"Korean dramas seem to suffer from a kind of schizophrenic disease. What I mean is, they have a dual personality in terms of character portrayal and plot."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Nae Sarang Patjwi
"Ngor Ngoi Hong Dau Lui" (in Mandarin "Wo Ai Hong Do Nu"; translates to I Love Red Bean Girl) and "Hong Dau Lui Jee Luen" (in Mandarin "Hong Do Nu Zhi Lian"; translates to The Love Story of Red Bean Girl)
Korean TV Network
No of Episodes
13 (to my knowledge there's another VCD set that has only 10 episodes, but the story and the ending are the same, just that in the 10-episode version some scenes are cut out)
Jang Nara "Sweet Dream"
Jang Nara as Yang Songee
(Cantonese: Yeung Chong Yee; Mandarin: Yang Song Er)
Kim Rae Won as Kim Hyun Sung
(Cantonese: Kum Yin Sing; Mandarin: Jin Yan Cheng)
Kim Jae Won as Kang Seung Joon
(Cantonese: Kong Sing Jun; Mandarin: Jiang Sing Jin)
Hong Eun Hee as Eun Hee-Won
Kim Kyung Sik as Yang Sam Yeol
(Hyun Sung's good friend)
Shin Dong Mi as No Ji-Young
Kang Rae Yeon as Hwang Bo Yu-ri
(Sam Yeol's love interest)
Park Kwang Jung as Nam Joo-Im
(marine trainer instructor)
Kim Yi Young
Lee Jin Suk (who also produced All About Eve)
This drama is loosely based on a Korean folk tale which is sort of like a Korean parody of Cinderella. Patji is supposedly the evil, mean, and ugly sister that everyone hates and Kongji is the soft-spoken supernice girl that ends up with the prince. In reality, Kongji is actually a scheming girl whose smile conceals daggers, a girl who acts nice to get men while Patji, although sometimes mischievious, tomboyish, rude and hell-bent on revenge, is actually a good-hearted girl (sort of like Xiao Yan Zhi from HZGG).
The series begins with Songee (Patji) and Hee-won (Kongji) in elementary school. Songee likes a boy (who happens to be Hyun Sung as we later find out) who is popular with all the girls. Hee-won insists that she is not interested in him and when the teacher tells the girls to pick a guy to sit with, Songee grabs Hyun Sung's hand. However, Hee-won then approaches Hyun Sung and asks him to sit with her! Hyun Sung then rips his hand from Songee to go sit with Hee-won. Songee is furious and begins to beat Hee-won up! Thus begins a childhood rivalry between Songee and Hee-won.
Fast forward around 10 years and nothing has changed. Songee is actually a good-hearted and innocent girl although she is loud and mischievous. Her bad temper renders her quite unpopular among her peers. Hee-won, who is pretty and smiles all the time, is liked by both young men and women, although she is in reality a conniving and selfish young woman at heart who is secretly deathly jealous of Songee (I have no clue why).
Hee-won works as a special events planner at an amusement park where Songee works as a costume entertainer (those people who walk around the park in funny costumes to entertain little kids). This helps to provide some situational comedy since Songee also happens to loathe kids. At the same park, Hyun Sung works as a marine animal trainer and Seung Joon is the son of the amusement park's owner. Through a little misunderstanding, Songee and Hyun Sung butt heats but eventually become good friends, with Songee running to Hyun Sung whenever she has problems. One day, Hee-won tricks Songee (again) and Songee vows revenge. She does it by sabotaging the parade planned by Hee-won. Songee wrecks one of the floats (a train)...but that night Seung Joon decides to take the train float for a practice round and is trapped inside when the float is set aflame (by the electronic wires that were wrecked by Songee). Songee, who witnesses the scene, is mortified and carries the now-unconscious Seung Joon out of the float. After reviving him, she disappears when the paramedics arrive and Seung Joon wonders who his guardian angel-saviour is (he caught a glimpse of Songee before she ran off).
Hee-won tries her best to win over Seung Joon and sabotage his attempts to find Songee, to no avail. Seung Joon and Songee begin a relationship where Seung Joon tries his hardest to protect Songee from the gossip of the park employees. Hyun Sung, who has fallen in love with Songee's spunk and honesty, keeps his feelings secret although he constantly lends her an ear for her problems. Hyun Sung chooses to not pursue Songee not because he feels inferior to the rich, nice, and good-looking Seung Joon, but mainly because he hides a severe heart disease that silently but constantly endangers his life.
Everything goes fairly well until a tape that contains footage of Songee's sabotage is discovered, and of course Hee-won uses it to her advantage and Seung Joon is devastated. Songee is heartbroken when Seung Joon breaks up with her. She stops by a fountain and breaks down in tears and is discovered by Hyun Sung, who hugs her and reveals his feelings to a shocked Songee. They continue their friendship while Hyun Sung silently waits for Songee to forget about Seung Joon. Seung Joon doesn't have the heart to fire Songee, much to the anger of Hee-won. Eventually Seung Joon realizes that he still deeply loves Songee. He discovers that Hee-won framed Songee for stealing the tape, and it is also revealed (in front of everyone else who works at the park) that Hee-won staged yet another event to frame Songee for injuring her. Fortunately, her scheme was busted with the help of Hyun Sung. Seung Joon tries to repair their relationship but Songee sadly points out that Seung Joon will probably never be able to fully trust her again while Seung Joon is speechless because in a way it is true. But of course Songee ends up going back to Seung Joon's side anyway.
Hyun Sung, with the encouragement of good friend Sam Yeol, declares a "fair competition" for Songee to Seung Joon, who agrees. Seung Joon decides that the competition should be truly fair and offers to pay for a heart operation for Hyun Sung who initially vehemently denies the offer. However, after going into a short coma (when Songee begins to suspect that she has grown feelings for her good friend), Hyun Sung decides to undergo the operation. But alas...fate takes an ugly turn and Seung Joon and Songee decide to leave overseas while Hyun Sung quietly accepts the loss. At the airport, though, Songee decides that she is happier and more comfortable with Hyun Sung (she feels that she can truly be herself around him) and decides not to leave. Hyun Sung is overjoyed and hugs Songee.
Fast forward one year...Hyun Sung and Songee still work at the park and constantly bicker and butt heads. Hee-won has become less manipulative and now concentrates on her career instead of on men. Seung Joon returns, the three of them joke around. The last scene has Seung Joon and Hyun Sung teasing Songee, but it is unclear as to whether Hyun Sung and Songee got together.
Evaluation of Cast and Characters
Jang Nara as Yang Songee
When she first appeared she reminded me a lot of Barbie Hsu's Shan Cai from the Taiwanese series Meteor Garden...petite, skinny, short, and plain-looking. But a major difference is that Songee cries a lot more than Shan Cai...she cries in every episode in this series. Jang Nara gave an average performance as Songee. It's not that she can't act, I do believe she can...it's just that she failed to truly move me with her portrayal of Songee (at least in the weepie parts). I'm not sure why. I think that she just simply isn't good enough to take on a series on her shoulders. She doesn't have what it takes to be a lead actress. Jang Nara lacks what I've gotten used to seeing in most Korean actresses- a kind of delicate underacting and inner aura that is revealed at just the right times. She's actually quite cute in most scenes and I like her best in the bantering scenes between her and Kim Rae Won. But frankly, her pouts get rather repetitive and her initially decent portrayal of the fiery Songee turned bland because of too much camera-milking of the pouts. Jang Nara does not look compatible with either Kim Jae Won or Kim Rae Won. She's just too good-friends-like with Kim Rae Won...their onscreen chemistry is much too platonic rather than romantic. As for Kim Jae Won, he just doesn't look good with Jang Nara and appears to be an even more unlikely romantic possibility for Jang Nara's character. In general I found Jang Nara's performance to be inadequate. As for her character, Songee confused me. She's supposed to be a tomboyish tough girl...but she cries in every episode (in some episodes she actually cries a few times). Is Songee actually a a girl who is rough and tough on the outside but actually quite an emotional weakling on the inside? If this is true, I fail to see this in Jang Nara's performance, because she does a much better job as the tough and blunt girl than as the weeper.
Kim Rae Won as Kim Hyun Sung
My favourite Korean actor (or Asian actor, actually) ever since I saw him in Wuri's Family and in here Kim Rae Won does not disappoint, giving the best performance of the series. Of course, when he first appeared I didn't even recognize him (his hairstyle changed dramatically from WF which he filmed right before this series) but in my opinion successfully and convincingly changed his image. Kim Rae Won displays some impressive comic instinct here. His Hyun Sung is a lot more sunny and positive than his dark and brooding character of Young-Hoon from WF. He gives layers to Hyun Sung and this is why I believe this actor gave the most insightful portrayal of his character. He teases Songee to no end but actually has a deep fear of growing feelings for anyone because he knows that his life is constantly in danger because of his illness. At the same time, Hyun Sung is unfailingly supportive to Songee, although as I've stated above, Kim Rae Won's chemistry with Jang Nara is much too platonic (the reason revealed below). In any case, Kim Rae Won proves to be quite a versatile actor. Trust me, Kim Rae Won will definitely be someone to look out for in Korea's acting field. My Love Patzzi actually got him noticed and he has now risen to super-stardom after filming Attic Cat.
Kim Jae Won as Kang Seung Joon
This actor was in Wuri's Family too, playing main character Wuri. In here he looks at least five years older with his glasses, new hairstyle, and business-suit wardrobe and, like Kim Rae Won, makes a successful and believable image change. He is likeable here as the quiet, demure, and soft-hearted Seung Joon, although at times Kim Jae Won makes it seem as if the guy is girlish or wimpish. He doesn't necessarily lack chemistry with Jang Nara, but they just don't look good together. This series is a case of imcompatible pair casting. The three are good individual casting decisions, but together either pair does not appear to be a convincing romantic couple. Kim Jae Won gives a good enough performance as Seung Joon but I believe that his role can be played by any other actor. Not a breakthrough performance.
Hong Eun Hee as Eun Hee-Won
Quite a natural performance as the manipulative and conniving Hee-Won. Hong Eun Hee definitely did a good job as the nasty and scheming young woman but there's a major flaw in her performance. There's no vulnerability in it. For those of you who watched All About Eve, Kim So Yeon's portrayal of Young Mi was brilliant. Young Mi was also scheming, selfish, and nasty, but Kim So Yeon made the character human, flesh and blood and bared a soul in her performance. Hong Eun Hee fails to do that here, although she succeeds in portraying the secretly evil and manipulative side of her character.
On the Other Characters and Performances
Korean dramas seem to suffer from a kind of schizophrenic disease. What I mean is, they have a dual personality in terms of character portrayal and plot. You have the serious love stuff with the main love triangle/square, then on the other side the love leads' friends engage in an absolutely comic, if not cartoonish, romance story themselves. It's all over the place in Korean TV. All About Eve- the serious Hyeong Chul-Sun Mi-Young Mi-Woo Jin square and then the droll love story of equally droll friends of the leads. Wuri's Family- the serious Wuri-Dae In-Tae Sil-Young Hoon square, then the ridiculous pursuing by Wuri's friend of Wuri's older sister Hana. My Love Patzzi, although infintely less melodramatic than any other Korean series, boasts the most ridiculously cartoonish outer circle love story yet, as presented in Sam-Yeol's and Instructor Nam's lovelives. The wacky antics and shtick were funny at first, but toward the end they just got silly. With that said, the other actors did just an average job (they didn't have much to work with), with Kim Kyung Sik (Sam Yeol) displaying quite an affable comedic charisma. Shin Dong Mi annoyed me to no end but the lady who played the cleaning team's manager was bloody hilarious!
Making an amusement park the setting for this series provides some refreshing situational comedy and is actually a terrific and new idea. The scenes with the marine animals and Hyun-Sung with the baby tiger were great. Also, the weather always seemed so pleasant in this series, which added to the "feel-GOOD!" flavour. The theme song and other music used in the series is cheesy but very pleasing to the ear...Korean series always have this wonderful knack for finding music that hits right on the nail in terms of complimenting plot and individual scenes and My Love Patzzi does not let us down in this aspect. Kim Rae Won fans will be pleasantly surprised at the outgoing and bright Hyun-Sung that the actor plays. This series is also very different from other Korean series in that it is much more light-hearted and more fast-paced. There's probably more dialogue in this series than all the K-series I've seen combined. It moves much more like a romantic comedy and is a surprising break away from the usually overdone heart-love-heart-love-heart-love-heart stuff and melodrama/tragedy that has come to characterize Korean TV.
Take It or Leave It
Shin Dong Mi...boy that woman was annoying. I could have done without her. My apologies to Jang Nara fans but she just doesn't cut it as the feisty Songee. She pouts too much in here and also cries so much that she could be considered schizophrenic too. She angrily pants whenever she's bullied on and swings a broom at Hee-won but then weeps and weeps whenever there's trouble in paradise in terms of her and Seung Joon. Blah. Make up your mind girl
From The Grapevine
Shortly after watching this series, I watched an interview with Kim Rae Won. It turns out that he, Jang Nara, and Kim Jae Won are actually very good friends in real life. This is, I feel, the reason why their onscreen chemistry is so platonic. Him and Jang Nara are third-year students majoring in film/drama at the same university, and him and Kim Jae Won became good friends after filming WF a few years back. They occasionally have "phone dates", so considering how popular and busy each actor is, this proves they really are pretty good friends in real life. During filming, they all kept adding lines that weren't in the script, and the director found them quite believable and appropriate for the movement of the dialogue and so didn't cut those parts out. While filming My Love Patzzi, Kim Rae Won was dating Kim Hyo-Jin (his co-star who played Tae-Sil in WF) but after 8 months, they have now broken up. Since this series, he has gone on to film Attic Cat (already released) and a movie called Ing, and is now working on a new series called Young Bride. Interestingly enough, when asked which actor he wanted to work with in the future, Kim Rae Won's answer was none other than "Film Emperor" Tony Leung Chiu Wai from Hong Kong (Infernal Affairs, In the Mood for Love). He also stated that Hyun-Sung is his favourite character yet out of all the roles he has played, but is in reality a much more quiet person. From his interview and other interviews that I've seen, Kim Rae Won seems to display a quiet wisdom and maturity beyond his years (he's only 22), but also has a good sense of humour. He also was recently named Best Actor and Most Popular at the 2003 MBC Awards. As for Jang Nara, she is a popular singer in Korea, and is being seen in a slowly increasing number of Korean series. Kim Jae Won is a white-hot actor, acting in popular series such as Romance and Rival, and has been dubbed the owner of "the ladykiller's smile" by Korean media.
To Watch or Not to Watch, That is the Question
Watch if you're a Kim Rae Won or romantic comedy fan. It's a decent length and a good choice if you're looking for a different kind of Korean series. Stay away if you don't like shtick comedy or if you don't like people with very artificial-looking dyed hair (Jang Nara, who's orangeish-blonde in this series).