Monday, June 4, 2012

K-Drama Review: A Gentleman's Dignity, Episodes 1-2

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 1-2

I wanted to check out A Gentleman's Diginity when I heard that it was coming to us from the writer of Secret Garden, a great drama. Well, Secret Garden did get a little loopy at times, but then again its premise involved supernatural body-swapping, and at least there are no magical elements in A Gentleman's Diginity.

I was also excited about the prospect of watching a show where the entire main cast was 40 years old. I'm in my mid-twenties, but I like reading about and watching people of different ages, and it's nice to see a show focused on a slightly older crowd for once. Let's dive into the premiere episodes!


Our show opens with four distinguished-looking middle aged men attending a funeral. They seem appropriately somber. In voiceover, they even seem to be pondering their own mortality...until you learn that they're at the funeral to scope out chicks, like that guy in Wedding Crashers. Our hero, Dojin, is a successful creative type; a jerk with a good heart buried under the scruffy self-absorption. His three BFFs are Yoon, a sweet widower who works as a divorce lawyer, Taesan, a practical everyman, and Jungrok, a sneaky womanizer. It's not even two minutes into the show until a fistfight breaks out at the funeral, and we see that we're in for an all-out wholehearted comedy.

L to R: Dojin, Yoon, Taesan, Jungrok.

The four guys (referred to in promotional materials as the "F44") are carefree and happy, mostly. And they're not too worried about their dignity, though they're all professionals on the job. I like Dojin's get-the-job-done-my-way attitude, which feels like a cross between Cary Grant in the old timey black and white comedies, and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man, but with less sass. He's sitting in a coffee shop, waiting on a date, when he notices a lovely woman standing outside in the rain. It's Yisoo, a schoolteacher who is our female lead for A Gentleman's Dignity.

One Look, and Our Hero is Hooked.

But it's a missed connection like on Craiglist, and Dojin doesn't get the chance to talk to her. He doesn't see her again until a few months later when they run into each other and he has to help her out when she has a wardrobe malfunction.

This Dress Is Now Missing Half a Skirt.

Dojin arranges a new outfit for Yisoo, but again he fails to get her phone number--he even fails to see that the cutie in the red dress is the beauty from that day in the coffee shop. But anyhoo, months pass and Dojin continues to be an awesome architect while Yisoo keeps being a fantastic and inspirational teacher at an all-boys high school. They're destined to connect again, but it happens in the weirdest way possible: Dojin gets into a fight with a few of Yisoo's hooligan students, and then Yisoo is forced to beg Dojin not to sue the kids. Banter and confrontation ensue. Oh yeah!

The BFF's Get Banter and Confrontation, Too.

Further complicating matters is the fact that Yisoo doesn't even like Dojin. Instead, she likes one of his BFF's, Taesan. But Taesan is dating her best friend/roommate Sera. Taesan wants Yisoo to date Yoon, another one of Dojin's best buds, but Taesan's sister has her eye on Yoon. Oh, what a tangled web we've woven, and it's only episode 2! Let the madcap hijinks commence.


Things I Loved:

1. Dojin. Like so many K-drama heroes, he's a bit of a jerk, but he's got a very mild case of jerkishness. He's merely difficult to deal with, and whenever another person is really in trouble, he's willing to help. I quite like his creativity--sometimes the scene will change around him, because he's imagining the world differently, especially when it comes to Yisoo, so that lets us know that this brusque guy is a romantic at heart.

Not a Total Softie, but Has His Moments.

2. Yisoo. Ah, she's strong and smart, but she still has the occasional bit of ditziness to her. I don't lose respect for her over these little slip-ups, though; they just make her human. Yisoo's really caught up in her one-sided love for Taesan, and you can tell that she hurts a little bit every time she sees him, but we all know that her pain is only temporary. Dojin's going to bring her right out of that depression.

Smart, Serious, Sweet, Silly.

3. The Secret Garden Connection. SG's script writer also penned this show, and I've been looking for connections between the two. There are really only a few tiny similarities, like how Joowon was no good as sports, and Dojin is also pathetic at baseball. Overall, it's a good thing that Dojin is less neurotic than Joowon--that kind of dysfunctional hero can really only work once from the same writer. We also get a scene that outright mentions Secret Garden's coolness.

A Little K-Drama "Meta" For You.


1. Jungrok's Cheating. It's played for laughs, but Jungrok is always taking off his wedding ring, and finding ways to outwit his rich wife and see other ladies. His friends even cover for his dating on the side, and I find that pretty gross.

Probably Keeps His Fingers Oiled for Easy Ring-Removal.

Seeing his childishness actually makes me respect his dragon lady of a wife. I'm wondering which way the story will turn--will Jungrok and his wife become a real couple, or will their happy ending come from getting a divorce? I hope the former is the answer, but in any case, I wish Jungrok and Wife would both stop being so block-headed about their marriage.

Enter the Dragon.

Watch A Gentleman's Dignity HERE on DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations: I didn't go into this drama expecting much, but it's super cute. The music is quite good, the cinematography is super pretty, and I'm drawn in by the old "MGM comedy" style of the dialogue and action. The world of the story already feels so rich--there are enough characters, relationships, jobs, hobbies, and conflicts to keep the whole series going without even introducing anything new. I don't anticipate there being any dull episodes, here!

I ought to have more detailed recaps prepared for the next eps. :-)


  1. Sounds pretty good! I would not guess those guys were all forty. I agree that the cheating is gross, but I'm tempted by a drama with a less jerky than usual lead.

    1. Yes, they're pretty well-preserved for 40, aren't they? The actors might all be a little younger than their characters, though.

      If episodes 3-4 are as much fun as these two, I'll probably stick with the show for its full run. :-)