In March of 2003 Yuu Watase’s six-volume manga series Absolute Boyfriend was published. Then, in 2008, the manga’s idea was adapted into an 11 episode Japanese drama of the same name. Four years later Taiwan jumped on the bandwagon by airing their 13 episode adaptation of the tale, calling it Absolute Darling. Now, it’s South Korea’s turn to give the story a shot with this 40 half-hour episode rendition entitled My Absolute Boyfriend.
Kronos Heaven is a state of the art company that makes amazing human-like robots whose customers are the top 0.01% of society. Zero Nine, their newest creation, is a lover robot whose soon-to-be-owner is a psychotically evil woman named Diana. Not wanting to turn his “friend” over to the woman who sent back her last robot in a mangled mess, Nam Bo-Won, a Kronos Heaven data trainer who has become emotionally attached to Zero Nine, decides to steal him away using a delivery service who drops off his crate at REAL, a special effects make-up company. Team leader Eom Da-Da accepts the delivery, thinking it is the movie dummy she has been expecting from America and is shocked to discover the dummy inside the case is amazingly human-like. When she reaches out to touch him, Zero Nine slips out of his case and Da-Da ends up flopping on top of him, their lips accidentally touch and the robot turns on. Because Zero Nine was designed to specifically be a lover, when he sees Da-Da he instantly begins to refer to her as ”Girlfriend.” Once Bo-Won tracks down Zero Nine and finds he is in safe hands, he talks Da-Da into keeping Zero Nine by her side for just a week, but he has to remain a secret. No one is to know Zero Nine is really a robot. That seems simple enough, but those seven days stretch into quite a lot more when Da-Da decides she wants to keep Yeong-Goo by her side indefinately.
Zero Nine is one good looking robot, with “a killer nose, kissable cherry lips, and a knife-sharp jawline.” The designers at Kronos Heaven took data from the most beautiful men in South Korea, put it together, and ended up with Zero Nine’s perfect face and body. If he sounds too good to be true, well, you get what you pay for and in Zero Nine’s case that happens to come to $180,000. When he desires a real name, Da-Da decides to call him Yeong-Goo. Being a robot, he is much stronger, faster, and smarter than a normal human. He is also kind, friendly, helpful, and positive – pretty much perfect in every way. Yeong-Goo’s favorite book is The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.
Twenty-nine year old Eom Da-Da is the team leader of REAL, a special effects make-up company once owned by her late father. If you include the time she was her dad’s assistant, she has been working in that field for about 10 years now. She only employs two people and lives paycheck to paycheck. The REAL workshop is on the first floor of her house, with the living space on the second floor. She dated Hallyu star Ma Wang-Joon for seven years, keeping it secret the entire time. It’s not until she begins to receive unconditional love from Yeong-Goo that she realizes true love encompasses both giving and receiving.
Ma Wang-Joon is the star of the immensely popular fantasy drama Doctor Alpha Go. He recently won the Best Male Lead award for his role in the movie Zombie Train (obviously a play on the real hit zombie film Train to Busan). Wang-Joon has been secretly dating Da-Da since before he was a star and had planned to propose to her someday. But when he’s given the chance to tell the world of their relationship he remains quiet, preferring to act like she is a stalker, that is until he feels threatened by the drop-dead gorgeous, perfect man who claims Da-Da is his girlfriend.
Diana is the heiress of DI Group. As a young teenager she was trapped in a fire and, as a result, her right hand, which she keeps covered with a glove, is now robotic. The tragedy scarred her more emotionally than physically, leaving her unable to trust others. She refers to Zero Nine as her “toy” and only plans to keep him until he becomes boring, then she’ll send him off to the scrap heap where useless junk belongs. She is sadistic and relishes in being able to instill fear and cause pain to those around her, laughing while others cry. The woman is completely void of heart and conscience.
Zero Nine/Yeon-Goo comes to life thanks to the wonderful acting talents of Yeo Jin-Goo. The last thing I saw him in was the historical drama The Crowned Clown in which he played duel roles. The man was absolutely incredible. I’m anxious to see him in Hotel Del Luna which just began airing a couple weeks ago. You can find some information about Yeo Jin-Goo by going to my Circle: Two Worlds Connected review.
This is only the second staring role Bang Min-Ah, the young woman who plays Eom Da-Da, has had. The first was opposite Namgung Min in Beautiful Gong Shim. You can read more about her in that review.
Hallyu star Ma Wang-Joon is played by Hong Jong-Hyun who began his entertainment career in 2007 as a professional model. A year later he made his acting debut in the movie Lovers. In 2010 he appeared in the first Kdrama I ever saw, Oh! My Lady. His first leading role came in 2014 by way of the wonderful cable series Her Lovely Heels. Some of you may remember him as the third Prince in the fantastic historical romance drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. Hong Jong-Hyun’s been in seven movies and 19 TV dramas.
Zero Nine was designed to be the perfect lover, and Yeo Jin-Goo does a spectacular job of making us fall in love with Yeong-Goo. The robot-man knows exactly what to say and how to react in every situation. He always has the best intentions and is eager to help others. His eyes light up every time he smiles and his somber looks make you want to hug him. He’s definitely one of my top 10 favorite Kdrama characters of 2019, thus far.
Sadly, there aren’t enough likable characters to make this show anything more than just okay. It seemed like, other than four people, everyone went through a “rotten guy” phase sometime during the drama’s 40 episodes. Yeong-Goo, Bo-Won, Yoo-Jin (a REAL team member), and Yeo-Woong (Ma Wang-Jon’s manager) were the only people that stayed consistently good and decent from start to finish. I disliked everyone else a couple times here and there thinking, “Well, that’s a jerky thing to do,” more often than not. It’s impossible to love a show when you’re able to find fault with most of its characters.
I had a difficult time with many of the choices these characters made. Diana, in particular, does so many things that could have landed her in prison (kidnapping, stealing, destruction of property…) but she doesn’t even get a token slap on the wrist in this show. People don’t go to the authorities about anything! The same holds true for another character who does several illegal things but gets off scot-free. Because people are trying to keep Yeong-Goo’s identity (as a robot) secret, things Diana does aren’t reported to the police. But the other person has nothing to do with Yeong-Goo so there was no reason not to drag that person off to the police station and charged them with threats of bodily harm, extortion, attempted murder, fraud… it was just ridiculous how many things went unpunished.
Because I had found so much fault in the writing, I was shocked at my reaction to the ending of My Absolute Boyfriend – I cried, not moist eyes but actual tears sliding down my cheeks, a few different times. Happy tears? Sad tears? I’m not telling you which, but the story did bring out some pretty deep emotions in me that I didn’t realize I had. So, because of the drama’s ending (and Yeo Jin-Goo’s acting) I gave it a much higher score than I otherwise would have.
Just a little interesting fact – the leading roles of Yeong-Goo and Da-Da were first offered to Chun Jung-Myung and Song Ji-Hyo but both declined. Although I think he’s a fantastic actor and she’s an excellent actress, neither one could have made this show any better. The drama’s problem is the writing, not the acting.
My Absolute Boyfriend performed so poorly in the ratings (earning just 3.7% at its highest) that the show was cut short. It had originally been scheduled to air 40 episodes but was reduced to just 36. However, the international broadcast (the one I watched) remains at 40. After watching My Absolute Boyfriend I kind of want to see the Japanese (which averaged a very decent 13% rating) and Taiwanese versions just to see how they compare with this new Korean one.
How’s the soundtrack? Well, I enjoyed it. Lena Park sings a lovely ballad called Like a Starlight. Still Waiting For You has a really sad sound to it. Personally, I would have liked it a lot better with another singer. I just didn’t like Seungjun’s quivering, out-of-breath sounding voice. Mr. Stranger, sung by Eunha of GFriend and Kisum, was usually played when Ma Wang-Joon was on the screen. I consider it his theme song. My Own Strength, performed by Kei of Lovelyz, is a slow rock song with the sound of finger snaps in it which encourages the listener to join in with snaps of their own. It Was Love is a great duet sung by Minah from Girl’s Day and Jung Il-Hoon from BtoB. She does the singing and he raps. It’s a great blend.
The Kronos Heaven warehouse looks dirty and run down on the outside but sterile and high-tech on the inside, Diana’s mansion is huge and reeks of money, Ma Wang-Joon’s apartment is nice but a lot less fancy than what I picture a Hallyu star would have, and Da-Da’s home/office is large and old – no different than when she was little and her father was the owner of REAL.
My Absolute Boyfriend is not one of the better Kdramas I’ve seen this year but because Yeo Jin-Goo is able to make Yeong-Goo so perfectly wonderful, I don’t think you should skip it. Just be prepared before you begin and remember – the show’s not great but Yeong-Goo definitely is!
The character Yeong-Goo
Yeo Jin-Goo’s acting
Not enough likable characters
Evil actions seem to have no consequences
A couple insignificant “oops”