As recently as two weeks ago, I had little interest in the upcoming Korean drama The Man Who Can’t Get Married. Then over the weekend I watched a Japanese dorama that my pals were raving about. Now I can’t wait for June to roll around.
Unlike many people, I’m not at all worried that The Man Who Can’t Get Married might be a sorry remake of Kekkon Dekinai Otoko. Whatever happens, I know it will never be as good. You can’t beat perfection.
Ji Jin-hee will play Abe Hiroshi‘s lead role. He will be Cho Jae-hee, the K-version of Kuwano Shinsuke, whom I adore to itty-bitty bits. Somehow the name doesn’t seem fitting, immediately conjuring up images of a youngish person (like a certain actor now in the army?). How about the name Kwang-ho instead? That’s close enough to Kuwano, isn’t it? Haha.
So, on one hand I want Jae-hee to be as similar to Kuwano as possible. On the other hand, I don’t want a remake to spoil Kuwano’s characterization, to exaggerate his eccentricity and turn him into a caricature of a fussy and aging bachelor. That can happen, because Kuwano possesses so many quirky traits.
He’s a creature of habit and fastidious to a fault. He’s 40 years old, but he walks like he’s either in his nineties or has a bad back. He speaks his mind exactly, but also stammers and blushes. He swears he won’t get married but turns his wardrobe upside down for a first date. He won’t allow anyone to invade his private space, but checks a fellow architect’s personal homepage religiously for updates. He cooks like a chef and conducts like he’s been doing it all his life, with verve and virtuosity. It’s mesmerizing to watch, and so funny. I don’t remember seeing a multifarious character like Kuwano’s in the dozens of Korean dramas that I’ve watched.
But a script is only so many words on paper; you need the right actor to interpret it, bring it to life, make it unforgettable.
Abe Hiroshi is simply peerless in Kekkon Dekinai Otoko. He is Kuwano Shinsuke. An architect with a slouch and a bad haircut who can’t even tie a tie (despite step-by-step online instructions) makes me squeal and swoon (and also curse the insane schedule I have this week which is keeping me from rewatching the dorama). What can I say but that I’m utterly smitten?
I can’t imagine going as nutty over Ji Jin-hee in the Korean remake. But then I’ve only watched him in Dae Jang Geum and he was pretty droolsome there as Naeuri Min, the officer so devoted to our heroine’s well-being. He’s a fine actor and I’ve never seen him overact, so I’m confident he’ll deliver the goods, although not on Abe Hiroshi’s level. I’m also not worried about Ji Jin-hee’s comic timing. Although the dorama is extremely funny, Kuwano himself really isn’t a comic character. He’s actually pretty dour and he speaks in a deadpan manner often. So I’m not expecting Ji Jin-hee to be funny and I fervently hope he won’t try to be funny.
So I’m on the fence about Ji Jin-hee’s casting. I don’t really care if he nails the role or fails miserably. No one can play the man who can’t get married more convincingly than the one who played it first. But I am excited about Uhm Jung-hwa playing Hayasaka Natsumi.
I love Natsukawa Yui as Hayasaka. I love that she’s not stick-thin. I love her little dimples and how her eyes are like slits when she smiles. I love how she makes Hayasaka so human. Her acting is exquisite, just like her co-lead. They’re the perfect couple and I adore them.
Uhm Jung-hwa will be amazing as the K-equivalent of Hayasaka, I’m sure of it. She can play strong and spunky roles blindfolded, but I’ve also seen her play maternal and comic. Versatility is her name. I just hope whoever does her makeup will exercise plenty of restraint and go easy on the warpaint. Please keep the dressing simple, too.
I’m also excited about Yoo Ah-in‘s casting in the K-remake, although I honestly can’t see him as Murakami Eiji, Kuwano’s subordinate in the architectural firm. But that’s my fault, really. Yoo Ah-in was so convincing in Strongest Chil Woo as a brooding and mysterious assassin that I just can’t picture him in a different role. Eiji in Kekkon Dekinai Otoko is an open book, cheerful and somewhat flirty, but a dedicated assistant nonetheless to Kuwano. I can’t wait to see how Yoo Ah-in is going to interpret his role, whether he will play it the same light-hearted way or make it slightly more serious.
As for Kim So-eun and Yang Jung-ah, playing the K-equivalent of Tamura Michiru and Sawazaki Maya respectively, I have not watched them in anything before, so I can’t comment on their acting or my expectations. But I love these two characters in the dorama and hope their K-versions will be just as well-written. I’m really curious, though, about the casting for Kaneda, that playboy architect whose exploits Kuwano is so interested in. Funny how a supposedly minor character (doing such seemingly repetitive things, too) can be so charming and riveting!
So the main characters have been decided and the drama is set to air its first episode in June. I’m really looking forward to it, for one reason: that it’ll lead many more people to discover the dorama on which it is based.
Kekkon Dekinai Otoko is such a treat on so many levels. The acting is superb, the writing is smart and witty, and it’s full of wonderful little details. The characters are disarmingly honest (even if they play dodge ball sometimes instead of catch) and its slice-of-life approach is refreshing. What a relief to be spared the usual melodrama and angst-ridden personalities, the birth secrets and fatal diseases, the rehashed-to-death plot devices. A tough act to follow, the J-version.
But wait! Who’s playing Ken-chan?
Change anything you like, dear writer Yeo Ji-na, but under no circumstances can you remove the dog from your script!