Can a third-rate drama become gold? Maybe?
Genre: Romance, comedy
Synopsis: Ma In Tak (played by Yeon Jung Hoon) is a rich hotelier with an awful and eccentric personality who judges everything by dollars and cents. His grandmother left him and his uncle a valuable plot of land in her will, with the condition that he has to get married before they can inherit it. As In Tak has no intention of getting married, his uncle sets out to find the perfect girl to seduce In Tak so he can get his share of the inheritance. Yoon Da Ran (Uhm Ji Won) is a woman who is struggling to make ends meet, and this offer, though unethical, proves irresistible to her…Will she succeed in seducing In Tak? Or will she be the one to succumb to his charms instead?
I recently added Yeon Jung Hoon to my ever-growing bias list after watching Vampire Prosecutor (yes, that series is so old by now), so I decided to watch this obscure drama (that is equally old) shown on an obscure Korean channel called MBN back in 2012. I call it “obscure”, because this channel seems to air mostly news programmes and is not as well-known for airing dramas.
The only other MBN drama I’ve ever seen was Tears of Heaven because it was aired on our local Singapore channel at dinner time. Tears of Heaven was total makjang that left me squirming, and there was hardly any aesthetic quality that was worth praising, so I had extremely low expectations for Can Love Become Money.
As expected, the first episode of this drama came off as a little slow to me. But fortunately, the quality of the filming and acting did not seem as bad as expected. I had to fast forward some of the slow and clichéd parts, but by the next episode, I found myself getting drawn into the show and I was actually enjoying it!
There were some really funny moments in the drama, and I especially liked the relationship development between Ma In Tak and Yoon Da Ran. Like most arrogant chaebols in Korean rom-coms, Ma In Tak has an eccentric personality that makes for great comedy. Given how calculating he is, he thinks dating is not an economical use of time and money, which sounds both ridiculous but logical at the same time. At least, I do agree with his opinion somewhat. In fact, he says a lot of cynical things that reek of snobbery, but if you listen to his reasoning, he actually does make some sense, which is what I like about his character. Maybe because I’m quite a cynical person myself.
I also like how his true self is slowly revealed to us and Yoon Da Ran as the show progresses. Though he seems like an unreasonable and cold-hearted person who says scathing remarks to everyone, this is just a facade that he uses to hide his fears, insecurities and his true feelings. Some times, he just looks like a little boy dressed up in a man’s suit.
This is my first time seeing Uhm Ji Won, and it took me some time to get used to her acting cute (she’s not that young either) and her questionable dressing.
Several actors in this drama adopted different exaggerated ways of speaking that needed some getting used to. Yeon Jung Hoon tried to portray his chaebol character as a confident man by using intonation that can come across as unique or awkward. I think it’s quite difficult to speak like that continuously, so he must have put in a lot of effort to make it sound as natural as possible. The older actress who played his ditzy aunt kept talking in a high pitched voice that would end up as annoying screeching whenever she got angry or excited. Much like how Miss Piggy from the Muppets gets on my nerves. Shim Eun Jin, who plays Secretary Ha, also spoke in an exaggerated way to portray her confident and dignified character, but I think she was effective in making her character seem funnier.
The one character that I didn’t like was the third-wheel Kim Sun Woo played by Jo Yeon Woo. He was constantly being referred to as a handsome dandy guy, which didn’t sit well with me at all since I didn’t find him that good-looking. Second leads can end up being more popular than the main leads in romance dramas, but I don’t think this was the case here. It didn’t help that the actor wasn’t very impressive in his acting, so I kept wanting to fast forward his scenes.
Aesthetics wise, I was surprised that the director made the effort to create some pretty scenes that were on par with other dramas aired on the more mainstream channels. They also did a good job with the music, relying on only one theme song and a handful of instrumental tracks that were played at the right moment to good effect. It shows that you don’t need to have a whole long list of songs in your OST to make a decent drama! I would assume that this drama was produced with a smaller budget than regular dramas on other channels, so I was impressed with how the crew made good use of what they had to produce something this entertaining.
Ultimately, I think the strength of this drama lies in its romance and comedic moments, and it also had some nice twists and cliffhangers that make you want to continue on to the next episode. But the story falters when it comes to business dealings and explaining Ma In Tak’s complicated family tree. Ma In Tak is suppose to be a shrewd entrepreneur but the way he does business seems like an amateur, and not to mention how some of his speeches and presentations sound quite laughable. And up till the end, I never quite understood the complicated relationship between some of the characters.
Granted, the story of an arrogant chaebol falling in love with a poor but kind-hearted girl has been used umpteen times in Korean dramas. But I’m fine with it as long as the writers can introduce a fresh spin to it, and such story lines have potential to be highly entertaining. After watching a string of detective dramas such as Signal and Vampire Prosecutor, this drama is definitely a big drop in terms of the cool factor and depth of the story, but it’s good to relax and have a good laugh once in a while.
This is not a rom-com for everyone since there are no pretty young things. But if you are looking for a stress-free light-hearted show during your free time, why not give this underdog a go?
Image credit: Naver news