I’ve finally caught up with the latest eps of Fated, cos some of the shows I was watching have ended. (sniffs) kooriyuki has given her week by week view of this summer’s romcoms, including Fated, so I won’t be going too much into the plot and whatnots. Cos I’ve watched the Taiwanese (original) version of Fated donkey years ago — and it had remained one of my favourites Tdramas — I have some yays and nays for the Korean version of it. But remember, I watched it donkey years ago…so let’s hope my memory doesn’t have too much holes.
What I like about the Korean version
1) Mi-young is less of an idiot than Chen Xin Yi
Unlike Mi-young, whose intention of going on a trip with Lawyer Kim is more like a get-to-know-you, Xin Yi (played by Joe Chen) had stupidly planned to get herself knocked up by her cad of a useless boyfriend so that she can tie him down to her forever. I remembered when I watched the Taiwanese version, I got quite upset with Xin Yi’s self-made vulnerability. Like Mi-young, she sees herself like a post-it note, and both have this selfless quality to them. However, I feel Mi-young is portrayed as being innately stronger than Xin Yi. Mi-young knows her position and what not to expect, but there are ideals she firmly (and quietly) believes in. Like family, for instance. When it comes to doing what is best for the islanders (her extended family) and her immediate family (or in-laws), she has a clear idea of what is right and wrong. Thus, she is so upset when she realises Lee Gun has sold the island off to a toxic waste disposal company. Maybe Mi-young’s strength also can be credited to Jang Na-ra herself, cos the actress is pretty good at playing petite yet tough as nails characters.
In contrast, the takeaway I had with Xin Yi, is that she sometimes comes across like a leaf on a current. Things spin out of control for her, and she doesn’t really know how to rein in the situations, nor make graceful exits from them. Which lead to quite a fair bit of angst and weepy moments.
2) An upgraded version of the male lead
Call me biased, but I love the chemistry between Jang Hyuk and Jang Na-ra, and I feel that the couple wins Joe Chen and Ethan Juan hands down. Ever since the two Jangs have collaborated in their previous hit Successful Story of a Bright Girl, I’ve always thought they look really good together.
Jang Hyuk doesn’t disappoint too, in his wacky portrayal of Lee Gun. Although like Cun Xi, Lee Gun is also a no-nonsense businessman who hides a softy inner self, Lee Gun is definitely more off-the-top eccentric than his Taiwanese counterpart. Everytime Jang Hyuk breaks into his howly laughter, I chuckle along with him. He is flamboyant, which is so in line with his double role as a royal bloodline. And I’m kinda surprised the prenatal class instructor hasn’t stapled his mouth yet. (lol)
3) Most of the elements in the original are retained, plus some new additions
Such as the Lee ancestors’ portraits — all are various versions of Jang Hyuk, similar to Ethan Juan’s ancestral portraits. In the Tdrama version, Ji Cun Xi’s deceased dad sorta wink (?) when his granny thanks the ancestors for the blessing of a child. Kinda tying the idea of “Fate” being supernatural and all. The magical wink is missing in the K-version, but it’s not such a big deal.
And they kept the dog! Although in the Tdrama, the shaggy huge (white) dog belongs to Cun Xi, and not his rival — Daniel Pitt, for the Kdrama version. But I remembered loving the dog in the Tdrama…and Daniel Pitt’s huge huggable doggie is loveable too. (squees)
The Kdrama also introduces some new characters, like Mi-young’s colleague + ex-roomie and Lee Gun’s psychiatrist. Well, ok…but they are still kinda sidelined in Fated. Remove them, and the show can still proceed. But, it seems like there may be a love line between Mi-young’s colleague (Ji-yeon) and Lee Gun’s stepbrother. I will be looking forward to that.
The drug induced one night stand is given a cultural twist with Lee Gun and Mi-young garbed in hanboks, pounding on rice cakes. Which is totally hilarious and entirely appropriate. I cracked up when cartoon Lee Gun asks whether Mi-young is “tired” from the “pounding” he is giving
her the rice cake, and she demurely replies “no”.
4) We get a more balanced view of the triangle love relationship
The Tdrama version portrays Anna (Cun Xi’s ballerina ex, played by Bianca Bai) as a third party, and not so subtly snubs her for choosing her career over love. Anna only returns to Cun Xi’s side following a mishap overseas which causes her to lose her ability to dance. Upon her return, she shamelessly clings on to Cun Xi even though she knows he is married — also partly Cun Xi’s fault, since he hasn’t really come clean with his feelings — unlike his Kdrama version, Lee Gun.
However, in the Kdrama version, the show reminds us that Mi-young and Lee Gun’s step mother are in fact, THE third parties to a relationship. The piognancy when Se-ra asks Mi-young whether it is possible for her to live married to Lee Gun, when she knows it is only out of responsibility, reminds us that probably in another show, Mi-young’s marriage may not have the happy ending she wants.
Where I think the Tdrama version is better
1) I prefer the Tdrama’s Granny
Played by Ji-wang Zhen Zhu, Cun Xi’s granny has more presence than Lee Gun’s. And by more presence, I also mean she is more meddling. In fact, she is a very very central figure to Cun Xi and Xin Yi’s relationship, playing the matchmaker most times, and prodding her grandson to acknowledge his feelings towards his wife.
I remembered Cun Xi’s granny has being the eccentric figure in Tdrama’s Fated. I suppose having Lee Gun in the Kdrama version more than make up for the wackiness, so Grandma Lee can kinda be a less central figure in the show.