Sunday, October 22, 2006

Primetime TV ruled by Koreanovelas

By Isah V. RedIsn’t it ironic that Philippine primetime television is ruled by drama series from Korea? But, that’s what it is these days.

Korea’s no. 1 TV drama for 2005 is now in GMA Network’s most popular primetime fare. It premiered on Feb. 13 and after close to eight weeks, My Name is Kim Sam Soon has won the hearts of female viewers all over the country as it speaks of women empowerment and proves that being plain doesn’t necessarily mean ugly.

Primetime on GMA-7 is capped by back-to-back Koreanovelas, with My Name is Kim Sam Soon airing after Encantadia and followed by the no. 1 Korean drama in 2004, Jewel in the Palace.
My Name is Kim Sam Soon is a charming romantic comedy. The heroine is neither sexy nor sophisticated; she is an old maid in Korean culture. Kim Sam Soon (played by Kim Sun Ah, who purposefully had to gain weight for the role) is actually referred to as the “Bridget Jones” of Korea (with the wild imagination of Ally McBeal).

Kim Sam Soon breaks the stereotype of a romantic hearoine—she is chubby, unglamorous, tactless, vulgar, and can speak her mind. She hates her name and wants to legally change it to Hanna. In spite of all this, her being honest, wonderful, and endearing makes her attractive to Cyrus (Hyun Bin), the guy who owns a French restaurant where Sam Soon works as a pastry chef.

The series spawned the “Sam Soon Syndrome” in Korea where women began to feel more empowered. It served as a reality check. A woman need not be slim and gorgeous to snag the rich, handsome guy next door. In reality, there really are more ordinary-looking women than the romanticized rich and pretty girls.

This unique romantic comedy begins one Christmas Eve when Kim Sam Soon was dumped by her boyfriend. She gets so depressed about it that she absent-mindedly goes into the men’s room. This is where she first encounters the rich and handsome Cyrus.

When Cyrus asks her to pose as his girlfriend. She agrees since she desperately needed the money to change her name. Yet she soon discovers that she can’t help but fall truly in love with him. And just when it seems Cyrus is starting to care about her, Hanna (Jung Ryeo Won) comes back from Los Angeles.

I have been hooked to My Name is Kim Sam Soon since it premiered on GMA-7. While Jewel in the Palace seems like an epic and therefore interesting, what I found charming in Kim Sam Soon is the naturalistic approach to the story. In the original Korean version, Sam Soon narrates her story and how she fell in and out of love with Cyrus.

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