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[Drama Chat] Screenwriter Park Ji-eun and her dramas

In anticipation of the much-buzzed Queen of Tears premiere next week, this is your place to talk about the dramas penned by screenwriter Park Ji-eun. You from Another Star, The Legend of the Blue Sea, Crash Landing on You — these titles are definitely not a big deal in dramaland, heh. Looking at a writer’s body of work is one of my favorite things to do, since it lets you see patterns, motifs, and the things they love about storytelling.
 

What’s your favorite Park Ji-eun drama? Or, what’s your favorite element of a Park Ji-eun script? Let the chatting begin!

 
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The way she writes romances that goes beyond the cliche "romcom". She has the ability to develop the family and friendship aspects, which can be seen Legend of the Blue Sea (the lack of fatherly affection and the friendship the mermaid developed). In addition, she also has the ability to humanized the enemy, in the case of Crash Landing On You. where contrary to most people belief, there are not just the "bad North Koreans", as there are good ones like the gang of ahjummas who adopted Seri into their fold and who can forget the five soldiers, that include Pyo Chi Soo (who looks gruff on the outside, but inside he is just the teddy bear. Also, I love how she put so much thoughts and attention, not just to the main characters, but also the main characters. One of the best characters she ever written is Kim Young Min's character, Jung Man-bok, a North Korean wiretapper coerced by Cheol-gang to facilitate criminal activities, which has made him feel guilty about his work. He is known as "The Rat" among members of the village due to his job, resulting in his family being ostracized.

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My favorite about her dramas is that she knows how to get the casting right. If she's a force strong enough to pick parts of the cast, she has a good, keen and discerning eye.

The only work of hers that I've seen is You From Another Star. I loved it. She wrote a very compelling villain played by Shin Sung-ruk and once again, it is a testament to her keen attention to detail.

From her resume, it is clear that she tries her hands on several genres and is successful to a far greater percentage. She has done a comedy to perfection (The Producers), her romance dramas are on point. Another big plus, her fantasy elemental dramas are well done (You From Another Star, Legend of the Blue Sea). Her weekender is always referenced as a very loved one. Just learning a few moments ago that she's the one who penned it, I can say for a fact that she is a well-rounded screenwriter.

Final verdict: Queen of Tears is in safe hands. It'll be a 10 year reunion for me since You From Another Star.

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I watched Legend of the blue sea a while ago but didn't like it. Yet I just finished my love from the star and enjoyed it very much. The same goes for CLOY though the latter half was a bit flat.
For now, my favorite is my love from star but I am anticipating Queen of tears with bated breath

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I think she does a good job at writing compelling female leads. Although LotBS isn't my favorite drama, I do think it follows a pattern throughout that each drama has a distinctive, ultimately likeable female lead even though it may be easy not to (the leads in CLoY and MLFAS don't strike me as automatically likeable). A part if that will be the actress chosen to play them of course, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed here. We'll see!

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I actually dropped Crash Landing on You because I didn't like the FL, and didn't want to invest for *that* ending. I don't see much love for it, but The Legend of the Blue Sea remains one of my favorite fantasy-romance dramas. Say what you will about Lee Min-ho, but I think this was his best romance role, and the FL (the awesome Jun Ji-hyun) was strong, funny, quirky, and all-around awesome. My first few dramas were actually C-dramas (thanks to the Netflix recommendations algorithm), but I was curious about this new-to-me TV world, and stumbled across some K-dramas on Hulu. I can't remember if this was the first or second K-drama I watched, but it is the drama that made me fall head-over-heels for K-dramas. Looking back, the fact that it used almost every trope in the book was a great crash course in learning the narrative conventions of this form of storytelling. The fish out of water story with the FL learning how modern Korean life works taught me, too. It's still my favorite instance of intertwined past lives I've seen in any drama, and probably launched this as one of my favorite tropes. The sweet and angsty romance pulled me in, and the ending - perfectly happy, against all odds - is still one of my favorites. I'm definitely curious about Queen of Tears!

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Crash Landing on You is my mother’s favorite drama of all time. I enjoyed it, just not that much. I liked Producers the best. Short, witty, get out. You From another Star did have a great lead actress performance and introduced me to Shin Sung-rok as he chewed up scenery as the villain. Legend of the Blue Sea just keft me cold.

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Left me cold.

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Oh that’s really interesting! How far did you get in CLOY before you dropped? The FL becoming a more sympathetic character is one of the things I really love about CLOY (and I have a different interpretation of the ending), so I’m just curious. LotBS is on my list for sure, and I’ll bump it up a few spots after reading your rec!

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Haha I didn't get very far! 😅 My mom enjoyed CLOY, so I'm thinking about giving it another try. It's encouraging to read your interpretation of her character and of the ending!

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CLOY is worth re-trying and I think the FL’s character growth is a shining light of the drama. I really like the fellowship she built with the five soldier ducklings and the village ahjummas.

The FL characters in both CLOY and You From Another Star are ‘princessy’ but I like the character growth of CLOY so much better.

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You said exactly how I feel about CLOY and LOTBS :D

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Wow- I appreciate your honesty! You are one brave lady and this is a safe space. I only see extreme love for CLOY in responses. I liked it overall, especially the men, but I had huge issues with the ending and the fact my SML was killed off😩😩😩. I agree completely with you on legend. Main couple is the best and story is so different. Loved it for Lee Min-Ho- whom is given a chance to show many sides to his character.

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Aww thank you!! 😊 Because it was one of my first K-dramas, I hold a soft spot for LOTBS!! And the romance and resolution were really so nice!! 🥹

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My favorite PJE drama: Crash Landing On You with a different ending for the second couple.

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I don't hate her dramas, I've watched most of her filmography and found them mildly enjoyable but very forgettable. I never rewatch them despite being an avid rewatcher.

I dislike newrly all of her characters, Lee Min Ho from LotBS and IU from The Producers are the only ones I did like. (I liked Lee Hee Joon in LotBS too but that is his doing for being one of my favorite scene stealers, not the writer's)

All that said, I do appreciate her writing such unexpected premises that make me click on every time, and engaging enough stories that I don't get bored and drop, even though I'm not loving them.

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*nearly

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I think I'm one of about three people in the world who didn't particularly like "You From Another Star" (I didn't think the leads had much chemistry, I didn't care for the ML, and the story was so preposterous) but a lot of people would scoff to hear that I loved "Legend of the Blue Sea." It had an equally absurd plot and premise (I know I'm being hypocritical, but the mermaid angle grabbed me so much more than the alien one), but I still laugh over the FL pulling out every tissue from the tissue box with an expression of wonder on her face. And the ending was genuinely moving, focusing as it did on two people in love living a quiet life together by the sea. It also remains the only LMH drama/performance that I loved.

But CLOY is probably my favorite even though I know that's a cliched choice. I binged it after it first aired, and during the very beginning of the pandemic, so back when many of us thought this would just be a nice two week break where we could spend time in our homes with our family without guilt. There was something sweet (and naive, in retrospect) about that time for me, and this drama just entered at the exact right moment to resonate. I remember not loving it right away--the first episode seemed rather absurd what with her parachuting undetected into North Korea like that, and I worried it was going to be some kind of satiric comedy, which I was absolutely not in the mood for. But by episode three, I started feeling things, lol.

Right away, the main couple just *got* me and unlike others, I didn't feel cheated by the ending. In fact, I remember ruminating to my husband about how this show could possibly end with the reality being that these two people could never be together in any real sense. Although he didn't watch the drama with me, he'd ask every morning what was happening now in the show, and when I did recap the end for him, we both agreed that it managed to give viewers a denouement that balanced hope and love with the devastation and loneliness of reality.

As I've said before, as a general rule, I don't tend to re-watch dramas. But this is one, along with "One Spring Night," that I've checked in with again throughout the years. And every time I do, I feel swept up in the story all over again. I don't expect "Queen of Tears" to match CLOY, but it would be remarkable if it did.

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I’m in a similar boat in that I’m totally taken (when I first watched, when I rewatched, and now) with CLOY, but I liked MLftS much less. I still thought it was a perfectly fine drama, but nothing that stuck with me long term in the same way.

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Count me in for that 3! While You From Another Star had a great premise, the ML’s character was so stiff and one dimensional that I ended up dropping the drama. Loved him in it’s OK not to be OK though.

CLOY is one of my favorite dramas and I also quite like Legend of the Blue Sea.

Although I like the leads in Queen of Tears I struggle with romance stories where the leads are already married or an established couple. I just don’t find them compelling so it will be interesting to see if this one breaks the mold.

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Oh, that's super easy - I hate her craft AND her personally as well after what she did (if you know, you know... and if you don't, consider yourself warned) in CLOY! Thanks for asking))) Let her pray that we'll never cross paths in the narrow dark alley...

If this earns me a veggies shower, pls don't hold back - it's been a while since I've enjoyed a fresh salad)))

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Are you referring to the car that went south?

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No, to the infamous drama rule "you're perfectly expendable since you're not the main lead". That bit was absolutely uncalled for, served zero purpose narratively (except maybe satisfying bloodthirstiness of of some viewers who wanted "grim realism" in this borderline fantasy show) and felt rather gratuitous. It looked like writer was trying to get her cake and eat it with this kind of mood whiplash finale. Sorry, I was NEVER amused by cheap shock tricks.

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"you're perfectly expendable since you're not the main lead".

Yup. That's my car that went south.
CLOY remains one of my pet peeve shows, but oh well.....

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Neither "pet peeve" nor "car" are the metaphors strong enough to express my fiery rage regarding the matter. I can't even call it a lazy writing - it's not lazy by any means because you can tell she knew exactly what she was doing there. Good luck to anyone still optimistic enough to touch her future shows - yall gonna need it.

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Preach it, @gikata!

To this day I have not been able to rewatch CLOY, even though there were many things I liked about the drama.

I hope there was enough outcry about CLOY's ending and that writernim will do better in her next drama.

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Oh maybe I shouldn’t have actually said what happened in my post 😒😒whoops sorry. I can’t imagine anyone that wanted to watch it hasn’t, and if you haven’t you deserve to know the awful truth.

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I totally missed any articles about the writer saying that. I liked almost everything about CLOY and the ending was one of the things I didnt. Now this makes me worry about QoT.

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If anyone attempts, I recommend the Liudao Hall team to protect youeven though you enjoy fresh salad.

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Oops my reply lost the gif I included. But here it is:

https://media0.giphy.com/media/MCLFXAQTvYzIT5SdKN/giphy.gif

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Oh my, that's perfect.

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The best-tossed salad.🤣

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They're really pros at it, aren't they? The skill, the swag, the totally unfazed expressions!)))

I, in other hand, would be just taking out a huge basket and like: "Pls aim better, thank you in advance"

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🤣🤣🤣

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😘 🫰

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Haha, love this!

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While I did enjoy My Love from the Star when it came out, after Legend of the Blue Sea and Crash Landing On You (neither of which I completed) I realized that her dramas tend to follow very similar threads and they began to bore me.

I found The Producers to be a nice change of pace for her, and it excites me that she seems to be trying something a little bit different once again with Queen of Tears. I'll definitely be tuning in, even just for the fact that it is so rare to see a story that centers around a couple that is already together in any medium. It's harder to tell that sort of story in an engaging way, so I'm curious to see how she will handle it.

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You spoke my thoughts!! Of the works I’ve seen of hers, I’d been underwhelmed by the writing of the plot and didn’t think her characters were anything special and worth the hype— “The Producers” was a nice change, but still underwhelming for me. I suspect a lot of the hype that her dramas tend to get is because of the castings for her dramas, which I can understand to a degree, but after a while, even that loses it’s appeal, imho

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The Producers is my favourite because it has an interesting approach to showing the behind the scenes of the producers of KBS variety shows. It is really funny and yet covers some serious subjects like the reality of being an idol and the power of the agencies. Considering it’s nine years since its release I am sure it was referencing some real life abuse of power cases.
I recommend it to anyone wanting a different slant on a work based rom com. No stalkers or violent sunbaes to be seen.

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I forgot to say I have watched three of her dramas You from another star which was an early K-drama watch and I found it an enjoyable watch. I watched but didn’t really like Crash landing on you. The elements that worked for me were the friendship element of the NK squad and their experience of the reality being in South Korea after all the rumours they heard and what they had gleaned from the dramas. The screenwriter must have Kim Soo-hyun on a retainer as I have seen or will see him in three of her dramas either in a lead role or doing a cameo not sure if he popped up in any others.

I am really looking forward to Queen of tears.

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I’ve only seen two Park Ji-eun dramas, Crash Landing on You and My Love from the Star, and really enjoyed both of them in different ways. Two is too few to see a real pattern, but both had leads who had really significant external barriers to them being together, which I really appreciate sometimes, because the angst feels more justified than it can in other rom-com situations. CLOY is one of my favorite dramas of all time, but while I found MLftS super binge-able, it didn’t grab me the same way.

Both had endings that I see as really open to interpretation. For CLOY, I see the ending as a happy one, and I’ve imagined exactly how their future together will play out (Jeong-hyeok’s father dies, Se-ri is pregnant with twin girls in the last scene, and JH defects with his mom as soon as he finds out about the pregnancy. No one will ever convince me otherwise.), but MLftS is more complicated in my mind. It’s very much a “happy for now” rather than a “happily ever after” which doesn’t always feel super satisfying to me. Lots of the drama is about appreciating the time you have, so this is an ending that I can understand even if I don’t love it.

The list of things I love about CLOY is long and comprehensive, but some of my favorite favorite things are the incredible found family between Se-ri and the soldier ducklings, Se-ri’s journey from being a totally closed-off and unsympathetic jerk to being a damaged but compassionate and kick-ass businesswoman, Jeong-hyeok’s journey from being a dispassionate and heartbroken soldier to being a sensitive and caring artist, the fun mix of action and romance, the best NIS agent of all time, and some truly incredible scenes between the leads (her blood donation, when JH finds out his dad didn’t kill SR, her departure for the south, their drunken dreams for the future, when she thinks he and the ducklings have already left, their couple rings, his lying to her during interrogation, their final goodbye, their reunion, etc.).

I’m hoping for some similarly incredible moments between the leads in QoT, and even if we get an ambiguous ending, if it is in the same spirit of the drama and there have been amazing scenes in the meantime, I think I’ll be happy.

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Your CLOY ending is what I envisioned too, but then I always thought I wouldn't want it at the cost of Jeonghyeok's father's death. Dad was cool. So I wanted dad to defect with them all :-)

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My thought was that he would never defect, he was too high up and in too deep. He is also the character who “bought in” to the whole system the most visibly and completely, and I find him an interesting but uncomfortable character throughout. I think I was the most chilled when JH asks him if he killed SR, and he totally believes his dad would actually do that. JH’s mom always seemed more interested in his safety and happiness than anything else, but dad (by necessity) had slightly different priorities. But he does come in really clutch at times for sure!

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Btw, I've only watched these 2 shows by Park Jieun too, and my feelings about them are exactly what you said.

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I didn't know it was the same writer behind those shows, which I enjoyed (although I didn't finish Legend of the Blue Sea). But the one I appreciate the most is The Producers for trying something different, at least in the early episodes, and the second leads were as interesting (or more) than the main leads.

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I like that her female leads take center stage. At the same time, she doesn't turn the guy into a passive prop for the sassy heroine to fall in love with. Come to think of it, she makes good use of all her characters. (Looking at you Doctor Slump's bestfriend-slash-secret-exposer plot device.)

Maybe it's from her weekender show background when she used to juggle more episodes and larger casts? My sis and I still quote some of her old shows to this day.

She's up there with Park Hye-ryun in my Trusted Writers List.

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I have only watched Crash Landing on You, which is a show I liked and enjoyed a lot while watching it (it was among the first ten k-dramas I watched), but the ending, as I see it, was a bucket of cold water.
Now, two years and almost 200 dramas later, Crash Landing on You is far from my Top, but I still love the good soldiers, the funny moments, the secondary couple, the meta reference to Memories of Alhambra, the OST...

I'll have to see other dramas by Park Ji-eun to know her scripts better.

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Of all her drama, my favourite all time would be The Producer. Definitely a breather from her typical rom-com ( I did struggling in finishing on MLFAS and LoTBS)... Cross-finger Queen of Tears (the title itself makes me wondering all over places 🤭) have a new vibe to be seen in Kdrama again 🤞🤞🤞

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Am I to assume all of her endings are not the usual kdrama style???
Blue Lagoon had the very long separation before finally coming together. CLOY has what I consider one of the worst endings ever-only seeing each other 2 weeks a year. (I loved loved the show fans, please don’t send hate my way)😁

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Lol and we don't even really know how the ending for MLFAS worked.. his teleportation range increased to lightyears? Not sure. But they get to see each other!

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Legend of the blue sea is my ultimate favourite by this writer. I rewatched this drama about 3 times now and I still laughed every single damn time. Watching our mermaid trying to make sense of the earthly world was so much fun. I discovered some actors who became my fav. through "You who came from the star" so again, it was a win. Plus JJH's character antics....LOL.
I couldn't get past ep. 2 of CLOY because I just couldn't connect with it. But I'm glad that through this writer's work, the leads in CLOY got to meet and are married in real life.
Not sure how I feel about Queen of Tears (yes, I've seen the trailers). I like the actors but don't know if the storyline is for me. Also, is it me or this drama is being overhyped 🤔 I really want it to do well, so I'm a bit scared that it might not meet people's expectations after all the buzz.

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Re: storyline and overhyping

That's actually also my worry at this point - I think a big draw of her dramas for me has been the fantastical plots (aliens, tornadoes dropping you into N. Korea, mermaids..) and I don't see that here yet, just a married couple romance with lots of beautiful crying. The last trailer which hinted at some kind of physical danger was the most interesting to me so far, but we'll see. I'm actually super scared I'll just dislike the female lead.

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I loved CLOY so I then watched Love from Another Star and Legend of the Blue Sea. And what I think she does really well is to have an absolutely impossible conflict between the leads (North Korea/South Korea; mermaid/human; alien/human). She also generally has a strong female character who is unlikable (I'm looking at CLOY and Love from Another Star) and who is lonely at the top. There is usually a very complicated family dynamic. The lead man in CLOY and Love from Another Star was also lonely and emotionally distant, but successful (or wealthy or with family connections). Both had a fated connection (not my favorite trope). In CLOY and LoBS, both women were fish out of water (literally for Legend of the Blue Sea) (one of my favorite tropes). There was incredibly high stakes in all three, with someone trying to kill them (or use them). In all three, they start off disliking each other and then the men are impressed with how the women handle adversity. There is also generally a found family element. And I also like her meta references to dramas. In Legend of the Blue Sea, when she's watching dramas and learning how to navigate as a human. Or in CLOY, again, the North Koreans watching k-dramas. Anyway, I didn't realize she wrote The Producers so I will go check that out and I'm excited for Queen of Tears.

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Fantastic overview of the writer. Please let us know if the other shows follow this formula in your opinion. I will certainly use it for a guide

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Thanks so much!

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I've LOVED three of Park Ji Eun's series, out of the four I've seen. Everyone has differing tastes I know, but Producers didn't ring my bell much at all because it felt like I was watching a variety/reality show for some reason more than a drama. The other three of her scripts fed into my weakness for any 'Stranger in a Strange Land' story that comes my way; whether the stranger is an alien, a mermaid, or a South Korean fashion mogul crashing into enemy territory. Whenever Park Ji-eun uses that trope she finds endless sources of humour as each alien seeks to understand their new world and adapt to all those strange customs. The back story of how our handsome alien in MLFA* spent 400 years 'fitting in' to Korean history was funny yet mixed with a running note of loneliness that endeared him to me, and finally, just as he is about to catch his ride back home, he meets the love of his life. Park Ji Eun seems to like creating 'impossible pies' for her plots, in which opposites meet, fall humorously in love but then ultimately must face the reality of not being able to cross their boundaries, whether it's Space, the DMZ or the Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea. I was satisfied with all the endings because each couple made the most of the time & opportunities they were given to be together. The other thread I enjoyed in her movies is one that many might feel is overused in dramas lately, but I still like the idea of fate being mixed into their relationship equation. For CLOY, she heard him playing that lonely song on his piano years before they met. In MLFA* he saved her in one of her lifetimes. Same with LOTBS where I thought the couple's past Saguek story was hunting and beautifully filmed. The female leads in all three were headstrong but 'quirky' and the males were all solid 'namjas'...my favourite. CLOY for me was Park Ji-eun's outstanding work when it came to capturing the warmth and vivaciousness of those village women and the cute, loyal 'soldier 'schmurfs' in Captain Ri's platoon, who were more than secondary characters but 'family'. Without them, the series would never have lifted off the screen towards such big ratings. Park JI Eun has a great ear for dialogue too which makes her characters memorable as well as believable. As a fan...I can't wait for the next 'impossible pie' plot.

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I wouldn’t say I am a fan of Park Ji-eun dramas but have watched almost everything from Queen of Reversal onward (except The Legend Of Blue Sea). Her dramas are all highly watchable with engaging story and characters. Her FLs are all above the cut with shining personalities.

I like The Producers the best and always wonder what it may have achieved if not changing the experimentation due to the broadcaster pressure. However, one must recognize the smart that makes CLOY such an entertaining and huge commercial success.

I will surely check in Queen of Tears!

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I agree with you about everything.

I watched mostly all of dramas except The Legend because after the first episodes, it looked like a pale copy of My Love From the Star.

The Producers is my favorite! Kim Soo-Hyun was hilarious in this role.

For CLOY, I was happy that a drama took a little bit place in Switzerland :p

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I watched Legend of the Blue Sea, You from another star and Crash landing on you and found them not perfect but watchable because of the humor. I like that the writer doesn't make the funny scenes campy.
I first saw Shin Hye Sun in LOTBS and found her hilarious.

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I've said this before, I know, but my admiration for her started with Queen of Housewives 15 years ago. I loved her writing and the casting. When her dramas gets the casting right for both leads, it's magical. Even though it's been 15 years, there are still scenes in Queen of Housewives that I remember very clearly. Such as the scene where the female lead is taking out the trash after an event she attended to help advance her husband's career. At that very moment with trash bags in hand, she runs into her first love. I suppose that scene spoke to me because I've had a similar experience: running into an old flame when you're at your lowest. For me, it was working the cash register at the base of a financial building where a friend from high school happened to be working...as a banker. It was the reversal of our positions that seared that moment into my mind forever. I think it will always be one of the most embarassing memories of my life. And Park Ji Eun captured that feeling perfectly. There's also a scene involving mother in laws favoring the other spouses. I love the female lead's tearful rant about how the mother in law only gives the marinated crab to her favorite child. There is so much that you can identify with as a woman in Queen of Housewives. And then there's also the wonderful My Husband Got a Family. Same great female lead here in Kim Nam Joo. I enjoyed all the secondary love stories of this multigenerational ensemble masterpiece. The sweetness of young love as beautifully acted by Kang Min Hyuk and the sweetness of finding love again after divorce. Everyone is well cast. It's just a masterpiece.

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Her earlier works are so-so good. It’s when she started making “blockbuster”, that’s when some of her dramas became ridiculous. Not in a sense that I hated them but in a sense that she had to churn up double of comedy and entertainment factor to make up for endless cadre of troves. And CLOY was the lowest point in her career. I’m curious how’s Queen of Tears gonna fare. We shall see.

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I have seen You from Another Star, The Legend of the Blue Sea and Crash Landing on You and in that order.

YFAS was a gateway to many K-drama lovers. Sawry but chicken and beer never tasted as good before. The entire cast was awesome. Shin Sung-rok was the perfect Chaebol - chillingly evil.

TLOTBS was deesghurtingly goood! There's nothing I didn't like about it. And as @HopefulRomantic unfailingly remarks it had all the tropes. What's not toove about Lee Min-ho making pasta (and heart eyes). Jung-suk was the icing on the cake.

My parents saw (and loved) CLOY, especially the NK soldiers and ajhummas and Hyun Bin chatting up the tomato plant. My mom was furious about the 2ML storyline and the ending was the pits ... only thing that was able to pacify her was the RL wedding announcement of the leads about a fortnight after she finished CLOY. She loved Son Ye-jin's tiny wedding dress in the announcement and avidly followed news of the wedding. 😊

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* What's not to love ...

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My only solace in the ending was knowing before I started that they had married.
Happy Endings Forever💗

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