Korean Drama Review: My Lovely Sam Soon/ My Name is Kim Sam Soon

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My Lovely Sam Soon is available on HULU

SYNOPSIS:

Kim Sam Soon (Kim Sun Ah) is 29 years old, carrying animosity over her old-fashioned name, overweight (not fat), unmarried, a pastry chef, living with her mother, and recently out of a job because of her ex-boyfriend, Hyun Woo. Woo is a nitwit. On Christmas Eve, Sam Soon’s discovers that her ex-boyfriend is cheating on her. Sam Soon decides to follow him to a hotel for one of two reasons, either to make him ask for mercy or to kill him. Unfortunately for her, she is not strong willed enough to do either and fails miserably.

While sneaking toward his door, her legs fail her. At the exact same moment, Hyun Woo comes out of the room and sees her. Then, Sam Soon and Woo go downstairs to talk about their relationship, which lasted for several years and was now quickly coming to an end. As they sit down in the hotel dining room, Woo proceeds to tell Kim Sam Soon that she is not the person she used to be, the cute lovely pastry chef that bakes every day that aspires to own a bakery. Next, Woo leaves her at the table to sulk in her tears, Sam Soon is still yelling at him. As he walks away, Sam Soon yells across the room “Was there ever a time you loved me?” Woo, then says that he no longer loves her and he doesn’t know why or when his heart changed, it just did.

Sidenote: Even though his feelings may be true, these are one of the worst kind of break-ups. When there is no big incident or no clear signal that things are going down, but things just slowly decline until there is no love. After ignoring the fact that you no longer feel the same way about your significant other, when reality hits, both sides hit bottom and think about the way rhey were. If you want to watch something that focuses on this, watch The Way We Were with Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford. Beware, if you watch this movie, it will give you the same type of frustration that this type of breakup will give you. Luckily, in My Lovely Sam Soon this is only episode one and things get better.

In the same dining room, Jin Heon (Hyun Bin) is on a blind date at his family’s hotel. Sidenote: Sam Soon nicknames Jin Heon, Sam Shik, this is a source of confusion when reading subtitles. Hyun Jin Heon overhears the commotion from the Sam Soon and Woo break up. Jim Heon shows his lack of tact to his date by laughing at Sam Soon’s heartbreak. Jim Heon, then sees Woo exit, soon afterwards Sam Soon also leaves shedding tears. At the same time, Jim Heon is still grinning at Sam Soon’s displeasure, when his date sees this she throws her glass of water in his face and also leaves. Jim Heon shakes it off and finds Sam Soon.

Sam Soon, in her distressed state, accidentally enters the men’s bathroom and goes into a stall to relish in her emotions. Jin Heon finds her in the midst of her breakdown, which includes a lot of yelling and crying. Jim Heon recognizes that this is a problem; the men, who are also in bathroom, are mystified that moaning myrtle can also be found outside of Hogwarts.

Jin Heon bangs on the stall door until, Sam Soon finally opens up. Jin Heon then verbally thrashes Sam Soon. Per Contra, Jin Heon follows the thrashing with the oh so helpful there are other fish in the sea line.  Then, Jin Heon kicks Sam Soon out of the hotel. Now,Sam Soon has lost her boyfriend and her job, because she was supposed to be working on Christmas Eve. Instead of working, she took part in an episode of cheaters.

Sam Soon has to figure out what to do with her life, since, she is unmarried and jobless. What to do, what to do? She tries to earn a job that she is overqualified for and tries out a dating agency. Needless to say, neither of these options work out. However, one job interview is in the kitchen of Jin Heon’s family’s hotel. Jin Heon has stopped by the kitchen also. Since, the pastry chef at Jin Heon’s restaurant has left, Jin Heon needs the hotel to supply the restaurant with desserts or borrow a chef.

On her way out, Sam Soon sees Jin Heon and tries to avoid him, but miraculously her hair gets caught in the button of his suit jacket. After struggling over how to detach his jacket from her hair, Jin Heon does the unthinkable. Jin Heon cuts a sizable amount of Sam Soon’s hair. Sam Soon is furious, because she asked him to cut as little hair as possible. This is the final straw. Sam Soon decides to take out the cake that she brought for head chef to taste and plants it on Jin Heon’s face. Then, Sam Soon flees the scene.

Sam Soon’s nerve caught Jin Heon, off guard. Perplexed, Jin Heon stood and tasted the cake. To Jin Heon’s delight the cake was delicious. Jin Heon may have found a new pastry chef, if he is able to chase her down. Jin Heon runs after Sam Soon, but when Sam Soon sees him coming after her, she thinks that he is coming to kill her. Sam Soon races into a cab, nevertheless, Jin Heon manages to get in the cab with her. More bickering ensues while Jin Heon attempts to offer Sam Soon a job. Jin Heon gives Sam Soon his card, but Sam Soon is too proud to look at it. As soon as the cab arrives at Sam Soon’s destination, she makes haste.

Eventually Sam Soon does look at the card and realizes that she almost missed a big opportunity. After a series of events, Sam Soon gets the head pastry chef position at Jin Heon’s restaurant. Sam Soon, also has other issues: her sister is getting a divorce, her mother is trying to marry her off, and her family home was listed as the security on her deceased Dad’s friend’s loan, which is past due. Sam Soon asks the only one she knows with money for help, Jin Heon.

Jin Heon sees this as an opportunity to the avoid his mother’s relentless will to send him on blind dates. Jin Heon will lend Sam Soon the money in exchange for the deed and a contract agreement that stipulates that Sam Soon will act as Jin Heon’s girlfriend until she pays him back. Being the jerk that Jin Heon is, Jin Heon states that the only reason he chose Sam Soon is because there is no way he would ever fall in love with old and fat Sam Soon. Sam Soon is irate, but is desperate and accepts Jin Heon’s offer to save her house. Sam Soon believes that their courtship will only last until her sister, who is returning home, sells her house.

As per Korean Drama, the storyline focuses on Jin Heon and Sam Soon fallling in love through contract dating. See Lie to Me, Coffee Prince, and Full House (This is one of the original contract dating plots). Jin Heon is smitten with her soft belly, feisty manner, and listening skills. Sam Soon appreciates Jin Heon’s abhorrent back talk, good looks, strength, good will, and determination.

Ah, but as always there are some hoops to jump through before they can truly become a couple. The largest obstacle to their coupledom is Yoo Hee-Jin. In addition to the fact that she has Sam Soon’s dream name, Yoo Hee-Jin also has the heart of Sam Soon’s new man, Jin Heon.

Jin Heon and Yoo Hee-Jin were high school sweethearts. After an accident that took Jin Heon’s brother, took his sister in law, left him to be a father figure of  his niece, and left Jin Heon in the hospital, Hee-Jin mysteriously leaves the Korea  for the U.S. Unbeknownst to Jin Heon, Hee-Jin left because she was seriously ill with a stomach disease. In addition, Jin Heon’s mother thought it would be best for Jin Heon not to have to deal with another tragedy. Hee Jin returned to her family in the U.S. ending her 6 year relationship with Jin Heon. Jin Heon was befuddled and distressed when Hee Jin abandoned him. Hee Jin is the reason why Jin Heon has not looked at another woman during the 3 years since Hee Jin departed.

Hee Jin has survived by reflecting on the moments she and Jin Heon shared. In Hee Jin’s heart, Hee Jin believes that Jin Heon is waiting for her. Nonetheless, while waiting, Hee Jin was not as lonely as Jin Heon. Hee Jin has been doted on by her overzealous doctor Henry Kim. Henry Kim has nursed Hee Jin back to health. In addition Henry truly cares for Hee Jin, to the extent that he takes an extended sabbatical from his job to follow her back to Korea. While in Korea, Henry hopes to monitor her health and win her love.

And now we have a love triangle, I guess that is where I will leave you. Enjoy!

REVIEW:

5 Star disclaimer: 1) I will only give dramas 5 stars after I watch them twice. 2) Any drama currently ranked 4 or above can be given 5 stars status after a second viewing. 3) Factors needed to achieve 5 stars; I have to like a) the writing, b) the lead actors, c) the majority of supporting actors, d) the chemistry between the main couple, e) 90% of the storyline, f) the drama to the point I don’t get bored or fast forward, and g) the sound track.

Top 5 Reasons to Watch This Drama:

1) Character of Kim Sam Soon: The idea of Kim Sam is probably one of the most well thought out and best written characters in Korean Drama. For some, there may be too many scenes on the toilet, but other than that her character is written well enough for many people to identify with her or at the very least sympathize with her. Kim Sam Soon is fighting for a better life. She was once going to settle for mediocre life, that included:  a career as a sous pastry chef, a never-ending wait for Woo to realize her worth and marry her, and living under the same roof with a mom that continually harasses her. Kim Sam Soon’s break up became her breakthrough and set her back on the path of becoming a woman who fights for love and aspires to have the best pastry shop in Seoul. Sam Soon is funny, cute, needy, and sad, but never to the point where the character loses her edge.  Therefore, when she realizes that this may be her last chance at love, she makes herself vulnerable and pursues a relationship with Jin Heon.

2) Kim Sun Ah and Hyun Bin: It is nice to see two actors that do an equally good job. Kim Sun Ah and Hyun Bin both have an excellent ability to highlight their character’s progression throughout a story.

To be truthful, I was not totally in love with Jin Heon’s character. Jin Heon made some inexcusable, but not unforgivable, mistakes in his relationship with Sam Soon. Some of the mistakes were: let’s get you pregnant, I will lay on your belly and then leave you for my ex, and I will send you post cards and think nothing of it when you don’t respond. Jin Heon was a have your cake and eat it too type of guy. Nonetheless, the fact that Jin Heon was at war with his emotions, in love with both female leads, immature, and hurt only added to his character. Hyun Bin did a great job at making a sordid character understandable.

Since I already talked about Sam Soon’s character, I’ll just add that there are few people that can consistently get a laugh and a cry out of me. Kim Sun Ah does both of these.

3) Confronts Uncomfortable Situations Head On: At first, I was a little uncomfortable with the Kim Sun Ah and Hyun Bin’s relationship, because of the age difference. Although, the second time watching it, I realized that is was less about age and more about Jin Heon’s immaturity. The way that Jin Heon treats Kim Sun Ah made me uncomfortable; older women usually are not treated in that manner by younger men. To a certain extent, Jin Heon suffered from a lack of emotional intelligence, i.e. men will say different things to an 18 year old woman, a 25 year old woman, and a 30 year old woman. Again, the fact that the writers were able to write these quirks into Jin Heon’s character, only made Jin Heon more fascinating.

4) Realistic Relationships: This drama does not sugar coat much, so if you are looking to completely escape then you should probably watch something brighter like Boys Over Flowers. The relationship troubles go on and on, but it makes a good storyline and connects the viewer. Here is short list:

  • Kim Sam Soon is in love with Jin Heon, but still wants her comfortable ex, Woo. Eventually, Sam Soon realizes that Woo will never be the person she wants him to be and has to give him up.
  • Woo realizes that Kim Sam Soon loves him more than 99% of other women. So Woo then goes back to Sam Soon, even though he cannot give her the  same unrequited love. However, Woo is surprised when Sam Soon also realizes that her love will never be returned by him. Thus, Sam Soon moves on to someone who can fulfill that void. Woo is now left to think about whether he will ever find someone that devoted to him again.
  • Jin Heon is in love with Hee Jin and Sam Soon, but since he was in love with Hee Jin first, his loyalty is with Hee Jin. Quickly after choosing, Jin Heon acknowledges that he is more in love with the memories of Hee Jin. After three years apart, Jin Heon understands that they are different people and moved apart. Furthermore, even when Jin Heon and Hee Jin attempt to get back to the point before Hee Jin left, they can’t because there are other forces. Sam Soon and Henry are the force that are pulling them apart. What’s worse, is that they have to accept that they are better off with their new mates and the fairy tale that the envisioned in their head will never come true.
  • Jin Heon also has to grow up and take responsibility. This is part of the reason why Jin Heon goes on that 2 month trip.  After Jin Heon’s trip, it is clear that Jin Heon has a vision for his life, will take more responsibility for his actions, and will no longer let the little things get in the way of his dreams. Sam Soon, also comes to the realization that Jin Heon will continue to make mistakes, but she can live with his shortcomings. Some mistakes, include: trying to get Sam Soon pregnant so she can win Jin Heon’s mom’s approval, asking Sam Soon to come back to work instead of opening her own shop, and   not calling her on his trip. The ending basically summarized that relationships are about focusing on the day by day and not about promising forever.
  • Hee Jin has to accept  that even though she thinks she has not changed, she has and so has Jin Heon. Hee Jin made a bad decision by not telling Jin Heon the reason for her departure. (I love that Henry told her that this is where you messed up.) Henry is also there to continuously put in Hee Jin’s face, through his actions, that he cares more about her than Jin Heon. Henry’s presence made it clear that Hee-Jin and Jin Heon were over.
  • Henry is fighting for a girl that does not realize his worth. Poor Henry. Henry did teach the viewer that if you keep with it and it is meant to be, then things can work out.
  • Sam Soon’s sister and the Head Chef showed how hard it is to open up after a divorce. I felt that this storyline helped to push this drama over the top. It highlighted how hard it was to open up and trust someone. These two decided to give love one last shot, when they though that they would never find it again.

5) Soundtrack:

I cannot get enough of Clazziquai.

  • Be My Love: Doesn’t this make you happy? Don’t you get happier when you realize that a horse is neighing in the background?
  • She Is: Alex, the male singing, has a really beautiful voice. If you want to check out Alex’s acting skills, you can see him in Pasta, where he is the secondary male lead. Horan, the woman singing, has a cross between Janet Jackson, Norah Jones, Nicole from the Pussycat dolls, and Sade, also known as a sexy voice singing.

Ji Sun

  • Farewell Without Farewell: Quintessential soft ballad. I can feel it and I didn’t know what she was saying the first time I heard it.

Jung-eun Kim

Extras: 

  • Everyone is good looking, my face does not drift from the screen.
  • Again the issues of what is fat and what is old in Korea come up.
  • “I hate you, you suck” classic words that should be said in the middle of any guy on guy pool fight
  • Kim Sun Ah is not the greatest runner.
  • Scene with Sam Soon and Jin Heon at DVD watching place was hilarious.
  • Jin Heon’s mom is really violent toward her son. No need to call child services, since he is 27.
  • Jin Heon’s niece is so cute and can also be seen in Oh My Lady.
  • What a way to reject your son’s girlfriend; you’re too sick to date my son.
  • Blood type toilet paper situation made me question what this writer does in their free time.
  • How many bathroom scenes are there? Count and let me know.
  • Hee Jin almost ran Sam Soon over. Sam Soon was like a deer in the headlights, I almost died.
  •  Sam Soon is audacious, especially when trying to mark her territory. See the scene when Jin Heon took a sick Hee Jin to his home. Even after Sam Soon left, she made sure to come back at dawn.
  • This drama will make you hungry, so be prepared with snacks.

Subtle Annoyances:

  • Too many scenes with disgusting bodily functions.
  • Jin Heon is a player, you can tell by the way he text messages and answers his phone. Poor Hee Jin and Sam Soon.
  • Anorexia and stomach problems, too much.

Yes, I am giving it 5 stars.

Up Next: Spy Myung Wol, Then Secret Garden.

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13 comments

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  3. Becoming Bitter

    Hello MG. I will be back to read this review, but I do want to ask you what you think of the story so far.

    Do you like it?

    BTW, Just another reminder that characters are based on my followers/commenters.

    I’ve written the entire series already. *cough Be on the look out cough*

    *evil smile*

    • Becoming Bitter

      Okay read all your comments. Thanks a lot MG. *hugs* I appreciate it. I do have one question though: when you said “Bitter Fail, 2 kills with shovel” was that your prediction for Day 4 or something else? If this is a stupid question, I’ll apologize in advance. I feel kinda woozy right now.

      Whatever you do… do NOT miss the next couple of chapters.

      • peevishmagnifyingglass

        I was just noting the fact that Bitter wants to kill each victim in a different manner. Therefore, the fact that Bitter is forced to kill 2 people with a shovel, due to the appearance of an unexpected lover, was a Bitter fail. I don’t have the ability to predict.

    • peevishmagnifyingglass

      I like it a lot, this is a great concept. Scenery and dialogue are your forte. I am on the edge of my seat waiting to see who gets killed next? I will be supremely honored to see a character that is a bit peevish.

      • Becoming Bitter

        I’ll be on the edge waiting for your reaction. *rubs hands together in evilness and excitement*

  4. Becoming Bitter

    She only killed Michael with the shovel. Sandy died by a butcher knife and Edward died by 2 gun shots. Min was impaled with a stick. Just clarifying. Sorry if I wrote it in ambiguous way, the 144 characters was killing me.

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