doable actually.
        Thanks for the suggestions thou, I think I will go back to rerunning another fav show of mine: PRISON BREAK :0)

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        • I see, if you’re into modern rom-coms, but without any fantasy or fusion twist, I’d recommend Pasta, City Hall, and You’re Beautiful. For a pretty epic romance with *some* comedy woven in, you could consider The King 2 Hearts.

          For action, I enjoyed Time Between Dog and Wolf. Because it’s a slightly older drama, it is not as polished as the newer shows, but I found it very emotionally engaging and absorbing, and very fast-paced too 🙂

          Hope some of these new recommendations appeal to you! ^^

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  11. OHHHH, Time Between Dog and Wolf – now that sounds interesting. That guy looks cute too =)
    Thanks. Will try it out….

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    • I hope you enjoy it! Lee Jun Ki is the lead, and he is an excellent actor. He gets to show a wide range in this drama, and he did very well, I thought 🙂

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      • Yup, sounds interesting I like a good storyline. Hopefully there will be some funny and action scenes. Thanks kfangurl. =)

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        • There is a sprinkling of cute, if memory serves. And there is definitely action throughout. The action is not as well choreographed as a newer, shinier drama, but the emotional hook more than makes up for it ^^

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          • Hi Kfangurl,

            Just wanted to let you know i have tried DOG n WOLF series n the femininely cute lead is really eye candy but the series was really boring to me so i didnt continue after a few episodes but i am now watching HEARTLESS CITY…Holy crap, it’s so damn fast paced and good i am totally hooked hahaaha… that is also a kick ass kissing scene there that havent seem in kdrama land hahha…LOL…

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            • Aw, that’s too bad, that you didn’t like Dog & Wolf enough to continue.. I genuinely enjoyed that one. But yay that you’re loving Heartless City! I’ve been hearing lots of good things about that one, and I definitely plan on checking it out!! ^^

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              • Yeah, I tried n beginning was actually good but I don’t know it just got a bit boring for me. =(
                Yea, def try the new ‘heartless city’ but I regret starting it when it’s still airing n its cliffhanging like crazy hahah.lol…anyway, thanks for the recommendation =)

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                • Lol! That’s why I prefer to start on a show only after it’s done airing.. Knowing I can keep going if I want, and knowing it’s got a decent ending ^^

                  I’m definitely curious about Heartless City, it’s got so many people hooked! Enjoy your watch! Crossing fingers along with everyone else, that it’ll be awesome to the very end! 😀

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                  • hahaha I know i am beating myself up now cuz it’s like i want to finish but NOT like this. LOL… That’s what i did w/City Hunter in 2011 I enjoyed it but fortunately I didnt watch that one until it’s almost airing so it was OK but that one even the action is not as great as this one. This is pure action packed thru and thru w/o BS on alot of romance but they do have this HOT kiss in there that many i am sure have NEVER seen in kdrama land ahhaa LOL… i was like whooo…….
                    Well, to me i am NOT much of a happily ever after w/a couple of kids at the end kind of ending so to me as long as i enjoy the ride in watching the series even if it’s sad ending it will have be reasonably enjoyable and makes sense w/o flipping the audiences like i am giving this ending b/c thats how ppl will enjoy it.
                    I don’t know any of the characters besides the male lead which i saw him briefly in DOG n WOLF series but the casting is actually good on this one, most of them fit the roles really well and this secondary male lead is really HOT i find him HOTTER than the main lead so it’s great seeing so many cute faces. hehe =)

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                    • Hee, I’ve heard about that kiss! I’m definitely keen to see Jung Kyung Ho in the role.. He’d always been stuck playing 2nd lead (like he did in Dog & Wolf), except for Smile You which required a Beta Male sort of lead. This is a total turnaround for him, image-wise, & I’m really curious to see how he rocks it! I found Nam Gyu Ri cute & spunky in Life is Beautiful, but found her bland in 49 Days, so I’m also curious to see how she does here ^^

                      And yes, more eye candy is never a bad thing, especially if the drama’s already awesome! It just makes it even MORE awesome! ;D

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                    • yayyy, i know the more beautiful casts the better i mean sounds shallow but who does not like seeing pretty faces onscreen? I mean, after Ojakgyo Brothers my korean colleague recommended me to watch Joo Won’s new drama 7th Civil whatever but the paired up was like HOLY???? seriously??? the woman looks like a mom/aunt? ahhaha LOL I am sorry but they dont have to be pretty/handsome per say but golly at least around the same range group will be nice??? Take that City Hunter dude who pairs up in that ancient series which is NOT my series but i saw the posters but at least that woman is hot and sexy for her age and let’s face it City Hunter dude does not look that young in real life so some still works but some are just totally OFF haha i was like OMG. I say i dont like him like him but i like Ojakgyo the series haha LOL…
                      Yes, u should try afterwards it finishes airing then if its a sad ending n that puts u off, u have a choice of NOT watching it all together.
                      ohhh…, ok in dog n wolf since he’s not the lead ppl probably didn’t pay much attention to him but i thought he was cute in there too but here he’s just bad as and you said it. He does ROCK it haha…. He’s so believable in being a gangster lead that wow, where has he been kind of impression. Havent watched 49 days or Life is Beautiful so no idea who she is, but i did goggled her to see how old she really is and she actually looks really young but like 28 already so wow…n there is another woman in there thats like 33 but she way way older than these leads so gotta hang it to casting crews sometimes they really can nail it to a T.

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                    • Yes, definitely agree that casting is really important. I feel like it can make or break a show, sometimes! I’ve heard really terrible things about Level 7, so I’m surprised that someone recommended it to you.. The general consensus in the dramaverse is that it sucked big time 😛 And I’d agree with you that the casting was strange for Level 7 as well. I do like the female lead Choi Kang Hee, but when she got cast opposite Joo Won, it doesn’t quite work somehow. I like them both separately, but I guess this is one of those times when the combining of two appealing actors doesn’t make a good couple!

                      Oh, I’m ok with sad endings, as long as they make sense. In fact, I’d rather have a sad ending that makes sense than a happy ending that makes no sense. After hearing so many good things about Heartless City, I’m hoping that it ends with a bang. Even if it doesn’t though, I’m planning to check it out. It’s be worth it just to see Jung Kyung Ho being badass! ;D

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                    • Well, she thought i enjoyed Ojakgyo b/c of him i guess hahaa so i was like ok but i saw the posters i was like WTH is this? haha LOL… n i don’t like goffy actions so even w/o the strange casting i wouldn’t watch it.
                      Ya, he’s def badass in there and i am quite surpised by all the twists and turns as i told u previously Prison Break was my fav show from TV and i feel they rip some parts from them esp the leads big tattoo in his back and all the bromance i/o romance in this series haha…

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                    • Oh, I do like Joo Won actually. Liked him a lot in Ojakgyo Brothers, & in Gaksital too, where I thought he was awesome. Even so, I’m keeping my distance from Level 7 😛 If you’d like to see Joo Won being awesome, Gaksital’s pretty excellent. If you don’t mind the time period. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy a war-time period sort of show, but I surprised myself with how much I liked Gaksital ^^

                      Big tat on his back does sound like echoes of Prison Break! I haven’t actually watched Prison Break, so it won’t spoil it for me – benefits of not following American TV anymore? Lol.

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                    • Basically i like most of the characters on Ojakgyo and that’s how i found your nice review n forum ahaha… I do believe JW cries really well. Holy crap, the break up scene was so damn sad i almost forgot they were acting hahah LOL…However, i also have not watched anything of him before and the girl UEE suprisingly i heard is from a girl group band and first time seeing her onscreen n i thought she was really believable too playing spoiled, fiesty, kind and a cute character and so i enjoyed the series immensely. Sometimes when u watch idol turned actors/actresses most of them are just phewwww, barely ok. Like Love Rain girl, I find the acting totally phewww…Plus, Uee’s fashion on the show is interesting too, I love some of her outfits esp the one when she was drunk n the casually dressy tie scene outfit haha…LOL…Shes got some taste. But i just love how some of the are sooooo funny thats basically LOL moments.

                      Yeah, that’s OK some ppl don’t watch American shows but i esp love that one n come to think of it I never watched/follow anything besides that series on TV. I love Wentworth Miller so ahhah that’s my excuse. Yeah, I see some similarities from the tattoos, bromance, action, good plot, and a just a tint of romance as well and hardly any romantic scenes alsoso i thought hum, my kind of series haha…OMG, the show had like 3-4 seasons only and it was cliffhanging as well back then for me so nowadays I refrain myself from watching until it finishes. Really didn’t plan on watching HC yet but i guess i totally forgot that its airing. =( haha

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                    • I have to agree, I was pleasantly surprised by UEE in Ojakgyo Brothers too! She played the evil bitch so well in You’re Beautiful that I really disliked her. So I was really happy to discover that she can be effectively cute and likable too! ^^

                      I’ve heard good things about Prison Break.. I think my sis and brother-in-law were really into it at one point. I just never checked it out because I’ve got my plate full with all the kdramas that I want to check out!

                      Btw, Lee Jun Ki (the lead from Dog & Wolf) is coming out with a new action show titled Two Weeks. He plays a guy on the run who’s been wrongly framed for murder, AND he discovers that he has a sick daughter, so he’s trying to save her too. It’s called Two Weeks coz the entire show takes place over a 2 week period. I’m looking forward to this one, and I thought it sounds like something you might like too! ^^

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                    • Yes, PB at the time of their debut in 2005 was more of an international hit than in domestic US i think cuz the story was really interesting w/the right amount of great casting, action and bit of romance in between. I can go on and on about how great it was but let’s NOT haha LOL…

                      ohhh, i just saw the pic poster of 2 weeks? that cute guy certainly is eye candy but some feminine to me in a way but story sounds interesting. i think i see an Ojakgyo face there in the cast? hehe thats cool. thanks for the recommendations, will be sure to check it out later then.

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                    • Good spotting! Yes, Ryu Soo Young (our 2nd Ojakgyo brother) will be playing a detective trying to hunt down our hero to put him behind bars. So he won’t be a caddish reporter but more likely a badass cop ^^

                      Lee Jun Ki can look beautiful & feminine with certain styling coz of his very sharp features, but he can be very manly too, especially now that he’s completed his military service. I loved him in Arang and the Magistrate, definitely very manly there! Two Weeks looks like it will also capitalize on his more macho side, and will likely draw on his fight skills at least a little. He’s got a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, so I’m hoping they’ll give him some space to shine there! Looking forward to this one – but as with other shows, I’ll be patient & wait till it’s done airing 😉

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                    • Oh yea, I don’t really remember names but i do remember faces if i have seen them before but since my kdrama viewing is limited, I think i’ve completely watched 6 in total so far but sometimes skims thru 1 epi or 2 here and there so i alot of times i dont know any of the actors but i do remember faces if i have seen them before.

                      *Autumn’s Tale – this one started the korean wave i believe? Main guy is so handsome but all his other shows i don’t like them at all. I can barely get thru first 2 episodes since he is super hot i give it a shot but he plays mostly boring roles IMO of course =) East series my friends watched n they said it was good but too long for me so Ojakgyo was a surprise that i can actually finished.

                      *Full House – most horrible kisses i have ever seen but the FUNNY was there n they are both too cute

                      *Save the Last Dance – I don’t remember the leads now but I remember Ojakgyo face in here too =)

                      *Magic – OMG, that main guy is sooooooooooooooo cute and i like the storyline w/a male golddigger since many many shows on women golddigging so why not men as well? ahaa lol.. n he played it so well. i don’t watch movies so i havent seen anything else of him after Magic series. =(

                      *City Hunter – both of them are also cute

                      *Ojakgyo Brothers – when i watched this, i thought the policeman looks like magic guy but then again Magic dude is way more handsome again IMO of course hahaha LOL

                      black belt in Tae Kwon Do?????? Waaaaaa, impressive haha…yes, will certainly wait until it’s done hahah LOL… let’s not do this cliffhanger thing, i hate that.

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                    • Lol! I had such fun reading about your kdrama experiences!

                      Yes, Song Seung Hun, the lead from Autumn’s Tale, is handsome, and that’s about it, really! He’s widely known as not being a very good actor.. He did somewhat better in My Princess, which was his first foray into rom-coms.

                      I used to love Save Your Last Dance! It was my 2nd kdrama ever, so I had a soft spot for the show, and for its leads Ji Sung and Eugene.. I watched it multiple times that first year of kdrama! I can’t say I still love the show now though.. I tried rewatching it not too long ago and it wasn’t as addictive as before :/

                      Magic – you’re not the only one who thinks that Joo Won from OB looks like Kang Dong Won! I see the similarity, but I haven’t actually seen Kang Dong Won in anything yet, so I still prefer Joo Won at this point 😉

                      And yes, totally with you on not watching shows live.. It can be really frustrating! MUCH better when you know the next episode is just a click away! ;D

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                    • LOL..oh yeah? I am glad u r enjoying my reviews on them ahhah.…

                      Yes, SSH – ohhhh really so he was known to be a wooden actor so to speak? Ahhhh…such a good looking actor but even if he’s not super famous at least do some roles that are different and can stand out a bit u know but all his series are so pheewww…. been there done that kind of thing. However, his newest drama ‘when a man loves a woman or something’ which I tried like 3 episodes and he looks interesting as a gangster I was like yay…wow… finally a breakthrough??? But OMG, so damn boring and he’s playing this older dude who felt in love w/this little girl at first sight practically and then it was just weird to me after a while esp when the female lead is not at all likable. I feel the script is totally messed up. As I always say, they can’t do so many topics in one show. Like if a director/producer/scriptwriter n whoever else want a romantic series, then focus on the romance of the drama and if you want action, there s/b the right amount of action and suspense and not try to jam in all different kinds of BS together I don’t know if that makes sense I mean NOT that I am saying you cant have action, romance, mystery and whatever else all together in one series you can but it’s gotta be executed well and makes ppl interested in watching. In his new drama, it’s like gangster n then n turned CEO or whatever n also acts as this older man I am in love for the first time naivety for whatever reason. I stopped after mid 3rd episode I think. Princess one I didn’t try at all so I don’t know but I doubt it can be any better LOL..gave up on him hotness or not….

                      Save Last Dance – I think I watched it twice as well but yeah sometimes when we like a series it does NOT mean we will like it forever since I think as time progresses our taste change. But I remember the leads are quite cute too, never watch them in anything else thou.

                      Magic – Kang Dong Won. Oh yes, that’s him. He is like the kind that is good looking w/o even trying ahhaha LOL…. but then again I think in kdrama land there are quite a lot of good looking celebs men & women compare to some other countries. But then again, they are famous for having plastic surgery? Haha lol….so don’t know which ones are actually natural.

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                    • Haha! Yes, SSH is pretty much loved for being handsome. Most viewers agree that he tries hard, but he’s just not very good at the acting. I think he did better in My Princess because it’s a light rom-com versus a heavy melodrama. He was surprisingly better at the rom-com, so if you do want to see him, that might be a good place to try. But as you said, there are so many other talented hot actors out there, so it’s not much of a loss 😉

                      Yes, plastic surgery is known to be very popular in Korea.. I can understand actors getting some small fixes since their looks play a big part in their careers, but I find too much plastic surgery rather disconcerting. When an actress has had a lot of work done and starts looking different across different shows, it just feels really weird.

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                    • I always thought that he got really famous due to Autumn’s Tale since that was the series that actually started the crazy korean wave since it was Japanese dramas that was popular before but since this series came out it became like korean dramas all over the place. But my korean colleagues happened to talk about their series one day and I found out i was totally wrong. That the famous one was that dude that played in Winter Sonata I remember that face, they said hes handsome but i beg to differ hahaa.. but they said he is rich, famous and has a brain thats why they don’t see him working on tv anymore or something like that. I was like that dude? wow.. haha who knew…..
                      They told me even their regular ppl do plastic surgeries not just celebs n that double eyelids is the most very simple to do and they all do it since it’s not pricey compares to other procedures.
                      I said which star is natural then they said i can tell you which ones are NOT ahha..LOL…. City Hunter girl that you like had a lot of work done i said ohhhh??? OK, no wonder she’s cute. n Kim Tae Hae or something n the one that is dating Rain is also unreal. She is least attractive of all then. And a few more she told me which i forgot now. They said even men do plastic surgeries so yes they are hot for a reason ahahah LOL….They are honest.

                      Like

                    • It’s true that although Autumn’s Tale came out first, that it was really Winter Sonata that brought the Hallyu wave to its earliest peak. By association, though, because Autumn’s Tale and Winter Sonata are both part of a set of 4 Seasons dramas, they are both considered classics. Bae Yong Joon became crazy famous for Winter Sonata, particularly in Japan. When my mum & I watched Winter Sonata, we were also quite smitten with him for a while. He is more charming in action, ie, you’d probably understand his appeal more if you watched him in the drama. I do prefer his older drama Hotelier, though, which was before Winter Sonata. I thought he was more charming & suave in Hotelier ^^

                      Yeah, the plastic surgery phenomenon is big in Korea.. and yes many actresses and even some actors have had at least some amount of work done. Song Hye Kyo (Full House & Autumn’s Tale) is famous for being a natural beauty though 🙂

                      Like

                    • Yay, at least she is NATURAL. She is kind of cute but i heard she’s dated some very famous costars and never made it to the aisle yet? =( LOL…

                      I remember the first one since he was on in that american movie for a bit but the other one i never watch his shows but i do remember their faces. They are ok looking i guess but the first ex seems old?

                      Like

                    • Yeah, she hasn’t met the right man yet, seems like. She dated Lee Byung Hun, whom she costarred with in All In, and also Hyun Bin, whom she costarred with in Worlds Within. Both excellent actors, btw. But I guess just not the right guy for her. You’re right, Lee Byung Hun is quite a bit older.. he’s getting married very soon, actually, to another actress, Lee Min Jung.

                      Still, I’d rather she wait for the right guy before walking down the aisle. It’s way better to be single than married to the wrong man, imo..

                      Like

                    • That’s very true. There is nothing wrong being single than i am getting married just for the hell of it. My korean colleagues does like the 2nd ex but they dont speak highly of the 1st ex, saying he gets around seems to be always having scandals w/women due to his popularity and probably rich after all these years. oh well, only thing i see of the 1st ex he just seems much older and i think i did manage to watch again 3 episodes at the most of their highly recommended ‘secret garden’ which was actually funny at the beginning but right up until the body switching that put me off hahaaa..LOL..i sound quite picky when it comes to series huh? I cant help it, i just dont like time-travel, sci fi, paranormal n historic themes haha.. i don’t know i just dont find anything that is too out of the oridinary interesting. weird, i know but that’s just me. ahhaa.. but the secret garden guy looks the right age group and not bad looking thou.

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                    • Hyun Bin is a very good actor, actually. If you don’t prefer Secret Garden, you might want to consider checking out Worlds Within or Friend, Our Legend instead. Worlds Within has an almost docu-drama sort of feel to it, and gives some insight into the drama-making world. It’s also where he met Song Hye Kyo and they started dating.. Friend, Our Legend is a darker, grittier story which I haven’t seen myself yet, but it’s on my watch list. I’ve heard excellent things about it and about Hyun Bin’s performance in it 🙂

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  12. hey kfangurl,

    just wanted u to know i have read the spoilers of the ending of Heartless City ahahahahah…. Apparently, it sucks big deal even worst than my beloved Prison Break series ahhaa LOL….. but i guess you can still check it out since it’s now done airing? ahhaah
    later

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  14. I am very, very curious about this drama but it isn’t available on the usual sites I watch on. Kfangurl–or anyone else–where could I watch this online while in the US? Thanks 🙂

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  16. I love reading your reviews, especially the reviews of dramas that I’ve watched at least part of in the past. They always make me feel like I should go back and re-watch the entire show to get all those feel-good moments that you squee about in your reviews, lol. Sometimes, I stop watching a drama right before it ends because I can’t take the angst anymore. That’s what happened for me with Ojakgyo Brothers when Tae Hee and Ja Eun were going through that heart-wrenching separation towards the end of the show. Reading this review though, has made me remember why I was watching Ojakgyo Brothers even though I usually don’t even look twice at a family drama.

    So thank you, I may just end up re-watching this lovely gem in the near future thanks to your lovely review.

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    • Aw, thank you Tsuki!! 😀 It makes me really happy to know that you enjoy the reviews – makes me wanna keep writing ’em ^^

      I remember the angsty stretch of the show that you mentioned – I found that a little hard-going too. But overall, I really enjoyed this show all the way to the end, so definitely, if you haven’t gotten to the end, you should finish it! And if you actually work a rewatch into that (Joo Won and those swoony bedroomy eyes! Eeeee!!), so much the better! I do see myself rewatching this one sometime. So, so good!

      Another family drama that’s lovely and worth checking out is Life is Beautiful. It’s way up my mental list of Best Family Dramas, jostling with Ojakgyo Brothers for top spot 😉

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  21. i am totally loving this family drama ❤ ❤ ❤

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