I keep my promises, dear readers, I really do. Remember this post? Well, I’m carrying though on my end of the bargain for the single precious soul who had the heart to vote on a poll for a Playful Kiss Article. (To the two others that voted, don’t worry, I care about you guys as well.) So here it is: the Playful Kiss Overview, and what makes Playful Kiss mindless crack.
The reasons that I chose to write on Playful Kiss are three-fold. One, I don’t have infinite time, and I’ve seen Playful Kiss before, two, I got inspired by an article I read on K-drama cliches, and three, it’s a great chance to look at a drama that are adaptations of adaptations of adaptations. (Yes, those do exist.)
Okay, okay, I admit it, I just wanted to write this for fun.
For people here that are not Kim Hyun Joong fans (soon enough, he’s going to be the running gag/spokesman for this site,) or somehow searching in his tag on WordPress, and know nothing about Playful Kiss, this is the basic gist of the drama, all sixteen episodes and seven youtube specials (Yup, I’m covering the saccharine, cavity inducing, Youtube extension episodes)
Playful Kiss is the Korean adaptation of “Itazura na Kiss,” which is a Japanese Shoujo Manga by Kaoru Toda that is pretty famous (a la “Hana Yori Dango,” “Absolute Boyfriend,” etc.) Playful Kiss is actually the third/fourth adaptation of the drama following the Japanese adaptation, the Taiwanese adaptation, and the sequel for the Taiwanese adaptation. And right when you think there is enough adaptations for this manga, you get news on wikipedia (not that it’s the best source) about the possibility for yet. another. adaptation.
The Playful Kiss version of “Itazura na Kiss” stars Kim Hyun Joong as Baek Seung Jo and Jung So Min as Oh Ha Ni. Seung Jo is a genius (who would expect less from the perfect brooding guy?) and Oh Ha Ni is a bumbling bundle of joy that has been crushing on Seung Jo since the beginning of time and failing all of her classes. Of course, as top student of the school, he pretty much has no clue who last place Ha Ni actually is, but nonetheless fate is wonderfully on Ha Ni’s side. As her new home gets crumbled by an earthquake (trust me, that scene is so bad, it’s good.) her father calls up an old friend to help provide lodging for them–and guess who that turns out to be? Seung Jo’s dad. I don’t know what country Ha Ni saved in a previous life, but things just seem to get better and better for Ha Ni as Seung Jo not only becomes a very common presence in her life, he’ll eventually help her succeed in school and fall in love with her. So Ha Ni and her dad move in, and hijinks ensue along with tons of high school over-dramatized drama wonderfulness. It’s a shame my high school days were not as entertaining as theirs, because that would have been a riot. (But actually, I’m quite satisfied with my high school days.) The fun doesn’t end there however; Seung Jo’s and Ha Ni’s story actually carries into college, which turns out to be entirely a hilarious caricature of college life.
What Playful Kiss has that a lot of rom-com dramas tend to lack these days is a lot of heart. It knew what it was from the get go, and stuck with it. The ratings may have abysmal, but international fans certainly saw its merits. The two leads have chemistry, the mother-law is entirely adorable (other K-dramas, take note of that please,) and everyone is super supportive of each other, even the “evil second lead.” Usually in K-dramas of this nature, you want to slap every second lead female character ever and send her into the next galaxy. With Lee Shi Kyung‘s Hye Ra, I just want to throw her into the next solar system as punishment, and then bring her back, because she isn’t all that bad. She has the right to love Seung Jo, but she knows exactly when to step aside and when to be kind to someone. She doesn’t hate Ha Ni for eternity and respects Seung Jo’s decisions. She even seeks new love.
Really though, clichéd second leads cannot get better than that.
Another major accomplishment for Playful Kiss comes in the form of originality. Not originality in the traditional sense, but in the context of being an adaptation. It doesn’t look like a carbon copy of “It Started With a Kiss,” nor does it try too hard to differentiate itself and flounder in the process. It strikes the right balance, and sticks to it. This, along with the amassment of appealing traits of rom-coms and the avoidance of annoying ones, Playful Kiss succeeds at what it does, and I couldn’t ask for much more.
Okay, so I admit it, amidst all of this “critical analysis” (What critical analysis?) I have to mention how freaking adorable Seung Jo and Ha Ni are, despite how much I tend to hate couples like these. Jung So Min just sells Ha Ni without making me want to throw bricks at her, and that’s quite an achievement (she does overact a tad here.) Kim Hyun Joong is not offensive with his representation of Seung Jo (he’s still got his acting problems, but he’s endearing) so I’m sold on that front as well. There are times though, when I do want to throw bricks at both Ha Ni and Seung Jo (Basically Ha Ni and Seung Jo barely straddle the thin line between endearing and annoying without ever crossing fully to the dark side.) Nevertheless, both leads sell their characters such that I actually care enough to not only watch 16 full episodes and but also another 7 episodes of Youtube ultra fluff. (They were even kind enough to subtitle the whole thing!)
But I have to say, Seung Jo’s mom (Jung Hye Young) is my favorite character.
(Credits: Respective owners, and MBC, Ytkiss Youtube Channel)