KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

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


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Baker King, Kim TakGu (2010)

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.

Lee JungSub

Kang Eunkyung

30 episodes


first impressions
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.

gave up

snoozer moments
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.

what did
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.

Other factors:
predictability Yes
engrish No
originality I’m gonna have to say no.
eye-candy Absolutely
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.

total disdain 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 star feature in the same episodes (35 and 36, I believe? Someone correct me if I’m wrong) and the incorrigible maknae Seungri was in rare form, so much so I do believe poor Taeyang was left speechless at times by the younger cutie’s antics.

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 threatened hoped for by KBS), but I give it due cred, definitely one of the better deliveries of 2010. Don’t take my word for it though, numbers don’t lie. The ratings for this sucker…were national monsters...and hell, national son Lee Seunggi wasn’t even in it. Heh.


  1. sorry, now life is catching up to me so i'll just leave a short comment. that said, Thank you for the review, i've been anticipating it since you announced itll be coming soon. haha.
    agree with most of what you said. altho for me, what went wrong with the drama, more so than the absence of lee youngah (which truly was a bummer), was the lack of logic, or I should say plotholes aplenty that were quite distracting and made it irritating to watch. as expected of makjang but sometimes, they drive me nuts. aside from that, this drama was much better than i thought it would be before i started it so i'm satisfied. plus happy ending. and yeah, i thought majun's mother was so beautiful and brilliant. i liked majun as well (but that's probably just my tendency to like cute bad guys). manager ha, OMG, i wanted to strangle the dude. most of the supporting cast, i liked though. as for the other mother, i kinda disagree with you. i thought she did a real good job acting her character BUT, she's one of those case where a character has the intended effect of annoying the hell out of me. i kept being irritated by her action, or her mere presence on screen, which is weird since i liked her in all her rpevious roles. it's like what i felt with GHS in BoF. i knew i was supposed to like her, but i couldnt for some mysterious reason. sigh. it went especially bad towards the end, which contributed to the downhill thing.
    i have a soft spot for eugene. her acting is certainly not noteworthy but somehow, i can't seem to dislike any of her perf either. maybe just a bit let down.
    what i liked about the last part though, was the bromance between, well, the two bro. FINALLY. man, i was waiting and waiting for majun to turn around.
    and i'm going to stop here. yeah, right. short comment. haha. and i thought i could do it.

  2. i meant unintended effect, not intended. XD

  3. I'm with you, love it I did not. There were genuine good moments, but plenty of the head-scratching ones, too.

  4. I do want to add, Jun MiSun didn't bother me, but I can see where you are coming from and why fans would have found the character a struggle to watch. All in all, I'm glad it had a happy ending, for everybody.

  5. oh really... i didnt know other pple found the character a struggle to watch. to be frank, i didnt bother looking at any particular info about it. all i did was watching it. i only read reviews, comments and news of dramas im really into.
    yep...im glad for the happy ending as well. i usually hate it, or at least have an uneasy feeling when i finished watching a drama with no feel-good ending. of course, there are exceptions to that. like What happened in bali. that one needed that ending (dont know if im spoiling u so ill stop there). or stairway to heaven. i was a crying wreck by the end of it even tho the whole drama was the epitome of makjang mess.
    glad u liked rain drama as well. i was already impressed before i saw the first ep cuz of the trailer they released. im glad it's not all serious as well.. it's always good to see goofy rain back. i kinda miss the full house days. ive just watched the second ep and its still looking promising. they sure put a lot into the drama. looking forward to ur review.
    as for gumiho... all i can say without spoiling i'm satisfied with how the hong sisters wrote th ending, whether good or bad.
    BUT, i feel so so bad for PK. it does not deserve the ratings it gets. the other dramas are deservingly so doing well.
    lol. its ur own blog so y not put a banner u want? i wouldnt mind GD at all, or any of the BB boys. i saw fancams of taeyang's concert, man the guy is hot as well. if it was my blog, i would have no problem posting a big fat suju banner or any my current obsession. lol. and sorry for the long comment. i know u are busy.

  6. oh..i wanted to add something about the rain drama... couldnt resist in the end... i know i'm going to get killed by rain's fans (i do love him a lot) but is it only me or i feel like the over-the-top cheesy is sometimes a bit too much? sure, it's impressive with the action sequences and all but i still think it could be a bit more refined. dunno. maybe ill change my mind later on.

  7. My little update may have been a bit misleading I think...the World Star's fans may hate me as well...but I would not say that I liked Fugitive...no,no...the wow was not a good wow I'm afraid. It might get better, if previews are to be trusted...who knows. It makes me uneasy. To say it was "cheesy" is an undertated flattery at this point. [cross fingers] I hope today's episode settles down and gets down to business...which I'll try to check out tonight.

    I hear ya on the "my blog, my banner" thing, I know I can put BB up there...but it just seems odd to put someone (GD) that has absolutely nothing to do with kdramas on a kdrama blog header. Heheh. But maybe I'll just take your advice and give in to my whims! And yes, I miss cute and cuddly Full House Rain. A lot. Too much. I'm not as big a fan of Action Star Rain.

  8. Also, no worries on the comment lengths. Don't stress yourself out trying to be concise. ;) Being concise is overrated. I'm not too busy today, just chillin' like a villain. As for PK...it's losing me...slowly but surely. I might have disagree with you a bit there, I think the ratings accurately reflect the quality of the drama! Although, I do feel bad for HyunJoong & the PK crew. Those are some brutal numbers to face every week.

  9. wow. i was looking into my google chrome thingy where they have previews of my visited sites and i was like... why does the miniature thing look different. haha. turned out i had sharper eyes than i thought. altho if you ask me, the change is more noticeable, or more disturbing than a banner change would be. i almost didnt notice the change from jang hyuk (i think?) to yoo ah in. haha.
    and if i was you, i wouldnt encourage myself to spazz...i need some sort of restriction. otherwise, i might take you on your word and unleash my rambling disease. just kidding (maybe.)
    oh, im glad ur wow was not the wow i thought... phew, i'm not the only one who thinks that. like i said, altho i feel uneasy saying anything negative about a drama that have been the raving talk k-town, i feel it's over the top. maybe it's because i'm not a real fan of rain. (why is it that i feel the urge to laugh whenever "world star" is mentioned? i dont even know myself. perhaps its a sign of disbelief? dunno.). and yeah, i agree with you there as well. as much as i was squealing of happiness when rain won the MTV movie awards, it was more cuz a korea/asian made it rather than because i liked his role. cute smiling rain i like more.
    and if u haven't seen ep2, well, the cheesy is not gone.
    haha.. and i feel like PK is going to be another case where we seldom disagree. pk has actually been growing on me quite a lot although i understand why the ratings are so although i still think a 3, or 2,8 (ouch) is too dismal, even for pk. i guess it's just a drama meant for some, me included.
    and out of topic. i just officially gave up on watching giant. or rather, on catching up to it. i plan on completing it in the future. its the kind of drama where you go, good, good, awesome but lacks the grip to compel you to watch the next ep, at least not for me. actually, that's wrong. i do look forward to the next ep, just that the one week wait considerably diminishes that effect by the end of it. it's just not riveting i guess. i think ill just wait for the drama to end and then marathon it later on. shame but i'm really short of time right now.

  10. just when i was depressed talking about PK ratings, i found out it improved for today's ep. and so did mgiag. for the sake of the hong sisters, i'm happy for them although truthfully, what happened to mgiag was really what i wanted to happen for yab, which is still my fav hong sis drama ever. daemul is next week but i dont know if ill watch it though, even though it looks like it'll be good quality.
    wow. 4 comments in one day on ur blog. i guess i'm really hyper today. last comment though. it's almost nightime, which means time to switch to american tv. haha.

  11. hehe... looking forward to your review once you catch up on those gumiho ep.. ive got some catching up to do myself on dr. champ. heard it was good but not expecting much.. i feel nervous. haha.


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