26 April 2020

K Drama Review: My Lovely Sam Soon / My Name is Kim Sam Soon (2005) 3.5 || 4

The next Hyun Bin K drama on my list is My Lovely Sam Soon or also known as My Name is Kim Sam Soon. 

I had higher expectations for this show compared to Ireland. Primarily because it was Hyun Bin's first lead actor role in a K drama. This was also aired in the Philippines and GMA 7 even made its own adaptation. So I presumed it appealed to the Philippine market. 

Oppa watched some episodes with me and it was nice to finally have someone to discuss with regarding the show I'm watching. :) 


Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lovely_Sam_Soon

The show which aired in 2005 is about Kim Sam Soon (Kim Sun-a), a 29-year old lady, who is on the chubby side (Sun-a reportedly had to gain 15 lbs. for this show). She finds out on Christmas Eve that her boyfriend of 3 years was cheating on her. They have a scandalous break up at the hotel lobby witnessed by Hyun Jin-heon (Hyun Bin), son of the hotel owner who was on a blind date at that time. 

Sam Soon flees to the restroom but unknowingly ends up in the male toilet. Jin-heon hears her bawling and knocks on her door to check what's wrong. Sam Soon realizes her mistake and leaves the hotel embarrassed. 

Sam Soon is a pastry chef who studied in France. Apart from being broken hearted, she is also unemployed. She applies for a job at the Bon Appetit restaurant owned by surprise, surprise...Jin-heon. She gets the job. 

Jin-heon was getting tired of his mother bugging him to go on blind dates. He proposes to Sam Soon that they enter into a love/dating contract to get his mother off his back. Sam Soon agrees under some conditions such as she'll become a regular employee in a month. Jin-heon promises to reward her as well. Sam Soon initially refused to receive any monetary reward. However, when her family home is on the verge of being foreclosed, she had no choice but to borrow 50 million won from Jin-heon. 

Things become more complicated when Jin-heon's girlfriend, Yoo Hee-jin (Jung Ryeo-won), returns from the US. They were together for several years but 3 years ago, Hee-jin left for the US to study. This was tough on Jin-heon who just suffered an accident that killed his brother and sister-in-law at that time. Jin-heon did not want to forgive Hee-jin but he accedes when he finds out that she actually left to get treatment for gastric cancer. They get back together. Trouble is, Sam Soon had already fallen for Jin-heon. And little by little, we also see Jin-heon falling for her. The story revolves around how Jin-heon sorts out his feelings and how Sam Soon is repeatedly hurt and confused. 

Sam Soon detests her name because of some Korean urban legend about a girl with the same name. And for the longest time, she wants to change her name to Hee-jin. :D

Things fall into place in the end, except for Jin-heon's mom who still refuses to accept Sam Soon to their family. 


We see a different side of Hyun Bin here. I was complaining about how he was such a push over in Ireland. Well, now I'm complaining about what a jerk/asshole his character was in this show. I guess this show is a testament to his range as an actor. He played the meek guy role in Ireland really well that I just wanted to hit everyone who victimized him. But he was also very credible as a jerk in Kim Sam Soon. If I were someone who made hasty generalizations, I would say that I would not want to marry a Korean if all guys were like Jin-heon. The nice thing about him is he was also able to carry out the drama scenes properly. I can't blame Sam Soon for falling for him especially after he cried on her lap. And who can resist his charm with those cute dimples and very expressive eyes. Ahhh, I am just so happy to witness Hyun Bin's evolution from a cute boy next door guy to a totally hunky one. 

I was just a bit bothered by the very colorful and eccentric clothes he wore here. But he has a model's built and body that he surprisingly pulled off wearing those things. 

Comparing Hyun Bin here and in CLOY, I would have to admit that he has aged. The eyes probably made the difference. He looked so flawless here whereas we can see some eyebags in CLOY. But make no mistake about it, Hyun Bin in CLOY is still much hotter. :)

Kim Sun-a was perfect for the role. She's very funny. Even her angry scenes still turned out funny. I just didn't really like how the character was written. Sam Soon tended to overact in some scenes, bordering on pabebe, that was quite annoying. 

Jung Ryeo-won was also effective as Hee-jin. She's very cute and it would be easy to assume that Jin-Hyeon would pick her over Sam Soon. She played the super in love girl character really well. I also like that she showed her feisty side despite her frail frame. 

Some other memorable actors for me from this show were:

  1. Sam Soon's mom (Kim Ja-ok) who looks like Dexter Doria - I loved how she went great lengths to protect her daughter (including beating Jin-heon) but how soft she was when she realized that Sam Soon and Jin-heon were really in love with each other. She won me over during the pamamanhikan episode. 
  2. Sam Soon's sister (Lee Ah-hyun) - She's everything you want a big sister to be - critical of your wrongdoings but will fight for you til the end. 
  3. There was an oversupply of good looking guys in this show. Of course, Hyun Bin would be number 1. But if I watched this show before CLOY, I might even prefer the other guys over him. Hee-jin's doctor from the US, Henry. Sam Soon's ex-boyfriend. The guy Sam Soon went into a blind date with and met around three times in the show. They were all cute and could definitely compete with Hyun Bin. I guess the moral of the story here is don't give up so easily  on not so good looking guys because they might just surprise you by turning into a total hunk like Hyun Bin.
  4. The deadpan acting of the secretary of Jin-heon's mom was hilarious. She reminded me of Jen Rosendahl on Pepito Manoloto. 
  5. Mi-joo, Jin-heon's niece, was adorable. 
  6. The staff at the restaurant were also funny. 


The Korean music used in the show were not that memorable for me. They didn't have the Princess Hours or CLOY effect on me. But I still loved their music because they used English love songs. 

Over the Rainbow was Jin-heon and Hee-jin's theme song. Sam Soon learned how to play Can't Help Falling in Love so she can play it for Jin-heon. 

My most favorite would be This Guy's in Love With You. This was used while Sam Soon enumerated her dating demands to Jin-heon. I knew the tune but I did not know its title and lyrics. I tried humming it to Oppa but he and Rafael just ended up making fun of me. He redeemed himself though because it was still him who remembered the title of the song. 

Things I Didn't Like

I did not like the slapstick parts. Although I would have to understand that this was written some 15 years ago when people were not yet as politically correct as we are now. I guess parents hitting their grown up children is part of Korean culture. I still see some of this in the more recent dramas like Wonderful Days and What Happens to My Family but I would have to say that beating scenes have significantly decreased on K dramas over the years. 

What was more bothersome for me was how rude and disrespectful the male characters were of the female ones. Some scenes were even bordering on sexual harassment. Jin-heon cutting Sam Soon's hair despite her objection when it got stuck to his suit. Jin-heon yelling at Sam Soon a lot of times, pulling her, and disrupting her blind dates. Jin-heon kicking Sam Soon's bike and letting her walk all the way to her house with a bike that had a flat tire. The guy restaurant staff kissing Sam Soon's assistant without her consent. Guys asking girls about plastic surgery or telling them they don't need breast augmentation. Sam Soon's sister being forced to eat the food she ordered in the restaurant by the chef. These were all very problematic for me. I believe the show could have been funny without resorting to these. I would probably have appreciated the show more if these scenes were removed. 

I was also bothered that when Jin-heon returned from the US, he went inside Sam Soon's house and left the dog in his car. 

I had a bit of a hard time catching up with the subtitles because this show had longer lines than the previous K dramas I watched. I'm pretty sure I missed a number of things because of this. 

Things I Liked

Despite the slapstick parts, I still liked the show because I can identify with Sam Soon's character. As someone who has always been awkward and insecure about her weight and has been body shamed numerous times, I can definitely relate to her character. I am proud of how Sam Soon learned to overcome her issues and love herself (and her name too!).

The love story and kilig scenes were handled well too. Sam Soon and Jin-heon were an unlikely couple. My friends and I would have probably tagged them as a "true love" couple because one obviously looked better than the other. But they stuck with each other and sacrificed things just so they can be together. 

I appreciate that the show did not conveniently kill Hee-jin so that Sam Soon and Jin-heon can be together. When I found out Hee-jin had cancer, I was hoping that she won't die. I wanted Jin-heon to realize on his own that he loved Sam Soon and not just choose her because his first love has died. 

I also loved the episode titles and the lessons Sam Soon taught us throughout the show. Initially, Sam Soon said that she did not really love Jin-heon but she was only envious of the love he shared with Hee-jin because she wanted something like that as well. I loved how Sam Soon fought for Jin-heon and how she did not give way just because Hee-jin was sick and frail. She insisted that Jin-heon might be her last chance in love. I admired Jin-heon's honesty in telling Hee-jin that his first love would never be forgotten and it will always be buried like a stone deep in his heart. And my ultimate favorite was Sam Soon's change in perspective from a "love like you've never been hurt before" girl to a "don't love if you don't want to get hurt" one. Because really, love is about getting hurt and you can only say it's really love if you choose to stay despite the pain you've gone through. 

And Sam Soon's right, you have to say I love you because some people just need to hear it. Some of us need affirmation. 

My favorite Jin-heon and Sam Soon moments include the one where they went up the mountain. Sam Soon was haggard but happy after reaching the peak and there was Jin-heon all chill and cocky (and good looking). I also loved the episode where Sam Soon laid out her dating demands on Jin-heon. And I liked the scenes where Jin-heon visited Sam Soon's family and brought a dog as a gift. Hyun Bin doing the karaoke was so adorable. He could definitely be a K pop star. 

Like Sam Soon, I would have probably been against Jin-heon leaving for the US to take Hee-jin. But I completely understand why she had to do it. If they were to end up together and Jin-heon did not go, that might be that one big what if that would destroy their relationship. But because he did it and he came back, Sam Soon can say for sure that Jin-heon's really over Hee-jin. 

This show is proof that girls should never enter into love contracts because we are so fragile/marupok. Sooner or later, we'd end up falling for the guy, who'll leave us hanging/crying. Quite similar to relationships with no labels. Girls more often than not end up losing. So if you love yourself, please, insist on a label or give a deadline. 

Most of the problems between Sam Soon and Jin-heon were due to Jin-heon's inability to communicate properly. He would say things that he didn't really mean. Or not say things when he should have said them (like he needed to visit Hee-jin in the hospital). Typical guy. Guys should realize that they should only say things that they mean because girls have the tendency to hang on to every word they say. I pray that I'll raise a son who won't be palikero. (Although I suspect my problem with my son would be that he'd be too frank.)

I liked how Sam Soon's dad appears to her in her dreams or when she's drunk. I didn't really cry a lot during the dramatic parts save for the times when her dad appeared. Like Sam Soon, my father is the voice of reason in our family. It's nice how Sam Soon can summon her dad to appear when she needs help and comforting. I liked how Sam Soon articulated to her father that she was happy but worried at the same time because she might lose everything that she had and how her father reassured her that worrying was useless. 

Although it's definitely not at par with CLOY, over-all, the show was a feel good one. Something you'd want to watch if you want to laugh and get giddy over a kilig love story.

Oppa says...3.5.


Noona says...it's a 4.