Despite the body swapping and supernatural hijinks, “Secret Garden” was predictable fare, with a romance between a weepy female lead and an oddball chaebol. Good thing Yoon Sang Hyun’s Oska was there to pick up the slack.
Take me away from this conservative plot line!
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★★
Only 만: ★★★
Arrogant, eccentric chaebol, Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin) is thrown together with Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won), a hard-working stuntwoman who dreams of being an action star. On their path to love they face his evil mom, scheming relatives, class differences and their own reluctance to like each other. In the end, it takes her dad’s ghost swapping their bodies to get them past their initial reluctance. But who cares about all that? Joo Won’s cousin Oska (Yoon Sang Hyun) really owned this show.
Only 만: I wonder how the pitch meeting for “Secret Garden” went. “I’m thinking something like ‘Dynasty’ but with a stuntwoman and body swapping.” “Sold!”
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: Yes, on paper, it is bizarre, and in execution, it felt like a hodge podge. I mean, that body swap came out of nowhere.
만: And, it was sort of unnecessary.
중국어 캐나다: It was entertaining, though, I cringed at the depiction of Ra Im in Joo Won’s body. I suppose Hyun Bin is to blame for the offensive caricature of a woman.
만: The blame can’t be laid entirely at his door; I suspect the writing might have had something to do with the bad choices he made.
중국어 캐나다: I am disappointed that even with so many gimmicks, “Secret Garden” is a predictable drama.
만: It really did follow a predictable track; it just used a lot of odd tricks to get there, like the haphazardly inserted supernatural elements. Sure, they swapped bodies, but it really served no purpose in the story aside from some laughs. Otherwise, it was straightforward: arrogant rich man meets hardworking, optimistic poor woman, and learns to be a better person.
중국어 캐나다: Otherwise, did you like the characters of Joo Won and Ra Im?
만: I enjoyed Joo Won. Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t care about him particularly, but he was such a weirdo that it was hard not to enjoy him. Ra Im, on the other hand, felt remarkably flat; like there was nothing interesting about her aside from the stunt woman thing. It’s a shame, because on paper, she should have been awesome.
중국어 캐나다: I was definitely entertained by Joo Won, though I never warmed up to him. However, I liked Ra Im even less; the character actively made me angry, because she started as a stunt woman, and melted into a puddle of tears.
만: Agreed. It was hard to believe that she was supposed to be this kick ass character, and then turned into a mouse when anyone said boo to her.
중국어 캐나다: Was the chemistry between an antisocial chaebol and a stunt woman strong enough to overcome the far fetched juxtaposition between the characters?
만: Honestly, I never understood the attraction between the characters. They seemed to have some chemistry, but I couldn’t see that they would want to have anything to do with each other. I guess that’s why they needed to have the body swap, because it wouldn’t make sense otherwise.
중국어 캐나다: Agreed. Surprisingly, I did enjoy the post-wedding interactions between Ra Im and Joo Won, despite feeling indifferent towards them before their wedding. Maybe, I enjoyed how much they made out, and they really seemed to enjoy each other.
And, I was pleasantly surprised that Joo Won’s mother, played by everyone’s favourite evil mom, Park Jun Keum, never forgave the couple. That kind of consistency showed some backbone that was sorely lacking in Ra Im’s character. Which segues nicely to me asking about the secondary characters.
만: OSKA! I loved Oska.
중국어 캐나다: Yes, I think in a better world, Oska would have been the lead male, and Joo Won would have been the second lead. Then, we could enjoy his weirdness, and the absence of an emotional connection with Joo Won would be okay.
만: Except then we’d be stuck with Yoon Seul as a female lead, and I found her worse than Ra Im. I mean, sure she has a bit more backbone, but her entire story was ridiculous. She was bent on getting revenge on Oska, because she couldn’t tell him what was bothering her when they were dating? Come on.
중국어 캐나다: Don’t be so heterocentric. Tae Sun would be the other half of the lead couple.
만: It would make more sense than Yoon Seul. At least he had a personality.
중국어 캐나다: And, Tae Sun was played by Lee Jong Suk, so you know I’m all over that. Ah yes, a better world…
만: I await the day.