Casting galore! Here are the latest additions to KBS’s upcoming Haeundae Lovers, the romantic comedy with the outrageous-but-hilarious premise of a prosecutor getting amnesia while on the job and thinking he’s a gangster, then falling for a gangster’s daughter. Whom he somehow sets up house with. Cute, cute.
And who better to play that upright cop than the stoic, serious Kim Kang-woo (Story of a Man) — who, we can only hope, is then divested of his dignity by degrees as he ingratiates himself with the criminal element he came to shut down?
In addition to Kim Kang-woo, also cast are I Need Romance’s Jo Yeo-jung as the heroine and Jung Seok-won as the cold businessman-lawyer-hotel-VP. Now we’re adding former idol-turned-actress Nam Gyuri (49 Days) as the daughter of the Minister of Justice and Kim Kang-woo’s fiancée. Hahaha. That cracks me up and I don’t even know anything about her. It’s a solid (if obvious) premise, and I hope the drama lives up to all the conflicts inherent within, by which I mean The Funny.
Super Nova idol Park Gun-il (King Geunchogo, Hon) also joins the show as the youngest uncle of the fish shop (named for the uncles) that Jo Yeo-jung manages. He’s quick on the uptake, glib, and calculating, which means I can totally see his character playing with expectation/type. Haeundae is located in the south, in the Busan area, where stereotypically the men are coarse and masculine in contrast to Seoul’s metrosexual urbanites. I’m going to guess that the other uncles are much more in the standard Busan vein, crude where Park is smooth, quick with the fists whereas Park fights with words.
Park Gun-il will be paired with another idol, T-ara’s So-yeon, whom his character has a one-sided crush.
But the idols don’t stop there; we’ve also got Kang Min-kyung of girl group Davichi, who plays Jung Seok-won’s secretary who’s also Jo Yeo-jung’s high school classmate. Ha, that won’t get complicated or anything, will it? You’ve got the gangster daughter, the cop, and the attorney; it’s like Sandglass: The Comedy Version. Her character’s haughty and prim, but also a “cute villainess.” Okay, I’m still trying to work out how all those words go together, but I’m thinking it can work. I hope.
For all the idols involved, I have a pretty favorable impression of most of the ones named here; Nam Gyuri used to bug the ever-loving heck out of me until 49 Days, where she was serviceable as the naive almost-dead girl. I didn’t love her, but I thought she did a decent job and fit her role; it was often the character that bugged more than her performance, necessarily. I’ve only ever seen Park Gun-il in Hon, but I thought he was creditably mysterious and creepy; that may be thanks to the sharp directing more than anything, but I remembering coming away from that horror-thriller with a positive impression of him. And Kang Min-kyung was one of the better idols in Vampire Idol, where she played the hard-working “Lightning” delivery girl. True, there was a very low bar for acting on that show, but at least she wasn’t one of the really uncomfortably bad ones.
Basically, Haeundae Lovers takes some of dramaland’s more tired cliches and makes ‘em funny again; I generally dislike amnesia when trotted out as an Act 3 game-changer in an angsty melo, but when it’s the premise AND funny? I’m all onboard. Fantasy Couple totally hit my funny buttons for its premise (though it missed a few buttons on the execution front), so if this can improve on that setup, I’ll be a happy camper.
I have hopes for the drama, and the producers seem solid. If anything, my biggest concern is about how their previous work — serious, dramatic — will translate into a comedic piece. But their hands seem capable enough: PD Song Hyun-wook of period war drama Comrades and critically acclaimed medical show Brain, while writer Hwang Eun-kyung did action-thriller City Hunter, political drama Daemul, and medical series New Heart.
Haeundae Lovers follows Big on KBS, and premieres August 13.
Jo Yeo-jung, filming on Haeundae Lovers
- Jung Seok-won joins Haeundae Lovers
- Kim Kang-woo and Jo Yeo-jung for Haeundae Lovers
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