Sunday, January 15, 2012

first impression: Color of Woman (Korean)

So I finally got around to watching the very first episode of this series (and we are currently about ten episodes into broadcast, so yes, I know, I'm late). And I will say that I'm glad I finally chose to watch it -- the promos for this series (at least what I bothered to read about it) were kind of bland and I wasn't sure what the story line was going for. Aside from being another "homely poor girl meets hot chaebol prince" piece, I hadn't been expecting much. The only thing that continued to pique my interest however, were Yoon So Yi and (surprisingly) Jae Hee (who looks fabulously handsome compared to the last time I saw him in Delightful Girl Choon Hyang).

The humble plot summary was a curiosity for me as well, but it's not like it was one of those series that I had to watch no matter what. And so I cheerfully cleaned up my viewing list for the end of the year as Flower Boy Ramyun Shop and Me Too, Flower! both came to an end. With holidays and family and friends taking up my time in Real Life, I decided to push Color of Woman back until after the New Years festivities were tied up.

But then that ended up going into another week of waiting since I also chose to jump on another speeding train (a two day marathon of Dream High which I will speak of at some other time and a bit of lazy "what do I want to watch next" withdrawals that I didn't think Dream High could do to me). Also factoring in an unfortunate (yet planned) Wisdom Teeth extraction surgery, I admit that I've been more interested in being lazy and watching random drama series without having to blog about them. I'm hoping to be up and running again now that I've started the new year off with my first official drama series article for 2012.

Anyway, onto Color of Woman...

The promotions for this series had been rather to the point, but not quite accurate. It described this series as a story where two working women face some fierce rivalry on the business front as they both work for the same company. There are indirect implications to also fighting for romance from the same guy (which is typically the case in all rom-coms anyway) and we are made to believe that this is the typical formula that I have mentioned above: "homely poor girl meets hot chaebol prince" and then we ensue with the standard antics and love rivals.

And so I was expecting a totally unbelievable Yoon So Yi as the unkempt and "drama ugly" main girl who will go through her make-over transformation some time mid-series. And then on the other side you would have Lee Soo Kyung as the more beautiful, cooler, and arrogant scheming love rival to fight against her.

What we end up getting however, is a much more interesting relationship dynamic than I had been expecting. Because even if these two girls end up fighting a fierce office battle (which I highly doubt considering their character descriptions) they have already been established as roommates and strangely fitting friends.

Yoon So Yi is Byun So Ra, a highly intelligent, to the point type of woman with no tact, but with credentials and logic up the wazoo. Having had a professor job at a university in place for her, it is unfortunate that her no-nonsense personality manages to get her fired wherein she then goes to the cosmetics company where her friend Kang Chan Jin (Shim Ji Ho) works as a brand manager and becomes part of the marketing team.

The best part about So Ra's character, I think, is the fact that she's not branded as the typical "drama ugly" heroine who needs a severe make-over to entice her future prince chaebol. Instead, So Ra's take on life is pretty much that hiding behind cosmetics and high heels is not her style because it doesn't really make sense. But we are given the example that So Ra is able to don a coat of lipstick and furs and strut around with the best of the gorgeous models out there. Considering the fact that no one in their right minds (k-dramaland world or not) would think that Yoon So Yi is ugly, I'm glad that we've set up her character role in this fashion.

Byun So Ra can look beautiful if she wanted to, but she just chooses not to take any notice of her own image. This is fitting since real life independent women tend to stray into this area as well: they know they can look good, but since it's a waste of time and effort, they don't bother and it doesn't make much sense anyway.

Lee Soo Kyung is surprisingly adorable as the materialistic yet gorgeous and one-tracked roommate and friend of Byun So Ra, named Wang Jin Ju (let's ignore the coincidence). She's not standard female rival with evil scheming tendencies, but she's not above trying to take what isn't hers or being a little manipulative to get what she wants. The best part about this girl is that she's not an idiot even if she plays off being a little airheaded for the rest of the world to wonder about. Her goal is to marry a rich, handsome prince (which isn't completely unorthodox, but could be better) and she seems to home in immediately on her prey without batting an eye.

Between Byun So Ra and Wang Jin Ju we have a strangely fitting friendship wherein, even though the series immediately starts off with Byun So Ra's boyfriend two-timing her with Wang Jin Ju, the two women still manage to get through that hurdle (though not without a lot of verbal sniping at each other) and continue to be friends. Jin Ju even gives So Ra a nice little make over by episode's end so that she can go act revenge upon the cheating ex. And to top it off, when Jin Ju is given a modeling opportunity at the cosmetic company, despite So Ra's annoyance with her superficial roommate, her expression seems to show it all when she snaps photographs of Jin Ju: genuinely, sincerely impressed as well as happy for the other girl. This is suprisingly a friendship dynamic you don't get to see much of in rom-coms, mainly because the female lead is always the type who either has bumbling idiot friends, lackey friends with no lives of their own, or no friends period. And so to put these girls as both rivals and friends at the same time -- I like it because it's different.

Moving along to the male leads, we haven't really seen too much of them yet, but the descriptions are pretty straight forward. Shim Ji Ho is Kang Chan Jin, So Ra's college friend who is chummy to the point that he drops by for dinner unannounced regularly. We sense that there might be some attraction on his end, but he plays it off rather well, presenting a more player type of vibe. Jae Hee is Yoon Joon Soo who is described as talented and a possible male version of Byun So Ra wherein he's got facts and logic dominating his thought processes everywhere.

We get a short glimpse of a past romantic conflict between So Ra and Joon Soo, and so we are already certain that this will be the main play on the love line -- so it's not so much "poor homely girl meets princely chaebol" but these two already know each other and we will get to continue that tense romance conflict as well as some unresolved sexual(?) awkwardness. Yes, you read it right: unresolved sexual tension and conflict in a K-drama? Oh Noes!!

The cast is wonderful as far as I can see. Aside from the relationship dynamics being unique and fun, the cast are giving off good enough chemistry for the relationships to be believable. While I didn't quite care for Jae Hee in Delightful Girl Choon Hyang (even though he was more likable than Choon Hyang herself), I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in this series. Also... post army duty Jae Hee means an opportunity for some naked torso shots, which I am totally NOT against. Bring it on!

I am definitely looking forward to how things will end up playing out. The character relations are already building quite uniquely and now that everyone is working under the same company, we've got a lot of fun ahead of us. Let's just cross our fingers and hope that the rest of the series sails smoothly the way the first episode presented because I've already had my fill of disappointments from the past.

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