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Friday, July 15, 2016

[K-Drama Review] Oh Hae Young Again (2016)



Watching Oh Hae Young Again is like drinking a glass of fresh lemonade in a new and unfamiliar café in the middle of the day. You have no choice but to visit such café because the sun is too bright and you need a place to freshen your mind and body for a moment. Unexpectedly, the café has more than it seems. You find yourself drowned into the charming and fresh ambiance of the café and decided to stay more in spite of your initial aim to just sit momentarily. And you cannot wait to visit it again.

Oh Hae Young Again resembles the aforementioned café. It has many surprises which exceeded my initial plan of watching it. I came with zero expectation. “Why not giving it a try?” I said to myself as I press the play button. And in a blink of an eye, I found myself sucked into the world of OHYA. I’m one of those people who impatiently wait for Monday, wishing for the day to come faster and for latest episodes of this show to air. I’m also one of those “new” people who develop admiration for Seo Hyun Jin, thanks to her superb performance.

Funny, really, since I never thought OHYA will grow into something that everyone is buzzing about. I genuinely think that OHYA will only be another of tvN’s anti-mainstream romantic comedy dramas that will eventually end up on a medium note. But people probably so fed up with the typical rom-com dramas or Shinhwa fans have done a really really good job in promoting Eric’s new drama. Whatever that is, I’m at ease when I finally can find articles on how good and popular OHYA is and how its rating soars, because this drama deserves such recognition. Though, I’m a bit disappointed with the production team’s decision to extend the episodes, but hey, nobody is perfect, right?

Anyway, OHYA concluded with probably one of the most beautiful and cutest ending in the history of k-dramas. And I could not be any happier with how it ends, though I’m now left with an I-hate-Monday feeling (again).

PLOT:


Oh Hae-Young (Seo Hyun-Jin) is dumped by Han Tae-Jin (Lee Jae-Yoon) on the day before their wedding. Meanwhile, Park Do-Kyung (Eric) is a popular sound engineer. One year ago, he was supposed to marry Oh Hae-Young (Jeon Hye-Bin), but she did not appear at their wedding. Park Do-Kyung soon has visions of a woman he has never met. He soon realizes the woman is another (former) Oh Hae-Young.

Credit to: Asianwiki

PROS:

The Fresh Plot


A man who met someone which has the same name with his ex is not new but a man who met someone with the same name with his ex even before he actually met her is brand new. A lady who is in love with a man is common but a lady who is not afraid (and not ashamed) to love and confess her feeling to a man is definitely surprising. That’s what OHYA offered and that’s what made the drama so interesting. OHYA offered a fresher and more attractive plot compared to its peers. It is not serving a typical and cliché romantic comedy story of one perfect man and one perfect lady. It offers a more relatable romantic comedy story of a man and a lady who are more familiar to its viewers.


It cannot be denied that OHYA’s core is romance. It is vivid from the first minute the show started. But the kind of romance OHYA put forward is something so unique and different – though, sometimes I still see some frequent rom-com tropes (fated-meeting, small-world-of-mutual-relationship, etc). What I love about OHYA romance is that it escalated quickly and relevantly. It’s not draggy and not including any illogical reasons. It is like a romance which everyday people encounter. It is sweet, cute, and mature.


I’m so used into typical K-drama formula that sometime during my kdrama-watching moment I often predict what the leading man or leading lady will do in one situation and since I’ve always watched k-drama with the same-old plots, my prediction most of the time always right. But it did not happen when I watched OHYA. I found many unexpected reaction to the typical tropes.

SPOILER


A simple example is in episode 5, when Do Kyung wrist-grabs Hae Young out of the restaurant where they supposed to eat after knowing that the pretty Oh Hae Young also there. Later, Hae Young asks Do Kyung why he held her wrist at the restaurant, angry that she felt like a prop in his love life.

I really like Hae Young’s reaction and protest against Do Kyung in this scene. A typical female lead will accept everything she received from the male lead and regretting it later. But, not with uri Hae Young. She is so forthright. I get so frustrated sometime when the female lead cannot stand up for herself and surrender to the situation. Therefore, when I watched this scene, I feel so relieve because Hae Young has finally broken such female lead stereotype. From that moment onward, I starting to look forward to what will Hae Young do if she – once again – encounters another typical Korean drama tropes.


And that lead me to the scene when Hae Young confess to Do Kyung. I-did-not-see-it-coming-at-all. I thought Hae Young will find another reason to prevent Do Kyung from calling the pretty Oh Hae Young. I really felt what Do Kyung’s felt when she said “Because, I like you.” – if what Do Kyung really feel at that time is surprised.

END OF SPOILER

The subplots are also the best things since sliced bread. It is so good and presented as the precise garnishes to the already splendid main plot.

SPOILER



My favorite subplot is no other than the story of Jin Sang and his Soo Kyung noona. It is not unexpected, I must admit, since both of them seem to always have something suspicious going on since the beginning of the drama. But, how they develop their relationship to a more “mature” one and thoughtful one are what making this relationship more interesting. Oh, and Jin Sang’s reverse-relationship theory is cute as a bug’s ear.

Likewise to the main lead relationship, Soo Kyung-Jin Sang is also revolving around one same issue. I’m a bit afraid that this couple ship will sail separately, but fortunately Jin Sang finally decided to man up and (for once) be responsible for what he has done.

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Mixing a witty humor and a warm family-feel into the already feel-good romance vibe is making OHYA plot even more mesmerizing. OHYA has brought tons of laughter into my room. The comedy element in this drama is really pleasant. And it is digestible. As for the family portion, it is just what the doctor ordered. It showed at the right time with the right share.

The Characters


OHYA characters are so attractive and unique yet they still relatable and feel familiar to the everyday life. Each of the character presented in OHYA have their own exceptional traits which make them more appealing and likable.


A leading man who works as a sound engineer is the first (for me). As an avid k-drama viewer, I have encountered many jobs in k-dramas, but sound engineer is not one of them. So, as a starter, it is interesting. The fact that the drama showed more portion of this job is a plus point for me. Instead of only using it merely as a “main character’s job.” I love how the writer put the depths into this particular job.


Park Do Kyung character is not a charming one. It’s a mysterious character who prefers to swallow everything inside rather to be open about what he really felt. Park Do Kyung is the type of person who chose to drown in his own thoughts and hesitations instead of venting them on to anyone. He chose to be unhappy and to accept that. On the contrary, Oh Hae Young is a bubbly and outspoken character who is slightly afraid of what people said about her but when she is cornered she chose to unleash everything and be purely blunt. The meeting and the ups and downs relationship of these ill-fated souls is so alluring and engaging.


Other characters are attention-grabbing as well. Park Soo Kyung character, particularly, is a real game changer in the history of k-dramas’ sidekick. She is so bizarre, tough, fragile, confidence, and fantastic at the same time. Behind those cold attitudes toward Hae Young, Soo Kyung is actually concerned about Hae Young and wants her to grow up. Just like what she did to protect her brother, Park Do Kyung, when she knew that her mother is the one behind the failure of her little brother’s wedding. She is secretly being so thoughtful to her loved ones.


Other must-be-mentioned character is Oh Hae Young’s mother, Hwang Duk-Yi. I can now name her as one of the best moms in the history of k-dramas ever! She looks like a pushover and strong mother on the outside, but on the inside she is so selfless against her one and only daughter. She will stand there proudly and shamelessly beside her daughter in spite of every shameful-event her daughter involved in. She is undoubtedly one caring mama with a heart of gold.

The Casts


The casts are the main force of OHYA. Everyone, in spite of how major or minor their roles are, putting a really really solid performance. They brought the characters to life to the point that I believe their characters in the drama are actually their real characters. And I can’t imagine other actors/actresses that can play OHYA characters as well as the original casts.


Let’s begin with the one who made our heart jumping ups and downs every Monday and Tuesday: The mighty and great Seo Hyun Jin. It is really Seo Hyun Jin who brought OHYA into a successful show. She is the heart of the show. I can’t help but care more for Seo Hyun Jin – the female lead – rather than Eric – the male lead – which is shocking for someone like me who used to watch drama based on who-the-male-lead-is or how-good-looking-the-male-lead-is. Just like what Eric said in latest interview, Seo Hyun Jin really put her everything to make Oh Hae Young character so lovable and well-liked. Her character is not a perfect heroine. It has flaws. But thanks to Seo Hyun Jin’s stellar performance, Oh Hae Young character managed to be accepted in a judgmental society. She really put a hundred percent of herself in every scene and – most importantly – she did not afraid to look ugly or silly. Oh and FYI, this is Seo Hyun Jin’s first drama which I watched and now I definitely fallen for her.

 

Among her amazing performances as Oh Hae Young is when she danced crazily into a salsa tune in the middle of the night. That scene is really funny and sad at the same time. I can feel what Oh Hae Young feels that night. She is so fed up with everything that happens to her life and chose to dance her trouble away.


Walking behind Seo Hyun Jin is her leading man, Eric Mun. I did not see any special acting method from Eric as Park Do Kyung in OHYA, but he really did a good job in portraying Park Do Kyung introverted character. At first I thought the reason behind his great acting is probably because his real personality is similar to Do Kyung’s nature, but after re-watching Shinhwa reality and variety shows, Eric is not that mysterious and reserved. So kudos for him for bringing Park Do Kyung character to life. Oh, and one more thing, I find similarity between Eric and Song Joong Ki: both show their emotions through their eyes. Seriously Eric, you need to stop gazing deeply into someone or something. It’s dangerous.


This is totally out of the topic but I strongly suspected “special relationship” between Seo Hyun Jin and Eric off the set, because how Eric interacted with Seo Hyun Jin is really different with how he acted with his previous female co-stars. He’s a bit timid at times but also full of emotion in another time, perhaps because of love?

Anyway, other great performances in acting department were delivered by the strongest ladies in OHYA: Ye Ji Won & Kim Mi Kyung. Both are proving their vast experience in the drama field.


Ye Ji Won is a gem. She managed to stand out in every production she involved in. I’m so happy to see her peculiar performance again in OHYA after watching her in Producers. Ye Ji Won is raising the bar for any actress who tasked with atypical character. I really cannot imagine other actress that can play Park Soo Kyung character as good as Ye Ji Won did. Ye Ji Won is the right fit for this character.


As for Kim Mi Kyung, she really put me in awe in every role she portrayed, including her role in OHYA as Oh Hae Young’s mother a.k.a Hwang Duk Yi. Kim Mi Kyung has involved in numerous successful productions, yet she still able to leave a deep impression in every character she illustrated. That’s pretty amazing.

The OSTs



LOVE LOVE LOVE the OSTs!! From Ben’s Like a Dream to The Black Skirts’ Wait More, everything is just right and goes perfectly with the story. The lyrics are amazing as well. It is so emotional and completely depicts the journey of Hae Young and Do Kyung relationship. My favorite is Roy Kim’s Maybe I. It is…beyond amazing. It really takes my breath away.

Oh and I don’t know if it is included in the official OHYA OSTs or not, but Echae En Route’s Uneasy Romance is my other favorite. I look really hard for this song since first heard it in the first episode of OHYA. The melody is so beautiful.

The Cameos


The cameos are surprising and elevated my excitement for OHYA. Never thought that Lee Pil Mo will be casted as cameo in OHYA, but he is! And I couldn’t be happier after seeing him in this well-written production. He is so gorgeous and put a solid performance as Park Do Kyung’s father. I wish he will come back to dramaland soon.


Other cameos that caught my attention the most is the infamous Gong Ki Tae (Yeon Woo Jin) from Marriage Not Dating. Just like his Gong Ki Tae character, Yeon Woo Jin has once again proved that he can be charming and funny at the same time. Though, I’m a bit surprised with his slightly chubbier appearance.

The Camera Work & Cinematography


The camera work in OHYA is brilliant. Love how the camera director left up blank space in some images. It makes the scene more intense and personal. Some of them can be seen when the leads are having a one on one meeting. The tilting technique is radiant as well.


As for the cinematography, I would say that OHYA is lucky since the filming of this drama took place during the most beautiful season ever, which is the Spring. Cherry blossoms’ petal is so dazzling and the cinematographer did an incredible job in putting such beautiful scenery as a background of Hae Young-Do Kyung’s love story.

The Girl-Power Vibe


I couldn’t disagree more with people who said that OHYA carries an anti-feminist content. From what I see, OHYA is all about girl powers. All female characters in this drama are so independent and strong. They are stood for what they believe and hold onto something or someone valuable for them. From Oh Hae Young to her mother, Hwang Duk Yi, to her boss Park Soo Kyung, to her boss’ brother’s girlfriend Yoon An-Na, to her rival Pretty Oh Hae Young, and her potential mother-in-law Huh Ji Ya. Everyone is so tough and far cry from a trampled rose character.

The Bromance


The bromance level in OHYA is high. Lee Jin Sang (Kim Ji Suk) has always been and will always be a loyal acquaintance to Park Do Kyung. He even secretly asked his colleague to flirt with Hae Young in order to save Do Kyung from something he can’t handle. Aside from having Jin Sang, Do Kyung also having super devoted subordinates who are willing to do anything to keep their boss happy.

SPOILER

 

The most tremendous bromance moment is probably when Jin Sang and Do Kyung’s subordinates followed Do Kyung after he is getting dumped by Hae Young. Oh, and how they aimed at kidnapping the wrong Hae Young is super hilarious. I’m going to miss this troop so much!

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CONS:

Just like anything or anyone in this world, OHYA also has flaws. But still, it is not decreasing how good this drama is.

The 2-Episode Extension

 

I really regret OHYA production team to give the show a 2-episode extension. I really think that OHYA will be concluded in a grander way if it sticks to its early commitment of being a 16-episode drama. But tvN probably wouldn’t want to lose its source of money. There are so many pointless and repetitive scenes near the ending and they really distracting.

The Plot Hole


The existence of plot holes in OHYA cannot be denied. Regardless of how well-written this drama is, I still spot some disturbing details.

SPOILER

The most obvious is in episode 13 when Park Hoon and Yoon Anna so fond of each other like nothing has happened before between two of them after having a really big fight in episode 11.

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SCORE:

Finally, I’m going to give 9.5 out of 10 for Oh Hae Young Again.