Exploring Korean Drama: All About My Romance

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Min Young made a name for herself through her fiery criticism of the ruling party.  She’d look like a hypocrite if she started dating a member of it.  At least, that’s what the show wants us to believe, and I buy it to an extent.  I’d buy it even more if not for one simple fact: Soo Young is a known dissenter.  He has a reputation for being a middle-of-the-road representative.

Even just during the time frame of the show he’s gone on public record multiple times as being for Assembly-wide cooperation, as decrying politics for being such a partisan game, and claiming that no politicians are really that different.  As the series progresses, he supports legislation proposed by/that’s important to the Green Justice Party.  Surely a well-written press release or a heartfelt appeal to the public would be enough to make any but the most belligerent dissenters (and there’s no pleasing such people anyway) supportive or at least understanding of a relationship between Min Young and Soo Young?

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How is dating the guy a bigger scandal than cracking him in the face with this?

I wouldn’t have minded the potential controversy story if it wasn’t the central conflict of the show.  Min Young’s caught hitting National Assembly members over the head with fire hydrants (it’s how she meets Soo Young, actually), tossing glass tumblers at GKP leader’s head, and refusing to apologize on the National Assembly Floor.  All of those controversies, which reflect far more on a politician’s character (especially because two of them happened in front of camera crews while she was on the job) blow over in the span of a few episodes.  But her dating the GKP’s well-known rogue member could end her career?  I just didn’t buy it.

Later, other controversies bubble up that further push Min Young to consider resigning, but she only thinks the most about doing so after her relationship with Soo Young goes public.  I also hated that it was implied that, if a fall was required, Min Young would be the one to take it.  Yes, she was involved in more controversies than Soo Young.  But he’s the jaded one, the one who doesn’t have a passion for politics anymore and believes the system is broken.  He’s also the one who’s smitten faster, who, once he recognizes his crush, seems more concerned with it than with his daily responsibilities.

If someone had to resign or apologize for their relationship (which I’m still not buying), why must it be Min Young and not Soo Young?  Soo Young was even prepared to do so, but Min Young wouldn’t hear of it.  It doesn’t make sense, unless it’s just because she’s the woman.  Yes, there were the aforementioned controversies, but I wanted more development from Soo Young’s side.  We understood Min Young’s reasons for going into politics.  The show never really spelled out Soo Young’s, and if it had just done that, then the way things played out might have made more sense.

All About My Romance suffers from a sadly common problem in kdramas: it starts off strong and promising, with a fresh, interesting, addictive premise and world.  But then it succumbs to melodrama or typical tricks in its second half.  The first half of the series was audacious in its parody.  National Assembly members were characterized as children playing petty tricks to get ahead.  Parties engaged in schoolyard games against each other, only this schoolyard was the National Assembly floor — a floor on which, in the opening episode, a political stalemate results in representatives camping out in the chambers, texting, and playing card games during a filibuster-style political move.

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Staying in my happy place instead.

Such events in All About My Romance were like a balm.  The show just came out earlier this year in Korea, and it proves that we’re not the only ones fed up with our legislative branch.  We’re not the only country where it seems like our Congress is more concerned with juvenile grudges and refusals to compromise.  That’s the show I started watching: a scathing parody that gets away with it all in the guise of over-the-top humor, with an adorable romance to round it out.  If that had continued the whole way through the show, All About My Romance would be one of my favorite kdramas.

As it is, it’s still a good show, especially the first half of the series.  Revel in the political commentary and adorable relationship.  Ditch the show part way through if it stops working for you.  The failure of the second half of the series doesn’t completely tarnish its first half, and All About My Romance is still worth a watch for that.

Kdrama tropes to watch out for: The study abroad, birth secrets, sins of the father.  The first and third are the most egregious, because they make so little sense; they’re especially lazy attempts at late hour melodrama/conflict.  Min Young travels abroad for a year despite the fact that she has partial guardianship of her niece?  No.  She breaks up with Soo Young because it turns out his hated absentee father —who abandoned him in infancy — is the man Soo Young believes might somehow be responsible for her sister’s death in a car accident?  Even if that is true (and she has little reason to believe it), Soo Young has still been just as victimized by this man as Min Young: how does that prevent their being together?  Boo.


You can stream All About My Romance from Viki or Hulu.

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