Lovers in Paris


Reviewed by: il_mare

September 14, 2004

Rating: four

Pari eh yun in a.k.a. Lovers in Paris

SBS drama special (2004) - 20 episodes
For SBS homepage for this drama (in Korean), go to: tv.sbs.co.kr/paris/
Aired in Korea: June 12, 2004- August 15, 2004 on SBS Saturday & Sunday
nights at 9:55.

Cast:
Kang Tae-young (26): Kim Jung Eun (All About Eve/Sunflower)
Han Ki-joo (33): Park Shin Yang (Power of Love)
Yoon Soo-hyuk (27): Lee Dong Gun (Sweet 18/Friends)
Moon Yoon-ah (26): Oh Joo Eun (Into the Sun)
Baek Seung-kyung (31): Kim Suh Hyung
Han Ki-hae (Soo-hyuk's mom, 50): Jung Ae Ri
President Han Sung-hoon (Ki-joo's dad, 70): Kim Sung Won
Choi Won-jae (Pres. Han's right-hand man): Park Young Ji
Lee Young-mi (Tae-young's friend in Paris, 24): Jo Eun Ji (More Beautiful Than a Flower)
Kim Seung-joon (Ki-joo's close friend/underclassman, 30): Yoon Young Joon
Kang Pil-bo (Tae-young's uncle): Sung Dong Il
For more information (in Korean) on the cast from SBS, go to: tv.sbs.co.kr/paris/paris_sub_character.jhtml. For a chart of the cast, go to: tv.sbs.co.kr/paris/paris_sub_character_relation.jhtml.

Staff:
Screenwriter: Kim Eun Sook/Kang Eun Jung
Producer: Shim Woo Chul/Son Jung Hyun
Asst. Producer: Lee Dong Hoon/Oh Jin Suk

Learn Korean:
Pari (Pa-ri) = Paris
ui = to/of/for
yeonin (yeon-in) = lovers

Variation in drama names
========================

Romance in Paris
Des Amoureux à Paris

For SBS Photos from this drama, go to: tv.sbs.co.kr/paris/paris_sub_photo.jhtml.. Spoiler alert: The photo gallery may contain spoilers.

For SBS Videos on Demand (VODs) in Korean for this drama, go to:
tv.sbs.co.kr/paradise/broad/paris/paris_sub_review.jhtml.
SBS charges a fee to view VODs. To view the SBS VODs, you need to register with SBS and provide a Korean credit card number.

Synopsis:

Han Ki Joo (KJ) is the President of GD Motors. He has been living in Paris for 2 years after his failed marriage to Baek Sung Kyung (BSK). KJ is charismatic and a smart man; he has been groomed all his life to take over the position of the Chairman of the company, the next commander of GD Motors.

Kang Tae Young (KTY) is the beloved daughter of a film director. She is carrying on her father’s wish and is studying film in Paris. To make ends meet, TY works as a housekeeper for KJ. TY is a simple yet spunky girl with an optimistic outlook in life, she may be goofy at times but her warm, spontaneous personality just makes everyone gravitate towards her.

Yoon Soo Hyuk (YSH) is the free-spirit vagabond nephew of KJ who dropped out of design school in the US to live with him in Paris. He shares a close and intimate relationship with KJ, although KJ being the uncle is not much older than SH. KJ gives the freedom that SH yearns for and supports him monetarily to pursue the kind of life he wishes.

Being the man with high standards, TY is quickly fired by KJ as a
housekeeper. However, when KJ realise that TY is from the same hometown as the wife of a potential business partner, he is quick to capitalise on that and hires TY to be his girlfriend to warm up to his business partner. TY agrees in exchange for getting back her job as a housekeeper. During the 2 dates that KJ takes TY out, she is smitten by the entire fairy tale of the event. In turn KJ finds himself unexpectedly captivated by this chatty, unpretentious girl.

However, the fake girlfriend plan backfires on KJ, and both part ways on bad terms in Paris.

SH also meets TY on a different occasion and is taken by her immediately. He sees through TY’s insecurities and her weaknesses, and his heart goes out to her and wants to protect her.

Recalled by his father, KJ returns to Korea, and TY took the same plane back as well to attend to her father’s death anniversary. Both are reunited coincidentally back in Seoul and manage to have their misunderstanding resolved. TY prepares to return to Paris to continue her studies, and parts with KJ. Unfortunately TY’s uncle has squandered away her family house and run away, leaving TY with her young cousin and the debts he has incurred.

While trying to sort out her family problems and retrieve her father’s camera that was confiscated by the creditors, TY meets KJ again. Through multiple coincidental encounters, KJ finds himself attracted to TY. Despite his commanding presence and being the next chief of his family's business, on the relationship front KJ is a complete retard. But his heart starts to yearn for a relationship that he has never experienced before.

SH returns to Korea as well to track TY down. He puts up at TY’s place and tries to win her heart. He is devastated when he realised that his beloved uncle is vying for TY’s affection as well.

The situation is further complicated with the introduction of Moon Yoon Ah (MYA), the daughter of an influential politician whom KJ's father has selected to be KJ's wife. She also happens to be TY's classmate in high school, and she is determined to win KJ to be her trophy husband.

Against the better judgement of all around them, KJ and TY open their hearts to each other. But their union will not be smooth sailing with a scheming MYA, and an emotionally wounded SH plotting to split them up....

Review:

This kdrama broke the ratings record set by "Dae Jang Geum" last year, reaching 57% ratings at its peak, re-capitulating both Park Shin Yang and Kim Jun Eun back into the limelight and marking their successful return to the goggle-box. SBS has once again demonstrated the winning formula of wooing outstanding actors who had crossed over to the movie world to star in their kdrama production.

The story of “Lovers in Paris” is really nothing to shout about. It is a typical romantic comedy, with a “Cinderella-like” fairy tale. But what gave this kdrama so much commercial success, besides the fairy-tale like story, is the outstanding job that SBS has done in casting and the wonderful packaging of the entire serial.

You can see that SBS pumped substantial investment into producing this series. They picked Paris – The City of Lights, and one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world to start this kdrama. SBS had KJE attending a classy dinner dressed up in haute couture and doing a romantic waltz with PSY in a French chateau in the first episode! And they even had PSY zip around Paris and Nice in a Mercedes sports car, and a Rolls Royce! This is packaging at its best.

There are many parts about the story that I completely disagreed with and which I felt were disconnected and unrealistic. I would think for a man of KJ’s position, he would have had professional butlers to tend to his house, or at least a professional housekeeper versus engaging a part-time student like TY to tidy his place. Nonetheless, that was how the writers chose for the 2 leads to meet. And if TY were so poor, she would never had the chance to be YA’s
classmate, as YA would have attended expensive elite private schools. And why SH fell so hard for TY remains one of the biggest mysteries for me. As a matter of fact, I could accept YA's intentions much better then SH’s obsession. And finally the cliché plot about KJ being SH’s half-brother and the usual family objection to KJ and TY were big put-offs for me. Then again, if all were smooth-sailing in this relationship, this would not have been a kdrama.

Sometimes I’ll like to think that I am tasteful about my choice of kdrama. I know I am sappy, but I’d like to think that I am tastefully sappy. Yet with such an atrocious script, and cliché storyline, I am sad to say, I LOVE “LOVERS IN PARIS”! (C’mon, I need a big dose of chick flicks as well!).

Choosing the bespectacled Park Shin Yang, with his straight-faced
professional good looks, as the task oriented President of GD Motors Han Ki Joo, and the comical Kim Jun Eun as his dorky love interest Kang Tae Young - these two must be the match of the century! TY and KJ were smitten with other from their encounter in Paris; TY with the wine, dine, dress and dance; and KJ with TY’s unpretentious ways she ate her cake and her non-stop meaningless chattering and frivolous ideas. Their roles contrasted and yet complemented each other so much, and with all the funny punts thrown in by the writers, even after it ended in mid-August, “Lover in Paris” had the
audience begging for more of this funny couple.

I almost forgot about Park Shin Yang, as I have not seen most of his recent works at the movies. The last I saw of him was in “Indian Summer” and that was a long time ago. As for Kim Jun Eun, I really thought she has a knack for comedy when I caught her in “Spring Breeze”. It was really great to catch a light-hearted funny kdrama after my spate of tearjerkers.

I thoroughly, totally, completely, loved seeing PSY and KJE in this drama. I felt Lee Dong Gun was so extremely cool as the bad-boy drummer SH. But the pairing of SH and TY was not as convincing as the KJ and TY pairing. I felt that KJE was more compatible with PSY as she looked a little too old for LDG. The producers were definitely skewed and lopsided in their choice of couples in this love triangle when they were casting and developing the story. It was obvious that the entire set-up was pro PSY-KJE, and that the
roles were tailor-made for these two.

HKJ’s task-master approach to the entire dating and courting process must be the most hilarious theme of the kdrama. The writers threw in all the imaginable courting tactics that a girl could ever dream of from a man like PSY. The producers even threw in a fairy-tale engagement party cum honeymoon to please and melt the audience with the saccharine sweet yet brief pseudo-marital bliss that the two leads enjoyed in the serial.

The greatest thing about this couple was the strength and support each showed to stay together. Even for TY’s character’s, she never really lost her spunk despite of the adversities she had to face, unlike many of the usual weak female lead characters in kdramas who just weep in silence. She remained cheerful and resilient even when she was constantly put down or belittled by KJ’s family, YA or harassed by SH. One of my favorite scene was this one about TY when, feeling upset after her first dinner with Ki Hye, she vented her
anger on this dummy and ended up with bruised knuckles! And the serenades they did for each other are the “MUST-SEE” scenes in this serial.

PSY played HKJ so well that in the end I couldn’t decipher sometimes whether I’m in love with the actor or the character he played. The way he delivered his sometimes cheesy and corny lines with such a straight yet sincere face, the way he displayed his love in such an unassuming and matter-of-fact outright manner, and exhibited his pain without bawling all demonstrated an outstanding actor working his magic on the character.

There was no surprise from KJE’s performance. On the comic front, she fitted the role of the lively TY to the tee. Her expressions, although mostly exaggerated, were funny and she was not afraid
to provide the required comic relief at the expense of looking ugly. My only complaint is how overdone her face is with plastic surgery. You can see her chin folding up and her eyes collapsing. I though it was ironic in one scene in the toilet where TY passed a comment about YA’s surgery, when in facet, KJE is definitely the one with more work done on hers. And because of this reason, I felt that KJE lacked that simplicity that the character TY needed.

I have never seen LDG’s performance prior to “Lovers in Paris”, but I have to say he really looked cool despite playing second fiddle in this kdrama and held his presence against the charismatic PSY. His slender and lanky frame, coupled with this scruffy look, contrasted nicely with the clean-cut and serious HKJ. On the surface, SH had this free spirit and drifter image. But deep within him, he desperately yearned for acceptance in the family. On one hand he depended on KJ, yet on the other hand he wished to break away
from KJ’s shadow. LDG was charming as the ladies' man and he showed
sufficient devastation as the wounded SH who felt abandoned by his beloved uncle (because of TY) and ignored by his mother (because he was a product from Ki Hye’s unhappy marriage to his father). I felt that the writers did a terrible job with SH, and LDG really saved the character with his performance. On one hand, he loved his uncle dearly, yet he was immature enough to blame KJ for all his unhappiness and turned against him over a girl who had never showed any interest in him! The transformation they made SH go through was really far-fetched. And I can’t figure out whether SH was trying to win his uncle back from TY, or TY back from KJ?

The villainess(es) in this kdrama came in the form of Moon Yoon-ah and her mother, who would stop at nothing to win HKJ as the trophy husband/son-in-law (I think Mrs Moon could compete with KJE for the most overdone plastic surgery award). OJE’s performance can be summed up with one word: flat. Yet again, I partly blame the writers for it. She blindly followed her parents’ arrangement to marry HKJ. And she tried all means to break KJ and TY up despite being told off and put down by KJ repeatedly not to waste her time on him. If she were the spoilt rich girl that she was crafted to be, how could she put up with such treatment? OJE also had limited expressions in her
performance, displaying the same look every time she appeared.

And Mrs Moon, with her mould-like face, cement-thick foundation and high-pitched voice... where did SBS find such a hideous-looking woman with a face to match her detestable character?

Beside PSY and KJE, I really like the character of Baek Sung Kyung, HKJ's ex-wife. She was the only character, besides HKJ and KTY that felt remotely normal. She loved KJ, but she divorced him because he was incapable of giving her the love she wante, although she must be dying inside seeing his affection for TY transforming him into the man she had always wanted when they were married. Kim Suh Young was sophisticated as the competent BSK with a mind of her own. KSY was able to display the confidence of a woman in her position. But I felt she was a little deficient in displaying her vulnerabilities
when she witnessed the blossoming romance between KJ and TY.

This kdrama can’t do without me dedicating a paragraph to talk about the wardrobe. PSY had some fancy suits in this kdrama. I read from the forums that a lot of the suits and ties were tailor-made just for his HKJ role. I much preferred his wardrobe in Paris, as his subsequent suits had some strange color combinations. I love TY's extra small jackets and soft scarf-like belts. They looked really cute on KJE, but again, I felt she looked a little too old and sophisticated to dress that way. Actually her outfits after she got engaged to KJ fitted her better. My favourite was SH's wardrobe. In the T-shirt and torn jeans ensemble topped with tuxedo jackets, he truly looked like a rock star. And when he shaved to transform into the white-collared designer in GD motors, they had the tall slender actor decked out in unconventional suits with thin-looking monotone ties. It gave SH a tad more of a working look without taking away the artistic aura of the character. Noticed that KJ's ties were usually large knotted colorful ones, which was a distinct contrast to SH's work attire. Outstanding job! (See what I meant by packaging)


My Favourites
===========

Every scene of HKJ and KTY
· TY eating KJ’s birthday cake in Paris
· TY chattering non-stop about movies
· KJ staring at TY’s elated expressions as she watched the performances in Moulin Rouge
· KJ pretending to be TY’s boyfriend at the café after she spilled a drink on a GD employee’s girlfriend
· KJ pretending to be TY’s boyfriend at the bar in front of YA
· TY taking KJ to GD Motors to try to retrieve her father’s camera
· TY working overtime on a bad-hair morning avoiding KJ, and KJ
subsequently buying TY cosmetics to freshen up
· TY telling KJ that she couldn't swim and them plunging into the pool
· KJ staying over at TY's after he ran away from his engagement party
· The date where KJ bought the HUGE piggy bank
· Their first kiss after KJ punched his competitor
· KJ serenading TY
· The bus incident and the proposal
· Picking an outfit for their engagement etc
· KJ during business discussions, I love his arrogance!
· KJ’s relationship with his sister, so close and intimate
· SH, TY and KJ going to a Korean sauna
· KJ at SH’s bed after SH’s accident
· The farewell at the airport
· TY’s young cousin

Don't understand
===========

- Why did SH love TY so much and why did he have such a drastic change, AND THEN turn back and decide to let go ???
- Why did Yoon Ah hang on to KJ, and then why did she let go?
- Why did Director Choi set everything up and then let go?
- If Director Choi was the right hand man of the president, why didn't he let KH marry him when she was pregnant with KJ?
- Where was the chairman when KJ had to answer to the board about the plummeting share price of GD Motors?

I hated
=====

· The way SH hurt himself physically when he was sad
· All scenes with YA and/or her mother
· TY’s uncle’s hairstyle

Many people complained about the ending of this kdrama. I personally
thought it was ok, may be a little abrupt and perhaps a feeble attempt by the writers to add some depth/twist to something that was rather commercial all the way. They should have just given the audience what they wanted and not tried to be too smart.

Despite the poorly-structured story and the unbalanced efforts put into building the characters in this kdrama, the outstanding and overpowering chemistry and performances of PSY and KJE override ANY reason NOT to catch this kdrama. The rating for this story would have been a 3 were it not for this couple. Don’t try to think too much or read too much into the kdrama, rather catch this for an entertaining good time! It will not disappoint.


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