Going by the promotional posters for the Korean Drama I Do, I Do, it is hard to tell what this series is about beside shoes. Is it a romantic comedy? A modern-day Cinderella (see the poster with one shoe left on the stairs)? About shoe fetish? The trailer adds to the confusion because it suggests a naughty rom-com with its salacious bedroom scene.
Except this is a regular broadcast KOREAN drama. They don’t do salacious. So, what is this drama about?
Hwang Ji An (pictured above) is a 30-something-year-old shoe designer and director at a high-end shoe company. She’s smart, beautiful and financially secure, but has no thoughts of getting married, let alone having children despite all the traditional parental pressure. Yet, after a drunken one-night stand she gets pregnant. The repercussion goes beyond her personal life and affects the career that she’s spent the last 15 years nurturing and protecting.
Park Tae Kang is a 20-something-year-old college drop-out with no money and no ambition. He’s kind and has a big heart, but he is also immature and irresponsible. He took his college tuition money to buy a motorcycle and named her Beyonce. Due to an run-in on the motorcycle with Hwang Ji An, trails her all day to get the repair money, gets drunk with her and winds up sleeping with her.
Rounding out the cast, Jo Eun Sung is a successful doctor, who also has no interest in getting married, but continues to go on blind dates in order to appease his parents. He meets Ji An and to his surprise, falls for her.
Yeom Na Ri is the ambitious daughter of the company Chairman. She competes with Ji An for the next president’s position and the acceptance of her family, as well as for the affection of Tae Kang.
I’m throwing this photo in because Park Tae Kang’s father, Park Kwang Seok is awesome. The actor, Park Yeong Gyu also played the awesome dad in Protect the Boss.
Like most Korean dramas, some convenient and contrived circumstances bring Ji An and Tae Kang together again at her shoe company. Their professional and personal lives become entangled due to the discovery of the pregnancy and machinations regarding company succession.
On paper and on the surface, the doctor seems better suited for Ji An. Look how nice and mature they look together. Honestly, it was hard picturing Ji An with the baby-faced, immature Tae-Kang.
Then, you get a scene like this.
And this and you’re like omo, omo, omo! Heck with nice and mature!
In the end though, chemistry or not, the drama is about the growth of both lead characters as they struggle with some major life decision. Hwang Ji An is the more complex character of the two. Her character is the antithesis of many Korean drama female leads in that she is strong and smart to the point of arrogance. She seems to have it all, is the more successful on paper, but she’s emotionally stunted.
Tae Kang’s character is very much like the typical female lead’s role. He is sweet and kind to the point naiveté and slightly dumb (or at least he didn’t do well in school). He is by all counts a loser, with no money, no education and no job. In fact he’s light years ahead of everyone in terms of the heart. As Tae Kang and Ji An interact, they help each other grow and mature into their full potential apart and possibly together.
One of the biggest problem with the drama was the stereotypical characterization of all the secondary characters.
Korean dramas have a tendency to have secondary characters written in really broad strokes, with little depth beyond the stereotypical characteristics (evil opponent without remorse; clingy ex who can’t take a no; secondary male lead who’s almost perfect in every way except he never reveals his feelings until it’s too late; mean, over-bearing parents, etc) and I Do, I Do was no exception. Anytime you want to fast forward through scenes without the leads is not a good sign.
On the other hand, none of the truly annoying characters were much more than sheep in wolves clothing. The time not spent in developing their characters meant more time spent on the OTP. I Do, I Do was successful in the development of the OTP relationship. It wasn’t perfect. It was all sweetness and light. It wasn’t all sizzling passion. But it really felt real.
The drama also manufactured certain complications and conflicts in order to create tension instead of relying on dilemmas that would naturally arise from Ji An choosing to become a single mom and trying to maintain a her high level position in a high pressured industry. Anytime the viewer is rolling her eyes at certain scenes is also not a good sigh.
Still, the drama was overall pleasant to watch and it delivered a satisfying final two episodes. I’m finding with 30 plus dramas that a satisfying ending is actually a rarity. Also, Kim Sun Ah’s acting in I Do, I Do is a pleasure to watch. I give this drama 4/4.
Credit: All photos from MBC.