It is a testament to Kdramas’ popularity that we can sit through a show that literally throws us virtually every trope in Kdramaland, and we will still find the show “cute”. That sums up what Cinderella did.
As mentioned in my First Impression post, Cinderella is upfront about the warm-Candy-melts-chaebol theme running throughout the entire narrative. Along the way, it also adds other tried and tested Kdrama’s mechanisms into the show. We have the enemies to lovers in Ji-woon and Ha-won, who Cinderella later also pulls in the “Fated to be together” idea when the penultimate and ending reveal the two to have known each other (but separated) in their childhood. Imo, there’s a Secret Garden feel to the ending of Cinderella as we learn that the OTP’s mums somehow “match made” them in Heaven, with Ha-won’s mum safekeeping Ji-woon mum’s ring and passing it later to her daughter, who mistook it as her mum’s wedding ring.
Then there’s the “dark secret” reveal between star crossed lovers Hyun-min and Hye-ji (who spend most of their time moping around), when Hyun-min finally tells Hye-ji (and us) on the reason behind his absurd behaviour throughout Cinderella. Like he makes himself out as a womaniser, but juz plainly refuses to consider dating Hye-ji…or later when he shows himself to care for Hye-ji but infuriatingly distances himself. The only redeeming scene for this couple is when Hyun-min forces Hye-ji to drive — and lives to regret it.
Besides the above common romantic tropes, there’s also a smattering of the birth secret (Ha-won and Yoon-sang’s parentage), and the use of an illness (liver cancer) as a catalyst for Chairman Kang to do a turnabout on his eye rolling stick in the mud idea of marriage (to be fair, Chairman Kang is pretty nice throughout — even rejecting the fast queue to a liver transplant — so i can’t fathom why he, who married a nobody, objects to his grandsons’ marriage to a “commoner”).
And the list doesn’t end there. There’s Noble Idiocy, the Scheming (Second) Wife, and the Unrequited Lover (Seo-woo). Usually, one or two of these will make me do a massive eyeroll or a finger on the ffwd button, but not so much for Cinderella. Like I said, it’s “cute”. So it’s still bearable to sit through.