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Interview with Pasta’s scriptwriter

Here’s an interview with Seo Sook-hyang, who is the scriptwriter behind MBC’s drama Pasta. (The interview came out before last week’s two episodes aired.)

With Pasta, Seo is now in her third miniseries, having previously written 2006’s Mr. Goodbye and 2008’s Lawyers of Korea, and has earned the designation of being “a writer of well-made dramas.” Pasta is performing well despite a noted lack of birth secrets, uber-evil villains, or other makjang elements. In fact, the article calls it an “ordinary story,” but one buoyed by word of mouth that has helped keep the ratings rising, slowly but surely.

(Usually I like people more after interviews, but for some odd reason I’m not really responding to writer Seo in this one. Anyone else get the sense that her words don’t quite reflect what we see onscreen? In any case, I like hearing from writers and directors, since we get to hear more about a story’s intent and purpose than with actor interviews.)

How did Pasta get made?

“In order to tell the story about a restaurant and kitchen, I went around to Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Italian restaurants. I was surprised to find that Italian restaurants were battlegrounds. Japanese restaurants were quiet, perhaps because they have so many cold dishes, and Chinese restaurants prepare their sauces for jajang noodles ahead of time. Italian restaurants are pretty dynamic places, because it’s when the orders come in that the kitchen gets busy and goes crazy with the shouting. Taking these Italian restaurants as a microcosm of the workplace, the story developed with a boss (Chef Hyun-wook) who won’t work with women and the most junior cook (Yoo-kyung) who wants to be recognized for her skills.”

The character of Seo Yoo-kyung is realistic and adorable.

“In trendy dramas and romantic comedies, you have a lot of female characters who are either Cinderellas or brash like Sam-soon, and strong working women as well. I wrote it thinking most women fall in the middle, but it wasn’t easy. Cinderella has to meet a good man, while educated, spirited and passionate working women are rare.”

How did you make the character of Hyun-wook, who is strict about work but warm in love?

“I can write men characters pretty well, and I become possessed by them. This is the first time a female lead has been so engaging. These days, in almost all areas like politics, economics, culture and so on, men can’t really shout and have to show weakness. In a female-oriented era there has to be a softness to the drama, but Hyun-wook’s character thinks that men can find that confidence in work, too. In the past, men shouted.”

Hyun-wook and Yoo-kyung’s popularity as a couple is pretty strong.

“That’s thanks to the directing of Kwon Seok-jang and the acting of the actors. The most crucial part of a trendy drama is the chemistry of the leads, and it was difficult to guess how well the leads would get along. But the two of them are so good together. Thanks to the director and actors, the dramatic parts unfold fluidly. I spoke with Gong Hyo-jin after finishing Episode 2, and told her, ‘The character of Seo Yoo-kyung isn’t mine but yours, so do whatever you want.’ I think Gong Hyo-jin is so cute and acts very naturally. Lee Seon-kyun said that he would have fun playing around with Choi Hyun-wook.”

Looking at episodes like the one about the ginseng pasta, there were a lot of topics about the kitchen.

“I didn’t know much about cooking. I don’t cook. However, my writing office is in Yeouido, and I’ve been to about 50 Italian restaurants. The topic became more appealing. Recently when we had the heavy snows, there were snowmen built in front of the restaurants, and every restaurant’s snowman showed its own style. Cooks are always using their hands, so they show a lot of feeling in their work.

” In any restaurant, there’s conflict in the kitchen. It’s a little disappointing that the conflict wasn’t built up more because the people in the hall were lacking. And ginseng pasta isn’t a real dish, it’s something I made up to suit the character. The same goes for the three-flavor pasta.”

Did you anticipate the popularity of Pasta?

“Everyone told me that it wouldn’t be easy to make a hit. We don’t think of it as a trendy drama or a romantic comedy, we just think of it as ‘a genuine story of two people in a kitchen.’ That’s why the director said that we wouldn’t just breeze over things merely because it’s a romantic comedy. For instance, we used a different style than previously used in the scene when Yoo-kyung gets locked in the refrigerator. We go dry rather than comic, and we’re treating things realistically.”

What about the third and fourth characters, and the supporting characters?

“I tend to focus on the main characters, so I feel a bit sorry toward Alex and Honey Lee. They’re not characters who harass the leads or backstab, so they’ll find parts difficult to act. Even so, Alex acts well, I was really surprised. In the beginning, Honey Lee’s Se-young was a small character, but as she was featured more, she got more into the character.

“I didn’t know that Lee Sung-min, who acts the part of Seol Jun-seok, would be that good. The drama could have become boring because the narrative doesn’t have a troublemaker, but President Seol injected energy in to the drama.

“In Episode 4, he fought with Hyun-wook about the elimination of pickles, and in the latter half he was strong in the scene where Yoo-kyung and Hyun-wook’s love is exposed.”

Have you written the rest of the scripts?

“On February 26, I handed in the Episode 18 script, and now I have 19 and 20 left. If I planned out all 20 episodes from the beginning, I was afraid I’d get stuck in convention and cliches, so my writing style is to finish one episode, then have empty space to work with blank paper. So even I can’t fully predict what will happen in the next episode. That’s why writing it isn’t easy.”

Via Herald Biz

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Gong hyo Jin I adore *-*

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I'm currently watching the drama. i like what i'm seeing so far. i love the 'ordinary feels' of the drama. these days, getting old and such (the world is such a chaotic place as it is already) my preference tends to veer towards 'ordinary life story', light, trendy, fun, comedic spiced with romance (but not too saccharine sweet romance) drama where we can relate the story lines with real life (probably) occurrences. i like the chef hyun wook and soo-kyung characters. chef might barks as violent as the rottweiler in the kitchen but outside, he actually knows how to tell jokes (you just have to avoid the subject of food, though). I like their chemistry.
Honey Lee's Sae-young meanwhile lost to me. aside from being the beautiful ex and desperate to get her betrayed ex-lover's recognition, i don't see much of her. wonder what does the script writer has in store for her character.
Alex? well, he's suave and charming but hey, it's been three years since you first saw soo-kyung (and fell in love with her) and her locker is bursting with your late night/early morning cactus picture gifts. Man, CONFESS TO HER ALREADY!
The ex-president turned hall makneh is practically making me feels like wanting to chew antacid tablets! he is superrrrr nosey and supperrrr annoying!

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'So even I can’t fully predict what will happen in the next episode."
I do like this sentence! even the writer doen't know what will happen next, that makes sense, if we (fan) give some suggestion for next episodes, maybe she'll take it!
I adore the chemistry that the two main leads build, however, I wish for more skinship!

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I am enjoying this drama....great acting by all the people involved. It's not complicated nor competitive and a really nice change of pace from the usual wicked drama! :-)

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solid casts , but i feel uncomfortable with the lead actress long hair , as a cook ,
her hair is supposed to be neat , covered with net / hat , i like lead actor .

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Anyone else get the sense that her words don’t quite reflect what we see onscreen?

Yes, totally. I think she believes what she's saying, but it's not quite what comes across through her writing. I still stand by my opinion, no matter how many eps I watch: the writing and storytelling is pretty weak/bland and pretty much all that carries the drama is the wonderful chemistry between Gong Hyo Jin and Lee Sun Gyun. Seriously, if any two other actors were casted in this and with this kind of storyline, I'm sure I wouldn't have watched the drama till the end.

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Love the chemistry between the two main leads...but I give up on this drama after watching episode 16 since the conflict in this drama doesn't bite me at all... beside that, I used to be eaten up by the food porn at another dramas like Dae Jang Geum and Gourmet, but the pasta in this PASTA drama fails to draw my intention on it...though I love pasta esp. spaghetti...
Btw, Lee Seon Kyun looks so much younger in this drama...

^^~

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I also love the chemistry between GHJ and LSG, they are really adorable together!!! GHJ and LSG are always very good, I have liked them in many of the dramas and movies they have made. (Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy & Coffee Prince)

At the same time I think Alex has done a great job of making his character very likable, to the point that I feel a little bad that his admiration for GHJ is doomed to be unrequited.

As for Honey Lee's character I am less than impressed, she just doesn't seem to be fully involved in the process. Her performance is very much one note.

JB I agree it felt like there was something off about the way she was answering the questions. I just seemed weird, I don't know why?

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I think Pasta owes so much to the actors. The story is just ordinary - but the chemistry is sparkling.
I love the interactions between Lee Seon kyun and Gong Hyo Jin, and I think Alex also does a great job.

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I love Pasta, and I do like the “ordinary story" feel to the storyline. It's realistic. Afterall, it can be tiring to watch over the top villians all the time.

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I thought the interview was interesting, insightful, and as good as any other interview I've read on this website. I love the drama Pasta so maybe that makes a difference to me. I've read a number of entries on this website that say the storyline is weak. I haven't decided if that is true but I do think the acting by the two leads and the chemistry they have are what makes this drama. I think it is true that they carry this drama because of their abilities as good actors. I want to wait and see what the addition of the 4 episodes does to the story line.

She is a wonderful musician but I think Honey Lee needs acting lessons. Her character adds nothing to the story and that maybe because of the writing but Honey Lee has to take some of the responsibilities here. Her acting doesn't add anything to the drama.

For those who may not know much about this drama, it is on my list as one of the best dramas and one I will watch again.

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I really like Pasta. It took several episodes for me to get hooked, but by around episode 5, I was in for teh rest of it. The main couple is adorable, and Mr. Voice is amazing as usual. I think their relationship is quite different from what you see of lead couples in other dramas. I think they are kind of wasting the actor playing her younger brother though. He needs a storyline too!

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I don't care if the storyline was weak. I was hooked from first episode. The chemistry of Lee Seon kyun and Gong Hyo Jin were just amazing.

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i really like the simplicity of this drama...
but like some one mentioned before, the long hair in the kitchen bugs me...
Also Honey Lee can't act....i'm watching Partners right now, and she also suck in it.

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thanks for the interview, I do agree that she didn't really add anything to the drama that i haven't concluded from watching the drama myself, so maybe that's why it's lacking. The storyline is definitely nothing special because it happens everyday, even the mean cooks, yea they still exist, but the credit, as everyone else has stated, definitely goes to the lead actors and the director. I feel like the writer didn't really create such dynamic characters. Soo Kyung is the strong willed cook, but she could have easily gone after Kim Sam Soon's character, which was done so splendidly, but it's played in such a cute yet awkward manner that you can't help but keep watching her seemingly stupid but humorous actions. Hyun Wook's suppose to be the dynamic one but dude, as dynamic as he's is written, he still only seems to have 2 dimensions: loud obnoxious chef and sweet lover. The actor definitely added more to those two dimensions by finding a middle ground, he goes from a furrowed brow in one minute to a hard to suppress smile in another because that silly junior cook keeps smiling like a clown at him =D I definitely recommend it even though it appears to be a plain ordinary jane, but in such high packed excited lives that we are living in, some simplisticity is nice to ease things along.

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I LOVE PASTA.

that is all!

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--- but I like birth secrets, uber-evil villains, and other makjang elements... damn it!

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I didn't know the writer wrote Lawyers of Great Republic of Korea! I loved that one a lot, which was way much better in terms of writing in comparison to Pasta.

I think what Pasta has been trying to project is the ordinariness and realistic pacing of life. Something like Triple? But the difference is that Triple had a story to tell whilst Pasta? Nothing much. I have to agree with most of you that the only factor bringing the drama on so far is The Voice and GHJ. Like somebody said earlier, I doubt I would have continued watching thus far if somebody else acted their parts, or if their chemistry wasn't that sizzling. Sad case, and nearly a situation of wasted talent for both actors.

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Awesome chemistry....
Love... love my goldfish couple.

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I have to admit that I was slightly annoyed ( ok, really annoyed) by all the shoutings from the Chep. I know he's supposed to be egotistical and all that,but ...YIKES. Thank God, the story line between the couple was cute enough to help me hang on to the drama.
President Seol- he's the little guy that everyone hates. Not only he took the bribes,but he shifted the blame to someone else. He tried to divide the kitchen further by divulging the sensitive info of the (false?) salary ranges . Tsk tsk.
But you kno what,we need such character to giving the drama another dimension. We can't just have the two love birds enjoy each other without any struggles...that would make all kdrama BORING, he he .
ALEX....I'm sorry, but I'm biased. I LOVE him since MNIKSS,not as ALEX the actor, but the sweet voice from CLAZZIQUAI. I mean, he's like the Korean Canadian version of Barry White. I *SWOON* him.... ;)
GHJ I love her work very much. Her first drama that I saw was Biscuit Teacher w/Gong Yoo. In that drama,too,she had to struggle to validate her work quality,and had to prove to others that her love (w/ Gong Yoo character) was sincere.
Pasta- definitely one of my favorite for this year.

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Thank you for this article.

I truly believe the scriptwriter lucked out in the casting of Gong Hyo-jin and Lee Seon-kyun. Without the two leads, this drama would be quite bland.

The script is lacking balance in the characters. If you're going to introduce a character, please make good use of them instead of just having them hang around. (Poor younger brother of Seo Yoo-kyung. He's featured so little that I don't even remember his name.) Furthermore, just because the supporting characters don't harass or backstab the main characters shouldn't mean that they play a lesser part in the overall story. Well-rounded supporting characters are what make what could be an okay drama a great one. This drama needs that bit of oomph.

Even with that said, I do like "Pasta." Much like everyone else, it's the chemistry between the two leads that keeps me coming back for more. I just love them.

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I love Pasta, despite its lack of a dramatic storyline, annoying side characters etc etc etc. I just love it, period.

It is such a joy to watch something that is so simple yet delectable. I grin from ear to ear everytime I watch this drama. The last few episodes also give me misty eyes alongside the grins. In fact, the first 1/3 is a bit uneven as you are not sure what the story is really about but then you just become a member of that kitchen and get along with whatever happens there day in day out. The second half is getting better and better because I am no longer concerned whether there is a story or not. In fact, I find the dramatic moments/conflicts a bit forced (or even unnecessary) because seeing the main couple falling in love and how they treasure each other is more than enough for me. I love how their story is more than boy meets girl - as the professional development side really impresses me. I will miss it when it ends tonight!

What a pleasant surprise that the writer also penned my another favorite, Lawyers of Korea which is so underrated. That one certainly is more kdrama-like with quite a lot of dramatic elements as opposed to the fresh and simple Pasta.

Like so many have said already, GHJ is the one carrying this show beautifully and superlatively, complemented by the excellent by LSK - who is so very sexy here. Their chemistry is certainly the best in the recent crops of drama, after City Hall's KSA and CSW.

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My favorite drama! It was refreshing to enjoy a drama without people having to be sneaky and evil. I agree with everyone, the chemistry was STRONG! I loved it!

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Loved "Pasta!" Watching "Soulmate" now on DramaFever.com - has anyone seen it - is it worth watching all the way through?

Jay
San Francisco, CA

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I like this drama a lot but what puzzles me is how a junior cook who doesn't make a lot of money can afford balenciaga bags and a Chloe Marci? I thought it's about hardworking and being ordinary.... Just my two cents

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where can i find email of korean drama's scriptwriter?

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