Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TV: Full House (the Korean one)

Some Korean soap operas veer off into high melodrama; sadness laces every romantic scene, usually because the main characters are caught in some sort of tortuous love triangle. "Full House," a soap based on the comic book of the same name, eschews the melancholy (mostly) and chooses comedy instead:

In the soap, an aspiring screenwriter named Han Ji-Eun (Song Hye-Kyo) takes a trip to Shanghai, courtesy of her best friends. Unfortunately, while she's abroad, those same friends sell her house behind her back to a movie star, Lee Young-Jae (played by pop star Rain). When Ji-Eun finally gets back, she is forced to live with Young-Jae as a maid in her own home.

"Full House" is one of the most popular Korean soap operas, and it's a good introduction to the genre. The show doesn't have the largest budget (most of the series is shot inside the titular "Full House," a home built by Ji-Eun's father), but there's a surprising chemistry between the two leads that makes up for it. That doesn't mean the series doesn't have its fair share of emotional montages where the characters stare wistfully into space - get your fast-forward button ready!

In particular, Song Hye-Kyo is adorable as Ji-Eun and brings a ton of charm to the role. She's equal parts naivete and mawkish anger, and her exasperated love affair with Young-Jae evolves as she gradually realizes her feelings. Rain's performance isn't nearly as polished; given that he's basically playing himself, and that he's tasked with falling in love with a beautiful woman, it's not very difficult material anyway.

Here's the cutest moment of the entire series, when Ji-Eun serenades her in-laws with a song about three bears:


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