Oh, “Secret Garden” (Korean Drama) – Review
Posted on June 14, 2013
When it comes to drama watching, there is no such thing as watching it leisurely, slowly. When you have the beginning and ending in your hot little hands, marathon seems to be the only viable option, sleep be damn. So yeah, I finished Secret Garden in 3 days. I feel a tad guilty, as if I’m cheating on my lakorn world, but that feeling dissipates pretty quickly. Gotta spread the love, yunno. Won’t happen too frequently though, since I have pending lakorn projects on the horizon, and I do value my beauty sleep.
But dang Secret Garden was so worth the lack of sleep. I went into this drama series with no expectations, no synopsis or clue what the story is about. Suzsuz thought it was great, it so happens to be on Netflix and well, I was looking for a romantic comedy, so Secret Garden it is.
I wondered why it was titled Secret Garden, will there be mystical or fairytale-esque plots? Turns out, we get a little bit of everything. Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin) is the president of Loel department store and prefers his high rolling, controlled life to be the way it is. He treats his future marriage as a business transaction, devoid of feelings and attachments. So he’s okay meeting socially compatible women on blind dates. He’s kind of an asshole, but fits perfectly with his constructed, exclusive world. What makes his character interesting though, is his secret weakness that only his personal psychiatrist is privy to, which exacerbates upon meeting a stunt woman, Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won), whom he fancies and secretly wants but it clashes against his social and snobby standards.
Ra Im on the other hand is a tough chick and champion of the underdog, not to mention her daring profession as a stunt woman. Yet there is a contradiction to her character too, even though she is like one of the guys, she secretly likes being a girl. Though she defends others, she accepts abuse on herself. A self-sacrificing, high moral standards heroine, if you will. Upon meeting the rich, handsome yet incorrigible snob of a man, she teaches him a thing or two about the “normal” people and their lives.
What I liked about his character is his seemingly perfect exterior, handsome, rich, powerful, but on the inside, he’s flawed, he’s claustrophobic (that he hides from everyone), has insufferable conflict with his cousin (Oska the singer), and a dysfunctional family. It’s not easy being beautiful. Ha. He also has a work nemesis, his subordinate who’s eyeing his position as President. These myriad of conflicts get explored quite thoroughly in the drama. At first, Yoon Seul and Oska’s past relationship didn’t appeal to me, but as Oska goes through his own character arc- by wanting to get back with Yoon Seul- I am sold. Joo Won’s momma’s boy dilemma and its usage to challenge the couple, makes me think twice about lakorn momma’s and their less toxicity.
Through their intertwined fate, Joo Won and Ra Im encounter a magical intervention that changes the course of their lives. Body swapping could do that to you. Yeah, I didn’t expect that. But it offers a slew of hilarity as we watch their male-female role reversals. The vibe of this drama is far from a silly, funny romcom. It has an air of brooding and moodiness, yet offers beautifully captured scenes that sets the pace for melodrama and angst as the story progressed.
The romantic conflict lies in Joo Won’s self-deception that he could court the stunt woman, feelings removed. He believes his obsession with her would all blow over in three months. He doesn’t understand why he’s attracted to her- she is far from his type- and she is responsible for all of his maladies, his constant fantasies of her walking with him, etc. What strikes me about Joo Won is that he’s petty and childish, he truly believes what he says. And what makes it especially funny is his reaction to this little disturbance in his life.
But they are fated to be together, and their connection was established even before they ever remember meeting each other. The suspense of the story gets woven backwards, giving us the necessary pieces to be intrigued yet not fully in on the secrets. For instance, we are not privy to the details surrounding Joo Won’s accident 13 years prior. This small clue inevitably ties the whole story together. Joo Won’s character growth occurs when he shows us that he can be an adult and sacrifice himself. And the choice he makes at the end of the drama takes me emotionally there with him.
Half the time while watching him, I’m blinded by Hyun Bin’s en pointe portrayal of Joo Won, then I’m flabbergasted by his audacity and high handedness towards Ra Im, and finally, completely enamored by his chemistry with Ra Im. If you could imagine, a whole host of emotions.
Because at the end of the day, I watch dramas to feel touched, and despite its many faulty plots and seemingly random magical world, I was sold on Joo Won and Ra Im’s romance (sometimes a good pairing makes all the difference)- their mermaid tale, their back and forth angst, their amusing body swap debacle, and their kissing scenes. My, they are hot together! The chemistry is so flippin, steaming. I liked the focus on their relationship, their conflicts (even though it is repetitive at times, it invokes the reality that couples struggle over the same issues repetitively), it gave me the romance screen time that I so desired from any dramaland.
Joo Won likes to challenge everyone with the question, “Is this your best?” obviously expecting only the best. Oh he’s such an ass, but I do like my heroes snarky.
It’s no City Hunter, but Secret Garden still managed to knock my socks off.
The body swap
The action, angsty side.
The funny, adorable side.
The steamy side.
The happily ever after.
Tagged: Korean Drama, Secret Garden
I’m especially thankful that they chose Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won ‘cuz their chemistry was phenomenal. And, if I were to be perfectly honest, they basically ‘sold’ the couple to me; I’m not entirely sure I would have rooted for/backed the couple if the leads hadn’t depicted their love as well as they did. Some of the aspects of the drama rubbed me the wrong way [namely the high-handedness/noble idiocy/handsy forcefullness], but that tends to happen in most dramas so I can’t place particular blame on SG. But at LEAST they depicted her as at least marginally forceful in her rebuffs [‘cuz we woulda had some words, show, if she weren’t].
Thank you for reviewing SG and CH! I’ve enjoyed reading your recaps and reviews XD
Thank you for your comment 🙂 SG is certainly addicting!
wow, where do you find the time between RL, marathon-ing dramas and doing recaps?? Or maybe I’m just too lazy to do it all at once. lol
Ha. It seems like it’s all happening at once, but it has been processing in my mind while I do other things. I just finally have the chance to put it in writing. Lately it seems I’m motivated..
oh wowww, secret garden is definitely one of my fav kdrama. i can’t even remember who many times i’ve watched this series haha. i’m gald u watched this series and like it. i’m not really a hyun bin’s fan, picked up this drama bcoz of Ha Ji Won, but ended up loving this couple. and u gotta love the osaka guy. now i feeling like watching it again haha..
What’s funny is that I don’t even know who Hyun Bin is and didn’t think he was all that hot upon first glance (well not on the same league as LMH) BUT I fell in lurvvve once he put on his ridiculous track suit and his portrayal of Joo Won. So yeah, now I think HB is great and hot and sexy, lol!
wow fia. now i’d like to hear your take on shut up flower boy band
I’ll put it on my list, lidy. Not sure when I’ll get around to it, but if it’s real good and real tempting of a drama, I’ll try to make some time for it.
Fia, i would like to recommend you to include Queen In-Hyun’s Man in ur list. I didn’t watch lots of kdrama last yr, but i’ve watched QIHM like 3 times. i totally ignored this drama at first bcoz i don’t really know the casts. started watching it coz i was bored and the drama has ended and was fully subbed. oh my i got hooked after watching the 1st ep…and guess what, yups did my marathon, finished 16 eps w/out any sleep lol. it’s a time travelling drama, very well written, beautiful cinematography and really love the main couple. they are so cute together (and they ended up being a real off-screen couple after this drama ;D)…. infact i’ve just re-watched it again over the w’end 5555. this was my fav 2012 kdrama. hope u’ll watch it when u have the time 😀
Hi Belle, thanks for the rec. If I have time, I’ll def check it out. Goodness, what’s a girl going to do with all of these great dramas to watch? And on top of them, also recapping lakorns at the same time? It’s a good problem to have. Happy drama watching 🙂
su su SuperFia!!! ;D
I’m so glad that you watched this drama (: It is definitely a drama worth watching. I truly enjoyed reading your review! Can’t wait to see more Kdrama reviews from you ^^
Thank you for reading.. so much dramas.. so little time. BTW, is that Toomtam on your thumbnail? He needs to release his lakorn pronto!
Yes, it is indeed Toomtam (: Agreed! I can’t wait for Sood Sai Paan with Vill and him although I’ll surely miss his Pan Ruk Pan Rai role!
love this drama.. loss count of how many times i watched this.. so addicted to SEGA that when i went to Singapore last 2011, my first stop was to buy it’s DVD.. lol
i so love Ha Ji Won and Hyun Bin.. so perfect together.. love the way they act in SEGA.. hope they will end up together… their acting was so good and realistic that you will want them to be couple in reality.. lol
thanks for sharing your review
you may want to check also http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Lie_to_Me and http://wiki.d-addicts.com/I_Do,_I_Do
it was also good.. can place 2nd and 3rd to SEGA.. lol
certified SEGA addict,
Well hello SEGA addict, thank you for the additional recommendations. I certainly have a list now, lol. They do look good together, have they filmed in another drama together again? Lakorns like to do that, when they pair well, they will pair again. Hyun Bin visited Thailand recently and I’ve finally understood why they went gaga over him.
sad to say there is no news about Ha Ji Won and Hyun Bin pairing up again 😔 i guess ha ji won is shooting a movie and another drama series while Hyun Bin is also shooting a movie…
Ha Ji Won visited the Philippines last year but i got to know about it recently only. she celebrated her birthday here but they did’nt announced it because its just a vacation.. i just hope that the next time she visit us, shes with Hyun Bin and it will be work so that we can meet them..
i search for the meaning of lakorn and found out that its thai’s television soap opera..
thai’s soap opera is basically the same with the Philippines. if the pairing is accepted and loved by many, eventually they will do a drama again or they will do a movie together..
Fia..I’m glad you enjoyed this drama as much as I did. I had no idea who hyun bin was and did not find him attractive at all in the beginning..but boy, he stole my heart as Kim Joo Won..By the end of the drama he’s the sexiest Korean man I’ve ever known and remains so till now. Besides, Oska was pretty funny too huh..I love when both of them are arguing.. was so funny.. and there were no numerous romantic scenes in SG that got me swooning over and over again; the sit up scene has got to be my favourite. I love Gil Ra im too..I love it when my heroine is strong and independent. I love how you described their characters and the contradictions in them. But I do believe both have 1 thing in common; i.e. pride and so the body swap was necessary for them or else neither would overcome their pride. I have yet to find another kdrama that gives me the same feeling.
i’ve watched Hyun Bin in Kim Sam Soon some years ago, but this is his best.. although, Kim Sam Soon rating is higher than SEGA, SEGA makes Hyun Bin much popular and goes with Ha Ji Won also..
guess, its the perfect team that made SEGA the best.. from the main cast to the support, they all good and the story great.. you will love them at first when they are fighting with each other always and you will them more when they fight for their love and that love made them give their life for each other.. it’s funny at first but as it progress you will cry a lot.. lol..
i admit i cried a lot while watching its last few episodes.. every time i watched it, i cannot do but cry.. lol
oh oh..I forgot to mention about the kissing scene! Ram Im-Joo Won’s kissing scene at the ball that is.. that has got to be the hottest kiss I’ve ever seen in kdrama..Some kissing scenes that I’ve seen in kdrama and lakorns are just 2 stiff lips smacked on each other without any passion but in SG…Joo Won kissed so passionately..!! Hahaha.. I can go on and on about SG..bottomline, I love it n I’m glad u enjoyed it fia..
yeah.. i guess its the hottest kiss in Korean drama.. watched it several times.. lol
Okay just wondering….so everyone knows how Kim Joo won is claustrophobic, right? So is that why he freaks out in the changing room (episode 4 he’s like sweating and he like runs out of the fitting room) and is that also why he drives around with his car top off?? It’s just been bugging me. Thanks!!! :))
I certainly think so. Since claustrophobic people can’t be in tight, enclosed places, driving around with the top off helps keep things open. Not a specialist by any means but it makes sense 🙂 hope that helps!
I love this k-drama to the extent that !!!!!,esp Ha ji won, she did perfectly in secret garden and empress ki. I love that bae despite having a masculiar stature. Lol!
No words to explain how I feel !!!
Really I could only feel the drama…..beyond awesome…hero superb….his expressions scene to scene ….just love him….
I was just passing by your blog and suddenly remebered something. I think you may hve heard that Secret Garden (Yes, this kdrama) which I have loved watching when I was in highschool despite poor subtiles 😭 is going to be made into lakorn with Baifern starring. Photos were uploaded with Baifern in Gil Ra im’s style of clothing. Stills with the actor playing Joo won is also out though I’m not familiar with the actor and he looks somewhat older than Joo won! Or is it just because Hyun bin looks younger? I hope they make this lakorn up to par with SG kdrama. It would be a waste if they mess up. 😂😂😂. It would be really interesting to see this in thai setting especially that expensive tracksuit!!!