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Written by Funn Lim



But even with 2 boring actors and some very awful performances can't take away the power of Chae Rim's infectious charm factor.






SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS


Also known as
The Spring of Oh Dal Ja
달자의 봄

Released in
2007

No. of Episodes
22, too long

Cast-Character
Chae Rim as Oh Dal Ja
Lee Min Ki as Kang Tae Bong
Lee Hyun Woo as Uhm Gi Joong
Lee Hye Young as Wee Seon Joo
Gong Hyung Jin as Shin Sae Do
Seo Yeong Hee as Jang Soo Jin
Kil Yong Woo as Kang (Tae Bong's father)
Kwon Ki Sun as Yeong Shim (Tae Bong's mother)
Kim Na Woon as Go Shil Jang (Oh Dal Ja's sunbae)
Jang Young Nam as Uhm Gi Joong's wife
Lee Kyung Jin as Jung Ae (Dal Ja's mother)
Kim Young Ok as Dal Ja's grandmother
Kim Sung Kyum as Tae Bong's grandfather
Oh Kyung Soo as Nam Dae Soo (the department director)
Kim Jae Wook as Choon Ha (Tae Bong's friend)
Seo Yeong as Hong Ji Hee
Kim In Tae as Sae Do's father

Plot
Taken from Dramawiki

Dalja’s Spring’ is the story of Dalja, a 33-year old single at a crossroad of whether to remain single or get married before she gets older. The drama aims to comically and candidly portray the reality and undying pursuit of romance of a thirty something single woman.

The love triangle of Dalja, Taebong and Gijoong brews conflicts over love versus marriage. Taebong, a hunk six years younger than Dalja, works as substitute dates and becomes Dalja’s fake boyfriend. Gijoong is the type who dreams of an ideal and rational courtship. The drama also highlights the life and work of women in their thirties through Dalja who is a talented managing director at a home shopping channel.

My Comments
When I started watching this series about 2 episodes into the series, my reaction was like the following:-

Chae Rim
What on earth happened to her face?? My God, how she has aged? What hideously over made up face is that? More work done on her face?

Lee Hye Young
Really so much work done to her face to the point she can only sneer

The guys
Quality of men in Korean drama series has declined over the years. Gong Hyung Jin doesn't strike me as a love interest, Lee Min Ki has only one expression throughout and Lee Hyun Woo is as interesting as a piece of wood.

Yes, I was concentrating on the actors that I kinda neglected on the plot a bit. After I got past the shock of seeing Chae Rim caked in inches make ups and when she wore less and less make up as the series went on and looking fresher and more youthful than her age, doesn't look much older than in All About Eve and looking past at the quality of men, I began to appreciate the story itself.

It is those type of stories about a woman in her early 30s discovering herself as she faces problems at work, colleagues and more importantly, her impending spinsterhood. It is not original, it is not even Bridget Jones' Diary but it is I must stress entertaining to the core.

The entire reason for that is quite simply because of the charming and immensely likeable Chae Rim. I only saw her in All About Eve and nothing else. Once I got past the horror of her deep voice which I now associate as deep husky voice which is rather nice actually, past her make up where she looks her best without much of it, and even her rather interesting curly hair that no one seems to like in the series (funny stuff whenever the elders comment on her hair), I enjoyed the series because and only because of her. I love the way she laughs, a bit hearty laugh, and when she laughs she lits up. She has this ability to make you like her, to make you cheer for her and feel for her as she stumble her way in love and in career. I can see this as a perfect casting decision because Dal Ja could gave been annoying with her constant voiceovers telling us how she feels but Chae Rim is just so effective as a genuinely likeable person. I don't know about you but when she laughs, I laugh along. Something very infectious about her, at least in this series. Imagine the entire series, story, plot, moments all dependant on one single character and one actress who if wrongly cast would have been disastrous so to me this is perfect casting. Read that this was her first role since her divorce. immediately my mind went .. "Divorce?! Ok, Jang Donggun not married yet right? RIGHT?" but it is just pure fantasy. I wish Jang Donggun would step down from his high horse and go back to TV just once and reunite with Chae Rim just once more because I feel whenever I see Gong Hyung Jin's character as the producer, I could only think of Jang Donggun who he himself has a winning smile. Such wishful thinking!

Remember I lamented on the fact the guys are either dull, bad actors or just plain weird? That is not to say Gong Hyung Jin is the bad actor. He is in fact very funny. It took some time to warm to him but again this is also a likeable character. One of the funniest scene had to be the one where Dalja and Sae Do woke up in the morning with Tae Bong, in a changed shorts sitting down looking at them calmly. Dalja screamed, since she was in bed with Sae Do. Sae Do screamed looking at Tae Bong's changed pants, thinking that they were so drunk the night before they had a threesome and it included Tae Bong with Sae Do! Dalja thought she slept with 2 guys and she screamed. And the screamed and screamed and cried and all until Tae Bong sighed and explained what happened. They were just so drunk they passed out, but before that someone I think Dalja vommitted on Tae Bong's pants! That was such a funny and witty scene and their reaction was so funny. I warmed to Gong Hyung Jin after that because even if he doesn't look the part, he is one funny actor.

And there is no way would I believe Sae Do is supposed to be 33, same age as Dalja. In fact Dalja, Sae Do and Lee Hye Young are all supposed to be 33 years old. Maybe Dalja but the other 2, kinda stretching it isn't it? Sae Do should be older or at least cast a younger actor. Lee Min Ki is supposed to be 6 years younger, that makes him 27 and he looks a tad younger than 27 though.

Putting aside the unbelievability that is their ages, let's talk about the plot.

It is witty, yes, sporadically though. Whenever the story focuses on Dalja and her observation of all things surrounding her, it is funny. I like the scene where she was so upset she ate 3 dinners in one night, causing stomach cramp and in the most unromantic date ever, she and Tae Bong sat before the doctor who explained her pain came from too much wastes in her stomach. That was crude and yet brilliantly written. Others such as Dalja's ending observation, always with "I am 33 years old and ---" which will summarise the next episode's plot. I like the story of scary possessive mothers that only Koreans can depict so well, fun loving cuddly grandfathers and what is missing is of course violent teachers or seniors which I often see in other Korean series. They will not hesitate to knock your head if you have been rude. I also like the scene where Dalja considered Chairman Uhm Gi Joong and went to see his really clean house but very nice one and how she thought this is not the sort of love she wants as even if she is 33, she wants to be romanced, she wants to be wooed whilst the Chairman was talking why he liked her so is because being older she is more mature and need not be pleased with girlish stuff. When he walked out, she has left the building! Very real I must say because I would too. So what if this guy is terribly rich? He is also terribly boring.

That is not to say Tae Bong is exciting. He seems to have a secret past and indeed he is trying to escape from his overpossessive scary mother and he was a high flying M&A (Mergers & Acquisition) hot shot lawyer but left his career in the hopes of becoming a chef. So he has no money, at one point even lived with Dalja which is a big taboo for an unmarried woman even if she is 33 and considered way past the marriage age. However I don't quite believe this part. In fact I think it is insane to show Tae Bong given a huge office room, huge salary and what nots. Never once did the series ever show him in action as the M&A lawyer. It is just said and frankly I didn't find Tae Bong looking like one. Why not make him a doctor? Or something? But Dalja's reaction when he agreed to go back to work in a legal firm was very funny; her running up the stairs like Rocky and screaming "LAW FIRM!! LAW FIRM!!". It is like she hit the jacjkpot; young handsome guy in love with her, and a hotshot lawyer as well!

But before long the story went downhill as it dragged on on Dalja's insecurities and Tae Bong's non-expressive looks. Of course he is in love with her, of course he wanted to propose to her but Lee Min Ki is such an inadequate actor, I can't see all that at all. It went on and on and then Dalja left, speed forward 2 years later and we have this scene of Tae Bong cyling, seeing Dalja and going after her and what nots. It dragged on and on again. Interestingly or rather lazily, everybody looks the same, even Dalja and her hair. I thought her hair is an indication of her clinging to her youth or expectations of a girl in her heart so if she were to mature 2 years later, at least give her a different hairstyle. Truthfully, the story should have ended 5 episodes before. It was very draggy and the pace suffered and therefore the quality suffered. From laugh out loud moments and reflective ones, the series suddenly turned dead serious and seems like it took itself much too seriously. But the earlier parts were witty actually.

In this series which features women as the main theme, like I said before Dalja stood out. Another that I can't help but fix my eyes on is Wee Seon Joo, the cold top host of the informercial programs. I like the way she walks, the way she dresses, conservatively but very fashionable as she is. I like her story as she grew from lonely, cold and impersonal to somewhat nicer, warmer and more involved in others. One very funny scene was when she was sick, and Dalja, a naturally caring person went to see her together with Sae Do and decided to cook Kimchi porridge for her and so asked her toyboy for hire Tae Bong to buy the ingredients. The music was from Dae Janggeum (Jewel In The Palace) as she chopped, cooked, stirred, etc and then the guys were then making faces and said "What's that smell?" and the expression would mean Dalja isn't Janggeum! They tasted the porridge and thought it awful. And they argued on her virtues as a cook whilst Seon Joo lies in bed, and you would think she felt this was an intrusion but she actually smiled, enjoying the warm and noisy atmosphere in her once cold apartment. She actually complimented Dalja on the porridge which made Dalja very happy and the men go "WHAT?!" Her love affair with Sae Do is quite interesting as well, with some adult dialogues thrown into it, which makes it believable. The character of Seon Joo in the end learn that she doesn't have to put up defences, a wall to repel people but to accept and learn to be loved. I like her ending with Sae Do and how they ended. I must of course talk about the actress Lee Hye Young who has obviously made at least 1 trip to the fantastic korean cosmestic surgeon. She looks weird but in the end I decided she also looks very fashionable and is effective as someone in the fashion industry even if she looks weird. Acting wise, I find her entertaining and again effective. From unlikeable to likeable, she gives Seon Joo a personality but stop short of being a bitch which I never thought Seon Joo was one which means the actress gave a winning performance.

The actors however for a variety of reason just suck.

Like I said, acting wise, Gong Hyung Jin is good. But talk about wrong casting! He's too old for this role and frankly may I be honest, not very good looking at all. Like I said quality of men in Korean TV series has gone down. Gone are the days or charismatic leads like Bae Yongjun, Jang Donggun and Kim Seung Woo. May not be handsomest but charismatic, dominates the screen. In retrospect of course the actor can't dominate because Daljs is supposed to dominate the screen but when they're together I don't feel the golden couple sort of feel.

Lee Min Ki has the personality of a drying paint on a wall. That is my opinion. Is he handsome? I thought Hyun Bin is more handsome in that regards if you must ask about younger actors paired with older actresses. Lee Min Ki is definitely more sullen, but is acting as a guy with an attitude just about looking as sullen as possible? Even when he kissed, I felt like what a boring kiss. When he hugged, what a boring hug. When he confess or rather stare, I thought his mind must be blank because I felt nothing. Acting wise, he has 2 expressions; sullen and more suillen. That's it. He's like brooding all the time to the point if I were Dalja I would have said "Oi! Snap out of it!" His chemistry with Chae Rim? None whatsoever. He is a sore point in this series.

But none so sore than the chairman Uhm Gi Joong himself. If his chairman is supposed to be dead boring, yes Lee Hyun Woo gave a great performance then. Because if Lee Min Ki is sullen and more sullen, Lee Hyun Woo is walking mannequin. He has no expression. Not even handsome in my opinion. Not even alive probably. Did the producers just thaw him out for this performance? Awful performance. Exceedingly awful.

If I got the name right, then Seo Yeong is the one playing the rival of Dalja for Tae Bong's attention and she is super annoying. The character is super annoying and the actress is god awful as well. I love the scene where Tae Bong's very opinionated mother just told her straight in the face "Find another guy. Tae Bong is not for you" as she realised Tae Bong loves Dalja eventhough she didn't like that fact at all.

The older actors are the ones that are livelier, more colourful and deadpan funny. I really enjoyed the performance of the actress who plays Dalja's supervisor. I have never heard a Korean speak more slowly and with deadpan look. But don't mistake her deadpan look as bad acting because her eyes shows emotions unlikes that 2 guys. The actress who plays Tae Bong's mother is great as well, love her interaction with Dalja ("Please cut your hair! What sort of a hair is that?!") and her colleagues as well.

I also like the fact that each episodes has different artwork in it. I mean the following ...



I also like the music and the soundtrack. But what I didn't like was that the preview for each episode is a bit too revealing. Should leave some room for suspense.

Verdict
A very entertaining series with some great witty moments with the wonderful Chae Rim leading this series (this is what I meant as carrying the shoulders). However it suffered from bad pacing and much too serious content towards the end. It should have stopped earlier as well. But even with 2 boring actors and some very awful performances can't take away the power of Chae Rim's infectious charm factor. Watch this for her.

Interesting Fact
What is this Korean obsession with age? Several series, age is often emphasised. Like Dalja and her 33 years of age. That isn't old. But series went on and on and on and on about her 33 years of age. Quite tiresome after a while.




2 comments:

  1. virpotter3.4.10

    F.Y.I. there's a taiwanese series with the same storyline. The main lead actors are much much more handsome....check out My Queen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not interested as the reason Dal Ja is great to watch is because of Dal Ja. I have seen a few scenes of My Queen and frankly right now I have totally abandoned taiwanese series. I have had it with idol series and half bake actors.

    ReplyDelete

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