(aka Twinkle, Twinkle or Sparkling) 반짝이는 모든 것
(2011) MBC 54 Episodes
Family Melodrama, Comedy, Grade: B+
Korean Drama Review by Alison, USA
OST Love Song: Fireflies sung by Mi
One of the greatest
pleasures of watching Korean dramas is their length -
usually it takes 16-20 episodes to tell the complete
story, you can marathon the episodes, and then you are
fully satisfied. However, some dramas are much
longer-running and so need to be savored over a longer
period. This is how I watched the 50 plus episode drama
All That Glitters
(also known as Twinkle, Twinkle, and Sparkling,
all of these titles a reference to the glowing magnetism
of the leading lady, Hyun-joo Kim - Partner,
Over Flowers, Glass
Soon Is Pretty, Into
The Sunlight, Watcher).
As much as I enjoyed this series which
really does have it all, with romance, humor, corporate
politics, plenty of interesting characters and absorbing
and multi-layered plot the primary attraction for me was
my affection for Hyun-joo Kim. She is just adorable and
delightful in this role, her charisma just lights up the
screen. She also shows her range as an actress, playing
a character who is flighty and substantial,
self-centered and goodhearted, smart yet oblivious.
The Story: Our heroine, Han Jung-won, is the
daughter of a wealthy publisher Han Ji-woon (veteran
actor Yong Jang, from Miss
Ripley and many other dramas) and works hard
to earn her father's respect as a competent business
woman. However, though she is smart, she is also a bit
of a scatterbrain.
Jung-won has a comfortable family
life, with a mother (Jung-soo Park, another K-drama
regular) determined to matchmaker for her daughter,
despairing that the young woman will ever marry and give
her grandchildren because she is so immersed in her
career. Her father is demanding but he is not your
typical K-drama cold patriarch - he is warm and
encouraging, with a genuine soft spot for his children.
He also has a lazy and frivolous son Sang-won (played by
Hyung-beom Kim from 49
Days and Padam,
Padam) as well as a much younger half
brother Seo-woo (played by Yu-hwan Park, who is the
younger brother of Micky Yuchun Park, one of the leading
men in Miss
Ripley) who is the academic achiever in the
family with his own private tutor. The tutor, a poor and
struggling law student, Dae-beom (Dong-ho Kang,
bespectacled and very winning), has an ex-girlfriend who
has just left him with their baby, so he has his own
We are introduced to Jung-won when she
is meeting a blind date, and she mistakes the wrong man
for that date. Without waiting to confirm his identity,
she flippantly tells him she is not interested in dating
Imagine her mortification when she
discovers that she has been spouting off to the wrong
person. This self-assured young man is a journalist,
Song Seung-joon (played with just the right touch of
amusement and condescension by handsome actor Suk-hoon
Kim). Jung-won is destined to run him into him again in
a professional capacity when her father hires him to
replace his company's departing editor in chief (a job
that Jung-won herself desperately wanted, but her father
doesn't believe she is ready for it). Jung-won and
Seung-joon are destined to be those classic romantic
comedy lovers - antagonists who slowly and finally begin
to warm to each other (they are a little like Spencer
Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, with him being laid back
while she flutters around him).
We also meet our second heroine.
Hwang Geum-ran (Yoo-ri Lee) is the pretty, sad-faced
daughter of a poor family that is headed by a stern but
affectionate matriarch (Doo-shim Go, who has been in
tons of K-dramas). She runs a small restaurant. The
father (character actor Yong-woo Gil, from Thank
Days and many other dramas, playing for
comedic relief here) is a worthless gambler who is
currently in hiding from the loan sharks/gangsters to
whom he owes a considerable sum of money. (To show him
they mean business, the men shave off his eyebrows and
threaten to hurt his daughter Geum-ran). The family
has not seen him in quite some time, but like a bad
penny, he is going to show up.
Geum-ran works in a bookstore
associated with the Han publishing firm, and her one big
dream is to escape her dreary life and marry her
boyfriend, bespectacled, uptight law student Soong-Jae
(played with perfect round-faced pomposity by Tae-woo
Jeong). Geum-ran's mother is so supportive of the
romance that she has been helping him to pay for his law school degree and even gives Geum-ran
money to buy him a brand new suit (naturally he chooses
the most expensive one, to Geum-ran's dismay).
Geum-ran also has two sisters, Tae Ran
(Ah-hyun Lee) and Mi-ran (Ji-woo Han), a henpecked
brother-in-law married to Tae-ran (Sang-ho Kim), and an
adorable little niece (Soo-yeon Shin) daughter of
Tae-ran and her husband. Alll of these characters have
lively personalities and will feature into the story.
What's more, the Han family tutor Dae-beom is her old
friend (and also a friend of Soong-jae), and he has long
harbored a crush on her, but lacks the wealth and
position to offer her the security she craves.
RIP Kim Ji Young (1938 - 2017)
At this point in the drama, Geum-ran's
tale is the one to watch - what happens to her will set
the stage for the primary conflict that will drive the
story. Her arrogant fiance passes the bar and now
decides he can do better than the impoverished Geum-ran;
he wants a more upwardly mobile wife. Coincidentally,
Jung-won's mother sets her up on yet another blind date,
this time with this very fiance.
Humoring her mother, Jung-won meets
him at a restaurant and finds him a total bore, but he
is immediately taken with her. Geum-ran sees them
together in the restaurant, and causes a scene, with the
sympathetic Jung-won instantly sizing up the situation
and taking the other girl's side. While Geum-ran
restrains herself from throwing a drink in her fiance's face (because it will ruin that
expensive new suit her mother paid for), Jung-won does
it for her, earning her not even a thank you from
Geum-ran is devastated by the blatant
betrayal of her supposed fiance and runs out of the
restaurant, where she is knocked down by a car - being
driven by Jung-won's father. She is unhurt, but he
attends to her solicitously. Coincidentally, journalist
Seung-joon, who was in the restaurant to meet with Mr.
Han (his new employer) also witnesses the accident. He
is intrigued by and sympathetic to poor Geum-ran.
Seong-joon picks up the umbrella that
she has left behind; she has made an indelible
impression on him. Later on, Mr. Han will run into
Geum-ran again, and they have a connection, with him
feeling fatherly toward the fragile girl and her wishing
she had a father like him. But first, all sorts of
misfortune besiege the miserable Geum-ran. Despite her
tearful pleading (she even drops to her knees in front
of him), Soong-jae summarily dumps her, saying that he
is sorry, but she is not good enough for him anymore now
that he has passed the bar and has a bright future.
On her way home, she is suddenly
kidnapped by the loan sharks looking for her father.
They threaten her life if she doesn't come up with the
money he owes them, but their menace falls on deaf ears.
Geum-ran doesn't really care, she is so depressed that
she would rather die anyway. The men leave her
abandoned, lying for hours in a newly dug grave in the woods, and she is ready to
give up and just let death take her. Fortunately, she is
discovered in time to prevent hypothermia and rushed to
While she is in the hospital, a blood
test reveals that Geum-ran's blood type is not
compatible with either of her parents. At first
the family figures this is just some mistake by the
hospital, but the revelation gets Geum-ran to thinking.
She wonders whether she possibly could be the biological
child of someone else. She has always felt a little
different. What if she should actually be living a very
different life - one more like that of Jung-won, whom
she already envies? Her curiosity and
determination is especially aroused when she realizes that she and Jung-won share the
same birthday and Jung-won's father reveals that his
daughter was born in the same hospital as Geum-ran.
It is not really a spoiler to reveal
that blood tests don't lie, and the families will
discover that the two baby girls were switched at birth
due to an error at the hospital. If you have seen the
Autumn in My Heart, you should already know
how a similar situation was resolved with the two girls
being restored to their original parents. (The nice girl
stays nice despite having to give up her comfortable
life, and the mean girl stays mean despite leaving her
poverty behind). The same thing happens here, except
with adult women instead of young girls (and no Oppa
love story either).
This reversal of fortune takes
Geum-ran out of her life of misery and into the sphere
of the publishing world, which is now her heritage.
Meanwhile Jung-won will have to make her own fortune
without the cushion of her family's support. She has to
get to know her new family, especially her mother, who
is struggling with oncoming blindness. She starts to
encounter all sorts of challenges and hardships, her
life as she knew it completely turned upside down.
The two young women continue to be
rivals, with Geum-ran growing increasingly spiteful due
to her ongoing jealousy of Jung-won. As the series
progresses, you begin to lose sympathy with Geum-ran and
your admiration for the resilient Jung-won grows. Both
actresses do a great job creating convincing characters
in classic soap opera fashion.
In a way, All That Glitters offers insight into
the debate of nature vs. nurture affecting a person's
behavior. Geum-ran is initially beset by misfortune,
which makes her somewhat bitter and depressed. Jung-won
has never experienced real hardship, so she is cheerful
and optimistic about life. Will the personalities of
these two women change when their
circumstances do? Or will their inner traits emerge
regardless of what life decides to throw at them?
As you watch more and more of these
K-dramas, I think you will notice that the best of them
excel at depicting character growth and development.
They introduce you to heroes and heroines about whom
your initial perceptions are likely to change - almost
always for the better. The plot of All That Glitters
spins an intriguing web, but most importantly, it
focuses on how different individuals cope with different
challenges and stresses in life.
There is so much to savor here -
though since it is very long, there are some lulls in
the action, and I found myself feeling some frustration
over what happens to our heroine Jung-won. You have to
be patient with it because matters certainly are not
wrapped up quickly. However, I predict you will root for
Jung-won's success both romantically and professionally.
This is Hyun-joo Kim's show all the way; see if you can
resist her in the early episodes when she coos to a
baby, or realizes she has made a fool of herself and
tries to put a brave face on it, or remains resilient
even when having a very hard time. Plus, she and
Suk-hoon Kim have a terrific chemistry, where he seems
just as delighted and bemused by her character as I was.
You will laugh and you will cry - this drama doesn't
just glitter, it glows.