THE TRAGIC COMEDY OF THE 1%
Han Jung Ho (Yoo Joon Sang) and Choi Yun Hee (Yoo Ho Jung) live a privileged lifestyle and their goal is to keep their money and status intact. They instill those same values in their teenage children, Han In Sang (Lee Joon) and Han Yi Ji (Park So Young). That is, until In Sang brings home his very pregnant girlfriend, Seo Bom (Go Ah Sung), from an ordinary family. Bom is determined to endure the humiliation from In Sang’s family for the sake of her baby while In Sang struggles between his family’s expectations of him as their sole male heir and his love for Bom.
At first, I was hesitant to begin this drama as the cinematography gives it a very melodramatic and makjang look which turned me off at first. However, I was delighted to find at the heart of the drama was a humorous commentary about class and love. As much as the hilarious situations that our characters get into make them look utterly ridiculous, the drama is incredibly realistic in how the different classes view each other.
Yoo Joon Sang and Yoo Ho Jung have this incredibly chemistry as the heads of the Han household. Yoo Joon Sang has a booming bass voice which is perfectly suited for Jung Ho’s intimidating, commanding stance over his children. At the same time, I was really intrigued by how Yun Hee is so supportive of Jung Ho. She stands by her man and yet with her mousey voice is able to impart a sense of superiority over others.
Lee Joon has also come a long way since I’ve seen him in Iris 2. I’m almost not all that heartbroken over the fact that he is no longer in MBLAQ because I think his talents would be better served continuing to expand his acting skills. (Sorry, MBLAQ fans.) I love that he seems to continually challenge himself with different type of roles such as the psychopath Ryu Tae Oh to the wonderfully pathetic, In Sang. As warm and loving as In Sang is, there’s something adorably pathetic about him. He’s never really understood the concept of love until he meets Bom. When he’s with her family, he gets to experience a family dynamic that might seem normal to most of us but it’s completely foreign to the way he was raised.
Go Ah Sung plays Bom with air of cheery, open-heartedness but I think what draws me to her character the most is that she’s intelligent. At first, she might come across as a meek daughter-in-law but she supports In Sang in a different way than Yun Hee. She raises her opinion with a logical thought process which impresses Jung Ho. Her ability to quickly grasp social cues even impresses Yun Hee. And yet, she’s fully aware that she will forever be an outsider in the Han household.
There’s a lot that happens in the drama but it all starts with Bom trying to acclimate to living in the Han household. From there, there are a number of forces working to take the Goliath of the Han Song Corporation down. We learn that Han Song Corporation’s Secretary Min’s (Jang So Yun) brother and Bom’s uncle (Jun Suk Chan) had to deal with an unfortunate work-related accident involving the Han Song Corporation. From the employees at the Han Song Corporation and the servants at the Han household, they learn how to overcome their fear of the ruling class.
The eerie thing about the drama is how realistic it depicts the human behavior of deception. It’s not only depicted in Han Jung Ho but in the employees at the company. The emotions steeping under the skin is often different from the smiling visages of all the characters. The one person who is eerily flawless at the task is Secretary Yang (Gil Hae Yun), who despite being an employee and at times one with the little people, her loyalty lies with Han Jung Ho because she holds stock in the company. Despite her duplicitous nature, I found it extremely telling of our society that the other characters treated her with indifference rather than with outright disdain.
Though her role is in the drama is very small, I have to admit that I loved watching In Sang’s little sister, Yi Ji, rebelling against her parents at the end with very direct but logical arguments about why their thinking is so skewed. It’s something that In Sang tried to do but he still tried to maintain a respectful tone probably because of he feared the repercussion that Bom would have to face for his insubordination. On the other hand, Yi Ji doesn’t have those kinds of vulnerabilities and she lierally had me cheering her on as she argued with her parents.
The drama doesn’t belittle the viewer in making us believe that the good always win. Certainly, Han Jung Ho has the money to fight people he views as pests like the servants and the employees but the drama shows us that their legal battle is far from over. The moral message being that love can conquer all if you have the courage to live without the comforts of money and title.
Even with this moral message, I wish the drama edited the final scenes of the drama a bit differently. The final scene of the drama shows Han Jung Ho walking into his castle of an estate alone, without a wife and family. Clearly, the message here is that he fought to keep his money but lost everything else in return due to his stubbornness. Instead, I would rather walk away from this drama with the image of the hopeful and happy In Sang and Bom as they are future. It’s a more satisfying image than the emptiness of the Han Jung Ho scene.