Romance Town (2011) Drama Review

Romance Town began with several of the other May madness dramas and just ended last week. I’ve been watching the drama, but have not commented on it because I couldn’t solidify my own opinion on the series.

The drama is grossly misnamed. It has nothing to do with romance in a town, nor does it even take place in a town setting. Rather, it would’ve been better had it been called “1st Street Lottery” or even “Maids,” which the production had originally been named. However, because of the derogatory connotations behind the word maids (must be a Korean thing), people were displeased and the drama renamed itself “Romance Town.” This show is like a roller coaster ride. The back and forth pull between the characters had me excited, sad, appalled, and just sitting at the edge of my seat. While this is nothing like an action thriller, the use of money as the force behind every action is understandable and is appealing to almost all audiences.

Characters:

Sung Yuri plays Soon Geum, the main lead of the drama. She was a tough cookie back in high school, but after the death of her mother, she fell on hard financial times and became a maid for the Kang family. Her father is the typical papa of the kdrama heroine. He gambles and is a middle-aged delinquent. I really like Sung Yuri. She’s absolutely gorgeous and such a chameleon. I didn’t recognize her when in episode 3, they gave her a complete make over.

Jung Gyu Woon plays Kang Gun Woo, the young master of the Kang residence. He was fat in the first episode, having been emotionally neglected by his father throughout his childhood. He has developed a strong kinship bond with the old housekeeper, whom he calls halmoni, meaning grandmother. He meets Soon Geum initially as the timid, kind-hearted, and fat Gun Woo, but flew to the U.S to study abroad (at NYU of all places) shortly thereafter. He returns three years later, with a smoking ab and a snarky attitude. (Only in dramas do these things happen.)

The rest of the maids of 1st street are 1) Da Kyum, who works for Young Hee, 2) Hyun Joo, who works for this man who has TWO wives, 3) THU, who is Vietnamese, and 4) Soo Jung, who babysits an empty house.

Review:

Romance Town was a heck of a ride. While the story of the lives of five maids and how they rose to financial prominence may not be everybody’s cup of tea, the execution of the ride was pretty darn good. The best moments of the drama were when the maids were trying to outwit each other in trying to get their hands on that lottery money. (My favorite was the play between Hyun Joo and Soo Jung. Vicious!) The love story between Soon Geum and Gun Woo was, I have to admit, typical. It was predictable that in k-drama land, we’ll have a handsome rich heir fall in love with the underdog that is the maid. However, the twist in the story comes when the wealth is transferred from the masters to the maids, and we begin to understand how money can and cannot change someone.

Overall, I thought this drama was pretty good. I had no idea what the point of the story was until the very end. The drama was so vague in the beginning, and I didn’t think the writers had any idea how they wanted it to end either. But the ending was pretty darn poetic. If anything, I thought the story could’ve been executed in 16 episodes. The 20 episode setting made the middle a little draggy. And the complete personality change of Gun Woo was uncalled for. I don’t understand why he needed to become an ass. He could’ve returned as a more cunning and slick Gun Woo, and not need to head into complete douchebag territory. Soon Geum’s persistence and stubbornness gets a little boring at times. At points throughout the story, I wanted her to just drop kick Gun Woo’s father, and leave the hell out of there. I don’t really understand why she needed to endure such degrading comments from Mr. and Mrs. Kang to show that she loves Gun Woo. You know what, take your money, put it in the stock market, and buy out their company.

The maids were my favorite characters in the drama. Their personalities are so different, and they are definitely not your stereotypical passive subservient help. Each and every one of them can bite back, hard. They all led hard lives and because of their hardship valued money above all else. But as we saw throughout the series, friendship mattered too, and this interplay between loyalty and money made the series interesting.

I recommend this drama, with the use of fast forwarding in the middle episodes!

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