I was really having a bad withdrawal with my last drama so I decided to re-watch this underrated little gem and feel those mini butterflies in my stomach again. Also celebrating 10 years since it aired on SBS, this week’s Grumpy Flashback features another classic in the romantic comedy genre, Witch Yoo Hee.
I watched this back in 2007 because of Kim Jeong-hoon, but I finished it jumping in on the OTP’s ship. This is where I felt enchanted with Han Ga-in’s beauty. If you already watched this series, chances are you will notice the similarity with the direction and comedic style of Witch Yoo Hee with Delightful Girl Choon Hyang and My Girl. That’s because all these three have the same denominator – they are all under the helm of PD Jeon Ki-sang.
So, if you are in the mood for some cutesy romance, let’s start reminiscing the happy memories of Witch Yoo Hee!
Our heroine Ma Yoo-hee (Han Ga-in) works as the president of the advertising arm of her family’s conglomerate. She has this reputation of being a mean, no-nonsense boss, which pretty much explains its Korean title Ma Nyeo Yoo Hee (“ma nyeo” means witch in Korean). Our hero goes by the name of Chae Moo-ryong (Jae Hee), a happy-go-lucky aspiring French cuisine chef. He is in a relationship with Seung-mi (Jeon Hye-bin), his childhood sweetheart and the manager of a French restaurant in Namsan Tower.
The plot revolves around Moo-ryong’s struggle to make ends meet for his family while studying French cuisine. He ended up having a pile of debt after crashing into Yoo-hee’s car. With no job to pay off his debt, he worked as Yoo-hee’s housekeeper. Love starts to grow between our OTP, but the road to happy ending is not all smooth. What makes this drama a unique one is the five-way romance among the lead characters. Aside from the ex-girlfriend, we have the first love sunbae and hotshot BFF blocking the way.
Who would forget the farting scene during the hilarious fancy dinner of Yoo-hee and Moo-ryong with Dr. First Love and ugly fake friend? Koreans are very fond of toilet humor and Witch Yoo Hee makes use of it cleverly. Despite being known for having a tough exterior, Yoo-hee is still a human after all. She, of all occasions, unfortunately lets out an involuntary gas out of her system during an impromptu meet-up with Dr. Yoo Joon-ha (Kim Jeong-hoon) and Sye-na. Good thing, Superman Moo-ryong is ready to rescue her from humiliation and took all the responsibility for the foul smell. Talk about knight in farting armor!
ARROGANT FIRST LOVE
Yoo Joon-ha sunbae aka Yoo-hee’s first love, came back as a successful doctor after studying overseas. He is cold and arrogant, and takes Yoo-hee for granted. I was already getting annoyed by his prickly attitude, especially whenever he stood Yoo-hee up in several dates. I was ready to hate him some more because even after cancelling his engagement, he was still not pursuing a full-swing romance with Yoo-hee. Like what’s your deal, young man? But things got more interesting when the show revealed that Yoo-hee’s father was the one behind this plot. He sent sunbae abroad to study medicine, and even meddled with their rekindled friendship in the present. Sad life, Joon-ha. Sad life.
PERSISTENT BFF CHEF JOHNNY CROOGER
Another eye candy in this drama is the hot shot chef Johnny Crooger played by Dennis Oh. He is Yoo-hee’s friend who is secretly in love with her. He tries everything to woo her (through the help of Moo-ryong), but her eyes are fixated on sunbae. There were times that I even hoped Yoo-hee would end up with Johnny because of his sincerity. But well, somebody has to stay in the friend zone in every Korean drama, right?
BORDERLINE MARTYR GF SEUNG-MI
I don’t blame Seung-mi for her jealousy. I honestly think she is way too nice for allowing her boyfriend to work as a housekeeper and play pretend as another girl’s boyfriend. Girl, how can you be so kind-hearted? Her loving relationship with Moo-ryong’s family is also admirable. When they all thought Moo-ryong was studying abroad (when he was just simply working as a housekeeper in secret), his family organized a simple celebration for Seung-mi’s birthday. She is a part of the family too, you know. And if you think that’s it, wait a bit. She even offered to pay back Moo-ryong’s debt so that she can have her peace of mind. When she started worrying about Moo-ryong’s growing affection for Yoo-hee, she offered to pay off her boyfriend’s debt so he will move out of his employer’s house. Hugs, girl! I feel you.
Fun fact: In case you are living under the radar, Jeon Hye-bin is Lee Joon-gi’s real-life girlfriend! She may not succeed in getting the heart of the male lead here, but she sure succeeded in catching the heart of another oppa.
BITCH YOO HEE AND HARDWORKING HOUSEKEEPER
This drama’s contracted relationship has already become a familiar trope for K-drama fans during its airing. What made it different from dramas with same premise was the switch in stereotypical roles that the main leads had to play. Moo-ryong was the lowly housekeeper while Yoo-hee was the chaebol. She was cold-hearted and mean while Moo-ryong was the cheerful one. And who would forget the infamous “ee-bwa” of Yoo-hee every time she calls Moo-ryong? And because love moves in mysterious ways, the witch slowly gave in to the superhero’s charms. What started from an unconventional agreement blossomed into a warm relationship between Moo-ryong and Yoo-hee.
BREAKING DOWN EMOTIONAL WALLS
Halfway through the drama, we get to understand why Yoo-hee turned into the bitch that she is. Her parents got divorced, her father brought home a baby brother (whom we assume was from an extramarital relationship), and her mother succumbed to cancer while she was living alone. Yoo-hee never got the chance to see her ailing mother after she left the household. Ever since her family got strangled in a chaotic web, Yoo-hee built up her own wall to protect herself from being hurt again. Johnny once said that Yoo-hee may be well-known for her tough exterior but deep inside she is just as weak as every one else.
Fun fact: The lovely Park Bo-young played the younger version of Yoo-hee in this drama!
But the wall that Yoo-hee built for self-protection was nothing compared to Moo-ryong’s persistence to unleash her wings. He started with Yoo-hee’s appearance makeover from being a monochromatic woman with long and boring hairstyle to a fashionable lady perfect for her stature.
What I also love about this drama is the fact that despite her toughness, Yoo-hee was the first one to make the move. She confessed her feelings first and she kissed him first! I can’t tell who fell in love first when they were doing this boyfriend-girlfriend play pretend thing, but I am happy by the way everything turned out.
Witch Yoo Hee could pass as your buffer rom-com whenever you lost the connection to the K-drama world. It is light and cute with a perfect blend of simple and good-natured characters. They may be flawed, but I am definitely sure they are all well-meaning. Sometimes we all need a good K-drama fix in our fan girl lives, don’t you think?