Korean drama review: Secret Garden
Story: Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin) is an arrogant chaebol who is the CEO of a department store. He works his people hard, and is brilliant at what he does though he’s barely at work. Ah, you’re probably thinking, yet another aloof but drop-dead-gorgeous chaebol kdrama hero. Almost, but not quite! Well, he is aloof and hugely rude as chaebol hot-guy stereotypes go, he is also incredibly eccentric: He is a fussy metrosexual who loves wearing a sparkly tracksuit so painful to look at it hurts my brain. However, underneath the weirdness and cold exterior is a man who has to hide his dependence on pills to control his claustrophobia. The mix of eccentricity, vulnerability and arrogance makes Joo Won a most fascinating and unique character, one I’ve not seen in Kdrama land for … well, ever.
After a chance encounter with stuntwoman Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won), he begins to get fascinated with her, which puzzles both to no end. Then something weird happens – after a cold and stormy night, they awaken the next day as each other – literally!
Now the two have to find a “cure” for their condition while trying to live as each other. Needless to say it leads to quite a few hilarious situations…
Why you should watch this. Like, now:
It’s damn funny
This is a drama I never thought I’d be interested in — I don’t really like body/genre swap flicks, but hearing the raves about this 20-episode show, I decided to find out what the hullabaloo is all about.
I was hooked — as in addicted, hopelessly in love and made a fangirl overnight. It’s one of the few dramas in my seen-it-all life as a movie and TV reviewer that could make me laugh out loud. The script is smart and witty, even if it has plot contrivances that made me roll my eyes sometimes.
It has a brillaint cast
Hyun Bin is a revelation. Is this really the same dude from Worlds Within? He not only has pitch-perfect comedic timing but has great chemistry with Ha Ji Won as well. And he conveyed Joo Won’s contradictory facets perfectly.
The supporting cast is just as wonderful. Yoon Sang Hyun is simply brilliant as Oska (pic, right), Joon Won’s mega-self-absorbed “Hallyu star” cousin. Really, Secret Garden is worth watching just for Oska, and his interaction with Joo Won is pure comedy gold.
Then there’s Secretary Kim (Kim Seong-oh), Joo Won’s overworked and always-frazzled PA who actually makes hysteria cute.
It also has a gorgeous soundtrack: Yoon Sang Hyun sings in this one, and what a voice! I’ve never crushed so hard for kpop before.
What I don’t quite like: I see this in manga all the time – the forceful, semi-abusive boyfriend who disrespects a girl’s boundaries because he’s so in love. Somehow, that’s considered romantic and it boggles my Malaysian mind how this is so. Joo Woon, unfortunately, has that trait in the first few episodes which culminated in a tres uncomfortable bed scene.
Dude, if a girl says No, she isn’t saying, ‘yes please’!
Another thing: Oska’s relationship with Joo Won goes deeper than the rivalry that you initially see in the first few episodes. There are hints of a deep, brotherly love between the two that I just wished they explored more.
Final say: So funny, yet tragic and heart-rending at some parts. A comedy that manages these two well gets a gold star in my books.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars