Recently, I have decided to expand the offered content on my blog from books and anime to Asian cinema. One of the main reasons that I decided to do this is because I am very passionate about Asian cinema and it tends to fall under the otaku umbrella, at least in the West. I am also an Asian Studies major in college and am working diligently to become a historian and cultural specialist of the Asian continent and subcontinent. By watching and reviewing Asian cinema, I believe it can greatly help me to understand Asian cultures and practices, specifically where social customs are concerned, much better, as well as to help me gauge how to properly speak the respective languages.
With some help from a few otaku bloggers who watch Asian serials quite frequently, I have been able to dive right into it, and today I shall begin with my very first First Impressions post of a Korean Drama! I would like to offer a disclaimer that I am quite new and unacquainted with Korean cinema, so if I mention something in my posts that I feel I don’t understand, or if I am critiquing an element that has cultural significance to it, please let me know in the comments so that I can learn and become better affiliated with the medium. I would be sincerely grateful for your guys’ assistance. 😊
Cunning Single Lady (앙큼한 돌싱녀) is a South Korean romantic comedy series that released in 2014, from February to April, and stars Lee Min-jung and Joo Sang-wook. It has a total of 16 episodes that run about 55 minutes long and is also known as Sly & Single Again and Devious Divorcee. It was written by Lee Ha-na and Choi Soo-young and directed by Go Dong-sun and Jung Dae-yoon.
The series revolves around a young couple, a nerdy boy named Jung Woo and a beautiful girl named Ae Ra, who meet, fall in love, and eventually get married. They are very happy with their small and blossoming life with Jung Woo working and Ae Ra being the sweet housewife. But things take a drastic turn when Jung Woo, an aspiring IT developer, quits his job to begin his own business. Ae Ra is forced to get a job and the duo fall into poverty. Fed up with her poor and miserable life, Ae Ra breaks her vow to stand by Jung Woo through the good and bad and files for divorce. Approximately three to four years later, Ae Ra is still working to pay off Jung Woo’s debt, while he has built a supremely successful business. When she learns about his newfound wealth, Ae Ra concocts a devious scheme. However, still aching over the betrayal of her wedding vow, Jung Woo creates his own plan for petty revenge.
My very first impression of the series about twenty-minutes into it was that it’s very cute and hilarious. Watching Ae Ra and Jung Woo build their relationship was sweet and heart-warming. They have good chemistry, look adorable together, and the way they spoke to one another so affectionately made the series instantly charming to me. Then things get tough and the two get divorced. I was expecting there to be tons of emotion in the aftermath of it, but it still manages to stay light-hearted and funny.
After finishing the episode, I felt quite satisfied with it. Now, this is the first Korean Drama I’ve seen in about eight years, with the last one (Coffee Prince) being my only experience with the medium thus far. So, I can’t compare it to others, but I felt everything was really well-balanced.
We have tons of humour, which I can always appreciate, but as I watched Ae Ra and Jung Woo in their lives post-divorce, I could tell that they still care for one another, even it’s dripping in bitterness for various reasons. When they reminisced about the events that led up to the actual separation, things get emotional. They are even sad at certain points. I loved that. It made the situation feel more authentic and relatable to me, and I’m speaking as someone who has been through a terrible divorce. I believe because of my past experiences it resonated more personally with me than it may with someone who hasn’t been through something like this.
When Ae Ra learns about Jung Woo’s success and becomes enflamed with various feelings, I kept nodding and thinking, “Oh yeah, I know that feeling. Fuck that bastard.” So, the episode did a marvellous job of capturing the essence of heartbreak, longing, pride, and even the desire to be conniving in terms of revenge excellently from both parties.
The pacing was also very delightful. When they met and got married, I thought that maybe things were moving way too fast, yet as I continued to watch until the end, everything felt just right. Nothing was too fast or too slow, but very fitting for all of the things that occurred in the episode.
The characters themselves are a riot, especially Ae Ra’s friendship with Kang Min Young. That woman just tells Ae Ra that she’s full of shit when she goes off on a drunken rant and it was awesome. That’s what best friends are supposed to do, haha, tell you when you’re being an idiot. Ae Ra isn’t off-putting or overtly stuffy, which is what I expected from the synopsis, and Jung Woo, regardless of acquiring so much success, doesn’t seem to be an asshole (at least not yet). They do have minor quirks that are mildly irritating, but nothing too noticeable by far and I felt it made them wholly genuine.
My only critique of the show thus far is that some scenes have choppy or roughly edited sequences that can be somewhat inconvenient if the scene is an emotionally riveting one. But it isn’t so noticeable as to be bothersome. I’m not sure if this is an inherent quality of Korean dramas, or just a trait with this show specifically.
Overall, I found the first episode to be quite good and I’m very excited to see how the series will progress from here. I originally came across this series from a post by Rose where she shared some of her favourite Korean dramas. Please check it out if you’re interested in some neat shows, and follow Rose for cool content, especially relating to cosplay!
You can watch Cunning Single Lady on Drama Fever!