*The term mysophobia comes from the Greek μύσος (musos), “uncleanness”and φόβος (phobos), “fear”.
Clean With Passion For Now is a 16 episode romantic Kdrama that was based on a webcomic of the same name, penned by Aaengo, which was first published in 2013 and then again in 2015. The story failed to hook me right away and after the first half hour I wondered if I should just turn it off and look for something else. It had been in my DramaFever queue for several months but I hadn’t been able to see it before the site closed down so since I had been given a second chance, thanks to Viki.com, I decided to stick with it a bit longer. And I’m so very glad I did because not only did it get better as it went along, it got great.
Finding a full-time office job is proving to be a lot harder than Gil Oh-Sol had imagined so she decides to apply for a job at a cleaning company and is hired. Unbeknownst to her, the company, Cleaning Fairies, is owned and run by a man she had literally run into on the street one night and, as a result of the collision, owes a significant amount of money to. Although the situation had been a humiliating experience for her, and she’d rather never see the man again, she is determined to keep the job and become a model employee. She tries to keep her distance but there’s no way to avoid her new boss and they often end up clashing since he is a clean freak and she is queen of the dump pile. Interestingly enough, the phrase “opposites attract” proves to be quite true as the more Oh-Sol and CEO Jang work together the more they come to like each other.
In middle school Gil Oh-Sol was a track and field star, her top event being the hurdles. However, after the death of her mother she gave up sports and, although she acts like it’s no big deal, she very much misses it. With her younger brother still in high school and her father fresh out of a job she feels the financial pressures of running a home and takes a cleaning job while telling her family she has a respectable office job. Choi Ha-In, her neighbor and friend, declares Oh-Sol to be “such a nice girl.” She is a cheerful young woman who is well liked although cleanliness isn’t on her list of character traits.
When Jang Seon-Kyul was a very young boy he resided with his grandfather while his mother was off living her life far away from him. One day, after becoming very messy (as a typical kid often does) his grandfather got angry and Seon-Kyul came to believe his mother would only return if he kept himself clean. From then on, being perfectly clean became his main goal and the poor boy developed mysophobia, a pathological fear of germs and contamination. As a young adult he was sent to the United States for treatment and soon after his return started a cleaning business which happens to be doing very well. Because of his phobia he keeps mostly to himself, however, he is close to and relies heavily upon his personal secretary. Seon-Kyul is very intelligent and earned an “insane” amount of awards while in school. Oh, he’s also scared of bugs.
There are a few other important characters in the show…
According to Oh-Sol, Choi Ha-In is a “pretty decent guy” who lives in the rooftop room above the Gil family. He has a crush on Oh-Sol although she has no idea. He appears to be jobless and, through a misunderstanding, Oh-Sol calls him “Rooftop Perv” (short for pervert) and later “Rooftop Teacher.” Charmingly, his name for her is “First Floor Rez (short for resident).” It’s difficult to believe Choi Ha-In’s wonderful character was not in the webcomic. He was only added to create a love triangle in the drama.
Oh-Sol’s younger brother, Gil Oh-Dol, is in his last year of high school. Oh-Dol is a Taekwondo athlete who hopes to become part of the national team and participate in the 2020 Olympics.
Gil Gong-Tae, Oh-Sol’s father, has been a garbage collector all his adult life. After recently being “let go” from his job he has marketed himself as a car wash service that goes to the customer.
Min Joo-Yeon is Oh-Sol’s best friend. She is very close to the Gil family, going to Oh-Dol’s Taekwondo meets and cheering for him when Oh-Sol’s work prevents her from attending.
Secretary Kwon is CEO Jang‘s right-hand woman. She understands his mysophobia, only wants the best for him, and often comes across as motherly.
Lee Dong-Hyun, Hwang Jae-Min, and Jeon Young-Sik are the three guys on Oh-Sol’s cleaning team. Although they start out a bit at odds, they soon become very close.
Cha Mae-Eun was kept away from her son during his growing years and now wants to make up for lost time. She sincerely loves Seon-Kyul and wants him to lead a normal, happy life.
The Chairman of AG Company is Seon-Kyul’s grandfather. The man is distant and dictatorial, running his family like he does his business. He is in failing health.
For information about Kim Yoo-Jung, the 19 year old actress who plays Kim Yoo-Jung, you can go to my Moonlight Drawn by Clouds review. Some added information: when she was a child actress she was given the nickname “Korea’s Little Sister” and dubbed the “Sageuk Fairy” after all the historical dramas she’d been in. In 2017 she ranked 8th on Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list which made her the youngest to be included in the top 10 at just 17 years old. Her acting in Clean with a Passion for Now earned her a place on my favorite actresses list.
Thirty-two year old Yoon Kyun-Sang broke into the entertainment industry as a model. Then, he took time off to fulfill his mandatory military assignment before debuting as an actor in the 2012 historical fantasy drama Faith. The following year he took the part of “swimming team member 1” in the hit motion picture No Breathing. Then it was back to the small screen where he was cast in several Kdramas. However, it wasn’t until his role in Six Flying Dragons, as a young man who becomes the greatest swordsman in Joseon, that people began to really sit up and take notice of him. It was his role in that show that earned him his first acting awards – New Star Award and Rookie Actor Award. He co-starred in The Time That I Loved You 7,000 Days and Doctors, and his character didn’t get the girl in either one. Kyun-Sang’s first leading role came two years ago (2017) in the historical drama The Rebel. His second leading role was in Oh, the Mysterious which I just discovered and put on my watch list.
Kim Yoo-Jung and Yoon Kyun-Sang exhibit such excellent acting skills in this show. Kyun-Sang’s facial expressions are priceless and very telling. You know exactly what’s going on inside his head simply by looking at his face. Jung Seon-Kyul would loose his shirt in a game of poker. Yoo-Jung is arguably one of the best actresses in Kdramaland today. She is able to act any kind of feeling believably – joy, love, fear, sorrow, regret, worry, surprise… – you name it and she can do it, convincingly! I’d love to see her in something dramatic and suspenseful.
Some people may see this drama and think the writing went way over the top with Seon-Kyul’s mysophobia but it wasn’t hard for me to go along with at all. I happen to be someone who suffers from that same phobia and I can tell you it’s debilitating. Thanks to medication that part of my OCD has become a bit more bearable but every single day I still come home from work, wash my hands (twice), put my clothes in the washer, and get right in the shower before going on with the rest of my day. (It drives my roommate crazy.) It’s unheard of for my kitchen and laundry room cabinets to be without Lysol wipes! My roommate once said to me, “You know, Sara, you’d save time and money if you didn’t clean things that are already clean.” I put lotion on my hands before going to bed each night because I know I’ll be washing them over and over the next day. I understood Seon-Kyul and that might be what kept me going from episode to episode. Anyone else out there battling mysophobia? I’ll bet it’s more common than we think it is.
The part of Jang Seon-Kyul originally went to Ahn Hyo-Seop but while filming was being delayed (due to Kim Yoo-Jung’s treatment for hypothyroidism) he began shooting Thirty but Seventeen, which then became a problem with his schedule for being in Clean with Passion for Now and Yoon Kyun-Sang took over that lead male role. We, the audience, are very lucky fate stepped in to give us Yoon Kyun-Sang because there’s something special between him and Kim Yoo-Jung. Their chemistry is nothing short of superb, despite the fact that there is a 13 year age difference between the two. Thanks to that awesome chemistry, and the excellent decision of the director to let lovers kiss like they do in real life, we get some delicious, romantic scenes! They are so believable. When they kiss and hold each other their entire bodies are a part of the embrace. So many drama couples kiss with their upper torsos touching and a huge gap between them from the chest down. It’s noticeable and very unconvincing. However, Yoon Kyun-Sang pulls Kim Yoo-Jung closely as she presses right up next to him, no light coming between them from their lips right down to their knees. I can very happily categorize Clean with Passion for Now as part of the romance genre.
Sadly, this show didn’t do wonderfully well in the ratings. As I’ve mentioned in many other reviews, dramas shown on cable channels tend to have significantly lower ratings than those aired on free TV channels, understandably, and Clean with Passion for Now was aired on a cable channel. Its best rating was 3.574% for episode eight – exactly halfway through the show. That’s pretty decent for a cable drama. However, its lowest rating was episode 16 at 1:583% and that’s not good because what it says is that the show lost fans as it went along, it wasn’t interesting enough for people to tune in to find out what happened to the characters. That’s sad because the show really is very good once it gets going. Yes, there are predictable moments but almost every drama has their share of “I saw that coming” scenes. If you skip this because of its ratings you’ll be doing yourself a big Kdrama disservice.
The only “oops” I caught was when Oh-Sol spills a bucket of pens. One second they are all over the sidewalk and the next second, when she’s ready to go, they are back in the can, and I didn’t see or hear anyone pick them up. Oops!
Even though there is a song entitled Clean with Passion for Now, performed by Crying Nut, that’s not the one I consider to be the show’s theme song. In my opinion, Gravity, performed by KLANG, gets that honor. And there are two versions of it – one sung in English and another in Korean. The soundtrack sports ten different songs, each one played enough throughout the drama that we become familiar with it but not to the point of boredom. I think my favorite ballad is Fade Into You, beautifully sung by Nam Sae-Ra.
Oh-Sol’s house is small and well-kept, aside from her bedroom which is cluttered and messy. Soon-Kyul’s home is sparkling clean, of course, spacious, and all white. I’m sure that was deliberate – dirt is much easier to see against a white background. I loved the big atrium near the entranceway. It is filled with trees, rocks, and lights perfectly situated in a neat row. I’m sure being close to naturally-dirty nature was something Seon-Kyul was unable to peacefully do. But bringing the outside indoors, and creating an abnormally clean environment for it allowed him to enjoy the beauty without the yuck. Clever.
Give Clean with Passion for Now a try. It’s an original story with personable characters and an interesting romance. I liked it. And, to end this review I’ll leave you with some encouraging words from Oh-Sol…
“My dad always said life is like hurdling. Because the rules of life are so mean, once you pass one crisis it’s a given that another is on the way. That’s why, instead of wearing yourself out each time, you should leap lightly over every hurdle.”
Yoon Kyun-Sang and Kim Yoo-Jung’s chemistry
Kim Yoo-Jung’s acting
Yoon Kyun-Sang’s facial expressions
A slow start