Park Hae-jin and Cha Tae-hyun? What more could you want? Are there any other reasons you would need to tune in and give their most recent dramas a try? Upon hearing those two names, I knew I had to check out their two latest respective dramas.
Park Hae-jin makes his return in office comedy ‘Kkondae Intern’ based off of a script from the winner of a 2018 MBC writing contest. Park Hae-jin plays Ga Yeol-chan, the chief of sales and marketing at a ramen company. Prior to moving up the ranks at this company, he dipped his foot into another company years before where he was an intern under Lee Man-sik (Kim Eung-soo). There, Yeol-chan’s experience was horrible and he was mistreated and humiliated by his supervisor in many different ways. Fast forward to the present and the tables have turned. Kkondae Lee Man-sik (which refers to a strict and old fashioned type of person) is now an intern working under Yeol-chan at his ramen company. Interesting things unfold with the switch in the roles and Yeol-chan looks to seek his revenge on Man-sik who made his life a torture years before.
First off, I’ll just start by saying this: the directing is beautiful. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me because this is the same director who worked on ‘Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo’ which I remembered as so so pretty and full of colors, brightness, and life. Because the director is able to do the same with ‘Kkondae Intern’, it makes for a much better and entertaining watch. Similar to the title of the drama, ‘Kkondae Intern’ could have suffered a lot more if the directing was emitting ‘kkondae’-like traits as well, but the directing is beautiful and refreshing so it helps elevate everything so much more.
The premise of the drama is bound to ramp up lots of comedic highlights and scenes, especially with how the tables have turned for our two male leads. Yeol-chan is now Man-sik’s boss so it was funny and entertaining to watch Yeol-chan sort of replicate the same tactics that Man-sik did to him when he used to be an intern. He’s seeking revenge for all the humiliation and dehumanization that he experienced when he used to be under Man-sik and ultimately giving Man-sik a taste of his own medicine. There’s going to be lots of petty antics up both Man-sik and Yeol-chan’s sleeves as we already saw in episode two and I predict that there’s going to be many more of these in future episodes.
I do think it’ll be interesting to see where the dramas goes in terms of direction and possibly merging Yeol-chan and Man-sik’s lives together. Right now, it’s clear that the two are mild enemies of some sort who have a complicated history with each other. Although Yeol-chan has moved on from those darker days by working hard and investing time into his career, I don’t think he’s forgotten his past experiences that has shaped him to be who he is now. When thinking about it from this perspective, it makes sense as to why he’s so keen on making sure that Man-sik understands and experiences for himself just how terrible he made things for Yeol-chan back when Yeol-chan worked under him.
In between the petty antics and the back-and-forth battles that the two male leads pull against each other, I hope to see a bonding of some sort form between the two. Surely, Yeol-chan and Man-sik aren’t going to go at it at each other the entire series, right? I predict (and hope) that in between all the commotion and chaos, the two find common similarities between them and build a connection based off of those common characteristics. They’ve only seen and perceived each other as enemies, it’ll be beautiful to see that they do have more things in common than they thought. I think Yeol-chan and Man-sik can learn from each other when they step away from their complicated past and the power dynamic between them at the company. They can let go of what happened in the past and focus on how to make things better between them in the present.
I think the drama also made for an interesting watch when Man-sik lost his job at the company he devoted many decades of his life to. In a way, I felt for him because I could relate on some level. It hasn’t been long since I’ve started working full-time, but I often hear from my co-workers and colleagues about the reality of workplaces. You can devote your entire life and time into a company, but at the end of the day, you can be easily replaced by someone else regardless of your history with the company. Watching this come to life through Man-sik’s eyes made me feel for him a bit even if I definitely did not like the way that he treated intern Yeol-chan. There’s no excuse for his behavior and in a way you can kind of say that karma eventually got around to him. Man-sik centered his entire life around work that he brushed his family and children aside. Now that he has to start all over again, he’s lost both his job as well as what could have been a loving connection with his family and children. It’s important to maintain that work-life balance and not always focus on just work, work, work. You don’t want to ever forget about yourself and your family in the process of working.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Park Hae-jin in anything really. I did not watch his last drama ‘Forest’ which I didn’t hear so many good things about so I passed on that one thankfully. If I recall correctly, the last thing I watched him in was ‘Cheese in the Trap’ which I did not complete. I also vaguely remember him in ‘You Who Came From the Stars’, but it’s been a hot while since I’ve seen him in anything recent. Maybe because it’s been a few years since I’ve watched his projects that I’ve forgotten just how good he can be as an actor. I definitely do think he’s pulling out his acting skills and acting chops in this drama so far and is doing a good job in portraying both versions of Yeol-chan: the determined and naive intern Yeol-chan and then the successful sales chief Yeol-chan many years later. I’ll probably stick with this drama for now and watch it for funsies when I need a good laugh. As we’ve seen in the first two episodes, this drama sure has entertaining and humorous scenes. I’m confident it can deliver on that aspect at least.
Team Bulldog: Off-Duty Investigation
CHA TAE-HYUNNNN!! I wanna cry just thinking about him. He’s so precious and I love him so so so much. The actor took a break from the entertainment industry after all the chaos that ensued last year, but he’s finally back with his latest crime drama ‘Team Bulldog: Off-Duty Investigation.’ Watching him in this drama reminded me of two things: 1) just how much I’ve missed seeing him on my screen and 2) how good and talented he is as an actor. This doesn’t come as a surprise because Cha Tae-hyun is a great actor, but his comedic timing and acting is just unparalleled. There’s not a lot of actors who can do it like him so it was so pleasant to watch him in this drama as a detective and rival to Lee Sun-bin’s character who plays a PD of her own show.
Cha Tae-hyun’s last drama was ‘Matrimonial Chaos‘ which I absolutely loved. If you read and followed my recaps for that show on my blog, you would know just how much I enjoyed the series and how much warmth and joy it brought into my life. I wasn’t so sure what to expect or how to feel about Cha Tae-hyun’s returning drama because I’ve never heard of either the director or the writer. I’m a little bit more cautious when it comes to writers or directors whose projects I’m not familiar with or whose work isn’t as acknowledged or well known so I went into the first episode with little to no expectations. Much to my surprise, the first episode was so good. I loved everything about it. The directing was good, writing was good, and the chemistry between our cast members was great as well. I’ve only watched the first episode so far since the second episode has yet to be subbed, but the first episode already stole my heart. It was a great premiere episode and did a wonderful job in setting up both the premise as well as the introduction to our cast members.
Lee Sun-bin is this feisty, determined, and excited TV show producer who happens to investigate the same exact case that Cha Tae-hyun’s character is investigating. The two engage in a sort of rivalry with each other as they attempt to solve the mystery behind the case. Both were great individually, but their bickering and competition when together was just as great and maybe even better. I was riveted and intrigued the entire first episode thanks to the comedy plus true crime aspect that was well balanced throughout the episode. I appreciate that the case wasn’t too difficult to follow and was actually an interesting one. I’m not the biggest fan of crime or murder dramas because of how confusing or irritating the cases can get at times, but it seems like things meshed well based off of the first episode. I had no trouble understanding our characters or the plot and I felt like everything was cohesive and coherent. I also liked the way the drama is utilizing the team aspect of the show. Cha Tae-hyun’s character has strong, qualified, and competent people to back him up in times of danger and Lee Sun-bin’s character has her team members who she can also rely on. I love great teamwork. Yay!
To simply put it, I went from watching Cha Tae-hyun almost every week in the 3rd season of ‘1 Night 2 Days’ and hearing his infectious laugh to waiting for him to finally make a return in the entertainment industry. I’m just so glad he’s back because I missed him a lot. My history with him stems way back to his earlier popular projects including ‘My Sassy Girl’ and ‘Speedy Scandal’ so I have a soft spot for him (and I genuinely believe he’s a good person, husband, and father to his family and friends). I even got a bit emotional watching him in this drama because I missed him a lot so I’m just glad to see him back on the screen. Subtitles for the drama seems to be taking longer than usual, but if I can wait an entire year for Cha Tae-hyun’s return, I can wait a little bit longer for the episodes to be subbed. Cha Tae-hyun, welcome back.
And that wraps up this edition of What Mary Thinks! I plan on giving ‘Would You Like to Have Dinner’ also known as ‘Dinnermate’ starring Song Seung-heon and Seo Ji-hye a try once it airs on May 25 which I’m pretty excited about. You’ll probably hear from me on that drama soon as well, regardless of whether it was great or not so great. Let’s hope it’s because of the former rather than the latter.