Park Seo Joon and Kim Ji Won’s drama about underdogs just ended, and I couldn’t be any more happier than I am at this moment. The show traced the development of 20-somethings with dreams they have discarded due to various reasons, and therefore lead unfulfilling lives. The development of the characters towards attempting to reach their dreams spoke to me on a very personal level, since I fall in the same age demographic as the characters in the show.
Moving on to the show. We are introduced to Go Dong Man (played by Park Seo Joon), who, as a teenager was a successful taekwondo athlete, but in the present we see that due to unexplained reasons, he has given up his passion, and instead does odd jobs. When we meet him in the show, he is working as a fumigator, killing off bug infestations at different people’s houses. One can see the disgust at his work and the hopelessness he feels towards his life by the way he allows to be pushed around by everyone. The fact that he allows for people to bully him and treat him poorly goes to show that he internally has a very weak self-esteem, made worse by the fact that he has completely given up on his dream.
Next in line, is Choi Ae Ra (played by Kim Ji Won), who is Dong Man’s childhood friend, who lives across from his house in the present. Just like Dong Man, she dreamed to be a television announcer, in other words, an anchor, but due to the fact that she never made the cut at auditions, she has been unable to fulfill her dream. Therefore she resorts to being at the reception counter of a large shopping mall where she hears the curses and insults hurled at her by rude clients. Furthermore, she’s had horrible experiences in relationships which just adds more reasons for her to think she’s worthless, though she always puts up a tough exterior to fight off haters.
Lastly, we have the couple: Kim Joo Man (played by Ahn Jae Hong) and Baek Sul Hee (played by Song Ha Yoon). Sul Hee is also a childhood friend of Dong Man and Ae Ra, while her boyfriend, Joo Man became friends with Dong Man at a later time. This couple spoke to me greatly due to a great number of reasons. I could associate with Sul Hee every step of the way, and their situation, their problems were far too real. Both of them work at the same company. While Joo Man, manages to make it to a managerial position, Sul Hee is just a phone operator. The fact that they hide their relationship from everyone at work causes the most complications and misunderstandings since people think they are available to date. Though I did not understand the reason to hide their relationship in the first place, the conflict was extremely honest and made me emotionally invested in them.
Since the lead roles were Dong Man and Ae Ra, we obviously got a plateful of romance, and it was the most fulfilling romance I have ever seen in a Korean drama lately. Park Seo Joon’s every move made me squeal. The dialogues and his delivery of those dialogues was so good that it always felt like you were Ae Ra. The look in his eyes, the care and concern he showed her in his actions and his words, made me, as the audience melt and hide my face, because well, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Who says underdogs don’t fall in love and know how to do it well? *Park Seo Joon, I loved you in Witch’s Romance, but Dong Man is by far, your best role*
Since the drama introduced our leads as the ‘losers’ most of us see ourselves to be in this time of our life, it constantly felt like they were talking about me or anybody else struggling in their 20s. Whether it was Ae Ra’s, what some would call ‘obsession’ with being famous, or Dong Man’s ‘desperation’ to make money as fast as possible. All of these are real problems, we face everyday. The idea that sometimes we must forego our dreams in order to lead a comfortable life, and the fact that our passions may be harmful for us. These are all fears we have all the time during this stage of our life. They trouble us, and they trouble those around us. But as Dong Man puts it, if he’s not going to do what he wants to, he’ll regret it for the rest of his life. The way the drama glorifies recklessness may be seen by many as leading the youth towards rebelling and pursuing dangerous professions. The lesson I myself learned from this show, though, was, that we can try to subdue ourselves on the wishes of older people even as teenagers, but if our minds still tell us to pursue a certain dream when we’re heading to our 30s, we should go for it. I, myself, know full well what it’s like to have my passion mistaken for a passing obsession. I also know that one can only be discouraged to an extent. So, everyone who has dreams they want to achieve, should go and cause a mess, just like this gang of four did, because we create our own happy endings.