Her Private Life is a 2019 Korean drama series that aired on TVN. The story is based on a Korean novel called Noona Fan Dot Com. Synopsis: Sung Deok Mi is a talented chief curator at Cheum Museum Art Gallery, but in private, she is a fanatic fangirl of White Ocean’s Cha Si An. Ryan Gold is an artist who can no longer paint due to Stendhal syndrome. After the current boss of Cheum Museum gets involved in an embezzlement case, Ryan becomes the new Art Director of the museum. Due to a sasaeng fan’s post, rumours about Deok Mi allegedly dating Si An begin to spread. To ward off Si An’s fans who threaten to harm her, Ryan suggests that he and Deok Mi pretend to date. Unfortunately, the same sasaeng gets a job as an intern in the museum and vows to prove that Ryan and Deok Mi are a fake couple. Both now have no other choice but to continue the couple act even at work.
Going into this drama, I was not expecting much because this “fake to real couple” plotline has been overused. The only difference here was the fangirling aspect. So I went in with the mindset of “I just need some lighthearted romance story to refresh myself.” The drama also had a promising cast, so that was a plus. And like many others, I was super excited to finally see Kim Jae Wook in a lead role.
(Warning – spoilers ahead)
I absolutely enjoyed watching this series. It was exactly what I needed, not much suspense, just some feel-good romance. Although I feel that some parts of the story could have been omitted and also a few questions are still left answered. So I am going to make a little paragraph on that.
Okay, time to officially get into this review.
As I already mentioned, Her Private Life is nothing new plot-wise, but it felt fresh and exciting to watch because of how well the drama was executed. I fell in love with almost every character as the story progressed. The entire film crew and actors really brought their A-game on this one. I really enjoyed watching the comedic scenes, the extraness of it all gave me a good laugh. I also love how animated the depiction of the fansite world was made to look. It was a little bit “cheesy,” but I think that is what made it funny to me.
Now I am not sure if I should be giving praise to the director or the writer for what I am about to mention, but anyways Kudos to whoever came up with the idea. There are some particular scenes between our main leads where no music or background score is used, the entire scene is just completely silent. I LOVED IT. The use of silence to show the tension between Ryan and Deok Mi was the best idea they could have come up with because it just makes it feel more real. Some people might not like the awkward feeling it gave, but I enjoyed it. Here are the scenes where I noticed that use of silence –
Another thing to comment on is the fantastic dialogue, most notably during heartfelt scenes. In the last episode, there is a scene where Deok Mi’s mom and Ryan’s mom sit for a while and talk with each other. The dialogue from Ryan’s mom was absolutely beautiful. She said, “A woman who has lost her husband is called a widow. A man whose wife has died is a widower. A child who had lost his or her parents is called an orphan. But a parent who has lost a child…the sorrow is so great that there is not even a word that can be used to describe the person”. I am not sure if these words are directly from the writer or from another source, but they really touched me. If anyone knows the original source, please let me know in the comment section. For a more detailed review, I will go ahead and analyze a few characters.
First, our main leads – Kim Jae Wook as Ryan/Han Yoon Jae and Park Mi Young as Sung Deok MiThis drama portrays a very mature romance story, so the chemistry between Ryan and Deok Mi was intense and beautiful from start to finish. Their relationship felt more real and natural as the drama progressed. I also discovered that most of the intimate scenes towards the end of the series were actually improvised by the actors themselves, so I guess that’s why it felt very natural. I loved how understanding and considerate they both were to each other. There was hardly any misunderstanding between them, and anytime they had an issue, it was resolved very quickly. I honestly hate when little problems are dragged and dramatized for many episodes, so it was nice seeing that change here.
I also like that the secret about her being a fangirl was not hidden for too long after they officially started dating. The writer did a great job in making Ryan smart enough to figure out that Deok Mi was the fansite manager for Si An is My Road. And because Ryan already knew, the reveal was not a big issue for them. Although I still wish Deok Mi revealed it to him personally instead of hiding all the time. That aside, Deok Mi is still a very lovable character, she is an amazing daughter, a very supportive friend. I love that she could always tell if Ryan was not in the best mood and what exactly was bothering him without him actually saying anything. Also, Ryan had one of the most admirable traits ever. He was always quick to apologize whenever he realized that he was wrong.
I appreciate the wardrobe choices for the lead characters. My favourite outfit for Ryan is definitely the three-piece suit he wore in episode 13. Also, Deok Mi outfits were great. Her clothes, shoes and jewellery were always well put together. But I wish they had blended her hair extensions properly like they did in the last episode. All the same, I would love to have her wardrobe for a week at least.
To close the chapter for our main leads, please permit me to fangirl a little. KIM JAE WOOK, no words needed –Alright, alright, I am done. LOL, I had to respect myself and not add all the screenshots I took.
Next on, the second leads – Hong Seo Young as Choi Da In and Ahn Bo Hyun as Nam Eun Gi Honestly, I feel that these two characters should have been introduced just as friends or family to Ryan and Deok Mi because it would not have made much of a difference for their roles in the drama.
I initially found Nam Eun Gi annoying, and I knew that because of the brotherly relationship he had with Deok Mi, they definitely could not end up together. So the fact that he tried to control what she was doing with Ryan on the claim that he knew her better than Ryan was annoying to watch. Growing up with her or knowing a lot about her does not automatically give you the right to a relationship. Love is really not a first-come, first-serve matter. Towards the end of the drama, I noticed some significant character development with him. He really surprised me and made me love him as a character. He is a fantastic friend and brother to Deok Mi, and I was happy when he found someone that loves him as well.
Now onto Choi Da In, I honestly do not have much to say about this character. It felt like the writer just used her as a catalyst to make Ryan realize his true feelings for Deok Mi. But after that, I did not see the point of her character any longer. At first, I thought it was going to be the usual troupe were both second leads fall in love with each other, but it did not turn out that way. I feel that she did not have to be presented as a second lead because she could have made Ryan realize his feeling just by being a friend and saying something. If anyone has a different opinion on her character, feel free to do so in the comment section.
To close the section for the second leads, I will put it out there that I am a bit biased against second leads because I am tired of Korean dramas and their dead-end love triangles. The only show that ever made me love the second lead more was School 2015.
Deok Mi’s One and only idol – Jung Je Won as Cha Si AnAt first, Cha Si An did not stand out to me. It felt like he was just there as the idol that Deok Mi loved, but by episode 14, I had a big realization of the importance of his character. His talk with his mom after the discovery that Ryan was Heo Yoon Jae (her lost son) showed how much of a loving and caring person he is. I realized that right from the beginning, he has been the bridge connecting our main leads, and he also served as the bridge for Ryan to meet their mom. I remember in the very first scene between Ryan and Deok Mi, she kept on staring at him because he reminded her of Si-An, and they start the fake dating because of Si An’s scandal. Many other instances of such connection come to mind, but I cannot list all. His character definitely brought tranquillity, knowledge and understanding for other characters around him. He always seemed to know about things that you would hardly expect him to know of. I guess it took me a while to notice Si An, but I am glad that I did. I find it funny that somehow he was always on the elevator with Ryan or Deok Mi. At some point, I wondered if he was living on that elevator. Also, I knew right from the start that Si-An and Ryan were brothers, so the reveal was not a big surprise to me. Here is one of my favourite scenes of him on the elevator –
Kim Bo Ra as Cindy/Kim Hyo Jin and Kim Sun Young as Uhm So HyeBefore I even start to go in on these two characters, I would like to share one of my favourite scenes which happens to have both characters in it. Here it is –
Kim Sun Young is such an amazing actress. I first saw her as one of the mothers in Reply 1988. She really did a great job as Uhm So Hye. In scenes where I was supposed to hate or be irritated by the character, I definitely was and also in the scenes where I was supposed to laugh, I did. The entire look for her role was funny, from the hairstyle to her outrageous outfits and her personality, I just could not take her seriously. Thankfully she became less hateful during the few last episodes.
Cindy really started off as the annoying sasaeng fan, but I am grateful for the addition of her character. Her character portrayed how disturbing actual sasaeng fans can be. I mean, there is a difference between being a fan and fangirling over your preferred kpop groups, but when it gets to the point of invading their privacy and stalking them during their personal time, then that is just wrong and uncalled for. Honestly, the stories I have read about a few kpop idols and their sasaeng fans are alarming. That aside, Cindy grew on me. I like how her obsessive passion was channelled into something more productive in the long run. I was actually surprised that she ended up with Nam Eun Gi. She developed into a great character, and one of my favourite scenes from her is when she confronts her mom about the celebrity collection exhibit that the Art Gallery was planning for. Here is that scene –
Finally, here is my little paragraph on what I felt could have been excluded and the questions I still need answers to. First of all, did they really have to make the leads know each other as kids? I mean do not get me wrong, I absolutely love how maturely that part of the story was handled, but this is just an overused cliche. I am not a writer, so I try not to be over judgemental with a storyline. If I do not enjoy it, I just drop it and start something else, but this time around, I just have to point it out. It is getting old and tiring because a lot of Korean dramas are using the same plot, I need to see something new. PLEASE.
Another thing, the drama is called Her Private Life, but it did not really focus on her private life. Now that does not bother me much, but I was hoping that they would reveal to her co-workers and even Si An that she is the manager for Si An is My Road fansite. I cannot believe that it was not made into a big reveal. Also, what happened to the people that adopted Ryan. Are they alive, dead or even still in contact with him? I would love to know.
Okay, l am going to leave that and end this review on something else that I enjoyed, which is OSTs. When watching any drama, the one thing that always draws my attention is the soundtracks. There are two specific songs that I really love from Her Private Life. The first is “Maybe” by Lee Hae Ri of Davichi. Davichi always has the best drama OSTs, their voices are so beautiful. The second song is “Think of You” by Ha Sung Woon. I do not know much about Ha Sung Woon, but he is also a great singer. Here is the link to the music videos for both songs – Official MV for Lee Hae Ri – Maybe Official MV for Ha Sung Woon – Think Of You.
Overall I will rate this drama an 8.5/10. It was a good watch, and I would not mind rewatching it again. So before I go, I will leave you all with two more clips of my favourite scenes with Ryan and Deok Mi. ENJOY, and until my next post, take everyone.
First Encounter: Do You Want Me?
Fake Dating Photoshoot