(…a third such post will make this a routine…)
As I wait the long, long wait for the next episode of Flower Boy Next Door (made even longer with no more Alice in Cheongdam-dong loveliness to fill in the weekend) I’m once more surprised by The Return of Iljimae‘s break from K-Drama norms.
Mild spoilers for Return of Iljimae through ep. 8 below cut
Iljimae and his sweetie, Wal Hee, come together really, really quickly. And very unambiguously. There’s no room left for “maybe they just napped together” in his careful undressing of her, or in their mutual bare shoulders in a later scene. It’s incredibly shocking for a K-Drama (more shocking than I appreciated in my first viewing). But at the same time, there’s a gentle innocence to it. Maybe that sense of inevitability Wal Hee, at least, expresses?
Iljimae is a little harder for me to read. He’s caring, obviously. But I can’t shake the thought he showed up more because he needed a place to store his gold than any love for Wal Hee. Though there’s still a sense of deep connection. He trusts her more, I think, than anyone else around him. But he’s a lot more calculating about it than she is. He’s using it while she’s just feeling it, if that makes sense.
I’m still on board the Level 7 Civil Servant train. And it’s still a basic rom-com, not bringing anything new to the genre. But it’s fun and the characters are likable. And, while the spy-craft stuff has very visible holes (three grown men creeping down the middle of a street is not stealthy, even in the rain), the mystery is intriguing enough to keep me mildly interested. (I realize I’m doing a whole lot of damning with faint praise here, but… yup. I can’t sell it any harder than that at the moment.)
There’s been a bit of mild ugliness regarding the main actress, Choi Kang-hee. She’s not a super knock-out (by entertainment standards), but she’s certainly attractive. And she’s a solid comic actress with a keen sense of when to go big and when to hold back. (Which ain’t nothing, by the way. Make them cry? Easiest thing in the world. Make them laugh? Now that takes skill.)
Her character in the drama is supposed to be a personable girl of “above average intelligence, average looks, subaverage body” (to quote her friend). It’s her cuteness and can-do spirit that wows her beaus. (Yes, this is a “Candy-girl meets spoiled Chaebol” based drama; a bit of a whiplash after AiCdD so beautifully exploded that particular drama-myth.) She looks like this:
This happens, unfortunately. Especially when a drama stars a particularly well-loved, attractive male actor. You get used to it (which I’m not sure is a good thing, but that’s another post). But it seemed especially vicious in this go around. (Maybe because the drama isn’t as dynamically good as everyone had hoped and there’s a need for a scapegoat?)
Hopefully it’ll die down as the drama continues. Because while L7CS isn’t wowing the socks off their audience at the moment, it’s certainly not because of Choi Kang-hee.