Want some free dating advice? Then turn on The Undateables, sit back, and take notes. The drama is chock full of great relationship information served up in an enjoyably romantic way by likeable characters that we want to see succeed in love.
“Love is not something that you do. It’s something you fall into.” – Kang Jung-Do
Yoo Jung-Eum is in danger of loosing her job at a match-making agency if she can’t find suitable partners for certain difficult to match people. With desperation guiding her, she turns to relationship expert Kang Hoon-Nam for help but even though he may know a lot bout love, he has personally chosen to stay far away from it. What will happen when a self-proclaimed bachelor teams up with an unlucky-in-love matchmaker in an effort to play Cupid for several desperate-to-love-and-be-loved strangers? Can romantic success come from such an unlikely pairing?
Thirty-five year old Kang Hoon-Nam (his name means “handsome guy” in Korean) graduated with a FSDA (type of business degree) from a university in Milan, Italy and runs a toy art gallery in Seoul where he employs his younger cousin who is his right-hand man. Toys mean a lot to him because he spent most of his childhood alone, playing with his toys. He is also the ghostwriter for a popular continuing magazine article called Hoon Nam Jung Eum which teaches men how to communicate better with women. He is calm, tactful, thoughtful, neat, and orderly. Although he was raised in a wealthy and prominent family, he is the product of “two people’s mistake.” While married, his father had an affair with his mother and when she passed away he went to live with his father’s family. His adopted mother is the chairwoman of DMJ Foods and his father is a member of the National Assembly. He also has an older half-brother who is happily married and has twin boys.
Yoo Jung-Eum had been on the national diving team but left in the middle of a competition in order to stop the man she loved from leaving her. Sadly, she ended up being publicly rejected by him and later that day her mother passed away. Ever since then she has been terrified of water. Poor Jung-Eum suddenly found herself an unemployed, has-been national athlete so her father signed her up at a matchmaking agency insisting it was time for her to get married. However, she ended up sending her friends on the arranged dates instead of going herself and that’s how she got a job working at the matchmaking agency. Recently she was assigned some very difficult people – the Zero members, the Ghost member, and the 100 rejections member and if she can’t claim success in three months, she’s out of a job. Her dad teaches at the local welfare center and is the unofficial head of the neighborhood.
Choi Joon-Soo is a physical therapy doctor at Dalise Medical Center and has been Jung-Eum’s best friend for the past 30 years. When they were in high school she confessed she liked him but was rejected. Now he likes her but hasn’t gotten up the courage to admit it, yet. The magazine Kang Hoon-Nam anonymously writes for chose Joon-Soo as the “most wanted man” and wrote an article about him. Joon-Soo is kind, smart, sentimental, encouraging, handsome, and understanding.
There’s lots of information on Namgung Min, who plays Kang Hoon-Nam, in my Chief Kim review. And you can find out about Hwang Jung-Eum, whose character is Yoo Jung-Eum, in my review of She Was Pretty. Both of these amazing stars are not only on my list of favorite actors and actresses but they each have a show on my favorite dramas list as well.
This show is all about relationships – those shared between family, friends, and the trickiest of all, male and female.
There have been several Kdramas who have characters that work in art galleries but this is the first one that exclusively features toys. However, it’s not really that strange. I recently traveled to another state to visit a friend and we went to a store that sold vintage memorabilia. I saw toys and magazines from when I was a kid and excitedly took pictures of them to send to my sister. I don’t know if you’ve looked online at old toys lately but they can cost a pretty penny. Hoon-Nam explains to his father that, “Investing in toys can make more profit than investing in the stock market because there are more and more adults who feel nostalgic about their childhoods and their memories are fading. The price has no choice but to keep increasing. It’s a world where you can make money from nostalgia these days.” So, if you have any old things packed up in your mom’s attic you might want to take some time and rummage around a bit. It just may be a lucrative way to invest your time.
There’s a guy in the show who is mourning the fact that his girlfriend got married to someone else and Hoon-Nam tells him something very profound, “Forgetting is also loving.” Meaning, if he truly loved her he’ll forget the hurt and want her to be happy. Then he follows that up with a poetic spin on the saying, “There are plenty more fish in the sea,” when he tells the man, “After spring, there’s a hotter summer waiting for you.” Remember that if you someday have to comfort a friend whose just been dumped.
There are several romantic relationships in The Undateables. Hoon-Nam and Jung-Eum team up to help a wealthy heiress, an unrefined stuntman, a workaholic businessman, and a chocolatier with facial blindness find the love of their life. Meanwhile, Jung-Eum’s friend, diving coach Yang, and Hoon-Nam’s cousin, Yook Ryong, wonder if they are right for each other.
The main romantic relationship in this show isn’t a case of love at first sight. It takes awhile for Hoon-Nam and Jung-Eum to warm up to each other. At first their impressions aren’t too good. Hoon-Nam tells Jung-Eum, “You’re random, nosy, and assume things.” And when she goes into his living space (which is above the art gallery) she declares it is, “… too dry and doesn’t feel like a person lives here.” But time and familiarity work their magic and before we know it the ice between them begins to melt. She warmly refers to him as Mr. Art and he lovingly adorns her with the nickname Cracorn (combining “crazy” and “acorn”). They have an enjoyable chemistry, but in all fairness I haven’t seen anything Namgung Min and Hwang Jung-Eum have been in where they didn’t click wonderfully well with the star they were paired with. Maybe that’s one reason they are both on my favorites list.
I found it interesting that the matchmaking agency Jung-Eum works for has eligibility categories for each member. People are given a grade in nine different categories – height, age, salary, looks, personality, background, education, wealth, and profession – however, they never explained who did the scoring or how it was done. (Hummmm… I can’t help but wonder how I’d fair?)
One of my favorite parts in the show is when Coach Yang is talking to some women and Yook Ryong is speaking to some men about what their friend says it is like to be married.
Yook Ryong: “Imagine that your girlfriend came over to hang out. You eat lots of food and have fun but at the end, she won’t go home. You need to send her home so you can play video games and do the things that you need to do.”
Coach Yang: “Imagine that your mom goes away on vacation, so you need to take care of your younger brother. You feed him, play with him, and clean up after him, but your mom doesn’t return.”
I absolutely love the different gender’s take on marriage. I’ll bet if you read those definitions to your married friends most of them would laugh and then agree with their sex’s character’s take on the union of wedded bliss.
There are a few “oops” throughout the 32 half-hour episodes drama. I just wish people would remember where things are before they film the same shot again (maybe from a different angle). The one that really bugged me is when Hoon-Nam picks up a mug in one hand while supporting it with the other underneath the mug. Then it shows him bring the mug to his mouth – with no hand under it – and while he’s doing that he puts the other hand under the mug. Yep, it’s noticeable and irritating. Another one shows Hoon-Nam’s adoptive mother on a train and her hair is pulled back behind her ears but the very next second, somehow her hair is touching her face. Yikes!
The soundtrack has four slow, romantic sounding songs split evenly between male and female vocals. But there are three that break away from the ballad sound – Nick & Sammy do a wonderful job singing and rapping Only U, an upbeat song that is impossible to not sway to as you’re listening to it. “I’m feelin’ good, I’m feelin’ this is love.” Park Soo-Bin (from Cosmic Girls) sings the flirty, little, finger-snappin’ song entitled Slowly, and I Need Flutter is a child-like, simple ditty performed by Alice.
The Undateables’ scenery is very clever and pleasing to the eye. As I mentioned above, the museum isn’t marble statues and paintings, there are toys all over the place lending color and fun to the background. We also get to see water – the Han river, a lake, and the ocean. One of the people Jung-Eum and Hoon-Nam are trying to set up is a farmer so we get to see the non-bustle of the countryside. Jung-Eum’s home is simple and unassuming with an outside courtyard in the middle. Very charming.
Every once in a while a drama will have a profound lesson that I simply must share with my readers. Here’s some pretty sound advice from The Undateables…
“I think it’s more important to be true to yourself than try to satisfy everyone and get hurt along the way.” – Kang Hoon-Nam
No bad guys
Wonderful relationship tips
Philosophical in its advice
Some irritating little “oops”