The name’s Karl. Karl Go. Male lead character in Get Karl! Oh Soo-jung. What do you mean, you’ve never heard of my drama? Fine, I’ll concede that quality-wise we rank way down the pecking order in that year of sterling offerings, but I’ll have you know my drama boasts something that none of the other 2007 dramas can lay claim to.
A fat suit.
Sure, I looked like Barney the Purple Dinosaur in my fat suit, but is that my fault? Damned budget cuts eating into my prosthetic makeup and causing me to look like someone dunked my head into a tub of violet-red paint. Still, I was king of the kdrama fat suit and reigned without a rival for four heady years.
And then Romance Town (2011) came along. HE came along. Waaahhh!!!
Do you sense my anguish? Do you understand now why I’m crying a river of tears? The guy’s got more natural color in his cheeks! And more jowls, too. I look like a friggin’ rubber alien next to him!
But his hair. Bwahaha, which bowl did the hairstylist use? The largest one in the kitchen, I bet. Bowl over head, snip snip. That be 20,000 won, thank you.
Also, which actor looked happier donning the fat suit? The result may be
far less than desirous in my case, but at least Oh Ji-ho bore it all like a man. Jung Gyeo-woon? Like someone pinched his prized jar of candy. And frankly, that fat suit is obscene. Thankfully we didn’t have enough money to tack on those fake flat boobs. Ewww.
So I may have lost out, albeit just barely, in the most natural-looking fat-suit department, but did you see me eight years later? When I returned from America, not as the obese and heartbroken (more on the latter later) Go Man-soo but as Korea’s most successful golfer, Karl Go?
Eight years. Eight torturous years to shed the weight and emerge the stuff of dreams. Hearken to the screams that reverberated around the airport when I landed. Did anyone applaud when Kang Gun-woo returned to Seoul after three years, also from the States? And just three years to lose all that weight? Easy come, easy go. Bet you he’s going to regain it and more, just you wait.
What do you mean, I’m being peevish because I’m jealous? Me jealous because Gun-woo’s more dashing than me? Says who? Some starry-eyed blogger with a soft spot for Jung Gyeo-woon? Pay no heed to her vapid prattling.
So hell no, I’m absolutely not jealous of Gun-woo. Because suffering maketh the man, I’m more of a man than he is. After all, he didn’t get dumped like I got dumped, by the most beautiful and most mercenary woman in the world.
All right. I admit it still hurts. Getting jilted at the altar. Just because I failed the third stage of the bar exam, the first person in the history of Korea to fail the third stage of the goddamned bar exam.
I loved Oh Soo-jung so much. I hated law but pursued it, for her sake. Because she had said, way back in high school, that she would only marry a man who passed the bar exam. So I toiled, doggedly, giving her my heart and promising her the moon and stars.
If I could do it all over again, I would not have fallen for someone shallow and materialistic. Perchance then I would have met someone like No Soon-geum and fallen for her instead? Gun-woo, you lucky bastard.
Compared to what I went through, what sacrifices did Gun-woo have to make, and what heartbreak did he have to suffer? Granted he cried before he boarded his plane for New York, but it wasn’t because of a sweet girl that his tears flowed but because he was bidding farewell to the housekeeper who was both mother and grandmother to him. Did he even remember the girl with whom he shared snacks and space, when he was half-drunk and incoherent in his car? The girl who became penniless on his account, not that it was his fault, to be fair. The girl whose face was one-tenth of his.
Me? I remember everything. Every kiss between Soo-jung and me, even the forced ones that took me by surprise. Initiated by her, because she can be desperate that way.
Why did I choose to return after eight years? To have the last laugh. To pay Soo-jung back in kind. Because she made a fool of me at our wedding.
Incidentally, if you look at Uhm Jung-hwa, you wouldn’t think her capable of playing a laughing stock in a drama, but she’s a natural. In fact, some mean netizens go as far as to suggest that she’s the one carrying the show and that her male counterpart is like a
wooden newbie next to her impeccable comic timing. Hmph!
On the other hand, Sung Yu-ri’s comic timing isn’t too shabby, I suppose, and I’m not saying that just because we aren’t fat-suit rivals. Her Soon-geum is the heart of Romance Town (what kind of cheesy name is that, Show?), endearing herself to the audience in so many ways and deservedly, too. She’s also really pretty, isn’t she? Wait, did I just praise my competitor’s girl?
Well, I’m nothing but magnanimous. Let’s heap the praise on Soon-geum then, this girl whose mom (and also grandma) was a maid and who was adamant that Soon-geum never walk in her footsteps. But with her mother dead and gone, and with circumstances commingling to bring her to an estate of stately homes, and thus to a housekeeping job that would pay more than enough to alleviate her monetary woes, our spunky girl seized the day and decided to make hay while the sun shone.
Wait, did I just use “our”? Wretched fat suits causing me to forget which show I’m supposed to be championing. Did I also just string two clichés side by side? Drat.
Of course Romance Town can’t hold a candle to the gem that is Get Karl! Oh Soo-jung. Not just because my fat suit is fatter, but because the crème de la crème of kdrama veterans plays Soo-jung’s father. The sweetest, gentlest, most guileless father. Compare him to Soon-geum’s incorrigible gambler of a dad.
One image makes you squeal, the other makes you shriek. I thus don’t get why more people aren’t watching my show and are instead raving about Romance Town. One blogger whose name I’m not going to bother mentioning couldn’t stop posting one gush-filled tweet after another on Twitter, even changing her blog header mid-watch. Seriously, there’s no accounting for taste, drama or otherwise, these days. So my show’s not as clever or charmingly quirky, eh? And not half as original or refreshing? But what’s so refreshing about a drama that revolves around a bunch of pompous quacks and their maids? So what the imposing interiors and manicured lawns, if everything’s just for show and there are seemingly devious forces lurking beneath the carefully cultivated facades?
What do you mean, it’s exactly all those reasons that are enthralling viewers?
Fine. Bet you can’t top this cameo then. A blink-and-miss cameo notwithstanding, you do recognize that face, don’t you? And I’m not going to tell you in which episode, too, so that you’re forced to watch all of my drama just to catch a glimpse of him, ha!
Who’s the one in the corner cackling in delight at Kim Young-ok’s cameo in Romance Town? Quiet!!
Just so people know, especially the ones whining about Oh Ji-ho’s lack of acting chops, Get Karl’s cast is not to be sniffed at. Ta da, presenting everyone’s favorite potty-mouthed slave hunter in Chuno!
Wait a sec, did you just whisper, “What’s a slave hunter when the sweetest King Jeongjo ever is part of the veteran cast in Romance Town?” Playing a loan shark this time but still sweet as honey, he is. Sparring not with words but wads of cash, all the while sporting a kindly grin and a most becoming bandage. With a lolly, to boot.
I can’t beat that, no. Not in Joseon and definitely not now.
Okay, this calls for fresh tactics. Specifically of the juvenile kind.
Cute kid in Get Karl? Check!
Cuter-than-cute kids in Romance Town? Check, check, check…
This is not going as I planned. Mom!
And forget trying to compete in the second-male-lead department, too. Not when the one in my drama is all kinds of slimy. Not to mention being a swindler. But then again, I’m the one using him to get back at Soo-jung. Asking him to toy with her heart before dumping her at the altar. Tit for tat. I know the pretext is nauseating for some folks and may explain why my drama was dropped after five episodes by one blogger, not that you can trust her taste in dramas. Still, don’t you judge me. I may be Korea’s most gifted golfer, but my heart’s as fragile as yours.
Kim Min-joon’s Kim Young-hee’s heart, on the other hand… I don’t know. The guy’s a loafer and “subsists” (bwahaha, don’t you just love my sense of irony?) on proceeds from offloading his late granddad’s sought-after paintings. A total bad hat, if you ask me. He makes you laugh? Then I have nothing to say. Your sense of humor is warped, like the entire premise of Romance Town. Hahaha. That’s in your face, by the way.
Yes, I know, I’m sounding increasingly testy. You would be as well, if you were in my shoes. No, it’s not an inferiority complex. I came first, remember? Prior to the weight loss, I had better hair, too. The kind you want to run your fingers through. Can you imagine running your fingers through Gun-woo’s rounder-than-the-moon wig? That’s right, a wig! Mine’s all real!
My drama’s all kinds of win. You want laughs, we have it. Try keeping a straight face when Soo-jung’s dad blew apart the manhole covering the sewer pipes. Laughed till I tore a seam in my fat suit. What do you mean, I wasn’t in that scene? I laughed vicariously, okay?
And if you want gallantry, we have it, too. Never mind that it’s of the deceitful kind; gallantry is still gallantry. So what if Gun-woo was all chivalrous toward Soon-geum after he returned from New York? She broke her heel and he let her use his shoe as a footrest. Even hopped with her, just so she wouldn’t look silly hopping all alone. Their chemistry so sizzling and so very sweet. No, I didn’t say that, you did.
I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.
Fine, Romance Town wins. Go and watch your Episode 4. Go cup your chin in your palms and swoon at Jung Gyeo-woon. Go stare at the three hundred screen captures that you took of the first three episodes.
Just don’t forget this. My fat suit’s bigger than Gun-woo’s.