I was hoping for a lot, but not expecting much, from Jeju Island Gatsby. Turns out, it was really enjoyable. There was only one thing that stood in the way of me loving this show… the lack of decent communication between the characters. If people were honest and didn’t hide their true feelings the drama would have definitely deserved its a.k.a. title, Warm and Cozy.
Jung-Joo and Gun-Woo meet, very briefly, on Jeju Island on their 19th birthday. Jung-Joo is under the misguided impression she is Gun-Woo’s long lost twin sister. However, later that day they both find out that is not the case and Jung-Joo leaves the island, both teenagers jokingly promising to become the other person’s idea of the ideal partner and then if they ever bump into each other down the road, they can be boyfriend and girlfriend. Ten years later, both heading for Jeju Island once again, they meet and instantly recognize each other. Did they both make good on the teasing promise they made at their farewell?
Things aren’t going swimmingly for poor Jung-Joo. She was fired from her job, her brother purchased, with her savings, an abandoned house that is falling apart and then ran away to South America, and she unexpectedly runs into her boyfriend who just happens to be on the island for his honeymoon!
Gun-Woo doesn’t have it any better – his father was put in prison for murder before Gun-Woo was even born, the girl he likes has been stringing him along for ten years, and the small restaurant he owns is failing because he’s not on the locals’ good side.
Since the house Jung-Joo owns is uninhabitable, and because Gun-Woo mistakenly thinks Jung-Joo is dying, he decides to loan her his restaurant and let her stay with him in the room above it. What do you think? Win/win situation?
As for matters of the heart – Hwang Wook, the mayor, has eyes for Jung-Joo; she is in love with Gun-Woo; he is still enamored with Ji-Won, the girl he’s liked for ten years; and she only wants someone with power, status, and money. But there’s yet another love story in this drama. Gun-Woo’s successful, wealthy, older, half-brother is head-over-heels for one of the lady divers in the small town. Unfortunately, she is a widow who has kept her heart closed off for the past 30 years, ever since her husband was killed in a hit and run accident soon after they were married, and has no intention of ever loving again. Can anything “warm and cozy” happen with all these hearts in a tangled mess?
Although Yoo Yeon-Seok has been in a host of dramas and films I only know him as darling Gun-Woo. I wasn’t attracted to him at first but by the time the show was over, I was in love. Was it the character? Was it Yeon-Seok? I’m not sure. I guess I’ll have to watch something else with him in it to find out. But I can say he made the character Gun-Woo into someone I, personally, thought was charming.
Even though I watched her in Doctor Champ, it wasn’t until I saw her in Doctor Stranger that Kang So-Ra was able to make a favorable impression on me, and she made me like her even more in this, as Jung-Joo. She’s had more experience acting now and her character in Jeju Island Gatsby is much more personable than the others she’s portrayed.
I loved Jung-Geun and I’m sure that’s mostly thanks to Lee Sung-Jae. I had seen him in The Suspicious Housekeeper and Poseidon but the characters he played in those dramas were serious, stern, and unapproachable. Jung-Geun, on the other hand, has a soft, sweet side to his serious, business-professional personality and Sung-Jae played him wonderfully. I was very glad the writers decided to make his love life such a strong part of the storyline.
Kim Sung-Oh has been in Kdrama’s since 2005. That’s quite a good run. I’ve seen him in four different shows, appreciating his acting abilities in each one. However, even though I enjoyed his portrayal of humble Mayor Hwang Wook in this, I couldn’t help but see him as Joo-Won’s lovable secretary in Secret Garden. I guess he’ll forever be that darling character in my eyes.
I can’t think of a single song that was anywhere near memorable but, then, there weren’t any that were irritating, either. There are two songs that I think deserve a special mention, though – Thank U and Butterfly. The first is more of an upbeat, fun song and the second is a pretty male/female duet.
The scenery in this Kdrama is exceptional. You can’t do much better than Jeju Island. There are many beautiful aerial views and the scenes out by the ocean are lovely. At the end of episode two we get to see an exquisite, picturesque view of a golden, romantic sunrise from Sunrise Peak. If you like islands, you’ll love where they filmed this show.
Because the setting in this drama is a little restaurant, most of Jeju Island Gatsby‘s episodes end in a very clever, unique way – characters teach the audience how to make a recipe, most of which come from the episode we just saw. It’s not a detailed explanation but what they say, along with what they show, gives us a good idea of how to go about making that particular dish. Many of those cooking sequences had me licking my lips.
This isn’t a Kdrama you’ll love but it is one you’ll really like from start to finish. My suggestion?… grab your favorite treat and a blanket, make yourself “warm and cozy”, and enjoy the 16 entertaining hours called Jeju Island Gatsby.
Flow of storyline
No evil characters
Poor/frustrating communication between characters
No stand alone music