KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

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


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First Impressions: Greatest Love (2011)

Greatest Love
16 Episodes
May - June 2011

Gong HyoJin used to be part of an insanely popular girl group quartet called National Treasure Girls (think Fin.K.L, although the name of the fake group is derived from 80’s duo National Treasure Sisters and today’s premier girl group Girls Generation/SNSD). Unfortunately, National Treasure Girls broke up after one hit song at the height of popularity due to a scandal, for which Gong HyoJin took the blame. This feels very true to real life, as we all know, kpop can be a fickle and cruel biz, with the ability to build people up to amazing highs, then tear them down with unbearable levels of abuse. If cast as a villain, the public torment that could follow...is nothing less than being emotionally exiled.

Now, ten years later, Gong HyoJin has managed to survive, but she is a bottom tier celebrity who makes most of her income doing variety. And if you’ve ever seen a K-variety show, you know they love to create contrived celebrity characters, and Gong HyoJin is the one cast as the scratchy villainous personality. It is not unlike digging salt into an already infected wound and that is the point, to derive humor in humiliation. In real life, however, she’s a sweet and caring person who is trying to support her family. This drama is clearly intent on highlighting the sometimes unfair realities in their show business culture, and it is interesting, sad, and funny all at the same time.

Cha SeungWon, on the other hand, is an A-List star with a much loved reputation with the public. But behind the scenes, he is such a big arrogant jerk that even his manager barely tolerates him. When it becomes misconstrued by the public that Cha SeungWon, top actor, and Gong HyoJin, bottom feeder, are close friends in real life, the two find themselves strangely pulled into the other’s world.

To finish the primary cast, Yoon KyeSang (who knows a thing or two about being a 90’s idol in real life) plays a successful doctor who gets sucked into the contrivance called fame. And with refreshing depth for a second lead, Yoo InNa plays the other National Treasure Girls member involved in the past scandal, although she has managed to hang onto her status over the years. Ah, and of course, she hates Gong HyoJin.

First Impressions
Well, I wasn’t much excited about the premise of the drama, nor was I fawn-eyed about the cast sheet. And while I’m not out-of-my-seat loving it, my instincts tell me that this will end up being one of the better dramas of the year, one that will likely move along at a good speed and have good overall characterization.

Let’s see:

Gong HyoJin:
Solid. She’s a sympathetic actress, one who sometimes comes across as too sad puppy for my taste, but overall, she wears this character well.

Cha SeungWon:
Solid. Capable of funny, unique and entertaining delivery.

Yoon KyeSang:
Handsome! He seems to fit this role really well and I’m already afraid I may have second lead syndrome in this one at the early onset.

Yoo InNa:
YG’s rising actress, with good reason. There’s something sneaky foxy about her, but there is also a depth, a sense of intelligent warmth that shines through and reaches the viewer. I am finding that I really enjoy her character, sometimes even more than Gong’s because I see so much room for growth.

In a word: solid. It just feels like a solid drama. I expected nothing less from this production and acting teamyet another crafty and symbolic look at different worlds colliding.


  1. Oh! Please do watch this drama! Amongst the current on-air dramas (since May), I believe this is one of the best if not the best of what's to come! And so I really look forward to reading your review! In fact I was rather disappointed with Lie to Me (despite the leads whom I adore), but City Hunter is holding up good.

    It is quite rare to see an older cast in a rom-com, but perhaps this is why the show is captivating: mature handling of love. :) Hope you will enjoy this as much as many of us out there...


  2. I agree with anonymous. I think that the other dramas from May pale in comparison to this one. It's actually shaping up to be my favorite Hong Sisters' drama at this point, with only 2 episodes left. I'm not really a fan of the rom-com genre (even though I watch a lot of it). And I knew Gong and Cha were going to be good, but I was still not too excited about. Boy was I proven wrong. The episodes get better and better. The latest episode (14) was definitely the best. And Cha and Gong have captured my heart. I wouldn't say that they have the most sizzling or natural chemistry, but they are both so good (acting-wise) and sell it so hard, that I am 150% invested in their relationship. They give sincerity and depth to what usually lacks in rom-coms for me. So even though there are crazy and sometimes way over-the-top scenarios, they somehow are able to ground it and genuine. I hope you continue it and hopefully you enjoy it as much as I am. –celest1al

  3. have you watched city hunter?? It would be nice to read ur review :D

  4. Hi, just wanted to say I loved this drama. gotta love Cha Seung Won.

    Um, and hey I'm kind of new to blogging, and I was wondering if you can check out mine and follow. Thanks~

  5. I feel so bad that I dicovered this blog now when its on indefinite hiatus. I have to say I really enjoy your reviews. They are opinionated and well-reasoned. Even though I can't agree with everything i don't find your different perspective angering at all. Such a nice blog. Hopefully, you will someday return :)


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