Her Private Life
그녀의 사생활
tvN (2019) 16 Episodes
Romantic Comedy, Grade: C
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

Gah! I wanted to like this drama Her Private Life (2019) so much, because I have enjoyed the two main leads in other dramas (especially the lead male Kim Jae Wook from Coffee Prince, Bad Guy, Who Are You?, Mary Stayed Out All Night, Voice), but almost from the first episode I could tell it would be a chore for me to sit through this drama, and honestly I ended up fast forwarding through lots of redundant, boring, predictable scenes before I finally got to the last episode sixteen -- and then I literally danced around my house, celebrating that it was finally OVER and I wouldn't have to see the huge annoying promotional banner anymore on the index page of the website I had watched it on! Bye bye! Good riddance!

Here we had two lead actors in their mid-30's with many years of experience doing all kinds of dramas and films, but then they handed them a script aimed at the mental age of teenagers, with a superficial story about silly, secret fan-girling of a boy idol almost young enough to be the lead actress' son! Calgon, take me awaaaaay!!! Actors in this age range, with this level of acting experience, should NOT have been involved with a show aimed at the teenage level, sorry, they deserved much better than this immature material.

I could predict everything that was going to happen before it happened. There was not one single surprise in this entire script. The screenplay was definitely written by Common Formula Hacks, based on numerous frequent K-drama tropes found in your typical romance novel, containing no originality whatsoever. If you are in your teens or early twenties, and have hardly watched any K-dramas yet, then I suspect you would probably like it, because you don't have enough experience with anything better. Yet. However, if you're a mature fan like me, who has watched hundreds of K-dramas, you are probably going to be bored by all the easy predictability. Sometimes the actors even looked like they were sleepwalking through their scenes. Even they, as professionals, could no doubt tell this story material was routine at best, and Snoresville at worst ... but I'm sure the money was good and at least, finally, Kim Jae Wook (at age 36!) had a true male lead role instead of supporting  -- it was way too long in coming! (The only reason why I stuck with it to begin with, out of respect for his past work).

"Cutesy! Boring! This Had Me Snoring!" 

The Story:

Pert but rather ridiculous Sung Deok Mi (Park Min Young, Remember, City Hunter) works as a curator at an up and coming city art gallery, focusing on modern art. She is secretly a huge fan of a male idol group member named Shi An (One), and incognito runs an online fan and chat website about him. Because of her abnormal obsession for Shi An, out of all proportion to reality, she has experienced several personal break-ups in her past romantic relationships.

She does have one close female friend named Lee Sun Joo (Park Jin Joo who has been in too many K-dramas for me to count, but always in minor or supporting roles) who also enjoys fan-girling Shi An, and the two of them are able to bond over this silliness, sometimes even getting away and sharing hotel rooms in order to be closer to Shi An's next performance venue. This habit will bring Deok Mi some trouble later, as it assumed by some that these two female friends are gay, even though they are not.

Deok Mi tries very hard to focus on her job most of all, but any mention of Shi An from anyone usually turns her into a brainless twit, and her job performance suffers. Then one day she gains a new boss, named simply Ryan (Kim Jae Wook), an Americanized name, and he begins work as the new director of the art gallery. As is typical in K-dramas, the two of them do not get along at first. They rub each other the wrong way, and Deok Mi is scared her secret fan-girling might be revealed to Ryan and that she might be fired over it.

Ryan seems to have his own family secrets, related to his biological mother
Kong Eun Young (Lee Il Hwa, Doctor Stranger, My Love From Another Star, Heartstrings) whom he thinks deserted him during his childhood (shades of Legend Of The Blue Sea). He was once a famous painter of modern art, enjoying his own obsession of paintings having to do with bubbles (BUBBLES! if I never see another painting with bubbles in it it will be too soon!), but he no longer paints anymore due to these family secrets, which have caused him to feel detached emotionally from many people.

Because of pressures on Ryan to blind date, and finally settle down with one woman, he requests that Deok Mi play a game in which they pretend-date, just to keep the matchmakers at bay (another frequent K-drama cliche: forced relationships or fake engagements). Eventually, of course, the continued interactions between Ryan and Deok Mi turn into a real attraction between them (ho hum, you could see that one happening a mile off). The drama also has the usual cutesy secondary characters brought in to bring extra humor to a story that really wasn't that funny to begin with. I was bored by them, too, sorry to say!

What will Ryan do when he discovers Deok Mi's secret fan girl life, and especially who it is directed toward, a young man who might just be part of his own family? (I'm nodding off even typing this, it was just so predictably annoying). Will Ryan ever be reconciled to the mother he thinks deserted him as a child? Will he ever paint again? Oh, those family secrets that cause turmoil in adults, secrets that should have been dealt with much earlier in their lives.

Please, Korea, will you start writing original material again, like you used to do in the old days? I hope this predictable drama doesn't become the new norm in K-drama writing, or I might seriously stop watching K-dramas altogether in the future. You have to engage my BRAIN, writers, not just my emotions.

If you are young, and don't mind watching a total formula piece, then give this drama a chance. The actors do manage to be charming on occasion, but for me a lot of that chemistry looked forced. Even the kiss scenes looked totally scripted. I could almost hear the director in the background saying, "Now Jae Wook, slowly move your hand across her back" and "Min Young, zoom in to kiss him now with your eyes wide open." However, at the end of these heavily scripted kiss scenes I simply said out loud, "Frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn."

I hope next time Kim Jae Wook gets to play first male lead in a story with a lot more originality and excitement. I'll be there!