My Girl

Reviewed by: Devache1

May 21, 2006

Rating: four-point-five

Editor's Note: Numbers in brackets indicate age.

Seol Gong-chan (27): Lee Dong Wook ("Letters to the Parents")
Joo Yoo-rin (25): Lee Da Hae ("Green Rose")
Seo Jung-woong (27): Lee Joon Ki
Kim Seo-hyun (tennis star, 26): Park Si Yeon
Ahn Jin-kyu (24): Jo Kye Hyung
Ahn Jin-shim (25): Hwang Bo Ra ("Secret Lovers")
Yoon Jin-kyung (29): Lee Eon Jeong
Chairman Seol Woong (Gong-chan's grandfather, 72): Byun Hee Bong ("Second Proposal")
Jang Hyung-ja (Jung-woong's mom, 53): Kim Yong Rim ("Wife")
Gong-chan's maternal aunt: Choi Ran ("Farewell to Tears")
Chairman's assistant: Ahn Suk Hwan ("Bizarre Bunch")


Joo Yoorin (Lee Da Hae) is a tour guide in a small company in charge of running mini tours in the Jeju Island of South Korea. Her father is a gambling addict, but despite all the debts that he runs up, Yoorin always finds a way to help repay them. She leads a below-average life but is happy as long as she has her dad around her. Because of her father's gambling ways, she has had to move from country to country whenever her father runs from one place to another to avoid their debtors. This has in turn brought her the ability to converse fluently in Chinese and Japanese, which are of great help as a tour guide whenever she has to entertain tourists from China and Japan.

Seol Gongchan (Lee Dong Wook) is the only heir of the owner of L'Avenuel Hotel, which is one of the top hotels in Korea. His grandfather, Seol Woong, charges him with the duty of finding his granddaughter, who is also Gongchan's cousin. Seol Woong had disowned his own daughter, Gongchan's aunt, when she decided to marry a man not of his choice. However, when Seol Woong had a change of heart and wished to accept his daughter back, an earthquake struck where his daughter lived, and since then, he has lost all contact with his kin and perhaps the chance to make amends for his own stubbornness, to take care of his granddaughter and hopefully make things right.

Kim Seohyun (Park Si Yeon) is the girlfriend of Seol Gongchan. A rising star in the tennis world, she returns to Korea to look for Gongchan as she cannot forget him.

Seo Jung Woong (Lee Jun Ki) is the son of one of the main shareholders of L'Avenuel Hotel and also the best friend of Seol Gongchan. Unlike Gongchan who is responsible and hardworking, Jung Woong is a flirt who is known to have many girlfriends.

The story starts with Yoorin rushing to the airport. She is helping her friend delay a flight so that the tourists of her friend will not miss their flight. Out of ideas, she plays a damsel in distress, who is apparently mourning her impending death and her dying wish to see her boyfriend who is apparently on the flight. And so after much crying and the entire airport empathizing with her, she gets to get on board the plane to look for her boyfriend who never really existed. As she walks, she realizes she cannot find anyone and pretends to faint. Alas, she faints beside the seat of our male lead, Seol Gongchan, who knows a liar when he sees one. Although their first encounter is weird, it doesn't leave much of an impression in each other's mind.

Later, however, when Gongchan has to entertain a bunch of Chinese visitors and realizes he has no translator, he engages the services of Yoorin coincidentally and through Yoorin, his potential Chinese investors have a great time at the L'Avenuel Hotel branch in Jeju, and Yoorin has much credit to claim for it.

After a series of comical events including Yoorin staying at his hotel lodge without paying, and Yoorin selling his hotel fruityard's oranges to make a small profit (to clear her father's debts again), Gongchan's impression of Yoorin is one of a cheat and he would want to do anything to distance himself from her.

But then word from mainland Korea is that his grandfather is dying and at his bedside, Seol Woong, through his respirator, can only meekly repeat that he must not and cannot die until he sees his granddaughter again.

Driven by desperation and his love for his grandfather, Gongchan will do anything to ease his burden. When pointed out by his secretary that Yoorin bears a resemblance to his aunt, Gongchan hatches a plan to pass off Yoorin as his grandfather's long-lost granddaughter whilst he carries on searching for the real one.

Yoorin, who is desperate for money to repay her father's debt, is unwilling to do the job as it involves lying to a dying man, something that she staunchly refuses to do. But when Seol Gongchan desperately begs her and she realizes she is somewhat indebted to him for not bringing her to the police after her little business in his hotel, she caves in and pretends to the long-lost granddaughter.

And so things seem to be going well, with the search for Gongchan's long-lost cousin making progress and perhaps more importantly, the improvement of Gongchan's grandfather's conditions thanks to Yoorin. As Yoorin spends more time with Gongchan's family, she gets showered with the love she never received as a child and finds herself drawn to Gongchan. She finds herself changing from the liar that she once was to a person who tries to tell the truth when she can. But she knows all too well that her one-sided love will never materialize as the difference in social status between Gongchan and herself is too big.

But unknown to her, Gongchan is also slowly being drawn to her...

The Review

It's been 12 long months since I last wrote a review: Forgive me lads, university has been such a rush especially when you're a freshman. In any case, let's dive straight into the good stuff.

I watched Lee Da Hae in "Green Rose" and yes, although I did promise to review that show I think I'll break my promise on that one. In "Green Rose", Lee Da Hae did nothing but sob, sob and sob somemore. I didn't really like it that much. I initially thought "My Girl" would be another nonsensical show but kudos to my instincts, I got it all wrong. A good way to summarize "My Girl" would be to call it a comical drama, something in the likes of "My Name is Kim Sam Soon" and "Full House" combined and taken in the middle. It has a good balance of hilarious moments and moments that make you tear and wrench your heart (yes, that's why most of us watch Korean dramas, to cry and laugh so admit it!).

Lee Da Hae as Joo Yoorin is downright 'wrong'; she made me laugh until my tummy ached, much as Kim Sun Ah did as Kim Sam Soon. But the difference here is that Lee Da Hae is seriously a lot more attractive than Kim Sun Ah, and for the ladies, throw in Lee Dong Wook as the serious Seol Gongchan and you've got a match made in heaven.

It also helped that "My Girl" had the presence of Lee Jun Ki, who, if you haven't been catching up on the latest news, hit stardom in the recent Korean film "The King and I" as a clown who is potentially the 'mistress' of the Korean king and by the way, Lee Jun Ki is a guy for that matter. That should tell you how feminine he looks and ladies somehow always love a guy who looks metrosexual.

The Cast

Lee Dong Wook

Let's all ask the universal question: How does Korea continuously churn out these handsome/super fine-looking males? For one thing, Lee Dong Wook acts as good as he looks in "My Girl". He is cast perfectly as the stubborn and somewhat inflexible Seol Gongchan who will do anything to fulfill his dying grandfather's wish. I did not think much of Lee Dong Wook until the last few episodes of "My Girl". That is when we see Dong Wook ditching his usually calm self in his pursuit of Lee Da Hae.

Lee Da Hae

Wow, I just love Lee Da Hae. I think the word 'beautiful' is an understatement for her. She is beyond beautiful, I think even drop-dead gorgeous would be a poor replacement. Nonetheless, no matter how great you look, it is the acting that speaks the loudest and I think Lee Da Hae made a marvelous improvement in that aspect. When I watched her in "Green Rose", my opinion of her was that she is a person who probably could only act in melodramas, because she was perpetually washing her face in tears. But life is full of surprises and her role as Joo Yoorin was absolutely eye-catching.

I lost count of the number of times I laughed throughout "My Girl" thanks to Lee Da Hae's performance as the comical Yoorin. And yes, she lies a lot in the show but most of the time, it's a white lie that should be considered forgivable. I personally think Lee Da Hae has what it takes to be right up there with Korea's top actresses at the moment. She certainly isn't lacking the beauty component, and her acting in this drama is certainly the best performance I've ever seen of her.

Lee Jun Ki

Sadly, Lee Jun Ki is reduced to mere eye candy in "My Girl". Not once in the drama did I feel that Jung Woong was more deserving of Yoorin than Gongchan. Although Lee Jun Ki would be proud to know that this was the drama that brought him the limelight, I do not believe that he excelled in his role of Seo Jung Woong. He spent too much time by the side crying about his inability to chase Yoorin.

But to be honest, he never stood a chance. Yoorin has only one true love: that would be Mr. Seol Gongchan.

Park Si Yeon

Similar to Jun Ki, Si Yeon doesn't particularly excel here. Perhaps, more famous to all, Park Si Yeon is the current girlfriend of Eric Mun of Shinhwa. Si Yeon basically acts as the jealous girlfriend/ex-girlfriend of Gongchan and half the time, she looks spiteful about Yoorin as the sister who steals Gongchan away from her.

Reviewer's Thought After the Drama

"My Girl" is a SBS production that spans 16 episodes. Funny as it sounds, I'm beginning to like the idea of Korean dramas lasting only 16 episodes. I mean, I've reviewed "Full House", "I'm Sorry I Love You" and "My Name is Kim Sam Soon", all of which lasted only 16 episodes but left me feeling all great and happy after watching it.
After watching "My Girl", I realize that I'm beginning to love dramas that don't drag and lives up to the moment.

"My Girl" is unique in many ways in which it isn't a completely melodramatic drama, nor is it an out and out comedy. I laughed a lot more than I cried watching this drama and my god, I kept my tissues at bay until the last 3 episodes because the first thirteen were seriously physiotherapy for my stomach muscles.

I really enjoyed the chemistry than Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae had in "My Girl". I still think it doesn't surpass the Bi-Song Hye Gyo chemistry in "Full House" but it's refreshing and heart-wrenching in its own way. Credit should really go to the production crew for making this drama very un-Korean like. We often see people dying and lots of sobbing but in "My Girl", there is way more laughing than crying. I particularly enjoyed the penultimate scene of the drama, where the director very shrewdly chose to close up the expressions of Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae when they finally revealed the truth to each other and for the first time, confessed their love for each other (only at the last episode! Yeh! Three cheers for the director!).

And the last scene when the real granddaughter was found, that was downright hilarious.

I rate "My Girl" a 4.5 out of 5 stars and trust me on this one: you won't need that much tissue, but be prepared for a hell of a stomach exercise session!

Photos courtesy of SBS

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