This was a phenomenal hit when it was shown in my country back in 2004. In Korea, it reached above the 50% ratings while it was still on broadcast at SBS. This isn’t surprising to know because it has the classic plot everyone is familiar with. But for me, this became a top favourite not only because of the Cinderella-ish plot line, but because of the amazing chemistry between Kim Jung Eun and Park Shin Yang. More than the OTP, Lee Dong Gun stole my heart and introduced me to SLS (Second Lead Syndrome) in this series as well.
Let’s reminisce and travel to Paris, where one of the most romantic pairing and classic love affair begun to unfold.
Kang Tae Young (Kim Jung Eun) is a struggling working student in Paris. She wanted to become a film director like her father. She is clumsy and her amnesia is incurable. To pay the bills and rent, she is a part-timer in any job she could find. Amidst life’s difficulties, Tae Young remained steadfast and unscathed. She has no money to spare but with lots of heart she was able to withstand every trial that came along.
Han Ki Joo (Park Shin Yang) is an heir to one of Korea’s top conglomerate. As a chaebol he’s path is already carved out for him. After a failed marriage, he spent time in Paris to grow his business and became strong enough to lead his own way. I had fallen in love with his character. Or should I say, I find him attractive because of the way he is in love with Tae Young. He has this lovable and manly aura, like a White Knight protecting Tae Young from enemies. Tae Young fell for him deeply. He may not be the most handsome Prince out there, but his charms is definitely captivating.
Yoon Soo Hyuk (Lee Dong Gun) is a trouble-maker at best who wants to get attention from his family. He is carefree and does everything he wants without considering what others feel. He’s a good guy, and the sweetest man to Tae Young. I fell for that! But sometimes, when love happens, it changes people. Soo Hyuk went through with it and the outcome isn’t pleasant. The SLS was inevitable as Soo Hyuk experience one of the worst kind of hope torture a Korean drama second lead could make one feel.
Tae Young first met Ki Joo on the street in Paris while she was manning as a cigarette vendor for her friend. One thing led to the next until Ki Joo discovers that Tae Young is the woman he hired as his maid. He’s a strict boss, though he gives generously when the work done deserves it. A business deal led Ki Joo to use Tae Young. She helped him persuade a businessman to finalize the partnership. An unfortunate event happened and they separated badly in Paris.
As they bicker their way to romance, Soo Hyuk established his building blocks of hope.
Everyone went back to Korea, where the real love was honed. Tae Young had only one purpose why she returned, to pay respect to her diseased father. But fate has a better plan on hand that made Tae Young stay in Seoul permanently. Her uncle (Song Dong Il) became the stumbling block. Uncle is also an aspiring film director who had a son to raise, or should I say suffer with. Tae Young was then forced to work at Ki Joo’s company to repay the debt that his Uncle incurred. A man who is too nice to a woman is really suspicious, but the couple are oblivious at first. But then love find its way. To cut the story short, they chose to be together even if Ki Joo’s family opposed it. This classic chaebol twist never gets old.
Ki Joo knows Tae Young’s worth, more than anything in his life. They are both strong individual that managed every trial that came their way. Though there was one obstacle that hindered them from getting married. For those who haven’t watched this, I won’t spoil it for you. One thing is certain, the separation after the engagement made me love Ki Joo even more. I saw a man truly in love who was deeply in pain as well. That moment when he cried talking to his Noona about the unbearable pain he felt losing Tae Young, I swear, I cried buckets.
One of my favourite time jumps was shown here. Tae Young and Ki Joo had to be separated, not just to forget the pain but to have the time to fulfil their own dreams and find meaning of what it means to live. Tae Young went back to Paris to continue her studies in film while Ki Joo lived their too, this time as a man living a simple life.
They met again of course! But how? For some, you have to find it out yourself.
Pool Scene – Tae Young was harshly fired by Ki Joo. He was unwilling to let her go but he had to, or his father will do it worse. This was a tension-filled scene. At first they were simply talking about a wine that has a potion that can make a person’s memory disappear. It was a tactic that Ki Joo used to soften the blow, but he was caught unprepared the way Tae Young dealt with it. This was a breaking point for Ki Joo. Though Tae Young was the one who fell on the pool, Ki Joo proved that he already drowned in her love. Cheeseballs! Sorry that just came out.
Piano Scene – It’s a personal weakness when a man plays the piano. Tae Young had a bad experience receiving insults from Ki Joo’s Dad and hurting Soo Hyuk more, all in one day. Ki Joo found out that Tae Young went to their company and he had a clue that something bad transpired. Tae Young’s facial expression confirmed it. Just a little cheer-me-up, Ki Joo sung and played the piano for her in front of some hotel guests. This serenade still brings me to love heaven.
I can’t find a cut from the original. But Park Shin Yang sung it beautifully here. Though I miss the piano.. this will suffice.
Post Engagement honeymoon!
The couple endured the obstacle of separation due to the family chaebol issue. They deserve this kind of break! It’s all about love and happiness. So let’s take a gander looking at these photos. They are just so in love!
Tae Young: I read this in a book. Do you know Hope Torture? The best thing one can do for someone who loves her is of course loving him. Loving each other. But if she doesn’t love him, she shouldn’t leave any hope for him. Because even the smallest hope can be a tremendous torture to him.
Well, this is a lesson learned long time ago. But the SLS comes and go every now and then. Even if this lesson has been used a million times over, we simply can’t help but cling onto hope. It’s a powerful feeling that can drive a person. Unrequited love hurts badly and Soo Hyuk is the best person to understand this. I am not a fan of his journey. He didn’t have to be bitter and selfish because this will never win any woman’s heart. Greed and jealousy over Ki Joo just got into his system badly. When he became someone who plants evil deeds, I understood then why Tae Young didn’t choose him over Ki Joo.
Tae Young was firm and very straight forward when dealing with Soo Hyuk. But his heart didn’t easily gave way, and he suffered badly because of it.
On the upside, experiencing SLS for the first time in this series was fun. Lee Dong Gun is ruggedly handsome! Forgive me, this was shown back in the days where eye candy is a plus to keep on watching.
Watching 20 episodes is such a breeze! Forget the fashion of Tae Young or the hideous necktie of Ki Joo, back in 2004 it was a hit. That aside, Lovers in Paris speaks for itself. Its romantic, fantasy-like and easy-breezy.
Tae Young and Ki Joo are my post-it couple. I love the exchange of notes that started in Paris and stayed until they were engaged. Tae Young is just too sweet, I think Ki Joo didn’t find it hard to love her. She was never about his money, and she gives value to a person’s character. A sincere apology works better than millions of dollars, even if she’s struggling and tempted to accept it. The story showed how genuine Tae Young’s heart is, love just blossomed and Ki Joo was the lucky man to have her.
Love always lead us somewhere, and this Korean drama not only showed us Paris but experience love that is not simply a fairy tale. The characters did a great job that made me enjoy the journey they all have been through. And that’s the reason why classic Korean dramas is loved, even on repeats.
Full Credits: SBS | Xiang and Lovers in Paris Soompi Thread