Save the Last Dance for Me (Majimak Chumeun Nawa Hamkke)
Ji Eun-soo (20): Yoo Jin/Eugene (Loving You)
Kang Hyun-woo (20): Ji Sung (Conditions of Love/All In)
Yoon Soo-jin (20): Lee Bo Young (My Sweetheart/My Brother)
Jung Tae-min (20): Ryu Soo Young
Kang Hyung-jung: Lee Hye Young
Chairman Kang: Kim Mu Saeng (Beautiful Life)
Ms. Park (49): Kim Young Ran (Four Sisters)
Eun-soo's dad (47): Park In Hwan (Tell Me You Love Me)
Kang Hyun-woo had only one overpowering passion: photography. Everything else came a distant second: his role as heir-apparent to the throne of the family's business conglomerate, his wealthy status, and his long-time girlfriend Yoon Soo-jin. His lack of interest in business brought his father, Chairman Kang, problems. When Hyun-woo just up and left Korea and flew to New York to pursue photography courses, Chairman Kang was determined to bring Hyun-woo back to the fold; in the meantime, he trusted the young lawyer Jung Tae-min as his right-hand man, at least while Hyun-woo was away. At last, Hyun-woo came back to Korea at the news of his father's failing health, only to find out it was just a ploy to make him come home.
Ji Eun-soo was a simple country girl who ran a small bed-and-breakfast called 'Dreaming Forest' with her sickly father. Her life virtually revolved around running the inn, taking care of her father and having a crush on the young doctor who took care of him.
These two lives collided one fateful night when, after an explosive argument with his father, Hyun-woo stormed off and drove out in the country. Along the way, he picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be a thief and stabbed him, throwing him over a ravine. Disoriented, Hyun-woo wandered off and barely missed being hit by the car driven by Eun-soo, who just came from a doctor's appointment with her father. Meanwhile, the thief drove away in Hyun-woo's car and got into an accident, the car blowing up in the process.
Soon Hyun-woo's family received news that their son died in the explosion, his personal effects found in the charred and unrecognizable body of the thief.
Eun-soo and her father brought him to the country hospital and, against Eun-soo's will, stuck around until the patient awoke. When finally he woke up, they realized his injuries were so severe that he completely lost his memory. At her father's insistence, Eun-soo agreed to let the embittered and wary stranger stay with them at the inn while he still had nowhere to go. They gave him the name Jan-ho.
In the year that followed, Jan-ho fully recovered his strength and positive disposition, but not his memory. His relationship with Eun-soo became like that of a brother and sister, until they both realized it was more than kinship that they felt. Under a pine tree, they exchanged lockets where Jan-ho promised that whatever happened, even if his memory would return, he would love Eun-soo forever.
Back home, since Hyun-woo's 'death', Soo-jin was still pining for him, remembering how he'd promised to marry her the day before he 'died'. Tae-min now had gained a better accord with Hyun-woo's father, and it appears he had harbored feelings for Soo-jin from the start, even when Hyun-woo was around. In Soo-jin's loneliness, she sought comfort with Tae-min, their closeness suddenly frowned upon by both Soo-jin and Hyun-woo's families.
Now, the Dreaming Forest Inn was the only thing left to Eun-soo and her father, but despite repeated offers from a huge Seoul company to buy the land, they refused. It turned out that the company that was trying to acquire the piece of land was that of Hyun-woo's family. Tae-min, now the General Manager, finally paid a visit to the inn to personally convince the owner to sell and got the shock of his life when he met Jan-ho, the spitting image of Hyun-woo, whom he had envied for so long.
After having Jan-ho investigated, Tae-min finally realized that Jan-ho was none other than Hyun-woo sans his memories. Here Tae-min began to show his true colors for, instead of informing Hyun-woo's family and Soo-jin that Hyun-woo was still alive, he ordered a friend to finish Hyun-woo off.
The day of Jan-ho and Eun-soo's engagement was a day to remember, both for its happiness and the pain that followed soon after. That night, Tae-min's minion carried out the plan and tried to kill Jan-ho. But it backfired, for Jan-ho's memories returned and he went home to his family while Eun-soo waited for him at the inn.
Hyun-woo was back; his family was overjoyed, so was Soo-jin. And Hyun-woo forgot all about Eun-soo, and had no way of remembering about her as Soo-jin had seen his locket, read the message inside, and kept it, not saying a word about it to Hyun-woo.
Despite his confusion as to the year that was lost in his memory, Hyun-woo became the son his father always wanted him to be. He took his rightful seat as General Manager, and Tae-min was demoted, going back to his position as Director. Now that Hyun-woo was back, Soo-jin had no more time for Tae-min, much to the latter's misery. And the engagement was on.
Soon after, Eun-soo's father died, leaving her alone to run the inn with the help of an aunt. After months of trying to look for Jan-ho, Eun-soo finally gave up, thinking he was gone forever. She burned all their letters and photographs, leaving only the locket to remember him by. After much convincing by her aunt, she took a rare trip to Seoul to visit her friend, who worked for Hyun-woo's company.
It was there that Eun-soo saw Hyun-woo, and after finding out about his year-long disappearance, had no doubt that he was her Jan-ho. Their first meeting did not go too well, what with Eun-soo going in hysterics as she called him Jan-ho. Hyun-woo, miffed by this stranger, even had guards restrain her and take her away from him.
Resolved to make Hyun-woo remember her, Eun-soo left the Dreaming Forest to her aunt and moved to Seoul with her friend, applying at the company. At the job interview, Hyun-woo once again got annoyed with her when he found out she had lied about knowing how to speak in Japanese (which was a requirement for the job) and decided not to hire her.
Tae-min met Eun-soo and, amazed at her kindness toward him, pulled strings to have her hired as a sales clerk at the showroom. Hyun-woo was not too pleased to see her at the showroom but did not try to contradict Tae-min's decision to hire her.
Soon Tae-min and Eun-soo became friends, while Hyun-woo did not bother hiding his disgust for Eun-soo, much to Soo-jin's curiosity. All they knew was that Eun-soo was in Seoul because her fiancÃ©, who looked just like Hyun-woo, was long dead. Hyun-woo was not too happy with this information. This impression changed during a company trip where Hyun-woo realized just how kind, helpful and resourceful Eun-soo was. He became nicer to her, and while they talked, Eun-soo told him that her fiancÃ© is not dead; he was very much alive. That night, Eun-soo got drunk and Hyun-woo carried her to his room, where he saw the locket she was wearing. Tenderness began to well within him and they became friends.
Hyun-woo now found himself wanting to protect Eun-soo and, at a party where she worked as a server and was being ridiculed, he grabbed Eun-soo and scolded her for letting other people step on her, even telling her to stop pining for her former fiance. Hurt by his words, Eun-soo then promised to leave the company to stay away from him. Back at the party, Soo-jin found the locket Eun-soo dropped and found the message inside, exactly like the one she found on Hyun-woo when he came back. She realized that Hyun-woo and Eun-soo loved each other when he lost his memory.
Hyun-woo realized he did not want Eun-soo to leave, and finally confessed his feelings to her. They agreed to be together, and Hyun-woo broke up with Soo-jin, who refused, promising she would never let him go. The following days were happy ones for Hyun-woo and Eun-soo, while Tae-min silently wallowed in his jealousy and Soo-jin desperately found ways and means to break them up.
Tae-min then was revealed to have a vendetta against Hyun-woo's family. He believed Hyun-woo's father stole the company from his own father, driving him to suicide. Now that Eun-soo told him she loved Hyun-woo and looked upon him only as a friend, his vendetta was fully directed at Hyun-woo. He began underhanded measures to grab the company from Hyun-woo's family.
Soo-jin's father, upon finding out about Hyun-woo's breaking his engagement to his daughter, vowed to pull away his investment in the company. Even Hyun-woo's mother tried to pay Eun-soo to stay away from her son, but she refused. Adamantly, Hyun-woo refused to marry Soo-jin only to save the company.
Eun-soo was then faced with a dilemma. If she left Hyun-woo, the company would be saved, and Hyun-woo as well. She broke up with Hyun-woo, telling him she only wanted money and now that Hyun-woo's father gave him money and her own house, she was breaking up with him. But there was no money and no house, and Hyun-woo's father silently admired Eun-soo's love for his son.
What followed next was a series of power-grabbing within the company as both Tae-min and Hyun-woo vied for Eun-soo's heart. Soon after Tae-min became General Manager and began the process of fully destroying the company. However, the plan was foiled when Hyun-woo found out about his plans. His father even told him that he never paid Eun-soo a cent, and the two were reunited.
In a final attempt to fix things, Eun-soo went to talk with Tae-min but, inebriated, Tae-min mistook her for Hyun-woo and ran her down with his car. And no one heard from her againâ?¦
Now it was Hyun-woo's turn to look and wait for Eun Soo!
Rich guy engaged to another rich girl, a simple girl falling for a rich guy, amnesia, sacrifices for love. Geez-where have I seen these before?
Well, virtually in almost every other Korean drama.
Not that it's wrong; in truth, I liked this drama, and how they treated what would seem to be an old and used formula. After all, the underlying theme is still as basic as the air one breathes: Love endures.
The concept is pretty much typical when it started out, but along the way one feels involved with the story and the characters because of the honesty of their performance. In a world of skepticism, especially about Love, they make the viewer believe that Love truly endures and eventually conquers, no matter what storms they have to weather.
The two main leads Ji Sung and Eugene, while not having chemistry as explosive as that of Song Hye-kyo and Bi, register well together on the screen. When they are together, one could feel the love they have for each other.
Eugene as Eun-soo:
I passed watching 'Loving You' because I was not too interested, so I have never seen Eugene act before. However, in this drama, she was quite good. In the scenes where she is to show great depths of emotions, she delivers very well. It will be safe to say that when she smiles and laughs, the audience shares her happiness. The same thing goes when she cries. When her tears fall, it is almost heartbreaking to see her weep so much. She makes the audience feel.
Love changes a person. Maybe we could accept that at face value. Eugene's Eun-soo starts out as a spunky and caring girl, who was against the idea of taking in a stranger into their lives. She was that cautious, but in the middle of the story, she throws all caution to the wind and stays close to her Jan-ho. While it is a romantic notion to do something drastic as that, one cannot help but be cynical about it. But hey, welcome to the world of dramas.
I guess my only problem with her character was that she was too good to be true. She suddenly became too nice, too kind, too 'martyr-like', too selfless, and too forgiving even when she was wronged gravely. I wished she showed some of that spunk she had at the beginning of the series because at times, she comes across as 'lifeless'.
Ji Sung as Hyun-woo/Jan-ho:
Ji Sung was impressive in 'All In', but he was not exactly the lead there. Here, he takes on the lead role, and he starts it with such zest when we first see him at the airport, gamely trying to run away from his guards. He is quite a looker, and in this series, he takes on three distinct looks. We first see him as the typical artist: hippie outfit, capped, unshaven, quite grungy as he toted his camera case around. In his amnesiac state, he is a boyish country boy in simple jeans and sleeve-shirts. When he goes back as Hyun-woo, he turns into quite a dresser, the type you would see in the cover of GQ or, if not, Forbes.
His portrayal of a man who has to appear strong in spite of insecurities brought about by a memory with holes in it was just right. The confusion why he was drawn to Eun-soo, the resolve that he wants no one but her, and the tenderness brought about by that love were a potent mix when he played them off against each other.
However, sometimes, I could not help but feel that he should do more - he should be more - to justify the devotion he gets from two women. I feel like his character is in danger of at times being one-dimensional.
Lee Bo Young as Soo-jin:
Lee Bo Young is pretty. I first saw her with Won Bin in 'My Brother', and right off the bat, I found her pretty. Her character was initially nice, but when her relationship with Hyun-woo was threatened, she became nothing short of venomous.
Soo-jin is an artist - a sculptor. I always had a high regard for artists, always looked at them in awe. They had that certain look, that aura. A flick of the hand when making art, a look on the face, a glint in their eye. She did not convince me at all that she was an artist. Love her wardrobe though!
While we are supposed to sympathize with her for losing someone she was with for the longest time, she fails to elicit that from the viewer. Her performance is bland, irritating and amusing at times. In scenes where she is nervous or crying, she sounds like she is having asphyxia or an asthma attack. I expected more from a character such as hers.
Ryu Soo Young as Tae-min:
He is a dark horse. Tae-min is a character whose facets unfolded as the story progressed. Here we find a seemingly simple man, but there are layers and layers within, brimming with anger, hate, and also love for Eun-soo. He turned in a more than acceptable portrayal. He could have played Tae-min straight-up as a man who wants nothing but revenge, but Ryu Soo Young's Tae-min was more than that. We feel his conflicted emotions, his thirst for payback, and his need to be loved and accepted by Eun-soo. With him, we see a little boy lost.
Everyone should watch this, if only to see four people with seemingly different motivations come full circle because of LOVE. In this serial, I cried with Eun-soo, laughed with Hyun-woo and shared in the darkness of Tae-min.
Honestly, though, the main reason I watched this was the soundtrack. It has the best songs I've heard from a drama in a while, with songs by Edward Chun, Lyn, Soul System, and Eugene herself. I give the soundtrack 5 stars, and the drama 3 and a half.