Searching for Mr Oarsman,
This review is from: My Lovely Sam-Soon [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Funny how we're supposed to get a beauty-is-skin-deep message in a story where an ugly duckling prefers attractive men. But, somehow it usually works. Especially when the actress has the ability to draw the viewer into her character so that the viewer deeply empathizes. Talented Kim Seon Ah does.
She could have done it even if she hadn't put on an extra 8 kg for this role of a 30-year-old looking for -- as her character Sam Soon charmingly put it -- someone to help row a small boat across the Pacific.
The other lead actors are not quite as good... and more conventionally attractive. The tall, boyish-looking lead actor Hyeon Bin just barely rises above his role's stereotype. However, he should at least be given a stuntman credit for the physical abuse he takes from the females thru out the series.
There's a fair amount of English in this one cuz Korean-American model-turned-actor Daniel Henney makes his dramatic debut as one of the minor leads -- and he hadn't mastered Korean yet. Consequently, the girl he follows to Korea was cast with an actress who had spent her teenage years in Australia -- the very pretty Jung Ryeo-won, former member of KPop girl group Chakra. Her English is much better than what is usually passed off as English in Korean shows. There's also a lot of English-language songs on the music track.
There are some soap opera clichés here. And it threatens to get tiresome when the pattern of boy-loses-girl boy-gets-girl repeats and repeats. The writers needed to show more imagination. And I found the ending a little less effective than it could have been. (I think the ending would have been powerful if the series ended at episode 15 instead of 16 -- making me wonder if that was the original intention.)
The ratings for the original airing of this show in South Korea were phenomenal -- averaging 40% of the viewers -- with the finale capturing over 50% of the viewers. It was the most watched show of 2005. And it became a hit all over Asia. I'm sure non-Asians will like it just as much.
BTW, "Sam Soon" is an old name rarely used nowadays -- that's why the woman spends the series resenting it.
BTW-2, that's Daniel Henney showing off his basketball skills -- he attended college on a basketball scholarship. And no doubt that's Kim Seon Ah playing the piano at the end -- she majored in piano at a US college. For that reason, I suspect her English is even better than the broken (but very understandable) English we hear in this show.
BTW-3, if you like this one, you might try one I liked even better -- COFFEE PRINCE