KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

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


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oh! My Lady (2010)

Oh! My Lady
오! 마이 레이디
(Mar – May 2010)

who’s in it
Chae Rim (Powerful Opponents, Dal Ja’s Spring)
Choi SiWon (Legend of Hyung Dan, Super Junior – member)
Lee HyunWoo (Dal Ja’s Spring, Attic Cat)
Park HanByul (Couple or Trouble, Freeze)

what’s it about
Chae Rim plays a divorced single mother unable to make ends meet after losing a job that didn’t pay so reliably in the first place. With no source for steady income, she finds herself out on the streets. She’s forced to send her daughter to temporarily live with her douchebag ex-husband (who clearly has money even though the first words out of his mouth are “I have no money to give you!”). To scrape by, she provides housekeeping services and lands a gig managing the pad of A-List star but F-Quality actor Choi SiWon, who can be described as a celebrity only slightly less narcissistic than his own reflection.

When Chae Rim is presented with a rare opportunity to score a decent, stable job at Lee HyunWoo’s production company trying to put together a new musical, she’s willing to do anything. In a lucky stroke of fortune (as fortune tends to be defined as something lucky), this company desperately requires a Top Star to lead their new production…and their first choice is someone Chae Rim knows personally. Well, not someone she knows so much as someone she’s definitely had contact with (of the vacuum-whacking variety). If Chae Rim can get bad-acting but insanely popular Choi SiWon to take the lead role, she’ll get the internship—or so goes the president’s offered deal.

Fortunately this may not be such a bad professional pairing after all because horrible thespian he may be, turns out the actor is a pretty decent singer, as evidenced when he showcases his voice (and abs) at a fan meet and concert (for us in the real world, no real surprise there as Choi SiWon is a part of idol mob Super Junior in real life).

Things really go awry when Choi SiWon and Chae Rim get a shocking surprise from the actor’s first love (well, the longest he’s ever dated anyone anyway, according to his friend)...and it’s delivered right to his doorstep...and it’s the kind of problem that cries and demands lots of love.

16 episodes


wildcard factor
Choi SiWon was surprisingly really great here as the egotistical actor that wasn’t completely the vain oaf he appeared to be on the surface. Now, I use the adverb ‘surprisingly’ only because of his relative lack of experience in acting, not because I’d expected him the fail. Well, okay, maybe I had a healthy dose of skepticism. Can you blame me? Pretty boy idols in dramas can be a hit or miss venture! For my own safety, I won’t go into further detail or point fingers elsewhere. Although, in a way, I suppose Choi SiWon had already been sorta vetted when he starred in Legend of Hyang Dan. Anyhow, he was a gigantic log of good-looking that ambled around on your screen…he was especially pleasing to enjoy in HD glory, I must say. What a darling little beauty mark he has on his nose.

And trust me, the next thing I am about to write is not penned lightly: he carried this entire disaster of a show on his shoulders all by himself. 

Thank gawd they were very wide, capable and hunky shoulders.

first impressions
Oy, a dark-haired handsome younger man and Lee HyunWoo were duking it out for ChaeRim’s affections—again? I had to give myself a cheek-smack to forcibly cast off the formidable shadow of Dal Ja’s Spring otherwise I worried I wouldn’t be able to give Lady a fair shake. Not to mention, I’d just finished another wonderfully done younger man/older woman drama called The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry and felt a tad wary of rebounding into another one so soon.

On the other hand, if it’s a good drama, it’s a good drama and I can watch the same story done a thousand times over—if done well.

When starting this drama, another concern for me was the similarity of the initial chords strung by Lady to the drama it replaced in the SBS time slot, Stars Falling From the Sky. The latter being one that I was not able to eek to the finish line. Generally speaking, the concept was this: an unlucky woman with no real marketable skills or credentials finds work as a housekeeper to support child(ren) and self while trying diligently to succeed at a job she’s underqualified for but impresses everyone with her gumption and thereby inadvertently wins the affections of the tightly-wound and rich/handsome benefactor…etc, etc. To-ma-to, to-mah-to. But what Lady had going for it that Stars lacked (from my perspective) was the loveliness that be Chae Rim. I wasn’t sure if this character was going to be a good vehicle for her, but I knew this age-defying actress was capable of making this kind of role work.

Speaking of age-defying, seriously, did she find the Fountain of Youth? She looked fab. A little on the too thin side, but still passably 5 years younger than her actual age!

Ultimately, Choi SiWon felt like he could be a good foe for Chae Rim, but I remained only cautiously optimistic because it wasn’t outstanding in its first few episodes. I wasn’t impressed by Lady after the initial tour of the setup, but the second episode was much better than the first and with more characters to come, things seemed positively bent. Also, I loved Chae Rim enough to forge on and keep the faith! I sent lots of positive thoughts and encouragement to this drama.

gave up

snoozer moments
Unfortunately, all those positive thoughts were not able to traverse the wide gulf between the North American continent and the Korean peninsula. Looking at the whole picture, the boring parts of this drama far outweighed and outnumbered any of its good points...which were microscopic, at best. 

You see, any good the actors did was quickly negated by the bad everything else.

Not really. Pretty G-rated. There were two little children on the show, after all...although they were conveniently put elsewhere (seemingly to babysit themselves) whenever the adults needed to do some late night emoting on their own.

what didn’t work
To be coldly honest? Chae Rim. Obviously she is a good actress but her take on this role was painful to watch. The character was a sad sack and always carried upon her face a droopy Snoopy expression. It got to be annoying. What else was annoying? The heavy-handed progression of the storyline between the two leads. It was like watching two left-footed dancers trying to do the waltz. Clunk, clunk, clunk! There was absolutely zilch chemistry between Choi SiWon and Chae Rim.

When the curtain finally came down, I was left scratching my head at their supposed romance.

Let me put it another way. When we arrived at the final week of Lady’s scheduled run, I was surprised it was already the end. Not because I was loathe to see it go but because I was still waiting for some Big Event to happen and turn this drama on its head! But that wowow moment never materialized! There was no real climactic drum BANG, only a bunch of minor cymbals clanging here and there. And where, I ask you, was the angst? There was nothing. A hike with no payoff. It was the most uneventful and banal kdrama journey.

As I watched Chae Rim week after week, I started to ponder the whys—as in why wasn’t this role working for Chae Rim? Why doesn’t she have any spark with Choi SiWon? Why does it feel like Chae Rim only half showed up? It occurred to me that Chae Rim neglected to demonstrate one important aspect of a divorced, single woman struggling to support a young child: SASS. Where was her fire? Her strength? Where was that sharp heel on the back of her foot that let us know she was a W-O-M-A-N? Where was all that shining inner charisma that had erupted out of her like molten lava in Dal Ja’s Spring? Honestly, I don’t think Chae Rim ever connected with her character. She didn’t bring this woman to life, this person representative of a very real and sober world, a real place in reality where mothers struggle to raise their children alone. I never once felt like I was watching Yoon GaeHwa—a housewife and divorced single mom. I only saw the pretty actress Chae Rim trying really hard to play a divorced single mom. You know?

There really is a difference between acting and becoming.

what did
Read if you want to be spoiled: [ Choi SiWon and his little daughter were like hot fudge and vanilla ice cream—a simply delightful match. They were freakin’ adorable. One particular scene comes to mind: while at a department store, the little girl gets lost and mistakes a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Choi SiWon as the real thing. When he finally finds her, one tiny hand is holding onto the cardboard cutout of her father’s hand. I just about melted into pudding! It was the cutest dang thing I’d ever seen! The thawing of Choi SiWon’s coldness was the best part of the show. The small steps he took to allow this new little person into his life were truly heart-warming. The young father’s genuine delight while interacting with his daughter were the only honest parts of the whole thing.]

what made me want to gouge my eyes out
Well, I bring to the table two things:

1) Lukewarm actress Han Byul (remember her in Freeze and Couple or Trouble—blech). Her manipulative character had the potential to be really fun, but turned out to be a feeble gnat-like villain. I couldn’t even muster any hate for her. She was just so boring. If Han Byul had allowed herself to really enjoy playing the conniving, celebrity-hunting vixen, maybe even added some Cruella de Vil to the character and injected some exaggerated nastiness, it might have been a better part. It had me nostalgic for the more successful attempt in a similar role by UEE in You’re Beautiful. She was pitch-puuuurfect there as the two-faced, overdramatic witchress trying to nab a hot stud.

Han Byul was yet another bummer-rag in this show, but in all honesty, I can’t really fault her too much as she was just one out of a million other misses for this drama. I mean, you can’t blame the kitchen assistant for chopping the carrots incorrectly when the head chef doesn’t even know how to make the stew.

But for just one second, let’s speculate on how great it could have been...had at least the second lead managed some chemistry with our boy? Silly, yes, to have believed that Han Byul could have saved this sinker, but still, I always hope for the impossible…if we don’t hope for the impossible, what reason is there to live watch kdramas?

2) Chae Rim was such a disappointment here. I think I’ve said enough on that up above.

what kept me going
Choi SiWon’s goofy adorableness. He pulled the funniest faces. It was worth watching to the end just to see the myriad of expressions on the handsome actor/singer’s face. Possibly Suju fans are already familiar with the goofier sides of Choi SiWon’s charms, but it was new for me. I’d, of course, seen the Super Junior movie Attack on the Pin-Up Boys and thought it was enjoyable. My conclusion after watching the light comedy was that Dong Hae seemed quite a charmer, but aside from my passing familiarity with Super Junior’s music and the variety show activities of the various members, I’d never become a fan girl of Choi SiWon’s idol group. If you’ve read any of my other posts, it’s more than clearly spelled out where my heart firmly and forever rests. But because of Lady, I felt one step closer to Super Junior. Choi SiWon really impressed here.

Other factors:
predictability Yes. Yawn. I mean, they were making a musical or something and Lee HyunWoo was having some marital issues...blah di blah blah. Truly, at no point did I ever care about any of it.
engrish No
originality No
eye-candy ELFs, you can all rejoice, your boy did good...and looked good while doing good
hair and fashion Unremarkable

is it worth trying to find?
No (unless you love the Choi SiWon)

total enjoyment factor 

Here’s the math:
2 points for Choi SiWon

2 points for Kim YeuBin who played YeEun;
spoiler alert — > (his daughter)

1 point for the last episode, which was actually engaging

total disdain factor

why this review is completely biased
Maybe my expectations were too high…?
I should have checked them at the door when I was taking off the shoes of anticipation

could a non-kdrama fan like this

My biggest problem with this drama was its inability to make any part of the story feel even remotely natural. The whole thing came off as being completely forced. Not only was the scenario concocted to bring Choi SiWon and Chae Rim together completely unbelievable, there was absolutely no real reason why these two people would have fallen in love with one another even after being stuck together. He addressed her as ahjumma (similar to ma’am) the whole way through and only near the very end did he switch over to her name...probably because the show realized it was running out of time and needed the two lovebirds to quickly commence with the googly eyes and ahjumma is hardly a romantic pet name for a lover. The sudden declaration of (read if you want to be spoiled)—{marriage}—in the very last episode made even LESS sense. For global warming’s sake, the two barely knew one another!

Was it true love or an actor’s need for someone to manage the home? The drama insisted theirs was a sincere connection of the heart, but really, the way the story progressed, it felt more like an affection borne out of convenience, not a romantic ‘you’ve stolen my heart’ type of thing. I didn’t buy their love story and since Lady’s plot hung its entire fate on the romance between the two main leads, it was a total failure for me.

In fact, everyone in the show appeared to do a complete turnaround in the last episode—from Chae Rim’s douchebag ex-husband to Han Byul, the conniving girl who wanted to hook it up with a celebrity—not only were the change of hearts brought out of nowhere, they were completely out of character. Neither of these two people had shown a smidgen of compassion for 15 episodes when all of sudden, they turned into care bears who wanted only the best for the main couple. They recognized true love between the actor and the housekeeper and that epiphany had them singing a different tune. Uh-huh. That cooked up nonsense aside, ironically, despite the fact that it made no sense, the last hour had more substance and emotion in it than all 15 hours preceding it.

But I tell you what, the show wasn’t completely unwatchable.

Why not? Why did I keep coming back for more? Let’s just say, I now look forward to Choi SiWon’s next acting project. He did alright. Cheesy as it sounds, he had clear and honest eyes...and he convinced me that there might be some acting chops behind that pretty face.


  1. hey! it's too bad you are going to post less... oh well.. for me, summer is when i'm most free! yay! lol.
    about OML, well, you pretty much stated everything i had to say about it... chae rim was a disappointment... she wasn't BAD but i didn't care for her. really, the highlight for me was YeEun!! gosh, she's got to be the cutest kid ever.. then followed by Siwon.. to tell you the truth, I AM quite a Suju fan as a group and love the boys, but not of any individual in particular, including Siwon.. i thought he was overrated (still do), a bit like Yoona in SNSD. he was adorable in legend of HD so i knew he could act but in this drama, he still exceeded my expectations. he was quite hilarious at times, charming and sweet at others and gave me quite a few "aw" moments. and could surprisingly sing when he tries. but let's face it, this drama was not a "good" drama. the romance was so unbelievable... i could see MW coming to like KH but i saw no attraction from KH to MW at all until she decides to accept his marriage proposal. -_-" i didn't hate park han byul.. didn't think anything of her really.. however, when i will think back of this drama, it will most likely leave me with good memories and impressions of it. except for the last few episodes, it failed to grasp or tug my strings but at the end of the day, i did enjoy some of it enough to finish the ride. it was unambitious but not horrible. maybe it was BECAUSE they didn't try that it worked instead of becoming a disaster. anyways, i sure hope CR will choose a better project next time. and will look forward to CSW's next project, altho he has promotions for Bonamana coming up (yay!). would i rewatch this drama? probably no. but i don't regret watching it either, or don't regret too much.
    and as always, thanks for the review!

  2. hello Noella, that's great review i ever read .. ^^
    u know, i'm big fans of Siwon Choi.. truly , at the beginning i felt so nervous.. is it will work? (OML) ... it's relief that Siwon received many big applause regarding his hard work in acting. .. and..... --ah its hard to say..-- sometimes i feel the same too like you said here.. the drama is not interesting enough to them who never know abt Siwon or Chae Rim..almost flat...--sorry to say--
    but still i follow this drama until its ending. because of Siwon.. and i want to support him always..
    And, Noella, i think your sincere review would be so interesting if i repost it onto my blog http://siwonlover.blogspot.com
    if u dont mind, i want to repost it.. of course i'll put you as the credit.
    if u feel it's bad idea, just gimme your response on comment space after the posting.
    thanks very much for your compliment to Siwon ^^

  3. Anonymous, I think you hit it right on the nose. "Unambitious" is the perfect word to describe this drama. And I agree, they found THE cutest little girl in the universe to play Choi SiWon's daughter! ...and yeah, there's a lot going on for me this summer. Whoo, gonna be busy, but I WILL keep up with my drama watching!

    siwonlover, I understand your feelings. I felt much the same way when I watched TOP in I Am Sam. Good luck to your boy, Choi SiWon. I see good things for him in the acting world. Oh, and of course, I don't mind you reposting my review with credit to Kdramaguk. I hope Suju fans will receive it kindly as I don't wish to hurt any feelings. ^^

  4. haha, thx for thinking i'm right. glad ull have time to watch dramas (hong sisters' gumiho is in august!). looking forward to ur next post.

  5. Ditto! I kept waiting for something to happen. And then, at the end of it all, there was this horrific/surprising dawning that SiWon did better than ChaeRim here!

    The little girl who played YeEun! Gah! Cuteness way overload. The scene you mentioned was real 'aw' factor but the one that's stuck to my mind is the hilarious one where she scribbles on that huge poster of SiWon in his room and the priceless, roll on floor funny expression on SiWon's face then he and ChaeRim turned to look at the lil girl and she comically puts her hand to her face sheepishly and turns away!!! HAHAHAHAHA!

    *play repeat play repeat play repeat!*



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