Lee Da Hae as Ju Yu Rin
Lee Dong Wook as Seol Gong Chan
Lee Jun Ki as Seo Jeong Woo
Park Si Yeon as Kim Sae Hyun
Ranked in the top twenty during it's airing in late 2005 to early 2006, My Girl is a hit romantic comedy that gained popularity among many Asian viewers during it's reign. With the likes of Lee Da Hae, Lee Dong Wook, and Lee Jun Ki (lol, they all have the same surname), it was no wonder that My Girl ended up being so well-received; already popular from their other works, the cast of this series managed to breathe wonderous and endearing life into the characters and the story.
Also, according to My Girl @ wikipedia the series cameos Jae Hee and Han Chae Young from then popular drama series Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, reprising a couple role near the end of the series.
Lee Da Hae stars as Ju Yu Rin, a boisterous young girl who has spent her entire life dodging debt collectors with her father due to his continuous gambling problems. Ever since she was young, she has traveled to various countries for this very reason, developing the ability to fluently speak several languages (Japanese and Chinese showcased in this series) as well as a talent for weaving the most elaborate, yet believable lies in order to survive life. A chance encounter with Seol Gong Chan, played by Lee Dong Wook, brings Ju Yu Rin into one of the biggest and most emotional lies she would ever have to tell in her life.
Straight laced and stick-in-the-mud Seol Gong Chan has only one desire: to help his sickly grandfather find his long lost granddaughter after learning about the death of his renounced daughter in an earthquake in Japan. Upon the news of his grandfather's worsening condition, Gong Chan desparately enlists the help of the liar Ju Yu Rin to pretend to be the lost granddaughter to ease the worries of the dying man. While unwilling to lie to a dying man at first, Yu Rin knows that she needs to quell her financial problems somehow and so accepts the job, which eventually leads to the quickly improved condition of the grandfather's health as well as a newfound bond with the household, and the beginning of a slowly flickering romance between the now fake cousins.
My Girl had not been on my list of series to watch in the beginning. But apparently, it had drawn the attention of my parents; I couldn't help but to stop and watch with them, the series that had been causing my mother to laugh hysterically for hours. And so when I found what few scenes I watched to be quite enlightening, I resigned myself to pick up My Girl as well and start from the very beginning.
The series shines with the presence of Lee Da Hae's Ju Yu Rin as she carries the story line from beginning until the very end. Her antics will have anyone rolling on the floor with laughter; I, myself, hadn't been able to resist the urge to burst into guffaws whenever she pulls each of her stunts, telling lies to humiliate Gong Chan when he pisses her off, or even when she just acts like herself, doing the most embarrassing things one could ever think to do. Admittedly, even after rewatching some of her silly scenes, I still find her actions hilarious beyond words. Lee Da Hae is an excellent actress and the character of Ju Yu Rin is so readily lovable despite and inspite of all her many character flaws; you can't help but to begin relating with her almost immediately, while at the same time wondering whether or not someone like this could even possibly exist. Ju Yu Rin is NOT the most perfect persona even as far as fictional standards; it's a delight to watch her flip back and forth from "heart of gold" to "I'll do anything for money" and struggle through that conflicting conscious that bugs her consistently because of it. It's a matter of obligations versus "good samaritin" and it's hard to know which side will eventually win out in the end.
Balancing her rambunctious personality is Lee Dong Wook's Seol Gong Chan who is the most serious and proper young man to ever walk the world; he does not and cannot tell a lie to save his life, and he's clearly above being even a little bit immoral for fun's sake. But upon the meeting of Ju Yu Rin, it's like her abilities are contagious and he finds himself telling a fib or two every so often as well as being able to keep the continuous lie of Yu Rin's identity ongoing and successful. In my opinion, I think the charm of Seol Gong Chan's extremely straight laced personality lays in Lee Dong Wook's ability to breathe life into this otherwise monotonous individual, giving Gong Chan more emotion and personality than the character would call for. He's a very stressed out person; the moment that he decided to hire Ju Yu Rin to lie to his grandfather, his entire life had already changed, whether for better or for worse.
Along with our main couple are two supporting love rivals.
Lee Jun Ki is Seo Jeong Woo, a lazy and charming ladies's man who starts off with the impression of having a handful of girlfriends, probably one per country. It's a bit of a mystery as how he managed to fall so deeply for Ju Yu Rin right off the bat, but his interest in her is evident from the start when he saves her from her father's debt collectors with very action-movie-like fighting skills. One cannot help but to wonder how someone with such a pretty face could also be cast in such a manly role at the same time; I guess this really WAS Lee Jun Ki's way of putting a new spin to his image and cutting away from his The King and the Clown role. One thing to point out is that my parents kept telling me how much this guy looked like a girl; to be totally honest, I think it was the amount of make-up that was put on him because the way he looks in Hero is quite different; but then again, he IS fairly pretty for a man. Anyway, Seo Jeong Woo, though made out to be the love rival, is also stereotyped as the "good guy third wheel" of our main love relationship; whatever it is that made him love Yu Rin so much it also propelled him to continuously support her in her endeavors despite knowing what her true feelings were. Of course, this guy has his own flaws, but it's not to say they were condemning or anything like that.
Park Si Yeon is cast as Kim Sae Hyun, the pro-tennis player and ex-girlfriend of Seol Gong Chan who had abandoned him during his most difficult time in order to fulfill her own dreams. Having left him two years before the start of the series, she returns only to hope that Gong Chan will forgive her and rekindle their relationship from where it ended two years prior. Of course, even as the two get back together, the relationship between Gong Chan and Yu Rin had slowly begun to blossom. And so cast in the more "antagonistic" love rival role, Sae Hyun will do almost anything to keep Gong Chan to herself, even if it means hurting other people as well as Gong Chan himself. It's a bit of a controversy as to whether Gong Chan should have just stayed separated from her so that he could legitimately fall in love with Yu Rin; but then again, Kim Sae Hyun was NOT the most readily likable woman in Korean dramaland (as is typical of all the female third wheels).
Supporting cast of the series were ever-fun to watch as well, especially Yu Rin's two friends, Ahn Jin Kyu and Ahn Jin Shim, a pair of brother and sister who had dutifully taken up the posts of comedic reliefs. While supporting our main female lead with advice, a place to stay when she was down and out as well as ears to listen to her woes and troubles, these two were easy to relate to as friends and Jin Kyu even comes upon his own strange yet sweet little love story as well with Gong Chan's faithful secretary Yoon Jin Kyung.
The characters of Gong Chan's grandfather, Jeong Woo's mother, and Yu Rin's father were pretty painful and exasperating to watch throughout the series, each caught up in their own stubborn or foolish ways. Some would wonder whether these people even TRY to be reasonable in their own ideals. There was something about these three that made me want to roll my eyes and hit something at the same time.
Finally, as for the strange and... well, almost kind of creepy 70s romance between Jang Il Do and Gong Chan's aunt... I... well, I honestly, really don't have words for it. These two were just, I don't know... peculiar?
All in all, My Girl was a great series consisting of lively characters, a fun story line, lots of Korean drama-esqe heartwrenching emotions, and good-looking people. The music score was also really catchy for the background and ending themes. Lee Da Hae, as I already stated, pretty much carries the entire series with her crazy shenanigans and I don't think the series would have been the same with anyone else in her role. On a side note, the character of Ju Yu Rin seems to spend the entirety of the series eating, as my mother pointed out -- she would go and have her snacks, then have dinner, then eat some side dishes, and then go on to eat even more snacks. It was no wonder she kept getting indigestion...
This is definitely a must watch for lovers of romantic comedies, Lee Da Hae, or Lee Dong Wook. Fans of Lee Jun Ki can also check this series out, but his role is fairly insignificant, a bit cheated, and almost pitful while at the same time, easily likeable too. I, myself, am not quite sure how I feel about the role of Seo Jeong Woo, but he wasn't entirely a third wheel worthy of rotton tomatoes like some others one might find. He's pretty cool and I rather enjoyed his presence. And as for Kim Sae Hyun, while I totally despised the character, I think that Park Si Yeon did an excellent job portraying the selfish and dejected ex-girlfriend really, really well (AND she's really pretty too).
My Girl was fun, entertaining and hilarious. I certainly enjoyed it enough to sit through some scenes twice, thoroughly loving it each time Ju Yu Rin came up with something else to induce laughter with.
thoughts: My Girl -- *coming soon* -- Look forward to a more in-depth look at the series in discussion