To me, OCN is synonymous with dark, violent, unsettling (yet very good) Korean dramas, but that is changing quite rapidly. I remember how pleasantly surprised I was when I found out My Secret Romance had been broadcast on OCN. A romantic comedy on OCN? Yep. It was their first, and absolutely wonderful. Well, once again they’ve teamed up with DramaFever to create their newest romantic comedy entitled Evergreen, (aka That Man Oh Soo), and it’s just as entertaining as their first one.
For 500 years the Oh family has been the guardian of an ancient tree that produces special pollen capable of helping people express their love to the person they are attracted to. The heir to the tree and its special powers has an amazing ability to see peoples emotions – anger, sadness, love… all appear in different hazy colors around that person. But it’s not all positive, for with the tree comes a deadly curse.
He’s only 27 years old but Oh Soo has already accomplished more in that short period of time than most people twice his age. He is a genius scientist, a MIT graduate, and the first person to have invented an AI (artificial intelligence) capable of reading human emotions, as well as being a successful venture capitalist, a published author, and a part-time barista in the family cafe. He is the one who inherited the ability to see people’s feelings and help them with their relationships but according to Oh Soo, “Love is an illusion, a waste of emotion, or a sudden misunderstanding. A person like me, of all people, who doesn’t believe in love is the one who has the power to see love, like magic.”
Following in her deceased father’s footsteps, Seo Yoo-Ri is a dedicated police officer who loves her job. When her dad passed away and her mother became so ill she had to be placed in an assisted living situation, Yoo-Ri became the sole breadwinner of the family. She lives with her younger sister, Seo Soo-Jung, who is still in high school. Poor Yoo-Ri was just dumped by her boyfriend of three years, on the day she thought he was going to propose to her, with news that he was engaged to marry someone else.
Kim Jin-Woo is a P.E. teacher at the local high school. His first love happens to be his childhood friend, Seo Yoo-Ri, and although they haven’t been in contact since they were young he still adores her. He’s tried ceaselessly to locate her over the years but has never been successful in his attempts. Jin-Woo just happens to be Seo Soo-Jung’s home room teacher and when he asks to meet with her guardian, concerning her behavior at school, who do you think shows up? Is it fate or just coincidence?
The best big brother in the world is Oh Ga-Na. He is very protective of Oh Soo and is constantly watching out for him. He’s a ladies man through and through and relishes giving Oh Soo lessons in love. He doesn’t have a job but comes to the cafe now and then to just hang out. He didn’t inherit the ability to see feelings like his little brother but he’s sympathetic to the heavy responsibility Oh Soo has as the successor to the tree.
Because Oh Soo and Ga-Na’s parents both passed away when they were still small children they were raised by, and still live with, their paternal grandfather, Oh Man-Soo. He is a wealthy old man who loves his grandsons but is especially concerned with Oh Soo getting married and producing an heir. He was the guardian of the ancient tree and all the responsibilities that come with it but now that he is getting older he has handed everything down to Oh Soo – care for the tree, the cafe, and the special pollens that help people express their feelings.
There’s a part in Evergreen where Oh Soo fights a guy, giving him a judo flip over his shoulder and onto the ground. The scene probably wasn’t unfamiliar to Lee Jong-Hyun at all because he was a gold medal judo champion when he was in high school. He decided to give up the sport when he lost a match in just a few seconds. After that he began focusing on music – singing and piano and then picked up the guitar after being inspired by Eric Clapton. He made his entertainment debut with the pop rock band CNBLUE (woo hoo!) in 2010, the same year making his acting debut through the omnibus film Acoustic right long side his fellow CNBLUE member Kang Min-Hyuk. He went on to win the New Star award in 2012 for his role in the Kdrama A Gentleman’s Dignity. He has been in several dramas including co-starring in the teen vampire drama Orange Marmalade. Here’s a bit of fun personal information, he was actress Gong Seung-Yeon’s virtual husband on the variety show We Got Married in 2015 and then played opposite her two years later in the drama My Only Love Song. As well as being a member of CNBLUE, Jong-Hyun also has a successful solo music career. Oh, and he’s not just a singer and guitarist, he’s also a song writer.
I’m not a huge Kin So-Eun fan but I have to admit I didn’t dislike her quite as much as usual in this drama. I’ve always thought she needed a lot of work on her crying but this time she was much more convincing when tears began to flow. What seem forced in this show was Seo Yoo-Ri’s laughter. Oh well. Her crying became more believable so I have hopes her laughing will show marked improvement soon. If you want to know more about Kim So-Eun you can read about her in my Thumping Spike 2 review.
I not only liked the character Kim Jin-Woo but I liked the actor who played him, Kang Tae-Oh, who is a member of 5urprise. I was amazed to find out he is only 23 years old because in this show he seems much older than Lee Jong-Hyun who is 27. Tae-Oh’s been in Kdramas since his debut in Drama Festival – Save Wang Jo-Hyeon in 2013 and his silver screen debut is set for this year (2018) with the motion picture Propitious Site for Grave. I’m hoping we’ll be seeing him in more dramas very soon.
This show has an even flow to it. Things aren’t thrown in just to cause tension or to needlessly draw out the drama. There are no plotting ex-lovers, no manipulative mothers, no scheming siblings… just a romantic story that cohesively flows from one minute to the next. There were a few times I’d think, “Wait a minute. What about…” but very soon after that, a character would give me the answer. So everything is explained all in due time.
I really enjoyed this drama. I liked the characters and the whole premise that someone could see emotions. Remember how in Sensory Couple Oh Cho-Rim has the ability to see smells? Well Evergreen is a bit of a copycat with a twist, in that emotions can be seen this time around.
Every once in a while a screenwriter will make up a wonderful supporting character that a really good actor can bring to the forefront of the story (like Choi Si-Won in She Was Pretty) and Heo Jung-Min is a perfect little scene stealer in this show. His character, Oh Ga-Na, has so many cute moments on screen and Jung-Min is perfect at playing each and every one of them. He’s silly and cute, childish and funny all in one go. I loved it when his character showed up. He’s often over reacting to situations which made me smile and hope for more.
Since Seo Yoo-Ri is a cop there’s a tiny mystery for her to solve but it doesn’t consume much air time. It’s just enough to add a bit of extra interest to the story without overtaking the plot. Good call, writer Jung Yoo-Sun. However, the writing I wasn’t thrilled with was the ending. I’m not sure how the writer came up with it but it didn’t match what had been said earlier and the reason it was contrary to prior information was never explained. Huuummmm?
I was amazed at how many times Cafe Tree was left unattended. Oh Soo would run out of the cafe, leaving it empty with the door unlocked on a few different occasions. I lived in Los Angeles for a little over five years and in that short amount of time I became paranoid about locking doors. That easygoing attitude Oh Soo had about walking away from his cafe just wasn’t reality to me. If you watch the show, and I hope you will, keep track of how many times that place is just suddenly left unattended and let me know. I’m guessing about five.
I was frustrated while watching the first few episodes because I caught several glowing editing mistakes – the kind that let us know a scene had several takes. Yoo-Ri drinks some coffee and then tosses the china cup it was in. As it lands we see a perfectly clean cup, which obviously never had anything in it to begin with. During one of Oh Soo and Yoo-Ri’s kisses she has her hair in front of her ear as she leans in for the kiss but during the kiss it’s tucked behind her ear. And the last one is when Yoo-Ri is drunk and talking to a puppy outside a convenience store. The pooch is inside his doghouse, then outside, and then back in again. When we first see him inside his house the gate/door to the doghouse is open but just seconds later the puppy’s still inside the house and the gate is closed. Either the doghouse is haunted or that clever canine knows how to close the gate to his own house.
I wasn’t impressed with Evergreen’s soundtrack. In fact, there was only one song I liked and I was surprised when I discovered Kim So-Eun (Seo Yoo-Ri) is the one who sings it. I honestly had no idea she could sing but her voice is nice and really compliments that finger-snapping song entitled Love, Love. With a superstar singer like Lee Jong-Hyun being the main star of the show I’m baffled as to why he didn’t sing at least one song. He wrote and performed the song My Love for the Kdrama A Gentleman’s Dignity (of which he had a supporting role) and the song was a tremendous hit, peaking at number two on several charts, earning him five award nominations, and ultimately winning Best Original Soundtrack at the Seoul Music Awards in 2013! Why Evergreen didn’t take advantage of an amazing musician like Lee Jong-Hyun, when he was already signed on as the leading actor, is beyond my comprehension. Money, maybe?
The focus scenery in Evergreen is the magic tree and the cafe. The Oh family home is an old Korean style house which was obviously built around the special tree. We can tell it’s been upgraded over the years and is now a beautiful house with modern amenities. From the outside Cafe Tree looks like a house that had been turned into a coffee shop. Inside it is cozy and inviting but almost always void of customers. Even though it’s winter, Oh Soo and Yoo-Ri go to the beach which allows us to see the lovely ocean in the background.
I really hope you’ll take the time to watch this fantasy love story. You only have to see the trailer on YouTube and you’ll be hooked. As of right now it’s exclusively on DramaFever. A big thumbs up to OCN’s newest romantic Kdrama, Evergreen.
Excellent leading male characters
Heo Jung-Min’s enjoyable character portrayal of Oh Ga-Na
Perfect amount of mystery for Yoo-Ri to solve
Lots of “oops” mistakes in the first couple episodes