If you are looking for a drama with the most relatable set of characters, the first one that comes to mind would be My Name is Kim Sam Soon. The romantic comedy series, which aired on MBC in 2005 for 16 episodes, was a huge hit with an average viewership rating of 37.6%. It also won numerous awards, including the Baeksang Arts Awards Grand Prize for TV, and the Grand Prize at the MBC Drama Awards for Kim Sun-a!
Its main ensemble of Kim Sun-a, Hyun Bin, Jung Ryeo-won and Daniel Henney was itself a reason to bookmark this memorable series. Their acting in the series were all superlative! I really enjoyed writing this week’s feature, so please have fun reminiscing this heartfelt gem. 🙂
HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN SCORNED
Did you know that Kim Sun-a gained 15 pounds in order to portray Kim Sam-soon? This K-drama heroine crashed the typical Korean body stereotype. Sam-soon was a 30-year old plus-sized regular girl who was brokenhearted after being dumped by her cheater boyfriend on Christmas Eve. She uses baking as therapy when she feels down, and never holds back when it comes to her true feelings.
Her major transformation in the story was not her physical make-over, but her acceptance of her real self. She may be head over heels in love with Jin-heon, but she was always ready to beat the hell out of him every time he crossed the line.
LOVE FOR HYUN BIN
This is my first Hyun Bin drama! And I loved him ever since. Jin-heon was the perfect rich guy with confused feelings type of character. With the way he accepted Sam-soon for who she is, he was certainly one remarkable K-drama hero.
Carrying the guilt of his brother and sister-in-law’s death, and left by his first love, Hyun Jin-heon (Hyun Bin) was a cold-hearted, arrogant owner of a French restaurant called Bon Appetite. He hired Sam-soon as their resident pastry chef and went into a contracted relationship with her to prevent his mother from setting him up in blind dates.
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS WHO SHINED
Yoo Hee-jin (Jung Ryeo-won) and Dr. Henry (Daniel Henney) were also what made this drama a memorable one. Hee-jin was Jin-heon’s ex-girlfriend who abandoned him while he was recovering from the fatal car accident. She returned to Korea to get back together with him. As it turned out, she did not leave him out of her own will. She had acute stomach cancer and went to the US for treatment. Dr. Henry was her doctor who was deeply in love with her.
Only My Name is Kim Sam Soon had the courage to make a scene about the OTP taking a poo together! How hilarious is that? It’s one thing to let your main character be in a scene at his most vulnerable state (in other words pooping), and it’s surely a memorable one if the main love team does it together! As I said in one of my previous reviews, Koreans are very fond of toilet humor, so it’s not really a surprise to see My Name is Kim Sam Soon pioneering this type of interaction between the main leads.
OF BAD NAMES AND BROKEN HEARTS
The best thing that I can probably tell you about this drama was the way Sam-soon handled her painful break-up. She was able to have grace in the face of defeat. She was not physically attractive, but her heart of gold was enough to help her survive the pain of a broken heart. Her seemingly endless disgust with her given name eventually changed after accepting that names do not reflect ones personality.
Sam-soon was just like anyone of us who experienced the struggle of moving on from a failed relationship. Take a look at my most favorite moments of her while she was recovering from her break-up.
- When she had an elaborate explanation for that Forrest Gump reference:
“That box for the chocolates is made by me, and all the chocolate in my box I had to eat them anyway. When and what I eat, that makes the difference. What I used to eat and what I eat now is different. When I was a child, I didn’t have any fear and I just ate everything I saw. But now, there’s more to consider, I’ll sit there and ponder more, picking which one to eat. What I want now, would be no more bitter rum in my chocolates because for 30 years I’ve already eaten my share and destroyed it.”
- When she learned about broken promises the hard way:
“I did not know back then that all the promises he had made me, how empty they were. If there had been no promises, would it have been easier for me right now? Even though I know how baseless his talk is, I hate myself for wanting to believe them. I hate myself for still wavering at the meaningless glances, for dwelling upon it like this. Losing love may just mean losing one’s self-confidence.”
- When the reality of falling out of love hits hard:
“When the heart is gone, nothing is much scarier than that.”
- When she teaches you the art of letting go:
“Don’t ruin the memories. Be cool. Leave in style. So I can remember your back as you leave.”
- When she convinces you to be true to yourself:
“If you’re happy, then be happy!”
- When she daydreams just as everyone else:
“He’s started to become bewitched by my hidden charm.”
- When she talked to her dad about life’s harsh realities:
“I thought after I turn 30, it wouldn’t be like this anymore. I wouldn’t feel my heart beating and there wouldn’t be times when I’m waiting all night for a phone call. Dad, do you know how tiring that is? I just want to find a guy who likes me and one who wouldn’t hurt my heart. Just live a normal life together, but look what happened now. It’s making me so disappointed. I’ve been through so much already. I actually fell for a guy again. I feel so disappointed with myself. Wouldn’t it be great if my heart could be a bit stronger, right Dad?”
- When she used baking as the perfect metaphor:
“There are two kinds of dough. Dough made with yeast and one without. Dough made with yeast rises right away, but one without yeast takes its time to rise. I think that’s so cute. I want to be a person without yeast.”
- When she described how we all cope up with pain:
“The body asks the heart, if I am in pain the doctor will cure me, but if you are in pain, who is going to cure you? The heart replies, only I can cure myself. Maybe that’s why every person has their own way of healing the pain in their hearts. Drinking, singing, throwing a tantrum, crying, laughing, talking to a friend, traveling, running a marathon. The worst thing to do is to ignore the pain in the heart.”
- When she’s just as confused as we are sometimes:
“Do you like me? Don’t think about anything… just say what you feel. Do you like me? You never had just a slight feeling for me? Not even 1%? Then I’ll teach you one more thing. Don’t do stuff like this… calling a person up in the middle of the night, do you know what that means? I have feelings for you. If you don’t have these feelings… then don’t do stupid things like this! Don’t make girls confused.”
I was tempted to stop right here, but I can’t help but include some quotable quotes from other characters. My Name is Kim Sam Soon is just a masterpiece of a script that will forever remain a classic in our fan girl hearts.
Remember when Captain Jang lectured us about the different types of men?
“Nice men are ugly. Handsome men are not nice. Handsome and nice men are married. Handsome, nice and unmarried men are useless. Handsome, nice, unmarried and rich men are not interested in us. Handsome, nice, unmarried, rich men who are interested in us are players. Handsome, nice, unmarried, rich men who are interested in us and faithful are homosexuals. Handsome, nice, unmarried, rich men who are interested in us, faithful, straight and who would not lose interest in us even if we made the first move… those men must have problems!” – Captain Jang
How about when Jin-heon was almost clueless that he started to fall for Sam-soon’s charm?
“You’re attractive because you don’t know how attractive you are.” – Jin-heon
Did you also cry when Hee-jin realized that the love she shared with Jin-heon was not the same anymore? What hurts most was the feeling of seeing your loved one being happier with someone else.
“Things shine at first and then as time goes by they tend to fade away and eventually it’s just not there anymore. I think I used to shine… but after all the medication, I just don’t think I shine anymore…” – Hee-jin
(I have to give props to Jin-heon in this break-up scene. He may be viewed as someone who two-timed Sam-soon and Hee-jin. But at least he had the courage to face Hee-jin head on and tell her that he wanted to break free. At least he had the balls to do it; I know others who don’t!)
Just when you thought love will keep you both alive, but it’s still not enough.
“The things you had known in the past, you forgot all of that in the last three years. While you were forgetting those things… I changed, too. Let’s end it.” – Jin-heon
And the trust you built cannot save the relationship.
“I thought we had trust between us. Even though I didn’t get one phone call… you said you’d wait for me. I thought you would really wait for me. I thought time would be the cure to heal our love but it was the disease that killed it.” – Hee-jin
This is my favorite line in the drama. It’s like the wake-up call that everyone needed.
“Have you noticed that everyone else in the world seems to be moving forward and yet you seem to be stuck in the past. You’re like a frozen clock, do you want me to change your batteries? What kind do you take Alkaline, Cadmium, Energizer?” – Dr. Henry
My Name is Kim Sam Soon will remain as one of those dramas in my personal rom-com Hall of Fame. It’s just perfectly executed that even the small plot holes can easily be forgiven. It’s simple yet sincere approach was what made it special. It’s pure comedy gold but with a golden heart.
So for every single person reading this, don’t ever settle for less or for second best. If Sam-soon can get her own perfect guy, why couldn’t you?
Photo/GIF credits: MBC’s My Name is Kim Sam Soon