I have always wanted to feature this Korean drama ever since we started to conceptualize our humble blog. This is my ultimate favorite K-drama – the one drama which invited me to enter the K-drama world, and I never left since then. If for some fans it’s Jang Nara’s Bright Girl, for me it’s Full House. This may not be my first Korean series to ever watch, but this remains to be one of the most special dramas that stayed closest to my heart and made me a lifelong fan of both Song Hye-kyo and Rain. Whenever someone asks me about my favorite classic dramas, Full House and Coffee Prince are always my staple answers. So our beloved readers, this week’s Grumpy Flashback installment will discuss your resident grumpy ahjumma‘s first love, Full House.
Arguably one of the pioneers of the romantic comedy genre in Korean drama, Full House was a great success in Asia, which drew solid viewership ratings in South Korea nationwide throughout its run with a peak viewer rating of 42.7 percent! This drama also helped establish the careers of Song Hye-kyo and Rain as phenomenal Hallyu stars.
So first off, Full House is a romantic comedy which perhaps started all the K-drama clichés that we are familiar with today. Cohabitation hijinks, contract marriage, first loves and exes, rich second lead, quirky heroine, and coldhearted hero – name it, Full House has it. But there’s something about this love story that made it a classic. The simple storytelling of Han Ji-eun and Lee Young-jae’s relationship made it one of the best K-drama rom-coms ever.
Full House tells the story of aspiring scriptwriter Han Ji-eun (Song Hye-kyo) who has been living most of her life alone in the house built by her late father. Lee Young-jae (Rain) is an arrogant hotshot celebrity who has been in an unrequited love with her childhood friend Kang Hye-won (Han Eun-jung). Sadly, Hye-won is also in a one-sided love with their common friend and chaebol second lead Yoo Min-hyuk (Kim Sung-soo). One day, Ji-eun was framed by her best friends to a trip to China as a supposed free vacation. While Ji-eun was away, they unknowingly sold her house to Young-jae.
Upon Ji-eun’s return, she discovered that her house was already sold, and she has now mountains of debt to pay. To solve her financial crisis, Young-jae and Ji-eun entered into a contract marriage, with the agreement that they will make Hye-won jealous and Ji-eun will be paid for housekeeping in order to reclaim the property.
What made me love this series to bits was the comedy. I came here for the lovey dovey, I left bursting into laughter. Dramafever even named it as the benchmark for the romantic comedy genre in K-dramas, which I totally agree with. My favorite scenes were the usual bickering of the couple during their contract marriage. Who would forget the “bird brain” nickname that Young-jae gave Ji-eun? The flower offering every Wednesday? Or the hilarious “Gom Se Mari” American version? LOL
Lastly, I want to talk more about this drama’s lasting impression on me: the value of first love. For some people, first loves just don’t die easily. It leaves a painful scar in their hearts, and some takes time to heal it completely. I am not the expert when it comes to love advices but let me just use Full House as our primary example in dissecting first loves.
I think the show pretty much gave a good example of dealing with heartbreaks. For the longest time, Young-jae was in love with his friend Hye-won. I just realized that Young-jae started the friend zone! He had been caring for her since they were nine years old. All these years, her eyes were fixated on another man, but Young-jae was able to endure it as long as Hye-won was on his side. Well, some people who are in the friend zone are not far from Young-jae’s example. No matter what your status in life may be, if it just ain’t for ya, it won’t be. After all, you cannot force your heart to love someone.
Ji-eun, on the other hand, dealt with her first love in a braver manner. She faced it head-on, told Young-jae she loves him, but chose to move forward because he was not in love with her. They may have ended up together in the end, but the process of discovering that their love was indeed mutual was draining.
Like most of us, how we deal with our love will shape us as a person. It may hurt today, but one day as you wake up, you will realize that what went wrong in the past eventually prepared you for a better version of yourself in the future. Use the hurt you felt not as a disadvantage, but as an opportunity to widen your horizon, leave out of your comfort zone, and discover new adventures. Just because one love ended doesn’t mean it’s also the end of your world. I always say this whenever someone asks me for a love advice – if you love him/her, fight for him/her, but always remember when to take a break or give it a full stop. If you already gave it your all and it’s still not working, maybe it’s time to consider moving on. Remember that when your self-worth is already on the line, don’t hesitate to pull back and love yourself. After all, it’s only you who has the power to change your life, not anybody else.
[Credits to the owners of the music videos, photos used in this blog.]