Do Do Sol Sol Lah Lah Sol
KBS (2020) 16 Episodes
Romantic Comedy, Classical Music
Grade: A
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
(Some Spoilers)

A sweet, wholesome, and charming riches-to-rags-to-riches-again story, filled with lovely classical music delights as backdrops, Do Do Sol Sol Lah Lah Sol (2020) -- those musical notes matching the old song Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star -- satisfied my K-drama appetite in large part for the more old-fashioned and romantic dramas that the nation of Korea rarely seems to make anymore, preferring currently to put out more darker stories of serial killers, espionage, crime syndicates, occult junk, gossipy warring families, and the like. Frankly, I'm sick of those, and yearn for more simple and joyful Korean dramas like this one, that remind me of the classic Four Seasons' Korean dramas of the early 2000's that I fell in love with simply because they were nothing like crass American television shows -- they were BEAUTIFUL.


This show had gorgeous cinematography and music, and the acting was excellent from all cast members, particularly the two leads Go Ara (You're All Surrounded) and Lee Jae Wook (I'll Go To You When The Weather Is Nice). Both stars actually seemed able to play the piano in part for this series, for there were few camera cut-away scenes when they were performing. They obviously worked very hard on this drama, and not just in emoting for scenes! Then to top it all off, like sprinkles on a delicious ice cream cone, there was the cutest dog actor ever, a Pomeranian named Byul, named Mimi in the story, who stole every scene she was in from the humans! I kept squealing at my television set whenever she appeared: "SHE'S SO CUTE! I WANT HER!" LOL! She always looked like she was smiling. :)

The Story: Goo Ra-ra (Go Ara, obviously her character name is derived from her real one) is a Pollyanna type of upbeat, optimistic young girl, who is the only child of a rich man who owns a cosmetic company, named Goo Man Soo (veteran actor Eom Hyo Seop, whom I've seen in so many dramas I've lost count!). His wife died when their daughter was a baby, and he had to be both father and mother to her, and took his job seriously. He was convinced she had a talent to play the piano, even though it wasn't too obvious at first to anyone else, not even her piano teacher, Gong Mi Sook (Moon Hee Kyung), who ended up being a mother substitute to her for years. To please her father the girl tries harder and harder to become a great pianist and eventually surprises everyone by becoming a truly gifted concert pianist. At one memorable big concert she plays Mozart's famous interpretation of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, in honor of her father who never gave up on her. In the audience that night are several men who fall in love with her, and are unable to forget her; we are to get to know two of them quite intimately as the story progresses, and another one we really don't want to meet at all, as it turns out!

Ra-ra even trusts her father in picking out her future husband, and agrees to a fancy wedding, but on the day of the ceremony her father has a heart attack and dies on the way to the church! As this tragedy is unfolding the deliveryman in charge of getting the wedding bouquet to the bride has an accident and asks a young man at the scene to deliver the bouquet for him, which he does.

His name is Sunwoo Jun (Lee Jae Wook), a mysterious drifter, and it's obvious as soon as he walks into the reception area to give the bride-in-waiting her flowers that he is immediately smitten with her (and later we realize he had seen her before at that famous piano concert where she had played Mozart's version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for her father). Jun is dirty and sweaty and smelly from having run so far to deliver the bouquet, and Ra-ra is taken aback. She inadvertently smacks his face which causes his nosebleed to splash on her wedding dress. As she stares at him in shock he carefully cleans the blood off her dress. What a talented, impromptu flower deliveryman! Ra-ra softens to him and they bid each other goodbye with smiles. It's obvious that in just those few moments a special bond was formed between them, an instant attraction.

Then Ra-ra hears the tragic news of her father's death and goes into an emotional tailspin, and of course the wedding is called off. On top of the tragedy of the father's death his manager tells Ra-ra that he was actually bankrupt. He gives her what little money he had left in a bag and tells her to skedaddle, that debt collectors are after her, and will even take her fancy car from her to pay off her Dad's debts. Ra-ra races off to a seaside town she had always been fond of, called Eunpo, and hopes to go into hiding there and settle down, starting a new life. In an odd twist of fate she has a collision in her car with Jun, who was living in Eunpo and riding his bicycle on a joyride. Ra-ra and Mimi, her puppy, are taken by Jun, who wasn't badly hurt, to get medical help, Ra-ra to the hospital and Mimi to the vet. What a good guy! She could have killed him with her car but he sticks by her side in the hospital to make sure she is okay, obviously recognizing her from their earlier encounter at the church, and from the piano concert of hers that he had attended.

Although Ra-ra and Mimi ultimately both recover from their injuries, Jun still feels a great sense of responsibility toward them. He starts to befriend them both and even loans Ra-ra money in the anticipation of starting her own piano teaching academy. We start learning more about Jun. His mother is rich but was never very loving toward him so he had run away from home and started his own independent life before even graduating high school. He'd also experienced the sad death of a beloved friend. He's done various part-time jobs and saved money living alone. He loves music and can even play the piano too, although he's no match for Ra-ra's brilliance, and she ends up tutoring him as essentially her first student. She calls her new piano teaching studio La La Land and she starts taking on new students, especially one brilliant young boy named Shin Jae Min (Song Min Jae).

She also grows very friendly with a girl her own age, Jin Ha Young (Shin Eun Soo) and her mother Jin Sook Kyeong (Ye Ji Won), who own their own beauty salon, and even lives with them for a time. Although Ha Young has a crush on Jun at first, she does give up on him when she sees how much he cares about Ra-ra. Eventually she finds her own boyfriend in the kind Lee Seung Ki (Yoon Jong Bin).

Lots of local ladies gather at the beauty salon to gossip and we start seeing them as part of an extended "family" to all the lead characters in the story. A truly nice and friendly community is forming in the seaside town of Eunpo, including an old widowed gentleman who runs a greenhouse named Kim Man Bok (played by the outstanding veteran actor Lee Soon Jae from Beethoven Virus, King 2 Hearts, and many other dramas). He first grows close to Ra-ra when he hears her play a piano piece that reminds him of his deceased wife, and then later to Jun when he intervenes in saving him from some goons out to search for him who are employed by his rich mother.

We also meet and get to know Ra-ra's doctor, Dr. Cha Eunsook (Kim Joo Hun, Encounter). Turns out he had been at that piano concert too when Ra-ra had played Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for her Dad, and he had been enamored of her, too, as well as Jun. Dr. Cha is recently divorced and it's easy for him to fall into romantic feelings for Ra-ra because of her bright personality. Although he eventually confesses his feelings for Ra-ra he graciously backs down when it becomes obvious her feelings have grown into love for Jun, not the doctor. (I really enjoyed his character, he was so kind and generous to everyone). It was also nice to see a competitive first and second male lead actually become close friends and want the best for each other.

As Ra-ra and Jun fall deeply in love this becomes the highlight of the drama's story. Every scene they were in together was filled with strong, undeniable personal chemistry. You don't always see that with K-drama main couples. I also had a big adjustment to make in that actor Lee Jae Wook had been such a completely different kind of a character in I'll Go To You When The Weather Is Nice, almost always smiling and happy, but here in this drama his character had a lot of sadness pent up within himself, that he's only able to heal from eventually with Ra-ra's devoted and consistent help. It got to the point when every time he smiled I breathed a big sigh of relief: there's hope for him after all!

I would have given this drama a full A+ except for one main fault: one of those K-drama cliched time jumps is added that have appeared in far too many K-drama last episodes over the years. "One year later" - "Two years later" - "Three years later" - and THIS one was "FIVE years later", so that major life events of many of the characters were missed completely, including marriages, babies, professional successes, etc. That, combined with a major twist in the story, where you are expecting one kind of ending, but get another, bugged me quite a bit, even though the last few minutes were quite beautiful. A more straightforward, less twisty ending, would have been far more likeable for this overall very likeable Korean drama. I wish Korean drama writers would abandon this tiresome plot cliche in their last episodes. Do something different so the audience doesn't feel cheated!


So, if you like dramas with positive moral messages, heavy on the romanticism, and with consistent, interesting character growth, then be sure to check out
Do Do Sol Sol Lah Lah Sol. Believe me, it is like a breath of fresh air to not watch all the K-dramas running right now with darker themes. It's like they are trying to duplicate what America produces for television: manufactured junk! Ugh, no! Calgon, take me away! ;) I turn to Korean television shows to escape that nonsense.