Dal Ja’s Spring – First Impressions

I have to admit – I’m pretty behind if I’m watching a drama that’s three years old. But I kept seeing it referenced to in forums and it was recommended to me as well. So I gave it a try.

Dal Ja’s Spring is about a 33-year old Oh Dal Ja (played by Chae Rim, unrecognizable if you compare how she looked in All About Eve or Oh My Lady). She decided to focus on her career more than her love life, but when finally a guy who showed interest in her unceremoniously dumps her (without a spoken word or a call or a text or a Facebook message or a Tweet, mind you), she decides to take revenge – by hiring 26-year-old Kang Tae Bong (Lee Min Ki), who works for a dating service as a boyfriend-for-hire. But she also encounters Uhm Ki Joong (Chae Rim’s costar in Oh My Lady, Lee Hyun Woo), who is the kind of guy that’s perfect to bring home to your parents.

Kim Jae Wook even makes a brief appearance in this drama (which got me all excited for this drama even more). The story felt very typical – love contract, older woman with younger guy – kind of like: (Full House – celebrity status) + My Name is Kim Sam Soon + a dash of The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry.

The drama is written by the same person who did Hotelier.

What’s interesting is that the drama moves quickly and doesn’t dwell too much on Dal Ja wallowing in self-pity. The first episode really sets up the premise, but the second episode seems to turn it on its head. In the first episode, we meet Wee Seon Joo (played by Lee Hye Young) whom we expect to be a love rival to Dal Ja. She’s mean, pretty, the star of the show, and also the one who “stole” the guy (Shin Sae Do, played by Gong Hyung Jin), and yet by the second episode she actually helps Dal Ja with a last minute broadcast, even catching a cab for the unsuccessful Dal Ja. On top of that, she learns a bit about the scheme between Dal Ja and Tae Bong. She doesn’t know that Dal Ja paid Tae Bong to be her boyfriend, but she knows that it’s a fake relationship meant to preserve Dal Ja’s pride and to get back at Sae Do. And yet, Seon Joo does nothing about it. She keeps it to herself. For now.

I think that it’s a pretty interesting tactic for the second episode. I can feel that something is going to happen with Seon Joo, but it doesn’t have to either. Seon Joo and Sae Do represent Dal Ja’s working life, and in a way if they all act as professionals, it’ll be interesting to see how Dal Ja balances both. She’s already pretty mature in rejecting Sae Do and also choosing to not continue a fake relationship with Tae Bong. And on top of that, I think Seon Joo can see right through Sae Do – maybe she and Dal Ja can be allies? Either way – she makes for a cool second lead.

I find Tae Bong’s character a little funny. He’s continually running from loan sharks, which adds a bit of mystery to him. However, even though he called them debt collectors, I want to bet that these people are related to his family – that he’s actually a chaebol who ran away and they’re trying to “recapture” him. But since there’s this interesting side story, I think it helps a lot in making this drama engaging for me.

Dal Ja’s family is not the typical one either. While her mom does pressure her to date and marry, her grandmother acts as a sort of foil. Every thing that the mother claims to have done, the grandmother calls her out on it and says she did it better. I can relate to growing up in a household full of women – it makes you dysfunctional in a good way. 🙂 Dal Ja is pretty headstrong, and while I won’t give so much credit to her background, I’m sure it does add to it since she is forced to protect her pride herself, without a father to protect her or butter her up by saying that she is his little princess. There are no princesses in Dal Ja’s world.

I’m definitely going to keep watching this! And hopefully it turns out satisfactorily. I don’t mean the couplings work out, but that the whole process and the whole story line of the drama is consistent, engaging, and fast. (It is 22 episodes long.)

Oh – and the production art is amazing! I love how they designed the sets with those stylistic drawings of women and fashion. And every episode title card has a graphic drawing of Dal Ja and her men – now I see where dramabeans came up with those images I see on her site every so often! They’re beautiful, unique, and add a “flavor” to the drama that gives it a new vibe despite its old story.

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