You can’t whine about Cinderella being yet-another Candy show, cos Cinderella has upfront told you in its title, that it IS a Candy-turn-Princess show… 😛
- Park So-dam (from Beautiful Mind) as Eun Ha-won. The Candy in Cinderella, or the Cinderella in Cinderella, depends on how you want to look at her. Like the typical Candy of Kdramaland, Ha-won is a part timer Queen, is poor (and bullied at home), but retains a positive outlook in life.
- Jung Il-woo (from Diary of a Night Watchman) as Kang Ji-woon. First grandson of Chairman Kang. He is only brought to Sky Mansion recently when Chairman Kang finds out about his whereabouts — his mum had hid him away from the chaebol family before her death. Due to his less-than-sterling background, Ji-woon is a little rough around the edges.
- Ahn Jae-hyeon (from Blood) as Kang Hyun-min. Grandson no. 2 of Chairman Kang. Unlike Ji-woon, he is born with a golden spoon in his mouth, and is the typical spoilt play-boy chaebol type. However, his long time friend and ex-beau, Hye-ji, seems to think otherwise. She claims he was “different” in the past.
- Lee Jung-shin as Kang Seo-woo. Third grandson of Chairman Kang. Like in actual life (Lee Jung-shin is a member of popular band, CNBlue), Seo-woo is a pop star (a career likely fueled by his grandpa, no doubt). Unlike Ji-woon who blatantly hates the Kang family, or Hyun-min, who despises it, Seo-woo seems to be nonchalant and aloof wrt his family members, preferring to stay at the sideline with his music.
- Choi-min as Lee Yoon-sung. The 4th Knight to round up the title (yeah, i was wondering where is Grandson no. 4). He is secretary? caretaker? to Chairman Kang and the boys. Typical tight lipped, all seriousness right hand man, he also falls for Ha-won’s charms. And in Kdramaland fashion, he plays the unbelieveably nice guy — who doesn’t get the girl.
- Sohn Na-eun as Park Hye-ji. She grew up with Hyun-min, and was once his girlfriend. Not sure why they broke up at the moment, but Hye-ji still loves Hyun-min. Unfortunately, Hyun-min seems to have moved on. Ji-woon holds a torch for her though.
Like Cinderella, the fairy tale, Ha-won’s dad remarried after her mum’s death. Stepmother (Mdm Park) and stepsister (Yoo-na) treats Ha-won like a maid when Dad is not around (he works as a long distance truck driver). Ha-won holds plenty of part time jobs in order to support her way into university.
Ha-won’s plans turn topsy-turvy when her mum’s urn is removed from the columbarium cos the family owes the institution money. Ha-won decides to use the savings for her uni education to reinstate her mum’s urn. On the same day, she gets an invite from Hyun-min to play his fiancée for 3h in order to irate Chairman Kang, who is getting married the 5th time (to a woman who is much younger, and definitely has an agenda up her sleeves). Hyun-min had earlier noticed her when she delivered pizza to the pub he frequents, and is impressed with her spunk.
As for Ji-woon, he also has several brushes with Ha-won. His mum (also deceased) has the cubicle above Ha-won’s mum in the columbarium, so he is aware of Ha-won’s predicament when he happens to visit the same time as her. Later on, he meets Ha-won in the hotel when she is acting as Hyun-min’s fiancée. Cos Ha-won’s role that night inadvertently hurts Hye-ji (whom he not-so-secretly loves), he gets rather pissy with Ha-won. Ha-won is far from cowed though.
During the night where Ha-won acted as Hyun-min’s fiancée, she switches her phone with Seo-woo by accident.
The 4 (or 6, if we include Hye-ji and Yoon-sung) fates meet when Ha-won finally agrees to Chairman Kang’s weird proposal to become a stay-in caretaker at Sky Mansion. Chairman Kang is impressed with her no-nonsense attitude at his wedding and wishes her to help “shape” his grandsons’ characters. (huh?) Although Ha-won isn’t confident that she can complete the task, the lure of Chairman Kang’s money in her dire financial straits makes her take up the job offer.
There are all the typical Kdrama tropes for rom-com in Cinderella. The Candy who works herself to the bones, but remain cheerful, the Candy who meets the Prince in the weirdest situation, the Candy who bickers with the Prince who is cold on the outside but warm inside, the Candy who receives the ultimate makeover… everything we are familiar with is here.
Then again, there is something not very typical in Cinderella — who exactly are the OTP here? Usually I find it easy to spot the pair as early as ep1…but in Cinderella‘s case, there are juz too many Princes. Ok, to be fair, only 2 are in contention — Ji-woon and Hyun-min. Both also get equal screen time with Ha-won.
Ji-woon is the cold, aloof chaebol Prince, but with a twist — he is a “noveau Prince”, recently discovered, and wears his princely mantle with much unease. He tries to pretend that nothing has changed, and continues to work as a car mechanic. But his ex-colleagues and friends are tired of the pretense, and some of them are hankering for a chance to ask money from him. On the other hand, Hyun-min is less atypical — he is the playboy, cruel chaebol with the usual deep, dark wound begotten in his childhood that changed him.
I suppose then much of the fun in watching Cinderella is not only the re-treading of old grounds, but also the guessing game. Which Prince will finally sweep our Cinderella off her feet and live happily ever after?