There was a time when being a ‘fangirl’ (especially of those in entertainment) were frowned upon by everybody. Nowadays, being a fan becomes a societal norm. So it’s not totally surprising that we finally have a fangirl as a female lead in a Korean drama.
[Side note: Yes, there are still antagonistic people who still judge you by your taste in anything. But let’s forget about them because I always believe that everyone has a right to like anything they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.]
Her Private Life’s Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) is an idol fangirl who has an actual work (and yes, she’s very successful at it, too). Through this drama, we finally watched a relatable character that reminded us why we totally fall in love with certain things in our lives; be it an idol, a K-drama, an artist, or really anything. This drama perfectly presented the different stages of being a fangirl through the life of Sung Deok-mi.
Stages of Being a Fangirl
1. The Meet-cute
Do you still remember the first time you discovered your bias or your fave actor? Mine was a random moment that totally changed my bias list. Sung Deok-mi, on the other hand, managed to have two meet-cute moments with Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) – the man who’d change her life forever.
The first one was at the auction as the very competitive and competent art curator. She had no idea that the vain Korean guy he met at the auction would be his future boss.
The second one was at the airport. By fate, Ryan Gold took the same flight as Cha Shi-an (Jung Jae-won), the idol group member Deok-mi likes. Ryan, who was raised in the States, was totally in shock to witness the level of fangirl obsession in Korea. He, at that time, didn’t know one of the fangirls he encountered would be the lead curator in the museum he needed to take over.
2. The Stalking
After your attention has been caught, it wouldn’t be too long before you start to dig deep to know more (a lot) about your latest discovery. Just like a noob fan, Ryan Gold suddenly had this need to feed his curiosity about his new co-worker, who seems to hide a lot of things.
Since their paths kept on crossing, Ryan witnessed “things” which led him to conclude he needed to protect Sung Deok-mi’s “secret” just like any good straight ally. I mean, he has good intention but it was still funny to watch. The way Ryan looked after he discovered that he had it wrong all along was so precious. This arc is totally my favorite phase in this series.
3. The Denial
You kept on denying you aren’t obsessed with this “new discovery” but before you know it, you’re already into it so deep, there’s no turning back. That’s the same case with Ryan Gold. Before he discovered Deok-mi’s real secret, he was totally into her already.
Their friends’ advice, particularly Lee Soon-joo’s (Park Jin-Joo), weren’t so helpful. They kept on missing their chance to admit their attraction to each other. But the unresolved sexual tension between them was so intense there was no denying that both Ryan and Deok-mi were trying to stop the inevitable. And at last, they gave in.
4. The Acceptance
Sung Deok-mi proved that it is actually possible for a fangirl to actually have a real and very healthy relationship with a real person.
Ryan Gold, on the other hand, has set higher standards for every fangirl’s would-be boyfriends. Deok-mi might have a childish hobby but Ryan didn’t treat her any less. He was very thoughtful about his girlfriend and what I like the most about him is that he treated Deok-mi as his equal.
They had fights that could have been a petty (annoying-eye-roll-inducing) banter but they talked it out like how real adults should do it. No street drama. No walling. No misunderstanding dragged out for days. They talked it out inside Ryan’s apartment alone. They let each other finish tell their sides as calmly as they could. And it was still interesting to watch.
5. The Obsession
When you start to devote more and more time with someone, you’ll eventually learn they are not perfect. The seemingly flawless Ryan Gold has a past he needed to get over with. This past is somehow connected to Sung Deok-mi’s past as well. As their history started to affect their present relationship, other people started to get involved with their relationship as well.
Deok-mi’s longtime friend, Nam Eun-ki (Ahn Bo-hyun) confessed his feelings for his best friend. He could have been a pitiful second lead but in my eyes, he was just an annoying third party.
Unlike other second leads who lost their first love due to the monster called timing, Eun-ki had his chance all along. But the thing is he hasn’t yet realized he likes Deok-mi romantically. And this is where my doubts are coming from. He wasn’t “in love” with Deok-mi before Ryan Gold came into the picture. I really do believe it was just his jealous human nature kicking in.
The drama’s female second lead isn’t as annoying as Eun-ki. Actually, I think Choi Da-In (Hong Seo-Young) makes Eun-ki’s character less irritating. I empathize with Da-in more. The only friend she has is suddenly being taken away. She needed to move on but she’s aware where she stood in Ryan’s heart. She was just a dear friend. And she totally knew where to stop and set boundaries if she wanted to stay in Ryan’s life.
6. The Falling Out
Even the most loyal fangirls, needed to take a break.
Ryan needed some time to accept the secrets of his past and how it affected his present relationships. Not just with Deok-mi but also with Shi-an, his neighbor-and-adopted-dongsaeng. [SPOILER ALERT!!!] Shi-an turned out to be his half-brother. It was a bit too much to take in at once.
Deok-mi also had to deal with her own past and her mother’s involvement in Ryan’s adoption. Although, I strongly believe this plot arc was a bit too much and too late for the story. [SPOILER ALERT!!!] Deok-mi forgetting about her little brother’s death felt like a last-minute addition to make things more dramatic. And I really don’t need added flavors to an already good enough series. I mean, a female Korean Drama lead doesn’t always need to have a tragic past to make her interesting!
7. Start Over
“Once a fangirl, always a fangirl.”
I guess, all those challenges they went through made the bond between Ryan and Deok-mi stronger. They need some time to adjust to this new information in their life but because they are two mature individuals, they soon realize that their present relationship is more important than their childhood tragedies.
They learned that their individuality, including their own odd obsessions, made them stronger together. This is what I like the most about the ending. Both characters didn’t lose their unique characteristics just because they fell in love. Instead, they gain something from their relationship. If that’s not true #relationshipgoals for you, then I don’t know what is.
A mature plot wrapped by a blanket of childish storytelling. Her Private Life’s story premise may sound like a typical K-romcom filled with hilarious meetings, and juvenile push and pull. But what lies beneath the teensy-very-fanfic premise were adult characters who acted like real grown-ups when it comes to dealing with challenges that came their way. They proved that a K-drama couple’s story can be entertaining to watch without some toxic plot twist or unnecessary character development. I might not like some elements they added in the end but overall, Her Private Life had a great run. It would definitely be a bias wrecker for my favorite K-drama list this year.
– Their Kisses!!! (and well, almost kisses too)
– Cindy got Cha Shi-an in the end (but in a movie though which look like a tear-jerker J-drama)
– Joo-hyuk (Yoo Yong-min), Kang Seung-min (Im Ji-kyu), and Lee Sun-joo (Park Jin-joo) were really good side characters. Their subplot was interesting enough to hold my attention during episodes. Also, Deok-mi might be a successful fan but Sun-joo is a fangirl goal as well.
– Eom So-hye (Kim Sun-young) is a scene-stealer for this series. Who would ever forget her voice and her, well, bangs? Very K-Lookbook worthy.
– If there’s a reader out there who knows where I can read Noona Fan Dot Com aka the manhwa where this drama came from, please leave a link the comment section. It would be highly appreciated, komawoooo!
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