Boohoo…there goes my Thurs-Fri’s drug (I watch subs, so normally it’s a day after the raws). Hopefully Heirs can be a good replacement. We shall see in this week. I was kinda tempted to title this post “Master Sun – A Celebration of Strong Women“, but kooriyuki may wanna add on her views and they may not be similar to mine. (lol)
I am happy with the 17 eps of MS, even though I agree that the pace of the series slowed after the completion of Hanna-Hee-joo mystery arc. But the extra ep is essential to draw out the character developments after the main (and quite lame) mystery of who-kidnapped-Joong-won is dealt with. Really, take away the Hanna-Hee Joo arc and replace it with the 1-ghost-per-ep story device, the whole plot will still work. Then again, we prob need someone to throw popcorns at while watching MS. And this is one drama, where there are hardly any nasty people around. A typical Cinderella story will have its evil step mother/step sisters in the form of characters who are out to destroy the main couple. But MS sorely lacks that…even Hanna does a really sucky job doing it (in fact, what did she DO? other than wear the same necklace).
Which brings me to what I wanna spew about today: MS is not juz a subversion of the usual Candy/Cinderella plot device, but also, reverses the Handsome-Prince-to-the-Damsel-rescue tactic. MS starts off giving us the typical Cinderella story — we have Tae Gong-shil, a poor girl who has the unfortunate ability to see ghosts, meet and fall in love with the hyper-ego, hyper-rich Joo Joong-won. The typical Prince who has a character flaw that needs a Cinderella to repair. And we can all predict with 100% accuracy from ep 1 that Mr Joo will change for better in the end because he will fall (hard) for Gong-shil’s “charm”. We also know there will be the usual push-pull factors cum hijinks during this metamorphosis that make all K-drama rom-coms so entertaining to watch.
The show more or less still keeps to the Cinderella storyline (well, Cinderella Gong-shil DID get her Handsome Prince Joong-won in the end), but throws in a well-handled character arc for Gong-shil, and other female characters in the show. In many ways, the women outshone the men in MS, by choosing to walk the harder path and having enough courage to walk it down right to the end.
As summarised below:
- Tae Gong-shil: the most obvious. The needy Cinderella/Candy, who started off being shunted into a corner to avoid her “visitors”. Transformed to: a woman who realised she chose her special ability (after recovering from her own personal amnesia) to see ghosts, so that she could help them fulfil their last wishes. Of course, I assume prior to agreeing to take on this “quality”, she (and we know she is not dumb) would have realised that others would view her oddly and she is really putting herself in the position to be a societal outcast (and nutcase).
- Tae Yi-ryung: We all see her HUGE insecurity initially…despite being/ looking younger (?), more beautiful than Gong-shil. She is still haunted by being called the Little Sun to Gong-shil’s Big Sun, and the plot dramatises this by having a Vain Ghost highlight her self deficiencies. Saw herself as being the pathetically ugly and geeky girl forever trailing behind the class’ Miss Popular. She could have gone all the way to become the usual irritating, spiteful second lead. But we come to admire her — like her “aggressive” (and hilarious) attacks on Kang-woo, she also proactively changed herself to be juz as good (or better) than Big Sun. Although her over confidence may have stemmed from the need to cover her insecurity, she is brave and honest enough to realise she likes Kang-woo, and decides to act on that. Instead of swaying the other way which female second leads take — to break up Gong-shil and Joong-won out of spite.
- Auntie Joo: we all know she is Mdm Dominatrix. But she also has issues with her age. Her younger hubby (Uncle VP) has to assail her with “I Love Yous” (in formal speak) every few minutes into a conversation. She doesn’t get much air time, but her decision to keep her unborn fetus at 50 years old is not something a coward will do.
In contrast, the guys in the show lose their purpose as the plot develops. It became quite hilarious when the subversion takes place (most notably in the end of show) when they transform from the needed to the needy:
- Joo Joong-won: started out as the shelter — protecting Gong-shil from her visions. Supoosedly also richer and better able to provide for the Candy Cinderella in the show. But after Gong-shil came back (loaded) from her Europe (and round the world) trip, he is relegated to piteously whining for Gong-shil to “CALL ME (him)”.
- Kang-woo: the cool bodyguard, wants to protect Gong-shil (and even Yi-ryung), but gradually loses the function. Gong-shil rejects his offer to be her 24h bodyguard, since he can’t guard against supernatural beings. Yi-ryung who is used to media attention lends him her arm (and strength) when she understands his nervousness in front of popping flashlights.
- It is easy for the show to go down the tried and tested path of the Candy/Cinderella story like some other K-dramas I can name, but I am glad that the Hong sisters managed to put a twist to that. It makes for a more memorable drama rather than a light, fluffy one which is forgotten within a week of its ending.
I can easily see why THIS is the crack of the year. It is cracktastic with all the puns, subtle innuendoes, and chemistry that cannot be ignored between the leads. I’ve never seen any of So Ji-sub’s dramas because I can’t stand him in all those melos (pardon me), so I’m REALLY REALLY glad oppa’s took this role (because of Gong Hyo Jin no less!).
Being the drama penned after the-drama-that-is-not-to-be-named, I had my reservations when this drama first made itself into the news. So I’m really glad that the Hong sisters found their groove back and made The Master’s Sun a zippy and fun drama on the surface, but chockful of underlying meanings, some of which Sab has covered above. It also made many, many of us guessed who actually is the wolf and the sheep, though it is a rhetoric question, really. A good drama is not only the effort of the scriptwriter(s), but also that of the directors. I remembered enjoying City Hunter, so it was a good thing that the same PD directed Master’s Sun. I particularly liked the scene of Tae-yang’s pensieve look by the poolside. I don’t agree with some people that they see Gong Hyo Jin’s character in Pasta here, because hello, I think Tae-yang is as separate an entity as she is from all other characters Gong Hyo Jin has played so far.
I do have gripes with some plot devices, such as how Joong Won was injured which led to the common troupe of noble idiocy, though it makes sense logically. Also, the overarching mystery of Cha Hee Joo, which I’m sure most of us don’t really give a damn. What’s worse is that the ending and motive of the whole Cha Hee Joo issue is so duh, I’d rather Hanna remains as a spirit.
I have to admit that the chemistry of So Ji-sub and Gong Hyo Jin is the biggest reason why I tuned in faithfully for live broadcast when I could. Also, the characters they created, Joo-gun and Tae-yang, are so real they could have passed off as real, instead of fictional characters. That’s what I call top-notch acting. Coupled with interesting sidekicks and secondary characters, the plot is secondary to character developments.
That said, it does not mean that the plot is bad. Kudos also to the Hong sisters for incorporating random episodic ghosts, some of which touch on sensitive social issues. I particularly love the story of the dead Chairman of Giant Mall (cameo by Lee Jae-young), who actually cross-dressed his whole life, and hid it from his family. It is indeed, not an easy thing to admit, and he lived his life supposedly with a strained relation with his son, because rumors had it he had a mistress. Other issues that were being touched on includes child abuse/neglect.
Being the second ghost-seeing drama in 2013, it is difficult not to compare it with Who Are You. While both dramas are of totally different methods of execution, I can’t help but buy Tae-yang more than Shi On. Aside from acting, the way the character is written is way more one-dimensional in Who Are You than Master’s Sun. I suppose one can say comparing both dramas is like comparing orange and lemon, but hey, both are citrus fruits. Both are ghost-seeing dramas. While both seem to imply that when one is in a coma, one’s soul will be out of the body and wandering around, Who Are You further implies that as long as your soul has been wandering around, once you’re out of coma, you have the mojo to see/hear/feel the dead. Wut?
All in all, Master’s Sun is definitely the drama to watch in 2013, if you only have time for one drama. And who can resist Cat Gong Hyo Jin?