KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

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


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lie to Me (2011)

Lie To Me
내게 거짓말을 해봐
(May – June 2011)

who’s in it
Yoon EunHye (Coffee Prince)
Kang JiHwan (Coffee House)
Sung Joon (Shut Up Flower Boy Band)
Jo YoonHee (You Who Rolled In Unexpectedly)
Hong Soo Hyun (The Princess’ Man)

what’s it about
Yoon EunHye works for the ministry of tourism and she considers herself a servant of the people. She has plenty of energy and has a tomboyish charm about her that is accepted well by her coworkers, as she has a casual and friendly relationship with them despite her tendency for bumble-headed goofiness.

Well, she’s liked by most people but the biggest exception is Hong SooHyun, who is married to Yoon EunHye’s first love (Ryu SeungSoo). This snooty gal often goes out of her way to keep Yoon EunHye in self-doubt, who she considers her ugly duckling childhood friend. She wants Yoon EunHye to always remember she is a subpar version of a girl and will never transition from an ugly duckling into a swan. However, when an innocent white lie by said ugly duckling to save some self-esteem turns into a gigantic misunderstanding in the elite circles, hotel magnate Kang JiHwan somehow finds himself cast in the unlikely role of Yoon EunHye’s Prince Charming husband. Needless to say, it’s not the sort of role playing the career-minded heir adapts to willingly, or with any civility.

Instrumental in all of this confusion is Sung Joon, Kang JiHwan’s happy go lucky but also not-so-happy-go-lucky baby bro who has just breezed back into town, and as these things go, at the same time as the girl both brothers had loved/still love. Jo YoonHee has stepped back on K-soil with the intention of getting back what she had lost...Kang JiHwan.

16 episodes


first impressions
Surprisingly, a really good one. Lie is silly, as contract marriage drama plots often are, but if you’re like me and find fake relationship contrivance the best kind of kdrama reality bender, then you also are like me and forgive plot stalls in these ones more than any other type of redundancy. Many of my favorites seem to use the boundaries of marriage as their boxing ring. What can I say, I really do believe a relationship is a battlefield, and somehow, although I wouldn’t personally know, marriage seems like a downright cage fight! Anyhow, I just love the many back and forth emotional punches that always accompany these bouts!

Back to Lie: Kang JiHwan sometimes feels like he’s reprising his Coffee House role, but this version of him is far less eccentric and infinitely more relatable, and if Kang JiHwan does anything extremely well, this actor really knows how to play a handsome, rich snot with an inner lining of gold. As for our girl Yoon EunHye, she makes for a very convincing every day woman and isn’t afraid of going ‘ugly’ for a role. You have to appreciate that kind of freedom. She’s a very pretty girl, but she also has a very normal face. You just can’t help kind of relate to her.

I have a kdrama watching buddy, and she was really reluctant to watch this with me as she does not like Kang JiHwan, but even she admits this one is starting out to be a pretty fun watch—romantic enough to engage, not too narrow a story that growth couldn’t happen, banter quick enough to keep fresh, and just out of bounds wacky enough to make for some real laughs. All in all, not a bad start.

(first impressions initially posted Jun 1, 2011)

wildcard factor

Well, there’s a significant amount of good-looking to be found for female watchers, most especially relative newbie Sung Joon, who moved on after this to put his delicious deep voice to better use in 2012’s Shut Up Flower Boy Band. Some Shut Up fans might be motivated to seek this one out, if it hasn’t been seen already.

And, obviously, Yoon EunHye and Kang JiHwan fans will also have a reason to check it out.

gave up
I wanted to like this one, but I didn’t.

My first impressions were honestly written, I thought Kang and Yoon looked pretty fabulous together with a lot of humor potential in the pairing. I mean look at them in the picture above! That’s a combination that doesn’t just look like it should work but explode with fireworks. Theoretically, I could see myself rooting for them as a couple based on looks alone. Was the story typical and predictable? Absolutely. She was a poor gal, he was a rich snot, they fall in love despite their differences. Did it look fun? It did. And really, that’s all I wanted from this one, a spring dalliance. I wasn’t expecting to be swept off my feet, no, a few butterflies and smiles were good enough. At the start, this drama seemed exactly as advertised: a predictable fun flirtation. Everyone seemed interesting enough to build 16 episodes of light romantic interludes.

Turned out, I was wrong.

Alas, a lot of that early spunk disappeared...it was so transparently obvious exactly when the writers either 1) got lazy or, 2) ran out of ideas (episode 6 on). So above, I mentioned my friend who is kinda of a Kang JiHwan anti, well, even she was optimistic at first, but she ran for the hills pretty quick thereafter. Not only did the characters incline toward emotional childishness (and not in an endearing kdrama way), but pretty much behaved in a way that would embarass people with brains.

*Sigh* There was probably a lot of unfair expectations for this drama, not from the story exactly, but from the actors. After all, it featured two of the most adorably dorky-yet-sexy Korean stars around. Both Yoon and Kang have sex appeal that somehow manages to be goofy. I think a lot of us kdrama fans imagined the pairing would be simply magical, with wonderful new ways of romantic silly explored. Yoon would be endearingly clueless, Kang would be goofily nasty, it would be a total wower

The actors themselves must have also thought that with their substantial goofalicious beauty combined, it was not possible for their unification to be anything less than wacky good times. But synergy in film and tv is a lot like drunken bowling, isn’t it? It seems like such an easy shot down that straight lane, but damn if it isn’t impossible to get that strike (I apologize, I may have used drunken bowling in another review to compare something else, but come on, it’s drunken bowling, it kind of fits like, you know, everything, life, love, the pursuit of world peace, my obesession with Lee JunKieverything).

You know what Lie reminded me of? That 2002 movie with Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock, Two Weeks Notice, where two of the funniest romantic comedy leads on earth were brought together to create the ultimate romantic comedy...and it turned out to be a complete twinkle-empty dud. Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock kinda had some chemistry, I guess, but it ended up being more like the sexual sizzle of two attractive strangers already married at a bus stop who casually chat about the weather just to kill time—a little impersonal and a lot boring, not even remotely grand or romantic. And like Two Weeks Notice, Lie also made no romantic sense.

That movie, this drama, they have a common equation:

cute charm + cute charmzero charm.

Hell if I know why the math doesn’t makes any sense (let’s get some love physicists on this stat!), it just didn’t work, it was flat, flat, flat. It happens sometimes a lot. So much so, it makes my reviews feel redundant sometimes a lot.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It was same for me. I really really wanted to like this show. I mean we had Kang Ji Hwan who is super good at comedy, and then we had Yoon Eun Hye who is the ultimate female lead for a drama, but aside from the great chemistry between the leads nothing else worked. It was too cheesy and predictable. I was actually quite heartbroken that this drama turned out to be such a dud.
    But the one good thing that came out from this drama was Sung Joon. He was wasted in Lie To Me, but he gained fame thanks to the show and landed the perfect role for him in Shut Up:Flower Boy Band. And for that I am thankful.

  3. I feel the same, though I'm yoo eun hye fans.. It's totally ended flat

  4. oh and I wonder if you have seen "Love Rain"?? I watched it bcoz I like Jang geun suk and I kinda like SNSD girl.. So far, it kinda fun I guess.. heheh

  5. Sabilablabla: Hahah, your lukewarm "I guess" doesn't sound too convincing! I've heard the mixed reviews on Love Rain, so I am curious. I haven't tried it at all, mostly because there are so many good dramas airing right now that I feel like I'm spinning in kdrama heaven and haven't had the chance. I probably will try it sometime later, as I like JGS, too.

  6. Hahah.. dunno why I wrote like that. But I especially thought JGS was super handsome in "Love Rain" would love to see your "Love Rain" review :)

  7. One of my favorite korean drama series ever. I remember the first time i watched the first episode of it on filebook, i get hooked to it instantly.

  8. i really love this korean series. nice post.

  9. There is something magical about Lie to Me. Gong Ah Jung is a free agent rare for drama female characters. It did kind of bog down after ep 06. Its not as easily re-watchable as scent of a woman for example. But the many fabulous side characters helped a lot. So Ran the witch was awesome. I am watching it a 2nd time now.


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