KDRAMALOVE KOREAN DRAMA REVIEWS

Personal Taste
개인의 취향 (2010) MBC 16 Episodes
Romantic Comedy Classic,
Grade: A



Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

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How in the world can I possibly describe how much I ADORE this show, the Korean romantic comedy - drama Personal Taste (2010)? Am I allowed to gush in a serious review? ;) I've watched it several times by now and each time I laugh even harder than before. This wonderful show has some fun slapstick to it, but also a serious side, dealing with deep seated personal prejudices, how lies can destroy relationships, and how a parent's neglect of his daughter due to guilt can have profound negative consequences on her life. Personal Taste explores gender role and sexual orientation differences with great success. It always makes me happy to read the rave reviews of new fans of this show. It's not just an entertaining comedy, but a thinking person's show. The script, written by a woman named Hee Ju Kim, who adapted the story from a novel written by a woman named See In Lee, is utterly brilliant; it possesses a great combination of humor, romance, suspense and pathos. All of the cast is perfect. Personal Taste is a real treat, to be enjoyed again and again and shared with others whenever possible.

I'm a huge fan of beautiful Korean actress Ye Jin Son and I have watched all her terrific K-dramas like Shark, and her excellent movies like The Classic and April Snow and A Moment To Remember. I've seen Lee Min Ho in Boys Over Flowers, City Hunter, Heirs, Mackerel Run, and Faith, and while he was great in those shows too I delight perhaps the most in his character here in Personal Taste for he is so modern and realistic, strong yet vulnerable. I really liked seeing him as an intelligent, ambitious, close to 30 year old professional with a witty sense of humor, someone who had to work hard his entire life, instead of the eighteen year old rich boys he played in Boys Over Flowers and Heirs. The progression and deepening of his feelings for the hurting but spunky girl in Personal Taste is magical! You can actually see his character's inner thoughts without them having to be expressed in spoken words. Min Ho would have made a great silent film actor back in the day. He's great at mime! (For that matter, so is Ye Jin Son, which is clearly evident in the scenes where she puts on a man's clothes, hat and fake mustache and pretends to be a dapper young gentleman. For some reason Charlie Chaplin came to mind in those scenes).

The Story: Ye Jin Son plays Gae In Park, a furniture designer whose personal life needs a lot of shaping up. She lives in a spectacular designer home called Sanggojae (meaning "a place for mutual love") that her father built years before for her mother, who is now deceased, but Gae In is sloppy and inept, neglecting the house while her father is away on an extended business trip, and neglecting her own personal appearance as well. She is liable to show up at a business meeting in torn jeans or rumpled sweat pants, with a band-aid on her head! Growing up without a mother's influence and with a father gone a lot of the time made Gae In grow up without a firm foundation in how to live a successful life.

Min Ho plays an up and coming architect, Jin Ho Jeon, with his own private practice, working with his two friends Sang-jun Noh (funny actor Sung Hwa Jung, who had me in stitches a lot of the time) and the younger Tae Hoon Kim (Suel Ong Im), who is in love with a young girl named Hye Mi Na (Eun Seo Choi) who has a crush on Jin Ho, much to his annoyance. Jin Ho often has to compete professionally with a rival named Chang Ryul Han (Ji Sook Kim) and his extremely avaricious father Yoon Sub Han (Suk Hwan Ahn) who was responsible for kicking him and his mother (Hae Mi Park) out of their home after Jin Ho's father died. So there is bad blood between them, which isn't helped when Chang Ryul uses under-handed methods to win architectural design jobs that Jin Ho and his team want.

Gae In had expected to receive a marriage proposal from Chang Ryul, whom she had dated for a long time, but unknown to her he is about to get married to her best friend and roommate In Hee Kim (cool actress Ji Hye Wang from The Suspicious Housekeeper). In Hee had waited for Chang Ryul to gain the courage to tell Gae In the truth, but he kept putting off the unpleasant task. He does manage to break up with Gae In over dinner, telling her she reminds him of a lost puppy in the rain, but he neglects to tell her about marrying her best friend the next morning! Nice guy!



When Gae In shows up at the wedding of In Hee, along with another friend Young Sun Lee (the delightful actress Eun Ji Jo), she is astounded to see that it's Chang Ryul whom In Hee is marrying. It causes havoc at the ceremony, while all the time Jin Ho and his friend Sang-jun look on and take note of the mess Chang Ryul has made of his love life. That is the end of the friendship between Gae In and In Hee, and the marriage between Chang Ryul and In Hee doesn't go off as planned. Just how many people remain who can betray the sweet and naive Gae In? We go through the rest of the series to find out.

Her co-worker gambles away a significant amount of Gae In's savings from her furniture business, causing her to worry about paying the bills on Sanggojae. Young Sun suggests she take in a paying boarder to replace In Hee. Through a series of hilarious coincidences
Gae In kept running into Jin Ho and from these awkward moments she assumes that Jin Ho is gay. Then Jin Ho discovers that she lives in the historic home Sanggojae, a home that has never been opened to the public, and once he learns that a new architectural business opportunity with a rich businessman named Do Bin Choi (suave character actor Seung Ryong Ryu) might hinge on his learning about the construction of this particular house, he decides to go along with Gae In's false assumption that he's gay and become her new paying boarder, in an attempt to get in the house, study its construction, and perhaps find original blueprints. Gae In is told by her friend Young Sun that she will be safe with Jin Ho as a boarder, because of his supposed sexual orientation that does not include an interest in girls. She decides to let Jin Ho rent a room in her historic house.

 

As time passes both Gae In and Jin Ho become close friends and then both begin to feel attracted to each other, feelings they have to work hard to hide and suppress. When Chang Ryul hears that Jin Ho is gay he doesn't believe it and challenges Jin Ho to admit it publicly, which Jin Ho finally does, within earshot of businessman Do Bin, who had privately admitted to Jin Ho that he was gay and felt attracted to him. Also standing by watching is
Gae In, who then proceeds to tell off Chang Ryul and yell at him for attacking Jin Ho's sexual preference. Chang Ryul is astonished that his former "lost wet puppy" has finally developed a spine and is standing up to him for the first time.

 

"That thing with wings ..." LOL!

Jin Ho is now caught up in a world of lies, using underhanded methods to try and beat out Chang Ryul professionally. To be fair he does try to tell Gae In the truth several times, but either Sang-jun begs him not to, fearing their business will go under if they don't win the new account from Do Bin, or Gae In herself inadvertently cuts off his attempted confession. Gae In is becoming more and more important to him with every passing day. He struggles within himself with the guilt and frustration about his continued deception, but begins to worry he will lose her if he reveals the truth. Jin Ho had been trying to help Gae In get over her former romantic feelings for Chang Ryul. He tells her the best way to do it is to take revenge on Chang Ryul by becoming more attractive, so that Chang Ryul will regret giving her up. Gae In was making great strides in that endeavor, looking prettier and prettier all the time, but the more she played the revenge game against Chang Ryul the more deeply she secretly falls in love with Jin Ho.

Feelings come to the boiling point between Gae In and Jin Ho, and Chang Ryul and In Hee, and in probably the most memorable kiss scene in K-drama history, the "Game Over" kiss results, after which Jin Ho finally admits to Gae In that he isn't gay.



The Famous "Game Over" Kiss (In Full, Not Partial)

Will Gae In ever forgive Jin Ho for the deception? She still doesn't know that he pursued a relationship with her simply to get into her house for his professional goals; if she finds that truth out will that be the straw that breaks the camel's back and will their relationship end permanently? Meanwhile Gae In's father Chul Han Park (Shin Il Kang) returns to the home and is astonished to discover she is living with Jin Ho. His return also coincides with some vitally important childhood memories Gae In suddenly recalls, having to do with the way her mother died when she was five years old. These memories shake Gae In to the core and threaten her romantic relationship with Jin Ho.

 

Personal Taste is an appealing love story that will impress you by its bold stances on many modern issues facing young people today. For instance, I particularly loved how respectful and compassionate Jin Ho was toward the older gay businessman who found him attractive. Those scenes must have been difficult for Lee Min Ho but you would never be able to tell that from the sophistication of his performance. It also must have been difficult for actress Ye Jin Son to dress like a slob in the beginning of Personal Taste, when she's been doing modeling as well as acting for over fifteen years and is the very essence of style and beauty. I read an article on how the both of them felt about this production and they were both very proud of their work on this show, and very complimentary of their fellow cast members, praising their work to the skies. I must say that in some K-dramas the side characters are not very interesting to me, but in Personal Taste most of them are just as much fun to watch as the leads, particularly darling Sang-jun, Jin Ho's best friend, and Young Sun, Gae In's best friend. Those two become good friends in the story as well, and their relationship made me giggle constantly.

This is such a joy of a show, with many touching, unforgettable moments. Do not miss it for the world!