Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review, spoilers and general talk on K-drama: Playful Kiss 장난스런 키스

THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

Name of the show: Playful Kiss
Genre: Romantic Comedy, High School Romance
Lead Actors: Kim Hyun Joong and Jung So Min
 


I am going to go ahead and sound slightly melodramatic and say that I actually paused for about 15 minutes there while writing the title for this post. Why? Because even though I knew I was all up for writing a "review" (or whatever you chose to call it) on another K-drama that I've watched and loved (because people apparently do read those posts and watch the shows in question), I was wondering which drama to write about first. Not only is this the first k-drama related post I'm writing this year, I've watched so many in the past years (especially in 2012 alone!) that I was all like should I go for this now or that.

And after some thinking, I have decided on Playful Kiss. This show also goes by the names 장난스런 키스 and Naughty Kiss and Mischievous Kiss. There are a total of 16 episodes, each an hour long. Plot background is basically like this: Jung So Min's character Oh Ha Ni is a high school girl who doesn't like studying and instead spends her time daydreaming about her crush, boy-genius Baek Seung Jo (played by Kim Hyun Joong). Oh Ha Ni writes down her feelings for Baek Seung Jo in a love letter, who returns it after grading it (he gives it an "F"). Because this is a romantic-comdey TV show, due to some events, Oh Ha Ni ends up moving into Beak Seung Jo's house (with both their families in the house) and goes on pursuing/shadowing/stalking Seung Jo all the way upto college. Eventually he falls for her and they get married.

I'm warning you, if romantic-comedies (however cute) are not your thing, don't even bother watching Playful Kiss, because, honestly, the story (as I've mentioned above) isn't anything that great. Me, I like romantic-comedies, I live for them and even though initially I wasn't hooked to Playful Kiss, I eventually ended up falling in love with it. So much so that I put it up on my list of best watches tv in 2012 (even though this show was aired in 2010, I only saw it last year; for the entire list, have a look here: http://anyasmusings.blogspot.in/2012/12/my-best-of-2012-tv.html). 

The first few episodes were cute, you know but like I said, I didn't love it. That by no chance means that I lazed around instead of watching the next episodes. Thankfully, it grew on me and I fell in love with the show, and the cast. More than the actual story, I liked how this show dealt with the plot and how the cast enacted it. I thought that made a huge difference and that's what made Playful Kiss claw its way into my heart. Oh, I would also like to declare that all the photos in this post were taken from internet sources and I do not own any of them.


Before I go on and on about the show, a look at the characters:

Oh Ha Ni


She is played by Jung So Min. She starts with being a high school student in the show (by the time the drama ends, Oh Ha Ni and her friends & Baek Seung Jo are college students) who is very sweet and has two amazing best friends (yay, I love shows that show female-bonding along with bromance!), lives with her dad (her mom died when she was a kid). She's really close to her father who owns a noodle-shop. In fact they're so close that we don't see him yelling at her or anything even when she gets bad grades (such an unknown concept over here!!). She also has a devoted follower in the name of Bong Joon Gu, whom she obviously doesn't care a straw for. 


She loves our male lead of the story--Baek Seung Jo, whom she pretty much stalks. And her life seriously does revolve around this guy. So much that Seung Jo himself (and me) worry about her future. Being in love and being devoted to a guy for eternity is okay, it's perfectly fine according to me...your choice. But saying that that person is the only aspect of your life? That you don't even care what happens to you just as long as you're with that person? Which is why, despite this girl having a thousand quirky hairstyles and amazing facial expressions, and a million daydream sequences, I really liked----




Baek Seung Jo


Played by Kim Hyun Joong. Honestly, I hadn't watched Playful Kiss for as long as I hadn't because Kim Hyun Joong hadn't impressed me much as an actor in BOF (I doubt if he had impressed anyone). I had loved his character, and I am a fan of his voice and all, and I had honestly loved his efforts for acting, but not the actual art itself. Plus, Lee Min Ho was a major distraction throughout that series (Hee.) so it's not like I could even revel in his good looks or anything. So I was pleasantly surprised to see this new avatar of Kim Hyun Joong in 장난스런 키스. Thank you for acting in this one, Kim Hyun Joong! I love you now! Also, the fact that you ain't blond in this one helped. 

He really did act in this show, so much that I was kinda mad at him for not acting in BOF (I still spend my days defending him and his lack of acting skill in that show in front of friends and acquaintances). And maybe 'cause he's got dark hair here or maybe 'cause there aren't three other flower boys (especially Lee Min Ho) sharing the screen space with him here, he looks super handsome in this show as well!!

So, over to the character. Baek Seung Jo is rich, but not rich rich. Like, he's not Gu Jun Pyo, not even by a mile. He's just comfortably well off and you know, not house-hunting desperately like Oh Ha Ni's family. He's a genius, and with an IQ of 200, the pride of his high school, and later on his college. Everyone in the show is in awe of him...this amazingly arrogant (in kindaaaa would-be Mr. Darcy way. Kinda. I said, kinda.) yet good-looking boy genius. All the girls flock to him (with Oh Ha Ni leading this crowd, obviously). His younger bro idealizes him. The only one who isn't in awe of him, oddly, is his mom which I found a bit odd, but more on that later. 

Seung Jo intially comes off as rude, arrogant, and all those usual stuff that a lot of K-drama male leads do have in the initial episodes. What I like about him though is that even when he does fall for Ha Ni, he doesn't stop being himself. He's still the boy genius who thinks Ha Ni is stupid (a point she doesn't do much to prove wrong, alas), who still knows he's too smart and pretty much remains true to himself. I like this guy, he worries more for Ha Ni's life decisions way more than Ha Ni herself. I suppose, like me (and all the audience with even an ounce of feminist respect), want Ha Ni to decide what she wants for herself and get it, not because it involves Seung Jo, but because she wants it. I'd be happy if she wanted to spend her life being a home-maker, but not solely because of Seung Jo's angle but because that's what Ha Ni, herself, wanted. A point lost on her until the very end. At that point, I almost wanted to jump up and shout "rejoice!". 

One of the things I learnt from this TV show...having an incredibly high IQ doesn't guarantee a high EQ. Seung Jo's EQ seems to be running in the negative. Many times he seemed to have problems even grasping the concept of other people feeling certain things, but for most part, I was just convinced that emotionally, Seung Jo is a little boy who thinks pulling a girl's pigtails in front of everyone in the park is flirting. Awww, you leeeetal boy, you.


He also, surprisingly, turns out to be such an adowable hubby! Sigh. This show and this character made me want to get married. But only to Seung Jo. Eeeeeep!


Hwang Geum Hee

 She's Seung Jo's very young looking (well, no wonder, that's what you get for a ridiculously young woman to play this part) mom. I loved her. I think anyone who watches this show will love her. You're bound to. She's a cool character. And Jung Seung Ah is a brilliant actor. Brilliant. And if Seung Jo made me want a hubby like him (I mean, just like him, ditto), mommy dearest made me wish for a mom-in-law like her, whenever I get one. Although... I am pretty sure I wouldn't have liked her had she had the exact same personality and support (and sneaky ways) but had liked any other girl for her son instead of Ha Ni. So I guess its Ha Ni (and mine) luck that she ends up liking the protagonist. Yay, mom!

Yoon Hae Re

Her character is played by the beautiful Lee Si Young. She's Ha Ni's competition for Seung Jo's affection. As to her personality... Ha Ni and her friends describe her as "the male version of Seung Jo", so make your estimate. And even though I want Seung Jo to end up with Ha Ni, and even though Hae Re can play the cool bitch at times, I cannot bring myself to hate her. Why? Well, maybe that she's got some introspective self-respect helps. She's well suited to Seung Jo in the sense that they're both alike and they remind their classmates of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir but according to Mom (and our romantic hearts), they don't fit well together....they're like identical pots while Ha Ni & Seung Jo are like a pot and it's lid---made for each other. 

Still, I liked Hae Re at times. She knows what she wants but that's not why I like her. I like her because she knows that no matter what she wants, it won't be because of one particular person riding her life. 

Ha Ni's friends

Are Joo Ri and Min Ah. Loved them both... because thank god not everyone is glorify bromance insanely and making it seem like women cannot bond at all (I have seen a new trend where even if women do bond, it'll solely be because their hubbies are friends). They love Ha Ni, support Ha Ni and even if they act the like the voice of reason to her, they never really go overboard and dictate her life to her. Such a life lesson so many need to learn from these two. Not once when Ha Ni sighs over what a big stuck up guy Seung Jo is, do these two ever say "leave him", but whenever Ha Ni does want to leave him, they support her anyhow. I want friends like those!

Bong Joon Gu & Bye Bye Sea

Joon Gu is one of the bad (as opposed to just poor) students like Ha Ni and her friends. 

If Hae Ra is the female version of Seung Jo then Joon Gu has to be the male version of Ha Ni. He loves her like an obsession, every action of his is centered around Ha Ni and he has a really difficult time letting her go. What I really found adorable in this show was that it had the Indie band Bye Bye Sea as Joon Gu's friends/followers in school...and that in the initial episodes, they would basically enter a scene unnoticed and sing the OST.


The Family---Dads and Seung Jo's brother

Like I said, Ha Ni is very close to her dad. He is a long time friend of Seung Jo's dad. And that is basically the importance of these two as long as the main plot goes. 


I am more fascinated with Seung Jo's kid brother, Eun Jo is the eleven year old, slightly more emotionally aware version of Seung Jo and is played by Choi Won Hong. As soon as I saw him, I was all like, dude, how lucky is this guy! He has worked with some of the hottest guys ever (Kim Hyun Joong here, and also with Lee Min Ho in another show). I loved his character. I did. Such an adorable guy. And if I can forgive Seung Jo acting like a little kid, I sure can forgive him!


Kang Yi
Let's just say that I was so happy Ha Ni managed to make friends. I love this guy.




My not-so-fav parts or let's just say that the areas in the show that I had issues with:


1. Ha Ni, woman, get some pride. Please. I am not saying don't love Seung Jo to death or anything like you have to get a job or anything. But please, take your future a little more seriously. 


2. In continuation with that.... See, I liked Joon Gu's character. Sweet, understanding and kinda a stalker. Not my favorite kind, but hey, if it works for the other people, who cares? Unlike Ha Ni, however, he is really good at something. The only thing Ha Ni seems to be good at is being in love with Seung Jo but that's literally because she does that with all her energy and mind into it. So basically, as the audience, I was convinced that Ha Ni isn't stupid, she's just lazy and that she'll do very well if she genuinely tried. Which turned out to be kind of the point of Playful Kiss as well. We saw many examples of this too.

3. I found it really weird that Ha Ni did not empathize with Joon Gu. Hypocrisy? Self-absorbed? Or just preoccupied with Seung Jo's thought? Either ways, it is a little unbelievable that she doesn't empathize with the male version of herself. She gets annoyed every time Joon Gu tries to flirt or be over-protective or anything. Yet she turns right around and tries to do the exact same thing to Seung Jo.


4. Seung Jo's parents! I mean, listen, I loved them, I did. BUT they were a little...how do you say?...unconvincing. So I understand his mom's obsession with fixing him up with Ha Ni and claiming to know which girl is the best for him (yeah, well, I live in the land which gives "arranged marriages" an upper hand) but the fact that she openly kinda insults Seung Jo, her own son, to give support to Ha Ni? Really? It's awfully sweet of you and all...but people really do that to their super-handsome-and-genuis sons? And then there is his dad who was crushed all because his ridiculously intelligent son said that he wanted to become a doctor. He even got a heart-attack. Wait... I thought getting into med school was a good thing! I thought parents would be proud of their sons if they became doctors. And here is this man on a hospital bed because he couldn't take the trauma (oh, and funnily enough, he fails to notice that doctors save his life in that hospital). If I told my parents that I'm going to study to be a doctor, they'd jump with joy. And yet, Seung Jo's dad is actually disappointing. Odd.


Okay, time for the best parts, aspects and scenes of the show, according to me. Since while talking about Playful Kiss, I also am talking about the special edition (more on that in a while), some of them will be from there as well.


1. I know it isn't a romantic scene by a mile, but I still enjoyed the scene where Seung Jo gives back Ha Ni her love letter (episode 1) after grading it. First of all, Kim Hyun Joong looks AMAZING. I am in love! Hee. Moving on, yeah... This really marks out the difference between Seung Jo and Ha Ni. I feel sorry for her but I love the way she takes it and manages to hold her head high.


2. The wedding scene!!! Well, of course. Even if they're too young to get married... Still, someone that hot in the line, I can see why she got married that soon. I love how Ha Ni manages to let the ring slip. I love that they facilitate their own wedding. I love that Ha Ni lets her wild side lose, and kisses her newly acquired hubby in front of all the guests. Rawr. 


Oh, and also.... love the part where mom finally shows Seung Jo's hidden baby pictures that form a huge part of his dark, dark past. Giggle. I love the mad look Kim Hyun Joong wears in this scene. Sigh.


3. Oh dear this scene from episode 5 is totally funny! Seung Jo had written an exam after taking a medicine that makes one super drowsy (Ha Ni gave him the medicine). He basically sleeps through much of the test and struggles to gain consciousness. When he gets his result, he gets a perfect score. I love Kim Hyun Joong's expression again in this scene when Seung Jo looks at his result in utter disbelief and says, "I really must be a genuis!". Hahahaha. This, like the previous example, shows what a huge jump Kim Hyun Joong has made as an actor since the whole BOF.

4. From episode 6. The Seung Jo's encounter with the jacket-version of Ha Ni. Made me roll with laughter!



Cracks me up every time.

5. The piggyback ride from episode 8. K-dramas, hot guys and their piggyback rides. I want!

6. Episodes and 16, Seung Jo gets jealous. Naaaaaice.


7. In the special edition's first episode, when Seung Jo tells her that he knows her plans.

8. Teddy bears!! Even though I found them a little weird to begin with, the teddy bears at the end of each episode grew on me.



9. Seung Jo's parents! Yes, even if they were a tad unconvincing, I still did love them. I want to kidnap mom and be best friends with her!


10. Loved the inter-textuality in this show. I loved it when in one of Seung Jo's class, the professor is talking about Personal Taste (which has Lee Min Ho in the lead role, who was Kim Hyun Joong's co-star in an earlier show. There was also a reference to Dae Jang Geum.

Oh wait, who am I kidding? I loved every cute scene in this show. Every. Like it was meant to be. They wanted the female audience (admittedly younger audience) to go all "awwww" during those scenes and that's what I did.




Playful Kiss was such a success that even after the 16 episodes got over, they released some special editions episodes (not very long...maximum of about 15-20 minutes long each) on Youtube. They're on Youtube so you can watch them. They have the same cast, is an extension of where the story had ended, showing Ha Ni and Seung Jo's married life and is funny, so funny!

I loved watching Playful Kiss and I hope there are more cute things to come! I'll come back with more K-drama reviews and suggestions soon, there is a such a long list I am dying o talk about.

 For more reviews on other Korean dramas by me, have a look at:

My ratings for Playful Kiss: 8/10


Other K-dramas that you might be interested in:

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