Baker King, Kim TakGu
제빵왕 김탁구 / Bread, Love and Dreams
(Jun – Sept 2010)
who’s in it
Yoon SiYoon (High Kick Through the Roof)
Eugene (Really, Really Like You)
Choi JaHye (Lobbyist)
Lee YoungAh (Iljimae, Empress Chun Chu)
what’s it about
The drama revolves around the politics within the founding family of a large bread manufacturing company, the patriarch and president played by Jun KwangRyul; this one’s a multi-tiered yarn following the intrigue that can twist between people when motivated by jealousy and greed (yes, I know, it all sounds oh-so-familiar). While the older generation continuously strive for the worst and play evil puppeteers, the story finds its warmth and strength in the younger cast of characters, all of whom struggle through their luggage-sized family issues...to repeat the sins of their parents? Or undo them? That is the question this drama poses.
Kim TakGu, played charmingly by Yoon SiYoon, is the illegitimate but beloved son of Jun KwangRyul—the beloved part has put him at the top of his step-family’s enemies list, including one seething, emoting and intensely insecure half-bro named Goo MaJun, played by JooWon, the not-so-heir-apparent to the bread kingdom.
When tragedy strikes, however, Kim TakGu steps off the path of bread crumbs planned for him and chooses a darker, more solitary road…but this is a kdrama and fate is not so easily dodged.
At first, I was just mildly curious about the steaming pile of melodrama between the adults, amused by the usual kdrama fare of backstabbing and manipulating by rich people. As the story progressed, I realized this drama had snuck in and grabbed hold of me real good. I couldn’t tear my eyes away! I wasn’t just curious, I was completely invested in these nutty people. For a show that carried some heavy themes, such as murder and child abuse, I found it to be surprisingly light-hearted with ample doses of humor. It was the perfect balance of storm and sunshine.
The story starts at the very beginning with the children, and damn, the young actors do a tremendous job in really fleshing out all the main characters. By the time their older counterparts are introduced, they are all fully realized individuals. Similar to previous dramas that featured food as the central obstacle/reward, such as The Grand Chef or Pasta, there are worshipful references to the communing with food (in this case dough), and not just as an act of preparing edible goods, but as a philosophy of life. In general, I cannot deny that I seem to gravitate toward these kind of dramas that apply affairs of the heart to a passionate life calling. And naturally, food especially resonates with me, as I love food! Heh. This one feels far more serious than either of the other two [awesome] food dramas mentioned above, but I find I have a similar feeling of excitement and adventure when sitting down to watch every new episode. I know the hero will prevail, of course, but it is still a joy to navigate. How should I put this...I guess you could say, the hour may be predictable, but the minutes aren’t. Furthermore, there is a maturity in the acting despite the show’s tendency for “melodramatic fireworks.”
On a more fangirlish note (as I am nothing if not always a fangirl), Yoon SiYoon is just darling in this earnest good guy role (with a pinch of flour), and so is pixie-like Lee YoungAh, whose bossy cheerfulness is the perfect complement to Yoon SiYoon’s bumbling goofiness. She’s an actress I’ve thought adorable ever since her appearance in Iljimae (Lee JunKi’s version). I have a girl-crush on her! And yes, Eugene does a fair job as well, as I find she is always a solid lead, if not a “wow” type of female heroine.
I have a really good feeling about this one. Truly, I do.
Yoon SiYoon and Joo Won—aka Dong Top. Many fans thought the angst-ridden moper (the character) looked like a best of features compilation between the faces of super hottie Kang DongWon and super major hottie Big Bang’s TOP. I see the Kang Dong Won, for sure, not so much the TOP, but perhaps that’s only because I’m biased and I think TOP is peerless. Ha.
These two pretty fellows carried most of the drama (Yoon SiYoon constantly picking himself up after Joo Won brosmacks him back down) and their acting was fair, but to be completely frank, not exceptional. They were enjoyable to watch, gifted with that je ne sais quoi that makes actors special and irresistible, but these were very heavy, Atlas-With-the-Weight-of-the-World type of roles and their greenery could not be completely ignored.
Won’t lie, episodes 18-30 dragged for me—at lot. Yes, I realize that looks suspiciously like the entire second half. That’s because it is! Heh. This drama can be divided up into three shows: Baker King: Growing Pains, Baker King: The Wonder Bread Years, and Baker King: The Apprentice. Let’s just say The Apprentice chapters didn’t really get my juices going. Partly because the story started to dawdle...but a lot because the drama shifted away from what I loved most about it in the beginning, the three F’s = fun, frivolity and foodiness. Understandably the story needed to sift through the drama dirty, but I was disappointed that it didn’t hold onto much of what made it charming in the first place.
It didn’t help that my favorite character, played by Lee YoungAh, and her interactions with Yoon SiYoon diminished and faded into mere segues and interludes as the drama neared its end.
This category “soju-guzzling” is really asking about the misery factor of a drama. Baker wasn’t wholeheartedly miserable, as it spent a fair time trying to be fun and uplifting, but the show was bookended by large doses of melo. The beginning and concluding hours were more cumbersome than the middle which focused on Yoon SiYoon’s bread massaging skills—the beginning and middle far more engaging than the ending.
what didn’t work
I thought Eugene was a weak spot. As I had anticipated when I first started watching, I worried about her the most. As an actress, I find her generally likable, if not memorable. I do consider her one of the better idol-turned-actresses in the biz, but this character may have been slightly beyond her range. I was more moved by Jo JungEun’s portrayal of the younger version of this character in the Growing Pains part of the drama, but under Eugene’s guidance later on, I never really found an attachment to the woman bent on revenge. Her pizazz with both boys was eh at best. The spark was missing.
Despite their relatively simple interpretations of their characters, Yoon SiYoon and JooWon did a great job bringing these young men to life.
And as I’ve already mentioned, Lee YoungAh was hands down my favorite character in the show. Simply adorkable.
what made me want to gouge my eyes out
The Evil Mother—in a totally good way though. She made me so angry! Jun InHwa was awesomely evil. She acted her socks off. And, incidentally, the woman is beautiful.
Actually, both mothers were rather fantastic. The story was about the conflict between Yoon SiYoon and Joo Won—technically—but Jun InHwa and Jun MiSun brought the pain on! They brought the freakin’ motherlode of drama-angst. And as we dedicated kdrama watchers know, drama-angst is often brought by the fury of a woman scorned. They were the pillars that held up this story, this entire drama, really.
what kept me going
I have to be honest, I only half-heartedly watched the last round of episodes and might have actually stopped had I not been curious whether or not this drama could manage the happy ending I wanted, specifically, what kind of conclusion my Not Enough Screen Time couple would be allowed. There really needed to be more of their cuteness. For example, there was a scene where Yoon SiYoon rests on Lee YoungAh’s shoulder in the storage room that was simply awwwwwwwwwww to the max.
originality I’m gonna have to say no.
hair and fashion N/A
is it worth trying to find?
total enjoyment factor
Pure quality wise, it could possibly notch slightly higher, but since I found I didn’t enjoy it half as much as expected, it graded low[er] on the enjoyment factor.
why this review is completely biased
Call me a Yoon SiYoon fan. He won me over a while ago in Hick Kick Through the Roof and seems like a rather nice chap in interviews.
If you haven’t, I highly recommend checking out the episode of variety talk show Strong Heart when Yoon SiYoon’s adorable little co-star from Higk Kick Jin JiHee makes a surprise appearance to confess her affections for her fave oppa. The cuteness overload will make your head explode. And I would not be my VIP self if I didn’t shamelessly plug the fact that Big Bang’s Seungri and Taeyang also
Back to Yoon SiYoon: he’s still a wee bit wet behind the ears, but I think he has some real acting chops and could really develop into a good actor if he stays on course.
could a non-kdrama fan like this
Surprisingly, I have very little to say about this drama in terms of content. It’s funny how the really bad ones get miles and miles of words out of me and the great ones have me spazzing incoherently for paragraphs, but the passably competent ones just kind of slide on by.
In the end, Baker started stronger than it concluded but it was an overall worthy watch. It doesn’t break any molds and like most dramas this size, it fumbles its way a little near the end (thank gawd no extension was added, as