27 August 2019

K Drama Review: Wonderful Days (2014)

My first exposure to Korean dramas or K dramas was ages ago. Someone recommended the film My Sassy Girl and I loved it. Maybe because it painted a picture of a guy who was willing to do anything and everything for his girlfriend (but of course we all learn later on by experience that no such guy exists, haha). I also loved how they used Pachelbel's Canon.


When I was in law school, my friends went crazy over Princess Hours. I ended up getting hooked as well. I remember spending the start of one sembreak doing a marathon of the show. I don't remember the story that much. I believe the male lead was not the Sassy Girl type of boyfriend. I think he was the typical bossy boyfriend while the girl was a submissive one. I can't really recall the story. But I do remember how melancholic the music was. I downloaded the music and listened to it non-stop whenever I wanted to summon sad and nostalgic feelings.


Then I stopped watching K dramas. I'm not really a TV, movie, visual person. I prefer reading. So it was not really surprising that I gave up the K drama thing after watching one series. And I thought that was the end of it.


Fast forward to 10 plus years later. We were on a staycation for the little boy's birthday this year. I chanced upon a Korean channel showing a family drama. The mom (a 60-ish woman) wanted to divorce her husband and all of her grown up kids were against it of course. The mom reasoned out that she was just so exhausted of being someone's wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, mother, grandmother, etc. She just wanted to be herself and be free to do the things she really wanted to do, without having to worry about anyone else. Crazy? Well, ask any mother and I'm pretty sure majority of them will be able to relate to that feeling. There are just days when you feel as if everyone needs something from you and you just want to do something by and for yourself. So I was really intrigued.


When we got home, I decided to look for it and fortunately, all 50 episodes were uploaded on YouTube. The show was Wonderful Days which aired in 2014. I was skeptical about starting a 50-episode series with hour long episodes each. I didn't think I'd finish watching it.



The show was about Jang Soshim's (Youn Yuh Jung) family. She lived with her father-in-law, brothers-in-law, husband's mistress, four kids, and three grandchildren. Her philandering husband left their family so she had to be the family's breadwinner.  One of her sons, Dong Seok (Lee Seo Jin), was a prosecutor who was based in Seoul but was re-assigned to their province in Gyeongju after 15 years. The story revolved around how Dong Seok tried to catch up with everything that he missed in the past 15 years that he was gone. The family's painful past was unearthed little by little.


One main focus of the earlier episodes was the love story of Dong Seok and his childhood sweetheart, Hae-won (Kim Hee Sun). Admittedly, the characters were a bit old for your typical kilig love stories. It didn't help that Lee Seo-jin who played Dong Seok resembled Jon Santos. So it was a bit difficult to get hooked to this story line. And what made it worse was how their love story was like touch and go. It didn't really make sense because they were supposed to be mature and should not be bothered by any more BS. But then again, love is not supposed to make any sense, I guess.


I honestly wanted to quit watching the show everytime Dong Seok and Hae-won would break up. But I kept on giving the show another chance. I told myself to just wait for the episode that I saw while on staycation and if the story didn't progress by then, I'll stop watching it.


But lo and behold, the episode I first saw was episode 46 or 47. So I had no choice but to watch the entire thing. And I didn't really end up regretting it. Although the story was not perfect, it was something relatable and close to my heart as a mother who sometimes feels overwhelmed about the demands of motherhood.


Soshim would have been easily dismissed as a martyr at the beginning of the series but I was so proud of how her character developed throughout the 50 episodes. She was illiterate but after her divorce, she went back to school and the first thing she wrote by herself were her children's names.


I loved how Soshim's children were silently loyal to her. They would argue. They held grudges against her. But when needed, they were there to protect and defend her.


                                   


Although he was the family's black sheep and he tended to overact, I became fond of Soshim's stepson, Dong Hui (Ok Taecyeon), whom she loved as her own. I loved their relationship because it showed us how blood relation is not always the determining factor of how loving and loyal two people can be to each other. Sometimes it boils down to how you treat and care for each other. Dong Hui knew Soshim was not his biological mother but he was so devoted to her because he knew she raised him the best way she could even to the point of favoring him over her biological children. I also loved how Dong Hui learned to protect and care for his biological mother whom he loathed at the start.

I absolutely loved Soshim's relationship with her husband's mistress, Young-choon (Choi Hwa Jung). That kind of relationship is unimaginable in the real world. But they made it work. Their loyalty and devotion to each other is something some of us can only wish for in our lives. They were like mother and daughter, sisters, best friends, etc.  It was amazing how they didn't condone each other's mistakes but they were always there to help and defend each other. 

I also loved Hae-won's character. It was admirable to see someone born and raised rich adjust so well to a life of poverty. She did her best to provide for her family. She remained happy, bubbly, and positive despite the challenges she faced. Her crazy antics made the show lively and interesting.



Bonus was having Park Bo Gum as the young Dong Seok. 


Over all, I loved most of the characters and how their stories developed. Perhaps the only characters I didn't really enjoy that much were Dong-tak (Dong Seok's elder brother) and Hae-ju (Hae-won's elder sister) who ended up together. I found them OA most of the time. Although that might have been required for their characters.


I'm amazed at how K dramas are so good in utilizing music. I fell in love with the music they used in Princess Hours 10 plus years ago and I can still say the same thing about their music years later. Their music stir the right emotions in viewers. 


Gyeongju was lovely. I kind of feel bad that we didn't go there when we visited Korea. Although it's a bit far from Seoul, it might have been worth the trip. I researched and learned that it used to be South Korea's capital during the Silla Dynasty. 


I'm not going to write a detailed review since there are many reviews out there already. And I highly doubt I can recall everything I've watched. If you want a detailed review, I suggest you check The Fan Girl Verdict. Her reviews are always on point (at least with me and how I perceived a show in general).


Although it can be exhausting to watch 50 episodes, I'm grateful to this show for helping me get through long and tiring days when I had to work and prepare lesson plans for homeschool. Some days, it was the only thing I looked forward to.


I can only hope that all mothers will find the freedom, time, and resources to pursue their dreams alongside raising their families like Soshim. And I pray that all mothers will find true love and loyalty from their children the way Soshim did. :)


Noona says...it's a 3.5. The story was flawed but it was good enough for my drama fix. 

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