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Written by Funn Lim


"After watching this series I began to appreciate the charisma of Chae Rim"




SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS


Aka
Hello! Miss or Hello! My Baby or 헬로 애기씨 or Kimchi Mandu

And a general rule of thumb. When a series can't decide what's the name it wants to use, generally, the series will suck in some ways or another.

Released In
2007

Based On
A novel called Kimchi Mandu which means Kimchi Dumplings

Episodes
16

Cast-Character


Lee Ji Hoon as Hwang Dong Gyu
Lee Da Hae as Lee Soo Ha
Ha Suk Jin as Hwang Chan Min
Yun Mi Joo as Suh Hwa Ran
Ryan as Lee Joon Yong
Moon Chun Sik as Jang Dae Ri
Jang Young Ran as Oh Jung Sook
Park In Hwan as Hwang Man Bok
Lee Min as Lee Joon Hee
Park Chan Hwan as Lee Don Kyu (Soo Ha's father)
Choi Soo Rin as Hwang Yoo Il (Dong Gyu's aunt)
Kim Hee Jin as Han Soo Jung (Soo Ha's stepmother)
Kim Hyun Joo as Lee Myung Sook (Chan Min's mother)
Kim Kwang Gyu as Kwak Boo Jang
Jo Eun Duk as Ahn Sang Daek
Park Soon Chun as Hwa Ran's mom
Yeo Woon Kye
Yeo Eun Gi
Kim Joo Young
Han Young Kwang
Heo Hyun Ho

Plot
Taken from D-Addicts

Lee Soo Ha, 38th granddaughter of the Jae Ahn Lee clan and owner of the clan manor Hwa Ahn Dang, is trying to save the place from going bankrupt. Hwang Dong Gyu, oldest grandson of the president of TOP Group, is trying to buy Hwa Ahn Dang because his grandfather, who was once a servant at the manor, cannot rest in peace unless he spends his last days in Hwa Ahn Dang's master suite. Hwang Chan Min, Dong Gyu's playboy cousin, is his rival in business and love. Enter Seo Hwa Ran, a model who has a secret history with and a secret plan for Hwa Ahn Dang (and Chan Min), and Lee Joon Yong, Soo Ha's brother and Chan Min's friend who can't forget a girl from Hwa Ahn Dang he knew when he was a kid...This drama is adapted from the novel, "Kimchi Mandu."

Comments
I thought 3 people look extremely familiar in this series, one would be the lead actress, Lee Da Hae whom I later realise is the actress in the current showing series on KBS World called I think Slaver Hunter or something, Lee Ji Hoon the lead actor whom I remembered later on as the love interest in a movie where a female student fights for his attention with a spinster female teacher and finally one old lady with a plastic face playing "grandmother" who actually raised Lee Da Hae's character whose name I forgot and she was actually the same lady in Jewel In The Palace, again whose name I forgot but she was the old lady taking over as head of kitchen and later died of illness.

And I realised all that about halfway through the series.

Not that I was paying attention. I watched on because I thought Le Da Hae was cute and very pretty whilst Lee Ji Hoon was also as pretty and cute as well. The story seems interesting; small town girl who is given the charge of a huge 300 year old manor, finding ways to keep it afloat whilst battling small minded old fashioned steep in tradition old fools called the elders, affection of 2 guys plus a vengeful young woman in the form of Hwa Ran (Yun Mi Joo), she has her hands full whilst she herself was dressed in silly fashion which would make her very much at home has she been in Japan (Harajuku you see?). My first impression of Lee Da Hae spurred my interest. She was very pretty, her face flawless with very little make up and she looked utterly ravishing in Hanboks.In fact the Hanboks were the star of the series, especially one she wore which is I think blue in colour as she took western tourists visiting the manor. What a beautiful Hanbok. Lee Ji Hoon was also a plus point. I like his Donggyu and he does have good chemistry with Lee Da Hae.

And that's where the entire series stops in getting my attention. The fact is the more I watch the more I became annoyed with everything. When after I got over their pretty faces and beautiful hanboks, all I was left with when watching this series was the urge to fast forward the series. The reasons are simple.

First of, this series tend to focus on other characters of no significance to the plot, so much so precious minutes wasted away on showing the silly and stupid antics of Soo Ha's best friend, the one in pigtails and her fantasising about love and living with Soo Ha's family for free. The scenes would go on and on focussing on this insignificant character that I just changed channel. Then it focusses on Soo Ha's half sister and again what a boring insignificant character. She is rude and brash and I was hoping she and Soo Ha would fight but none of that. Then there's Donggyu's side of the family, with focus on the aunt who pretty much doesn't have control over the father, the assistant of aunt in law, etc. I couldn't believe this series is just 16 episodes with so much of wasted breath being used to give life to what I call dead characters who again are of no significance to the story, at all.

Then there's the small matter of good characters being wasted away and became in the end frustratingly silly characters and that is Soo Ha. I like the independent fighting spirit of Soo Ha, especially when she feels annoyed or someone is rude to her but when she is before other people other than Donggyu, say for example the elders, she not only becomes meek, she just became someone cardboard cutout, without any personality at all. I find it hard to believe the elders who control the manor would give her the task to run the manor. Why don't they do it themselves then if they have so much power over her? The only time she stood up to them was when they wanted to handover the power to her half brother, Joon Yong and even then she merely raised a meow instead of a roar. I also hated how she treated Donggyu, how utterly gullible she was and how frustratingly "pure" and "simple" when she should have smarten up by then. And bizarrely for someone so intent on keeping the manor, in the last episode she was willing to sell the manor to Donggyu's grandfather because she felt Donggyu was far more important than the manor! I was like "WHAT?!"? 15 episodes of principle thrown out of the window in episode 16 and that made me hate the character.

But at least she was at times interesting. 2 characters who are heavily featured but very pointless are Joon Yong the half brother and the nemesis/villain that is Hwaran. First of, Joon Yong is entertaining to watch not because the character is interesting but because of the actor Ryan. You must watch this series for him, for those unintended comedic moments. For example, he is so slim, fair and pointed face, he looks kinda effiminate until he starts talking with deep voice which I feel is not his real voice as in he deliberately spoke with deep voice for that masculine feel. Notice his body language. It was utterly annoying to see him talk in a serious mode and yet his entire body is swaying left to right to left back to right, like a little girl talking. Notice a few scenes, one especially where he was sitting down and as he spoke, his shoulders would heave left to right to left back to right and then he stood up to leave, I swear he did it with a flamboyant flair that spells FABULOUS! I was laughing my head off as he dramatically swing his head, stood up and dramatically like a diva swing his body and left with his perky behind right in front of the camera!! It doesn't mean anything other than the fact that he is such an awful actor with an even more awful body language. Speak in however deep masculine put on tone you want but your body language defeats you in the end. It is in the end an effeminate performance which in itself is nothing wrong except when he went pursuing Hwaran and all, I felt Hwaran is more masculine than him. Doesn't help he looks tiny next to the actress. But the acting, dear lord the acting was god awful! However he is a far better singer than actor. One scene he was singing one of the song always played in the series and it hit me that he is probably the singer of that song. And when he sings, he stops shaking and swaying. He should sing more, act less. I can imagine him in sequins with spotlight, looking fabulous!

The villain is as awful if not worse. Why is it the villain in Korean drama is always the one supposedly became beautiful after surgery? The nice one is of course the one born with natural looks? Anyway, the actress Yun Mi Joo is very tall, robust, nice body, well fed and looks huge next to everybody because everybody else is so tiny, especially Lee Da Hae who is very slim. I find Mi Joo pretty as well although she has this perpetually red nose, teary eyes that gives me an impression she was always crying before she film a scene. Her character Hwaran is one track mind; destroy Hwaandaang, which is the name of the manor. Why? Well, she hated the place. Why? Well she has a crazy mom and she hated that place that made her feel small. But why? Because she just hates that place. Why? I DON'T KNOW! SHE JUST HATES THAT PLACE!! And this series never went beyond that few childhood scenes of her feeling small in that huge place called Hwaandaang. The entire mystery of the series was who is this Hwaran and all. Well you know the answer from the first moment she appeared or rather when she plotted against Hwaandaang anyway, so I didn't quite get what is the mystery. And I still don't get why she is so hung up over Hwaandaang. All I know is she has serious esteem issues to have a grudge over an old manor. She did abandoned her crazy mom and until episode 16 she still resents her past identity which is Kokpoon as her mom calls her whilst Mr Fabulous tries to convince her he loves her for who she is, whatever that may be. That is because as a villain she just stares and talks coldly and just look the part but has nothing much to do. I find it baffling she entered Top Group as a model and ended up as the executive or something over there. But my main contention is her character has practically nothing much to do. As for her performance, she has 2 faces; cry and deadly stare. Her acting was awful. It was soulless, expressionless, body language-less. Whilst Mr Fabulous was all swaying and pliant and all, she was the opposite; rigid, absolutely rigid. An awful performance.

Ha Suk Jin is another actor who gave an awful performance. His Chanmin is neither good nor bad. Beginning good, towards the middle bad, the end good again. I am not sure what to think of this character, I just find him inconsistent. In the middle he decided he wanted Soo Ha and he wanted power in Top Group so he made up lies about Donggyu. If that is supposed to make me hate him, the director needn't bother because I never liked him from the beginning. Of all characters this character went through most changes but yet again the insignificance placed on the changes meant nothing major ever happens to this character. In the end he stilll stood next to his grandpa, Donggyu his cousin still talks to him, etc. Performance wise, 1 expression only and that is well, that one expression. He does look good without his shirt but it ends there.

The older generation fared better, more expressive, more to do, especially Park In Hwan who plays the scary grandfather, Hwang Manbok, or as the elders call him, the cow thief, which gets pretty tiring after a few episodes. Here is a former farmhand who became one of the richest man in Korea and not only did the elders not recognise that, they're still hung up over a cow, which granted was very expensive back then but it just shows how trivial things are and this reflects the series too, which is too hung up over trivilities.

The only one I like from start to end was the character Donggyu and even then I felt he is more like his grandpa's servant boy than a man capable of taking care of Top Group. But he is oh so nice and oh so cute. And amongst the younger generation, he has most expression and even then he seems to smile more than have any other expression. But I like him, probably because I like the actor Lee Ji Hoon who looks very boyish for his age (31?). Performance wise I like his performance which is far more than just 2 expression and for someone so girly cute looking, he comes across as nice but masculine nice instead of Mr Fabulous and his put on masculinity.

As for the location, well the manor stand in as Hwaandaang looks huge although the series only concentrate on the most 3 seperate locations, mostly the door. What is nice though is you get to see the traditions, how prayers are offered, the traditional wedding with the girl made to look up like a doll, the brilliant costumes but all these also mean this series was in the danger of becoming a semi-documentary. In fact it would be better if it is a documentary on the traditions observed by traditional Koreans because that would be more interesting than this series itself.

As for the main subject that is the Kimchi Mandu or Kimchi Dumpling itself, I don't think there is one single scene showing the dumpling and the insides of the dumpling. We just see people eating dumpling so I just assume that's how Kimchi Mandu looks like.

Verdict
Is the book good or did the adaptation killed the book? Because the series come across as trivial, fluffy, annoyingly light, can't decide whether it wants to be drama, comedy, love story, etc. I suspect the book talks more on the girl's struggle to keep Hwaandaang afloat but this series sidesteps that and concentrating on insanely boring or stupid characters. The villain is particularly a failure. It didn't help that most of the performances were god awful. After watching this series I began to appreciate the charisma of Chae Rim which made me enjoy the repetetive Dal Ja's Spring and the ratings says so too! And I guess in the end that is the problem with Hello! My Lady! It lacks charm. I have no other way to explain why at episode 16 and that is the ending that I decided to give it a negative review when in the first few episodes I really liked it. It simply lacks charm.

Give it a miss.

Ratings
D-Addicts says this series on average 11.7%.

On the other hand Dal Ja's Spring with the power of Chae Rim and no one else garnered an average of 22.6%. That's almost double.

I think sometimes however much I detest ratings, sometimes you just have to believe the ratings. In this case I feel the viewers got it right.

Interesting Fact
I am as always rather disillusioned with Korea's so called natural looks. I can say probably everybody in this series got something done. I am as always in awe of I suppose Korean plastic surgeons for their ability to upgrade people's look. If ever I need plastic surgery I will be moving to Korea.

Case in point: Lee Da Hae [Source]









1 comments:

  1. Bridget23.4.10

    Not a fan of this series. This is I think the only Korean series that I completely gave up on, as in didn't even bother finish watching. Lee Da Hae was too over-the-top (she was more tolerable in My Girl), Lee Ji Hoon seems like a nice guy and smiling all the time but also has zero charisma. Ha Seok Jin was monotone despite being very good-looking. The story got boring as time passed too.

    Thumbs down!

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