Sly and Single Again aka Cunning Single Lady
앙큼한 돌싱녀 2014 MBC 16 Episodes
Melodrama / Romantic Comedy, Grade: B+

Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA


I decided to watch this romantic comedy K-drama Sly And Single Again (2014) when it was added to Instant Netflix in early 2015 and renamed Cunning Single Lady. I simply prefer to watch the Korean dramas whenever they are added to Netflix because the visual quality is so superb on my big screen television sets. 

This show proved to be quite entertaining and it had many interesting things to say about marriage and fidelity, divorce and possible re-marriage. The actors truly brought their characters to life and I never got bored. I had loved the lead male actor in Good Doctor (2013) where he played the second male lead after the fabulous Joo Won, and the lead actress in Midas (2011) and Boys Over Flowers (2009). I admit I felt badly for her character many times as I watched this, especially when she was hurting, because of a scandal that took place after she finished this show, with her own real-life husband actor Byung Hun Lee from IRIS (2009). I wish them the best and hope they can truly heal their relationship.

On the surface the show seemed to be one of revenge, stemming from a poorly handled divorce when the characters, husband Jung Woo Cha (Sang Wook Joo) and wife Ae Ra Na (Min Jung Lee) were young and struggling financially. However, as the show progressed, new layers in their story were uncovered through flashbacks so that we could finally get a whole, clear picture of what really went wrong in their marriage, and how they could possibly heal from it. All reviews for this show on other K-drama web sites state that this is the story of a gold-digger ex-wife trying to get even with her ex-husband for succeeding financially after she divorced him. What a cursory and downright incorrect description of this drama that makes me wonder if anyone on these web sites actually WATCHED this show in the first place! The REAL story of their marriage is NOT what you see in the first few episodes! You have to keep watching to the end to find out the full truth.


Some of the things this couple said to one another after they met again years later were unbelievably contentious and cruel, especially on the ex-husband's part, since he had never stopped to think seriously of why his wife had dumped him; he became easily offended, and the failure of their marriage actually stirred him on to finally become financially successful beyond his wildest dreams, although one gets the strong feeling he did so simply out of revenge, because she had left him when he was struggling and penniless, leaving his paying job without consulting her first, to create his own start-up company which never seemed to go anywhere. It was to the point that even their utilities were often shut off from lack of payment. She seemed very bitter and I really couldn't blame her. She had nobly even told him at divorce time that she wouldn't accept any alimony from him since he was so destitute. She had reached a breaking point with his lack of responsibility to her, and later on we discover an additional secret regarding why she had become totally grief-stricken and had lost the will to continue loving him.

Years later, when she hears through the grapevine that he has become the rich CEO of his own successful communications company, she can't help but reflect how that money could have stabilized her own life, since she still works hard at low level jobs while he lives in luxury. Many years had gone by and he never stopped to consider he might owe her something while she was the main breadwinner through most of their marriage, as he worked on his pipe dreams while she brought home the bacon. His right hand man named Secretary Gil (Myung Soo Kim from Master's Sun) actually starts to make Jung Woo feel guilty that he had never given her alimony -- in flashbacks we are shown many of the ideas she had given him to succeed where other communication companies had failed -- for instance how to create software that would allow unlimited texting for free on cell phones. He had benefited financially from her idea but had never compensated her for it.

Full of promise in the beginning, the stresses of life finally catch up with our young couple,
and divorce seems to be the only option left to them (or at least, for her).

One evening Ae Ra is feeling sorry for herself after hearing about all Jung Woo's successes and she gets tipsy at an outdoor cafe. She hears several men talking about her ex-husband since he had just been on a television appearance where he was interviewed about the secrets to his success. She starts to scream at them that no, he didn't just succeed all on his own as he had claimed, that she had been married to him at one time, and had contributed a lot to the marriage, and they moved to confront her, which caused her to throw a chicken leg at one of them, bruising his forehead.

They are all taken to the police station because of the brawl and Ae Ra's best friend Min Young Kang (fun actress Bo Ra Hwang from My Girl and Arang And The Magistrate) secretly calls Ae Ra's ex-husband and begs him to show up at the police station to help dismiss the case by proving that Ae Ra had indeed been married to him at one time, which the men at the cafe stated had to be a lie. Jung Woo at first angrily says he won't go, but then has a change of heart, shows up at the station and he and Ae Ra lay eyes on each other for the first time in many years. She is disheveled, her lipstick smeared, her hair a mess, and she certainly does NOT portray a good image to Jung Woo!

Ae Ra ends up as an entry level intern at her ex's successful company and quickly finds some success
when she catches a criminal who had stolen top company secrets from the company's computer system

Jung Woo is successful in getting Ae Ra released without being charged, and she and her best friend Min Young head back to the little apartment they share together. As she is falling asleep that night she receives a text from Jung Woo: "Let's meet up. Meet me in my office." She goes and he insults her by pushing a contract under her nose, asking her to sign it, and handing her a packet filled with money that is supposed to represent the alimony he typically would have owed her (but it's really reflecting his guilty conscience!). When she reads the contract she is angry beyond measure and rips it up, for it said that she would take this money and never let him lay eyes on her ever again. In a huff she walks out, without even taking the money! (So much for all those other error-filled K-drama websites that claimed in their reviews that she was a gold-digger!).

Jung Woo then hands the money to Ae Ra's loser brother and tells him to give it to her, but he takes it and gambles it away!!! Jung Woo is under the impression the money was accepted by Ae Ra; it's only much later that he learns the truth.

He runs into Ae Ra several more times and then he does something totally reprehensible: he tells her he wants to drive her somewhere special and then takes her to a new house he has had built -- a house that is the spitting image of the house they had actually planned to build together while they were still dreamy eyed, young, and in love. Ae Ra starts tearing up because she is so touched. She reads this as his way of trying to build bridges toward a reconciliation, and she hugs him. But, oh no! That is not his intent at all. Instead he cruelly tells her, "This house isn't our dream. It's my dream, and I plan on using it to build a new life with a woman of my choice, and I'm going to be happy with this woman for the rest of my life!" She rushes out of the house in tears. (Let me tell you that was the only moment in the entire show I REALLY wanted to claw his eyes out! How unbelievably cruel and inhuman. To him it was his revenge, to her it was as if her heart had been stabbed in two).

How nice it is to have another man want you after a bitter divorce! Even if it happens to be your ex's younger brother!

At the heart of Ae Ra is an unbelievable strength, despite her continued financial distress. She applies as an intern at Jung Woo's successful company and Jung Woo, feeling a bit guilty over his poor behavior, agrees that she can work there, under the condition that he not run into her every day. There she is properly introduced to Jung Woo's younger handsome brother Seung Hyun (Kang Joon from The Suspicious Housekeeper and Roommate). He is a complete sweetie, as kind as Jung Woo is taciturn. He starts falling for her, not knowing that she was his older brother's ex-wife, since he had left Korea with his mother when his parents had split and had never seen a picture of Jung Woo and Ae Ra together. She enjoys being in his company; he makes her laugh, and wouldn't you know it, the closer they become the more Jung Woo starts to get jealous of their relationship. All his suppressed feelings for Ae Ra start to come back to the surface.

This becomes obvious to Jung Woo's female assistant Yeo Jin Gook (Gyu Ri Kim from The King's Face) who slowly begins to put two and two together about Jung Woo's real history with this woman. She herself had had hopes of capturing Jung Woo's heart but as time goes on that seems less and less likely. Jung Woo is actually starting to fall in love with Ae Ra all over again.

Actor Sang Wook Joo does a great job making you hate his character
of Jung Woo
one moment, and then making you melt the next

Ae Ra and Seung Hyun are able to track down a man who had stolen company secrets and been about to sell them on the open market, and the man is arrested. Jung Woo has to publicly congratulate Ae Ra and his brother in front of other company employees, something he feels very awkward doing. The last thing he wants to do is to feel her hands in his again! Then Jung Woo has more contact with Ae Ra when they are both selected to appear in a commercial promoting the company and as a result Jung Woo is injured by a falling object. When he is rushed to the hospital it is Ae Ra who stays with him all night while he lays unconscious. Yeo Jin arrives in the morning and is jealous when she sees it is Ae Ra by his side; she tells Ae Ra to go home, that she will take over. Almost as soon as Ae Ra is gone Jung Woo wakes up and asks Yeo Jin if she had stayed with him the whole night, and while she doesn't respond with a lie he assumes by her silence that she was the one who had stayed with him.

Brothers at odds over l'amour! Who will win?

Many more revelations are to come about and between Jung Woo and Ae Ra, between Seung Hyun and his brother Jung Woo, and between Yeo Jin and Jung Woo. At one point it looks like Jung Woo's company might be poised for a take over -- will Ae Ra stay by Jung Woo's side this time? Is there any hope that they can truly reconcile when there had been such rancor between them for years, and when old jealousies rear their ugly heads again? If Ae Ra chooses the kind Seung Hyun who openly loves her, instead of Jung Woo who continues to fight his feelings, will that finally cause Jung Woo to admit the truth to Ae Ra?

I just loved the chemistry between Min Jung Lee and her two male co-stars in Sly And Single Again. I love stories which cause you to think that these characters are real people you could identify with and meet in your own life and enjoy getting to know. Nothing seemed forced, but only very natural; the progressions of all the characters' feelings for one another seemed completely realistic. This is easily a K-drama I could re-watch any time. It's overall very sweet and illuminating about human nature, jealousy, romance, marriage and love. There is a good mixture of melodrama and comedy. Really, it's just about perfect. Give it a chance and ideally watch it on Netflix where the print is fantastic. Enjoy!

"I wonder who's kissing her now?"