Dal-ja’s Spring Eps 1-5

When your boyfriend dumps you and you want revenge

Who you gonna call?

“Don’t have a boyfriend? Are you afraid of going to family gatherings, company functions and parties alone? Then call me whenever you need me. I will be your fake boyfriend.”

Tae-bong, just so you know, I’m booking you for Christmas. Bring your hot friend with you. (To everyone who’s MINED Lee Min-ki since 2007, don’t worry. I promise to return him. He might be a little rumpled though.)

Dal Ja’s Spring is one of those dramas that have been languishing in the outer reaches of my radar forever. Despite hearing many good things about it, I was never in any hurry to give it a go because a) I didn’t know anyone in the cast back then and b) I wasn’t particularly enamored of Dal-ja’s hair either. (Though having said that, I should add that El Cabello is an acquired taste. I wasn’t crazy about it at first but now, after five episodes, I think it’s just darling XD)

Lee Min-ki’s cameo in Shut Up Flower Boy Band changed all that and finally gave me the reason I needed to check it out. Long story short: If I were Dal-ja, this drama would have been game over by episode 3. Lucky for KBS and its sponsors, I’m not.

What is this drama about? 

This drama is about that moment in your life when all the planets align and the gods send Lee Min-ki crashing into you, of all people, in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, this is Oh Dal-ja, our heroine. On the surface, she’s the woman who has it all: a respectable job as the manager of a home shopping channel, nice colleagues, a fabulous apartment…

However since this is a K-drama, all these things don’t mean squat because she’s a 33-year-old single woman. OH THE SHAME OF IT ALL!

There’s a reason for this sad state of affairs though: Dal-ja has very high standards. Yes, she’s saving herself for Prince Charming, that figure of legend who’s right up there with the Loch Ness monster and the Abominable Snowman.

Or to put it another way:

Fate soon decides to move things along by presenting her with three eligible candidates (well, actually there’s really only one choice but you know how K-dramas are.)

Candidate #1 is Shin Sae-do, Dal-ja’s longtime colleague and an inveterate skirt-chaser. Yes, I know you’re probably wondering: ‘What, he can get laid?’ but the even more unbelievable thing is that there are women queuing up to sleep with him. Humanity, I have no more faith in you.

Sae-do becomes Dal-ja’s first paramour but as she is rather green in the dating department, she fails to pick up Sae-do’s signals, and tired of waiting to score with her, he blithely moves on to her colleague Seon-joo. (CAN YOU FEEL MY BLOOD PRESSURE RISING?) Of course, Dal-ja has to find out about their relationship just when she’s finally decided she’s ready to sleep with him. Eew…Dal-ja honey, you can do SO much better.

After foaming at the mouth and drinking enough hard liquor to knock a Russian sailor out, Dal-ja comes to realise that they are better off as friends. She is obviously a bigger person than me because all I want to do is slap him senseless. Repeatedly. Especially after one of his flings goes to her office and slaps her in front of all her colleagues for stealing her ‘oppa’. RAAAAAGE.

How did you guess, Sae-do?

Not to mention, he keeps making disparaging remarks about her being a spinster. How do you put up with him, Dal-ja?!

I know I’ll probably warm up to him in the later episodes but for now, this man makes my blood BOIL. May I please refer all of you to China Machado who at 81 is still rocking the runway and proving that life does not end at 30.

Moving on (thank GOD), we have Candidate #2. Kang Tae-bong is a 20-something gadabout who runs his own one-man dating agency. In the grand old tradition of trendy K-dramas, Dal-ja decides to hire Tae-bong to pretend to be her boy-toy for a month so that she can make Sae-do jealous. There is a contract and everything. You know how this is going to end, right?

“Holding hands and putting my arms around your shoulders are the basics but if there is a need to be more intimate, there will be a $20 surcharge.”

Tae-bong honey, could you please clarify what you mean by “more intimate” because I’m sure there are many noonas who can afford your $20 surcharge. In fact, I think many would consider it a bargain.

Because Dal-ja isn’t me, she doesn’t really give Tae-bong’s service extras much thought.

I would consider this to be $20 well spent.

Instead, she gets him to do her laundry and various other miscellaneous chores. Tae-bong’s face = My feelings.

He has a point, you know.

At any rate, Tae-bong keeps to his side of the bargain and does everything she asks of him. How do I love that he isn’t the least bit embarrassed about introducing himself as her friend with benefits (or at least that’s what I think a “spare tire” means in this instance) to her mother and grandmother?

And have you seen the way he looks at her? (I should also mention that he tries to con her into buying kisses from him. Dal-ja, I think you should ask for samples first. A good merchant will always let you test his wares XD)

He also throws in little free extras and has a knack for saying the sweetest things when she’s feeling down.

Dal-ja, why are you not eloping with this man to the Bahamas yet?! Oh, right. There’s still Candidate #3 or as she likes to call him, Mr Perfect.

The suit above is Uhm Gi-joong, who is well-to-do, successful and well, you know the drill. He is everything that Dal-ja (thinks) she wants except for the fact that he has a crazy wife who refuses to divorce him. Shades of Anego right there.

I have nothing interesting or witty to say about him at this point because he hasn’t done much apart from taking her to expensive restaurants and bombarding her office with bouquets of flowers. Boooring. I assure you that I’m not the only person who feels this way:

Dal-ja, listen to your granny. She knows what she’s talking about.

***

Thoughts: 

Is Dal-ja’s Spring the drama Anego could have been if the latter hadn’t squandered its potential on the tedious relationship between Shinohara Ryoko’s character and her married love interest? I’m only at episode 6 but god, I hope so. If you’ve read my mini review of Anego, you’ll know that my feelings about it are tepid at best. My memory of the drama is a bit hazy but I do remember not being able to get behind a number of Naoko’s decisions and disliking the direction the story took.

One of my beefs with Anego was the way it handled the older woman-younger man relationship. As much as I wanted Naoko to get together with Kurosawa (i.e. the younger man played by Akanishi Jin), I would have respected her decision not to pursue a relationship with him had she actually given it a proper chance. But she didn’t and I always felt this was due to the fact that she was far too bothered about what people would think of their age difference to take it seriously.

I trust this will not happen with Dal-ja’s Spring because for starters, Tae-bong is a helluva lot more assertive than Kurosawa. I can’t imagine him watching her flounce away after an argument without doing anything about it. Secondly, Dal-ja has a good friend who I’d like to think will be the first in line to knock some sense into her if she is unable to realise her self-worth on her own. Naoko never had such an influence in her life. She was always solving problems for other people and had no one to turn to when it came to her own crises.

Listen to your sunbae, Dal-ja. This is one time when you should be taking an older person's advice.

Can you tell that I love her?

Anego comparisons aside, I think there’s quite a bit to recommend Dal-ja’s Spring. It’s a fun, zippy screwball comedy with a quirky cast of characters. Dal-ja is like the Korean lovechild of Ally McBeal and Lucille Ball, with an imagination that should be mined for future K-drama productions. She’s naïve and gullible but adorably so — it’s like Tae-bong says, she’s a teenager trapped in a 33-year-old woman’s body. There’s plenty of room for growth for her character — most of all, learning to be comfortable in her own skin instead of trying so hard to live up to the image that she wants people to have of her.

This is a something that’s pointed out to her by her colleague, Seon-joo, a glamorous libertine who certainly has no lack of self-confidence. She’s the kind of woman who can get taxis to stop by flashing a bit (okay, a lot) of leg and I think it’s hilarious that she trumps Sae-do at his own game and turns him into a wreck. God, I love her.

The drama has hinted at the heartbreak lurking beneath Seon-joo’s hauteur but to be honest, I’m more interested in seeing how her relationship with Dal-ja develops. They didn’t start off on the right foot with each other but their mutual disdain of each other has given way to a grudging respect. I don’t ever expect to see them painting each other’s toe nails but I’d definitely like to see some of Seon-joo’s confidence rub off on Dal-ja.

On a separate note, I’m a bit wary of the fact that this drama runs for 22 episodes. I frequently think that many K-dramas would benefit from having a shorter run. It would force the writers to be more economical with the script, which would in turn contribute to a much tighter plot in many cases. Dal-ja’s Spring, for all its adorable quirks, doesn’t exactly have the most original story out there and I’m guessing that at some point, Tae-bong’s family is going to make a proper appearance and rain on his parade for a while. I can accept that this is going to happen. I just hope that it isn’t going to be overly tedious and melodramatic. If Tae-bong and Dal-ja are going to be separated and he’s going to be sent away to some foreign country like Mongolia to look after horses, please let me know now and I will drop this drama instantly. I have a lot on my plate and time is too short to be spent on dramas with a WTF ending.

Dal-ja, don't let him get away!

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. Jin, wasted.

    First off, Bravo for watching all of that.

    I have no idea how you got through the whole show. I downloaded the first episode, watched about 20 minutes, got distracted, and never went back again. Even though it has Akanishi in there, I’d much rather watch him in Gokusen or Yukan Club or Cartoon KAT-TUN or… well, pretty much everything except here, even though I started watching because of him. The whole show has a feeling like it’s wilting or something, I don’t know how to explain it. It seems so emotionless it might as well be made out of cardboard… I have seen stick figure animations that have more depth. I think I’m so pissed off because I expected so much and got nothing, and after 3 long years I get my chance to vent. Gomenne for the rant post OTL

    1. *gasp* I have no idea why wordpress posted this here, this was meant as a reply for the anego post *runs away in embarrassment*

      1. Ha! Don’t worry about it.

        Jin, wasted.

        That he was. If it had been a Korean production, I am sure we would have seen the screen steam up. There would have been at least one emotional shower scene and lots of bickering moments. There’s no getting around the fact that he was WOEFULLY underutilised in Anego. I want my 11 hours back.

        I have no idea how you got through the whole show.

        I think I was holding out hope that the story would pick up. It didn’t.

        I’d much rather watch him in Gokusen or Yukan Club or Cartoon KAT-TUN

        If you’re watching for Jin, those are definitely much better choices.

  2. Hooray you are finally watching Dal Ja’s Spring!!!!!!!!!

    Please keep at it, because Tae Bong certainly doesn’t end up a groom in Western Mongolia.

    Agreed with your feelings on Sae Do, I am indeed one to judge someone’s appearance (not going to heaven for this I know~~) but Sae Do’s personality so far… I for sure as heck could never see why any woman would find themselves attracted to him. I suppose this reflects the level of the desperation Dal Ja was feeling. And this was one minor rift I had with the series… Tae Bong’s competition ain’t exactly Olympic calibre.

    That said, yeah, keep at it because his relationship with the pretty awesome Seon Joo unnie may or may not alter your feelings for him (let us know yah!)

    Btw, naw, Jin wasn’t completely wasted in Anego. That scene where he was playing rugby with the boys was definitely worth something! (…for me at least *sheepish grin* xDDDDDD) I think Anego simply focussed more on Shinohara Ryoko’s character (who I can definitely see why a younger man would wanna be with, I really think this woman rocks) and what it was like for a 30something career woman dealing with the things she was dealing. Kdramas tend to hone in more on the lovey-dovey romance side of things, while Anego was a much less romanticised, somewhat more realistic take on the single career woman.

    1. FANTASTIC. I’m so glad to know that Tae-bong doesn’t end up chasing goats in Mongolia XD

      And this was one minor rift I had with the series… Tae Bong’s competition ain’t exactly Olympic calibre.

      I KNOW RIGHT?! If Gi-joong had been played by say Kim Sung-soo or Daniel Henney, I would have understood her hesitation but anyway, back to the issue of Sae Do. It took me 6 episodes but I think I’m warming up to the guy. I know he isn’t an asshat in the truly despicable sense but what really had me grinding my teeth was how casually he regarded his infidelity, like it was no big deal he cheated on her while they were seeing each other. And also, Dal-ja’s response. I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to make him jealous. I’d just have left an imprint of my palm on his cheek, is all I’m saying.

      Btw, naw, Jin wasn’t completely wasted in Anego. That scene where he was playing rugby with the boys was definitely worth something! (…for me at least *sheepish grin* xDDDDDD)

      Hahaha. I think I remember that!

      I think Anego simply focussed more on Shinohara Ryoko’s character (who I can definitely see why a younger man would wanna be with, I really think this woman rocks) and what it was like for a 30something career woman dealing with the things she was dealing.

      Ah…but you see, the thing is that Naoko just wasn’t my kind of office lady. I’m all for dramas being realistic but I never really connected with her character the way I did with Park Jin-hee’s in The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry. In the case of the latter, it was probably because I could relate to many of the circumstances she found herself in and the choices that she made, and I guess that’s an important factor for me when watching dramas that belong to this particular genre. But then again, I watched Anego six years ago so I wouldn’t be surprised if my impatience with the character had something to do with a certain disconnect owing to my age at the time.

  3. Aw while I never got Sae Do’s appeal as a man, I ended up loving him so much. Probably because his friendship with Dal Ja was one of my unexpected favorites in the drama.

    1. I’ve heard a lot about his friendship with Dal-ja but as you can probably guess, I haven’t reached that part of the drama yet (DJS has been on permanent hiatus since forever…=.=)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s