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Secret Garden – Korean Drama Review

Hangul: 시크릿 가든
English: Secret Garden
Romanized: Sikeurit Gadeun

Synopsis: Rich, snotty department store owner meets impoverished stunt girl, and against his will and reason, falls for her. Oh, and then they switch bodies.

My Rating: As with most (all?) dramas, PG-13. With body switches of differing genders, there’s bound to be some awkward–yet hilarious–things going on. Also, there’s a gay guy thrown in there. Not sure what purpose he served, but it was queer odd, to say the least. :P

American/English Counterpart: Pride and Prejudice meets Freaky Friday. Served with kimchi.

Characters:

The characters all felt very familiar to me, and in that way, also likeable. Joo Won is a total Mr. Darcy: rich, entitled, always right, and always rubbing it in. Loves to bicker with Gil Ra Im, and even after falling for her, insists that being with her is completely against his character and principles.

Gil Ra Im is a very interesting lead. She’s no-nonsense with her job at the stunt school, but still very girly and cute at times. Although likable, she didn’t impress me as a great character until quite nearly the end.

Yoon Sang Hyun as “Korean wave star,” Oska, is our main funny guy. Being that he’s a celebrity, we get plenty of fan interactions between him an Ra Im, much to the dismay of Joo Won, who happens to be his cousin.

Yoon Suel is probably my favourite of all secondary female characters. She’s quite vindictive towards Oska, but she has good reason to be, and surprisingly turns out to be the voice of reason for Ra Im. She has some killer quotes, too.

Not to forget the guys at the action school! Lee Philip plays Gil Ra Im’s stunt director Im Jong Soo, who harbors quite the crush for his student. It’s both charming and sad to see how his ill-fated love plays out. I can never be sure whether to find him annoying or pitiful. The rest of the guys at the school are fantastic!

And of course, no Korean rom-com would be complete without an evil ahjumma. This one comes in the form of Joo Won’s mother, who although desperate for her son to get hitched, has very specific ideas of who he should not marry. Enter relationship road bumps.

Hilarity Per Episode:

This is kind of hard to judge, since the mood can swing instantly from episode to episode. It’ll go from side-splitting antics to a sob-fest so fast it makes your head spin. It takes a bit to get into the funny parts–not until the end of episode 5 do they switch bodies, and that threw me a bit–but once it gets funny, it is FUNNY. Like, laugh to tears funny.

This isn’t what it looks like! Okay, maybe it is. Question: What does this look like? =P

Tear Drama:

If memory serves, I didn’t shed a tear until the 17th episode, and from then on, until probably the last one, I was crying a lot. I was really angry at Ra Im for about twenty minutes, and then there’s another big twist, and I’m like, “Serves you right,” and then I’m bawling again because Joo Won is doing wonderful things to make me that way. That’s the funny thing about this drama. It starts out like a regular romantic comedy with enough drama between the leads to make you believe that’s it. Then, there’s the fantasy element that sort of comes out of nowhere, and makes it feel like you’re watching two different dramas with the same actors. By the end, I think it settles into a good pattern, but by then you have all the huge, emotional things thrown at you, and it can be a bit overwhelming.

Soundtrack:

“It’s not legal for a man to sing like that.” -My Mother on Hyun Bin singing “That Man.” I have to agree. But Hyun Bin is and does a lot of things to make the rest of mankind despair. I love it when a lead actor/actress sings the theme for the drama. It gives it so much more meaning. Baek Ji Young sings “That Woman” which is the version more often repeated in the drama, and it’s beautiful… but I have a special place in my heart for Hyun Bin’s rendition.

Other songs that enhance the drama’s drama are: Here I Am, Appear, and Reason.

Sleep Deprivation:

It doesn’t get high marks in this department, because it started off so questionably. Not that it wasn’t interesting… but considering I went into it prepared for immediate body swaps and instant over-the-top funny, I felt it took too long to get into that. If I hadn’t read the synopsis, and just watched it for the romance, I probably would have been more excited. However, stick with it. The journey is well worth it.

Eye Candy:

I feel like such a fool. I went through this entire drama, not realising Hyun Bin is also the lead in My Lovely Sam Soon. I raved about his gorgeousness in that, but thought Joo Won was just so-so until halfway through the drama, when his personality sort of enhanced his attractive quality. So weird. Well, he breaks that ridiculous stereotype that all Asians look the same, because I didn’t believe my sister when she told me it was him. :P But it is, and yeah, he’s beautiful. Maybe not in that special sparkly tracksuit… Hehe. But it’s the chemistry that really gets you in this, and eye candy is secondary.

Ending:

Best. Ending. Ever. Second only to Creating Destiny. I love it. Love it, love it, love it. Loooooooooooooooove.

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