Happy Solstice! It's the longest, and apparently the wettest night of the year.
So, you know how you think that things are going to work out, and then they don't? Yeah, My Sweet Seoul turned out to be one of those things. All signs pointed towards the yes, but sadly it was kinda a no.
It started well enough, despite the melodrama tag that should have warned me of rough times ahead. Remember the last time I went down the melodrama road? Things Did Not End Well. Unfortunately, the melodrama tag isn't necessarily representative of a drama. Stars Falling from the Sky was considered a melodrama, and there were plenty of the angsty, dramatic moments of direness, but mostly it was upbeat. It was also very enjoyable. My Sweet Seoul wasn't tragic like A Love That Kills, but it wasn't quite as upbeat and harmless as Stars Falling from the Sky.
My Sweet Seoul is the story of how Oh Eun Soo, an old maid at the ripe old age of 31, grows up, finds love, and gets her life together. Ji Hyun Woo plays the adorably enthusiastic, Yoon Tae Oh, a film student seven years her junior, who she falls for quite by accident. Mr. Voice, Kee Sun Gyun plays the older, emotionally strained Kim Young Soo. It's not a traditional love triangle, there's never any real competition between the guys for Eun Soo's affections. The drama overlays their relationships, and there are moments where both Young Soo and Tae Oh are in love with Eun Soo, but the drama compartmentalizes the attractions and keeps them pretty separated on Eun Soo's side. Also, unlike standard kdrama tropes, both male leads are ridiculously likable. I was curious as I watched to see who she was going to actually end up with in the end. It could have very easily gone either way.
The film is very modern and falls in with the trendier style of kdramas, but it's not as slick. The drama is very beautifully shot, very indie and reminded me in ways of the cinematography of A Love to Kill. What's more, Eun Soo's soul mate BFF is played by the aforementioned drama's Kim Young Jae. Their relationship was an interesting one, and gets reflected in an unlikely place. My Sweet Seoul presents phases of relationships and of love, ones that work out, ones that don't, love that fades, love that's destructive, platonic love, romantic love, and love that never really was. I liked how to travels across this spectrum, although there were places were the relationships were abrupt and somewhat unformed. Ha Jane, one of Eun Soo's best friends, gets married early on and it is very obvious that their relationship is destined to fail, if for no other reason than that it is lined up against Eun Soo's parents marriage is definitely at its end, and from the looks of it, has been in its death knells for a while.
The representation of female relationships was also something that I liked quite a lot in this drama. The three BFF's (Eun Soo, Jane, and Yoo Hee of the tragic past)spend a day at the beach bonding. In one of my favorite scenes in the drama they start hurling insults about themselves and their failures at the ocean. Ha Jane starts it off by yelling at the ocean about how pathetic she is; she has just agreed to a divorce after only a few months. Yoo Hee steps up and yells out that she loves Ha Jane. Then Yoo Hee yells out her own shortcomings. Eun Soo steps in after her and yells that she loves Nam Yoo Hee. Then, of course, it's her turn, to which her two best friends shout their love for Eun Soo. I LOVED the affirmation between friends that no matter their flaws, no matter their troubles with men and work, their own selfishness, and immaturity, they love each other just as they are.
Unfortunately, there are not alot of moments like that. This drama is very intimate, focusing on quiet and introspective moments. It works very well at the beginning, but over time the narrative structure begins to drag. I also stopped caring a whole hell of a lot. I did manage to make it through 12 episodes before I completely checked out. I skipped to the final (16th) episode just to see how it all ended. And that was weird. Mom left her husband and opened a lunchbox shop, Eun Soo who quit her job back in episode 10 (or 11) started her own company, got engaged to and then broke up with Young Soo who turned out to have a big, dark secret. It might have been the eleventh hour revelation of that secret that did me in. We kept getting hints that all was not kosher with Young Soo, but the drama focused so much on Eun Soo and her girls, or Eun Soo and Tae Oh that trying to fold in Young Soo just felt uneven. The plot revolving around Eun Soo's parents was also rather disjointed, floating in and out of focus so that sometimes I wondered if they were going to resolve the plot or just leave it as a loose thread.
So, not sure how I feel about the drama. Entertaining at times, but it didn't live up to its own ambition.