Playful Kiss, a new Korean Drama, replaced top-rating Temptation of Wife today on GMA7 for the 5pm weekday schedule. This trendy drama is a remake of the Taiwanese series It Started With A Kiss, which aired on ABS-CBN2 years ago.
In this drama, Jung So-Min plays Honey Oh – a sweet, clumsy and somewhat intellectually challenged junior high student. She develops a big crush on Gelo Baek, the school’s smartest and most popular student. Played by Kim Hyun-Joong, Gelo, is the complete opposite of Honey. His cold demeanor totally equals the warmth of Honey’s character. This difference in temperament leads to a total love-hate relationship when Honey sends Gelo a love letter. Instead of just acknowledging it, he returns it with spelling and grammar corrections!
A totally humiliated Honey ends up even more devastated when their family’s home is ruined by a sudden weird earthquake. Because of this, her father takes her to live with his close friend. But Honey is totally surprised and excited when she finds out that the friend of her father is the father of Gelo (I know, that sounded a bit confusing!). What makes this situation even more in her favor is when Gelo’s parents start to appreciate her sweetness – and as Korean parents are apt to do, think that she is a good match for their son.
The charm of Playful Kiss lies primarily on Jung So-Min. She has this natural way of being funny and cute at the same time. The way she has given life to her character lights up the screen every time she’s on. Honey is totally 4D if you asked me. On the other hand, Kim Hyun-Joong can be a tad boring and totally obnoxious at times. What makes his portrayal totally irritating is the lackluster acting on his end. Since he hasn’t totally mastered nuanced acting, Gelo appears flat and one-dimensional most of the time.
Storywise, it doesn’t really veer away from the original Taiwanese drama which I also saw before. I like the predictability of the plot because of how it brings together two opposite characters in somewhat unlikely but still somehow realistic situations. This is especially palpable in the weird earthquake that serves as the Deus Ex Machina that kicks off the crazy in this drama. I also enjoy how the supporting characters actually bring out the best and worst in the leads in terms of story development (Shout out for match-making Korean parents! Ha ha ha!) In a rather bittersweet way, this drama is basically an enjoyable look back to our crazy teenage years when small things felt like big things – whether it’s a crush or even a kiss.
But unlike Boys Over Flowers, where I enjoyed the Korean version more than the Taiwanese one (Yes, I am a Lee Min-Ho fan), this is a case where Taiwan beats Korea. It’s not because of any special technical merit since Playful Kiss is actually a drama that’s more icing than real cake. What makes Honey Oh and Gelo Baek’s story less enjoyable than Jeannie and Michael’s story (the names of the Taiwanese leads in the ABS-CBN airing) also happens to be the strongest pull for most audiences: Kim Hyun-Joong.
Still, any Korean drama lover must not miss this. Despite its not so strong male lead, Playful Kiss is still a fun way to experience again the crazy folly of one’s youth.
Thanks to tiamaria0305 for the video.