[Revisiting Dramas] Twelve years later, still a lover of Lovers in Prague
by Guest Beanie
It was 2005 and I was 17 years old. Between AP classes, marching band, and college prep, Korean dramas were to me as they are now—an escape from real life.
In the 12 years since, I’ve gone to college, worked in Korea, got married, and I’m now back in the U.S. I have a folder on my laptop with all-time favorite dramas: Lovers in Prague, On Air, Goong, 18 vs 29, and Alone in Love. Of those, I had not watched Lovers in Prague for the longest time so I decided to rewatch it and see what it would be like in 2017.
I started with Episode 13, because I didn’t need to watch 18 episodes of something I’ve already watched. And, fellow Beanies, you know how wrong that assumption can be. I got hooked.
What held up to the test of time? I loved this OST back in 2005 and hearing the familiar operatic strains over the speakers as the beautiful city of Prague was shown—this is some timeless music. Most importantly, and why I ended up watching the entire series again: Lovers in Prague has one of the spunkiest, smartest heroines in a drama, EVER.
I’ve always been a fan of Jeon Do-yeon because I forget that she’s acting—she seems like the character she’s playing. As Yoon Jae-hee, the president’s daughter but a bona fide diplomat, this is still a huge win in 2017. You can tell she practiced speaking the different languages (Czech, Japanese) instead of just pretending. She isn’t afraid to state her feelings and go after her crush (Kim Joo-hyuk as Choi Sang-hyun), even if he’s being a timid, gruff mouse (yes, timid gruff mice exist). She’ll even state how embarrassed she is but still act on her feelings. What surprised me was how well her style translated; I wanted to rock some of the cute shorts/suit jacket combos she wore to work.
As someone who’s been in the working world for awhile, I also appreciated how not-perfect she was. I related to her being a respected diplomat but forgetting things like changing out of your slippers and into your work heels as you’re going off to work (I’m like this). Something else I noticed was that she seemed to have a minimal amount of makeup on, which was very realistic to me and quite refreshing. Then again, we’ve moved into the super HD world now and maybe fewer actresses want to go the natural route because all the imperfections are so high-definition? Jae-hee’s hair isn’t always perfectly coifed (even frizzy! gasp!) and sometimes it seems like she only has eyeliner and lipstick on, but that’s what it’s like to work five days a week in a very demanding job.
And, as an added bonus, there are a host of familiar faces in very early roles—shout-out to Ha Jung-woo in his first recognizable part for a drama! I’d completely forgotten about Jang Geun-seok being in this too, as well as Eunjung (from T-ara), Andy (ugh his stilted acting) and Shim Eun-kyung (in a brief cameo). They all look SO young.
However, in the decade that has passed since first watching the drama, I’ve also become more cognizant of a few things that I hadn’t realized before. Rewatching this, I really cringed at how many times the male characters would grab Jeon Do-yeon’s wrist. I recognize this straightaway when I watch dramas now but it’s not something that stuck out to me then. It was a pleasant surprise, though, when Sang-hyun started to cut off Jae-hee, to hear her say, “I’m not done speaking yet. I’ve got more to say so you need to listen.” It was a powerful moment that sometimes we don’t even get in our 2017 dramas, as male characters constantly talk over women who seem to have more to say.
Unfortunately, another unique part of this drama hasn’t changed much since 2005 is the representation of differently abled characters such as her best friend, Yoon-kyu, in his wheelchair. I rarely see characters like these in dramas even now and I wish it was something that was seen more. I appreciated how Yoon-kyu, in the last episode, contemplates snowboarding again and gets a potential love interest of his own.
As an older adult, I total squeed upon seeing real kisses and more of an adult relationship in this drama. We still get cop-outs in 2017 sometimes and I forgot how R-rated some of these Prague kisses were! I appreciated the fact that Jae-hee was honest with Young-woo (played by the swoony Kim Min-joon, in a very shaggy haircut) and her current feelings. Sang-hyun, who could have easily led Jae-hee on, was also pretty honest in saying he wasn’t ready for a relationship and asking her to please stop hitting on him. But once he was ready, he was forthcoming about his changed feelings.
While there were still some problematic aspects to the drama (did the conflicting diplomat really have to be from Japan instead of some other country?), the reasons why I enjoyed this drama continue to be reasons why I enjoy watching dramas today. It had a well-rounded cast with adorable side characters (Sang-hyun’s aunt was simply lovable, as was bodyguard Ha Jung-woo), hearty friendships, great acting, lovely OST, a strong heroine, and a solid ending. Minimal angst was another strong draw, despite almost going down the amnesia rabbit-hole with Young-woo. My heart broke for Young-woo in second lead syndrome and I totally got annoyed with Yoon Se-ah’s clingy, weepy character all over again (but you’ve gotta admit, girl’s got the saddest eyes ever).
Thanks to both Dramabeans for reminding me what a good drama this was and, of course, to the drama gods for bringing us this drama in the first place!
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