The Prime Minister and I: A Review

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It was quite a journey to finish this drama. I have to admit I watched it almost religiously every week in the beginning until the last two episodes. I think that tells a lot about the series as much as it tells about me. On my part, I will blame busy-ness as why it took me so long to finish the drama. On the other hand, this drama was seriously boring.

In this drama we have the bright young Yoona playing Nam Da Jung, an equally bright and young photojournalist for a gossip magazine. Playing opposite her, we have the dignified, older Lee Beom Soo playing an equally dignified and older prime minister Kwon Yool. Put them together and we have a seriously odd couple that we are supposed to root for.

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Da Jung and Kwon Yool could not be any more different from each other. Da Jung has no qualms about invading celebrities’ personal lives for the sake of her making some money because it’s her job to be nosy. That doesn’t mean she’s hateful though. Da Jung is also charming and a typical Candy Girl who will do anything to help her father, who’s suffering from Alzheimers. On the other hand, Kwon Yool is too much of a righteous stick in the mud. That can be beneficial for him because he’s surrounded by a bunch of corrupt politicians (including his ex-brother-in-law) but it’s also bad because it makes him quite boring. Sometimes I felt that he was too righteous for his own good because in the end his pursuits for justice are not really that important! His pursuits are not even important to the story because the main plot of this drama is his love life. Their romance is the only thing that matters.

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Now let us throw in some kids into the mix. We have the eldest son Woo Ri who dislikes being stifled by his father but is still the obedient, well-achieving son. The middle child is Na Ra, a precocious young girl who can be quite bratty. And the youngest Man Se, who’s literally the most adorable kid in the planet but seems to be a bit too old for his baby-ish antics. When Da Jung ends up becoming their stepmother of sorts, only Man Se takes a liking to her because he’s young and just wants a playmate.

Da Jung unbelievably decides that the only way to save Kwon Yool’s reputation after both are caught in a compromising situation is to pretend to be his girlfriend. I’m kind of amazed still at how she decided on that all by herself without truly consulting Kwon Yool on that bit. I’m also amazed that she must have taken such a liking to him immediately to make this self-sacrificing decision. When their relationship escalates to the point where they both must marry, I’m further stunned at the reasons pushing them to this fake marriage. Since when does it matter if a Prime Minister must be married or not? And is it truly that important to have her father see her get married?

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The whole father-with-Alzheimers story makes me feel conflicted because it makes me question how much sympathy I should have for the characters, and therefore how easily I should accept their decisions. I understand that Da Jung and her father are very close, and I can see why she wants to make him happy and comfortable when he lives out the remaining days of his life. I also can understand that she may want her father to walk her down the aisle one day, and therefore feels pressured to marry. But while I can see her wanting to make her father happy, I don’t feel it. This might be due to Yoona’s acting but the script also makes it feel a bit rushed because we know from the start that they’re going to get married, reasons be damned. I also feel that it’s a little unreasonable to have Kwon Yool feel so much sympathy for Da Jung’s father that he feels enormous pressure to make this father happy. This goes back to how Kwon Yool can be too righteous for his own good, and that makes it even harder for me to accept that marriage had to be the only answer.

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Once I was forced to get over all that, it still took me a while to get used to seeing Da Jung and Kwon Yool together. Their age gap was so apparent it was difficult to ignore the possibility that he just married his student. Or his daughter. They eventually won me over as the episodes went by because their banter was so amusing to watch. Watching them interact with each other and seeing Lee Beom Soo sometimes act so childishly acclimated me to the idea that they could be perfect for each other.

But once we got into the plots of his first wife coming back and Da Jung returning to the nursing home to care for her father, I became disenchanted by the idea of Kwon Yool and Da Jung being together. They just did not fit, and once again I felt like I was watching a teacher-student relationship again. I know that they tried really hard to make it work, but by the last few episodes the coupling seemed unreasonable to me. It might be partially attributed to the writing at that point, and not so much the acting. By the end of the drama, I seriously just wanted all the drama, all the lovesick stares, and all the moping to just end. I disliked that so many issues were easily dispelled with Kwon Yool’s smooth words. What made his speech magic? It’s not like he said anything special, but for some reason everyone just believes this stiff, proud man.

I was underwhelmed by the ending, which was unnecessary in many ways. I admit that I liked them not kissing at the end because that would have just been too awkward. Also, the scenario of having the girl use the guy and their romance to get further in life was better depicted in Cheongdamdong Alice than in this drama.

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AS FOR THE ACTING. I think I’ll have to blame the writing more than the actual actors in this case because I think they all did a fair job with the role given to them. However no one really tried to make their role exceptional or stand out. It’s as if everyone just acted their characters whichever way the script called for them to act. Ryu Jin, who played Park Joon Ki, was one such actor because his character kept flip-flopping between sides. He was also really annoying as an antagonist who wasn’t really an antagonist. But Ryu Jin didn’t give his character more depth or make him more interesting than he needed to be. Yoon Si Yoon was another actor whom I was disappointed in. He was awkward and looked way too young to be taken seriously in the role he was in. I just could not watch him long for Da Jung from a distance. Yoon Hae Young, who played Joon Ki’s wife Yoon Hee, was intolerable. Most of the minor characters (especially the reporters) were over the top because they were the comedic relief. But Yoon Hee shouldn’t have been the comedic relief. She just ended up being ridiculous and overwrought.

I’m not too happy with this drama, even though I did stick it out. It’s possible that I expected a bit too much from a romantic comedy, but not all romantic comedies had to be as inane as this one. I expected some legitimate drama in both the Blue House and at home, not just one where a supposedly-dead mother actually reappears and “threatens” Da Jung’s position in a household that she was never truly a part of. If this drama is about finding a family outside of your own family, well, other dramas have done it better. Or if it was about a forced living situation then this drama made the situation really contrived. I didn’t mind that The Prime Minister and I was pretty much a knock-off of “The Sound of Music” and “The King and I”, but I’m disappointed that the drama couldn’t even really convey the spirit of those classic films.

I credit my mom for being the inspiration to finish this drama. We watched it together but she watched the final two episodes before I did. And if she could do it, then I could do it.

Verdict: 5/10. Geh.

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