18 February 2015

HAEUNDAE LOVERS

KOREAN DRAMA REVIEW: HAEUNDAE LOVERS


This drama is just what I was hoping for, a silly, light and fun comedy with a little sizzle thrown in for good measure. Not perfect by any means, and a little draggy towards the end, but with a very likable warm heroine and a rather sillybilly male lead, it was a pretty fun watch. It also makes me want to visit Busan.






The beginning:
The opening episodes are great fun, we meet lovely Go So Ra, beautiful young and sassy, and also the voice of reason in a crazy family of ex. gangsters from Busan who now run a fish shop to get by whilst they dream of stealing back their Haeundae Hotel.
This family are great, and I really enjoyed watching them bickering and being ridiculous (though So Ra's dad is a sad story). But I really love the three uncles!

Meanwhile we also meet the hero, an absolute driven workaholic jerkface, only focused on catching the bad guys in the gangster case he is working on (he is a prosecutor).
A good thing you say? What's so bad about wanting to catch criminals you say?

Well this guy does it on his wedding day, is late for the wedding, endures the ceremony and then when his new wife has to be rushed to the hospital with appendicitis, he is just kind of relieved to get out of the honeymoon so he can go back to work, cos basically he believes all his colleagues are useless and nothing will ever get solved unless he's there to do it.
So he really is a bit of jerk to he honest.

But of course we have some sympathy for him too, the man was taken in by his daddy when he was 5yrs old at an orphanage and he feels forever grateful,  meaning everything he does, his perfectionist nature, is all about making his dad proud. *excuse me whilst I wipe away a tear....awww* And of course his adopted mother hates his guts and is pretty freaking cruel to him too.


So I guess I can see why maybe he is such a stupid messed up individual,  marrying a woman he very obviously has no feelings for whatsoever because, I get the impression, she is totally rich and the match will benefit his daddy's career!!
Charming guy.

But then of course through the most ridiculous mix up I have ever seen (I loved it!) this prosecutor, Tae Sung, ends up at a club in Seoul chasing down his gangster suspect's girlfriend, who through a crazy switcheroo, just for tonight only, happens to be So Ra dressed as a gisaeng doing a sexy dance on stage but then chickening out before the striptease part.
Hilarious!

And its funny cos Tae Sung might seem all business and have zero interest in his own bride but he looked pretty struck by So Ra whilst she dances, staring at her!


The hijinks continue and our leads end up squashed together hiding behind a door, both clearly affected by the closeness of the other. I love their chemistry, through all the hijinks and ridiculousness there is a heap of sizzling chemistry here and I like it!

So, now disgraced after last night's fiasco at the club where he lost the suspect, Tae Sung desperately needs to solve this case to redeem himself, so off he goes to Busan, following So Ra to her house and boarding there in disguise as the ridiculous body building muscle boy she met at the club.

Of course So Ra believes he's there because he fell in love with her at first sight, whilst in actual fact Tae Sung isn't interested at all...... except when he can't help himself from being transfixed by the sight of her in a bikini..... and except when he sees her so carefully looking after her slightly crazy daddy..... except when he sees her at the old family hotel and imagines her as a little girl playing happily with her dad.

So actually he is a little bit moved by her already, though he is trying very hard to concentrate on the case at hand. Which just basically involves following So Ra around everywhere on her mundane trips and work deliveries, all the while Tae Sung is thinking she is about to meet his suspect or traffic some drugs.
Ha! I love it!


Also, I will mention the hilarious uncles who are all gullible and ridiculous, except maybe the young (hot!!!!) one who is a total hothead and just yells furiously at everybody.
Which I love.
He should be in more stuff.


So Tae Sung finally (finally) figures out that So Ra and her family are absolutely not involved in his drug ring at all, whilst locked together in the massive fish freezer with her.
Yep. A fish freezer.
I'll bet he feels pretty silly.

He also learns his big bad guy was actually at the shop and he gives chase, tracking the suspect and his girlfriend to a yacht.
Which just ends really badly.
Tae Sung is bopped on the head and thrown into the sea, where he proceeds to float around unconscious with his head above water (giggle) all night and the whole next day until So Ra and her mental uncles fish him straight up out of the ocean covered in flopping fish.



Meanwhile the suspect and his girl totally catch on fire and are so completely burned to a crisp that Tae Sung's family (and his wife....because she still exists apparently) all believe Tae Sung is dead. With another woman in his car.
Which his powerful daddy tries to hide.

I don't mind a bit of amnesia when it is as silly as this.

The uncles all crowd around Tae Sung's hospital bed, and one wonders if he will say 'who are you?' when he wakes up, just like in the dramas. Ha!

And of course he does, and after a pretty awful night of no food, nowhere to stay and not knowing who he is, Tae Sung pretty much bursts into tears when he sees So Ra, her bleeding heart finally forcing her to come rescue him, despite the fact she believes he stole all her family's fish. (Yes, that is right. Their fish.)

The middle:
I think this new version of Tae Sung is quite cute. He is a little less intense and manly, a whole lot more helpless and hapless, and a hell of a lot more emotional.
Hehe.
But he is also different in other ways, he is happy to eat food from the communal food pot now and although he is quite shouty, indignant and blustery, he is actually a bit sweet. A bit childlike.


Basically the only person Tae Sung really knows in the whole world these days is So Ra, and he spends all his time following her around like a big lost puppy, crying when she constantly leaves him behind.
It's interesting though cos I'm still not getting a massive romance vibe between the two, it is more like she is caring for him and he is lapping it up, and even when she goes off to marry a complete con-artist lunatic (who is trying to steal her family's tiny tiny money) he obviously thinks she looks beautiful in the dress, yet is still not upset that she is marrying someone else or anything.

But when the bridegroom is a no show, the fantastic uncles' desperately need a fill-in husband (they can't cancel the wedding because they need the wedding money to pay the townsfolk for crazy dad killing all their fish. (Yes. I said fish.) And of course who is the perfect candidate?
 Yep. Tae Sung.

So Tae Sung and So Ra get (fake) married and all the while Tae Sung's real wife is hovering around in the background, grieving and having near misses every two seconds with her 'dead' husband.


So it is all fake and all but silly Tae Sung gets a bit into it, even requesting So Ra buys him a baseball outfit because when the family heads to the game he feels left out. Ha! Cute!

But also, the second they are married the hotel Vice President (a man who looks really strange all the time, I mean he should be gorgeous but somehow he just kind of weirds me out....) confesses to So Ra. And not only does he confess to a fully married woman, but he also turns out to be the step son of her runaway mum.
What??! Soap Opera!
Oh and Tae Sung gets his star bum scar checked out by the Haeundae Hotel's Grandma and it turns out he is the long lost son of the dead President and has even been written into the will!
Craziness!

But of course So Ra and her gangster uncles have some serious family beef with the Yang family who stole the hotel away from them and now Tae Sung is their enemy by association, meaning everyone wants him and So Ra to get a divorce (including the Vice President because he wants to snap her up for himself!).
Everyone except Tae Sung that is.


So Ra sort of drove me crazy with her hating on Tae Sung by association. It is beyond stupid to hate on a man for whatever his daddy did ten years ago if said man was not at all involved himself (and was in fact adopted out somewhere completely different. ...I mean, come on!)  But Tae Sung steps up to fight for So Ra and stuff starts to get good again.

Going all out to win So Ra over, Tae Sung gets all serious, manly and quite a bit sexy, wiping cream off her lips and then sucking on his finger.
Why is that hot?
It should be gross. But it's not, it's totally hot.

He pulls her into the pool and kisses her and though So Ra is still resisting, she is also clearly shaken.


Then stuff gets fun again as the whole White Sands ex.gangster family (including Tae Sung) all concoct a plan to contact the shareholders and win the hotel back, with a 2 month time limit until they know for sure whether Tae Sung is the chaebol heir or not.
Which I guess is when So Ra will start to hate him again. Sigh.

So everyone heads off on a yacht party or whatever and whilst Tae Sung works hard to turn the shareholders, So Ra gets cornered by 'lump of protein' Vice President.
Now there is nothing worse than a second male lead who is getting angry at the object of his desire for not loving him back. Dude! Yelling at her on a boat isn't going to change her mind!

Actually the Vice President kind of goes bat shit crazy here, and he shoves So Ra into a corner and proceeds to be super scary and all up in her face. I am getting a little bit of an uncomfortable rapey vibe from this man now which he solidifies by trying for a wholly creepy forced kiss.

Um.... which Tae Sung witnesses, and instead of getting FURIOUS that someone is acting all intimidating and rapey and freaking horrible at his lovely wife, he just watches without saving her and then gets all pissy and jealous with So Ra for talking and laughing with the Vice President all the time!!!!
Uh......?
Whatever.

Then So Ra falls overboard (of course she does) and we get some romantic alone time for her and Tae Sung on a deserted island (I'm not even going to talk about the random torch they found on this deserted island).
Actually, although silly, this stuff was all very cute and fun! That is how this drama should be!!


The end:
So Tae Sung looks to have finally won So Ra over and the two are clearly falling in love now. But of course this is when the suddenly evil Vice President gets involved to ruin their relationship because I believe he is under the impression So Ra will suddenly love him after that. Sheeesh!
So Tae Sung's dad and Tae Sung's other wife rock up to the hotel.....dun dun dun.

So everyone is rightfully pretty upset. Tae Sung is back from the dead which means his (kind of nasty) dad immediately begins trying to position his son to his advantage again.
Like straight away.
I get the feeling that all those years growing up, Tae Sung has tried so hard to do what his daddy wants of him because he is so grateful to have been adopted, and while that's nice and all, I get the impression that his daddy expected it of Tae Sung. He expected this orphaned boy to repay him for his kindness, he expected this little boy to grow up into someone that is of advantage to his father. I don't think Tae Sang's dad ever actually loved his son for who he was, only what he could do for the dad.
Which is pretty disgusting really. It is such a gross adult thing to do to a child who is alone and terribly vulnerable. 

But of course Tae Sung has now experienced a wholly different life. He met So Ra with no memory and she looked after him and gave him love for himself, not as a selfish game, and it has really made him into a different man. A man who is brave enough to tell his daddy and his other wife Se Na that he doesn't want to live for them anymore.
Which of course blows up in his face. Because these two aren't interested in loving Tae Sung in a way that is actually good for Tae Sung, they just want him to be this person they think he should be, and they threaten, manipulate and scheme until Tae Sung is forced to leave his lovely (rock brain....sigh...can't they think of a less derogatory nickname? Jeez!) So Ra behind in Busan as he returns to Seoul. Where he basically lives like a sad zombie until he gets transferred back to Busan, solves all his problems, gets the hotel back and wins So Ra and her family back too.
The end.



Thoughts:
So this drama was cute and fun, but not wholly engaging or enthralling (sometimes light fluff romantic comedies are amazing!). I liked the characters, except how Tae Sung kept telling So Ra that she was stupid, a rock brain and not pretty....
I guess it's meant to be an endearing running joke between them but I just found it kind of horrible. Imagine if your husband called you horrible names every day, you might start to believe it! And So Ra is a smart, pretty, strong young woman who kept her family together against the odds, whilst 'smart handsome' Tae Sung was a man who was so silly it took actual amnesia for him to realise that marrying a woman you don't even like because your dad wants some extra power for his law firm.....is totally dumb. It's just so sad and dumb. He is a rock brain.

Though despite that complaint I still really liked these characters. I really enjoyed the fire in their relationship at the beginning (though that spluttered out when Te Sung turned into the absolute puppydog Nam Hae) and I really did like these two together. I don't think this drama will go down as being anything other than a simple fun ride, but I certainly enjoyed it!





















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