Monday, March 19, 2007

Older woman/ younger man

'Dalja's Spring' ended its run on KBS this week, scoring a fairly respectable ratings of about 18%. It's yet another drama pairing an older woman (Chae Rim, in her first drama come back after her divorce) with a younger man (the adorable Lee Min Ki).

This age difference pairing is not new though it seems to be on the increase recently, starting with the runaway hit 'My Name is Kim Sam Soon' in 2005.

This was followed by another drama in 2006 with 'What's Up Fox'.

And this year, we have 'Dalja's Spring', with a similar pairing-up in terms of age.

In all 3 dramas, the female leads are in their 30's and have never been in a 'proper' relationship. They feel that youth is slipping by and though they dream of meeting the man of their life, they also feel that at their age, they should just settle down with anyone who are suitable as a husband. The male leads in the 3 dramas are all in their 20's and are more matured than their age.

So how does the 3 compare?

'Dalja's Spring/달자의 봄'
Cast: Chae Rim (Oh Dal Ja/오달자), Lee Min Ki (Kang Tae Bong/강태벙봉), Lee Hyun Woo (Uhm Gi Jeong/엄기중), Lee Hye Young (Wee Son Ju/위선주), Gong Hyun Jin (Shin Se Do/신세도)
KBS: Official site
MV: Fan made mv
Ost: Spring of Dalja
Thread on soompi

Dal Ja is a MD in a Home Shopping Network channel. She has worked her way up since her early 20's and now is a pro at what she does. She has her own place and her own car, and is comfortable financially on her own. She dreams of the perfect relationship with the prince charming who will sweep her off her feet but at the age of 33, she thinks that it will never happen. She started going out with Se Do because..well, even though she doesn't have that kind of spark with him, he was comfortable to be with and seemed interested in her. He could be good husband material. However, on Christmas eve, (why is it always Christmas eve?), she was dumped by him. In revenge, she engaged the dating services of Kang Tae Bong for a month, to get back at him.

This dating contract is also not new, having been used in both 'My Name is Kim Sam Soon' and 'Full House'. One does wonder if the Koreans actively engaged in such 'dating contract'.^^ Anyway, of course they fell in love.

Dal Ja is probably typical of most working woman. As a working professional, reality meant that you have to be on cordial terms with your colleagues, even if what you really want to do is bash their heads and at times, you have to compromise. I like her clothes and of the 3 dramas, hers were the most interesting. However, I'm not too sure about her heavy make-up.

Her relationship with Tae Bong was believable and there was a certain chemistry between them. Maybe because their age difference is not great. Though I must say they still managed to add in that little touch of 'cinderalla' syndrome with Tae Bong being a disillusioned but rich ex-lawyer.

I also enjoyed the secondary story between Son Ju and Se Do. It was nice and refreshing to see a romantic story revolving around a more matured couple. Though both of them were 'undersirable' characters in the beginning, I grew to love them as I see them as normal people, with their own flaws and strengths.

(credit: soompi)

What most of us enjoyed in the drama was the parodies being used throughout the drama.. from 'Kill Bill' to 'Hwang Jini' to 'In the Mood for Love' to 'Casablanca'. The other interesting aspect was the drawings used at the end of the a sort of sum up (similar to the use of teddy bears for 'Goong/Princess Hours').


You can watch some of the parodies here.

There were many insights as Dal Ja 'grows up'. I like the one at the end of the drama:

As long as a person is living, there is no ending. Although one cannot say that one will be happy forever, BUT each day is a another new day."

I think the one thing that I did not agree was when Dal Ja went off to the States to study for 2 years and did not stay in contact with Tae Bong, leaving it all to fate. Although I firmly believe that fate, timing and circumstances play a large part in whether a relationship will work out, I also believe in being proactive if you believe that person is the one for you. But then, this is Korean drama right? So anything is possible.

Dal Ja's men... this was really funny....hahaha!

With this drama, I discovered another side dish...Lee Min Ki. He isn't a handsome or good looking actor per se... compared to many others. But there is a certain something about him... a charisma... an x- factor. And when he smiles.... he is really quite adorable.


I wasn't interested in this drama initially because I wasn't too keen on Chae Rim. BUT, she has proven me wrong and I like the fact that she was acting 'her age'. It's actually quite a change NOT TO SEE female leads acting cute (whether they're young or matured).

'What's Up Fox?/여우야 뭐하니?'
Cast: Gong Hyun Jung (Go Byung Hee/고병희), Chun Jung Myung (Park Chul Soo/박철수), Cho Yeon Woo (Bae Hee Myeong/배희명)
MBC: Official site
MV: Fan made mv
Ost: Fox, what are you doing?
Thread on soompi

Byung Hee is a writer/ reporter in a 'Men's adult' magazine. It is a third rate magazine and she dreams of working in a great company one day. Though she has a vivid imagination and writes sexually charged stories for the magazine, she has yet to be in a proper relationship herself and is still a virgin. (Hmm.... how do you write such stories if you are inexperienced yourself?) Chul Soo is the brother of Byung Hee's good friend. He is a happy-go-lucky 24 years guy, working as a mechanic in a car repair shop. He is happy doing what he does and does not think money is everthing. Travelling and backpacking has made him more 'worldly' than Byung Hee, even though she is much older than him.

Byung Hee was devasted to realise that her senior, (whom she has had crush for a long time) was actually more interested in men than women. In her drunken state, she had her first sexual experience with Chul Soo.

In the days to follow, though initially confused, but with Chol Soo actively in pursuit, Byung Hee finally accepted this relationship.

In all fairness, I cannot possibly comment much on this as I've only just watched the first 2 episodes. I was told that it gets better and with a final ratings of about 16%, I guess it couldn't have been too bad. This is the same writer as the immensely popular 'My Name is Kim Sam Soon', so I guess there was a certain expectation.

However, I was not quite convinced with Byung Hee's character in the first episode. How is it possible for a woman of 33 years to be so naïve about a woman's medical conditions and procedures? The way she was crying in the clinic... aiyoh... so drama...

And this scene... is definitely not suitable. It's a little too err... crude.

I do find Chul Soo a little too young for Byung Hee. In both real and reel life, there is an age difference of 9 years, and this difference is really obvious. It doesn't help that Chun Jung Myung has a boyish look that makes him look younger than he actually is.


The one reason for watching this show was because of Chun Jung Myung. He absolutely bowled me over in 'Fashion 70s' with his cool dressing and rebellious air.


I'm really looking forward to this drama. But I still prefer his style in Fashion 70s leh.

'My Name is Kim Sam Soon/내 이름은 김삼순'
Cast: Kim Soon Ah (Kim Sam Soon/김삼순), Hyun Bin (Hyun Ji Heon/현지헌), Jung Ryeo Won (Yoo Hee Jin/유희진), Daniel Henney (Henry Kim)
MBC: Official site
MV: Be My Love & She Is
Ost: My Lovely Sam Soon Vol 1 & My Lovely Sam Soon Vol 2
Thread on soompi

In 2005, 'My Name is Kim Sam Soon' was the second highest ratings drama after 'Daejanggeum'. It created a mania/ cult for its unusual female lead character, funny storyline and of course cute guys.

This drama striked a chord with many woman because Sam Soon, the main female character was intelligent with a good professional skill but she wasn't very pretty or very young. She was also lightly on the plump side, which is the realistic normal figure for many women, especially in their 30's. And with an unglamorous name like Sam Soon, I guess most of us feel that for once, maybe meeting that someone special isn't too far fetched a dream. If it can happen to Kim Sam Soon, then it may happen to us too. This drama was also called the Korean version of 'Bridget Jones' Diary'.

Kim Sam Soon is a pastry chef, a graduate of the world famous Le Cordon Bleu and is passionate about baking. She is very direct and not very polished. She feels the clock ticking away and worries about being left on the shelf. On Christmas eve, she lost her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend as well. In one of the most hilarious scene for a first episode, she cries her eyes out in the toilet, complete with running mascara and messy wild hair, only to realise later that she was actually in the gents.

Ji Heon is the son of a hotelier and also the owner of a rather hip restaurant. He hired Sam Soon as his pastry chef and in a situation that could only happen in a Korean drama, she was 'contracted' to be Ji Heon's girlfriend.

Of course they fell in love eventually.

<---- The other couple.

There were really many hilarious moments in this drama and one of them was this. I remembered watching this scene in the middle of the night at 3am and I had to really stifle and control my laughter.

But besides the main couple, I was really ticked pink with the romance between Sam Soon's sister and Sam Soon's colleague. And the 2 formidable mothers (Ji Heon's and Sam Soon's) were absolutely brilliant. The faced off in one of the scenes was to die for as they eyed each other.

Of course, who could forget the Sam Soon pig? Hehe! It tormented Ji Heon so much.

And the friends and I always felt hungry after watching the drama. Those cakes looked really, really, really delicious.

Daniel Henney, an Korean-American model made his first appearance in a Korean drama and created a stir. The rest they say, is history. Daniel Henney has since appeared in 'Spring Waltz' (drama) and Seducing Mr Robin (movie).

Hehehe! The toilet constipation/piles scene was so funny.

Of course, Hyun Bin got really, really popular after this drama as well.


Amongst the 3 dramas, I would say 'Dalja's Spring' is most probably the most realistic but 'My Name is Kim Sam Soon' is the funniest (even if it is rather unrealistic). And I guess 'What's Up Fox?' would probably be in between these two. Though as I've yet to watch this drama completely, I may be wrong.

So really, what is the draw of these these dramas? Besides the fact most viewers are women who are probably in the same situation, I think the underlying message is one of the biggest draw.

That a woman should be confident and proud of what she can do. That she should live each day to the fullest. That love will eventually come one day..but even if it doesn't, it is alright, she can still live a fulfilling life and be happy with herself.

I love this poem that was used in the drama:

춤추라, 아무도 바라보고 있지 않은 것처럼.
Dance like no one is watching
사랑하라, 한번도 상처받지 않은 것처럼.
Love like you've never been hurt
노래하라, 아무도 듣고 있지 않은것처럼.
Sing like no one is listening
일하라, 돈이빌요하지 않은 것처럼.
Work like you don't need the money
살라, 오늘이 마지막 날인 것처럼.
Live life every day as if it were your last

(posted on soompi)

Ladies- 화이팅!


Ams said...

Wow, that is one long post. Sam Soon was so funny. I wasn't too thrilled with the ending, but I can't complain after watching What Happened in Bali. I'm tempted to watch a Lee Min Ki drama. He's just too cute.

tiffany said...

Hi ams

You should watch Dalja's Spring. It's really quite cood and of course lee Mi Ki is adorable. ^^

I'm going to catch 'I Really, Really Like you' after my 'What's Up Fox?' hehe!

han min chung said...

1. Well, Korea don't have real 'dating contract'. I think writers made fictional story for fun. I've never heard anybody is on dating contraction.
2. Dalja's heavy make-up I also don't like. I guess usually ladies getting older they tend to put on heavy make up to hide their lines and wrinkles, so that's why Dalja's make up is heavy.
3. I think most realistic one is Fox lady. How many girls in their early 30s can have their own houses and cars? Two bedroom flat in Seoul is at least half million, If you want to buy flat in near like Orchard(apgujung in seoul) then you should pay at least 1.5million. So excluding a boyfriend thing perfect Dalja is woman's daydreaming kinda. Byunghee is more like next door girl, her job offers no prospects her family is not rich. and youger boy is also not rich nor eligible. I prefer lovely samsoon, she is still herself even tough she finally got her boyfriend. in some dramas after sassy funny girls find real love they're changing. I don't like it. Samsoon was always herself still funny still little bit chubby..^^

tiffany said...

Hi Han

I was just joking about the dating contract. ^^

I think Dalja's make up is heavy because of the industry that she works in- which is in the entertainment line. Of course, she is portraying a more matured woman as well.

I don't think Dalja owns the apt, I think she rents it. Would that be cheaper? I have herad that housing in Korea, esp Seoul, is very expensive. I'm guessing that she must be rather well paid too and as she doesn't have to support anyone, I guess she should have a little more extra cash? hehe! I'm just speculating.

I like Sam Soon too but actually, that's also quite unrealistic. How many rich, cute guys do we know who will fall fo a older, slightly plump, uncouth woman? hehe!

Xing-xing said...

Hi Tiffany

Good review of the three dramas. I just finished watching Dal Ja's Spring and I think it's very well-written and directed. I find it more thought provoking and entertaining than KMS though the latter is also good. Lee Min Ki is truly talented, will go a long way as an actor I think. Saw him on X-man - he could deliver witty remarks with a very straight face.

tiffany said...

Hi xing-xing..

Have not watched Lee Min Ki on x-man but have seen him attemtping to 'dance' on a couple of variety programs. ^^

Mauwy said...

hi tiffany~ love your blog-
i'll add your link in mine if that's okay [:

i love DJS and MNIKSS but if i were to choose its def. DJS. yes its much more realistic ^^ just finished DJS too and am soo addicted, heehee. btw wanna see whats up fox too.

i loved LMK on heroine6 last january.. he was hilariously cuute ^^

tiffany said...

Hi Mauwy

Thanks for dropping by my humble blog. Of course you add in the link to my blog on yours. ^^ Thanks.

I've only seen LMK in short clips and they're all clips of his 'non-dancing'. haha!

bakya said...

Honestly, Dalja's Spring is the first Asian Drama I've watched from start to finish. And I totally loved it. :-) I also agree with you on the "fate" part in the last episode. To me, it sorta went against everything Dalja had supposedly learned from having a real relationship. Anyway, it's all good. :-)

will definitely watch other Korean dramas from now on!

tiffany said...

Hi Bakya

Glad you discovered Korean dramas. Like other types of dramas...there are gems and there are duds. Most of the time, they aren't too bad..if you don't mind a slower pace and more conservative kind of plot as compared to American or Japanese dramas. But really, a plus for most of us are the cute guys. hahaha!

bakya said...

how true. i bought the season of i really, really like you (just because of lee min ki, haha.) i'm on the 8th ep and i'm having a hard time finishing it. it's not as fast-paced and nicely done. oh well :-) i'd really appreciate it if you could recommend some titles. my friend's lending me a Japanese drama--looking forward to that!

i'm loving this "Asian bonding" thing. when I get the money, i'll definitely pack my bags and see the rest of Asia!

tiffany said...

I've not watched I Really Really Like's in my cupboard somewhere but I heard it's not too bad.

You could try the other Older Woman/ Younger Man drama- My Name is Kim Sam Soon (Hyun Bin). Lovers in Paris (Park Shin Yang) had very high ratings too though some people were complaining about the ending.

Not sure what else you like...but for romance, you could try Winter Sonata, though some found it a little slow in the middle part. ^^ I cna't comment on this as I like Bae Yong Joon.

Or you could check out some of the reviews that I've done. It's on the left side of the page.

bakya said...

Thanks for your help! and yes, i take back what i've written. i'm halfway through irrly and the pace is picking up. i think i'll really really like it too :-)

bleuelle said...

I really really like Dalja's. One of the Korean drama that I watched non-stop is Flowers For My Life. I just had to watch, what's next...