A more direct title would be: A review on My Name is Kim Sam Soon
Though I would prefer Taiwanese dramas over Korean dramas ANY DAY (out of bias, of course), I love KDramas with a passion that is just an arms reach away from the lead of TDramas. My journey through KDramaland is quite a peculiar one: my Favorite KDrama of All Time is Sweet 18 (which I believe is also the first one I’ve seen), closely followed by dramas Snow White Sweet Love, Wonderful Life, and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho.
I call it peculiar because I’ve never met another person who liked Sweet 18 as much as I do, since almost everyone’s love for KDrama stems from the tragic Autumn Tale. Or Full House.
Or My Name is Kim Sam Soon.
Haters gonna hate
I never liked watching dubbed KDramas on local networks because one, the voices do not give justice to the emotions of the original voices; two, they tend to localize an OST and ruin the soundtrack that way and; three, I’m just picky like that.
That being said, of course MNIKSS (to shorten the title) missed my radar. It aired in Korea in 2005, back when I still dealt with puberty issues that I couldn’t care less about Asian dramas. I’m not sure when it exactly aired in GMA7; all I know is that I’m already old enough to hate dubbed series.
A Filipino remake doesn’t even help me appreciate the original, especially if you have an exaggeratedly fattened Regine Velasquez playing the role of Sam Soon. What is with GMA7 and their half-cooked actors and actresses anyway? Why cast Mark Anthony Fernandez as the Filipino Binnie? Just…no.
It was a long process before I finally got myself to search for a MNIKSS torrent. It started with my lovely discovery of a great KEntertainment site, Dramabeans, followed by a healthy obsession over their recaps on dramas such as My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, Playful Kiss, My Princess, and finally, Secret Garden. Now I’m following 49 Days, but that’s irrelevant to this review.
Back to Secret Garden: this series featured Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won, two of the industry’s finest actors. I’ve seen Ha Ji Won in What Happened in Bali but I really haven’t seen anything that has Hyun Bin in it. I do know him, from the commercials of and publicity over MNIKSS. There’s also that news about him being together with his The World that We Live In co-star Song Hye Gyo (but of course updates on this relationship reveal that even before Hyun Bin entered military, their relationship was already on the rocks. Sigh…their babies could’ve been flawless and angelic in every way possible!)
Going back again to Secret Garden (Sorry I keep drifting off): I haven’t really seen it in video, but I did see this series through the screencaps in the recaps, so I’ve seen the versatility and comic capability (though by still shots) of Binnie (So cute this nickname of his). It made me realize I haven’t seen any of his works.
And isn’t summer the perfect time to catch up with my drama lag? Yes? Yes?
A non-spoiler premise of the series: Kim Sam Soon (Kim Sun Ah) is a patissier who is already in the I-want-a-boyfriend-ASAP stage of her life. She does have a boyfriend of three years, but on Christmas eve she finds out he’s cheating behind her back. And this is one of those instances when a person is so not happy to be back in the market.
And so she resorts to blind dating (which for me is still a very peculiar Korean culture; I can name a number of dramas with it–Coffee Prince, Secret Garden, Three Dads One Mom, etc.).
Restaurant owner and resident angsty Hyun Jin Hun (Hyun Bin) happens to be blind dating as well; with his mom wishing he’d forget a lover who left him after an accident, he is forced to go to every single date, leaving unsatisfied with every woman he meets.
When their paths cross, a brilliant idea crosses Samshiki…err…Jin Hun’s mind: Why not pretend to be dating Sam Soon? She’d agree, since she needs 50 million won to save their family’s house from being taken as payment for a loan.
While watching this series I felt torn between loving it even with all its flaws and awkwardness, and hating it for the Cute. Truth be told: At first I wasn’t hooked enough that I need to watch it in one straight day. But after tearing up for the first time on the eight episode, right there and then, I’m sold.
I don’t think it’s Jin Hun, because now that I think of it, his character really was consistent. He isn’t immature to start with, so there’s no growing up to do. He has just fallen out of love with one girl and fallen in love with another, that’s all. He’s serious with both relationships, still aloof with his mother, and loving to his niece .
Ah, maybe it’s the Hyun Bin charm heh.
I felt Jin Hun’s sudden change of heart was, well, sudden. There were no implications or hints, other than those flashbacks. But before that, he wasn’t as cold as I would’ve wanted him to be towards Yoo Hee Jin, his first love. It felt like he was just fond of Sam Soon, slowly falling in love with her with no basis at all, but still attached to Hee Jin. It’s so confusing.
Hence, my feeling of it being awkward.
The same goes for Sam Soon. Although her affection was more well-justified compared to Jin Hun’s, I’m not satisfied with her “like.” I was confused with that scene in which she wanted Jin Hun to choose her over Hee Jin at Jeju Island. “Is she faking it? Or is she for real?”
Nonetheless, when they were both conflicted over getting together or not, I was already up on my toes, expecting the unexpected. Jin Hun is unpredictable, after all. And Sam Soon? Once she falls in love, she can’t just back out.
It’s the little implications: the unsuccessful name change (from Sam Soon to Hee Jin), her intention to learn how to play a particular piano piece, his ability to drive again after Hee Jin reappeared, Mi Joo learning to talk again–these are all the symbolisms that I followed closely and took note of. These are the things that you won’t see in Filipino teleseryes (I know, I’m bashing it again. What can I do?) and you wish you’d see in Filipino teleseryes.
Oh, that eighth episode tears, are you curious about them? It was just for a while, but it was that scene when Sam Soon finally discovered that Hee Jin and Jin Hun got back together and her heart crushed into thousand pieces. Kim Sun Ah’s acting chops is just so moving that when she cries, you just die a little inside.
“Jee, what a weird title for a review!”
That quote is from my Philosophy on Being Human 2 class. It meant that the good life is not here, therefore we should not be of this world. How is it related with MNIKSS you may ask? Well, it really isn’t directly related, but what I really loved about MNIKSS is its far-from-a-fairytale-ending conclusions:
- Sam Soon did not change her name to Hee Jin.
- Jin Hun’s mother still cannot accept their relationship.
- Sam Soon knew that their relationship isn’t permanent yet, despite their talks on marriage and getting pregnant.
And that’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned from MNIKSS. Nothing’s permanent, change is inevitable, but that shouldn’t keep us form experiencing life.
The true life is elsewhere, but we are of this world, as Levinas would later say of Rimbaud’s quote. We can’t achieve ultimate happiness because we’re only humans who can still stumble despite all the beautiful things. Yet the things that we can’t get, the things that we can’t grasp, these are the very things that we should exert extra effort for. The true life is elsewhere, but we shouldn’t stop living. While we’re at it, why not live to the fullest, in great anticipation of the world that is beyond us?
Kim Sam Soon said falling in love is stupid, but we should still fall in love. Fall in love with love, with life, with God, friends and family. Fall in love as long as the heart is beating. Fall in love and never have regrets. 🙂