No, Thank You (Series One and Two)
Kakao M (2020-2022)
24 Episodes Total @ 22 Minutes Each
Family Web Drama, Romance
Grade: A+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
(Some Spoilers)

An outstanding Korean family web drama that was so addictive I finished the whole thing in only one weekend, No, Thank You (2020-2022) was touching, realistic, modern, romantic, wholesome, funny, inspiring; in essence everything that Korean drama fans hope to experience in a series, in one grand package. Sadly, this brilliance occurs more rarely these days, for various reasons (most having to do with foreign money invested in too many Korean dramas now, which often removes their unique Korean style, Westernizing them so that they seem more likely products of Hollywood, not Korea). This series thankfully avoids those foreign influences, and we see a true Korean-flavored story here, showcasing a normal Korean family and their loving but intense relationships with one another. Thankfully I was able to enjoy both series one and two on the Viki streaming website, and I hope there is a season three sometime in future, since I really grew to love the characters. In the interim I might actually check out the popular web-comic that this series was based on, written by Soo Shin Ji, just to see her original take on these characters. I've read that she's actually had it translated into English "because there is no reason why I shouldn't". LOL! You go, girl! :)

Park Ha Sun and Kwon Yul
During A Script Reading Session

The cast was uniformly excellent, including thoughtful, delightful leading lady Park Ha Sun (Two Weeks, Three Days, Dong Yi, The King And I, Temptation) -- who is married to actor Ryu Su Young and has a daughter with him, and who has donated millions of dollars to charities -- and attractive leading man Kwon Yul (Whisper, Lie To Me, My Fair Lady, One More Happy Ending, Let's Fight Ghost) who came into his own here playing a truly nice man married to Park Ha Sun's character in the story. They had solid chemistry together and made their characters compelling and interesting. Nostalgic flashbacks in the series show us how their relationship developed from childhood through college, and these sweet, often humorous scenes made me smile with delight (such as in the video clip below). Personally, I liked that Park Ha Sun's character was shown to be quite different pre-marriage and post-marriage, with even her hairstyle becoming more rigid after she was married, instead of her former free-style as a single girl. There was some good symbolism there. This also made it easier for the audience to differentiate between the current story of her marriage versus the flashbacks when her character was younger and freer.

The Story:

Min Sa Rin (Park Ha Sun) is a furniture and interior home designer who is proud of her growing success at work, and who is well liked by everyone at her company. She is recently married to an investment banker named Moo Gu Young (Kwon Yul) whom she has known since childhood. They fell in love while crossing paths in college and had a traditional Korean wedding, at which the minister, in addition to asking her if she will honor and obey her husband, asks her "Will you be a good daughter-in-law?" After a shocked pause she had agreed.

This sets her up for dealing with her very old-fashioned in-laws in emotionally complicated ways: traditionalist wife and mother Park Ki Dong (prolific veteran actress Moon Hee Kyung, from 49 Days, another excellent performance here!) and somewhat domineering husband Moo Nam Chun (Kim Jong Goo), who both expect Sa Rin to fulfill duties of cooking and cleaning during family get-togethers, holidays, and memorial services. Don that apron and get to work, girl, while everyone else gets to sit in the living room and chat! Although Sa Rin begins to resent this expectation over time, she is too dutiful to complain about it, except occasionally to her husband, who sympathizes in some ways, but who also feels pressure to honor his traditional parents' demands. He knows his parents are good people at heart. They can't help how they were raised, to believe in the traditional patriarchal Korean family structure. 

Mama Bear Ki Dong Tells Off Mi Young's Abusive Husband

Sa Rin feels sympathetically closer to the other women in husband Gu Young's family: her sister-in-law Moo Mi Young (Choi Yoon Ra, from the film The Age Of Shadows) who is unhappily married to a financially struggling video game designer named Kim Chul Soo (Choi Tae Hwan, who was so excellent in Ballerino), and the outspoken pregnant wife Jung Hye Rin (Baek Eun Hye) of her brother-in-law Moo Gu Il (Jo Wan Ki).

Son Gu Il and Daughter-in-Law Hye Rin

Both of these two women also receive their share of criticism from the elder parents Ki Dong and Nam Chun. Although it is obvious that the elders care deeply about all their children and their spouses it is their own ultra-conservative upbringing which results in complications with the younger generation. Can these ingrained reactions be mellowed over time? (Knowing how great the Korean writers are at showing character growth during their series I fully expected to see this happen). In fact one of the best scenes in the entire series is one in which Mi Young honestly confesses to her mother how unhappy she is with her husband and that she really wants a divorce from him. It was so beautifully acted I felt the tears streaming down my face. The mother finally realizes that her children are not just extensions of herself, but that they are their own unique people and must fulfill their own lives and destinies as they see fit. When her son Gu Il decides to be a "house husband" because his wife Hye Rin makes more money and he'd like to be a "stay at home Dad" Mother and Father are at first shocked but eventually begin to respect their son's important decision. 

Eventually Sa Rin faces an unexpected pregnancy and complications that lead to a c-section. Will she still be expected to be chief cook and bottle washer for her husband's family while struggling with this huge challenge? Will she be treated any differently by the people she works with professionally, including her older male boss? Or heaven forbid, might she actually even be ... fired?

The strong and concise message of No, Thank You -- that modern Korean women still suffer from day-to-day inequality, but that Korean families ARE adjusting to their new realities -- is delivered through cute, wholesome, likeable characters, and simple dialogue that is easily heard in their real lives in Korea. It's no wonder why this web-comic took off like gangbusters online! These aren't fake super-human comic book characters, but easily identifiable real people. Don't miss this totally addictive gem! You even get a few scenes filmed on Jeju Island, to add even more beauty to the story. Always happy to see that island pop up again in my K-dramas. :)