Colleagues at work know Sung Deok-Mi as the talented head curator of the Cheum Museum of Art. Only her two best friends know she is a dedicated, true-blue Cha Shi-An fangirl. Her Private Life is an excellent Kdrama based on the novel Noona Dot Com written by Kim Sung-Yeon.
For years Sung Deok-Mi has been able to keep a good balance between her private life and her career. But a photograph of her wearing a jacket that looks exactly like the one White Ocean idol Cha Shi-An owns has just gone public and fans are in an uproar thinking she’s dating their idol. Because it was actually her new boss’s jacket (which he loaned to her when she got her shirt wet) he feels partly responsible for the misunderstanding and offers a solution – they can pretend they’re in a relationship to take the spotlight off suspicions of her dating idol Cha Shi-An. Seeing that as her only way out of the public eye and away from furious and violent Shi-An fans, she agrees to the romantic masquerade. This already complicated situation takes a turn for the worse when an obsessed Shi-An fan becomes relentless in discovering the truth about Deok-Mi – who is she dating, really? While Deok-Mi and her boss, Ryan Gold, are busy trying to make their fake relationship look real, sparks begin to fly. Is it possible boss and employee might really have serious feelings for one another?
As a young girl Sung-Deok-Mi would draw wonderful, elaborate pictures with sidewalk chalk and dream of being an artist when she grew up. She won many art awards while in school and things were on track for making that dream come true. Then, just before she turned 20, she broke her arm while chasing after an idol and that prevented her from going to school abroad and becoming the artist she so desperately hoped to be. So, she did the next best thing and became the head curator of an art museum. But a broken arm can’t deter a serious fangirl and now, at 33, she has that hobby down to a science. Her studio rooftop apartment is elaborately decorated with Cha Shi-An photographs, pillows, a water bottle she caught when he tossed it into the audience during a concert – Shi-An memorabilia of all shapes and sizes. She even runs a popular online fan site called Shi-An is My Road.
Three years ago Ryan Gold was famous in art circles, people gathering to watch him look at paintings. A one second glance meant the picture was bad, two seconds indicated it was not bad, and if a painting was lucky enough to received a three second look from him, well, that told everyone it was good. But a smile, oh, a smile said no talent, no future. Unfortunately, three years ago, after seeing a painting of bubbles by an artist named Lee Sol, Ryan hasn’t been able to paint at all and was diagnosed with Stendhal syndrome. He recently took over the position of Director at the Cheum Museum of Art and is interested in finding all nine of Lee Sol’s paintings for an exhibition. As a seven year old, Ryan was abandoned and put in an orphanage but was quickly adopted by loving parents and raised in the United States.
When Nam Eun-Gi was an infant he was taken in by Deok-Mi’s parents and, although he was never adopted, is thought of as one of the family. He won a silver medal at the Olympics in the sport of Judo and is now the director of his own gym. When he learns of Deok-Mi and Ryan’s fake relationship he is jealous and decides to finally tell Deok-Mi how he really feels about her.
Cha Shi-An is a singer in the pop group White Ocean. He has a tremendously huge fan base but feels that Shi-An is My Road knows him best. He is also a fan of Lee Sol’s art and, having already purchased some, desires to be the owner of all nine of her works.
Kim Hyo-Jin is an obsessed fangirl who also likes Shi-An and goes by the name of Cindy online. She is suspicious of Deok-Mi, thinking she is involved with Shi-An but when the rumor is spread that Deok-Mi is dating the director of the art museum, Hyo-Jin gets a job working there as an intern so she can spy on the supposed couple at work.
Choi Da-In is an old artist friend of Ryan’s. They’ve known each other for years (while living in New York) and when Ryan decided to give up painting and move to South Korea to take the job as director of the art museum, she followed in hopes of their relationship growing into something much more than just friendship.
Lee Seon-Joo has been Deok-Mi’s best friend ever since they were kids. She, too, is a fangirl and slightly resents the fact that being a wife, mother, and business owner has cut into her fangirl activities. She runs a café called CocoMoco and her seven year old son takes Judo lessons from Eun-Gi. Seon-Joo took pictures of Deok-Mi and Ryan Gold to try and help make their fake relationship look authentic.
For information about Park Min-Young, the actress who plays Sung Deok-Mi, you can go to my review of Queen for Seven Days.
You can learn more about Kim Jae-Wook, the man responsible for making Ryan Gold’s character so lovable, in my Temperature of Love review.
The best thing about Her Private Life is Kim Jae-Wook. This is the first time I’ve seen him in something as the main male character, which means he finally got the girl. The man is wonderful at playing romantic Director Ryan Gold. His looks, his touches, his kisses, his soft voice… I was in love with Ryan. He has no problem saying the words “I’m sorry” when he thinks he’s in the wrong and he knows how to sincerely accept an apology. He’s vulnerable yet strong, and those are excellent qualities that are difficult to balance well. I was totally convinced Ryan was head-over-heels in love with Deok-Mi.
The next best thing about this drama is the fact that a good handful of its characters have lives/careers/hobbies that are unusual and interesting. How many dramas have you seen that have being a fangirl as a hobby? Nam Eun-Gi’s job as a former Judo Olympian turned instructor isn’t all that common, director and curator of an art museum is different, and Deok-Mi’s parent’s hobbies of knitting and rock collecting are unique. This is not your same ol’ run of the mill Kdrama.
As excellent as Her Private Life is, there was one thing that really bugged me – Park Min-Young’s walk (Deok-Mi) made me crazy. She wiggles her hips in an overly dramatic way and it makes her walk look very unnatural. And she positions her shoulders so far back that her arms swing more behind her than by her sides. It looks like she’s trying to walk like someone in a beauty pageant. I found it very distracting. As for Kim Jae-Wook (Ryan), pay close attention to where his hands are. You’ll find he puts them in his pockets a lot of the time. Whether he’s standing still or walking, Ryan’s hands are resting in his pants’ pockets. That didn’t bother me, it was just something I noticed.
The romance in this show is A+ excellent! There are so many dreamy glances, little touches, and soft whispers between Ryan and Deok-Mi. One delicious kissing scene takes place in the back room of a carpentry shop and is so romantic it will make your toes curl. Their chemistry is electrifying.
I appreciated the fact that there are no awful, plotting characters in this story. The two people on the outside of the two love triangles are well-adjusted adults who don’t scheme to get what they want (the female doesn’t go into details with something she says but I didn’t consider that evil). They accept the fact that they can’t change how people feel and move on with their own life without a humongous pity party. It’s so refreshing.
This story has a wonderful complete ending. By the beginning of the last episode everything has been taken care of and the rest of the time is spent on ending the show in a non-rushed way. We get a full closure on all the main characters’ lives, making this a satisfying and well-written drama.
I am a big fan of art – paintings, sculptures, you name it and I enjoy seeing it. I don’t always like everything I see but I have a tremendous respect for artists of all kinds, probably because I don’t consider myself artistic in the least. There isn’t a ton of art shown during this drama but we do get to see some. At first I wasn’t extremely thrilled with the bubble paintings but, I have to admit, the more I saw them the more I liked them. Let me know, in the comment section, what you think of Ryan’s painting style. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I’m not going to say what I thought because I don’t want to sway your opinion one way or the other but I will say it’s very unique.
The song that was played during most of the romantic scenes is Think About You, excellently performed by Ha Sung-Woon. Just listening to it again, after the drama was over, brought back memories of some really beautiful, romantic moments in the show. Hong Dae-Kwang is the singer who performs Float. His voice sounds so happy and the song is so upbeat, it’s impossible to hear it without tapping your foot and bobbing your head. Hyunuk, Inho, Inpyo, and Jiahn from IN2IT make an appearance on the show as the group White Ocean. IN2IT’s also part of the soundtrack, performing a song called Shining Star.
Most of the show takes place in the art museum and the homes of Deok-Mi, her parents, and Ryan Gold. There’s one fun scene at an amusement park but the most romantic scenes are in two very unlikely places – the back room of a carpentry shop and a secluded driveway/alley sort of spot.
This is, by far, one of the best Kdramas in the first half of 2019! Now that this review has gone public I hope the whole world will know all about Her Private Life.
Great chemistry between lead characters
Unique careers and hobbies
No scheming people
Non-rushed, full closure on ending
Great fashion design (clothes) of most characters
Kim Jae-Wook makes his character Ryan Gold very desirable
Cameo appearance by four members of IN2IT
Park Min-Young’s irritating walk