I was initially iffy about watching tVn’s Her Private Life so close to the heels of another Park Min Young drama What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? because the latter was really too shallow to even blog about. However, after Her Private Life concluded, I found myself shrugging off my initial reservations and binging on the drama. Good thing because I really found it a thoroughly enjoyable watch.
Synopsis: Sung Deok Mi (Park Min Young) is the very capable curator of Chaeum Gallery in Seoul but in her spare time, she is a hard core fangirl of Kpop idol Cha Shi An (One). Her fangirling is a closely guarded secret she shares only with her closest friends Nam Eun Gi (Ahn Bo Hyun) and Seon Joo (Park Jin Joo). While participating in an auction in China, she meets hotshot artist/gallery director Ryan Gold (Kim Jae Wook) who outbids her for a painting that she wants to give as a gift to Shi An. After trying to con him out of the painting, Ryan was revealed as the new director of Chaeum.
I must say that Her Private Life revived my love for Park Min Young as a romcom actress. She really gives her all portraying these goofy roles just as she gives justice to dramatic roles that she picks up. I found myself laughing out loud with her campy dream sequences more times than I can count.
In Her Private Life, Park Min Young shines the spotlight on the art of fangirling and the delicate balance that needs to be achieved between one’s professional and personal life. Fans (especially of Kpop idols) can definitely relate to her efforts to follow each and every event and report on idol activities even better than their agencies. The sasaeng level fandom like Sindy/ Hyo Jin (Bora) and the rivalry among fans is also a fun and insightful topic that is based on reality. Its a perfect hook to get viewers invested in the series and its a unique concept that has not yet been tackled in the Kdrama world, not that I recall.
I liked the fact that they also cast an actual idol as Cha Shi An, the charismatic vocalist and composer of the fictional White Ocean. One (Jung Je Won), as a rapper is quite talented and as an actor, he has charisma and that air of innocence that will win the hearts of viewers for sure. I loved the way he portrayed his tiredness of the limelight, his dedication to his work, and his eventual relationship with his upstairs neighbor Ryan Gold. It was a worthy bromance to follow.
Kim Jae Wook is an excellent actor, shifting from different roles easily and committing to each assignment fully. As a hottie barista in Coffee Prince, a menacing killer in Voice and now as a tough yet vulnerable tsundere character Ryan Gold, Kim Jae Wook shows off different sides to his acting and nails each role perfectly. I loved that apart from the first two episodes of being surly, Ryan Gold thaws early in the face of an adorable secret fangirl, apologizes sincerely for his mistakes and just goes putty in Deok Mi’s hands. He also goes to great comical lengths to get to know her (pretending to be a fangirl on her fansite) and even spending all night to perfect a quiz to level up as a fan.
Ryan Gold is also standup guys who respects her parents and shows his weak sides only to her. I also love how gently he treats his Deok Mi. No wonder she fell heads over heels for him without even realizing it.
I love the chemistry between Kim Jae Wook and Park Min Young, especially the knowing sideways look that they often throw at each other and the secret smiles they share, as if they had a world of their own. The fact that this drama depicted how it was to be in a mature relationship, with understanding and open communication made it even more engaging. Rather than let misunderstandings and jealousy brew for episodes on end, Her Private Life was quick to resolve its conflicts, mainly because the leads chose to open their hearts and not keep secrets from each other — like mature adults.
Like the picture puzzle that the artist Lee Sol created with her paintings, the story progressed in a similar fashion, establishing the main conflicts and leaving bits and pieces for viewers to nibble on until they reveal bigger parts of the picture. The emotional parts were not forced but rather felt like it belonged to each part of the story.
The supporting characters also deserve credit for being amazing. Actress Kim Mi Kyung is seriously underrated in her field. I’ve seen her play countless mother roles in Kdramas and she gets me every single time. I loved how each character showed their loyalty to each other but the MVP for me was most definitely Director Eom So Hye (Kim Sun Young). I love how she says Oh My Gosh without the h and Oh My God without the d. She cracked me up with each appearance.
Viewers will also have some second lead syndrome because there were times that Nam Eun Gi felt like he was being patterned after Ko Dong Man of Fight for My Way. However, because the production team knew what they set out to do, it increasingly becomes clear that there was really no contest when it comes to Deok Mi’s affection. I love Eun Gi’s loyalty and genuine heart and wanted him to have a happy ending for himself too. I was happy that he also found happiness in the end.
All in all, Her Private Life was so much more that its fangirling concept. It was an engaging journey about finding love, redemption, endings and beginnings in the most unexpected places. It doesn’t take an overly complicated plot or tons of kissing scenes (although the good news is that Her Private Life has plenty) to make a wonderful Kdrama work. A well planned story, with the addition of a great cast, great script and great soundtrack makes for a memorable Kdrama and this one is it.