I’m a rather reticent person and I don’t like imposing on people. But about five years ago, a drama turned me into a chatterbox and a nuisance.
After finishing Ruler of Your Own World, I could not stop yakking about it. I bought set after set to give away, even to friends who didn’t ask. (And, I believe, still have not watched it even though the years are a-passing! *sob*)
Two years later, I did the same thing, this time for Goodbye Solo (2006). To everyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot I yelled: “Watch this! It’ll change your life!”
Goodbye Solo, written by Noh Hee-kyung (who also wrote Solitude and More Beautiful Than a Flower), reminds me of Ruler of Your Own World in so many ways. That warm feeling of contentment. Lines that sneak up and make me laugh because they are so witty. Quirky fringe characters who turn out to be wiser (and even quirkier) than I expect. Toughies who are actually softies inside, and softies who are tougher than they think. Unlikely friendships. Characters who grow on me; characters I care about. Ordinary people with ordinary problems who teach me that life is not just about overcoming but being…
This is not a terribly dramatic drama. There’s not much of cinematography. Even the soundtrack is kind of quiet. Both lead actors are not your typical good-lookers, but they are sweet. (Yes, he’s sweet, like her.) My favorite characters are an over-the-hill gangster boss who has tattoos of flowers instead of scary dragons and scorpions; an ajumma with a bad hairdo who behaves like a cabaret queen minus an audience; an old lady who irons her money, who doesn’t speak, who’s this beguiling mix of innocence and anguish; and a Mi-ri who reminds me so much of Mi-rae in Ruler of Your Own World.
Real and empathetic characters. Characters who are larger than life, and yet so ordinary and flawed, so full of the “humanness” of life. Noh Hee-kyung has this amazing knack of creating people you care about, whether they are main or supporting roles in the drama. She makes you think about life, about what’s good and worth fighting for. Her characters redefine the meaning of family and friendship. How I wish they are people in my own life.
And then there’s the amazing, amazing acting.
In an interview Kim Min-hee said: “I know that I am not good enough, but I will show that I can do better.” This is the first time I’m watching her so I’ve never seen how “bad” she was previously. But she’s fantastic in Goodbye Solo. Most of my tears are for and because of her. I love her Mi-ri character – her feistiness and vulnerability, the way she wears her heart on her sleeve, the way she wails when things fall apart.
Mi-ri and Ho-chul (Lee Jae-ryong). I’ve not seen a couple in a K-drama who belong more together. They love, they fight, they make up… My eyes light up each time it’s their scene. Ho-chul, our gangster boss who beats up other gangsters but also cooks, cleans the house and wears a flowery apron. Mi-ri, who taught Ho-chul that it’s okay to be happy. How I missed this couple when the drama ended.
And how about our lead couple? Min-ho – disarmingly dorky and yet so COOL. His round face, crew-cut and too-long sideburns take some getting used to because this is my first time seeing Chun Jung-myung. But he’s such a sweetie. I love his honesty and bashfulness, and… (I know, I’m sounding like a broken record) the fact that he reminds me of Boksu in Ruler of Your Own World. This is also my first time watching Yoon So-yi and I like her quiet and understated acting as Soo-hee.
And what about Na Moon-hee, Bae Jong-ok, Lee Han and the rest of the cast? I can go on and on about them, but such first-rate acting needs to be seen rather than read about. So I’ll leave you with just two words: