Thoughts on: Stranger Than Paradise

(LJ 6/1/2010)

I’ve realised that I totally suck at recs. I know I like something because, well… I like it. ;P Telling ‘why’ intelligently is quite another thing entirely. So, this is going to be totally biased and very non analytical write-up on a K-drama Stranger than Paradise/Heaven.

Pics and some spoilers under this

StP is certainly not the best thing since sliced bread. The story isn’t exactly an original one and it has a fair share of the typical k-drama clichรฉs (hello there drama sickness and multiple coincidences!) but for some odd reason the whole thing just works. It is also one of those rare dramas that puts a big grin on my face and makes me smile even through the tears. Word of warning for those who like their k-dramas pickled in angst and high melodrama though…. StP is relatively angst free and we are spared of the overblown melodramatics too. It also doesn’t drag much which is always a plus. The pace is just right, at least for me and I hardly ever got the urge to hit the ff-button.

In short Stranger than Paradise tells about two long lost brothers….. of sort and a princess famous singer. No Yoon Jae (Lee Sung Jae) is a lawyer adopted to Canada when he was young. He’s now hoping to find his birth mother and brother. Kang Sang Ho (Uhm Tae Woong) is a smalltime hoodlum working as a minder cum enforcer for a shady (entertainment) management company president and with dreams of leaving his gangster past behind and becoming a manager to Korea’s top singer Joo Hee Ran (Kim Ming Jung). Hee Ran may be famous but she also can’t call her life her own and is dreaming of breaking free from the slave contract her father made in order to pay for his gambling debts. Both guys fall for Hee Ran, only….. it’s more of a threesome than any sort of triangle that I can see.

What I like about StP is that there are no crazy secondary characters. It has two male leads with a female lead and a secondary girl I like a lot. The romance, though part of the package, isn’t really the main feature but rather the relationship between the main threesome and especially between the two guys. I think the bromance has an edge to the romance in this one and I for one love it! UTW and LSJ did a jolly good job! ๐Ÿ˜€ Besides all that, it is also a story about friendship in different variations, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, brothers and what makes up a family unit. And trust and the need to change. All three have trust issues and are looking for a way to change their lives and it just happens that they all ended up changing one another. Kim Ming Jung’s Hee Ran has good chemistry with both men and would have quite honestly been good with either one for totally different reasons. Sung Jae just happened to get to her heart first. ๐Ÿ™‚

There is of course assortment of secondary characters whose names I never manage to remember plus the BigBad, the president of the Vega company. He’s a good villain we all love to hate.

The usual suspects…

Meet Sang Hoo, the tough guy with a questionable taste in clothes (my eyes!). He’s got streetsmarts and endurance and he dreams big without quite daring to trust the the universe to give him what he wants. He’s kinda cute, frequently funny and can be a totall jackass but underneath all that gangster bravado he’s soft as taffy.

This is our hapless hero Sung Jae. He may be a competent lawyer but he’s also a bit too trusting hence he gets royally shafted by people close to him. Which is all good because fate then puts him in the path of both Sang Hoo and Hee Ran. The best word to descibe Sung Jae is ‘sweet’. He’s adorable in a shy and slightly dorky kind of way. He can also be funny and even snarky if need be.

The lady in between, Hee Ran. She’s mischevious and a bit of a handful and has this tendency to make a runner when least expected, hence the need of a minder (aren’t you lucky Sang Hoo). For a big star she is surprisingly down to earth and level headed. She’s got a sense of humour too and despite of the fact that she’s practiclly a slave she does not whine or mope but rather gets on with it with determination. She may seem cold and aloof but she’s got a good heart.

The first meeting of Sung Jae and Hee Ran isn’t exactly auspicious but this is where they end up… Yes, that’s episode 2. XD He does not know she’s famous and she thinks it’s one off. I mean they are in Canada and she’s going back to Korea soon.

Later on we get this….

…. and this….

…. also this….

Well, there’s this too and couple of more back hugs in different combinations plus piggyback rides.

Sang Hoo is kinda awesome with dementia suffering mother, who btw is very central to this story

Here’s Sung Jae with omma

Brotherly love

Several heart to hearts like this… Love those two dorks.

I also enoy Sang Hoo’s and Hee Ran’s interactions. They are so on the same level and he makes her laugh when she’s feeling like shit.

That.Smile… *melts* ;P

Oh my, LSJ! Is that a tattoo on your shoulder?

To wrap this up, here’s Sang Hoo’s Almost Girlfriend. The secondary girl who’s both nice and has a good head on her shoulders. She may love Sang Hoo but she’s not blind to his faults.

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