The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Her Private Life

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

This is a show that pretty much lives and dies by the combined charm of and chemistry between its OTP. Park Min Young is lovely and manages to come across as both relatable and aspirational, while Kim Jae Wook shines in his first romantic leading man role, which just happens to be that of the Perfect Boyfriend with the power to melt you into a puddle on a regular basis. The interactions between our OTP are a big highlight, from the very organic skinship – ranging from sexy sizzle to absentmindedly agreeable – to the wonderfully healthy conversations that they regularly share; a precious rarity in Dramaland.

Everything else is pretty much set-dressing for the main romance, but Show does a very solid job of making that set dressing generally pleasant and appealing, with a nice handful of likable secondary characters, a very pretty collection of OST tracks, and a keen spotlight on the fangirl experience.

Yes, Show does have its flaws, but that usually poofs away quite nicely, whenever the OTP shows up onscreen. It’s like magic fairy dust.

THE LONG VERDICT:

I pretty much felt peer-pressured into checking this show early, you guys. See, from the time this show first started airing, my Twitter feed was so flooded with screenshots, gifs and all sorts of associated spazz over The Cute and The Swoony, that I literally couldn’t dodge them fast enough.

To save myself from being overly spoiled, I decided to dive in to check out this show earlier than I usually would, just to be able to browse my Twitter feed without feeling the need to ninja through everything (and not even successfully at that, heh).

Now that I’ve emerged from the other side, I’m happy to say that diving in early to soak in the feels was an Excellent Decision.

Yes, there is some lens adjustment that’s necessary, and Show does have its share of shortcomings, but overall, this one was a very pleasant watch indeed.

ADJUSTING THE LENS

My personal experience with this show does lean on the slightly patchy side, which is why I think some lens adjustment would be helpful.

Show feels fun and zippy right away in episode 1, and a little cheeky as well. Plus, Deok Mi’s character (Park Min Young) resonates with the fangirl in most of us. Many of us have jobs where we need to appear professional, and we do that, and then fangirl in the privacy of our own time. Deok Mi’s kinda like our inner super fangirl, and to have a classic rom-com story revolve around someone that we see as a representation of ourselves, is just too juicy to pass up.

However, it soon became clear to me that Show is really most interesting when the spotlight is on the OTP. And the burgeoning OTP connection doesn’t get going in earnest until about the episode 4 mark, when because of situational demands, Deok Mi and Ryan (Kim Jae Wook) are thrown into close proximity and their chemistry starts to show some sizzle.

Which means to say, hang in there for the first few episodes at least, to see if you’ll like this one. And then if you stick around, just know that Show can sometimes lean flat and uninteresting when the spotlight isn’t on the OTP. On the upside, when the spotlight is on our OTP, things sparkle and baby unicorns dance in the clouds. Happily, Show knows to play to its strengths, and therefore we get quite lot of that OTP sparkle, on a regular basis.

STUFF I LIKED

Kim Jae Wook as Ryan Gold

Kim Jae Wook is pitch perfect as Ryan Gold, who is a strong contender for possibly the most perfect boyfriend that Dramaland has ever served up.

Ryan does come across as cocky and aloof when we first meet him in episode 1, but it soon becomes clear that he does have reasons to not be super happy in general. Additionally, we also soon see that Ryan is a good and decent person despite not being chipper and friendly. That did a lot to endear him to me, early on.

The deeper we get into our story, the more Kim Jae Wook’s personal charm comes into play, and his brand of tender smolder is so sensuous, and the way he handles all the skinship is just so deft yet gentle, that it’s really quite mesmerizing to behold. For the record, I couldn’t help flailing on a regular basis, and melting into giant puddles of breathy squee. *hearts in eyes*

Ryan as a character, Kim Jae Wook’s delivery of him, and the part Ryan plays to make this story’s OTP relationship special, were all absolutely big highlights of my watch.

[SPOILER ALERT]

There are a lot of things that I enjoyed about Ryan, and here are some of my personal highlights.

E1. Ryan’s reaction when he thought that Sun Joo wanted the suite for a forbidden tryst with her lesbian lover, and the way he berated himself for being discriminatory, and then approached her to let her have the room, really shows the kind of person he is – or at least, wants to be. I like that a lot.

E1. The terror in Ryan’s eyes when he sees the fangirls and fanboys stampeding towards him at the airport is pretty great. Poor guy.

E3. I really appreciate Ryan’s honesty. He could have easily kept quiet about his conversation with Director Eom (Kim Sun Young), and avoided apologizing to Deok Mi, but he brings it up and apologizes, out of a sense of responsibility. Respect.

E6. The moments when we see the appreciative glee with which Ryan secretly observes Deok Mi’s fangirl moments are my favorite things this episode. I love the idea that he’s just delighting in her. He finds her cute and amusing and he just enjoys seeing her be her secret self, lip syncing to her favorite song while working, or quietly responding to messages to her fangirl SNS, or secretly trying not to implode in the presence of her idol.

There’s something so pure about that. He doesn’t judge her for being a fangirl, nor deride it as something that’s beneath her dignity. Instead, he’s gently amused by her, and even cracks some of the broadest smiles we’ve seen from him in the entire show, while reacting to her just being her fangirl self, and that just melts me on the inside.

E6. The way Ryan runs after Deok Mi to apologize, chasing her down via SNS to the club, and then finally catching up to her at her house – that’s a lot of determination to apologize. Most people would try for a bit, and then postpone the sentiment if they can’t catch the person. But Ryan is so determined to apologize to Deok Mi, that he would go out of his way, and even literally run up the stairs until he’s out of breath, just to be able to apologize to her. Wow.

E7. I love the way Ryan looks at Deok Mi when no one else is looking, when she’s just doing her fangirl thing. That look on his face, as he stands above the event, just looking down at her in her fangirl clothes, taking pictures, is so gently appreciative and affectionate, with a touch of amusement playing at his lips. He just seems to enjoy watching her be herself, and that just gets me in the heart.

E7. Ryan gets pretty excited about becoming a VIP member of the fan club. That’s so cute. He’s just doing this to spy on Deok Mi, but his excitement is real, and it’s very cute.

E7. Ryan actively stopping Cindy (Kim Bo Ra) from catching up to Deok Mi at the fansign event, is proof that he’s protective of Deok Mi’s fangirl activities. He wants to let her continue enjoying her fangirl life. How sweet is that?

E8. The way Ryan looks at Deok Mi is really special. His gaze is gentle, a little lingering, a little affectionate, and then he looks away, because it was a stolen glance. Flail into a puddle of squee.

E10. I am actually touched at how Ryan pieces together that Deok Mi is really in bad shape. He remembers fragments of what she’s said in the past, including while in fan site manager mode, and realizes that if being around her idol is doing nothing to bring a smile to her face, that it’s really serious. That’s what makes him rush to her, never mind about the meeting.

I just love that 1, he remembers. He doesn’t hear something and forget; he takes it to heart and commits it to memory. That’s how important she is to him, and more than that, that’s how present he is. And 2, he puts her well-being first. If she’s not ok, then work can wait, even if it’s about a key exhibition that’s coming up. I like that a lot.

[END SPOILERS]

Park Min Young as Deok Mi

I really enjoyed Park Min Young’s turn as Deok Mi, our resident fangirl representative extraordinaire. I found Deok Mi likable, relatable, and really quite cute. I also really liked her kind and understanding streak, the more I got to know her.

On a visual note, I prefer Park Min Young’s vibe in this show compared to her styling in Secretary Kim. When we first meet her, she wears sleek pantsuits and an effortless-looking, elegantly low chignon. There’s something boss-lady about that that I dig; a bit of a masculine aura mixed in with the feminine, which I think is cool. Although Deok Mi wears her hair down and more skirts and dresses later on in the show, the pantsuits never actually go away, and I appreciate that little detail.

I love that Deok Mi is very competent at her job, and that it’s not a role which is traditionally viewed as female, like Park Min Young’s secretary role in Secretary Kim, for example. This curator job feels more gender-neutral, and I love that Deok Mi is kickass good at her job.

Somehow, I like that representation, of all the career professionals in our midst who are also fangirls. We’ve got doctors, lawyers, professors, and all manner of highly competent career women among our fangirl community, and I just like that shout-out, to prove that just because you have a demanding job, doesn’t mean you can’t also be a fangirl.

I like that Deok Mi is a strong woman with her own opinions, though that does get her into trouble sometimes, but more than that, I love that at her core, she’s very empathetic and kind. The more I saw of her, the more I could understand why Ryan would find himself falling for her. Very nice.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. I did think Deok Mi crossed the line while at work, coming up against her new boss the way she did. But, I also admire her for sticking to her guns and not accepting her job back, even after accepting his apology at the cafe. I like that she’s able to separate the two things.

E6. Drunk Ryan is the cutest thing; he’s so smiley and affectionate, all snuggly and handsy, trying to cleave to Deok Mi. Importantly, it doesn’t feel lecherous. He’s not coming on to her; he’s reaching out and opening up, and I love that Deok Mi instinctively understands this. She knows that he’s reaching out and being vulnerable, and she holds his hands and treats him with gentleness. How lovely. ❤

E6. Some people would lord it over someone else who’s just apologized to them, but not Deok Mi. I love that after accepting Ryan’s apology, Deok Mi apologizes too, because she realizes that she shouldn’t have entered his house without his permission.

E7. I find it amusing that Deok Mi is a fangirl through and through. She doesn’t even realize that she is nursing feelings for Ryan, until she finds herself applying fangirl behavior to photographs of Ryan. How apt!

E10. It amuses me that Deok Mi’s fangirl lenses are consistently at play, during the most important moments of her life. She wants to screencap, photoshop and gif all her romantic moments with Ryan. How quintessentially fangirly! But she doesn’t have to worry, the rest of the internet’s got that done for her already, hur. My Twitter feed has exploded with all the screenshots and gifs of all of their romantic moments that Deok Mi could ever want, lol.

E12. The moment when Deok Mi helps Ryan to make art, even though he’s struggling with the very act of putting pen to paper, is really sweet. She knows his struggle, but she doesn’t confront him with it. She just eases him into it, helping him enjoy it, helping him see that it doesn’t have to be that hard, all while being a ray of sunshine in general. My heart wobbled in Ryan’s place, for her gentle touch on this very delicate matter.

It’s no wonder that Ryan finally opens up to Deok Mi later in the episode, telling her about his struggle to draw, and his relationship with Lee Sol’s paintings. It’s significant to me that he tells her everything without holding back, and she didn’t even have to ask. Her actions have demonstrated to him that he can trust her, and that she cares, and that’s enough to gain her access to his deepest secrets. That’s literally one of my favorite things about Deok Mi.

E14. I like that Deok Mi supports Ryan through all of the Mom angst, and gives him the space when she sees that he needs it, but also seeks him out when she perceives that he needs her. It’s wonderfully healthy, and feels so refreshing to witness. Her approach with Ryan when it comes to the issue of his mom, is also distinctly space-giving. She brings him the paintings and invites him to piece together a larger meaning, instead of pointing it out to him herself.

She’s a natural encourager. She never pushes; instead, she’s gentle and patient in giving the other person space and time, while providing small nudges along the way. I love that about her. ❤

[END SPOILERS]

The portrayal of our OTP relationship

Watching this couple together was THE highlight of this show, for me.

Kim Jae Wook and Park Min Young share a chemistry that is wonderfully sparky, whether Ryan and Deok Mi are at loggerheads, or getting up close and personal (and kissy!). Beyond that, I love that the skinship they bring to the table feels so organic and real. No awkward manner hands here; this couple touches each other like they mean it, and that results in an OTP connection that feels real and lived-in, even during the times when writer-nim makes their interactions a little too healthy to be true.

Yes, you do need to get past the initial misunderstandings and resulting mutual resentment to get to The Cute, but the good news is, it doesn’t take very long to get there, and once you get there, The Cute really isn’t ever very far away.

It’s true that sometimes the OTP interactions are so healthy that they lean unbelievable, but in a drama landscape so full of dysfunction, I found our healthy OTP interactions refreshing and very welcome indeed.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’s more than a few personal favorite moments of mine, related to this very lovely OTP.

E2. I like the even though both Ryan and Deok Mi are opinionated and strong-willed, they both apologize when they realize they are wrong. That’s something that I really appreciate. After the big fall-out where Ryan fires Deok Mi, he goes to the cafe to apologize when he realizes that she wasn’t in the wrong. And after she nearly kills him after butting heads at the cafe, she sincerely apologizes when she realizes that it was much more dangerous to him than a mere prank.

I love that they both possess the courage and grace it takes, to admit it when they are wrong. There’s something so lovely and so refreshing about an OTP that doesn’t hesitate to apologize to each other. Healthy relationship dynamics for the win!

E4. I really liked the amusement park date, where Ryan and Deok Mi are hanging out together without Sun Joo (Park Jin Joo) tailing them. The real moments of camaraderie that they share feel precious, especially since Ryan appears closed-off to people otherwise.

E6. The mutual ribbing and one-upmanship between our OTP, as they hurriedly patch together an enhanced version of how they met, is quite funny. He’s amused and revels in making her cringe, while she accepts everything he says, her face struggling to hide her chagrin. Importantly, it all doesn’t feel malicious; instead it feels like amused testing and teasing, which I can get behind.

E7. I like that Ryan asks Deok Mi the questions that he needs to ask someone, but hasn’t. “Are you ok not living as an artist?”…”What did you do, when you couldn’t draw?” And her answers always seem to make him stop and think. It’s like she’s got stuff figured out that he’s still figuring out, and he regards her easily given answers, with deep thought. In this way, Ryan is opening a hidden part of himself to Deok Mi, without being explicit about it, and I like it.

E8. The fake kiss was annoyingly fake, but it is beautifully done, even though it’s all in her head. Slow, gentle, and sensuous, with her fingers touching his skin as her hands cradle his face, and his hands, slowly coming down from their surprised position, to undo the blindfold, so that he can gaze into her eyes. Flail.

E8. I love that Ryan’s already decided that he is very interested in Deok Mi beyond their fake relationship, and isn’t afraid to admit it when Eun Gi (Ahn Bo Hyun) presses him for clarification. And, Deok Mi is also clear about how she feels about him, and is even considering confessing her feelings to him. How nice, that they both have their feelings figured out early! If only Eun Gi and Da In (Hong Seo Young) weren’t so meddlesome, planting inconvenient fake thoughts into their heads.

E9. Deok Mi: “About being in a fake relationship with me,” … “Did you hate it that much?” … “Was it that hard and stressful to you? I was so excited and happy. What was so…”

Ryan: “Because it was fake. I hated it since it was fake.” … “I wanted to date you for real.”

Gentle, sensuous, swoony kisses. Flail. Puddle.

E10. O.mo.na. The way Ryan looks at her, so studied and so tender, just melts my insides. And the kisses. So gentle and tender, yet so hungry and persistent, like he could never get enough of kissing her. Augh.

And then, when they are interrupted by the sounds of the deliveryman, at a moment when almost every other male lead I can recall would be more likely to stop, startled, and awkwardly deal with the delivery, Ryan pauses, considers his options, decides that nothing is important enough to make him stop kissing Deok Mi, and looking playfully – and meaningfully – into her eyes, takes her out of sight, where he buries himself in kissing her, leaning into her like every fiber of his being craves her closeness. My insides. They have melted into a molten puddle.

E10. The way he touches her is so assured, like she can trust those hands to carry her, and to hold her, and to touch her. Flail. The casual and yet so natural way that he puts his arm around her in the bus, to pull her closer to himself, is so melty to me. And he touches and handles Deok Mi preciously, too. I love the way he tends to kiss her on the forehead when saying goodbye to her. It feels so sweet and pure.

E10. I love the sweet and playful vibe that we immediately see between our newly minted couple. There’s bashfulness too, but mostly, there’s a distinct air of ease between Ryan and Deok Mi, even as she cutely pouts and denies that the rumble they just heard had been because she was hungry.

E10. The kiss on her hand, then the kiss on the inside of her wrist. Arsgkjhlskjdh skhsdfjh. So quick and playful, but at the same time, so sensuous and alluring. My nerve ends have all been electrocuted.

E10. Aside from the skinship, I must admit that I like the way both Ryan and Deok Mi handled the sensitive topic of Eun Gi and Da In this episode. Ryan highlights to Deok Mi that Eun Gi might not feel the same way about her and she does about him, without specifying anything that he’s already heard from Eun Gi, and Deok Mi does the same with Da In’s position with Ryan. It’s thoughtful and respectful, and handled with a light touch, which implies trust that the other person possesses the wisdom and sensitivity to know what to do with that gentle heads-up. I liked that.

E11. I liked the mutual confessions at Ryan’s apartment, because even though it all starts a little ominously with both parties wearing dark expressions, it soon lightens up with candid confessions, honesty and OTP cuteness.

Ryan teasing Deok Mi about how Shi An’s thighs make her life better, and how Shi An’s clavicles are sexy is such a riot, made especially ironic by the fact that Ryan’s own very sexy clavicles end up on display. Rawr. Also, cuddles! I do like that when Ryan holds Deok Mi, there’s always an all-in, unreserved quality about it. His arms go all the way around as he pulls her close to himself. There’s no courtesy gaps or arms’ lengths about this, and I dig it.

E11. That final scene, of Ryan going to see Deok Mi in the middle of the night, and Deok Mi goes after him with a back hug, telling him it’s ok to cry, is quite lovely. The way Ryan sinks into her arms, wrapping his arms around her, and burying his face in her shoulder, as the tears fall, is so poignant. He really needed to hear that, and to hear that from Deok Mi, who is so ready to hold him, is clearly a balm for his hurting soul.

E12. I enjoyed watching Ryan and Deok Mi hang out together through the night, as Deok Mi’s way of helping Ryan feel better after his bad dream. I like that she makes him laugh, and that the vibe between them is so casual and playful, with just the right light touch of tenderness from time to time, like when Deok Mi kisses Ryan’s wrist because he complains that it hurts too much to be hit, and when Ryan gently puts the covers over a sleeping Deok Mi.

E13. While I am not a huge fan of the arc regarding Ryan’s lost mother, I do appreciate that writer-nim gives it the same refreshingly honest treatment as we’ve seen in the OTP arc. Not only does Ryan share his angst with Deok Mi, they have open and honest conversations about it, and she agrees to give him space to think. Plus, they even sincerely thank each other, for being open and for being supportive, respectively.

On top of that, there’s an affection and a cozy vibe that flows between them, even through the conversations about personal angst. I mean, it just feels so refreshingly wonderful, to see a couple talk in such a healthy manner, because kdrama tradition would have the OTP hiding all of this from each other and not talking about it, and being nobly idiotic about it, to boot.

E13. Similarly, I’m just quite ecstatic, that with Deok Mi’s encouragement, Ryan goes right to Mom (Lee Il Hwa), and reveals his identity to her, in the most thoughtful, non-confrontational way. He shows her the paintings of hers that he’s acquired, and then asks, haltingly, if she might remember the name Yoon Jae. Oof. The tears in his eyes, and the tears in her eyes, speak so eloquently of just how much emotion is in each of them, regarding this thing. So bittersweet.

E14. That moment in the beginning of the episode, where Deok Mi plays with Ryan’s hair while he lies on her lap, feels very organic and believable. That’s the kind of small detail that makes me believe that this couple has spent a lot of time together and is very comfortable expressing affection for each other.

E14. I very much appreciate how Deok Mi encourages Ryan to push past his mental block with painting, with invitations to make baby steps. First, the tracing of hands, and now, the tracing of her profile. She makes it simple and much easier for him to take those baby steps, and she’s encouraging and gentle all the way. Her understanding and care is so clear, it’s no wonder that Ryan is moved to express his love for her. The consummation of the relationship feels like a natural next step, after such a momentous, vulnerable milestone.

[END SPOILERS]

Special shout-outs:

Park Jin Joo as Sun Joo

I’ve had a soft spot for Park Jin Joo for some time now, and I really enjoyed her as Deok Mi’s bestie Sun Joo. I love that Sun Joo is a strong, sassy woman. She cares deeply, but also clearly knows where to draw the line, and has no qualms drawing it. Like the way she knows in episode 2 that she can’t do anything more to help Deok Mi, except to spend time and money on her.

I also appreciated that Sun Joo represents the fangirls in our midst who’ve had to moderate their fangirling due to family responsibilities. I liked that even though Sun Joo’s a mom now and therefore can’t fangirl as much anymore, that she is still a diehard fangirl at heart.

[MINOR SPOILER] I found it amusing, but so true-to-life, when Sun Joo becomes a Joo Hyuk (Yoo Yong Min) fangirl when she sees him onstage with his guitar. It’s true, and we all know it: you don’t choose to fangirl someone; the moment just hits you like a ton of bricks and you get sucked in against your own will. [END SPOILER]

Deok Mi’s friendship with Sun Joo

From the get-go, I loved Deok Mi’s friendship with Sun Joo.

I love that they are so close and share their fangirl love for their idol. And I love that even though Sun Joo’s married and has a child, it doesn’t change their friendship. Even better, I love that while Sun Joo gets envious of Deok Mi’s fangirl adventures, she doesn’t begrudge Deok Mi the fangirl experience even though she herself can’t partake in them. Instead, she chooses to live vicariously through Deok Mi, which is quite lovely, I think.

Through thick and thin, these two are always there for each other, and I shipped these besties with all my heart. ❤

[SPOILER] In particular, I love the time in episode 2, when Sun Joo drops everything and goes out of her way to take Deok Mi on an idol pilgrimage to cheer her up. That is really sweet. These two are so close that I can believe that Ryan would mistake the two for lovers. [END SPOILER]

Kim Mi Kyung as Deok Mi’s mom

Kim Mi Kyung is always wonderful, and I loved her as Deok Mi’s mom. Even though Mom is a secondary character, she is shown in such a sweet and caring light that I couldn’t help but love her.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E9. The way Ryan blossoms when Mom showers her love and care on him is very touching. It feels like Mom’s warmth is just melting away all the loneliness that Ryan’s accumulated over the years. Which is lovely.

E11. Mom arriving at Deok Mi’s apartment and beating her up for still being a fangirl, and Ryan stepping in to save her, is rather amusing. I do love that Ryan outs himself as Deok Mi’s boyfriend, and assures Mom that he knows about Deok Mi’s fangirling life and likes her just as she is. Mom attempting to explain away Deok Mi’s fangirl memorabilia as hers, just after beating Deok Mi for it, is so funny, and also, so sweet and motherly.

E11. I really appreciate how Mom just takes in Hyo Jin as if she’s a lost duckling, and treats her like some kind of surrogate daughter, even thought they’ve only just met. How very kind and compassionate and loving. ❤

[END SPOILER]

Kim Sun Young as Director Eom

Kim Sun Young is another favorite of mine, and probably because she’s mostly cast in more serious, down-to-earth roles, I found it a complete riot to watch her as drama queen Director Eom. Kim Sun Young really hams it up in this role, and I just found it hilarious to see her act all snooty and extravagant, when she so often plays the opposite type of roles. Very nicely done!

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, Show isn’t perfect by any means, and there are a number of things that I didn’t enjoy so much, during my watch.

Here they are, for the record. That said, whatever missteps I might feel Show makes, the moment the spotlight turns to our OTP and showcases their adorable and healthy interactions, I can’t wipe the goofy grin off my face, so these things didn’t negatively impact my experience of this show too much.

Some of the Intended Funny didn’t work so well, for me

Show has a comic bent, which I’m not opposed to. There were occasions when I felt suitably amused. But, there were also times when Show’s Intended Funny just didn’t work for me.

This was not a huge downer, but here’re a couple of examples, just for the record:

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3. As cute and funny as it’s supposed to be, I couldn’t help cringing at how Deok Mi basically implodes and has an internal meltdown while visiting Shi An (One, aka Jung Jae Won), and then proceeds to talk lovingly to his bathroom fixtures, saying that they’re so lucky to see Shi An everyday. Uh. That was just too much for me, honestly.

E6. Ryan grabbing Shi An’s face in desperation, to get his final answer about Shi An’s mole to pass the fan site VIP members’ test, is hilarious, but also, so awkward to watch. Eep.

[END SPOILER]

Sometimes, things feel a little off, to me

Specifically, there’s one narrative arc early on in our story when a lot of things felt, well, not quite right, to me.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Deok Mi basically has a really bad couple of days this episode, and it wasn’t fun watching her suffer. I get that we’re supposed to be wowed by Deok Mi’s grace and empathy when she lets the fans go after they attack her, but man, they were really quite vicious. And to have Deok Mi say that she understands why they would feel like they had no other option but to behave that way, I just.. can’t. There’s a difference between understanding why people behave a certain way, and condoning bad behavior. I feel like those fangirls should’ve suffered more for their attack on Deok Mi. That, or have done more to clear the air for her, after meeting her and realizing that they’ve been mistaken about her.

There’s something off-kilter that niggles at me this episode, and I think it has to do with how bad fan behavior is normalized. The way the netizens pounce on Deok Mi, both virtually and in real life, is lightning-fast, vicious, and ruthless. And to have that normalized as an expression of broken hearts because of perceived broken promises between them and Oppa, is just disturbing to me. Especially when that comes from Deok Mi, who’s the victim.

While I get that Deok Mi is supposed to come across as long-suffering and resilient, I have to say, she does come across as a bit of a Candy this episode, with so many bad things happening to her, and her just.. taking it. It was too saintly of her to be that gracious to her attackers, and it was also too saintly of her to pretend that she wasn’t bothered by the slap she received from Director Eom, and it was kind of too Candy-ish for her to put on a smile in spite of it all. And the foolhardiness of walking alone at night when she already knows that upset fans are targeting her, just adds to the Candy flavor.

Added up, this narrative arc just didn’t work very well, for me.

[END SPOILER]

The time Show made me uncomfortable [SPOILER]

Specifically, I didn’t like the idea of Sun Joo making Joo Hyuk wear flower garlands and bunny ears while he works, in episode 7. Yes, she means it as harmless fun, but it makes him uncomfortable, and I think people wouldn’t be as amused with this, if the genders of these characters were reversed.

Some narrative arcs feel unnecessary &/or tropey

I get that dramatic tension is necessary in order to make our story more engaging, but even after adjusting my viewing lens for tropes, there were some things that felt quite unnecessary.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Specifically, the fake relationship breakup in episode 8 feels unnecessary. Of all people, I thought Deok Mi would clue in to Ryan’s different intentions, the moment he grabbed her hand, because she understands what hand-holding means to him. This arc felt like filler, put in just to create some angst, so that the OTP reunion would feel elevated.

I also didn’t care for the Strong Childhood Connection trope. In episode 12, the quick scene of Deok Mi having a forgotten memory flash into her mind, gave me Secretary Kim vibes, where her character also dealt with forgotten memories. While I’m grateful that this doesn’t end up becoming too big a piece of our story, it did make me wonder if this gave Park Min Young déjà vu, and whether she actually has specific rehearsals for remembering forgotten memories, like, “this is my remembering forgotten memories face,” ha.

[END SPOILER]

QUICK SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]

Because kdramas just seem to have some deep-seated need for childhood connections and childhood trauma, it all rears its head in this show too. But, I very much appreciate that the angst is not dragged out across multiple episodes. Instead, the angst is short-lived, AND, it’s dealt with by our characters with grace and forgiveness.

This episode, I feel like I watched multiple examples of healthy conversations, modeled for us to learn from. And while this might lean treacly for some, I can’t say I’m upset by it. In a drama landscape where we see so much dysfunction and angst, it actually feels refreshing to have healthy conversation, grace and forgiveness take centerstage and remind us all, that we can choose to live that way too.

Ryan arranging for Deok Mi to have her own private fan meeting with Shi An on her birthday, takes the cake for understanding and supportive boyfriend of the year.

I also really enjoyed the tentative steps that Ryan and his mom take towards rebuilding their relationship. I love that they lean into the awkwardness and embrace addressing each other as mother and son, instead of avoiding the issue.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

Unsurprisingly, Show stays true to itself and keeps the finale hour mostly dedicated to fanservice. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Even though my interest in this show had mellowed by the last stretch, I’d developed an affection for this cast of characters, and I was a little sorry to say goodbye. The finale hour was an easy, sweet watch that eased the wistfulness of saying goodbye, while also managing to tie just about everything up in neat, happy bows, before the final credits.

The exhibition that our team has been working on all series long finally launches, and Ryan and Deok Mi are shown enjoying the fruit of their labor, while reminiscing via flashbacks to key scenes, the key milestones of pulling the exhibition together, which also coincide with key milestones in their growing connection. It feels like a lovely note on which to bring everything full circle, and, I think, also makes the writing appear that much more purposeful, because it feels like everything that came before, were seeds mindfully planted, for this moment.

One of my favorite highlights of the exhibition, was finally seeing Lee Sol’s paintings put together as a whole, and having Ryan enjoy the momentous occasion with his mom and brother. To have Deok Mi, secret paparazzi-level photographer extraordinaire, capture the moment for them, feels like icing on the cake.

Another moment I really liked, was the conversation between the mothers. Deok Mi’s mom is ever sorry for having abandoned Ryan back in the day, but Ryan’s mom is ever grateful to her, for caring for Ryan as she did. It’s a lovely, poignant moment where both mothers choose together, to forget the bitter, and focus on the sweet, and I liked that a lot.

Just as Ryan starts to paint seriously again, Deok Mi receives an offer to work in New York for a year. She decides to leave for New York, and requests that Ryan go with her, so that he can make a proper comeback as an artist. Ryan agrees, and soon after, gets down on bended knee to propose, which Deok Mi gladly accepts.

One year time-skip later, Deok Mi returns to Korea as Cheum Gallery’s Vice Director. We also learn that Sun Joo’s expecting another baby, and that Eun Gi’s maybe-kinda dating Hyo Jin, both of which are cute and happy things.

Ryan surprises Deok Mi back at the little alleyway where they’d first posed for paparazzi couple pictures, and tender, unhurried kisses ensue. All in all, a very sweet note on which to leave the sweet couple that’s been at the center of this drama all along.

While some viewers have articulated that they would’ve liked a Big Reveal, where Deok Mi comes out as the super fangirl that she is, I’m ok with Show choosing not to go that route. After all, this show is titled Her Private Life, and while Deok Mi’s certainly grown more comfortable in her fangirl skin over the course of our story, and would very likely own her fangirl identity with pride now if push were to come to shove, I rather like the idea that she can choose to still keep that part of herself private, if she wants to.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Sweet and fluffy, like cotton candy.

FINAL GRADE: B++

TEASER:

MVs:

Author: kfangurl

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

48 thoughts on “Review: Her Private Life

  1. This show began a bit rough for me, as the leads went far beyond standard bickering and did some genuinely mean and nasty things to one another. Then they both had personality transpkants to become nice people, and ther middle section was charming and fun. The ending was a disappointing mess, however, so this drama is one I wouldn’t recommend overall, despite its positive aspects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, that’s too bad, that this show was rough-going for you Brenda.. I guess it’s really different strokes for different folks. I personally thought Show did a decent job showing us that both lead characters were decent people, even underneath the prickly surface that they have due to initial misunderstandings. The mutual apologies did a lot to smooth it over, for me. And I found the ending reasonably well-handled despite the time skip. Though it wasn’t an ending to shout about, it was in keeping with the tone that Show had set up, and the various narrative arcs had their own explanation and logic to it. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone looking for a brilliant drama, but if someone was looking for sweet fluff, this would be one that I would suggest checking out – with the caveat that not everything works for everyone, of course. 🙂

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  2. I really loved that series. Two adults building a healthy relationship on trusting each other and all other people around them being just humans. Slice of Life Drama for us Fluff Fangirls :D.

    What absolutely astonished me was the chemistry of our OTP. I know people were over the moon about PMY with her Secretary Kim counterpart but for me it always looked a bit off. PMY and KJW are on a totally different sheet. In the BTS even in the kissing scences they are very comfortable without the typical awkwardness. Rather looking like two Buddies doing their job like Pros. Perfect!

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    • Hi there Usi, glad you enjoyed this show as well! 😀 Yes, this one is perfect fluff, and the OTP chemistry is totally what makes it work. I prefer this pairing to the one in Sec Kim as well, even though I do really like Park Seo Joon as well. I think it was the writing that bugged me a little bit, in Sec Kim. It made PSJ’s character transition from being prickly-nasty to nice a little unnatural and jerky. I thought it was better done here. Also, Kim Jae Wook as Ryan Gold is, well, GOLD. 😍 So swoony. ❤

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  3. I really enjoyed this series a lot, all just about the OTP and fluff. It felt quite similar to Secretary Kim which I’ve also enjoyed.

    It was awesome after dropping the last few dramas which prompted a 2 month break, binged it over the weekend after it finished airing.

    It has its flaws but other than the typical drama stuff that I just overlook it was truly great, the kisses, the romance, the besties, the fangirling, the funny misunderstandings and also how the mom took care of her runaway colleague and her potential boyfriend.

    Tyvm for the reviews!!

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    • Hi there fufuuff, thanks for enjoying the review! ❤ Yes, this one did feel kinda like Secretary Kim. Overall though, I preferred this to Sec Kim because there's less screen time given to the childhood angst. Also.. Kim Jae Wook is sumthin' special. 😍 I mean, I really enjoy Park Seo Joon, but Kim Jae Wook as Ryan Gold is hard to beat! 😉

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  4. Whatever you say about this drama, it certainly knew it’s strengths and played to them well! I loved the review, and completely agree with it. I lost some interest toward the end with the momma drama, and actually stopped watching for a week or so. However, when I got back to it, I found it to be well-handled despite being unsurprising. A large amount of credit for that goes to the veteran actresses playing the mommas. I could watch them in most anything. 🙂
    Any mention of HPL would be incomplete without highlighting the gloriously sensual Kim Jae Wook as Ryan Gold. Hot damn. Maybe it’s just as well he didn’t get into romcoms before now. My ovaries would have quailed. 🤪

    Liked by 1 person

    • Webby!! ❤ Thanks for stopping by! 😀 Yay that you enjoyed the review – that always means a lot, coming from you. 😉 I, too, lost some interest with the Mom angst, it just felt very old-fashioned tropey just by being there, but at least Show treats it all with the same healthy touch as all the OTP interactions, and that made it much better than the average lost-childhood-Mom-angst that we tend to get in Dramaland. I agree the ending was pretty well-handled, for being mostly fanservice and tying up neat bows. I thought the time skip made everything feel sped up, like we were watching Show in fast forward, almost, but overall, it was a solid round-up which stayed faithful to Show's overall vibe, so points for that.

      And oh my goodness, I have to completely agree with you on Kim Jae Wook. My nerve endings literally felt fried, from watching him in action. So sensuous and confident and unhurried and all-in. I swoon. 😍😍😍 I need him to seriously consider more rom-coms going forward. On cable, of course. Coz everyone kisses more comfortably on cable. 😉

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      • Comfortable kissing? Oh nooooo…. I would like the most discomforting kissing please 🙂 I believe KJW could deliver those 😻

        Thanks again for review dear! You rock!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Pwahahaha!!! 😆😆 I had wanted to say, everyone kisses better on cable, but then I thought, they were simply more free to express themselves on cable.. so I went with comfortably. I guess that didn’t sound quite right! 😂 Discomforting, electrocute-me-out-of-my-seat kisses from Kim Jae Wook? Yes please! 😍😍😍

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        • I just finished watching this drama and OMG Ryan Gold is so hot! Sexy, tender, romantic – he is so attractive in a mature manly way. Kim Jae Wook was amazing… I’ve watched many dramas and he is definitely at the top of the “make your insides quiver” list. *Massive swoon!* 😍😍

          One thing… I found myself wishing that Deok Mi would tone down her fangirling of Cha Si An more as she got into a relationship with Ryan. I mean, why worship another man when your own boyfriend is so much more? I understand that her fangirling is the premise of the show, but I thought it was weird and kind of awkward to act so attracted to your boyfriend’s brother. Ryan was understanding but I still thought it was uncomfortable to watch when she did that. I wish she directed more of her fangirling to Ryan instead. God knows he deserves it, lol! 🤩😍🤗❤️

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  5. Yeay finally, i have been waiting for your review on this one because i love this drama, well 85% is because of Kim Jae Wook hohoho.
    As usual i agree on everything you wrote, i just want to add 2 my faves scene:

    1. ep 05 on Nho Jagga nim cabin, when Deok Mi’s scarf got stuck in her hair and Ryan helped her release it, the sensual tension, their gaze through the mirror, it makes me hold my breath and went lkdsfjsf%^%*& when the scene ended. XD

    2. eps 11 when Ryan told the he’ll be Deok Mi’s fan girl, then Deok Mi teaches him that to be a fanboy you should be happy just seeing your idol from far, and then He seduce her by open his shirt button and his watch and after that he use his sensuous pose that Deok Mi can’t stand then kiss him. OMO, i went crazy for that pose, I must admit that i reply that scene tons of time xD (Although so sad that scene got interrupted by Sindy :p).

    Actually because PMY and Kim Jae Wook chemistry is sooooo good on this drama, i think almost all of their scene together is my favorite hahaha..

    Thanks for your review

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there putri, thanks for waiting for this review! ❤ I'm so glad that you found it worth the wait. 🙂 And YES, both of the scenes you described are very swoony as well.. Kim Jae Wook is so effortlessly sensuous and alluring, I can't blame you for rewatching multiple scenes! 😉

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  6. I have loved Park Min young since the Healer days and I am a bit biased when it comes to her shows. 😛 Even if the story line is a bit okay-ish I tend to watch it all along. Anyways, Regarding this show the sizzling and hot chemistry between the leads was the major highlight. OMG those *kisses* had me squealing and my heart pounding. Any other side story wasn’t making me interested in the show at all but whenever Ryan and Deok Mi appeared together “WHAT A SIGHT” it was. Ryan is super hawwtttttt. I first saw him in Coffee prince and after that this was my second of his shows.

    I had complains also especially the illogical story that this show served us in the name of childhood connection. I mean it wasn’t at all needed because that didn’t add much dimension to our story. Also, Deok mi’s mother bringing in another lost child was a bit awkward for me. I mean how can you just keep any abandoned child in your home without trying out available resources to find his parents. I know she was doing a good deed but it needs to have some logic behind it. You are not responsible for every child who is abandoned in the world. I hope you understand what I am trying to say.

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    • Oh, I loved Park Min Young in Healer, so much! It’s still my favorite role of hers to date. ❤ I liked her very well in this as well.. and yes, her chemistry with Kim Jae Wook is pretty darn fantastic. It really made up for any and all of Show's downsides, though to be fair, Show wasn't all that bad in the other areas.. I've seen much worse! 😅

      Yes, I understand what you mean about Deok Mi's mother keeping Ryan at home with her for so long. I think it would've been understandable for a couple of days, maybe, since she expects his mom to come and look for him. But after that, looking for a proper channel to search for his mother would've made more sense. The abandonment at the orphanage was the thing that bugged me the most. I know it was for dramatic effect, but it was out of character and quite illogical, if you ask me. 😛 Still a very sweet watch nonetheless, so I shan't complain too much! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • park Min young in healer was just fantastic. I have become her fangirl since then 😀 . Luckily Healer is on Netflix and for quite a few months it was my daily routine to relax with a cup of tea for about 15 mins and just skim through Healer scenes. I used to call it “my sacred Healer time” 😀 *I know it is crazy but that is what I used to do* 😀 😀

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  7. I just finished watching this drama this morning! I LOVE IT! I love Ryan Gold’s character -his sweetness, his honesty, his cuteness, and innocence. I love Deok Mi’s character too! I love how eager she is with everything that she do and how sincere she is. I love how mature their relationship is!!! I wish I have that kind of relationship. Again, I love this drama! I appreciated Kim Jae Wook here compared to his other drama Temperature of Love (2017).

    This drama made all the sleeping butterflies in my stomach flutter! Park Min Young and Kim Jae Wook gave the PERFECT chemistry! They are so good together! Great casting! Flawed drama, but it can already be one for the books!!!! Must-watch!!!

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    • Glad you loved this one too, minzyday! 😀 Yes, the relationship and chemistry between Ryan and Deok Mi is indeed one for the books, despite Show’s flaws. Just so sweet all-around. ❤

      As for the spoilers, you can skip those if you prefer. That's why I've got all the spoilers marked in bold red letters, so that it's a safe read for everyone, whether or not they've seen the show. 🙂

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  8. P.s. I just stumbled on your site and I didn’t expect that you give kinda many spoilers? Hahaha anyways, nice read for someone who have already watched the drama. Very interesting site btw. Thank you.

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  9. So I started watching this on your recommendation, Fangurl, but there is something I wish you could verify for me. Are Korean celebrities really not allowed to date? How is it a scandal if two unmarried people have a consensual relationship? I’ve encountered this before in other kdramas, of course, but I can’t quite get a handle on how much of this is exaggerated. I mean, it can’t be real, right?

    And the crazy fans…the crazy ADULT fans? Is this really a thing to this extent? Okay, we’ve all experienced crushes on celebrities, but what is acceptable at 13 is just not normal at 30… it’s the reason I had a hard time relating to the heroine in “Answer me 1997. ” I have a friend who has seen Bruce Springsteen perform over a hundred times, but she doesn’t stalk him or obsess about this personal life; she just really loves his music. So I can sort of understand this kind of excessive adoration, but the way fans are portrayed in Kdramas is so over-the-top it just doesn’t seem like that can be real.

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    • Hi there dolores! First of all, thank you for allowing me to persuade you to give this show a try – that always makes me feel useful and stuff. 😉

      As for the questions you raised, I’ll do my best to shed some light, though I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the matter.

      It is, sadly, usually considered a scandal if a Korean celeb dates and is outed by paparazzi. It’s a very different dynamic compared to the west, where celebs date freely and fans are perfectly fine with it. In the 10+ years that I’ve been observing k-ent as a very non-involved fan, I do think that things are evolving and fans are becoming more open-minded and accepting about their idols dating. But, the transition isn’t complete and there are still large numbers of fans who would be crushed to find out that their idol is dating. I think it’s in how the idol is marketed; often, the idol is marketed as single, available, an Oppa to his fans. And so, many fans have a (completely wrong) perspective that the idol “belongs” to them; that somehow, they do stand a chance of a happy-ever-after with their idol, no matter how small the chances. So when the idol is outed as dating someone else, those fantasies are shattered, and results in a lot of angst and broken hearts. Because there are a lot of young fans involved as well, and also, because some fans are very.. intense, and therefore fan safety an issue because they don’t want any suicide attempts or anything, management companies work hard to keep things from blowing up.

      As for the fans themselves, fan ages can span anywhere from kids and tweens, to adults, to ahjummas. Fan intensity varies, of course. Some fans are more casual than others, while on the other end of the scale, there are super fans who are much more intense in their fangirling activities. I’ve heard of adult fans who have moved countries just to be in the same country as their idol. That’s considered relatively harmless, since that only impacts the fans themselves. There are also “sasaeng” fans who are much scarier. These are the ones who might stalk their idols. I’ve heard wild stories of sasaeng fans who stalk their idols / send threatening or weird stuff in the mail / even breaking into and entering their idols’ living quarters. It sounds insane, but these fans do exist. Which means that the superfandom portrayed in this show might be exaggerated in places, but isn’t actually far from the truth. Not all fans are like this, but there are intense fans who are. And yes, some of them would be adults.

      On the upside, the emphasis on the fangirling does get toned down as you get deeper into the show, so if this part disturbs you, you could skip-watch a little bit, until you get to the less fangirly stuff. I hope that helps. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really like your well written reply on korean fandom culture. I think it deserves a post of its own 🙂 Being a reasonably new fangirl (I only started watching kdrama a year ago), I find the whole korean celebrity culture fascinating. Reading a news about a celebrity apologizing to his fan of him dating someone is just so bizarre to me. I guess that’s also probably why so many korean actors/actresses stay unmarried?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Aw, thanks Yoona, that’s very sweet of you to say! I don’t know if I know enough about Korean fan culture to write a post on it, honestly, because I’m not a kpop fan and that’s where the most intense fandoms are. Let me think about your suggestion though, and see if I can come up with enough meat to warrant a post. 🙂 And to answer your question, yes, that’s a big part of why Korean celebs tend to marry late, if they marry at all. But, there is also a lot of secret dating that goes on, not just among the kpop stars but among the actors and actresses as well. I do think it’s hard to maintain a relationship given their demanding schedules and the glare of public scrutiny. But like I mentioned in my other comment, this fan culture is evolving, and there are now more celebs dating opening than ever before, and it’s becoming more accepted, with more fans being supportive of their idols dating. 🙂

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  10. My hat’s off to PMY. She always shows good chemistry with her leading man. Although probably its not that hard to do considering how hot is KJW as Ryan 😋 The story was the weak point for me in this show but the cute OTP moments were enough to make me stay.

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    • That’s very true.. the story was not a strong one. Like you, any time I grew impatient or disappointed with Show for having a less than compelling story, the OTP swooped in to save the day, in all their sweet, adorable and sexy glory. 😉

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  11. Thanks for your review. Loved it. I looooved this romcom. The chemistry of the OTP was so sizzling that is masked whatever shortcomings the show had for me. Show has suffered so many replays for me while waiting for the next episodes. I must say I wasn’t interested in watching at first, but decided to check it out coz of PMY as I liked her since City Hunter days andbloves her in Healer. I had to google who KJW is… was surprised he was the charismatic waffle meister in Coffee Prince. The first two episodes got me hooked. I became a fan of KJW through this show that I also watched his other shows to fill the gap between HPL episodes. What a superb acting range he has…from a super creepy psychopath in the Voice, to his turn as an exorcist priest, and even the ghost-like cop in Who are You. So glad to see KJW also slays as a romcom lead. I feel he is under appreciated. I wish for him more projects as lead and more success.
    More power to you kfangurl!

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    • Hi there Clam0214, thanks for enjoying the review! ❤ You are spot-on; this OTP's chemistry basically made up for any and all of Show's flaws, and then some. 😉 I agree, Kim Jae Wook has been underrated all these years since Coffee Prince, so it's really great to see him gaining so much attention and recognition with this role. 😀 Hopefully this will mean more meaty roles for him in the near future! Also, YES, Park Min Young is wonderful in Healer. That's my favorite role of hers to date. 😍

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  12. Pingback: Dear kfangurl: Is Korean Fan Culture Really Like What Is Shown In Dramas? | The Fangirl Verdict

  13. just like you even i was peer pressurized to watch this drama….. but it was worth it mainly due to the incredible chemistry between the main lead… though the mother seperation and then the mother bond was little forced and cliched then i would have liked… but overall it was worth watching… and i recently discovered your website and i wish i would have discovered it sooner… loved loved your reviews… looking forward to more… ^^

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    • Aw, welcome to the blog, erwinia! ❤ I'm glad you found me, even if it's a little later than earlier. 😉 I hope you'll continue to enjoy the reviews. 🙂 Also, yes, the chemistry of our OTP made this show more than worthwhile. It felt like such a refreshing breath of healthy relationship dynamics, amid the spazz-inducing chemistry. 😍 I guess this is one time that peer pressure was a positive thing? 😆

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  14. Love your observations on the relationship dynamics of the OTP. I specially enjoyed the no-out-of-this-world-conflict relationship between them and of course the generous kisses. And of course Director Eom. Her poised, small, same pitch voice and delivery were a delight to watch. Can’t help but love her.

    Great review as always. 🙂

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    • Kaiaraia! 😀 Always so nice to see you around here, chingu! ❤ Yes, the OTP was very lovely indeed, and Director Eom really was a hoot to watch! Kim Sun Young is one of my favorite actresses, and she made Director Eom so funny and larger-than-life! Such a scene stealer! 😆😍

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  15. I really enjoyed Her Private Life too. It really was a fantastic example of a well-done romantic comedy. The main couple are the backbone of the show and completely sell it, but then there’s a little mystery and back story to fill things out. It all made for a pretty great show 🙂

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    • Glad you enjoyed this one too, Kay! 😀 This pairing was quite magical, and the writing of Ryan Gold was just lovely as well. A very enjoyable watch, which I found perfect to unwind to, when I was tired at the end of a long day. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I have been waiting for this. Work had been a bit hectic and I had to control myself damn hard during HPL airing time. It’s one of the few dramas what make me camping for live recap, chatting on fan sites and making fan-arts keke And I admit I had to take your advice of adjusting viewing lens for this one. I often judge a show on how well it handles conflicts, and I seriously didn’t think the show did it well. At around ep 10, I have adjusted my lens and see this purely as a love story of our OTP. Anything else is just icing on the cake. And I was able to enjoy it until the end.

    I love your review. Another B++ drama that I couldn’t agree more.
    In case you are interested, here is all my fan-arts for Ryan & Deok Mi:
    https://haartism.wordpress.com/2019/05/08/to-you/

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    • Aw, thanks for waiting for this, haart! ❤ That's really great, that you were able to enjoy this one after all.. the lens adjustment can really turn a watch around, I find, so I'm really glad that helped make this show work for you – to the extent that you made fan art, too! 😀 And can I just say, Wow! Your art is lovely! 😍😍 I subscribed right away 😉

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  17. I must confess – I didn’t love this one as much as you (and many others) did. You’re right that a lot of how we perceive and enjoy shows depends on our lens and I would add to that what we’re in the mood for. I thought I was in the mood for a fluffy rom-com (after the heavy Misaeng and This Week My Wife Will Have An Affair) but… maybe not, haha. I think what bugged me mostly was the tropes (childhood trauma and forgotten memories and family baggage and childhood connection) – in the opening minutes when PMY was drawing and I saw a boy nearby I thought to myself “oh no is this a childhood connection…” Perhaps also because it’s very similar to WWWSK and Radio Romance (the childhood tropes) and there were some crossover actors from Radio Romance too so it felt a little “haven’t I seen this before…”

    BUT having said that, there’s plenty I did like about this show! Mostly what you covered – PMY and KJW were wonderful individually and together. Them together —- OMG they not only have off the charts chemistry but I would believe you if you told me they were a real life couple, they were so comfortable and natural with each other! And some of the kisses were literally electrifying and super duper hot. And KJW is indeed Perfect Boyfriend. I have only watched him in Coffee Prince but he is really. good. looking. Haha.

    Other things I liked include how conflicts were managed by open communication throughout the family. I also enjoyed Sindy’s growth and little Geon Woo (so cute!) and the actress playing PMY’s best friend. And more technically it was beautifully lit and shot (especially the amusement park date and when the sunlight filtered through the windows onto PMY as she wakes up) and the OST had some lovely tracks too.

    While there were some points I contemplated dropping this show (the tropes, and also parts of the beginning felt draggy) I’m glad I finished it! Now, off to watch WPL as recommended hehe. Thank you for this review though and articulating what I liked/didn’t like so much about the show!

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    • Oh yes, there’re lots of tropes in this show, no doubt, and the childhood connection one is the one that I felt was least necessary. But, the OTP, the perfect boyfriend and lover in Ryan Gold, and the healthy conversations just made up for it, for me. 😄 Glad you still liked this one well enough, for what it was, and YAY AGAIN, that you’re enjoying WPL!! 😀

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      • Haha yes I fully agree that Ryan Gold is like World No 1 Boyfriend material. Agree that him + the conversations were wonderful, which made it a good watch. Strangely for someone who got into K/Cdramas through rom-coms, I find that… I’m not enjoying rom-coms as much these days! The shows that really grabbed my heart aren’t rom-coms, I think the last few rom-coms that I really enjoyed were RIABB and ALSB (watched earlier this year). And these 2 aren’t tropey. Maybe it’s just the tropes… haha 🙂

        YES TO WPL I love it so far, I’m sure I’m gonna leave a mega comment when I’m done 😀 about the corny humour – I didn’t find it a turn off, it was quite fun actually, maybe because the setting is depressing so the humour lightens it. Maybe??? Not sure, but I find myself laughing out loud (in real life, not the internet LOL version!!)

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        • Oh, I know what you mean, MC! I’ve often felt similarly! 😀 I personally started my journey in Dramaland with a rom-com – well, it was a rom-com until it turned into a romantic melodrama – and I always thought I preferred rom-coms to more serious shows. But in the last few years, I’ve found that I’ve felt more meh than I’d expected, towards the average rom-com, and that I enjoyed the more serious melodramas a lot more. That was very surprising to me, because I always thought I wasn’t a melodrama kinda gal. But.. I guess my tastes are evolving. I still love me a good, well-done rom-com, but I find that it’s the meatier shows that really grab me. Bonus Book grabbed me, not because it was a rom-com, but because it was a rom-com with meat on its bones. It was so thoughtfully written and executed; so gentle and lyrical. I would’ve probably loved it even without its rom-com sheen. Hi5 again? 😀

          It’s great that the corny humor is working for you, in WPL! 😀 I personally struggle quite often with k-humor, so that’s prevented me from loving some shows as much as I want to. This bodes well for your enjoyment of WPL, and this PD’s other offerings! Enjoy the rest of your watch, I’ll wait to hear all of your thoughts when you’re ready to share them! ❤

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          • A million YESes to what you said! Meaty shows, with thoughtful writing, assured directing and great acting is what grabs me rather than the genre. But most important (to me) is good writing that makes sense! I think my favourite rom-com (I hesitate to really classify it as rom-com but it’s the closest) is Because This Life Is Our First and that’s so thoughtful and deep that I hardly classify it as a rom-com. I look back at shows I loved in the beginnings of my drama journey and I think if I was to watch them today I may not enjoy it as much. So it’s a good thing I watched those then!

            Yes! Now that I’ve started my new job I’ve got less time to watch so progress is slow. But I’ll definitely share more once I’m done. And after that probably Dazzling/Reply series!

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  18. Loved it. It is dramas like this that keeps me sticking around k-dramaland when so many dramas are a mess. Could I have done without the tropey kid connection and too much focus on lost mom, yep. But this show captures truly what it is like to fall in love, and deal with what life throws at you. It also didn’t spend too much time on side characters. I did like that the director’s daughter (stalker girl) stopped some of her unhealthy activity when she actually got a job and was given responsibility.

    I was also totally fine with her not being outed as a fangirl, but I did wish the drama didn’t spend so much time on his past and instead looked at how things would work out in her fangirling world with her future bro-in-law. I think there was a comedic gold mine that was left untouched.

    Lastly, I hope all romance productions can look at the scene early on where he is helping her get her hair unsnarled. That was sizzling hot. One doesn’t need to have an actual kiss to show chemistry between characters and this show did this very well.

    I would say one of the pet peeves that I had was turning the brother-not-brother into a triangle situation though shortlived. I give credit to the drama for finally having a 2nd lead feel what it would really be like to subject your emotional baggage on to someone who doesn’t see you like that. I liked that he apologized. I just thought the drama could have done so so so much with this guy saying, ” hey, we might not be blood, but she is my sister anyway” and act like a normal oppa would when sister brings a guy home. Oh well, maybe someday.

    This is probably my favorite romance drama in the last several years, and I’m keeping an eye on the writer.

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  19. Sorry, first time posting a comment (long time reader) and I made a mistake replying to another comment. Reposting. 😝

    I just finished watching this drama and OMG Ryan Gold is so hot! Sexy, tender, romantic – he is so attractive in a mature manly way. Kim Jae Wook was amazing… I’ve watched many dramas and he is definitely at the top of the “make your insides quiver” list. *Massive swoon!* 😍😍

    One thing… I found myself wishing that Deok Mi would tone down her fangirling of Cha Si An more as she got into a relationship with Ryan. I mean, why worship another man when your own boyfriend is so much more? I understand that her fangirling is the premise of the show, but I thought it was weird and kind of awkward to act so attracted to your boyfriend’s brother. Ryan was understanding but I still thought it was uncomfortable to watch when she did that. Did anyone else feel though? I wish she directed more of her fangirling to Ryan instead. God knows he deserves it, lol! 🤩😍🤗❤️

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