Bad Title for a Good Drama
This drama had been on my “To Be Watched” list for quite some time as I had seen it on a few ‘Must See’ lists, but I’d been postponing because the synopses I had read did not seem that intriguing and the title gave it more of an American soap-opera feeling than I was comfortable with. I definitely needed more to entice me.
www.KoreanDrama.org – is an excellent source of information for dramas, actors and actresses, etc. Their synopses, however, vary from extremely detailed to terse. For Romance Town, the drama was described as ‘The story of domestic help who work for rich households.’ The rest of the description said little more to lead me to believe this was anything more than a gossipy group of maids, one of which become involved with the son of the household.
This drama sat at the bottom of the pile for a while.
However, at some point I was in the mood for something light and entertaining, so I pulled this from the ‘Watch List’ and began; and learned once again that another person’s synopsis can be very deceiving.
Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 8/10
‘Romance Town’ is the wrong title for this drama. While romance was part of the picture, it was not the main theme as the title would suggest. Interestingly, I thought perhaps the English title might be off the mark, but the actual title in Korean is the English words “Romance Town” spelled in Hangul! No help there!
The drama revolves around the lives and social issues of five housekeepers and one lottery ticket. A big one. A huge one, in fact. If you have ever wondered how your life might change, or how you might change if you were to suddenly become rich (or suddenly become poor), this is a drama that explores that very subject. All in all, a somewhat unique theme!
Script/Acting: My rating 6/10
The five housekeepers Sung Yu Ri, Min Hyo Rin, Park Ji Young, Lee Kyung Shil, and Kim Ye Won carried the show. The intense interactions between these characters and between the housekeepers and their employers are what made the drama come to life. Sung Yu Ri was No Soon Geum, the heroine of the story, was a believable and appealing character. She played the part of a kind, loyal and upright person faced with difficult moral dilemmas authentically. There were scenes where Lee Kyung Shil could be accused of over-acting the scene, but her character is written as being very high-strung. The interesting story of their friendship and how it evolves under the influences of peers, bosses and, ultimately, wealth is what makes the drama a success.
The men in the drama were somewhat weaker. This may have been partly due to the script, but the character of Kang Gung Woo played by Jung Gyu Woon seemed more pathetic than empathetic and his mood swings did not seem to make much sense. The character of Kim Young Hee (Kim Min Joon) was more consistent, but not terribly intriguing. The best written, best played male character was Hwang Yong played by Jo Sung Ha. Great part, great actor.
The romantic side stories between characters were really just that: side stories that gave the drama a little depth and breadth to fill in the edges around the main theme. But note there were interpersonal side stories that did not involve romance as well, adding extra dimension to the drama.
Cinematography: My rating 6/10
While there was nothing spectacular about the cinematography, there was nothing distracting, either. The sets were nice, but virtually everything was filmed in a very limited number of locations. The island scenes were nice – not exotic, but a refreshing change of scenery. The editing was good. There was not a lot of boring fluff added, no endless flashbacks to kill time.
Music: My rating 8/10
M favorite song from the drama is “Smile Goodbye” by Alex. (Note that it goes by a number of similarly translated names…) It is a fabulous song and is played in a number of versions throughout the drama. This is my ‘go-to’ happy song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-PU0NqxhUQ
“Because Tears are Overflowing” is an beautiful ballad sung by Jessica of SNSD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feg3yqvnHFc
“It’s Only You” by Tei is the theme song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-4PXPTim5U&list=PL117F07ECBA769C8E
“Only You Look” by HowL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69lVSStn47g
The soundtrack/OST is difficult to find, but 4 songs above are currently available on iTunes.
Overall Charisma: My rating 7/10
The tension between the maids, the families and the ‘couples’ all served to keep this drama lively and interesting. It’s unfortunate that the chemistry between the main couple was not as believable as it should have been. I believe the problem was that pinning down the actual character qualities for Gun Woo seemed to be an impossible task. Because his demeanor shifted and changed so frequently, he always seemed ‘out of character’. Other than that, the drama was unexpected enjoyable and I watched it straight through, forgoing my other dramas!
On a side note, before I end: One of the households on the block was a man with his wife and mistress all living together as man, wife and second wife. Now, this is something I haven’t seen before, except, of course, in historical dramas. To an American viewer it seemed extremely odd that while the maids resented dealing with two bossy women, it didn’t seem that weird to anyone – at least, no one seemed be bothered much. Passing this kind of situation off as conventional in an American movie or drama would seem absurd, at best. Am I missing something? Comments, please!