The Man Living in Our House (aka Sweet Stranger and Me) is a very busy show. There’s quite a lot going on and a bunch of characters to keep track of, including several bad guys, but there wasn’t one time I stopped to wonder what was happening. Everything is all laid out and easy to follow.
When it rains, it pours. Right on the tail of discovering her fiancé has been having a fling with her co-worker, Na-Ri receives news that her mother just passed away in a car accident. While nursing her twice broken heart she decides to visit her mother’s final resting place and encounters a young man who is also at the grave site. A few words are spoken and the man quickly leaves. Later that night, she runs into him once again, this time at her mother’s house. However, the stranger keeps insisting it’s actually his house. What? Na-Ri may be drunk but she’s coherent enough to recognize her own mother’s house when she sees it. Who is this man and why is he there? Because Na-Ri is obviously tipsy, the man tells her he will explain things later, when she’s sober enough to understand. But when she finally hears the explanation, sober or not, Na-Ri just can’t wrap her head around the fact that the young man living in her mother’s house claims to be her step-father!
That’s a simple plot in and of itself. The twists and turns come when we discover why this man, who is actually younger than Na-Ri, married her mother. And when Na-Ri discovers this stranger really isn’t a stranger after all but someone who has known and loved her since she was a very young girl, the step-father/daughter relationship starts to get a bit complicated, especially when Na-Ri begins to return his feelings.
Hong Na-Ri is a senior flight attendant who loves her job. She was raised by her single mother after her father left the two of them when she was a very little girl. She had been in a relationship with her fiancé for nine years but immediately broke things off when she found out about his other woman.
Go Nan-Gil, Na-Ri’s step-father, is the owner and head chef of the Hong Dumplings restaurant that is located on the same property as the house Hong Na-Ri grew up in. He’s an elusive character with an interesting and semi-tragic past. He is intelligent, personable, and has a kind heart.
Handsome and rich Kwon Duk-Bong owns a robot museum that’s in the same area as the Hong Dumpling shop. He is interested in purchasing the land now owned by Go Nan-Gil to build a resort. After meeting Na-Ri he becomes enamored and decides to peruse a relationship with her. When Na-Ri decides to legally challenge her mother’s marriage to Nan-Gil, Duk-Bong happily dusts off his attorney’s license and becomes her lawyer.
Do Yeo-Joo is the young, attractive gal Na-Ri’s fiancé is having a secret romantic relationship with. She comes across as materialistic and selfish but we later learn a bit about her home life and begin to understand her a little more. Although she may seem shallow and egotistical she’s not all bad.
Two (of several) people Na-Ri and Nan-Gil have to do battle with are Duk-Bong’s father, who is desperate to get his hands on Nan-Gil’s land, and the man Nan-Gil used to call father, who is after the legally damning information Nan-Gil has on him.
Soo Ae’s (Hong Na-Ri) first time being in front of a camera was in 1999 for a cameo appearance in the TV drama School 2. She then went on to do other dramas and debuted on the big screen in 2004 with the feature film A Family. I first saw her in the romantic Kdrama Two Outs in the Nineth Inning and then in the heartbreaking drama A Thousand Days’ Promise opposite the gorgeous and talented Kim Rae-Won. She was awesome in that show. I highly suggest it when you’re in the mood to watch something that will make you cry.
I had just finished watching Go Ho’s Starry Night which stars Kim Young-Kwang and had no idea he was also in this. That was a fun surprise. He really is a fine actor. I was impressed with all the action and fighting scenes he does in this show. He is perfect as Go Nan-Gil. It’s a fairly complicated character and he did a great job showing Nan-Gil’s difficult past.
My introduction to Lee Soo-Hyuk was through his role as the evil head vampire in the Kdrama The Scholar Who Walks the Night. The guy was sexy and frightening at the same time, imagine that. I next saw him in High School King of Savvy where he played a rich guy, not unlike his character in this, Kwon Duk-Bong. Then I saw him play a regular guy, who wants to be a hero, in Neighborhood Hero. He’s played several diverse characters but I think the wealthy dudes suit him best.
I had expected to enjoy this drama more than I actually did. It’s a bit longer than it needs to be, has too many back stories, and there are too many surface characters. I once saw a comedy where a snobbish woman tells a novice artist, “With art it’s not what one puts in, it’s what one leaves out.” That’s what comes to mind when I think of this drama. There was just too much in it. As I said before, it’s not complicated to follow, there’s just a lot to it. I think it might have been better had it been simplified.
Kim Young-Kwang and Soo Ae were okay together but okay isn’t enough for a romance genre Kdrama. The romantic chemistry was lacking. The story set things up for a wonderful romance, and there were nice kisses, but the “I love this person” chemistry just wasn’t there. Maybe the eight year difference in age was a factor. Their characters have an age gap but it isn’t as large as the one between Kim Young-Kwang and Soo Ae in real life.
The soundtrack is nice although not very big. Henry (an amazingly talented musician who got his start as a member of Super Junior M) cowrote the words and music to I Wanna Go Into Your Heart and performs it with Mark (from NCT). Dawon (from Cosmic Girls) and Junggigo team up for a quaint little duet called Slowly, Little by Little. It starts out with just a ukulele sound and then adds more instruments slowly, little by little. The ballad Still, Love is an okay song by itself but what makes it memorable is Se-Jun’s beautiful, rich voice.
This show has a lot of nice scenery. The Hong Dumpling restaurant is located in a small rural town so we get to see lovely bits of nature – tall weed-like plants, a lovely lake, a small forest area… A fair amount of the drama takes place in Seoul, as well, so we have big city scenes, too. (One thing that bothered me was how often the people from the small town went to Seoul, which they said was three hours away. That’s six hours of driving in one visit and it came across as though they were just hopping over to the next town.)
I liked The Man Living in Our House, just not as much as I thought I would. Don’t expect it to be a 10 and you may enjoy it more than I did. It’s not bad, but it had the potential to be a lot better.
Unique beginning relationship with the sweethearts
Good action/fight scenes
Nan-Gil’s interesting background
Sweethearts lacked chemistry