Drama Recaps
Que Sera Sera: Whatever will be, will be…
by | March 17, 2007 | 26 Comments

Today saw the premiere of a new kdrama, QUE SERA SERA (케세라세라), on MBC. I’m not sure if I’ll keep watching it, but I saw the first episode, so I thought I would weigh in.

I’d say the series is probably most anticipated for starring Eric (aka Moon Jung Hyuk), as he’s built up quite the fanbase as a member of kpop group Shinhwa and several high-profile roles in dramas such as 2006’s Invincible Parachute Agent, 2005’s Super Rookie, and 2004’s Firebird. I haven’t seen any of those (I mostly know Eric from appearances on variety shows like X-Man; seems like a nice enough guy), so I can’t attest to his acting ability, but he generally has received favorable response.

SONG(s) OF THE DAY
These aren’t from the drama itself, but when something is named after a particular work, I always like to know about the original work.

Doris Day – “Que Sera Sera”, Doris Day’s sunny 1950s version of the song [ zShare download ]

Pink Martini – “Que Sera Sera”, a beautifully haunting (almost creepy?) version [ zShare download ]

BACKGROUND

For me, a notable attraction is the director-producer, Kim Yoon Chul, who did 2005’s megahit drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m generally more apt to follow screenwriters I like more than the directors — for instance, Sam Soon‘s writer followed up that project with the funny and entertaining 2006 drama What’s Up Fox? — but there have been a few directors I’ve been impressed enough to follow. (One would be Jeon Ki Sang, who first did 2005’s Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, followed that with 2006’s super-charming My Girl, then returns next week with Witch Yoo Hee. The other would be No Do Chul, who directed my all-time favorite kdrama, Soulmate, as well as quirky vampire-comedy Hello Francesca.)

Anyway, the resume for QSS’s writer isn’t quite as noteworthy — Do Hyun Jung wrote 2003’s A Man’s Scent, which I haven’t even heard of, and sounds vaguely, um, naughty — but that doesn’t mean she’s (he’s?) not good.

Other than Eric, I’m not familiar with the other actors except perhaps Lee Kyu Han, whom I remember fondly as the philandering ex-boyfriend in My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. He was barely present in the first episode (only in photo form), but I’m already anticipating his character.

Official MBC site: http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/queserasera/

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OVERALL THOUGHTS

Que Sera Sera is different. There’s a different feel, pace, and aesthetic to it. It feels rather more like an indie film than the super-glossy, pretty feel given to most modern kdramas. The colors aren’t as bright, there’s a slightly gritty, intentionally imperfect ambiance, and a lot of Steadicam (handheld camera) work to give a feeling of immediacy and intimacy. To further punctuate the atmosphere, the music is quite different — using some expected kpop but also inserting jazz classic standards and some more moody music as well. Again, it feels more like a film in that aspect.

Maybe it’s because of this departure from the norm that I’m drawn to QSS. It’s not quite my style, and the story isn’t exactly what I’d call fun. But it’s got a different perspective and I respect that. I’ll have to hold off on deciding whether I like it; because the series feels different, I feel like I can’t judge it by the same criteria as a conventional kdrama. For one, by the end of the first episode, I’m not even sure I like any of the characters. But I think the director’s going for flawed and realistic, rather than feel-good wish fulfilment.

That said, this series DOES have fun, funny moments. I’m making it sound dour and sad, but it’s not. It just has potential to be more than a throwaway filler drama; it’s up to the creatives working on the show to make it really fly.

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EPISODE 1 SUMMARY

Eric is KANG TAE JOO, who’s introduced right off the bat as a smooth, confident ladies’ man — after all, the very first scene has him breaking up with a rich woman, who’s so fond of him she wants to give him a fancy sports car as a farewell gift. He doesn’t accept because it would be unseemly to drive around a car like that with his meager monthly salary. Oh, and they’re breaking up because she’s getting married. So we learn a few things right from the start — Tae Joo makes the ladies swoon, he’s not rich, and he’s emotionally cool.

He goes home to find a strange girl sleeping in his doorway. They get off on the wrong foot immediately, as he thinks she’s a crazy-psycho-pervert-beggar, and she thinks he’s living with her younger, underage sister, Ji Soo. She’s roughly turned away by an impatient Tae Joo, but she has sudden stomach pains, and needs to use the bathroom. With nowhere to go, she bangs on Tae Joo’s door until he opens it, and rushes inside, locking him out of his own bathroom. Tae Joo is, needless to say, annoyed. He kicks her out again, and she rushes out without her bag.


Turns out the girl, HAN EUN SOO, got the wrong apartment; her sister Ji Soo is staying in a different unit, and appears to be squatting while the apartment goes unrented. In exchange for letting her stay there, Ji Soo agreed to work for a week as a cleaning lady. But because she’s underage, Eun Soo takes her place working as a maid.

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Tae Joo works at an event planning office. We see from his interaction with his boss and his senior co-worker that Tae Joo’s pretty self-assured in his charm and good looks, and has a bit of a smart mouth. Just the kind of guy girls love to fall for when they know they shouldn’t. But in contrast to most kdramas where this character is a lovable scamp, Tae Joo’s got a hard edge to him. He’s kind of cold and hardened.

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Tae Joo crosses paths with the glamorous fashion designer, CHA HYE RIN, at the Palace Hotel, where Hye Rin purposely ruins a meeting meant to finalize her marriage plans. She’s met the guy three times and shocks his well-to-do parents (and her own) by announcing she used to live together with a man five years ago when she was studying fashion in Italy. Her father, the head of World Department Store, is furious and slaps her in front of everyone; her mother pretends to swoon; and the other family leaves in affront. They’d be clutching their pearls if they were wearing any.

Later that night, Hye Rin meets a friend at a club, where she’s introduced to her friend’s onetime boy toy… Tae Joo. Tae Joo, cocky and suave, pours on the charm — but Hye Rin really couldn’t care less. It doesn’t really seem that Tae Joo’s genuinely interested in her; it’s a game for him. He’s good at it, so he enjoys playing. Hye Rin shows some claws when she notes the disparity between Tae Joo’s expensive watch (a gift from his ex) and his cheap suit.

She needles him, offering to hire his services as a gigolo and dress him in fancier suits, and Tae Joo — gasp! — actually throws his shot of cognac in her face. (What a waste.) He says you should always just do as you feel; no use in resisting and bringing yourself frustration. She attempts to slap him, but he roughly pushes her away and she stumbles to the ground. He tells her she’s pathetic and that she underestimated him. No wonder her marriage plans fell through; however rich she is, and however much a frog her suitor is, she should grab the chance and be glad someone’s willing to marry her.

Frankly, Tae Joo’s kind of an ass here. To be fair, Hye Rin’s not winning any charm awards either, but he seems like a little boy using physical aggression because he didn’t get to win. It’ll be an interesting challenge to bring him from this point to a main character we can like, or at least care about. This is what I meant by character realism, because it seems nobody’s making apologies for the fact that Tae Joo is entirely flawed; he definitely isn’t the perfect Prince Charming we’d expect of our handsome lead actor.

But in any case, he takes the long, lonely walk home, and you get the sense that all of this is rather meaningless for him, anyway. This song plays (Loveholic’s “Bless You”) in the background as both Tae Joo and Eun Joo tiredly arrive home after a long day, and the song nicely underscores the mood of quiet isolation for both. [ zShare download ]

Eun Soo remembers she’d left her bag in Tae Joo’s apartment. She meets him outside his door, but he’s had enough of her, and hurls insults at her, even causing her to cry. He doesn’t believe that she’s there only for her bag and threatens to call the police on her. But the next morning, he notices the strange bag in his apartment and feels pangs of guilt.

Tae Joo is sent to wine and dine some potential customers who are known for being overly picky; he’s the charmer, so it’s up to him to win them over. Hye Rin is drowning her sorrows at the bar, completely drunk, having argued with her father earlier that day. Basically, he’s pulling his support of her clothing store in retaliation for her ruining the engagement. Either she make it on her own; or she bring her fashion line into the department store itself. She takes a moment to look at a photo, and it seems to suggest she’s resisting marriage because she has lingering feelings for the guy pictured (Shin Joon Hyuk, played by Lee Kyu Han).

In any case, this time SHE throws alcohol in Tae Joo’s face and picks a loud, drunken fight. She calls him lots of horrible things, insulting him and his clients, insinuating that he’s just a boy toy entertaining lonely older women for money — she’d been joking earlier when she called him a gigolo, but it looks like he really is one. He drags her out of there as his hyung attempts to joke that Hye Rin is Tae Joo’s girlfriend, with whom he’d had a fight recently.

Tae Joo resists the urge to dump the unconscious Hye Rin in an alleyway, and instead takes her to a hotel… where she promptly throws up all over him. Disgusted, he calls the hotel’s cleaning services, and comes face to face with Eun Soo…


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26 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. babymarzy07

    thanks for the summary! was looking forward to this drama.. im not catching the feel good vibe yet but the director seems to have taken a different approach in this.. interesting characters and scenario’ s :) nice intro into it.

  2. ginnie

    Thank you for the summary. I’ve been wondering about the title of the song when both Tae Joo and Eun Soo travel back home. Thanks for identifying it as Loveholic’s Bless You.

    Enjoyed reading your summary and comments.

  3. RedCoral

    Thanks for the summary :-)

  4. ay_link

    Awesome intro & summary! After reading this, I’m more sure myself that I probably should give this one a chance next week :) Thanks so much Sarah! ^^

  5. mily2

    sarah dear.. i love love reading your summary.. thank you so much for giving such great insights on the characters & story…you are right.. this serie is definitely different from the recent kdramas.. I did thought that its style is more of an indie film.. abit more subtle.. totally not the usual vibrant colors that I’m used to seeing.. eric’s character in there.. not exactly the usual perfect prince we expected.. but i do find his character interesting and I’m sure he will become “less rough” when he really fall for our female lead.. the female lead is quite adorable.. the first time I’ve seen her in a drama.. looking forward to learning abit more about her character.. Like you said..it’s abit too early to judge this drama… but I hope that this drama will deliver :) Once again.. thank you for the great introduction & summary :)

  6. Bamidele

    thanks for the summary javabeans you rock!!!

  7. Bamidele

    do you have a direct download for the loveholic song? it is really good!!

  8. javabeans

    hello to everyone, i recognize all your handles so it’s nice to see familiar names! i caught the 2nd episode and thought it was definitely more fun and light-hearted. i’ll try to have the summary up sometime soonish, but have you noticed how many dramas are starting this week?? it’s insane! how do they expect us to sleep, with so much tv to watch? (spoken like a true addict.)

    Bamidele, you can just click on the song title and it should take you to direct download. I’ll be making the song titles the direct links from now on just to clean things up, so it should work. :)

  9. julier

    Thanks for the summary. I didn’t see Firebird, but love Super Rookie and KSA. Both of those dramas were a little bit different from the norm.

  10. 10 usess

    Thanks for the summary

  11. 11 Bamidele

    okay thanks, song is really good!!!!

  12. 12 VK

    I thought EUn Hye could be in there . I was hoping so ..Eric and Eun Hye had create a love line in Xman before. but they changed the casts .. I heard that Eun Hye was sick .

  13. 13 kwfong

    Eric almost upstaged Lee Seo Jin in Firebird despite being rookie compared to LSJ.

  14. 14 docmitasha

    Hi! I just saw the first episode myself with the fansubs (thanks D-addicts forum =)) and I loved it! I think your synopsis was so awesome. Even though it covers so much, I still enjoyed watching it. This is the first time I’m seeing Eric’s acting, and was a little concerned. Right now, I feel Eric’s acting is good, but not fabulous…but even when I watched MNKSS, I didn’t like Hyun Bin initially (and later really came to like his work). I think he’ll grow as Tae Joo grows. I loved the actress, she definitely has a lot of talent.
    I noticed in the bar when Hye Rim and Tae Joo first meet that when she reaches for another shot, he instead pours her a glass of a nice pink cocktail…hahah….I think he definitely has a streak of chauvinism running through him!
    Love the line “Kang Tae Joo….Its because of your good looks and winning personality that your life is so difficult.”
    Definitely a great series, and I agree that the ratings are truly misleading. I hope the team realizes that there are a lot more people appreciating the story and their work around the world than those ratings show.

  15. 15 chonamae

    I was a little disappointed at first that this didn’t turned out to be a Yoon Eun Hye and Eric Mun project. But seeing 8 episodes already, I have to give credit to the girl who did the lead role. Now seeing this much, I think that this role suits her.

    I just hope there’d be other project for Eun Hye and Eric. I’d love to see them in a korean drama or movie and I know that a lot will agree.

    If you guys still dont know how cute they are together, start looking for x-man episodes. ;-)

  16. 16 thai nguyen

    heya i was wonderin if u can tell me where i can download the que sera sera ost? please reply! thanks loads thaixxx

  17. 17 thai nguyen

    ohh yer u can get back to me on my hotnail vatveo@hotmail.com

  18. 18 daniel

    Hello~
    uh…does anyone know here
    where to download MNKSS ost??
    (original soundtrack)thanks in advance

  19. 19 zyra012

    hello all…..this eric guy is so hot…

  20. 20 wajing

    hi!.. i stumbled upon your blog before and have been browsing it for quite sometime.. just browsing.. but having finished the kdrama que sera sera (watched it twice and still rewinding some scenes up till now) and becoming a fanatic..(plus after seeing your round up post on it) i thought of reading your complete post..

    …just started it and i find it very interesting to read your thoughts and analysis on the drama..from a QSS fanatic like me, you deserve big applause for what your doing…the first entry truly explained why viewers followed and become hooked to QSS…”There’s a different feel, pace, and aesthetic to it. It feels rather more like an indie film than the super-glossy, pretty feel given to most modern kdramas.”…thanks for becoming a voice!!

    i am very excited to read more of QSS blogs…AJA!!! ;)

    Sidenote: i think its a blessing in disguise yoo eun hee wasn’t able to get the role.. jung yoo mi is a perfect fit! =P_

  21. 21 Arriane

    Heard Yoon Eun Hye was supposed to play Han Eun Soo here. But when she finished reading the script, her company suddenly didn’t allow her to participate. So her trust with the company is shattered, and because of this she had a mental shock. Glad she’s OK now and was able to partcipate in Coffee Prince!

  22. 22 Jane

    :]]

  23. 23 MsB

    Its definitely different from any drama I have watched. So I am intrigued.

  24. 24 Gilded

    JavaB is amazing, when she saw, “Que Sera Sera is different.” It really is ‘different’! No mean rivals heaping insults and unleashing evil schemes. The step moms have not enought lines to develope their nastiness. Overall, it has very little makjang characters and their plot devices. Yup, I finally watched the entire series.

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