Tae-young (Kim Jung-eun) and Ki-joo (Park Shin-yang) in Lovers in Paris (2004) SBS
I’ve just finished watching Lovers in Paris, starring Park Shin-yang (Money Warfare) and Kim Jung-eun. The story begins in Paris (surprise) where Tae-young an optimistic and unpretentious young woman is studying. To supplement her studies she ends up having to get a part time job as housekeeper for a rich Korean businessman. This job doesn’t suit her and because she’s a bit clumsy she fails to meet his high standards as a housekeeper and he wants to sack her. However, he agrees to give her the job back if she will be his date to impress a French businessman whose Korean wife comes from the same hometown as Tae-young.
Soo-hyuk (Lee Dong-geon), Lovers in Paris (2004) SBS
Back in Korea they meet again and Ki-joo begins to get interested in Tae-young but his nephew, Soo-hyuk (Lee Dong-geon) also likes her. In some ways the men are very similar but in other ways they are different. Soo-hyuk has no interest in the family business and wants to be a free spirit playing his drums and riding his motorbike. He becomes jealous of Ki-joo when he starts dating Tae-young. The couple have more problems when Ki-joo’s father and CEO of the company arranges a marriage between Ki-joo and the daughter of a politician. Ki-joo refuses to comply with his father’s wishes but the family refuses to accept Tae-young saying she doesn’t come from a good enough family. There is a secret that Ki-joo doesn’t know.
This is a rich man poor woman Cinderella story with many of the expected romantic Kdrama goodies – exotic settings (although we can tell that some of the Paris scenes are filmed in Korea), love triangles, arranged marriages, parental objections, accidents with large trucks followed by memory loss, secrets, jealousy and betrayal, bribery, the rich humiliating the poor, bitchy and conniving rich wannabe fiancees, female face slapping, male fighting, after which of course, finally – Love conquers all.
And it was very popular when it aired in Korea, getting ratings of over 50%. I enjoyed watching the reserved and cold businessman Ki-joo soften and change as he falls in love with Tae-young. Tae-young has lots of charm too – she’s always upbeat and even when she suffers humiliation she just makes her mind up to try harder and punches the air and says “aja!”
Tae-young, Aja! Lovers in Paris, (2004) SBS
There were some cute scenes, such as when Ki-joo makes a surprise visit to Tae-young’s home. She’s embarrassed because it’s small and old with no air-conditioning and everything is broken and needs a special technique to make it work – she needs a pair of pincers to turn the fan on and the lock on the bathroom door doesn’t work. The light works if you wiggle the bulb. And so on. But he’s not judgmental or snobby about her circumstances. Like so many rich/poor themed dramas, Tae-young teaches Ki-joo about ordinary life like going on the bus and visiting the Korean sauna. He tries to get involved as best he can but he just isn’t used to doing any of these things.
Ki-joo, Lovers in Paris, (2004) SBS
But, for some reason I was not as addicted to this drama as I have been to many of the others I’ve watched and it took longer to get into it in the first place. Usually by the third episode I’m either addicted or give up. The main threat to their relationship comes from the politician who threatens to reveal a family secret if the arranged marriage doesn’t go ahead with his daughter and Ki-joo. But I just felt that the secret needed to be out in the open anyway and better sooner than later. So this was not really a good enough reason to me for the marriage or the blackmail.
Yoon-ah (Oh Joo-eun) Lovers in Paris, (2004) SBS
I also felt that Soo-hyuk although handsome, was not a serious challenge for Tae-young’s affections because he was far too spoilt living off his family’s money and doing nothing except moping about after her. (Maybe some ladies would find this attractive). There was too much sulking because he wasn’t getting his own way and I would have liked to see more competition between the two men. Things improved with the arrival of Ki-joo’s betrothed, the jealous Yoon-ah (Oh Joo-eun) determined to break Ki-joo and Tae-young up but it was obvious that he was never going to be interested in her.
This is a light romantic drama with no doubt of a happy ending. There are some enjoyable and funny scenes and a chummy chemistry between the main characters but no cliffhangers or great passion.