I’ve just finished watching the Korean drama mini-series 풀하우스 , i.e. Full House, which I purchased with the hope that it would help me with my Korean language study. Unfortunately the subtitles are spotty and often forgo direct translation of Korean metaphors and idioms in favor of literal approximations. It’s quite annoying. Also, for some reason there are no Korean subtitles, so the only way I can cross reference is by transcribing by ear, which is still an arduous task for me at this point. Nonetheless, it’s still quite enjoyable though I’m starting to feel like an 아저씨, middle-aged Korean man noted for a love of Korean dramas… and soju. Another thing to mark under the heading guilty pleasures.
Here’s my sloppy synopsis:
Han Ji-eun, a young, aspiring writer lives alone in a big house in Incheon. The house was built by her father, who named it Full House. Her parents died when she was young. Ji-eun has two childhood friends, Dong-wook and Hee-jin, an unmarried and unemployed couple who have just discovered that Hee Jin is with child. They send Ji-eun on a trip to China and sell off her house and belongings while she is away. Ji-eun has never flown before. Her friends have given her a first class ticket and by chance she is seated next to a famous Korean actor named Lee Young-jae. Ji-eun takes delight in all of the benefits of a first class ride, especially the food. When the plane takes off she starts to feel ill and vomits all over Young-jae. He had already found her attempts at conversation annoying, but now he really wants nothing to do with her.
However, when she gets to China, she realizes that there is no reservation for her at the hotel and, worse yet she has no money. She discovers that Young-jae is staying in the same hotel, so she cleans up the shirt that he’d left behind and then begs him to lend her money to get her back to Korea. Eventually he complies. Ji-eun returns to find her house empty and soon after movers show up. Young-jae has bought the house. Ji-eun catches her friends, but
An episode later Ji-eun and Young-jae enter into a contract marriage and Ji-eun works as a housekeeper for Young-jae, trying to earn enough to buy back the house.
Hilarity and scandal ensue for sixteen episodes. There’s a lot of yelling, complaining and crying. In the end, they’re in love with each other and, after 16+ hours of footage, they kiss each other on the lips.
It’s a far cry from American soap operas, where murder, adultery and addiction are constantly running through a revolving door. Thus, all the action appears to be much more innocent and cute to me. When Young-jae goes to meet up with his childhood love for coffee, it’s really just that. When Ji-eun is meeting with Young-jae’s friend/rival, Min-hyuk, who vies for her heart, they never so much as hug. It’s like the old idea of courtly love.
Also, Song Hye-gyo is adorable as Han Ji-eun. Her character is generally very upbeat and humorous, though the men in her life generally confuse and upset her.
One of the highlights and jokes throughout the miniseries starts when Ji-eun travels to meet Young-jae’s family for the first time. She fails to bring a gift and so instead offers up a song, which earns her the nickname “Three Bears” from her grandmother-in-law:
You only catch a flash of the look of shock on her mother-in-law’s face at the end.
For more information and a bunch of pictures of Song Hye-gyo check out Hancinema where she is currently highlighted as the ‘most wanted actress’. The site offers a wealth of information on all Korean movies and dramas.