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Written by Bridget Au
 

"But for being a Korean series that is creatively funny and not a melodramatic, formulaic Korean drama, I give this series four stars."

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SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS
Year
2004

No. of episodes
24 (technically 12 that are broken down into 2 "parts" each)

Genre
Romantic comedy

Cast
Shin Dong Wook as Dong-wook
Lee Soo Kyung as Soo-kyung
Choi Phillip as Phillip
Sa Gang as Yu-jin
Otani Ryohei as Ryo Hei
Jang Mi Ae as Min-ae
Jung Hwan as Jung Hwan
Kim Mi Jin as Mi-jin

Foreword
The title of this series makes fools of us all. Soulmate is not your average melodramatic Korean tearjerker. Exaggerating and playing on various gender / dating stereotypes, it is an insightful and hilarious look at how we behave in relationships. More specifically, it explores how we unconciously react and attempt to escape from relationships we don't belong in and thus end up with our 'soulmate'. It loses a lot (or all) of its romantic comedy charm at the end of the series, but is overall a commendable, underrated effort from Korean drama.

Plot
The storyline can be split into two main love triangles / squares.

Soo-kyung - Phillip - Min-ae - Ryo-hei
This series begins by introducing couple #1, Soo-kyung and Phillip, who have just become engaged. SK knows something is dearly wrong when she recalls how horrified she was during the proposal but was forced to say 'yes' due to the fact that it occurred in the very public setting of a subway train. Phillip's eyes are also straying towards Min-ae, the resident slut who is currently flouncing in a fling with Ryo-hei. Ryo-hei doesn't really care about Min-ae's playing antics, as long as she comes back to him in the end.

Things turn ugly when Phillip finally confesses he loves another woman, and the heartbroken Soo-kyung leans on Dong-wook for support. Ryo-hei and Min-ae, oddly, have a 'happy' ending... though something tells me that it's not really an ending at all.

Dong-wook - Yu Jin - Soo-kyung
Former player Dong-wook is forced to settle down in a parental match-up with Yu Jin, the only daughter of a high-ranking businessman who is the only reason to watch this show (more on that later). They seem to do relatively well, until small things such as Dong-wook forgetting that Yu Jin hates honey mustard and Yu Jin trying too hard to be like Dong-wook spells doom. The relationship finally crumbles when Dong-wook realizes he has feelings for Soo-kyung. Too bad so sad for Yu Jin.

Classic Line
There is a lot of pricelines dialogue and moments in this series that are just too funny. My favourite - when Ryo-hei, Dong-wook, and their friend see a couple getting married, one of them says: "I've always wondered why the groom wears black and the bride wears white at a wedding. Shouldn't they wear the same colour?" "It's obvious isn't it? Getting married is like a funeral for a guy, so obviously he has to wear black!".

On Characters and Acting
Sa Gang: She is sweet, she is funny, and she is cute in a very clued-out way. Normally my tolerance level for character stupidity is pretty low but Sa Gang is simply adorable. She is the one reason to watch this little-known series. Fantastic performance.

Soo-kyung is rather bland in terms of dramatic acting but she has great comic timing. Shin Dong Wook is at times both frustrating and likable as the playboy, but this character doesn't really allow him to show his dramatic acting chops, whatever they may be. Phillip Choi was also quite ok.

Jung Hwan and Kim Mi are hysterical as their silly, hormone-driven characters and Ryo Hei is dreamily gentlemanly. Jang Mi Ae's physique makes her very convincing as the hot-to-trot Min-ae, and she really portrays the heartbreaking player-girl well.

The overall positive attribute of this cast is that all actors have great chemistry with each other, whether it be romantic, friendship, or even as nemesis.

Huh?
1) How did Soo-kyung and Dong-wook fall for each other? That part was way, way too rushed. Being able to hear someone's thoughts was a tacky plot gimmick and a totally unbelievable reason for falling in love with someone.

2) So what happened between Ryo Hei and Min-ae? It seemed they were just back at square one where Min-ae didn't really want to commit to a relationship and Ryo Hei was left waiting... again.

3) What about Phillip? How do you start off proposing to the love of your life and then fighting for the town slut with another random guy at a bar a week later?

To Watch or Not to Watch, That is the Question
In short, there are many parts of this series that are complete gems, but the sum of the parts and the way they were pieced together was in general, too rushed and unconvincing. But for being a Korean series that is creatively funny and not a melodramatic, formulaic Korean drama, I give this series four stars.

Rating

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