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Why I like Jang Nara and My Love Patzzi: A Defense against the Tyranny of dahee fanel and javabeans, and Why Square Holes Are Problematic

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Biting off more than one can chew is not only the proper methodology for eating saltwater taffy, but it is also a way of life for me – how else can we find our limits except by risking failure? And so, as I have been weaned on Mmes. Dahee’s and javabeans’ robust posts over the years, I myself have not been merely gawking in lazy consumption. No, I also eat drink man k-drama. And I have been growing. This post itself grew out of two seeds, one that I had, and one that dahee and javabeans planted. Clicking the pictures below will take you out of this defense and onto their respective front pages.

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SONG OF THE DAY

Jang Nara – “Sweet Dream” [ Download ]

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On to the matter at hand. There are unanswerable questions in life – the more well-known being “if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound” and “why doesn’t Yahoo email search work properly,” but there are more personal ones as well, like why I like k-dramas so much. While I still don’t have a definitive answer for any of these questions, perhaps a clue for the last question can be found in one Jang Nara, who starred in the loveable and moving (and short 10 episode) drama series, My Love Patzzi.

Every now and then, I’ve thrown a few comments here and there about how much I liked My Love Patzzi and Jang Nara, but haven’t received much support from either the elite literati or the unwashed masses. Not that I have minded so much, since there is value in being unique. Still, I have found certain truths through my itinerant window shopping through the trendy blog-shops of k-drama land, passing by such high-end stores like dramabeans, Thundie’s Prattle and Dahee’s Plastic Castle. One truth is that My Love Patzzi isn’t well-received, and the second truth is that k-drama blog-shops can be just as exclusive as any of the high-end shops you might find in the trendiest shopping areas in Seoul’s Apgujeong (압구정), where luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci have set up shop.

And so it came to pass recently that a passing Thunderbolt struck me, noting that the immortal dahee herself had pounded 95 theses on the door to her plastic castle, one thesis of which was “And don’t even get me started on Kim Yi Young [scriptwriter] (why I ever finished My Love Patzzi, I will never know)”). That was a rather heavy bale of hay to carry, having also to deal with with javabeans’ own whole grain kernel contribution on the drama, “it’s a real lightweight,” and the snarkified musing of my own wife, Mrs. Samsooki, who dryly noted for the record, “I might have liked the drama if Jang Nara wasn’t so utterly annoying. I wanted to trip her the whole drama.”   Seriously?  Annoying? Lightweight?! Didn’t want to finish?!! These comments were the last straws, as it were. I have no choice but to respond in force. I didn’t start this war, but I am never one to shy away from defending cuteness personified.

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Who is Kongzzi and who is Patzzi? Depends on who wins the battle, of course!

My Love Patzzi is based on the Korean folktale of two step-sisters, Kongzzi (콩쥐) and Patzzi (팥쥐). In the folktale canon, Kongzzi is a well-mannered and pretty orphan girl and Patzzi is an evil ill-tempered girl whose family “adopts” Kongzzi, basically to get a free servant. Patzzi immediately makes Kongzzi’s life a living hell and then in the end, tries to steal a rich prince from her by lying about the real owner of a single lost shoe, much like the tale of Cinderella. The folktale is among the most well-known among Koreans, and all Korean children are indoctrinated with strong propaganda that Kongzzi is the good and beautiful girl, and Patzzi is ugly, rotten and bad. Just look at these children’s book covers.

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Now, winners write the stories (and the book covers), and so it is small wonder that Kongzzi is always depicted as the good girl. Just look at the pictures – Patzzi is a sly lazy girl and Kongzzi is always working. In a breath of much needed fresh air, the story of My Love Patzzi is a courageous twist on the mind-control folktale: Jang Nara plays the role of the ill-tempered Patzzi girl named Song Yi who works in an amusement park opposite of her life-long rival, the prettier and more well-mannered Kongzzi named Hee Won. The twists are that (1) that Kongzzi is really the evil one and not Patzzi and (2) instead of there being one rich prince, in the drama there is a rich amusement park owner’s son and a poor seal trainer guy – both of whom fall for Patzzi.

What makes this drama so special is there is a sense of honesty in the characters and in the drama that never goes away. Perhaps this is due in part to the low production values which make it seem like you are watching a home movie at times, but mostly I think it is because Jang Nara’s portrayal of Song Yi is truly moving and real. Song Yi may not be the prettiest girl nor be the most pleasant to be around, but she is absolutely real and never ever fake. If she likes you, she will tell you, wearing a cute sea lion hat and holding a rose in her mouth. And if she doesn’t like you, well, then, she will tell you by hitting you. Unlike the myriad of k-dramas that are out there, and so refreshingly, the guys in this drama have absolutely no problem whatsoever in determining whether the main character likes them or not.

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See, in Korean culture, young people tend to be forced into square holes, with a lot of pressure put on them from an early age as to how they should talk, walk, eat, greet, what they should wear, and who and when they should marry. The reason for this is because of the cultural cornerstone belief that there is a right way to do things, and doing things the “right” way will lead to a happy and successful life (along with honoring those that have tried to teach the right way). But inside these square holes, people who don’t quite fit the mold might often find themselves trying to be people that they are not.

In the drama, Hee Won tries to make herself look and feel better by constantly bringing down Song Yi, who then reacts in ways that further solidifies Hee Won’s tactics. The drama is basically the journey of Song Yi, discovering love for the first time in her life, and her battle against the evil Kongzzi Hee Won. Hee Won manages to turn the entire amusement park against Song Yi, but the two people who don’t fall for Hee Won’s tricks are the Kim X Wons (of the Jae and Rae variety), and there’s a very good reason for that.

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The Prince and the Pauper… who will end up with the irresistably cute and honest Song Yi?

Guys, at least guys I know, and despite what might be thought to be true, aren’t really that attracted to glitter and gloss once they are grown up. Ultimately, what guys want in a girl is someone they can trust, be friends with, and someone who will allow them to be themselves. And these factors are just as important as how a girl looks on the outside. A girl who tries to be exactly what other people expect (like a Hee Won) is almost certain to be fake, and the Kim X Wons, probably instinctively, are simply not interested in a person like that.

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On the other hand, Song Yi is completely real. She laughs when she is happy, she punches when she is upset, and she shovels food into her mouth when she is hungry. With a girl like that, you know that what you get is real. It doesn’t mean that you have to fall in love with her of course, BUT, it does mean that if you do fall in love with her, you know that what you feel is real. And that’s why it wasn’t unrealistic that Song Yi got the Kim X Won’s to fall for her.  And at the end of the drama, Song Yi makes a definitive choice as to which Kim X Won she wants to be with, and while I won’t reveal this choice to avoid spoiling, she makes the choice from her heart.

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Now, this isn’t the best drama out there.  But does this drama work and does it move me? Absolutely!  And what’s more, re-watching it over the last few days, I am reminded of why I like k-dramas so much. This might be the barest bones example, but it really has everything that you could want in a k-drama:  a catchy OST, a lot of heart, interesting and empathetic characters, an honest love story, and from the first episode to the last, My Love Patzzi moved me. And perhaps coincidentally to this exposition, this drama also sends out the message that not everything (and everyone) that people think is bad is bad, and not everything (and everyone) that people think is good, is good.

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Now, as for dahee and javabeans, I have to say that on very rare occasion, being intelligent, well-read and articulate can be problematic. Loyal readers who browse and shop at these high-end, trendy k-drama blog-shops might fall into the habit of only seeing what there is to see at those shops. The fact is that had I read dahee’s and javabeans’ opinions before I got the chance to see My Love Patzzi for myself, it is unlikely that I would have taken the chance on this drama, and that would have been my loss. This is, then, the so-called tyranny of the high-end stores (and a paradox of sorts), where the very characteristic of being high quality inevitably leads to a finer winnowing than might otherwise be appropriate.

On the surface, My Love Patzzi is likely to be as weak as javabeans and dahee fanel would probably describe it – the writing is not particularly strong, the Kim X Wons are rather bland in their acting, and Jang Nara can appear to be more annoying than cute. In fact, Mrs. Samsooki used the word “annoying” three times in one long sentence, trying to describe how she felt about the drama. But what makes this drama work so well for me is the same reason that makes me think that Song Yi is actually attractive: the heart, when it is worn on the outside, exposed and vulnerable, is able to deliver honesty and emotion. All you have to do is give it a chance. Honesty in perspective and sincerity of the heart are two of the most attractive qualities that a person can have, in my opinion, and the same thing goes for dramas as well. What Jang Nara does when she plays Yang Song Yi is that she really doesn’t act at all. I think she plays herself, and while that might not make her a very good actress, at least in this drama, she doesn’t have to be. She is who she plays.

Now, both javabeans and dahee fanel are talented writers, bright and witty thinkers who have more knowledge about k-dramas than I will ever gain. But in the end, I think these same strengths can create brain aneurysms filters sometimes that block certain dramas from touching them, and consequently, others that follow them are apt to fall into the same trap. I guess it’s the price that must be paid, to be so high-end?

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Muahaha... rubs hands together... just you wait...!

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In the words of Isis, of that legendary and epic movie, "Bring It On," I say,

"Bring it!"

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Oh, it'll be broughten!

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In Mississippi-speak, it'll be brung.

How on earth did I not guess that the battle would be over Jang Nara? ;-)

Patiently waiting for JB's counter-attack.

I'm so reminded of Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (Point/Counterpoint) right now. I love it. :-)

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-comes in between javabeans and samsooki- break it up guys break it up. :P -looks at the two people staring at her weirdly and backs away- .....um, ill be going now

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ahahahaha. very nice. looking forward to seeing javabeans' and dahee fanel's replies!

and i LOLed at the "Kim X Wons". LOL!

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bahawawawawahahahahahah !

What fun for us, your loyal readers !

cheers, parsnip

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Woo-hoo!! this is an interesting battlefield~~

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I have to say that I totally agree! I happened to see on her twitter that javabeans was watching My Love Patzzi, so I decided to check it out. I thought it was moving and pretty darn cute. I loved that Song Yi was more than the uber-typical "hard-working poor girl" who has more integrity and kindness than any other person on Earth. Song Yi admitted to being selfish and liking money, and she didn't just take hits without hitting back.

Javabeans described the drama as a lightweight, and to an extent I agree. But I think that most "lightweight" dramas (and comedies) are closer to most people's experience than the sturm und drang of birth secret-ridden melodramas. Sure, most girls don't have two wonderful men falling all over them, but the moments of unjust embarrassment and mistreatment that Song Yi endured at the hands of Hee Won (and others) were grounded in reality and therefore rang truer for me than those in many other dramas.

The bottom line is, My Love Patzzi was enjoyable to watch, and that was enough for me.

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I understand your argument but it's gonna take more than that to change my opinion of the drama. It's really just fluff isn't it? Jang Nara is ok but I still don't believe she's a great actress.

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i'll place my bet to whoever will win this battle!!!whahaha!!!

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Oh yeah, so glad I didn't pick a side in OT.

The battle to end all battles is on!

I watched My Love Patzzi and Only You back to back, guess which lightweight fluff I liked much much much better - hint, it doesn't have a heroine you wanted to slap upside the head from episode to episode. My 2 cents, that's all. :-P

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lol this is random. -sits back and watches-

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I have never watched My Love Patzzi and I have never enjoyed Jang Na Ra's acting. If I watch My Love Patzzi, do you think I will change my opinion about Jang Na Ra's acting?

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"hint, it doesn’t have a heroine you wanted to slap upside the head from episode to episode. "

I'm sorry to say, that's not much of a hint at all since it narrows down the field to... either!

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i'll add this drama to my "to watch list" ^__^

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lol... this is rare. agree, an interesting battlefield~

anyway i too like my love patzzi very much. it was my 1st comedic k-drama, 7 years ago (my 1st drama was winter sonata, 8 years ago). but no, thats not all about it why i like it. it was fast moving drama, no draggy, short, cute, funny and sweet. not to forget how much i hate that hee won until i cried. until now, i never found the villain characters as hateful as hee won. i didnt find jang nara annoying at all, i love how she was so honest showing all her bad side. but maybe, just maybe, because that time i had not have too much bubbly lead actress as i do now.

all in all, i enjoyed this drama very much. and this is one of a kind that i dont mind to watch it all over again whenever i have free time.

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It's nice to see someone standing up for what they like. Individualism adds to the variety, and makes the world we live in all the more interesting.
I think I'll be enjoying this intense battle... Bring out the popcorn- I mean kimchi!

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Ah...so this is the battle you were referring to.

Well, I watched this a long time ago, and all I can remember is that I was pretty ambivalent towards it. Jang Nara didn't really bother me (I think), and I think I enjoyed it for the most part, but I certainly wasn't moved, either.

But don't take that to mean that I would ever join Clan MacSamsooki in an epic battle against the almighty Javabeans and Dahee. ;)

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@ JB

"hint, it doesn’t have a heroine you wanted to slap upside the head from episode to episode"

Oh, come to think of it, you're absolutely right, I did want to slap Han Chae-young silly (please, woman, just talk to the guy, like, have an adult conversation, will ya?), but the adorableness of Lee Chun-hee, the kid, the low budget Pasta restaurant, the indifferent acting by Jo Hyun-jae - all of that balanced the slap-itchiness in my fingers.

But then again, I *really* wanted to slap JNR, like a lot more. I not-so-secretly wanted the evil and misunderstood Hee-won to bust out her inner bitch!

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As for Jang Nara.. I have never seen her in anything else, but I didn't notice any deficit in her acting when compared to most other female drama leads. The greatest actors (Meryl Streep, Kim Myung Min, Daniel Day-Lewis, etc.) are able to create and fully embody a character distinct from themselves. While Jang Nara certainly wasn't on that level, I honestly don't think most working actors (Korean or otherwise) are. I also don't think her character in My Love Patzzi demanded that level of skill. But her acting was believable, natural, and charming, whether she was the focus of the scene or just reacting to the characters around her.

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Any drama that has Kim Raewon is good enough for me.

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@ mie

That too!

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Now, Jang Nara in Wedding ->
urge-to-slap-inducing ANNOYING

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Ooh, I wanna see how this goes down...I'm glad this isn't on HBO Pay-Per-View ;) (ya know what I mean?)

Actually, MLP was the 2nd kdrama I've seen, I didn't finish the whole thing though. I remember finding Sweet Dream on my brother's mp3 collection; I liked it so much I used the melody as my ringtone (old phones had the ringtone composer then).

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Samsooki, Kim Rae Won....need I say more?
Mrs Samsooki, Kim Rae Won....really now.

@10 pabo ceo reom
>It's just fluff isn't it?
And you have a problem with that?
4 Weddings and A Funeral ain't Citizen Kane, either.

::Puts kilt back on and decides to come out from beneath Stirling Bridge.::
Not my favorite series, not my least favorite, not really a Jang Nara fan, but it didn't make me ask "why can't I get those 10 hours of my life back" (Style, I'm talking to you) A decent chick-flick style k-drama worth a bucket of popcorn. And hey...Kim Rae Won!

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I've already mentioned this to you, Samsooki (in fact, I'm pretty sure this discussion came from the first OT I ever posted in), but I despise MLP.

As much as I adore Kim Rae Won (LOVE. LOVE LOVE LOVE.) and have a fondness for Kim Jae Won (although I occasionally find myself wondering "how is he supposedly attractive, again?"), even they couldn't save that show for me. I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATED it. I made it halfway through the drama before I simply gave up, and that's saying something, since it was one of my first Kdramas and I hadn't yet developed real standards.

And I know you love Jang Nara, but she was so incredibly irritating. So was every other character, in fact. And to be honest, I've never liked Jang Nara. I don't think she's particularly pretty, her acting never speaks to me, and I can't stand her singing. Perhaps it's my hatred of MLP that colours my opinion of the actress, but I'd like to think that I'm open-minded enough to change my mind if she had shown a likeable side in anything else I've seen her in.

So, yeah. Sorry, Samsooki. As much as I generally respect your opinion, I'm completely against you on this one.

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i remember seeing this drama so long ago when i was younger and of course i fell in love with it .... though now i dont even remember how it ended. was that Jang Nara's character going somewhere then came back but the love story was not settled? :P

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this is 1 of the kdramas that lead me become a kdrama lover....

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Samsooki:

Thank you so much for writing this up! I had somehow managed to miss any mention of this show in the past, and after reading this I'm looking forward to watching it. Jang Nara's character sounds a lot like me, and therefore the idea of a happy ending for her is an appealing one ^^; I will certainly add My Love Pazzi to my list.

Now...

*sits back and waits for the fallout with her popcorn*

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@24 hjkomo,

actually, i found ryu shi won more annoying in "Wedding" than jang nara XD

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And not just Kim Rae Won, but Kim Rae Won with a pama with auburn highlights!!

Not that I care personally, but some folks tend to get worked up over Kim Rae Won...

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I was totally rooting for Kim Jae-won, actually, untll I reminded myself that I *hated* the heroine, so why do I want the guy I like to be the guy she picks? Very discombobulating viewing experience, to root that your guy will run away as fast as he can. ;-) BTW, not a KRW fan, just liked his character better of the two Wons.

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>Not that I care personally, but some folks tend to get worked up over Kim Rae Won…

You noticed that?

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LOL this is just tooooooo funny. I loved your arguments, Samsooki. I watched MLP so long ago and whilst I wasn't particularly enthralled by it, I watched until the end. And then when I saw a picture of Jang Nara at a cable car depot on a Swiss mountain, I was reminded of MLP as this was the only k-drama I had seen of hers.

Re: Only You. I don't know why I have the box set. It must have been on sale - heavily discounted. Or was it because I had just watched DGCHY and thought this would be just as entertaining? Epic fail.

However, back to the topic at hand, I will too sit back and watch the war of words on Jang Nara and MLP. ;)

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I first encountered Jang Nara in Success Story of Bright Girl.. where I first fell for Jang Hyuk hehe. I think she's cute in Bright Girl, and had taken a fond of her (I can see eyes rolled alll around hahahaha) then. Back then, Bright Girl was my first serious encounter with Kdrama (where I would loyally wait every week in front of the tv to see what's going to happen to my beloved Ki Tae. And I think Jang Nara was cute in it haha.

And because of Bright Girl, Love Pattzi became my first kdrama cd collection.

I watched through all the eps, didn't skip any part, thought the character set-up was quite nice and thought the story was so-so but enough to entertain me. But I thought her character was exaggerated much and she looked like she's trying hard, but never quite hit the right emotional button. And the story didn't grow on me, like Bright Girl did.

And can't wait for JB & Dahee's counter attacks. This is getting interesting. :P

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@22 mie
I'll second that!

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@ 31, snow

Oddly enough, RSW didn't bother me that much in Wedding, but JNR and Myung Se Bin's characters did....and YET, I enjoyed Wedding. It's weird...it was one of those dramas that had nothing going for it in terms of quality, performace, etc...but I was eager to watch each next ep. Go figure. *shrugs*

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Awww, haha. It's ok Samsooki. I think we are all guilty of enjoying one or two dramas that fall to the bottom of the critically acclaimed pile. For me it's the highly panned and constantly lampooned Witch Yoo Hee. Some dramas are just so bad that they are good, lol. Just think of it as we are doing these 'low-end' dramas a favor. If we didn't love them, who would?

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*giggles* I have personally never watched this drama since I don't like watching stuff that I consider "older" (as in it was made over 5 years ago). But I think this will definitely be an interesting battle to watch. Can't wait for the counter argument.

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omg this is HILARIOUS... and here i thought the death battle was gonna be samsooki vs. JB for binnie or KJH

hrm samsooki... you've actually got me semi-interested in watching MLP just to see if either you or The Tyranny and Mrs. Samsooki are right... but i've read multiple references to head-smacking Jang Nara so we'll have to see!

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@lovenyc52 -

Don't fall for the hype! High-End doesn't mean ONLY-End! There is value at the Gap too!

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27 Kender
"I made it halfway through the drama before I simply gave up, and that’s saying something, since it was one of my first Kdramas and I hadn’t yet developed real standards."

OMG I don't know why, but that made me LOL so hard.

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Hee hee! This is something fierce!

I loved this drama too, Jang Nara played the Patzzi role so well, she was cute as a button and a ball of hot energy. I loved the revenge sequences following the humiliation ones. And boy did I feel that humiliation, I got all choked up, lump in my throat and everything. Then when rich businessman KJW falls for her whilst snubbing Hee Won, zzzzing! Basically everyone got their comeuppance, 'cus that's the way Song Yi rolls, yo!

Kim Rae Won was total heartthrob here, I just loved him all cocky and nonchalant on the surface, swoon!

Anyway, Samsooki hwaiiting!

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*makes k-drama cast pre-drama release fist*

hwaiting!

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I think everybody is entitled to their own opinion. It doesn't mean that if JB didn't enjoy the drama and JN that you have the same feeling for the drama and JN. You have the choice to look into the drama itself and I'm sure JB can not do anything about it!

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Clan Samsookie wins this battle for the following reasons:

1. Kim Rae Won

2. I thoroughly enjoyed MLP first watch. It was even my 2nd purchased kdrama DVD box set, so it holds a special place in my heart.. (Save the Last Dance was my first!)

3. Jang Nara as an annoying, yet perky and can't keep me down main girl really intrigued me. i enjoyed the storyline!!!

However, i can't sit thru this WHOLE drama again due to the experiences of even better dramas i've seen since. but first watch was nostalgic...

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Samsooki:

"Don’t fall for the hype! High-End doesn’t mean ONLY-End! There is value at the Gap too!"

LOL oooh... while I'm there, are you guys discounting jeans any?

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When I watched this drama years ago, I really enjoyed it. It was simple, cute and funny. It was just a romantic comedy. Now a days I expect some kind of explosion or choreographed fight scene and a four way love. Even some suspense all in one drama. Kdrama just keeps on getting better.

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Might I add: I would have personally loved this drama if Song-yi was played by Sung Yuri circa Baekche princess whats-her-name. More OPW, and between a Kim X Won sandwich, I in heaven.

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