What’s On TV – My Lovely Sam-soon

We appear to be in the home stretch here. The pain is not as it once was, but it still means I can not type for longer than a few minutes without my wrist hurting or my fingers from going numb. So the dictated reviews and a ridiculous posting schedule continues on.

List Item:  Watch half of the 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die
Progress: 170/501
Title: My Lovely Sam-soon
Episodes Aired: 16
Episodes Watched: 16
Year(s): 2005
Country: South Korea

This was my random pick from the Disney bucket of wonder *shine sparkle sparkle* and I can not be happier with this pick. I adored this show and, over the course of 16 episodes, became so invested in the story.

In the 1001 book this is touted as the Korean Bridget Jones’ Diary and whilst I can see the comparison is fairly valid I think there is a world of difference between the characters of Bridget Jones and Kim Sam Soon. Whilst we do see Sam Soon getting hung up on the men in here life she is a far more together person than Bridget Jones. There is a directness and a self-confidence in Sam Soon that I really find myself envying.

This is not to say that she doesn’t do a lot of growing over the course of 16 episodes. When we first see her she is crying in a men’s bathroom in a hotel after finding out her boyfriend of 3 years is a cheating bastard. By the end she has her own bakery and is actually secure in her own body. That’s right – despite the fact that she spends a lot of time trying to lose weight she doesn’t and, by the end of the series, it doesn’t bother her anymore (she’s TV fat rather than actually fat, but the message is positive just the same).

samsoon1

What makes it Bridget Jones’ Diary-esque is the style of love story at the centre of the show. When you start a show like this you know that the characters of Sam Soon and Jun Heon are going to get together no matter the obstacles put in their way. It’s how they get to their happy ending that matters.

Now, part of me wonders if I would have liked this more or less if I was more au fait with Korean television. There are a bucketload of cultural differences in both the characters and how the show is presented. For example, the entire thing was shot in a way that, to us, would look amateurish or Dogme 95 (ish). It looked real, but not the cinematic real that we are used to with Western TV shows.

The main difference, however, is emotional. Sam Soon would fit right into a Western show, but here her directness and her openness sets her apart. A lot of the time people come across as emotionally stunted. There were times where we were just pleading with people on the screen to just say what they were feeling. We kinda got used to this by about episode 3, but it was a bit frustrating. Not too frustrating though as we found ourselves laughing very loudly during this show.

The star of the show was, obviously, Sam Soon herself. Kim Sun-a is amazing in this role. She has the comic timing and facial expressions down pat here. The world is populated with other great characters (including rather abusive mothers) but Sam Soon just steals every scene she is in. Apart from those with the pig plushie… I want that plushie.

It’s hard to understand just how many people actually watched this show. The figures show that the audience steadily grew and peaked at the end with ~50% of the population watching the finale. That’s insane. We call Game of Thrones a hit, but when you work out that 3% of the US population watched the first run of the Season 5 première you get a bit of perspective.

After two weeks of watching this I am going to miss being in the world of Kim Sam Soon. Sure, it will be interesting to watch a drama without dance music (with a horse neighing) being piped in when things get embarrassing.

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