April 27, 2019 – a glorious day for Kdrama lovers – the day Ji Chang-Wook was discharged from his mandatory military assignment. And less than two months later, this phenomenal actor was participating in the first script reading of the delicious, new, fantasy-romance comedy Melting Me Softly.
“Challenging oneself to do what nobody else will do, for the sake of a better future, this is a production director’s mission.” – PD Ma Dong-Chan
Thirty-two year old Ma Dong-Chan has a great idea for his multi-award winning TV show Infinite Experimental Paradise – he’ll enter a cryogenic sleep chamber for 24 hours and get the whole thing, including his “thawing,” on film. It’s definitely something that has never been done before and sure to be a ratings hit. However, he decides he can’t do it alone. A female subject will be required alongside him because of “the different body structure.” PD Ma’s assistant suggests asking Go Mi-Ran, a young woman that has been on their show many times before. However, the whole thing sounds way too dangerous to Mi-Ran and she graciously declines the offer. Desperate to shoot the experiment, Dong-Chan decides to try and persuade her himself and is thrilled when, after insisting there was no way she would do it, she suddenly agrees to be his guinea pig. With a camera rolling, July 28, 1999, Ma Dong-Chan and Go Mi-Ran each enter a cryogenic sleep chamber. But just before they are scheduled to be thawed 24 hours later, an unforeseen tragic event occurs which keeps them frozen much longer than they had planned and when the two awaken from what was supposed to be a frozen nap they discover, much to their horror, they had been asleep for 20 years! Now, they not only have to get readjusted to the world that passed them by but they have to do it while trying to keep their body temperature at a very low 31.8 C (89.2 F).
Nicknamed Midas Hand Genius, Ma Dong-Chan is a legend in the entertainment field. Among production directors he stands head and shoulders above the others and is considered a project design genius. The man single-handedly launched a renaissance for the stagnant entertainment category and changed a lot of paradigms in broadcasting. He is a production director in the entertainment department at TBO Entertainment Agency and has won awards for his show Infinite Experimental Paradise (which achieved a record 41.3% at its highest viewer rating) by blending entertainment, reality, and information. PD Ma is able to memorize numbers the first time he sees them, doesn’t care about hierarchy, and has amazing self-confidence. Dong-Chan believes, “A production director should not lack creativity. We should never lose the sense of the mission of a creator. Credibility over money and fame. If we are born as human beings, we should make the world a better place. I would like everyone in the world to laugh more. I don’t think there is anything better than people laughing… and becoming happier from watching a program I created.”
Go Mi-Ran is a 24 year old college student who works on Infinite Experimental Paradise every chance she gets. In fact, she is the number one contributor to the program. She has been part of many experiments such as – can you fly using only balloons, and how much food can you pile onto a buffet plate? She also did a gale test for the show, and she sprained her leg when she wrapped herself in a tire and tried pulling an 8-ton truck. She wasn’t interested in being part of the frozen human experiment until she discovered it could possibly give insight into curing some diseases. When she does something she gives it all she’s got – a co-worker claiming, “She works like she has ten lives.” She caught her boyfriend with another girl and broke things off in a rather rough way, the whole thing culminating at a police station. Mi-Ran lives with her parents and younger brother who has a mental disability. She dearly loves her brother and is very protective of him.
There are lots of other characters in the show (friends, co-workers, and family) that play important roles in the story but I’m choosing to not review them for you because who they are in 1999 is not who they are two decades later. I’d have to do two character reviews on each person and I’m afraid you’d find that too tedious. Also, I don’t want to ruin things for you by explaining all the changes that take place during the 20 years. You’ll enjoy the show much more if you discover the changes yourself along the way.
I fell in love with Ji Chang-Wook while watching him in Healer. Then, when I finished The K2 I gave him a place on my favorite actors list. The man is a master at suspense and action dramas. A little less than a year later I got my wish of seeing how he’d do in a romance drama, as I watched Suspicious Partner, and he was excellent! Now we get to see what he’s like with a light comedy – and again he’s perfect as PD Ma Dong-Chan! You can read about this versatile actor in my Healer review.
Sadly, I don’t have much information on Won Jin-Ah, the darling actress who plays the part of Go Mi-Ran. She began acting in 2015 with the short film Catchball. Melting Me Softly is only her third Kdrama – Rain or Shine (a.k.a. Just Between Lovers) was the first, and Life was the second. Life stars Lee Dong-Wook, whom I love, but I’ve just never gotten around to seeing it. I actually began Rain or Shine but didn’t get all the way through the first episode before turning it off. It just seemed too depressing so I stopped and turned on something else. I may go back to it someday, or I may not. Anyway, I really liked Won Jin-Ah’s acting. She and Ji Chang-Wook have electrifying chemistry. Am I the only one that thinks she looks a tiny bit like a young Yoon Eun-Hye?
Before people find out about Dong-Chan and Mi-Ran bring frozen they try to figure out why a person could look exactly the way they did 20 years earlier – plastic surgery, abducted by aliens, reincarnation, time travel, a doppelgänger, the child of that certain person are all speculations from different people in the show. What reason could you come up with if your friend didn’t seem to have aged in two decades?
In the drama, when society begins to talk about frozen people there is a kind of news/talk show where people debate “age.” Ma Dong-Chang goes to sleep at 32 and wakes up 20 years later, so is he still 32 or is he now 52? Is he the age his birth certificate says he is or is he still 32 because he wasn’t living those 20 years? Does time still count for him when he’s frozen? Try throwing those questions out during lunch someday at work and see what kind of a debate you spark.
Kdrama kissing scenes so often leave us wanting more – lips that touch but don’t move. I’m sure you’re all too well acquainted with them. Happily, every now and then a director will allow the characters to kiss passionately, like real people. Just off the top of my head I came up with nine – the cola kiss in Lie to Me, the on the street against the wall kiss in Another Oh Hae-Young, the back room of the carpentry shop kiss in Her Private Life, the in the break room kiss in Nine: Nine Times Time Travel, the rooftop kiss in City Hunter, the almost handcuffed kiss in Me Too, Flower, the straddled carry her kiss in Coffee Prince, the waterfall kiss in It’s Okay, That’s Love, the wedding night on the bed kiss in Secret Garden, and now the shower kiss in Melting Me Softly makes it ten! Woah baby, it’s an amazingly romantic scene that is sure to go down in Kdrama WOW kisses history!
So here’s a question that comes up during the show. One of Mi-Ran’s friends is asked whether she would like to postpone aging by going into a cryogenic freezer. What answer would you give? She tells the person that being inside a freezer is just like postponing homework. What a clever way of looking at it. I’ve heard some people say if they get an incurable illness they want to be frozen until there is a cure found for their particular disease. However, in all honesty, being cryogenically frozen is simply postponing the inevitable, isn’t it? I mean, even if you’re thawed when a cure is found you’ll still die eventually of something else, right? Would you want to be frozen?
There was one “oops” I found. Without going into spoiler details – someone is cut on their back and when surgery is performed the patient is lying face up. How does that work? Did the director forget where the wound was?
There’s a scene in the show where a group of the entertainment department folks get together at a karaoke bar. In that particular scene we get the pleasure of hearing Ma Dong-Chang sing, and just so you know, it really is Ji Chang-Wook singing! The ballad he croons, When Love Passes By, is even on the drama’s soundtrack. If you’re interested, you can go to YouTube and watch a video of him recording it. It’s a very simple, very pretty song and Ji Chang-Wook does a great job with it. Yuna (from AOA) sings Drip Drip, my personal favorite. It’s a powerful ballad and Yuna knocks it out of the park. Two upbeat songs are Fresh, sung by Hoody, and Tell Me, Please, performed by Yoo Yeon-Jung.
When Dong-Chan and Mi-Ran go location scouting they end up in a gorgeous spot with high cliffs overlooking a lovely lake. The nighttime shot, with its dazzling colors, is nothing short of spectacular. Another location scouting adventure takes the pair to a quiet forest which becomes the backdrop for a sweet, rainy, first kiss. The TBO Entertainment Agency building is a frequent setting. The cryogenic laboratory is hidden away, run down, and dark which visually reminds us of the fact that this experiment is secretive and not well funded.
I can’t even fathom someone not liking this show. It’s quality romance rolled up in a bit of fun. I breezed through it quickly and was almost sorry when it was over. In my opinion, Melting Me Softly is one of the most enjoyable Kdramas of 2019. Don’t wait. Turn it on right away. You’ll be oh so glad you did.
Super love story
Ji Chang-Wook and Won Jin-Ah’s chemistry
Ji Chang-Wook sings
Nothing about this drama can be categorized as bad