I don’t know what it is, but lately, it feels like I’ve had more drama specials set in the 1920s appearing on my radar, than ever before.
First, there was Let Us Meet, and then there was Kang Deoksun’s Love History, and now, we have Modern Girl. The funny thing is, I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly drawn to stories set in this era, and yet, I’ve enjoyed all three of these stories. Maybe I’m discovering something new about myself..? 😅
Shout-out to blablah, for pointing me in the direction of this little drama special. Without her nudge, I might’ve never gotten around to checking this one out – and I did end up enjoying it nicely. Thank you~ ❤️
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Shin Deuk (Jin Ji Hee), a young noblewoman, tries to become a “modern girl” in order to impress her disdainful husband Jong Suk (Oh Seung Hoon). She decides to go to school, which is where she falls for her young, handsome teacher, Mr. Nam (Yoon Ji On). Little does she expect that her rival in love would turn out to be her loyal maidservant, Young Yi (Kim Shi Eun).
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
1. Show starts breezy, and is easy to warm up to. Just know that things take a bit of a serious turn later in our story.
2. It’s helpful to think of this as a story of personal journey and growth, rather than a romance.
3. Our story leans simple, but that’s understandable, given its short running time.
STUFF I LIKED
1. Jin Ji Hee as Shin Deuk. Even though our protagonist leans sheltered, entitled and clueless for a good chunk of our story, Jin Ji Hee manages to make her endearing and charming in her naïveté. Part of what makes Shin Deuk likable, is her willingness to learn from her mistakes, which we see later in our story.
2. Kim Shi Eun as Young Yi. I loved Young Yi for being so smart, strong and caring, despite her maidservant status. I can totally see why Mr. Nam would want her in his corner.
3. Show’s emphasis on personal journey. I actually like that the romance in this story is treated with a light touch, such that it lands muted. This works really well for our story, and gives the personal journeys of our characters more room to shine.
4. Show manages to feel quite whole and solid. Even though our story does lean simple, like I mentioned earlier, it also manages to feel like a full story, complete with various acts. This was a pleasant surprise, given Show’s short running time.
5. Show is really quite pretty to look at. I was immediately quite struck by how whimsical and pretty our drama world is, in its opening scenes. Although this is mixed with darker tones later in our story, Show’s overall feel leans breezy and warm.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
It’d always been clear that Mr. Nam was more interested in Young Yi, and his kindness to Shin Deuk was of the teacherly variety, so I was curious to see what kind of fallout we would get with Shin Deuk realizing the truth – since she was sure to realize the truth – and I am very pleased with where Show chooses to go, with its story.
It makes sense that Shin Deuk would feel humiliated by the realization that Mr. Nam had never liked her, and that instead of her, he’d been attracted to her maidservant Young Yi. Given that Young Yi’s kept a number of things secret from Shin Deuk, I also feel that Shin Deuk’s sense of betrayal is understandable. Therefore, her decision to make a clean break with Young Yi is unsurprising to me.
Through the various events of our last stretch, I’m glad to see Shin Deuk’s loyalty and decency come to the fore, especially when she puts herself at risk to save Mr. Nam and Young Yi from the trap that her husband sets for them. That’s huge, for someone as sheltered as Shin Deuk. I especially love how she cuts her hair off and puts on Young Yi’s clothes, and uses herself as a decoy, to lead the Japanese spies to her husband instead of Mr. Nam. Heh. That was quite funny, to see Trash Husband get arrested by the spies that he’d sent out. 😆
It’s great to see, after the 3-year time skip, that Shin Deuk’s spent the time becoming a famous and well-regarded novelist in her own right, and that she’s managed to become a modern girl on her own terms, without the need for a husband. In fact, she’s clearly better off on her own than when she’d been married, and I feel liberated on her behalf.
It’s a little bittersweet to realize that Shin Deuk and Young Yi are no longer in touch, but it’s comforting to see that Young Yi’s got a new life now, with Mr. Nam. Plus, what a nice little epilogue, where we see that Young Yi’s school uniform – and therefore the chance to go to school – had been a gift from Shin Deuk. Aw. That’s sweet. It’s really quite thrilling to realize that both Young Yi’s and Shin Deuk’s happy endings, both so different from each other, but equally well-earned, ultimately stem from the strength of their loyalty and love for each other. ❤️
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Simple, yet heartwarming and empowering.
FINAL GRADE: B+
WHERE TO WATCH:
If you’re geo-restricted, you can use Opera’s free, built-in, unlimited VPN to get around geo-restrictions. A tutorial on that can be found here, and an article on why it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access legal streaming content can be found here.