KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

a landing site for quick, completely biased, and totally snarky korean drama reviews


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ad Maniac (1999/2000)

Ad Maniac
광끼  / Kwangki / Ad Madness

(May 1999 – Jan 2000)

who’s in it
Won Bin (Autumn Fairytale, Friends, My Brother - film)
Bae DooNa (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – film)
Lee DongGun (Stained Glass, Sweet 18)
Choi KangHee (My Sweet Seoul)
Yang DongGeun (I Am Sam) 

what’s it about
University art students with diverse expertises (marketing, photography, sculpture, design, etc) combine their talents to form an advertising team to compete for honors in an ad campaign competition. Lee DongGun, considered the alpha male of his class and a total teacher’s pet, immediately clashes with the long-haired and unambitious Won Bin when the talented photographer [reluctantly] joins their team. When Choi KangHee, the longtime friend he dumped, starts to shift her eyes in Won Bin’s direction, Lee DongGun reassesses his romantic feelings for her.

Bae DooNa (love her! love her!) and Yang DongGeun also feature as members of this ad group.

36 episodes


wildcard factor
This had the feel of a kdrama version of famous teenage rebellion anthem The Breakfast Club. Or maybe that’s too complimentary for this one. Anyhow, watch with caution because Won Bin could set fire to your tv set. He’s just that hot as the likable photography student who was both confident and chill. I know what you’re thinking: how could he be both hot and cool at the same time? Well, the guy had to put out the fire after setting the world ablaze! Heh. Moving on: he’s got puppy dog eyes, a dimply, crooked smile, and wind-swept shoulder length locks, and you may be tempted to think that such a hairstyle would be a turn-off and too gigolo-esque, BUT IT’S NOT. He’s just gorgeous. He was also sooo young in here, and sooo manly, and as delicious as chocolate cake with whipped cream and strawberries drizzled with caramel. Yum.

But wildcard factor is not Won Bin, but the show itself…and the fact that it completely loses the plot. Ugh. More on that later.

after the first episode
Is that really Won Bin with all that long hair? Oh my...fragile...heart.

My fangirldom with Won Bin is unique in that it is not based on his turn in the misery-laden sobfest Autumn Fairytale but his films Taeguki, Guns and Talk, and My Brother. I have this idea of him as a serious film actor who takes on quirky and meaningful roles, not a kdrama stud. Well, he played the kdrama stud in this one and it was not bad at all. I do like the ‘serious film actor Won Bin’ but I drooooled over ‘kdrama stud Won Bin.’ Too bad it was quite obvious the drama was going to be baaaaad to the bone.

gave up

snoozer moments
The whole drama, really, but especially Choi KangHee. Since I didn’t watch this in the context of the pop cultural decade it aired, I walked into Ad with a contemporary mindset and was completely allergic to Choi KangHee’s brand of heroine: passive, simpering and victim-like. I disliked her mousy way of talking and her “I’m so pitiful” hang-dog expressions. Come to think of it, maybe it had nothing to with the generation it aired but my personal overall aversion to these types of female leads...

There were very cute scenes between Won Bin and Bae DooNa sharing philosophies and drinks at night...

what didn’t work
Apparently Lee DongGun…because I swear at the start of the show it looked like he was the lead and Won Bin was the second guy…but I think Won Bin’s hotness turned the tides and changed the whole genetic makeup of Ad. Kinda ticked me off because it pandered to convention. Grrrr. After all these years, I find I am still bitter. Which is sad [for me] because there’s no reason why I should have any kind of strong emotion about such a lame duck of a show.

what did
Bae DooNa and Won Bin’s love fights

what made me want to gouge my eyes out
The last third of the drama

what kept me going

It’s hard to remember

Other factors:
predictability Unfortunately
engrish No
originality n/a
eye-candy Won Bin!
hair and fashion Won Bin made his long hair work for him, but in general, their apparel did not please my twenty-first century eyes.

is it worth trying to find?
If only to gaze lovingly at Won Bin playing the type of romantic lead he will probably never play again in his life.

total enjoyment factor 
1/10 for the drama
10/10 for Won Bin
5/10 for Bae DooNa…I docked her 5 points because she abandoned me!
-3/10 for plot derailment

Overall: 3/10

total disdain factor

why this review is completely biased
I love Won Bin and Bae DooNa, they are two of my favorite Korean actors of all time.

could a non-kdrama fan like this
Hell no! But a Won Bin fangirl would melt away in a drool of happiness, which is a good thing, because her living room will probably explode soon thereafter from the Won Bin fiery hotness.

I was totally ticked off at this drama. I felt like I had been bamboozled. It spent the majority of the way teasing me with a lot of Bae DooNa and Won Bin flirting…then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Bae DooNa was just gone. GONE. Poof. And them some lame excuse given after she disappeared. Now, I don’t know what kind of politics were going on behind the scenes when Ad was airing in 2000 or whether there were contractual issues or scheduling conflicts or whatnot, but in terms of the dramas story integrity, it was bogus. It was pure bogus-ity and ruined the smallest smidgeon of fun left to enjoy. I didn’t like Choi KangHees rendition of the “good girl” and I didn’t want her to get my Won Binnie. I was team Bae-Bin all the way! When Bae DooNa left the show, that was the end of the drama for me! Even the enticement of watching Won Bin’s good-looks fizzled on that final stretch. 

Team Bae-Bin!

I’d be curious to know if others who have seen Ad thought the direction it ended up going was expected and/or welcomed. I guess a part of me knew which two people this sucker wanted to put together...but I hoped it would be smarter, cooler, and totally go the unconventional way and pick Team Bae-Bin. 

I was wrong.

It goes to show how far along kdramas and the female heroines in them have changed, or better said, how much more variety we have in the types of heroines we are given. Today, quirky and weird is not only reserved for the second leads. If this aired today, most definitely I think Bae DooNa’s tomboy 3-D artist could have gotten the guy. I’d like to believe that Bae DooNas type of uncommon and spunky character would have scored the guy, not Choi KangHee’s refined modesty

In Ad, when I realized my girl was gone forever, I was a sputtering and upset bobble-head, literally bobbing my head and cursing at my tv screen. How dare they write off my favorite actress and stick Won Bin with that other girl? Like I said earlier, this show completely lost the plot as far as I was concerned. 


With that said, heres a Won Bin photo spasm for you to drool over:


  1. I came here because i just realized lee dong gun is the main lead of dare to marry him (2013).. i had a huge crush on him when i watched him in ad madness back in 2003.. i remembered how his appearance and bae doona brought the balance in the college group. And just like you said, suddenly they went poofff.. i find it interesting when u said u watched it because wonbin was super cool in it. Bcoz all i see is dong gun. Haha... if the plot and the main lead doesn't change in the middle, i would definitely tell people to watch it. Sigh..


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