Playful Kiss (MBC 2010): First Impressions

Everybody and their grandmothers have been asking me to watch Comrades. This is not a review of Comrades, because I have not started to watch Comrades. I plan to watch it (I promise, pinky swear), but right now my attention is squarely on bright, fluffy, candy-coated sugary drama confections. In particular, Playful Kiss or Mischievous Kiss (“PK”), is my current flavor of the month.

I make no concessions to taste or selection when it comes to drama watching – I watch the poignantly meaningful with the mindlessly cheerful alike. It all depends on mood and craving, and lately I have been craving romance and sweetness by the bushels. With that said, I’ve rarely felt so squarely in the minority, whether in the greater dramaverse or in my own small drama friendverse.

Amongst my friends, it appears I am the only one watching PK AND generally enjoying it way too much. But it’s not a rabid enjoyment whereby I am running around like a headless koala telling everyone they’ve simply got to watch it. The enjoyment I get is a sense of deep contentment in my belly, the feeling you get when you eat a bowl of hot, delicious noodles that warms your soul as well as sates your hunger.

If you are enjoying PK, fret not about the abysmal ratings and bristle not at the folks who think its crap. Neither side is right or wrong, Don’t feel the urge to defend PK or your love for it. Be happy that you are watching something that brings you happiness, and let everything else wash over you. Liking PK does not mean that you have bad taste, or that your judgment is suspect. Not liking PK does not mean you are heartless, or that you hate on cute kittens.

This is a First Impression review of PK, through episode 4. I am here to say that PK is a good drama, generally well-made and well-acted. It will likely not devolve into the mockworthy, nor will it evolve into the exceptionally memorable. Let me see if I can explain why I am loving PK so much. Feel free to disagree, or feel comforted that someone out there is content this drama has been made.

How Do You Fall In Love?

PK is a story with no overarching plot driver. It is about two dissimilar people, who meet in high school and fall in love over the years they spend together. It’s not a realistic portrayal of that love, with the nitty gritty of daily life super-imposed on what we see. Rather, it’s a slightly idealized vision from the perspective of someone re-telling their love story.

Oh Ha Ni is a senior in high school, and she has been in love for the past three years with Baek Seung Jo, the resident genius cum heartthrob. Too bad Seung Jo doesn’t even know Ha Ni exists (well, he pretty much doesn’t notice anyone else at school either). Ha Ni is dimmer than your average student, partially because she spends all her time daydreaming about Seung Jo and doesn’t devote that time or effort to studying.

Ha Ni confesses her love to Seung Jo via your standard high school girl crush love letter, and is rudely and publicly rejected by Seung Jo. Not only does Seung Jo grade and correct the mistakes in Ha Ni’s letter, he tells her he hates stupid girls. In front of pretty much the entire school. Ouch. And what a jackass move.

Ha Ni’s no simpering pushover, and her pride is hurt by this cruel rejoinder. Seung Jo states that if Ha Ni can score in the top 50 in the next exam and enter the self-study classroom, he will piggyback her around the school yard. This is a new one in the piggyback lexicon – piggyback by bet. Too bad before Ha Ni can start studying to win her bet, a freak housing accident causes the Oh house to collapse into a heap of rubble.

Luckily, Ha Ni’s dad has a kind and generous old chum who offers to let him and Ha Ni live with his family. Ha Ni moves in only to discover said old chum is Seung Jo’s dad, and that she will be co-habiting with her crush/nemesis. Seung Jo is not only a stuck-up cold statue at home as well, he has a mini-me little brother Eun Jo who is fast become Seung Jo v.2.

Ha Ni is ignored by the brothers Baek, but embraced instantaneously by Seung Jo’s mom, who has always longed for a daughter to bond with. She not only dotes on Ha Ni, she immediately sees a way to make her dream come true to have a daughter of her own, by pairing Seung Jo and Ha Ni up. Hee, Mom is too adorable for words.

Seung Jo warns Ha Ni not to divulge their co-habitation to the school, but Ha Ni only wants to score higher on the test and uses an embarrassing childhood picture of Seung Jo to blackmail him into tutoring her. Seung Jo reluctantly agrees, and Ha Ni does in fact make it onto the top 50 list in the next exam. These two butt heads, with Ha Ni loving and loathing Seung Jo, and Seung Jo increasingly noticing Ha Ni in his orderly and structured life.

Through a series of funny, charming, and endearing little situations in the lives of these two high school students, Seung Jo and Ha Ni find themselves spending time together and getting to know each other better. Would it be a spoiler to state that Seung Jo and Ha Ni end up falling deeply in love, getting married, and living happily ever after? No, it’s no spoiler, but a glimpse of what we are watching this drama to get to, a simply wonderful ending.

Manga vs Drama

Playful Kiss is a live-action adaptation of a popular Japanese manga, Itazura na Kiss. The manga has already been adapted to great success by the TW drama It Started With A Kiss, and its sequel They Kiss Again. I’ve seen both TW dramas, and have enjoyed them for the most part (I liked the original much better than its sequel).

I can watch PK without over-analyzing the K-version by constantly comparing it to its various predecessors. I think PK starts off exceedingly slow, with lots of unnecessary and over-used set-up scenes. But from episode 2 onward, the drama moves along at a nice pace, taking us for a cute ride and showing the couple changing and communicating in little ways.

PK doesn’t end in cliffhangers, hinge its story on twist and turns of fate and the heart, or drive its characters by events. Rather, the characters drive the what little actual story it has, tied together by watching Seung Jo and Ha Ni grow as people and fall in love. In that respect, PK stays true to its manga roots and resembles a J-dorama with only smatterings of K-drama stylings.

That can be boring for some viewers, and underwhelming for others. But that is the source material of PK, and what we are seeing is both exceedingly mellow yet delicately moving. Yes, I do see moments where the writer and PD Hwang In Roi could raise the bar a notch, but they never waste time on throwaway scenes.

What happens in PK is as if a camera captured the daily lives of Seung Jo and Ha Ni, and then cut the scenes to only show the more significant and/or amusing moments. With that said, I would have toned down the excessive Goong-esque touches and do away with the teddy bear closing montage lifted straight from Goong. I don’t believe I’ve seen one drama copy so many elements from another drama before. While it remains cute in PK, it does strip PK of some of its unique identity.

Acting, Acting, On The Wall

If PK goes down in history as a flop (which, judging by its early ratings and future prospects, looks to be the case), at least it will leave some positive takeaways from it. The most significant thing to emerge from PK is the leading actress arrival of Jung So Min. She is Oh Ha Ni. She is Oh Ha Ni more than we can picture, imagine, or dream the character of Oh Ha Ni.

I watched Jung So Min make her debut in Bad Guy, and as much as her performance there was eye-catching, I hated that character she played so much I wished she’d just fall into a ditch and stay there. So when Jung So Min was cast in PK, I knew she would do fine, but I wasn’t looking forward to seeing her. Something about her face was still imprinted with the character of Hong Mo Nae for me to be excited to watch her so soon onscreen again.

Within minutes of watching her in PK, all the images of her in Bad Guy slowly disappeared. Until what is left today is that I have no strong recollection of her in Bad Guy, and I only see Oh Ha Ni on screen. Jung So Min is the real deal, using exquisitely honest and purposeful acting to embody a character so completely she leaves no traces of previous characters she played, or even her real life personality. In that respect, she is just like Ariel Lin, who played the same character in It Started With A Kiss. Comparing Jung So Min to Ariel Lin is heady praise indeed.

For everyone’s early wailing about Kim Hyun Joong being cast in PK (no lie, I wailed, too), rest assured that while he still may not be the best choice to play Baek Seung Jo, he is doing a good job so far and looks to continue to improve in his performance. I found his acting debut in Boys Before Flowers so awful I would cringe each him he appeared in a scene.

Thankfully, Kim Hyun Joong has indeed improved in his acting (but still doesn’t have the natural camera-loving connection), and he’s proven another corollary for me. A digression: I have now determined that the character of Hanazawa Rui/Hua Ze Lei/Yoon Ji Woo is just a giant charisma suck and an acting black hole. I have hated all three versions of said character, and wrote off Oguri Shun/Zai Zai/Kim Hyun Joong when each played said character.

It is only when these three actors moved on to other characters did I realize (1) these are three hot men, and (2) these are three men who don’t suck donkey balls at acting. Anyways, back to Kim Hyun Joong as Baek Seung Jo – he’s doing fine and has a great simmering chemistry with Jung So Min. It’s not just Jung So Min’s great acting generating all the chemistry, little gestures and expressions from Seung Jo really pull us into his character and create a connection with the viewer and with Ha Ni.

The other secondary characters are all wonderful – from Kang Nam Gil as Ha Ni’s loving father, to Jung Hye Young as the kind and playful Mom, to Lee Tae Sung as Ha Ni’s buffoonish but devoted classmate Bong Joon Gu. Joon Gu is the most cartoonish of all the characters in PK, but his character was always a ham in manga and all previous drama versions.

If you’ve watched Lee Tae Sung’s other works, you can see that he can channel any type of character, but his physical presence is quite commanding and sometimes he gives off an exceedingly strong vibe on screen. In PK, this comes across as OTT, but I find his performance so endearing and his character so caring about Ha Ni that it doesn’t annoy me.

After four episodes of PK, at least I can breathe a giant sigh of relief that bad-, over-, and lack of- acting in PK will not be an issue. The characters in PK are centered around Ha Ni and Seung Jo, and then radiate outwards, to the Baek and Oh family, then to rivals for Seung Jo and Ha Ni’s affections, and finally to their friends and classmates in various institutions. We’re here for Seung Jo and Ha Ni’s story, so don’t get grumbly if the other characters are not as well developed.

Grade: Expectations Exceeded

I went into PK with very low (I mean very very low) expectations. And I’ve emerge with a happy outlook and my drama-cravings satisfied by PK. I am in the mood for a low-key, slightly idealized love story, and PK fits the bill. The only thing I can state definitively about PK is that it is NOT a bad drama, not by a long shot.

It has a lovely albeit simplistic story, good-to-wonderful acting, deft and steady directing, and oodles of chemistry between the leads and the entire cast. Don’t get angry when some people hate PK or find it mind-deadening fluff. Dramas come in all shapes, sizes, and fits, and there is no such thing as one-size-fits all.

I usually only dislike dramas when the acting is bad, or the plot makes no sense or runs in circles, or when I feel the purpose of the story is pointless. PK doesn’t fit any of these three situations, and in fact I venture to say that the purpose of the love story in PK is the opposite of pointless. Whether we are young (yet to experience love in all its magnificent and/or heartbreaking glory) or we are old (having enduring highs and lows, and have found a permanent residence in which to park our hearts), PK reminds us that the simplest rendition of love is truly special to watch.

As we take the journey with Ha Ni and Seung Jo, seeing them grow to love one another, in charming, clumsy, exasperating, and silly ways, is a wonderful way to salute love. Love needn’t be dramatic, life-altering, universe-rending, or even fraught with unnecessary melodrama. It can be a joy to watch two people fall in love in the most ordinary way possible – by getting to know other another.

I can safely bet my abode that tension and momentum of PK will continue to get better and better, and that the first few episodes are likely the weakest episodes in the drama. I think the entire production is still gelling and finding its footing, but it’s about to settle into a confident groove. If PK sounds like a delicious piece of cake to you, too, then join me in partaking of a slice.

PK is going to be a twenty episode drama, and if MBC cuts it like it did to Tamra the Island, I am going to go berserk like a Hulk Koala and go smack some heads. I don’t think that will happen, because unlike Tamra, PK has a rabid and rather large online and overseas interest even now. I think PK’s ridiculously low ratings reflect a confluence of factors: tough competition, the manga-adaption genre being not so popular at the moment, and it’s production releasing too much spoilery goodness about the drama.

I think teen-targeted dramas are at a nadir right now in Korean drama consumption, based on the drama trending I see. Regardless of its target audience, PK is written with lots of heart, and performed with lots of grace. As a middle-aged koala, I am enjoying it without feeling secret shame or defensiveness. I cannot wait to watch how PK deals with various heart-stopping aspects of the source material.

For those of you bemoaning how some of your favorite OTPs never get satisfying closure at the end of some dramas – rest assured that this story has perhaps the most satisfying OTP ending in any drama I have ever watched. I watch PK with a constant smile on my face, and I think you might as well if you check it out. If PK doesn’t grab your interest, at least it won’t make you gnash your teeth and bash your head. And it’ll likely make you laugh out loud at least once or twice. 😀

51 thoughts on “Playful Kiss (MBC 2010): First Impressions

  1. What a delightful surprise! Thank you, ockoala! I’ve not started on PK but plan to, soon. Have not seen ISWAK, too, but seems that is a must-watch as well?

  2. Since I hated Itazura Na Kiss (and this from a fan of the dorama school genre – really Kotoko, could you be any more annoying?), I expected to dislike PK. I was collecting it anyway for one of my nieces, and it’s grown on me from being surprised that it wasn’t sucking (like my first episode snark about the director playing with bears), to now where I’m actually looking forward to it. Can I give a shout out to Bye Bye Sea? I think their addition to the cast was genius, as their interludes and musical backing within scenes just up goofiness to the right level.

    While it isn’t rainbows and unicorns, at least it looks like it will be a fresh little breeze.

  3. Best review i’ve read on PK so far. Empathetic and warm..thanks for writing this. Yeah,rating means zilch to me as a drama viewer. I have my own quirky preference after all. My only fear is that MBC will cut it short,but yr assurance of that may not be happening made me sigh of relief. Still, I feel like writing a threatening letter to the network warning them to never even think about it..lol

  4. I’m one of those old chap who is actually falling in love with this drama. I started watching it because of my niece. I had to babysit her for one day. She talked me into watching it with her.
    The drama is sweet and adorable. I would never imagined i would like this kind of ‘youngster’ drama, but i actually fall for it so far.
    Both leads did a very good job delivering their characters. The girl is very sweet, and innocent. The boy is really good in acting all cold and mean, yet hiding a soft caring heart.

    I’m looking forward to the next episode. Thanks for a great recap

  5. This is exactly why I’m loving PK too — it gives the viewer a warm, fuzzy feeling where all is right in the world and people end up with the person they love, happily ever after. This drama (so far in its four episodes) has never failed to make me smile, whereas in others I had wept with bloody tears, nearly tearing my hair out with all the angst and heartbreaking melodrama.
    PK has a whimsical feel, a dream-like, surreal vibe. When real life mostly sucks and doesn’t always have its happy ending, who wouldn’t want to watch a drama where happiness abounds; where life is simple and being with the one you love is all that matters?
    Happy watching!

  6. What a surprise. I expected a full blown Playful Kiss trashing here, hehe.

    You’re saying everything I want to say, only with eloquence a thousand times better.

    There’s no particular plot, it’s just a story of two people falling in love. There won’t be makjang twists and turns and I think that’s a big deal in Korean televisions.

    I thought the first week was crap. Pace was slow, acting was uneven, and terrible CG. Even episode 2 that people praised for being a big improvement. I was prepared to give up if this week sucked as well. But upon watching episode 3, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. Episode 4 only reinforce that sentiment.

    A note of concern however is that are we going to grow to love the characters more or are we going to get tired of them? When I watched ISWAK, with each passing episode, the characters pissed me off more and more because it took way too long for them to get together. Girl got clingier and whinier by each episode while Guy got so rude and indecisive. Especially now we see Baek Seungjo starting to show a hint of interest, holding the couple off for so many more episodes will create fatigue. That’s why I don’t think 20 episodes is wise, I think a 14 or 16 would’ve suited the drama more.

    Thanks a lot for the review! Had a lot of fun reading!

  7. Hi Thundie,

    It seems like our drama tastes are very similar. 🙂
    We were both addicted to “Assorted Gems”…

    And now it seems like we’re both in love with this delightful Korean adaptation of Itazura na Kiss… regardless of the ratings.

    I also love Jung So Min as Oh Ha Ni.
    Jung So Min is a wonderful actress… and her range of expressions are impressive.
    I still think Ariel Lin is a better actress, but I love watching Oh Ha Ni much more than I liked watching Xiang Jin.

  8. BTW…
    If you haven’t seen, and still want the Anime version… I just finished uploading all the different adaptations to Aja-Aja… including the 720p Anime version.
    Drop me a line on WITHS2 if you need the specific link. 🙂

  9. Hi Ahoxan!

    I wrote the PK review, not Thundie, who promises that she will watch PK, too! I haven’t watched Assorted Gems, I’m sad to admit, just cuz it fell by the wayside. But I do intend to watch it, one fine day.

    @ Thundie

    DO NOT watch ISWAK without watching and finishing PK first. I just feel like you’ll be bound to compare and contrast, it’s hard not to. Since you watch so many Kdramas, I think the PK style of telling this sweet story is more your cup of tea.

    @ momosan – it just might become rainbows and unicorns….you never know. 😀 I’m so happy you’re enjoying it. And yes, Kotoko/Xiang Qin annoys the crap out of me too, but Ha Ni I simply adore her from her roots to her toes.

    @ Ami – thanks for the lovely compliment, I really am enjoying PK, and I’m glad I can share my enjoyment with everyone.

    @ Camile – a great story is timeless, even if it involves young love that may have already passed us by. I watch PK with wistful memories and a sense of tickling my young bone.

    @ Liesel – well-said! I can’t agree more, PK makes us viewers happy watching it, what more can we ask for?

    @ ditdut – tsk tsk, no dissing of PK can be found here. Heh heh, I can’t promise thundie will like it, but I can tell you our fellow co-blogger serendipity enjoys it so far.

  10. wow this is the best recap i read from PK

    you really nail the main reason why I also hook with this drama

    to be honest the first reason I watch PK is because of KHJ, but now I am also looking forward for the development of the characters, i just love fairy tale love story

    something that will make you feel good and young

  11. Thank you, Ockoala.

    Lovely review! Totally in keeping with the wistful, whimsical mood of Playful Kiss.

    Watched Iswak 1 and 2. Have watched bits of PK (watching backwards actually – ep 4, 3 ) – and it’s already appealing, though in a different way from the TW version for me.

    Pile on the desserts! 🙂

  12. my thoughts exactly. and thank you for saying it so eloquently. i think i went through different stages with this drama — from nervous anticipation (i love me some 4D KHJ but cringed at his acting in BOF), disappointment over the pluffiness and slooooow pacing of ep 1, growing to love the characters after ep 2, heartbreak over its unbelievably low ratings, passionately defending it on blogs and k-pop sites — to simply savoring the show and *trying* not to give a hoot about ratings and hateful comments anymore. as soon as i stepped back and allowed myself to just enjoy it and accept that not every one else will like it, the experience has been such a joy thus far.

    i try not to compare PK to previous adaptations of itazura na kiss but what i love about this rendition is how they made the characters more believable and not too over the top. i couldn’t get through watching ISWAK because half the time i wanted to smack ariel lin’s character. JSM’s oh hani is just right and i find myself loving her more and more as the story progresses. of course, my opinion of KJH will more than likely be biased as i am just really happy that he has shown improvement in his acting. i love their blossoming chemistry and hope that it will continue to create more sparks with each new episode.

    also, i liked how you compared watching PK to the contentment of eating a bowl of delicious hot noddles. it really does give me that warm and fuzzy feeling deep inside.

    cheers 🙂

  13. hi ockoala, i totally agree with you not to watch ISWAK after we’ve started PK. i also think PK is wonderful in a very simple way. ISWAK gets more and more irritating as it progresses but PK does not and i feel that Kim Hyun Joon has really improved since BOF. actually, i look forward more to PK than MGIAG for reasons unknown to me. maybe cos MGIAG is so widely-promoted and my expectations have gone real high that it just doesn’t feel as much to me as PK. As for PK, even though i know what the ending will be, i still look forward to it cos i want to see the kind of reactions between Ha Ni and Seung Jo when they interact. all in all, i’m glad PK is good and given eps 5’s trailer, i can expect more for next week! everyone hang on tight! 🙂

  14. I was so happy to read your take on PK. It’s a wonderful little drama and I think I’m set to enjoy it even more than It Started With a Kiss. So far, I’ve enjoyed all the changes they made. I was hoping that the K-version would make Oh Ha-ni in less of a doormat when it came to her dealings with Seung-jo than XQ was when dealing with ZS and IT DID!

    Ha-ni is delightful. I can really see why someone like Seung-jo would fall head-over-heels in love with her. I really loved ZS claiming loudly in front of everyone that he needed XQ because she was the only one who made him feel alive, like a real person with real emotions. Only that was in the sequel, They Kiss Again and in PK we can already see that it is so and I think Seung-jo is already aware of it too.

    I really like the way the story is written. I don’t need life and death situations and angsty revenge plots to keep me happy. PK is plenty exciting for me with its 3 major arcs and the over-reaching plotlines running through all of them. All in all this feels to me as a seamlessly written story that’s always been striving to reach one goal: the HEA of the main couple.

    SOME SPOILERS ahead.
    There’s the high-school arc that sets the tone for the HN/SJ dynamics, then we move on to the university arc with the characters trying to understand themselves and figuring out what to do with their lives and then there’s the hospital arc where the characters have really become adults and are set to live their lives in a way that suits them.

    At first I thought that with only 20 episodes they’d never do the whole story and that they might end the drama with HN and SJ getting married but now I’m not so sure. The drama is moving along very briskly with SJ taking the university entrance exam in episode 5. And I don’t feel this has anything to do with bad ratings and a possible cut since these episodes were already filmed before the premiere. They might go all the way to the end of the manga. I would love to see that. Both actors are very good in the current incarnation of their characters but I can see them playing 20 something characters as well.

    I can’t wait to see the next episodes. My only fear is that the bad ratings will affect the crew negatively and that they’ll have trouble putting all their hearts into the drama. All their hard work deserves plenty of praise and I hope they’ll get some recognition soon.

  15. Thank you! Finally someone gets it! Every reason you stated is exactly why I love Playful Kiss. I watch for the pure enjoyment and to get a nice break from reality. It’s fun, sweet, and pure entertainment. Live and let live is my motto. If you don’t like it then don’t watch it, if you don’t watch it then don’t bash it, and leave those who do watch it alone to enjoy it. Looking forward to next week.

  16. I love the drama. I agree that episode 1 is slow but it gets better with each episode. The drama has provided much entertainment that I couldn’t help laughing out loud. When I saw the ratings, I was very, very sad because I do think that this is a good drama. It is lighthearted and provided much respite in our stressful life. I can see the improvement in KHJ’s acting and the lead actress is cute. I am waiting for each episode with abated breath.

    I do hope that the bad ratings will not affect the crew’s spirit, cause MBC to reduce the number of episodes or KHJ’s future as an actor.

    Sorry, you probably think that I like this drama cos I am KHJ’s fan, the truth is, I started watching it because of KHJ but I am anticipating it now because I want to know how the story develops. As I have never watched the Japan or Taiwan version or read the manga, I could watch Playful Kiss without trying to compare with other versions. I think we need to watch it with an open eye and heart, no comparisons required, just watch it like any other love story.

    I do hope that more people will grow to love it, like I did.

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  18. I think the Rui character would be rather difficult to act. It’s hard to just be plain and nice and boring when acting, there is really not much to ‘sink your teeth into’, so to speak, although I did love Rui in the J-dorama. Kim Hyun Joong has improved by leaps and bounds, and the pairing doesn’t seem one sided or ill-matched, which I guess is all I should ask for. I am liking him more and more each episode (damn attractiveness, seriously, this guy’s face is so crazy pretty), so hopefully that means he continues to improve.

    I too am adoring Jung So Min. I find her so adorable, pretty, charismatic, and so so natural. I find Ha Ni so much more bearable than Kotoko (who grated on my nerves probably more than any other heroine- though I still loved her). I love the way Ha Ni seems like a high school student to me (being a high school student myself), from her evil laugh (I totally do that!) to her relationship with her friends. Oh, her friends.
    I LOVE the three girls together, not only do they look so sweet and real, they also actually seem like friends who have had history and have a unique dynamic, not just being told they were friends on a script. High school is really the only place where friendships quite like this occur and are played out- and I adore how they are representing it.
    And I find Lee Tae Sung amazingly awesome; he has so much energy which I love.
    I also adore all of the other characters like Mum (ah- she is so lovely), the two dads and I also enjoy Bye Bye Sea, especially their little music parts.

    Yes, the storyline is essentially fluff, but lovely sweet fluff that warms your cockles. I am such a sucker for high school dramas (HYD is what got me into j-dorama, BBF got me into kdrama) that I know I will watch and love this show regardless of ratings or opinions or whatever. I also love ‘slice of life’ things as long as they are sweet and well done- which this one totally is. So I guess this suits me perfectly then? I never saw Goong, so the teddy bear thing was new and I obviosuly don’t know any of the other similarities, so I guess that is a good thing?

    WHile this is probably the least exciting of my current 3 dramas (MGiaG, SS, PK), I still have oodles of fun watching it.

    I’ve written an essay (this always happens! I need to get some kdrama watching friends to chat with!) but essentially I wanted to say that PK makes me happy and I am glad you are enjoying it as well!
    Thank you for this awesome first impressions review- I enjoyed it immensely!

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  20. Thank you for this post!!! I too am an “older” kdrama watcher and love PK!!! I also stalk your blog on the days the show is on air 🙂

    The build up for this drama was very slow…and I too had very low expectations having loved ISWAK…but I fell in love with Oh Ha Ni…she steals the show for me!

    KHJ has also improved in my esteem…he has gotten better!

    I can’t wait for next week’s episodes…I haven’t been following any kdrama’s this closely since YB!

  21. i totally agree with your review… its not because im a die hard fan of kim hyun joong but because i found the storyline heartwarming and witty…. ive been praying and hoping that this drama will achive a high rating soon.. and i can see that kim hyun joong is trying his very best to give justice to this drama.. hope his not going to be dis appointed with the rating issues… playful kiss is doing fine overseas and online so i really hope that it will be acknowledge soon…

  22. ockoala!! i love reading your stuff 🙂 thanks for mentioning PK in OT last week… i think it’s the only reason i picked it up while it was still airing. I totally agree with your first impressions post – you just put it in words so much more eloquently than I could ever hope. I am really enjoying this show. It’s not groundbreaking or fantastically done, but it is heartwarming and funny and thoroughly enjoyable. And it is really starting to redeem KHJ in my eyes 😀 Thanks!!!

  23. Thanks so much for the review! As I was reading it, I began realizing why I’m enjoying this drama as well. This was one that I had no interest whatsoever in watching even with all the hype, but one night when the subs for MGIAG didn’t come out on viikii yet, I watched this one instead. The characters are really endearing, and though there are times when I looked at Seung Jo and thought “If this happened in real life, I would never let any of my friends date that guy,” the drama is at its heart about young love, or as you put it, growing love. This is one of those dramas that if I don’t watch it as it is airing, I will never go back to it because I don’t think it merits such. But as I’m going through it, I always smile at the untainted feelings of two adolescents. There’s just something so pure about it.

  24. Thank you for this fabulous review. I’ve watched the 1H of ep. 1 of PK and was surprised and delighted it’s nothing like ISWAK (except for storyline). Ariel Lin must have been such a good actor that she put me off this manga adaptation – or so I thought – forever. I dig woman characters who are strong, smart, and have a line of men queing up for her affection/attention. But Ariel was totally opposite that in ISWAK and I was absolutely irritated by her character (sorry ockoala, I know you adore her character/acting there). So no way would I touch the Japanese adaptation, seeing who the main (non)actor was. And I swore off PK, knowing who the main (non)actor is. That is, until (ahem!) I had to do a certain (subbing) job. PK has a different feel, a different vibe. The girl in PK comes out much funnier and stronger than in ISWAK. I have a feeling I might even enjoy the drama, as long as the writer portrays a stronger lead girl and one who is not so stupid.

  25. actually this drama came along at just the right time for me…i have been reeling from all the melo and angst ive been watching lately and was just in the need for all this sugary sweet fluff…i never expected anything form the show so this is a nice surprise and im not going to expect too much either i’ll be happy as long as they keep to this level of cute and dont blow up into an angsty fare anytime soon..even though i highly doubt that will ever happen..i’m also glad to know that i’m not the only one enjoying this right now

  26. Thank you for this great review on PK. I am a 46 years old working mum and I have enjoyed every bit of this drama so far. Whatever the ratings maybe, I still support it as it is funny and addictive not only for the plot but more so, I am a huge fan of JSM and KJH. KJH may not have the best acting skills, but he is talented and entertaining and his acting skills definitely has improved leap frog from BOF. For those who have continue to criticize his acting skills – in my opinion, he deserves a chance to prove himself as an actor and most importantly, he continues to try his best to improve and he has in this drama.

    I am looking forward to the next episode eagerly.

  27. Thank you so much for writing this. I feel the same. The drama warms my heart, it made me smile, and it reminds me of those little moments in my own life.

  28. Thank you for your AWESOME review of Playful Kiss. I myself have always been a bit bi-polar in the Kdrama department. While the nation of South Korea and all my friends are currently obsessed with and watching “Baker King”, my obsession lies in “Playful Kiss”. Yes, PK is filled with tons of fluff and candy but sometimes in this world filled with stress and pain, you need a predictable love story with fluff and candy to make one hour of your life all better again. As you put it very well, all love stories don’t have to be filled with universe changing cliff hangers. Sometimes it just feels good to watch a drama where you know these two people will fall in love and live happily ever after minus complicated Kdrama situations like birth secrets, long lost family members showing up at the wrong times, or maybe we shouldn’t be together angst since that girl likes you and you’re misunderstanding that this guy likes me but I don’t like him I like you and you like me.

    Once again, awesome review. Truthful and heartwarming.

  29. Thank you for your wonderful review. You hit the nail on it’s head. Though I enjoy watching Baker King, it is Playful Kiss that I watch over and over. It is a light hearted drama that addresses what most average young girls feel about their inadequacies,etc. The majority of the population consists of “average” but who all have a gift or an endearing quality. Hani represents this and Jung So Min does an excellent job portraying her. Her friends are so real and adorable as well. For me, I rooted for Domyouji in Hana Yori Dango, but in BOF, Kim Hyun Joong made me root for Jihoo. He is also doing a great job as Seung Jo. I truly hope that more people will appreciate this drama and that the ratings will increase dramatically.

  30. This is such a nostalgic and heartwarming drama for me. I went through all the emotions Ha Ni went through as I had a major crush on a seemingly cold, goodlooking, tall, clever and unattainable guy when I was in university. Like her, I went through moments of despair as he didn’t even seem to notice me at all (KHJ looks a lot like him). But strangely enough, we ended up together, got married and had 3 kids. The show brings back so many memories for me…. I’m 49 this year, my hubby’s 50. In case you are wondering, he was my first and only boyfriend.

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