THE SHORT VERDICT:
Show doesn’t reinvent the drama wheel by any stretch of the imagination, and I’d even say that Show’s got some flaws that I find hard to look past, BUT, this drama shows a nice chunk of heart for a good stretch in the middle (it started slow for me and I’m not completely satisfied with how the ending’s handled), which is very pleasant indeed.
Kim Young Kwang’s the meltiest I’ve seen him yet, Jin Ki Joo manages to be endearing despite some questionable characterization, and Kim Jae Kyung is a complete hoot as the feisty, unabashed, world-of-her-own Veronica Park.
A solid easy-breezy marathon, for when you just want to give the ol’ brain a break.
THE LONG VERDICT:
Drama mood counts for a whole lot, as I keep learning, my friends.
When this show first aired, I’d been in a bit of a drama funk, and so, when I’d dipped a toe into this drama in response to everyone else’s positive comments, I hadn’t felt enamored of it much at all, and had zero regrets dropping out early and going on about my way.
Now, though, with a global pandemic in full force, I found myself more in the mood than usual, for something fluffy and frothy, even if the something in question was far from perfect.
When I’d first sampled this drama last year, I’d found it too clichéd for my taste. And yet, this year, I didn’t feel that feeling, at all. This time around, show still does feel old-fashioned, in its set-up and use of tropes – successful, handsome, brilliant chaebol male lead who comes off as a bit of a cold jerk, but has hidden pain and scars; frazzled, dumpy, desperate, and overly submissive female lead, who’s desperately trying to make a better life for herself and her siblings; a boss-employee set-up; face blindness; a good friend who looks set to become the ex-friend and enemy; watching this show does give me flashes of other kdramas that I’ve seen before, and I feel like I can almost predict the next plot point – but interestingly, I honestly didn’t mind. Funny how that works, eh?
Overall, I found this show more watchable than I’d expected, and I’m glad that I decided to give it another chance, flaws and all. Sometimes second time is the charm?
OST ALBUM – FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
STUFF I LIKED
Kim Young Kwang as Min Ik
Can’t lie; Min Ik was a bit of a slow burn for me, as a character. When we first meet him, he displays some jerk-like behavior that I did not find at all endearing. But, thankfully, Show is quick to show us glimmers of Min Ik’s better side from time to time, and that helped. Also, happily, we get to know the real Min Ik soon enough, and he’s a lot more caring, a lot kinder, and a lot more vulnerable than I first expected.
Kim Young Kwang does a really nice job bringing out Min Ik’s various facets. He can pull of Annoying Min Ik just as well as he can pull of Sweet Min Ik, and I almost didn’t notice, when my feelings for Min Ik started softening.
One of my favorite things about Kim Young Kwang’s delivery of Min Ik, is how there’s a consistent gentleness that shows through. Even when Min Ik was being (what I thought was) inappropriately handsy with Gal Hee (more on that later in this review) and being a boss who was all-around presumptuous and annoying, there was a noticeable sense of gentleness about him. The way he handled her (though I didn’t like that he was at all handling her, which, like I said, I’ll talk more about later) was visibly gentle, which did a lot to mollify me. Also, there were occasions when I’d expected Min Ik to be really angry (details in the spoiler section), but instead, in his upset-ness, he channeled gentleness instead. This is quite possibly my favorite thing about Min Ik; kudos to Kim Young Kwang for giving Min Ik that gentle core.
E3-4. Kim Young Kwang does a good job delivering Min Ik’s reaction to the fact that he can’t see faces. There’s shock, desperation, and sense of lostness, which I find very on-point.
E9-10. I was struggling with whether Min Ik’s suddenly much nicer persona was believable, since he’d appeared to be quite the jerk in episode 1, and had even made a promise to Gal Hee (Jin Ki Joo) that she would leave once he didn’t need her anymore, despite the fact that she’s currently the only person who can help him (ugh I didn’t like that), but I can rationalize that she’s been very kind to him in a time of vulnerability, and that that’s softened him up, to be the more thoughtful, sweet version of himself that we see this episode.
E19-20. I do wish Min Ik would show more of his alleged intelligence, in terms of figuring out that Gal Hee and “Veronica” are the same person. But I can buy that he’s lost a lot of his confidence after being unable to see faces, and thus is much less sure of himself in general.
E19-20. Hm. It seems that Min Ik has some inkling that he might like Gal Hee, since he blurts out to Dae Joo that even though he’s sincere with Veronica, his heart seems to flutter when he’s with Gal Hee too.
E21-22. Poor Min Ik. He think he’s a terrible person for having feelings for “Veronica” and Gal Hee at the same time, and hates himself, and even gets punched by Dae Joo (Koo Ja Sung) for it. And he goes through so much angst and confusion because of this, but all he ever did, was fall for the same woman, twice. Poor guy. I feel fondly sorry for him.
E23-24. The dinner party where Veronica and Min Ik meet, is excruciating to watch. Poor Min Ik; despite his best efforts to give her the benefit of the doubt, he’s slowly putting together all the clues that this is not the Veronica he knows, and the growing realization and disbelief is written all over his face. I feel so bad for him. Really nicely played by Kim Young Kwang, though.
E23-24. What kills me the most, when Min Ik confronts Gal Hee and Gal Hee admits to her lies, is that Min Ik doesn’t ever show anger, or lash out at her. All we see is his hurt, disappointment, disbelief and exhaustion, and it really hits me hard, that everything that he says – “Why did you do that? Why did you do that to me?” – is said with gentleness. Ack. My heart.
E23-24. This is just a terrible day for Min Ik. He’s been holding onto his trust of Dae Joo all this time, in the face of incriminating circumstantial evidence, but now that he realizes that Gal Hee has betrayed his trust, he can’t trust himself anymore, and gives in to investigating that evidence, only to face the disappointment and hurt of his best friend. Poor guy. I feel like if he hadn’t just been reeling from Gal Hee’s deception, that he would’ve held on to his trust of Dae Joo.
E25-26. The look on Min Ik’s face as he fires Gal Hee, is so sad. He’s actually very reluctant to let her go, and it’s clear to see from the tears in his eyes. Poor Min Ik.
E25-26. Min Ik is like a petulant child this episode, but because I’ve grown affectionate of him, it comes across as endearing rather than annoying. The way he asked his brain doctor (Kim Byung Choon) to go to Cuba with him, and pouted when Doc said that he couldn’t go, is so childlike and harmless.
E25-26. Min Ik’s conversation with Mom (Jung Ae Ri) is really poignant and heartbreaking. After gently and resignedly telling her again, about his peanut allergy, and reminding her of the times that she had been informed of this, and telling her that he doesn’t need her to know his birthday, but if she wants to do well faking it as a loving mother, then she should at least know this, and then apologizes for letting her down, I’d expected Min Ik to just walk away. But instead, he walks towards her and gives her a hug, tells her that he loves her, as always. Wow. That’s just so loving, despite how withholding Mom has been. Min Ik is so very sweet; I can’t imagine Mom not coming to genuinely care for him, at least a little bit.
E27-28. I like the little pep talk that Gal Hee gives Min Ik on the morning of the board meeting. That story of her brother (Seo Dong Won) coming to terms with his disability, and Mom (Kim Hee Jung) teaching him to see that no one is perfect, and that everyone is flawed and less able, in their own way, is quite lovely. And I love how Min Ik uses it in his speech to the board of directors later, when he unexpectedly is faced with the choice to come clean about his illness.
“Those who believe my illness is a reason for disqualification… according to the articles of incorporation… may vote for Candidate Sim Hae Yong. But I don’t agree… on taking my illness as a reason… for disqualification. I’ve memorized and studied hard. And now I can recognize who you all are. This illness actually helped me… to develop the qualifications of a president. If I could read your facial expressions, I might have tried to cover it up with a lie. But I can’t… even study your face. So all I can do is tell the truth. If I were… still called as the mind-reader, I wouldn’t have paid attention to every employee. If I could still do everything on my own, I wouldn’t have listened carefully to others. The one who tells the truth, pays attention to his employees, and listens carefully to others around him… deserves to be the president, I believe. Today, someone told me this. That everyone has their own disabilities. I can’t say I’m a perfect human being now. But if you allow me, I will consult with and count on the directors for what I lack… to perform my duties as the president.”
I love how gently matter-of-fact Min Ik is, in stating his case. He’s not aggressive or defensive. He’s thoughtful, honest, and quietly vulnerable. I love it.
Jin Ki Joo as Gal Hee
Gal Hee was also a slight slow burn for me too. I didn’t like that she seemed overly submissive to her boss, or that she was so desperate about keeping her job, or that she seemed to have a low sense of self-worth, because she took care of everyone and everything else on her list, and didn’t seem to think that she herself deserved to rank high on that list, or rank on that list at all.
I also wasn’t too hot about how Gal Hee is directed to be a little cartoonish in her expressions and reactions. I didn’t find that appealing; I wanted a female lead that I could identify with, and I.. didn’t feel like I identified with a cartoonish sort of female lead.
BUT. Jin Ki Joo is cute as a button, and possesses a great deal of personal charm, and for me, she made all the difference. Even though I chafed at Gal Hee being written and directed to act like a cartoon character at times, I couldn’t help but find her likable, in Jin Ki Joo’s hands.
Also, it soon becomes clear that Gal Hee is earnest and goodhearted by nature, and that also went a long way, in getting me in Gal Hee’s corner, despite her sometimes questionable choices.
E1-2. Gal Hee is turning out to be not just an overly submissive secretary, and I liked seeing her blurt out her frustration and true feelings, once she realized that the last lesson her dying mother had wanted to impart, was to not endure.
E9-10. It’s just like Gal Hee to not be able to stand by and watch, knowing that Min Ik’s in a crisis. It was sweet of her to help him out, even though she was dressed as Veronica Park (Kim Jae Kyung).
E15-16. Gal Hee’s experience must be so bittersweet. Even as she’s falling more and more for Min Ik, she can’t truly revel in the sweet things he does for her, because in his eyes, she’s someone else. Plus, there’s the guilt that she’s carrying, about deceiving him. She didn’t create this ruse of out malice, but it was a situation she found herself in, which she found difficult to come clean to him about, mostly because she feels that if she tells him the truth, that she’d never be able to see him again, even as his secretary. It’s not honest, but I can buy that when feelings are involved, that sometimes you just can’t think straight. And it’s clear that she really does care about him and his well-being, as a person, not just as her boss.
E15-16. Gal Hee’s reason for wanting to stay around Min Ik, disguised as Veronica’s reason for wanting to stay with her boyfriend, is sweet. That it’s because he seems to have everything, except good people around him, that she wants to stay by his side, is so him-focused, rather than self-focused.
E25-26. Gal Hee is guilty of deceiving Min Ik, but because we know exactly how she feels about him, and how much she cares about him and doesn’t want to hurt him, but just can’t stop herself from being a little more – and then a little more – greedy to spend time with him, being acknowledged as a woman instead of a secretary, and believing that this is her only chance of being acknowledged as a woman by him, ever, that I can’t blame her too much. She clearly didn’t do it out of malice, and has been punishing herself and tormenting herself over it a lot, so I feel like I’ve forgiven her, even if Min Ik isn’t there yet.
Min Ik and Gal Hee together
Considering how I began this show feeling bemused at the power imbalance between our OTP, I must say Show does a really nice job of turning this around, because as it turns out, Show’s treatment of our OTP development is one of the personal highlights of my watch.
Once we get past the initial set-up, we get double identity hijinks, as Min Ik finds himself falling for Gal Hee’s alter ego. While I found this solidly amusing, what drew me in more, was the heartfelt nature of this OTP connection, which felt quite nicely organic in its development. Show is nicely peppered with earnest, sweet moments between our OTP, and I found myself enjoying these very much.
For the record, I felt that Kim Young Kwang and Jin Ki Joo share an easy, comfortable chemistry that worked well whether Min Ik and Gal Hee were working together trying to figure out work challenges, or getting up close and heart-thumpingly personal. Really nice. Also for the record, Kim Young Kwang kisses his leading lady like he means it, and in this case, it translates into sweet, tender, unhurried kisses. Melt.
E1-2. It’s a nice power flip at the end, where Min Ik becomes the one who’s afraid and vulnerable, and Gal Hee becomes the only one who can save him, where previously, it was the other way around, where Gal Hee was so afraid of losing her job, and Min Ik was the only one with the power to assuage that fear. Min Ik’s fear, and the way that he clings to Gal Hee in desperation does come across as quite nicely vulnerable, and I’m looking forward to see how this vulnerability plays out.
E3-4. I chafe at how Min Ik (thinks he) gets to call the shots on whether Gal Hee has to go or stay as his secretary, but 1, I’m pleased that Gal Hee doesn’t let herself be jerked around, and stands up for her right to turn him down. And 2, it does mollify me that Min Ik’s shown some vulnerability, due to his insecurity not just about his prosopagnosia, but around his own family. He has no sense of security with his mother, who states bluntly that his role is to be the perfect son, and is the only reason she still allows him to stay. I find Min Ik more likable when he’s showing his vulnerability.
E5-6. I do like the fact that Gal Hee’s starting to stand up to Min Ik, now that she knows that he needs her. It’s good that she makes a stand for what she wants, in terms of her employment conditions. But, Secretary Lee’s (Jang So Yun) remark, that Gal Hee’s been tamed by Min Ik, not the other way around, does give me pause for thought. It’s true that Min Ik’s succeeded in making Gal Hee feel happy and grateful for things that are, or should be, fundamental rights. At least Show’s acknowledging that.
E5-6. I am mollified by Min Ik’s flashes of appreciation, like when he thanks Gal Hee for coming back, in the car. It’s a departure from his typical demanding, petulant ways, and I’m encouraged at the thought that he’s a nicer person underneath his annoying, high-maintenance ways.
I am also mollified to see that Gal Hee actually does care about him, and doesn’t just treat him as the means to a paycheck. When she sees him memorizing staff heights in an attempt to mitigate his prosopagnosia, she gives up on leaving early for the evening, and sits down to help him. The manner in which she does this – willingly, and like she’s even having a bit of fun with it – makes me feel better about her job with Min Ik. Although, I still am not pleased with Min Ik’s earlier demand, that once he’s cured of his prosopagnosia, that Gal Hee has to leave. Talk about shooting your gift horse – and yourself – in the mouth.
E9-10. The thing with the confidence coat is very sweet. The fact that Min Ik picked up on it while Gal Hee was answering his questions about Veronica, and thought of giving Gal Hee her own confidence coat is very thoughtful and sweet. And the fact that Gal Hee then thought to lend him the confidence coat for the shareholder meeting, is also very thoughtful and sweet. In both cases, I feel like they’re really thinking of and being considerate to the other person, and I really like it. So much empathy there.
E9-10. Min Ik asking Gal Hee to stay in the suite and enjoy the hotel, and going home himself, is also very thoughtful and sweet. He remembers what Gal Hee said about never having been in a suite before, and wants her to enjoy it. That is really nice.
E11-12. I find Min Ik much more endearing now that he’s being so much nicer to Gal Hee. And I appreciate that he tells her why he’d behaved differently before, because 1, this helps me reconcile his annoying and unpleasant behavior in the earlier episodes with his true self, and 2, she deserves to know that it was all about him, and not about her; that it wasn’t because she was untrustworthy, all the time that she worked for him.
I’m also more comfortable with the skinship now, because it seems more mutual. Gal Hee voluntarily hugged him when she heard the news that he’d won the shareholder vote, and when she awkwardly pulled away, he pulled her back in and hugged her again. This feels like a natural evolution of their relationship, now that they’ve faced a crisis together, and stood together, and supported each other through it.
E11-12. Watching Min Ik and Gal Hee spend so much time together, preparing for a big battle together, and how intense it can get, and how emotionally involved it can get, I understand why bosses and their secretaries might get romantically involved in the real world. And to that end, I find it perfectly believable, that after having gone through these two weeks, that Gal Hee and Min Ik would be much closer to each other than before.
E11-12. I like that Min Ik thinks to gives Gal Hee a new contract. That really had been the one thing that she’d desperately wanted before, and the fact that he drew up a new contract, changing the terms such that she’d be in full control of when the contract would end, strikes me as very thoughtful and considerate.
E15-16. I love how vulnerable Min Ik allows himself to be, with his beloved. He doesn’t hesitate to tell her that he’s not his mom’s biological son, and also, he admits to her that he can’t see faces. That’s basically exposing his biggest weaknesses to her, even while knowing that this is quite possibly the last time he’s going to spend time with her, and that there’s no more room for development towards a relationship, and that she’s in a position to possibly use that information against him. Yet, he trusts her completely, and shows that trust by putting himself in her hands, in this manner. I love how all-in he is, with her, without being aggressive about it.
I do really like how the kiss is executed. Min Ik’s gentle hesitance, as he puts his hands on hers, and guides them around his waist as he pulls her towards him, then gently reaches up to hold her face, as he leans in, uncertain of himself; Gal Hee, realizing his uncertainty because he can’t see her face, and guiding him to lean down lower, then lower still, before reaching up to kiss him first; Min Ik, slowly responding to her kiss, then allowing himself to savor the moment, as his lips move on hers. It’s so natural, so tender and so full of wistfulness. So heartfelt, bittersweet and lovely.
E17-18. Min Ik revisiting all the places that he’d visited with “Veronica” is really poignant and bittersweet. He’s like a lost little boy.
E17-18. It’s heartwarming to see Min Ik getting so much comfort from the food that Gal Hee cooks. At times like this, he really seems to be so childlike, like a baby duckling cleaving to the mother that he never had.
E17-18. Min Ik coming back to stay the night at Gal Hee’s home is sweet, because he’s worried about her being alone in the house, after the break-in. He really does care about her well-being.
E17-18. How ironic, that Min Ik and Gal Hee are telling each other about how badly they miss the person that they each broke up with, when the person that they each broke up with is right there is front of them. It’s bittersweet that they’re sharing such a personal moment, with hand-holding and comforting words, but there’s this big lie keeping them apart.
E17-18. Min Ik’s inner child is totally showing through, with the way he’s requesting Gal Hee to tuck him into bed and sing him to sleep. It’s funny, but it’s also sad, because he never experienced this kind of motherly attention when he was growing up.
E21-22. I actually like that Min Ik feels so sorry towards Gal Hee, about the almost-kiss, and I also like that he nervously clarifies that it wasn’t a mistake, even as he’s doing everything he can to keep her away from him. I mean, even while putting distance between them, he doesn’t discount the emotion of the moment as a mistake or hallucination, or “I must’ve been out of my mind.” Somehow, his admission that it wasn’t a mistake pleases me a great deal.
E21-22. Aw, that moment when “Veronica” asks Min Ik whether he has feelings for another woman, and he denies it immediately, is so poignant. It should make “Veronica” happy that Min Ik is saying he only has feelings for her, but it’s making Gal Hee sad instead.
E21-22. Min Ik putting off giving “Veronica” an answer about the state of their relationship; Min Ik getting all upset when he realizes that Driver Eun (Choi Tae Hwan) had broken into Gal Hee’s house and that she might still be vulnerable to further intrusion; Min Ik only dropping the flowers and running off, after hearing that Gal Hee was in the accident too; it’s quite clear to see that Min Ik instinctively, viscerally cares more about Gal Hee than about “Veronica.”
E21-22. Gal Hee being reduced to tears, because she can’t bear to deceive Min Ik anymore, says a lot about how much she cares about him.
E21-22. Min Ik recognizes Gal Hee from afar, even though she’s in a hospital gown and not in her signature red cardigan. That’s significant! And also, even though I did see it coming – eee! – I’m so happy that Min Ik chose Gal Hee for herself, over “Veronica.”
E23-24. Min Ik’s confession to Gal Hee is so nervous and tentative yet so honest. He doesn’t airbrush anything, and even admits that he genuinely liked “Veronica Park;” he’s gentle, vulnerable and open, and I really like it. And I love his conclusion, that he realized that he’d liked “Veronica” because she’d reminded him of Gal Hee. Melt. That is really sweet, and so much more accurate than he knows.
E23-24. Guh. The hand-washing scene is so gentle and unexpectedly sensuous. And weirdly, so perfect for the times that we are in right now. Min Ik is gentle and insistent, as he envelopes her hand in his, massaging the soap in according to the hand-washing chart’s instructions, and Gal Hee practically buckles at the knees from the intimacy of it all. And to top it all off, Min Ik shows his tentativeness and vulnerability again, murmuring, “I.. I know I failed to gain your trust. So even if you tell me that you don’t like me, I won’t have much to say to that.. No.. Don’t say you don’t like me.. I’ll give you as much time as you need,” even as he struggles to steady his gaze. Aw. His nervousness and uncertainty is very endearing. And that heart that he draws on her cast, is just perfect. It says so much, without having to say anything at all. <3
E23-24. Min Ik calling Gal Hee for a cozy chat is very endearing. And at the mere mention of her not being used to talking on the phone like this, he’s immediately grabbing a hoodie to go see her in person, even though he’s literally in his PJs. So childlike and cute.
E23-24. It’s sadly ironic though, the part where Gal Hee wonders if this thing between them is all true, and Min Ik asks if she thinks he’s lying, and she says yes, it all feels like a lie. I know it’s a common turn of phrase in Korean, but in this context, where she’s the one who’s been lying to him, it feels like an extra cruel stab to Min Ik – a stab that he won’t realize, until later.
E23-24. Aw. Min Ik wanting to learn to make coffee, not just for himself, but because he promised Gal Hee that he’d serve her coffee instead. Sweet.
E25-26. I think it’s fitting and believable that the thing that makes the first crack in Min Ik’s defense mechanisms against Gal Hee, is her demonstration of genuine care towards him.
E27-28. Min Ik’s clearly not willing to let Gal Hee go. Every time he thinks about her, or says goodbye or thank you to her, there’s a great deal of wistfulness, sadness and lostness about him. I feel like he’ll literally be lost without her, but is unable to articulate it or do anything about it, because he’s been so hurt by her deception and betrayal of trust.
E27-28. Min Ik getting all jealous while thinking that Gal Hee’s out on a date with another man when she’s actually helping her blind brother, is just hilarious. His nervous leaps to hide whenever she turns around; his aggravated biting of the back of the seat in front of him; his unhappy jealousy that Gal Hee’s being all touchy-feely with another man; it’s all hilarious, and just the kick in the pants that Min Ik needs, to galvanize him into doing something to get Gal Hee back.
E27-28. The way Min Ik leaps to his feet when Gal Hee arrives at the restaurant, and runs to stand face to face with her, is endearing. He’s really so eager to see her and be near her; that leap-and-run just expressed how much. And I do love the hesitant, uncertain, vulnerable way he talks to her and tells her how he feels. I love that he tells her that he regretted not stopping her from leaving, and that he was so heartbroken by her absence, that he couldn’t even be happy that the board meeting went well.
And I sort of understand what he means, when he says, “When I asked you to put that cardigan again, I was saying that I wanted to see you that much. And when I fired you… I was saying… how much I loved you.” He was that hurt by her betrayal, to the extent of firing her, because he loved her that much; the extent of his hurt mirrors the extent of his love for her. Only someone you love can hurt you the deepest.
..And then, at her request, he tells her again, “I love you,” and he hugs her. There’s relief, there’re tears, and there’s a great deal of comfort that transpires in that hug, and Gal Hee, overwhelmed, wraps her arms around him, and hugs him right back. Aw. Sweet.
Kim Jae Kyung as Veronica Park
Veronica Park is such an iconic character in Dramaland, that I’d heard of her fabulosity well before I’d decided to give this show another try. When I’d mentioned on Twitter that I was thinking of giving this show another go, my friend Paroma had replied, “Do it for Veronica Park!!!”
Heh. Now that I’m personally acquainted with Veronica’s legendary chutzpah, I totally see why Paroma would say that.
Veronica Park is as outlandishly fabulous as everyone said, and then some. She’s OTT, theatrical, bold, self-assured and completely unapologetic. I mean. Veronica’s strut is so extreme that I feel like she might dislocate a hip, with the way she walks, ha. Best of all, she’s funny. Instead of coming across as aggressive and off-putting, which, given those descriptors, wouldn’t be hard to do, she comes across as ridiculous and charming. Better yet, she even demonstrates strong lashings of heart.
Veronica definitely brought a freshness to my screen that I enjoyed very much, and her presence was consistently a welcome relief when our other characters were wallowing in angst.
Mad props to Kim Jae Kyung for making Veronica Park such a memorable, likable, iconic character.
E15-16. As much as Gal Hee has created a nicer, kinder version of Veronica whom Min Ik has been getting to know, the real Veronica isn’t so bad either. She’s more earnest and nice underneath her exaggerated sashay, than she’d like people to think. I mean, she stays up all night waiting for Dae Joo to come to her, and then is blissfully content when he agrees to let her sleep on his shoulder. And, when she’s not watching herself, she starts showing Nam Hee (Kim Ji Min) how to do her nails, and even reflex-apologizes when she makes a mistake. Both are things that I wouldn’t have expected of Veronica Park.
E21-22. HAHA. Veronica acting as a secretary is such a hoot. She’s a terrible secretary; sitting down and putting her legs up and insisting on sitting in on the conversation even after being asked to leave, while helping herself to tea and snacks, all while her alleged boss right there in front of her? Unbelievable, and also, super amusing.
E21-22. I’m quite impressed that Veronica foresaw how much this punishment would torment Gal Hee; it says a lot about her understanding of people.
E25-26. Veronica really does have a sense of responsibility. Even though Gal Hee is the one who started this whole farce, she goes to see Gal Hee, even while still wearing a brace around her waist, to encourage her, give her advice, and hand her a credit card, so that Gal Hee can take that advice, to eat expensive food and buy things, to get herself out of her funk. And then she reaches out to Min Ik, so that she can come clean to him, that she’d made Gal Hee continue in her lie, even when Gal Hee had wanted to tell Min Ik the truth. That’s very decent of her.
Dae Joo and Veronica together
For a loveline that’s played mostly for laughs, I’m pleasantly surprised by how fond I became of this couple, by the time I reached the end of my watch.
Show keeps this loveline heavily comedic all the way to the end, but injects it with just enough earnestness and heart to make this feel like a couple that’s worth rooting for. I found it amusing that Veronica pursued Dae Joo with such unabashed determination, and I swear, there were several times when I felt like Koo Ja Sung was literally trying not laugh while delivering Dae Joo’s lines with Veronica.
That tickled me, and my amusement somehow kinda helped lift this loveline into a dimension of their own, for me. I mostly didn’t mind (well, minded a lot less) when the things around this potential couple defied any kind of logic, and I was mostly content to just giggle along.
I did feel like Show lost its grip a little bit, in the last stretch, and this couple’s scenes were sometimes a little too try-hard, to my eyes. Overall, though, I found this loveline harmlessly entertaining.
E17-18. Pfft. Dae Joo and Veronica being handcuffed together is so cliched and so unnecessary. There is so little logic here. They could’ve just cut the handcuffs apart. And, it’s unbelievable that Veronica’s so bad using her left hand that she can’t even feed herself with a spoon if it’s not in her right hand. I get where Show wants to go with this, with the forced proximity and Dae Joo helping her out and finding her cute, but it’s really so lacking in logic that I wonder what the writers were smoking, thinking this was a good plot point.
E19-20. Veronica is showing a nice amount of vulnerability with Dae Joo. When she tells him about how the other men she’s dated all used her for what they wanted to gain, and then left her, she looks genuinely hurt, and it’s to see why she’s erected such a flamboyant, couldn’t-care-less persona for herself, in order to shield herself from further hurt. The vulnerability in her eyes is palpable yet still understated, really nicely done. It makes me sympathize with her, and want good things for her.
E21-22. HA. Veronica tracking Dae Joo down at the lake, and then chasing him around while offering up her lips for a kiss, is the most hilarious, ridiculous thing. Veronica – both the character and the actress – is such a ham, I find her hysterically funny, to the extent that I don’t even really care whether she makes sense or not.
E23-24. Ahaha. Veronica finally gets to kiss Dae Joo, and it’s sweet and hilarious, at the same time. It’s sweet that they each get all worked up over the other person’s suffering – she over him waiting for 5 hours, and he over her injury – and it’s hilarious because Veronica wastes no time in offering up her lips, ha. It’s rather melty the way Dae Joo looks at her, after she fake-dumps him for being too chaste, and states with amusement in his voice, that she’ll like him now, before leaning in to finally kiss her. And it’s hilarious that Veronica then basically reverse-grabs him for more kisses, this time, with flair. Heh.
E25-26. Pfft. Veronica asking Dae Joo to show her how well he can be a wild guy. It’s OTT and hilarious, but it also kinda makes me smile, that Veronica makes Dae Joo laugh. There’s something sweet about that.
E27-28. Veronica and her efforts to romance Dae Joo into spending “adult” time with her continually getting foiled has become a running gag of her throwing herself at Dae Joo, while things just keep coming up. It’s played OTT, and thanks to Veronica’s theatrical yet harmless entertainment factor, I actually find this rather amusing, instead of tired. Also, Veronica riding up to Dae Joo on an actual horse, to help him get to Min Ik, is just epic. Nobody else but Veronica would be able to do that, I’m sure.
Gal Hee’s reluctant friendship with Veronica [SPOILERS]
This doesn’t become a big thing, but for a while, Show seems to push a burgeoning friendship between Veronica and Gal Hee, and I found this enjoyable, while it lasted.
In episodes 19-20, I laughed out loud at the scene where Veronica witnesses Gal Hee impersonating her on the phone with Min Ik. I could only gasp, “Oh no, oh no, oh noooo,” it was so awful but so perfect.
Later though, as the two join forces to continue Gal Hee’s farce, we see a few occasions where they connect in a sincere, heartfelt fashion, which I liked a lot. For example, the scene in episode 23-24, where Gal Hee and Veronica share their giddy romantic developments with each other, and instinctively hug it out, is really cute. They may not be real friends, but in this moment, they are comrades in the game of love, and I dig it.
STUFF THAT WAS OK
Koo Ja Sung as Dae Joo [VAGUE SPOILERS]
The reason I’ve got Dae Joo in this section, is because I felt quite neutral towards him for the majority of my watch.
Mainly, I felt like Show played with Dae Joo’s credibility for too long, in an effort to drag out the mystery element in our story. Even about two thirds into my watch, I couldn’t decide whether I could trust Dae Joo, and this prevented me from feeling connected to him, as a character.
Additionally, I feel like Koo Ja Sung’s delivery leaned a touch flat, and that didn’t help, especially since Show was keeping Dae Joo’s true intentions veiled for so long.
However, I did like that moment in episode 21-22, when Dae Joo says that it’s not about whether he or Min Ik gives up on Veronica, but it’s about who Veronica chooses. That is possibly the most sensible thing I’ve ever heard a second lead in a love triangle say, ever, in the history of dramas (that I’ve watched). I approve.
Min Ik’s friendship with Dae Joo [VAGUE SPOILERS]
In principle, I like this friendship, but again, because Show keeps Dae Joo’s loyalty vague for so long, I found that I couldn’t quite get on board with or enjoy this friendship, for a good chunk of my watch.
Because of Dae Joo’s questionable loyalties, I didn’t know how to feel about Min Ik’s fierce loyalty towards Dae Joo, even in the face of mounting suspicious pieces of information. I’m pleased that these boys worked it out in the end, though, and with their lifetime of friendship and brotherhood intact.
E5-6. The way Min Ik opts to end the investigation when the clues start to point to Dae Joo, makes me think that he’s so afraid to lose Dae Joo as a friend, that he’d rather not risk having Dae Joo exposed, if he’s involved in the attack. It’s unreasonably illogical, because if Dae Joo is actually involved in the attack, there’s no guarantee that he’ll stop, even if the investigation is called off. But I guess that’s how strongly Min Ik cleaves to Dae Joo’s friendship.
E19-20. Min Ik and Dae Joo talking about the girl that Min Ik likes is so perfectly ironic, and so awful at the same time. Min Ik waxing lyrical about “Veronica Park” whom he’s kissed, and making Dae Joo all upset, when Dae Joo is the one who’s on the receiving end of the real Veronica’s affection, is perfectly twisted drama. I hate it, but I also love it.
E25-26. I do love how Min Ik brings the boat to Dae Joo’s apartment to extend the olive branch. The way he sheepishly, shyly pokes his head around the door, while holding the boat out to Dae Joo, is endearing, and I love that the friendship between them is so strong that the entire conversation is far from aggressive or confrontational. Instead, it’s amiable, laced with only mild exasperation on Dae Joo’s side, as he asks Min Ik just what is going on. And Kim Young Kwang plays Min Ik’s response so well.
As Min Ik starts to tell Dae Joo the truth, his tone is uncertain and hesitant, and his expression reveals more and more of how he really feels on the inside, beyond the roguish grins and nonchalant facade. As he talks, Min Ik can’t stop the tears from coming, and my heart goes out to him so much, as he admits, lip quivering, that when he can’t see people’s faces, he can’t see their hearts as well. Oof.
Gal Hee’s siblings
Gal Hee’s siblings are in this section, because I basically found myself vacillating between endearment and aggravation, with these two. As a silver lining, Show generally keeps these two on the sidelines, so their influence on my watch was moderate at best.
E3-4. Gal Hee’s blind brother taking on massage jobs in order to make money, so that he can give it to Gal Hee, is so loving and so sad and heartbreaking.
E25-26. Oppa holding Gal Hee and comforting her, saying that he wanted to see her face, even if nobody else wanted to, is just the sweetest, most heart-tugging thing.
E7-8. Nam Hee lying to Gal Hee that she got the place in Pennsylvania, to the extent that she’d even rig a goodbye scene at the airport, is a bit too much. She’s not only lying to Gal Hee, but she’s still depending on Gal Hee for “school” expenses. Not cool.
E29-30. Oppa and Nam Hee purposefully crashing Min Ik and Gal Hee’s date, for hours on end, complete with emotional blackmail, and basically manipulating it such that they all end up sleeping overnight at a beach pension, even though all the new couple wants to do is spend a bit of quality time together, was one of the most aggravating things they’ve done. Mostly because I also wanted to see our new couple spend some sweet couple time together.
Gal Hee’s visions of Mom [MINOR SPOILERS]
I was admittedly a bit weirded out by Gal Hee’s repeated visions of her dead mom, mostly because Gal Hee’s connection with her is pretty much written as real, with Mom even being the one to see Min Ik first in episode 21-22, and alert Gal Hee to the fact that Min Ik’s in her neighborhood to see her.
But, the warmth and care between them is heartwarming enough, that this maybe-real otherworldly connection kinda grew on me, despite my bemusement.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
The other secretaries
There’s a running gag where the secretaries stutter nervously among themselves and with Gal Hee, because of their knowledge of the Mysterious Backstory, and I didn’t care for it. It’s exaggerated, completely unnatural, and not at all funny. Every time they started to do that, I wished for them to stop.
The whole mystery angle
I get that Show’s whole mystery angle is the catalyst driving our main character relationships forward, but I can’t honestly say I cared for this plotline, despite that. Also, I found the details around the entire backstory extremely ridiculous and eyeroll-worthy, so I didn’t feel like the Reveal was worth waiting for, either.
Show’s idea of what’s appropriate &/or romantic
Like I mentioned earlier in this review, there were times when I questioned Show’s idea of romance, and even appropriateness. Thankfully, this seems to taper off as we get deeper into our story, but there were definitely a few occasions in Show’s earlier stretch where I cringed when Show clearly meant for me to feel the romantic feels instead.
E5-6. I don’t appreciate the scene where Min Ik is obviously intruding into Gal Hee’s personal space, and Show starts playing some tinkly, romantic music in the background. Dude. That is not romantic. He’s towering over her, walking her into a corner such that she has no escape from his bodily presence. Not cool.
E7-8. I am uncomfortable at how Min Ik manhandles Gal Hee. When she arrives at the office the day after her time as Veronica, and tries to quickly get past him, he grabs her each time she tries to leave, and pulls her back. While his physical hold on her looks more gentle than rough, it seems quite inappropriate and unprofessional behavior on Min Ik’s part.
E9-10. That whole thing about body warmth made me uncomfortable. That’s one thing that I’ve consistently found uncomfortable, about Min Ik. He doesn’t seem to keep an appropriate distance from Gal Hee, whether she’s herself, or Veronica. When she mentions that she’s cold, instead of offering her his jacket, he offers her the option of snuggling up under the jacket while it’s still on him, and when she declines, he sidles up to her, way too close for comfort, and says things about animals using body warmth to deal with the cold. And then when she protests about that, he grabs her hands – again, without permission – and sticks them under his armpits, to keep them warm. Seriously. What has this guy – or rather, writer-nim – been smoking? Coz that was really weird and awkward, and far from romantic or swoony.
The fact that Gal Hee daydreams about the moment while on the bus the next morning, and sticks her hands into some other guy’s armpits while daydreaming, is just too weird and unbelievable and awkward. Even though Show meant it for laughs, I cringed instead, while I sputtered at how ew it was.
Logic fails and stretches
At the episode 19-20 mark, I came to the conclusion that watching this show is like being in an alternate reality where things just do not make sense a lot of the time. There were times during my watch, where I seriously had no clue what was going on, on my screen, or why things were unfolding in a certain way. I.. am not used to this, admittedly. But I did suck it up and roll with it.
For the record, here are the bigger logic offenders that required more suspension of disbelief than average.
E1-2. It’s utterly implausible that Min Ik could have fallen from that height and been able to run around the hospital, even if he’d fallen on something softer that broke his fall.
E13-14. There’s some suspension of disbelief required around how Gal Hee’s even in possession of nice enough things, to allow her to dress up as Veronica. Show only bothers to explain the first date, where the other secretaries did her makeup and lent her a dress. And I can maybe believe that Gal Hee owns one nicer dress. But this episode, when she’s picking out a red bag, red stilettos, and shows up wearing a multicolored trench coat, I find it hard to believe she would own any of those items.
Also, how did Gal Hee get home before Min Ik reached the restaurant? He’d left first in a car, while she’d stayed behind to sit at the beach, and then had had to contend with public transport to get home.
This episode, Doc also tells Min Ik that increasing his blood pressure might help him to see faces. While this makes some narrative sense, Show proceeds to make up its own idea of how it wants blood pressure in humans to function. Sweeping statements like (and I do paraphrase), “you can’t just make your blood pressure go up coz you want it to” are made, which go against all blood pressure logic that I know. Yes, your blood pressure does rise in response to certain stimuli, but Show seems to refute this with a vengeance, and I find it a bit hard to swallow.
E15-16. It’s a stretch that Min Ik can’t piece together that “Veronica” and Gal Hee are the same person, especially given that we’ve seen him study various details about people in order to tell them apart. And in this episode, we even have his doctor pointing out Gal Hee in the jimjilbang, and Min Ik finding “Veronica’s” bracelet on Gal Hee, not to mention Min Ik discovering the bandaid on “Veronica’s” finger, and still, he doesn’t have a clue. But ok, I get that this is how Show rolls, and that this also probably points to how trusting Min Ik is, around both Gal Hee and “Veronica.”
E17-18. It’s really hard to believe that Min Ik can’t recognize Gal Hee without her red cardigan, because she literally has the same hairstyle, and is even wearing her regular work shoes, when she sidles up to him to give him the chocopie. I’ve said this before, but Min Ik not recognizing Gal Hee after spending time studying how to tell people apart, is just ridiculous.
E17-18. I’m a bit befuddled that Min Ik’s heart gets going only when he’s with Gal Hee as her secretary self. Why? He’s having all these romantic moments with her Veronica persona, but his heart doesn’t do the same thing, even though he kissed her, and he was actually nervous about kissing her? It seems inconsistent, to me.
E19-20. It makes zero sense that Min Ik would stop being able to see faces after his almost-accident with the car. I would think that would raise his blood pressure even higher, and help him see faces for longer. It feels like the writers do not actually care about logic, and just have one thing leading to another thing, never mind if the first thing has any plausible causal powers on the other thing.
E25-26. The backstory of why Secretary Lee is going rogue is really eye-rollingly ridiculous. The truck had plenty of time to stop – unless it had malfunctioning brakes, which we are not shown – and it looked like there was plenty of time for both secretaries to react. But no, the secretary died in order to save the fish. That’s ridiculous and messed up, and it almost feels like the writers had a drunken bet on who could come up with the most outrageous backstory for why Secretary Lee has been so shady.
But, I suppose it had to be something that ridiculous, to galvanize Secretary Lee into going vigilante and taking justice into her own hands.
Also, I find it far-fetched that Secretary Lee managed to get everyone on board with Euldoguk. Did no one ever, after being invited to join, say, I’m sorry, I don’t want to get involved?
E27-28. President Sim (Kim Min Sang) being so gleeful at the prospect of humiliating Min Ik in front of the board, is just really low. I’m relieved that Min Ik’s hard work paid off, and he was able to identify the directors without problems. But, what I do have issue with, is how Show drags out that moment, by taking us on a tangent, showing us how Gal Hee’s wracking her brain on how to help Min Ik, and then turning the focus to Dae Joo and Veronica, and how Dae Joo wrestles with whether to heed Gal Hee’s call for help, and stand up for Min Ik. As all this is going on, that scene where Min Ik’s confronted with the request to identify the directors, is just hanging in the air, and it just feels excruciating, not to mention ridiculous, that all this other stuff is supposedly going on, while Min Ik is hesitating over the director line-up.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]
Let’s just say I’m not a huge fan of this penultimate episode. Here’re the two big reasons why.
One, the arc of Oppa and Nam Hee purposely crashing Gal Hee’s first date with Min Ik felt unnecessary and overly long-drawn out. It was played for comedy, but I didn’t find it amusing, so this arc felt like filler that had been stuffed in there, but which was far from fun to watch.
Two, the arc of Gal Hee between torn between Min Ik and the protest by the other secretaries was a downer as well. I get that the idea is that Gal Hee had indeed suffered under an unfair system, and so she feels that she ought to stand in solidarity with her peers, and that makes her feel sorry towards Min Ik, who, technically, represents the system.
However, I feel like Show took this idea and twisted it with a heavy hand, so that Gal Hee would be stuck between her peers and Min Ik. The message on their protest vests actually protests the company being passed down to a family member. I mean, since when was this the issue? The issue was always unfair treatment, and not whether the president of the company was a family member. It’s ridiculous and implies that no member of the previous Chairman’s family would be capable to dealing with their employees in a fair manner. But, Show went ahead and did this, just to give Min Ik a reason to then bow out of the presidential race, which also feels wrong, because Min Ik isn’t the person who’s wronged these employees. If anything, the employees should be campaigning for President Sim’s removal, not how the succession in the company is done. On this point, I was not happy with the writers, at all. Tsk.
I will concede, however, that there were a few bright spots this episode. I thought Dae Joo and Veronica were hilarious together, and I thought their saucy teasing about their amazing night together, and his very strong thighs, especially outrageous. I mean, it made me double check to see if this show aired on cable instead of a Big Three network. Bold move, SBS. Heh.
I also found it sad and poignant, that Mom finally made the samgyetang that Min Ik’s been asking for, as a reward for becoming President, and he can’t bring himself to eat it. I mean, the fact that Mom made it for him is huge, since she’s never been the affectionate type. But, that she made it ahead of time, shows that she trusts him and believes in him, and yet, because he’s stepping back from the presidential race, he can’t in good conscience eat it. Ack.
That was so sad, for Min Ik. It’s everything he wanted from Mom, right in front of him, but so unattainable, nonetheless. Kim Young Kwang’s delivery in this scene was pitch perfect, I thought. The waver in his voice, as he tells Mom that he can’t eat it and is really sorry; the tears sheening in his eyes; the way he averts his gaze, because he feels so sorry; it all communicates so effectively, how painful this moment is for Min Ik. Really nicely done.
And of course, there’s that lovely kiss that Min Ik and Gal Hee share, in an effort to raise his blood pressure enough that he’d be able to see her face. The scene is played for laughs at first, but the moment Min Ik takes her face in his hands and leans in to kiss her, it all becomes completely melty and sweet, and I very much approve. I especially love Min Ik’s voiceover, as he kisses Gal Hee:
“If I’d opened my eyes at that moment, would I have seen your face? But I didn’t want to open my eyes… at that moment. Because the lips I’ve longed for… and the person I’ve wanted… was you after all. And I could know it was you without seeing you.”
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
I had no doubt that Show would give us a happy ending, but real the question for me, was, would Show give us that happy ending in a satisfying manner?
..I’m a little bummed to say that I felt mostly quite underwhelmed by this finale. After a pretty solid and engaging middle stretch, this was rather disappointing, I have to admit.
Here are the two main things that I struggled with.
Firstly, I felt like the writing became quite slipshod in this finale. It felt like writer-nim had a couple of key milestones in mind for this episode, and then just sort of hurriedly threw together a bunch of filler to string the milestones together, because there were maybe not enough actual plot points to fill the hour. Compared to some of the more thoughtful moments we’ve seen in this show, this was a bummer.
Second, I was also quite thrown by the change in tone. A lot of the scenes were played quite.. juvenile, and it didn’t feel organic at all, to me. We see our characters behave in ways that feel quite out of character, and there were times when I felt like I was watching a completely different show.
Min Ik taunting the other directors about Dae Joo running for president smacked of a petty playground squabble, which I didn’t care for. I also feel like we could have spent more time seeing how Dae Joo actually wins the presidency, rather than the convenient time skip that we got.
I also didn’t care for the prolonged and immature treatment of Min Ik being distracted by sexy thoughts of Gal Hee; it all felt quite out of character, and very undignified, I thought. I found it all quite awkward to watch, and the longer Show dragged this out, the more disengaged I felt.
As for the proposal, I personally found it a little out of character, for Min Ik to toss the ring at Gal Hee, and have her open the box on her own, while he was on the other side of the room. I feel like Min Ik’s such a tenderhearted person, and so in love with Gal Hee, that he’d want to be right by her side when she first set eyes on the ring that he picked out, to express how he’d like to spend the rest of his life with her. So this tossing thing felt out of character, to my eyes.
Following the proposal, Min Ik’s anxiety around whether or not Gal Hee’s wearing the ring, is played quite broadly for comedy, and again, I found this unnecessary and undignified.
I guess I don’t understand Show’s sudden tonal shift, in this final episode. Why gun for comedy so hard, all of a sudden?
What I did appreciate though, is where Show leaves us, with regard to Min Ik’s relationship with his mom.
Without any sort of fanfare, Mom acknowledges Min Ik, and gives him a new sense of security, by introducing him to the new housekeeper as her son, and informing her that Min Ik’s allergic to peanuts. Aw. This is so in character, and so perfect. It’s just the kind of concession Mom would make, and it says a lot, about how she’s accepted Min Ik.
I wasn’t so hot on the whole drama around Min Ik being stuck in the elevator, and I was even less convinced that this would have spiked his blood pressure when so many other things hadn’t, and that’s why he could suddenly see faces. But, Show’s been extremely flagrant with its definition of blood pressure and how it works, so whatever, I guess.
I also didn’t think that it was logical for Min Ik to tell Gal Hee to go up to the roof, since she was on the ground floor, and it would be faster for her just to go back up to the 35th floor where he was. But ok, I get that Show wanted somewhere more picturesque for our final scene to play out.
For all of my disgruntled feelings about so much of the finale, I must admit that I like how Show wraps up our OTP loveline.
I would’ve been quite aghast if Show had made Min Ik’s prosopagnosia poof away after being trapped in the elevator for a few minutes, so I’m glad that didn’t happen. At the same time, I wanted to know how this condition would affect our OTP beyond the end of our story. And Show gives us a really nice glimpse into that, I thought.
We hear Gal Hee and Min Ik say in voiceover,
“We had miraculous moments every once in a while. Whenever that happened, no matter where she was, the man would go to her, stare at her for a long time, and kiss her for a long time, appreciating the short moment. So he can remember her face… until the day he can see her again.”
I think that’s quite a lovely way to wrap this up. Min Ik might not be able to see Gal Hee’s face all the time, but he does get to see her from time to time, and therefore, he’ll get to see her age over time, like she said she would be able to see of him. I find it a sweet thought as well, that whenever he’d be able to see faces, he’d rush to her, and just gaze upon her face, for a long time, and kiss her. That speaks of a deep and sweet devotion, and I’m happy to know that our lovebirds will be happy and content together like this, for a long time, despite Min Ik’s challenges with prosopagnosia. And isn’t life all about making the most of what we have, even while dealing with the challenges that come with it, after all?
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Flawed, & the ending leans underwhelming, but still a light, sweet little whirl.
FINAL GRADE: B