Saturday, December 31, 2011

K-Drama Review: The Greatest Love, Ep 1-2

Contains spoilers for episodes 1-2

Aejung is a D-list celebrity in Korea. She was once the most popular member of a famous girl group called Treasure Girls, but few people remember her name ten years after the group disbanded. Aejung's beloved family mis-managed her money, so now she has to do small guest appearances on radio programs and variety shows to support them. On the other side of the fame spectrum is the action-adventure star Jin who is known by everyone and is actually in the running for some parts in Hollywood. When Aejung keeps crossing paths with Jin, she finds out that he's a very selfish person, but their accidental interactions keep spurring her popularity and getting her more variety show appearances, so she can't help but appreciate that.

For Jin's part, he hates how Aejung keeps unintentionally sabotaging his pubic image, but he's still a bit drawn to her--not that he'd let anyone know that. A massive pile-up of misunderstandings, horrible timing, and face-saving leads to comic gold for our stuck-up hero and kind, plucky heroine. And Aejung is about to be cast in a dating show like The Bachelor, so this could definitely get interesting.

Things I Loved: 1. Aejung. What a great heroine! In an American movie, she'd be played by Sandra Bullock or somebody equally likable. Aejung is such a realistic in-between character that I have to love her. She's a girl next door, but she's not dull. She has a certain purity about her, but she's isn't all doe-eyed and cutesy. She's got a backbone and plenty of sass, but she only reveals them when necessary. She's brave, courteous, and yet flawed...why can't more heroines be like this?

Great Heroine? Or Greatest Heroine EVER?

2. The Meta-Reality and making fun of the entertainment industry. To me, it's always enjoyable to watch a show that pokes fun at or exposes the foibles of the entertainment industry, but this particular treatment of famous people is all the more funny for being set in Korea. Instead of performing songs at state fairs, like a D-list celebrity in America might, Aejung has to go on variety shows and perform crazy challenges like eating an entire bowl of noodles while riding a roller coaster. The things we do for money.

Note That the Bowl is Velcroed to Her Hand.

3. The supporting cast. They're all good at their parts and no one seems miscast.

Pil-Joo, Handsome Yet Socially Awkward Doctor.

Se-Ri: Beautiful Villainess and Former Bandmate of Aejung's.

Complaints: 1. Sometimes Jin pushes the man-boy act too far. Mostly, he's hilarious when he moves from deadly serious to childlike glee, but at times the over-acting is just grating.

2. Aejung's wardrobe. She gets put in the most drab and unflattering outfits in the world, but this is to highlight how undesirable and tossed-away she has become. Even so...

Were Beige & Rhinestone Shoulder Pads Really Necessary?


Heartbeats: The Treasure Girls' hit song "Thump Thump" plays in the past when Jin is getting heart surgery. In the present, he has a special heart monitor that he checks often, but his heartbeat often races around Aejung. Due to anger, of course! Also, whenever he hears the song "Thump, Thump", his feelings toward her soften, and he doesn't know why. I don't know where the metaphor starts and ends, here. His literal heart and his emotional are somehow connected by his buried memories of Aejung's band singing about heartbeats.

Sympathy: Jin is one cold dude, but Aejung does manage to appeal to his better nature by comparing her embarrassing situations with his own current embarrassments.

Cultural Observances:

Crying at awards shows: If you're a K-pop star and you win an award at one of the many, many, many awards shows, you are required by law to weep in public. The writers make fun of this by having Aejung cry in the past when the Treasure Girls win a competition.

Respecting your elders: In Korean society, this is way more important than in America. In this show, we see how awful it is when younger people do not show kindness to their elders, such as when a young girl group looks down their noses at poor Aejung when she greets them. They are her hoobaes (her juniors in the entertainment industry) and she is their seonbae (senior), and it's really disgusting when they refuse to acknowledge her.

Rain: Not the weather phenomena, but the K-pop R&B singer.

This Guy. 

They never outright mention Rain, but Jin is kind of an indirect parody of him because Jin wants to be in an American movie called Ninja Assault, while Rain was in an American movie called Ninja Assassin. Jin watches the American comedian Stephen Colbert on TV, while Rain has appeared as a guest on the Colbert Report.

New Words: "Uljima" is "don't cry", and "eotokke" is "how", but more like "what should I do/what do I do, now"?

Episode Evaluations: Hilarious and smartly written, but I won't be reviewing any more episodes of this show.


  1. you seem to like the show, so why did you stop reviewing it?

    I've heard good things about this show and was going to pick it up to watch.

    1. :-) I got distracted by other shows. And I kind of spoiled myself by reading other people's recaps of the whole thing--dramabeans is addictive! But I do miss Cha Seungwon, now.

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