[Review] The Man Living in Our House – 우리집에 사는 남자


After the death of her mother, Hong Na Ri (Soo Ae), returns to discover Go Nan Gil (Kim Young Kwang) living in her mother’s house.  He informs her that he was her mother’s husband, despite being three years younger than Na Ri, and is currently the owner of her mother’s house and the Hong Dumpling shop next door, which he inherited from his late wife.

The land where the house and shop are located on is a hotly disputed piece of real estate and Kwon Duk Bong (Lee Soo Hyuk) has been tasked by his father to take ownership of it in order to turn it into a holiday resort.  Things get complicated when he gets involved with the pair.

Based on the webtoon series of the same name, I was interested in seeing this drama because I had enjoyed Flower Boys Next Door in which the original webtoon series was written by Yoo Hyun Sook and the script was adapted by Kim Eun Jung.  What I liked about that drama was the writer’s ability to capture the introverted emotions of its main character and dramatize it.  Adding an absurd premise and quirky cast, the drama was able to deliver relatable characters wrapped in an entertaining package.

Henry – 니 맘에 들어갈래 (feat. Mark Of NCT) (Want to Be in Your Heart (feat. Mark Of NCT))

헨리(Henry) – 니 맘에 들어갈래 (feat. Mark Of NCT)

I was hoping that it would be the same for this drama as well.  However, I found that the writing relied too heavily on the trite romcom plot points instead of focusing on developing their characters.  Go Nan Gil spends much of the drama keeping secrets from Hong Na Ri.  As the hero of the story, it’s easy for the viewer to go along with the secrecy if the story builds up enough realistic hurdles and heightening the suspense.  I’m not sure if the writer was concerned about Nan Gil appearing too much of a villain as Na Ri begins to suspect his motives but when his motives are eventually revealed, it is pretty underwhelming to watch her just being watchful as everything happens around her.  In fact, I began to feel bad for Na Ri, because just like her, the viewers were just kept waiting and waiting for their relationship to take a step forward only to be held by the looming threat of the gangsters or the power of Duk Bong’s father.

I even found the chemistry between Kim Young Kwang and Soo Ae to be a bit lacking.  I can’t pinpoint what it was in their chemistry because separately, their characters seemed funny and likable so they got the comedy and cutesy side down pat.  There were so many things I liked about their characters and even their rapport but I just wasn’t compelled by their romance.  They could have each ended up with anyone else and I would have shrugged and gone with it.

And yet, I can’t help but like watching Soo Ae in this comedic role.  It’s been so long since 9 End 2 Outs that I forgotten how much I wished seeing her in another romantic comedy.  It seems like she’s done a lot of melodramas and action dramas over the years.  She’s got a great comedic timing and plays up her cute, lovable side.  She just needs someone of a Lee Jung Jin caliber to balance her out.  At the same time, I didn’t hate Kim Young Kwang or his character either.  It just seemed like when Soo Ae “pushed” there wasn’t enough “pull” from Kim Young Kwang to justify the tension between them.

At the same time, I was intrigued by how much time the drama spends on uniquely developing Do Yeo Joo (Jo Bo Ah) and her backstory who is only a secondary character.  At first, I was a little surprised to see Jo Bo Ah in this role as she had to be hospitalized towards the end of filming for Monster and to see her jump right back in to another role.  I’m glad that she did because she’s great at playing the boyfriend-stealing, jealous type.  And yet, she owns that role because we get to see a different, vulnerable side to Yeo Joo that changes our perspective of her.

That same courtesy isn’t extended to Duk Bong.  In fact, we have to hear Duk Bong’s backstory through a lot of exposition and it’s unfortunate because you have someone like Lee Soo Hyuk playing this role who can give a multi-layer performances.  Instead, the drama seems more concerned with Duk Bong looking cool on screen.  There are some interesting scenes he has with his step-sister, Kwon Duk Shim (Shin Se Hwi) and I kept waiting for the drama to play out the nuances in their relationship.  Shin Se Hwi is an up and coming actress to keep a look out for and she’s deft at delivering zingers.

The drama shows a lot of promise in the early episodes as it teases us with a little bit of mystery, quirky character and a funny cast.  And then as the drama goes on, like Na Ri waits for Nan Gil, the viewer is left waiting and waiting and waiting.  I had hoped that when Na Ri has finally had enough and takes matters into her own hands that we’d get a dramatic climax but we get dragged along by the drama’s slow pacing.  The drama does get us to care about the characters enough to find out what happens to them but we get to the end and discover that there’s nothing to look at that we haven’t seen before which is a disappointing feeling.



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