Is it just my imagination or are vampire dramas really popular right now? My introduction to a vampire Kdrama was Blood, an excellent one to start with. I absolutely loved it. What a clever idea it was to have those creatures medically created! Then I saw The Scholar Who Walks the Night. Set in ancient times, it’s an entertaining story with the traditional type of blood suckers. And now, I just finished Orange Marmalade. It gives us two enjoyable vampire stories all wrapped up in one. The story begins in 2015 and after a few episodes it whisks us back to the Joseon era. Then, several episodes later we are brought right back to when we started. I wasn’t thrilled with the sudden stop and switch to a different time period at first but the writing and acting was good enough to quickly pull me into the new storyline.
Both stories are about Jae-Min and Ma-Ri. In the first one, as they are riding a train together, Ma-Ri steals Jae-Min’s heart. While her eyes are closed, obviously resting, the man sitting beside her gets up and Jae-Min quickly grabs that vacated seat. A few seconds later he gets the surprise of his life – she leans over and begins “nibbling” on his neck. Although stunned, he sees it as a very forward show of affection, and loves it. Come on, what guy wouldn’t? However, what he doesn’t realize is she is really just partially asleep, half dreaming, while smelling his “sweet” blood, completely unaware of her own actions.
Jung Jae-Min is an angry young high school junior who lives by himself. He has had very little to do with his mother ever since she married a vampire when he was a young boy. He tolerates his step-father only because he is also one of Jae-Min’s teachers. Because his mother was/is a music teacher he learned to play the guitar when he was young but gave it up because of the anger he felt towards her after she remarried and he became the step-son of a vampire.
Ma-Ri is tired of moving every time someone finds out all the people in her family are vampires. She dislikes having to hide who and what she really is but because she just wants to fit in with all the other kids her age she keeps a low profile so her secret isn’t disclosed. Ma-Ri plays the guitar and even writes music.
Han Shi-Hoo is a vampire with a hole in his heart and a chip on his shoulder. And who can blame him? He has lived with his uncle, and often with Ma-Ri’s family, because his vampire parents were both arrested, and given maximum sentences, for an unfortunate accident that happened concerning a mortal when he was a toddler. He likes Ma-Ri, is a talented musician, and prefers to be left alone.
Jo A-Ra is a popular, well-liked young lady who is enamored with class president Jae-Min. She’s definitely not a mean spirited girl but she doesn’t like the idea of the guy she’s fond of having feelings for Ma-Ri, the “new girl” in town.
The second storyline concerns how and why, hundreds of years ago, humans and vampires designed a peace treaty which would allow them to coexist in relative harmony. Ja-Min is a young student who comes from a prestigious, wealthy family. His friend, Shi-Hoo, is also a student but wants to join the army. The two young men separately come across a lovely girl who happens to be of a low-class family. Neither one knows Ma-Ri, the humble girl they have both fallen for, happens to be a vampire – one of the creatures they despise and want to rid the world of.
Jung Jae-Min is played by Yeo Jin-Goo. Although he’s only 18 years old, he’s been in a bunch of films and dramas. He began acting when he was just 8 years old and has gone on to win one Best Child Actor award and three Best New Actor awards. I saw him in I Miss You, at the end of 2012, and thought he was pretty good even back then.
Vampire heroine, Baek Ma Ri, is played by Kpop group AOA member, Seol Hyun. She has been in two feature films and Orange Marmalade is her third Kdrama. Although she’s fairly new to the acting scene, I was impressed with how much at home she seemed to be in front of the camera.
One huge shout-out for rock band CNBlue’s guitarist/vocalist Lee Jong-Hyun who plays vampire Han Shi-Hoo. The guy’s acting is smooth, effortless and natural. He plays a hurt, aloof, teenage vampire perfectly! And he’s one of a very few actors who doesn’t need lines to convey what he’s thinking – his face says it all. A+, indeed. I wonder if he could have played the part of the love struck Jae-Min as well as he did his vampire, Shi-Hoo, character.
Jo A-Ra is played by Gil Eun-Hye. At 27 she’s the oldest of the four younger stars. I’m glad they didn’t have her play one of those jealous, plotting, wanna-be girlfriends. Her reaction to the guy she likes being interested in someone else seemed very realistic. She’s another one I would like to have seen try a different part. Would she have been just as good if she had been cast as Ma-Ri?
I was very curious as to why a vampire drama would have a title like Orange Marmalade. Well, that’s actually the name of the band the main characters are in. And as strange as it sounds, it does tie in perfectly with what the story is really about. I’ll let Baek Ma-Ri explain it to you in detail but it’s a very clever metaphor for casting off all prejudices (racial, religious, sexual orientation…) and just loving and accepting others simply for who they are. Maybe if more of these kinds of shows are made, the world may eventually come to see that differences are nothing to fear.
Orange Marmalade has a very good soundtrack! I think the best song in the whole show is one called Gonna Be Alright. It’s a very pretty ballad featuring a sweet, soft female voice. I don’t know who sings it but it’s a beautiful performance. Dream With a Twist is the fun, up-beat song the group Orange Marmalade performs. Baek Ma-Ri writes a lovely song on her guitar called Memories of You. And Somebody is the one that Lee Jong-Hyun gets to sing solo. Yeah, Jong-Hyun!
The scenery in the episodes that take place during the Joseon period is breathtaking. There is a specific spot in the forest where Jae-Min and Ma-Ri often meet. They sit and talk on a huge bolder by a large tree that eventually holds some significance for the present day Jae-Min. I liked how the writer tied that tree into the lives of both the modern and ancient sweethearts.
Orange Marmalade is a 12 episode Kdrama that was based on the webcomic of the same name, written by Seol Woo, although Moon So-San wrote the drama. It’s an interesting story about a present-day world in which vampires and humans co-exist peacefully, although not comfortably.
This show is a well written Kdrama with a unique plot. The way the two storylines parallel each other is very clever and entertaining. Although I’ve never read the webcomic, I think the Kdrama version is very good and gives us a chance for self-evaluation. Let’s all hope someday soon this world can become a big jar of delicious Orange Marmalade!
Two interesting storylines
Makes us think about our attitudes towards others
Sweet love stories
Lovely scenery in the “ancient” episodes
Lee Jong-Hyun’s acting
Some editing mistakes