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[Revisiting Dramas] Second-lead-driven second watch for Delightful Girl Chun-hyang

By @fanitha

When I read this theme of the month, I knew it was time for me to get on my computer and start typing. Delightful Girl Chun-hyang is the first drama written by the famous Hong sisters and coincidentally also the first drama I watched from them. The first time I watched this drama, I was in my early twenties, which was an age where I had the idea in my mind of love as the most romantic thing in the world, so I used to idealize love stories. I was young and didn’t know anything about real life yet.

Now on the second time visiting this, drama I’m in my later twenties, and I have a new set of mind. I have been heartbroken, I have bills to pay, and I‘m part of the working society. What I thought was important is not important anymore and know I see the importance of real things like stability, hard work, and maturity to name a few.

I thought I would answer the questions given in this Theme of the Month in order to reflect on the outcome of this challenge.

Is it any different this time around?

Watching almost 10 years after the first time I can say that it was definitely a different experience for me. The first time I watched it, I think I saw it like the writers intended for us to see it, like a cute love story between the OTP who were destined to be and who fought so hard in order to finally be together. I loved our hero Mong-ryong and I cheered for him to finally get together with Chun-hyang. But who wouldn’t love him—he was cool, he was athletic, he was strong, and of course he was handsome. Then we had the villain, ajusshi Byun Hak-do: He was pure evil and wanted to separate the OTP using any means necessary, he was cruel, and he was self-centered. He had everything we need in a villain for us to hate him and I sure did.

But then I watched this drama for the second time and it was like watching a totally different drama! The opinion I had of Mong-ryong and Hak-do changed diametrically, and got me confused because it was nothing like the first time. Now I saw Mong-ryong as a spoiled brat—he was a guy who didn’t know what he wanted in life and who depended too much on his parents to solve his problems. And Hak-do was a mature man with a very clear vision of what he wanted, he was successful by his own means, and he was also someone with a set mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that at the middle of the drama Hak-do become petty and mischievous, but I’m also aware that it kind of had to do with the mixed signals the heroine was sending. I do think he becomes warped due to the circumstances but at the end for me he was redeemed.

Does it hold up, or was it really best left in its own time?

This drama was aired on 2005 so rewatching it does make you feel that so much time has passed. They had cell phones, but they are so old! And the way it was shot, it is not the hi-definition we are now used to seeing in our dramas. So in this area for me the drama does not hold up! Those many years that have passed can be felt when watching it.

A contract relationship is still something we viewers love to watch (especially me, this is my biggest catnip!) and I do think the characters’ personalities are things we can still see in recent dramas, so that does hold up. There would be only one thing I’m not sure could hold up in this times, and that would be the reason they had to get married. I’m not Korean, nor I am familiarized with their current social environment, but I think the situation in which they were caught which led them to getting married (to ward off social stigma of being seen in compromising circumstances) probably wouldn’t work now.

But overall I do think this drama holds up and it can still be watched and be enjoyed as in the years it was aired.

Do you still love it as much as you used to?

I still like it and I still enjoyed rewatching it, and one of the things that make that possible was that I watched it with a “new set of eyes” so it wasn’t like watching the same story all over again, but it was like watching the story from another character’s point of view, which made it very enjoyable. It continues to be a romantic comedy drama and the cute short scenes at the end of every episode still brought a smile to my face. And this drama still remains in my top three dramas of the Hong sisters, right beside Best Love and Master’s Sun. This is a drama I continue to recommend, and for me it’s a classic!

When I started writing this, I felt that it was kind of related to last month’s theme of how your K-drama tastes have changed, and I was thinking that maybe I got it wrong. But after giving it some thought I decided that it wasn’t wrong because that’s also related; who you are when you are watching a drama is connected with your actual opinion of it and if you’re rewatching a drama several years after, your new life experiences may influence your opinion. Of course, I have seen many more romance dramas after Delightful Girl and lots of them were contract relationship dramas. That also opened my perspectives and that’s why I can confidently say that Delightful Girl Chun-hyang is still a very good drama which is based in a very strong Korean folktale. I’m happy I got the chance to revisit this lovely drama and that it made me see a different side of the story my youngest self didn’t allow me to see.

On the bad side, now I’m left wishing there was someone out there writing a new sageuk with the story of Chun-hyang something with the quality of Seven Day Queen (with a happy ending). And also left wishing Han Chae-young makes a drama comeback!!

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Omg!! Finally someone else who liked and rooted for the Hak do..so mature, kind and generous! I had serious second lead syndrome till he went berserk and evil later in the plot.. although I suspect the writers did that to make the viewers root for their original intended otp!

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But... he didn't suddenly become 'evil' - from the beginning he was petty and kind of a dick when he didn't get what he wanted. It has admittedly been a while since I last watched the drama, but I do remember him depriving her of a scholarship because she pissed him off. And then when he found out she wasn't manipulating him, he still did nothing to help her - despite knowing how badly she wanted to go to college - because it kept her dependent on him.

Now I feel like a rewatch. :)

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@jules you nailed how I felt about Hak-do! But I only realized that after my rewatch. :( I used to like his maturity pre-crazy era too and didn't notice how he was more to blame for ruining Chun-hyang's life more than Mong-ryong, or CH's mom, or even Chae-rin early on in the series.

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I felt like the scholarship thing was a mistake (& god knows how many Mong-ryong made) but he did redeem himself later (before going crazy again)... but it's possible I was just so annoyed by Mong-ryong that I sided with him automatically. Watched it soo long ago.. maybe a re-watch is needed!

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That's exactly what I think about the scholarship thing.

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I felt the same way...it felt like they wrote him nice then purposely changed his behaviors to the bad guy type. It was a complete personality change from an adult who wanted to help the girl he was falling in love with to a petty little boy. It didn't jive with the initial writing for me. But I understood why they did it.

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My favorite part of this drama (and I loved every bit of it) was the historic endings after each episode. I missed the first few the first time I watched it--and then went back and found them. SO FUNNY.

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oh yeah ,,those ending arw so funny
??
i watched it when i was in junior high school and i just thought that those endings were just for fun,,,
but it was really the historical story behind this drama ???
i just knew it recently when i read the folktale about chunhyang

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Those endings were, in my opinion, the best parts of the dramas.

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i choose to love you
the song sung by their friends on their wedding is still in my playlist until now hahaha

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oh my !!!!recall those feelings
if i heard this song sung in other shows i'll always remember sassy girl chunhyang,,,
i love hyorin version of this song

other song of this drama that is still lingering on my head is izi-emergenzy room ??
https://youtu.be/6hC7hIeJSHo

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I love thst song! Especially Ji Sung's version in Protect the Boss.

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This was my first ever Kdrama and I loved everything about it, it was in my Top 10 list back in 2007 and it still is today!

Being in a drama slump, I decided to re-watch this just for the laughs but I still went through all the emotions I did the first time, I laughed, I cried and felt everything they felt! I admit, I did find the way they got married a little silly but I just wanted to see Mong-ryung falling for her and acting all jealous and petty!

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I remember Mong Ryong's father being a really out-there character, I loved him and have loved that actor ever since.

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Ahn Suk-hwan! I suffered through Witch Yoo-hee just to watch him and Jae-hee be a dad and son duo again... too bad he keeps playing annoying villains. :(

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I also love his character to pieces, he was such a fan of Chun Hyang!!

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HAHA! I just had the exact opposite experience! I mean, I eventually rooted and fell for Mong-ryong the first time I watched it (because Jae Hee is LOVE), but, maybe because the characters themselves gave him such a hard time throughout, I actually thought of his actions in the beginning as a lot worse when I first watched and thought he deserved all the angst he got trying to win her over.

Then, when I went back recently, I had this moment when I realized he was just a freakin' high school kid who got roped into marriage way too young AND Choon-hyang didn't really put herself out there with him either, considering they even made a plan to help him get into his Noona's school. I realized that she never even confessed before she pushed him away. Yes, this was partially due to her thinking she was fighting a losing battle and him being an idiot for not understanding that there was something more between them, but still.

I guess maybe because I came to the first episodes expecting to have to steel myself to his immaturity, it was surprising for me to realize that it wasn't all his fault. BOTH of them were immature in handling/realizing their feelings. It's simply that Choon-hyang's conflict inspires more sympathy and we understand her hesitance to fight for what she wants. I just realized I couldn't blame him for not being able to take responsibility for their relationship when they were so young and didn't even start in the right way. Frankly, aside from the manipulation from the second leads, the conflicts/growth between the young couple in this show proved to be more engaging than I remembered.

Lol, Mong-ryong is still, of course, a frustrating, immature character at points, but he was also super endearing and made up for it. I think what struck me as refreshing about him upon going back is how, even though he fumbled and messed up a lot, he was always, ALWAYS honest to his emotions, even when he was too much of an idiot to figure them out yet. He never held anything back. Needless to say, by the end of my rewatch, I was even more fond of him than before.

Unfortunately, I took to the second lead even worse this time around. Because, for me, there is no excuse for a grown man to be acting the way he did, even before his most problematic behaviors showed. I could honestly never really forgive him for the way he set up a scholarship for her, only to snatch it away at the last moment because he got jealous and felt betrayed by her. I'll admit that I think that Choon-hyang was very clear-cut about how she felt about him and that there wasn't much room for him to form expectations of her.

Awesome to get such a different perspective though!

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"he was always, ALWAYS honest to his emotions, even when he was too much of an idiot to figure them out yet"

Heehee~ Mong-ryong in a nutshell.

He gets this goofy grin on his face when a date with Noona is cancelled and he has to help Chun-hyang with the shop, even while his mouth is saying "But I HATE chores!"

Why is no one funding a reunion show for Jae-hee and Han Chae-young???

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Agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. I just always found it creepy and stoopid (yes stoopid not stupid) that that grown ass man had a thing for a child in high school then got upset when she acted like one.

Because of this drama and Valid Love I just can't seem to like Uhm Tae Woong.

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The OTP is ❤

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I agree with every comment in this thread, even the ones that contradict!

I still love this drama. ♥ ♥ ♥

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Song Jae-rim is awesome.

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Haha!

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I understand how you feel ?

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I love this show so much T______T

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*dropping this awesome OST here*

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLJ9JDOaMyg

...is it really about a dead guy? :O

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I was much older than you when I watch this drama...probably a couple years after it aired. I was already there with your feelings on your second time around. I could not relate to the hate that was being spewed out by the commenters for Hak Do and actually thought he was the better guy for her, until they wrote him into a bad guy. I fell in love with UTW in this role and have been his fan ever since (not getting into recent events). I've said to a lot of responders to my comments that old eyes like mine see dramas in a much different way than the young do. Our life experience definitely affect our view of what is happening on our screens and our tolerance or intolerance for certain behaviors is vastly different. There are way more shades of gray for many of the things we see, but also some definite lines that are drawn too.

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I'm the opposite. I watched this when I was young and initially liked Hak-do more at the start. He was nice to her and seemed more mature. I also hated the fact that Mong-ryong "made" Chun-hyang lose her scholarship when she had to carry him to the motel.

It wasn't until a rewatch years later when I realized that Hak-do was a manipulative jerk early on when he offered and rescinded the scholarship on a whim, then acted like the hero for Chun-hyang and her mom.

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Memories. This was the third kdrama I've watched since I was introduced to it. I remember being creeped out by HD being obsessed with a high school girl. I rewatched this last year and sadly it didn't hold up as I ended up skipping episodes. The high school years were fun but when they got to college, I ended up skipping thru it.

But after so many dramas later I finally understood how MR and CH were considered married even without having a ceremony. I remember being confused by this.

Anyone else feel like watching their cameos in My Girl after reading this post?

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Their cameo in My Girl was the best surprise ever!
I'm not going to spoil it if you haven't watched "My Girl." (But if you haven't watched it, WHY NOT?)

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waaah my girl make me fall in love with lee dong wook
lee dong wook drama that i still remember and his masterpiece after goblin hahahaha

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I didn't recognize them in that cameo! But I wised up after the 3rd rewatch *cough*

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Speaking of cameos, Hacker Ajumma had a cameo here too. :D

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I also loved the cast. Choong Hyang's friends, played by Moon Ji-Yoon and Lee In-Hye. (I didn't recognize Ji-Yoon in Cheese in the Trap. He was so sleazy. And I'd liked him so much as Bang Ji-Hyuk.)

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I get super happy when I see them in anything too! Especially Ji-hyuk, who was captain of the Mong-Chung ship. Or is Mong-ryong's dad the captain..? ?

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This is my favorite drama! I've revisited it so many times. I remember hating Hak-do when I was younger, but I find that I continue to hate him as I grow older, although for very different reasons. I found it unacceptable for a man his age to be so petty and selfish, and that lack of maturity, for me, was different from Mong-ryong's immaturity because Hak-do's was dangerous in real-world ways due to his financial and powerful capabilities. I love that you point out Mong-ryong's spoiled nature, though, which of course is almost insufferable in the early episodes LOL. Thank you so much for spotlighting my favorite show :)

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Thanks, @fanitha for starting this Chun-hyang party. :D

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I started to watch this drama a while ago. I really like contract relationships, although paradoxically, most of them in Dramaland have dissappointed me (For instance: fated to love you, prime minister and I, full house, and the worse of all: lie to me).
Anyway... i started to watch this one and couldnt finish, then i read the Plot in wikipedia, and i realise i would hate the subplots so much that it was not worth to watch it. I found both second leads' motivations so stupidly unreal that i just left it dropped. I only watched part of the last episode, to see if at least the end was worthy.
Sadly it was not.

Now in this post i found out this is the first drama from the hong sisters!!!
Well... that explains everything! LOL???
I apologize if my opinion is harsh. I have watched several dramas from the Hong sisters and they love playing with noble idiocy, absurd villains, crazy situations that you never understand where do they come from and lies and intrigue.
It is sooo bizzarre!
I suppose i belong to the minority who cannot enjoy the Hong sisters' productions.
But that doesnt mean you guys should think the same..
I am glad you had fun revisiting an old drama.
And i would also like a
Han Chae-young comeback drama. ?

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Not challenging, but could you explain to me what's the problem with Lie To Me? Lie to Me was one of my 1st K-dramas (maybe that's why I can't see some of the flaws) but I don't understand why it gets so much hate... I feel like I've seen much worse K-dramas...

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This is one of my earliest kdrama watch too. Haven't got the time too rewatch, but i still love/listen to the OST occasionally. The 'haengbok hagil bare' / sad song still can make me feel sad and melancholy.

But what I remember most, is that cringe worthy/awkward dance scene in the early episode.

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I also wish Han Chae-young makes a drama comeback!

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I usually re-watch my dramas but this one never got a re-run. I guess becuase I can still remember how I felt in the last few episodes. I didn't like that they had to separate like that. Hope to see more of Jae Hee (in good roles and good dramas) soon though.

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I found the angst and the separation unnecessary, but I think they needed time to grow up and settle down in their professions. But I hated all those second lead interferences and the immaturity of the main leads too.

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I watched this for the first time last year- and I Loved it. I was team Mong-ryong all the way- even though at times he annoyed, disappointing and frustrated me with his thoughtless actions. Hak do was interesting and mature, and yeah in the real world he might have been a better choice- but he still came off as kind of a creep to me. When Hak do turned twisted in the middle/end- I felt totally justified for not liking him all along. I also really loved the music in this show, like seriously- those songs were awesome-. The only part of this I did not like was that scheming evil noona going away, getting married and finding happiness before the main leads whose life she helped messed up. She should have suffered more for what she did to them. Anyways a sageuk of this would be really cool- especially if Han Chae-young and Jae Hee make appearances in it.

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Hong Sisters write the worst second lead girls :((( The noona was annoying in every possible way!

And I love the songs too, they all sounded fun/epic/heartbreaking as the scene required!

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12 years ago!! I had really hoped that I would see more of the actors in other projects and that they would all be successful. But for many of them, DGCH is still their most well known show and what i remember them for. ):

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I watched this drama for the first time last year and really didn't like it. I actually had to force myself to finish the drama. I bet if I watched this when it was new or still fairly new I would have a very different opinion. I found the situation that led them to get married silly and overly contrived. I also didn't like any of the characters, especially Chun-hyang, who is the main character. I wish I had seen this back in the day as lots of people rave about how great it is but sadly I wasn't able to.

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Why is Han Chae-Young not doing dramas anymore?

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***I was actually going to write about this this was my gateway drama. So I'll just paste at least what I've written so far.

My first kdrama ever. Didn't know what to expect  (Ok maybe I lied, I actually saw My sassy girl before this and I hated it with a passion).

That first opening sequence totally got me. Our lovely heroine bound in a head shackle, the villain cackling to cut her head off. Then Myong ryong comes into the picture vowing to save the girl, his minions running and suddenly the music rises to a crescendo. Ack, my heart! Martial arts fight scene ensues (which I love), our lead walking like a gangsta through that chaos. Suddenly, we see our heroine totally has saved herself and in fact is schooling the villains with their hands up like naughty school boys. How fucking awesome. I knew right then there, I was going to enjoy this ride.

I've never seen a drama quite like this. With the engaging music suiting the scene at play. With matrix like movements which at that time was quite modern and fresh. Nowadays it's pretty dated. The quality of the film also feels dated compared to now but back then, it was pretty good.

I still love this drama but in different way now. Feelings have changed. I've seen better dramas than this at this point. The storyline was a bit flimsy, the hero a bit whiny, the heroine a bit of a martyr, the villain a bit 2 dimensional. But yet, I see clips of this drama and all that feelings of first love and excitement comes back. I love the memories that it brings back more than the drama itself.

PS. I still love the OST of this. That hasn't changed one bit.

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I think this was one of the very first kdramas I ever watched. So, so funny xD

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My first kdrama, my first crush Jae Hee :). Thanks for bringing back the memories. I watched it for first time in my early twenties and second time watched it in my late twenties. The experience was same, my emotions were same. I cried with them and laughed with them. Finally I realized my love for Jae Hee never changed :)

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For me, a few dramas would be up there in the list of "Second-lead-driven second watch":

1. The King 2 Hearts: Eun Shi Kyung, my Earnest Bot, I love you. JJS and LYJ made a stellar couple. It doesn't hurt that this drama also has LSG's best performance to date.

2. DOTS: Kim Ji Won and Jin Goo Killed it! Smashed it!

3. Goblin: Grim Reaper aka Kim Woo Bin-shi and Kim Sun. Although this drama classifies more in my "Bromance-driven second watch" list more :D

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