Life is Beautiful

If you have 63 hours to spare and would like to spend those hours watching something that puts a smile on your face and a lift in your steps, instead of 3-4 shorter pieces whose collective mediocrity makes you prefer chewing rusty nails as a more humane form of torture, I have a drama to recommend to you. It is one of the best family dramas that I have seen.

Slipping under many people’s radars last year, either because of its genre or because its length made one think thrice before committing, Life is Beautiful (SBS, 2010) is about second opportunities. It is about starting anew with hopefulness that today will be better than yesterday. It is about opening your heart to embrace the strange and the different, no matter how strong your creed or deep-seated your insecurities. It is about family sticking together, through all of life’s ups and downs. It is a drama so heartwarming you forget the chill outside your window, yet it is not so cloyingly sweet that you feel three cavities taking root. It is, above all, unwavering in its realism and optimism.

These are characters that you walk alongside, cheering and occasionally chiding. Some are stubborn as mules and you want to spank them for letting pride, old grievances or just simply a warped sense of righteousness stand in the way of their own and other people’s happiness. Then you realize this is just how life is, that change isn’t something you can pull out of a hat and cloak it around a person who is hitting 50 or 80. You realize, too, that you haven’t once screamed “Get a grip!” at this obstinate bunch because you are too busy slapping your thighs and laughing.

Surprisingly, the funniest of them all is also the oldest. At 87, Grandfather Yang has returned to the family that he abandoned thirty years ago. Fathering more than a dozen children with about half a dozen women, he is naturally hated by his first wife. Allow the philanderer back after all the pain and humiliation he inflicted on her? Over her dead body! But the old man has nowhere to go after being tossed out by Wife No. 6 (who isn’t legally a wife since our patriarch never did divorce his first wife and merely exchanged one mistress for another). So now his sons must feed and shelter him while scrambling to hide him from their mom.

Playing the grandfather is Choi Jung-hoon, an actor I’ve never seen before but who is now entrenched in my memory as one of the most endearing and hilarious grandfathers in a kdrama. His acting is just a joy to behold, with his character effortlessly straddling crotchety and charming. Seemingly reformed after his Casanova days, our grandpa never misses a beat when trading insults, yet he can be sweet and meek as a lamb.

But Choi Jung-hoon isn’t the only veteran who steals the show, the rest shine as well.

As 60-year-old Yang Byung-tae, Kim Young-chul never gives one the impression that he is acting. His character is the kind of father and husband that you dream about, yet everything about him is down to earth and real. When the drama opens, Byung-tae has been married to Kim Min-jae (Kim Hae-sook) for twenty-nine years. Together they have a son, Ho-sub (Lee Sang-yoon), and a daughter, Cho-rong (Nam Gyu-ri).

But there are also two older children in the family, both of them 34 years old, he slightly older than her, the two sharing a special bond because of the similar yet disparate circumstances that made them siblings. Tae-sub (Song Chang-ui) is the son from Byung-tae’s first marriage (which ended when the mother passed away) while Ji-hye (Woo Hee-jin) is the daughter from Min-jae’s first marriage (which ended when she learned that her husband was already married with children).

A new family created from a death and a divorce. Two five-year-olds finding themselves with a new parent each even as they mourned the abrupt loss of the birth parent. In the years that followed, Tae-sub grew more reserved, his relationship with his stepmom marked by a certain wariness and restraint, as though the two were tiptoeing around each other. But as I mentioned earlier, this is a drama about second opportunities. Grandma’s fury when she discovers Grandpa’s presence in the house is nothing compared to the bombshell that Dr. Yang Tae-sub drops on his family one day. Yet it is this bombshell that allows his relationship with his stepmom to enter into a new phase, one of loving acceptance and affirmation. Min-jae becomes a lioness on her son’s behalf.

The scene where Tae-sub reveals to his mom his deepest secret, the one that has been eating him up all these years and which has led him to contemplate suicide, is singularly the most moving scene in this 63-episode drama. Coming a close second and third are Min-jae telling her husband the truth about their son, and Byung-tae embracing his son as the latter kneels and weeps. Never in their wildest dreams could the couple have imagined their oldest child as a gay. And never in Tae-sub’s own dreams could he have foreseen that his parents and siblings would not react in abhorrence but instead form a circle of protection around him. But really, why should a family protecting its own be surprising? As Min-jae explains, “He is my son. I just want him to be happy.” And as Byung-tae says simply, “Tae-sub is my heart.”

Thus we see that Tae-sub’s coming out isn’t the tempest that he anticipated. In fact, the gay storyline is treated in a gentle albeit rather matter-of-fact way, as something that’s natural because gays are born that way, it isn’t just a lifestyle choice. Tae-sub and Kyung-soo’s (Lee Sang-woo) love story isn’t the central focus of the drama, even if it is the one thing most likely to arouse people’s curiosity and lead them to check out the first episode. (Not for a shallow someone, though, who downloaded the drama with glee after learning that the-actor-who-played-sexiest-Joseon-king-ever-in-Eight-Days Kim Sang-joong was in it.)

In an interview that I read after I finished Life is Beautiful, writer Kim Soo-hyun said that she didn’t want “the focus of the drama to be squarely on sexuality; there were a lot more stories to tell.”

And indeed, it wasn’t just the relationship between our gay couple that I eagerly followed as I was watching, it was also the individual and shared stories of the other main characters that I felt invested in. I cared about them, I wanted to know how they would turn out. For example, would Grandma and Grandpa ever make up? Would Uncle Byung-jun, he a fastidious 47-year-old and creature of habit, ever find true love? Could a 48-year-old divorcee, she with a laugh to make your hair stand on end, be the one to sweep Byung-jun off his feet?

This is a drama that strives for depth (in characterization and plot) rather than breadth.

It isn’t terribly eventful by drama standards and eschews clichés and overused plot devices. There is nothing shrill or grandiose about the writing. You won’t find birth secrets, amnesia or clingy exes. Lovers do not get separated by interfering parents or by their own angst. They do not go away for years. The closest we have to a villain is Kyung-soo’s mom and even then she isn’t so ornery or wicked that we loathe her. She is after all a mother reeling from her 34-year-old son’s seemingly incomprehensible behavior, he throwing away a perfect life with a wife and child in order to be with the man he loves. But no matter how unrelenting her pressure on Kyung-soo to denounce his gayness and return to a life of “normalcy,” he never once wavers. Watching him and Tae-sub together, the two of them leading a life just as any ordinary couple would, with frequent displays of affection and avowals of commitment, you can’t help but celebrate their love.

Life is Beautiful adopts a slice-of-life approach with each episode looking forward rather than back. There are no flashback scenes (as far as I can remember), a rarity in a drama. Every day is a new day, as the opening scene in every episode reminds us, with the family members waking up and going about their daily lives. Communication is unabashedly honest. As the first to stumble upon her brother’s sexual orientation (she sees the two guys hugging), Cho-rong doesn’t pretend to have seen nothing; no, she tells Tae-sub that she knows and that she will support him. The couples in our drama have no secrets between them. In fact, it is a running joke in the family that no one can keep anything hidden from the rest for long!

If I’m asked for a one-sentence synopsis of the drama, I will tell you that Life is Beautiful is about a family running an inn on Jeju Island. It is as simple as that.

Some of the family members have a career outside of the inn (called a pension in the drama), but each is an ordinary person doing his or her best to live life meaningfully and with a healthy dose of humor, wherever possible. Even the youngest (well, she was the youngest for a good part of the drama), 7-year-old Lee Ji-na (Jung Da-bin), offspring of Ji-hye and Su-il, is precocious beyond her years. Ji-na’s scenes with the enigmatic Su-il (more on him later) are some of the best I’ve seen between a child and her father and contribute to the abundance of familial warmth that this drama exudes.

There are many more things I could tell you about the drama, but since many people have not watched it, I will leave you to discover Life is Beautiful for yourself. Instead, I would like to end this brief review by sharing with you some of my favorite things about LIB. These are not in any particular order.

Besides the writing, which I adore for its frankness and wit and depth, I love the directing and how scenes are filmed to capture the natural beauty of Jeju Island…

… and the intimacy of the drama’s multiple stories. The director is fond of enclosing a scene within a frame, such as doorways or furniture or windows, in order to guide our eyes specifically toward what the characters are doing rather than on the whole composition of the scene. As a result, we feel the impact of the scene more, registering a character’s loneliness more acutely, for example.

Of all the relationships in the drama, I think I love Tae-sub’s relationship with his mom the most. I love how close they become after he outs himself to her. She lights up when he calls or sends her a text message, they hold hands, they are practically sweethearts except he calls her Mom and she calls him “my son,” the pride in her voice spilling over.

This is one family that is not afraid to be openly and physically affectionate. For sure they bicker and fight like any normal family, but most of the time they really do get along. What a relief to be spared a dysfunctional family and its vindictive members, a dime a dozen in dramas nowadays.

One of those who get hugged a lot is Byung-tae. Well, he deserves it, for being such an awesome guy. Just ask his granddaughter Ji-na.

Earlier I mentioned depth in characterization. An excellent example would be Su-il, Ji-na’s father, a character that I can’t quite wrap my brain around. He is the sum of many parts, all of them seemingly clashing with each other and producing a din that makes it hard for us to pigeon-hole him. He is slimy and superficial, but also a dream of a husband and father. He is henpecked beyond belief and seems to really resent how Ji-hye treats him, yet he is devoted to her well-being. Does he love her or does he not? Is his respect for her family genuine or just a bluff concealing ulterior motives?

I can’t decide if I like Su-il, but I certainly love the complexities in his character. Ditto for Byung-tae’s youngest brother, Blabbermouth Byung-gul. Played by Yoon Da-hoon, one of the funniest Korean actors around, Byung-gul is immature and even borderline babyish. See how he cries or clings to his mom, as though he hasn’t been weaned from her breast despite being all of 42 years old. Then see how he charms the socks off tourists and makes them clutch their sides laughing as he shows them the sights off the Jeju coast. Three-dimensional characters, I like!

Actors who played sexy Joseon kings in previous dramas, I like even more!

For a man whose perpetual expression used to be a frown (until one lady came along and turned his world upside down; hey, that rhymes!), Byung-jun sure makes me giggle like a loon. His character starts off being a stick-in-the-mud, which is why his gradual transformation is so funny to watch.

But no one makes me laugh as hard as our grandpa. See how he wards off his wife’s blows or verbal barbs, the latter so sharp they can maim. Then see how she cares for him, cursing and swearing all the way. See how sweet they are together.

Of course there’s no monopoly on sweet. In fact, we have spades of the stuff!

Finally, have I mentioned yet how much I love our taciturn and sensitive Tae-sub? I don’t feel as sore now that Park Yong-woo was ROBBED of the SBS Best Actor award for Jejoongwon. At least it went to Song Chang-ui.

Okay, I’m done. Your turn now. Go watch this wonderful drama unfold on the island of Jeju, where the tangerines are sweet and the wind is strong. It’s a large family with many going-ons. You won’t be bored!

50 thoughts on “Life is Beautiful

  1. Thanks for the recommendation! I am probably one of the rare kdrama watchers that enjoys the 50-episode family dramas the most of any of the kdrama genres. Despite the length, they are indeed much more entertaining and smile-generating than slogging through a several 16-20 episode romcoms, as those types of series start out with so much cute and then pound you with so much melodrama in the closing episodes, while the longer ones usually interweave both happy and sad stories, softening the overly melo beating you have to take while watching it (and thus preventing extreme eye-roll strain). The longer dramas are so rarely mentioned sometimes that I have trouble finding some of the better ones, and I haven’t gotten around to Life is Beautiful yet, so I’ll give it a shot!

  2. I have finished this drama some two months ago!!! I enjoyed alot.. great family bonding and the gay issue the family had to face in reality in epi 21… and the uncle disgust on his nephew’s sexual relationship after learning of the truth …. how realistic one actually had to deal with such knotty issue.. how the family embrace them (Kyung S Tae S).. Tae Sub being the eldest grandson and to carry on the traditional family heir… Heart wench scene of Kyung S when his daughter had to leave Korea.. Not forgetting the beautiful scenery of Jeju ^^

    • Ahhh, Aug05, that scene of Kyung-soo with his daughter made me cry as well. I’ve never seen Lee Sang-woo in a drama before, but he really acted well in LIB.

      Thanks for reminding me about the early episodes where Tae-sub was under so much pressure to marry. Now I want to rewatch LIB from the beginning! I must confess that much of my attention in the first few episodes was on our grandpa and his antics. Hehe…

  3. I’m not really into family dramas, but if LIB doesn’t have all the drama that Smile You or other family series have, I’ll give it a try =)

    I love to see how a real korean family is !! Without birth secrets, crazy mothers and people dying!!

    Thanks for the review, love it when someone recommends something new!! *_*

    • Hi herdys, I don’t mean to diss Smile, You… *looks around furtively to see if blue is in the vicinity* …since I stopped at episode 21, but Life is Beautiful is seriously a far better drama. It never feels silly (unlike some of the shenanigans in Smile), it is way funnier, and also much more heartwarming. Do give it a try! 😀

      • I watched Smile You until the end just to see if the grandpa died or not.. I got tired of the plot in episode 25 or something. They shouldn’t have extended that show… cause they killed it!!

        I have downloaded half of LIB episodes so i guess I’ll do a k-dramathon this weekend!! Hope i can feel all the love that you’re all sharing hehe =)

  4. I really love LiB for all the reasons you listed. It was surprisingly well written and layered. All the storylines weren’t as simple as they might seem and the characters…oh the characters are so dear to me.

    I love Tae-sub and Kyung-soo sooo much. OMG, don’t get me started on these two cos I could talk about them for hours on end. ^^ Psst, if you should feel melancholic or IDK in need of eyecandy, there’s an lj comm dedicated to KyungTae ^^

    • Haha Sere, I poked around the Internet and guess what I found?

      Not familiar with the livejournal setup and don’t really know how to navigate the place, but it’s cool that there’s actually a community of KyungTae fans. Count me in!

      By the way… don’t ask how many screencaps I took of the KyungTae couple as I was watching LIB. *whistles*

      • I…kind of am one of the mod of that community? *coughs*

        If you need help, PM me or email me. 😉 I’m always ready to help a friend.

        Man, I should really check my twitter. I guess you guys are wondering where I’ve been to? Or maybe not. XD

        Re: lib screencaps. I SO hear you. I write recaps for that comm and you do NOT want to know how many I take. Honestly. Too many. XD

  5. I dont think anyone could have done better justice to this underrated gem of a drama far better than you did Thundie…Thank you so much for the wonderful review!!…I think what really puts this far above anything that I saw last year was the realism in the writing, whether it was the small things like the day to day interactions or the bigger things like the reaction of different families ( Tae Sub’s and Kyung Soo’s) to the coming out of a family member…and I’m so relieved that for once the angst doesnt stem from things like birth secrets, conflicts of the poor vs rich etc….and the characterization like you said were all wonderful, I dont think there was one character that I disliked completely no matter what their flaws were and the parents (Min Jae and Byung tae) have come to be my all time favorite drama parents …Kim Soo Hyun is also one of my favorite writers now…I think I cried and laughed the most watching 63 eps of LIB than I did watching all the other shorter dramas last year. This was also among the best representations of a gay couple that I have seen in recent years

    • Oh D, I don’t deserve your kind words… but THANK YOU!

      Like you, there wasn’t a single character I actively disliked. Some were more flawed than others (Soo-ja’s jealous husband, for example), but all of them felt so real. This is the first time, I think, that a drama does not have characters harboring ill intents toward other people and doing all they can to wreck lives. If I remember correctly, we don’t even have thugs in LIB!

      Byung-tae and Min-jae… Best kdrama parents ever!

  6. Oh my God, Thundie, your review couldn’t have been more perfect. Everything you said was right on the money, and I started tearing up as I looked at your screencaps b/c I missed the Yang family so much. I’m so glad you decided to pick up this wonderful drama and that you enjoyed it as much as I did. ❤

    • Muahhh, thank you, soluna!

      Do you know, it was your review of LIB that made me want to check out the first episode?

      That review (thanks for making it spoiler-free!) was the first time I’ve read anything related to LIB. Because I hate spoilers so much, I tend to mentally switch off when I accidentally come across any information on a drama I’ve yet to watch.

      After reading your review, I thought I would just take a peek at episodes 1-2 and write a first-impressions post. But before I had even downloaded episode 1, some EVIL pals on twitter (who knew how to strike at thundie’s most vulnerable spots) mentioned a certain Joseon king was in LIB… and that he looked particularly yummy riding a motorbike…

      So instead of two episodes I downloaded 20, all on the same day! What can I say? Just this: Stay away from Twitter, everyone, it’s a minefield of temptations!

      • Awesome! Goodness, I was drooling over said Joseon king the entire drama… he was hotter than any of the younger guys! He was definitely one of my favorite characters.

  7. I normally watch 1 long family drama a year, and last year it was Life is Beautiful. It was a sweet slice of life of this family. Your review pretty much sums up what was so lovely about it. I really miss visiting with them every weekend.

    • I didn’t know you watched this, momosan! Did you ever tweet about it?

      Psst, how about checking out More Beautiful than a Flower next? It’s a notch better than LIB (on account of a certain Kim Myung-min :D), which makes it the best family drama ever!

      • I may have tweeted about it a bit, normally just when waiting for my weekend downloads. I don’t think I ever spazzed about it like King Crack or anything. 😎 More Beautiful than a Flower eh? I’ll have to check that out!

      • Thinking about it, but without actually checking – I think I voted for Kim Hae Sook for last year’s round up for supporting actress because I thought she was the glue that held the other characters together. Or at least I certainly MEANT to!

  8. WOW … never in my wildest dream i thought Thundie will write review about THIS AWESOME GEM CALLED “life is beautiful” … indeed my life was beautiful while i was watching this show … what a story … about simple but beautiful and touching relationship.
    i don’t think i need to write more cause you just wrote it so beautifully that i cried. everything of this drama is so perfect: Story, Direction, location, actor, acting, Opening to ending Perfect to the T. i don’t like long drama but i end up watching this drama and son of pharmacy (or something like this). i like this drama better than others. each and every relationship shown in this drama is real. this drama shows us what family is about. i love Grandma , mother, father, Taesub, Hosub, Kyungsoo, chorong at first, but later i fell in love with each and every character. be it father-son, daughter-mother, husband-wife, lovers, friends, every relation seems so touching Hats off to writer who made this simple day to life story so beautiful. it also present the gay relationship beautifully. Kudos to Song Chang-ui & Lee Sang-woo who made the Taesub and Kyungsoo character simple but so extraordinary. Gradual transformation of Taesub’s life after he met Kyungsoo is so aspiring. Love is all we need to live to breath. i cried like river in the Taesub coming out episode. his relationship with his step mother after that is just mind blowing. okay i need to stop
    just 4 words:

    • Oh ILUKD, I LOVE how you summed up the heart of LIB in your words, that it’s about simple yet touching and beautiful relationships. I especially love how you said that your life was beautiful as you were watching. *hugs*

      I thought few people had watched LIB but now it seems I’m wrong (and I’m thrilled to be wrong!).

  9. Well, everything you’ve said about LIB is dead on. I couldn’t have said it better myself. A long commitment, not many can sit (or are willing) and devote 63 hours of their lives to a drama. I know I don’t normally do it. However, LIB made me throw away the “ack, it’s too long and might be boring” and made me embrace the “this is worthy of the title.”

    What made me want to check it out was the Kyung Soo / Tae Sub storyline (I’m sure like most people). What made me keep watching was everything. Seemed quite a realistic depiction of what I imagined a real Korean family would be.

    OK and the sexiest Joseon king evah didn’t hurt either. That storyline was a joy to watch.

    I’ll shut up now.

  10. Thank you so much for a thoughtful, lovely review. I saw this drama, loved it and miss it like hell. So much great acting, fabulous realistic writing and ground breaking too.
    I think EVERYONE will like it who gives it a chance. More like this please.

  11. I’d started watching LIB primarily out of curiosity over its depiction of homosexuality. Then, I gave it up because I couldn’t get past the seemingly all-too-easy embrace of the prodigal patriarch. Of course, given the long arc that each story line can have in a show with so many episodes, I knew that LIB could very well develop the story very differently. But grrrrrr, I was so furious at the grandpa and the rest of the family for subjecting grandma to double the insult that I deleted all my downloads in a fit after some episode. Unlike you, I did not find the grandpa character the least bit endearing (The actor, who’s actually a veteran in the industry, does a great job), at least not before I gave up LIB (which was shortly after the grandma finds out that everyone has been sheltering grandpa). I wanted him to suffer, suffer, suffer, and suffer some more before grandma would even consider considering to forgive him. I wanted him sick from eating humble pie before being allowed back into grandma’s good graces and him to continue to eat humble pie for the remainder of the series. Yeah, for good or bad, I’m of the camp that believes forgiveness must be earned.

    So, I am curious: does the drama develop the grandma/grandpa arc in a way that won’t have me cursing Korea as the bastion of patriarchy? If it does, I’d like to finish seeing the story’s treatment of Taesub/Kyungsoo storyline.

    Thanks in advance, and I hope you can see from all these responses, including mine, the power of your writing. Your review was so lovely that it moved me to consider watching LIB again.

    • Hi anais,

      I agree completely with julier’s reply (thank you, julier!) that LIB does a fantastic job with the grandparents’ story arc. Our grandma’s pain is real and deep and she never lets her philanderer of a husband forget it. I adore the grandpa, not because I condone what he did, but because the actor is so amazing in his role, and because this particular storyline is so layered and well written. He knows he did ill by her, he knows he was a rotten husband and father, he’s doing his best (as an 87-year-old who’s pretty much set in his ways) to make amends. I love seeing how he tries to help her with chores even though she never lets up in her tirades against him. At the end of the day this is a couple who had three sons together. How long should she hate him? I don’t think she ever really forgives him, but as julier said, she takes him back (most grudgingly) because in the end it’s the right thing to do.

      About most of the family members readily accepting his return, I think it’s because Byung-tae and Min-jae are good and decent folks (who raised good and decent kids). Everyone deserves a shot at forgiveness, and it’s not like the grandpa was an abusive man who physically hurt his wife (who was a strong and capable woman herself). Like his mom, Byung-tae just wanted to do the right thing.

      Finally (and interestingly), the drama never portrays the grandpa as the patriarch of the house, someone to be obeyed and feared. With every passing episode, it becomes more evident that this is simply an old (and harmless) man who’s growing older and feebler. I seriously don’t think you will dislike him quite as much as you watch the drama to its end. 😀

  12. Thanks thundie so much for your wonderful review. I’ve stopped by several times to reread it, enjoy the comments, look at the screen caps and remember this beautiful drama. No lie about our King being awesome uh? keke

    Anais, I do understand what you are saying, and I too felt that Grandma was given a tough pill to swallow that is completely unfair. But, they do a fantastic job of portraying all sides of the issue (same with the outing of a gay family member). I think there is mention too that men taking multiple wives was common place on Jeju following the Korean War, so I took this as a cultural issue. Not all Grandma’s son’s embrace their father and give him their forgiveness. And, Grandma keeps Grandpa eating humble pie to the end. It made me love and respect Grandma with all my heart. She took him in because she felt like in the end it was the right thing to do. I admire that. There is one scene in the later episodes where Grandpa is grieving over the death of one of his former “wives”. Grandma is obviously hurt by it and goes into the kitchen to fix him a meal, her hurt showing on her face. I totally cried my eyes out feeling her pain. Life is hard! It is so worth watching this storyline play out so give it a try!

    Thanks everyone for their comments. I am so happy to read everyone’s love for this show!

    • Thanks, julier dear! I owe you and soluna and langdon813 for getting me on the LIB train. All three of you helped to sub the drama and I can’t thank you enough! Muahhh!!

  13. Oh you nailed it. This drama put a real smile on my face. I didn’t finish watching it, but the 30 episodes I did watch were so sweet.

    My only problem is that I think Kyungsoo doesn’t deserve Taesub. For some reason, Kyungsoo just never registers to me. He’s nice and everything, but he (or rather the actor) gives out this weird vibe that keeps me from liking him. As the drama grew to put a lot of emphasis to this pairing, I lost interest.

    Kim Youngchul and Kim Haesook are without a doubt the best couple in this drama, or any other drama, really. I love how balanced their relationship is, especially within the context of partriarchal Korea. They are considerate, so understanding, so sweet to each other.

    Thundie, if I were to pick it up again, from what episode you think I should watch? I kinda don’t want to watch the 33 other episodes…

    • Hi deeta!

      Oh oh… how can you dislike our Kyung-soo and say that he does not deserve Tae-sub? *cries* From a completely objective and analytical point of view, I think he totally deserves Tae-sub because he loves more deeply, gives up more (a lot more), and also suffers more. I don’t want to spoil the later episodes for you, but Kyung-soo’s commitment to Tae-sub is extremely moving. And no, I don’t think the drama over-emphasized this pairing. Maybe the last few episodes that you watched had a lot of Kyungtae scenes because that was where we had the aftermath of Tae-sub’s bombshell, and also where Kyung-soo’s mom went full throttle with her opposition.

      Hmm, I think you should pick up where you stopped! 😆

  14. What I see here is your tender heart , dear Thundie . I am not afraid of long dramas ; yet I am longing for them whan they are as good as Yi San or The sons of Sol Pharmacy’s house . But I am hooked – I don’t know how by the poster or by the actors . Here despite all your efforts nothing draws me in .
    I take advantage of you mentioning it to say again how I loved Park Yong woo in Jejoongwon , my best k actor , with Park Sun Young my best k actress .
    Thanks for your post.

    • LOL, alex, I always knew I sucked at persuasion!

      But at least we agree that PYW was the best actor of 2010 hands down! 😀

  15. beautiful write-up. i love the scriptwriter of this drama, but this drama had too many annoying characters and somewhat stale dialog so I ended up stopping somewhere around ep. 15 or so, but the drama was all about love.

    On JJW, i think PYW was good, but i actually liked Yeon Jeong Hoon more, both the character he played and his portrayal. i didn’t know he could act like this. WOW.

  16. I’m not inclined to watching anything above 30 episodes, but for some reason* I can’t seem to refuse to watch anything you recommend… sigh… 63 hours of my life is now pledged to this… 😛

    *I don’t watch war films because I find them hard to stomache. But after reading your entries, I gave Comrades a go. It was the best drama I watched in 2010. The same went for SKKS, Joseon X-files, Taereung National Village etc… Perhaps this is why… 🙂

  17. I can’t thank you enough for recommending this drama. I’m only on episode 5 but I’m already in love. It’s such a relief not to be anxious about what will happen next in a drama. Every episode is such a soothing one. I just love this. And it just gets better and better too.

    • Hi millie10468, I’m thrilled that you are loving LIB! Yay!!

      I believe Tae-sub and Kyung-soo have been dating for two years before the start of the drama. The drama spans a year (more or less); in a late episode Kyung-soo mentions that they have been together three years.

      • Oh, thanks for the quick reply. So that means Chae-young was just a cover for Tae-sub and Kyung-soo. Do you know if Kyung-soo was already gay before he started dating Tae-sub?

        • The drama’s stand (and I’m going out on a limb here, based on what most of the characters say and believe) is that a gay person is born that way. So Kyung-soo was always gay, even before he got married and long before he met Tae-sub. Both men tried to hide their gayness, seeking to establish relationships with women so that the world would not suspect anything untoward. But meeting each other (and falling so deeply in love) gave each the courage to stop living a lie.

  18. Pingback: 30-Day K-Drama Challenge: The compact (and slightly twisted) version – thundie's prattle

  19. Pingback: Let’s talk spoilers – thundie's prattle

  20. Thanks Thundie for writing such a beautiful outline synopsis of the drama Life is beautiful It’s one of my most favorite drama. I love how the family support each other, loving, laughing, eating, and enjoying themselves everytime they are together in this drama. And i love Lee Sang Woo so much in this drama as well. He is so cute and good looking.

  21. I love this drama!! I loved Byung Jun’s frown face lol It was funny, especially when confronted with Ara.

    The only dislikes are: how the character Ara tried to act so Japanese (seemed stereotypical in a bad way, it felt forced too). And how Tae Sub and Kyung Soo lack sometimes chemistry. Like, sometimes their smiles look fake, Tae Sub can look awkward with him. But I guess it’s because of his introverted personality.

  22. I too am really enjoying this drama. Only on episode 36 so far, but I have all the episodes downloaded (and have plans to get in 3 or 4 episodes today). I find that I enjoy the 50 episode plus family dramas far more than any other genre.

    Anyway, as regards the gay storyline, I am not as invested in this as others are. I like Tae Sub, but I just cannot warm to Kyung soo at all, I find him a bit creepy to be honest, and a bit manipulative. Plus I really felt for Chae young, who looked so heartbroken when she left for Japan (does she come back in future episodes?). Perhaps I am not as invested because of this dislike for Kyung soo, but, be that as it may, I find the other romantic storylines more interesting,

  23. I’ve just started the drama (just watching episode 9) I think it’s good, I do think it’s a little too long for me but I can’t stop watching.
    I do dislike quite a few characters despite the fact that I like the drama a lot, the freeeloader guy who hangs around grandmother is terribly rude and insentivie, I’ve wanted to slap him multiple times already. Does he get better or will he stay this way?
    I don’t like the grandfather at all, I don’t think his scene’s are funny or touching despite the good script… I can’t get myself to like such a rude and stubborn character. Also the fact that no one seems to really choose grandma’s side is a little annoying, I hope this will get better. I do not want them to make up but judging from how it’s going it would be impossible for them not to end up together again?
    Some scene’s are a little dragged out and I feel it would’ve been better if some scene’s weren’t included at all but that’s just me I guess, I tend to think that way often.
    Anyway I hope the drama won’t disappoint me and even though there are a few things I strongly dislike I think it’s a good and enjoyable drama. I would recommend others to watch it 🙂

  24. Pingback: Life is Beautiful: Lessons on family love | Righteous Rabbit

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