Welcome to another edition in my new weekly series which I decided to name the ‘Korean Drama Throwback’ series. This series will feature reviews for dramas that aired at least 10 years ago. Falling in love with Korean dramas well over a decade ago now, it was time for some official reminiscing. I look forward to sharing some of the great dramas of the past and it’s protagonists with you. Fasten your seat belts and join me on this journey down Korean drama memory lane. This week we will reminisce about ‘My Lovely Sam Soon‘, which was a major hit when it first aired back in 2005.
The Korean title translates as ‘My Name is Kim Sam Soon’.
Original Release Date: June 1, 2005 to July 21, 2005
The main stars of this drama are
- Kim Sun-Ah as Kim Sam-Soon
- Hyun Bin as Hyun Jin-Hun
- Jung Ryeo-Won as Yoo Hee-Jin
- Daniel Henney as Henry Kim
Kim Sam-Soon (Kim Sun-Ah) is a certified patisseur (that is fancy talk for pastry chef) in her late twenties. She has a rather brash way of speaking which causes people to view her as uneducated and look down on her. However, Sam-Soon graduated from the prestigious ‘Le Corden Blue’ and dreams of one day owning her own bakery.
Equipped with a vivid imagination, Sam-Soon will often play out scenes in her head about a event in her life yet to happen. These mostly revolve around encounters with people who treat her less than stellar. During these imaginary moments, she is a fierce and confident person no one dares to mess with. In similar real life situations, Sam-Soon usually scales back on this behaviour a lot.
After a humiliating break-up with her longtime boyfriend on Christmas eve, Sam-Soon is rather pissed at the world in general. Turns out he has been cheating on her for a while but tries to blame her for going astray *a true gem of a guy #sarcasm*.
Sam-Soon heavily blames this and any of her other misfortunes on her name, since it is considered old fashioned. It caused her to be made fun of since her early childhood and she has desired for years to change it to Kim Hee-Jin. Her Mom refuses to let her change it, despite repeated begging.
However, Sam-Soon believes in the motto of ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get’. It’s this positive mindset that keeps her going.
As if the break-up wasn’t bad enough, Sam-Soon looses her job for taking unauthorized time off work on that fateful Christmas eve. This leaves a mark on her work history that makes finding a new job difficult.
Hyun Jin-Hun (Hyun Bin) is the heir to a hotel conglomerate and as such enjoyed a privileged upbringing. Instead of taking over the hotel business from his mother, he decided early on to branch out on his own as a restaurant owner. His French themed restaurant ‘Bon Apetit’ has been enjoying popularity due to it’s quality French cuisine and high class ambience.
Jin-Hun’s mother, in an attempt to make him settle down, continuously sets him up on blind dates with what she considers ‘qualified girls’. However, he always comes up with new ways to get dumped on the first date.
The main reason that he refuses to date someone new, is his ex-girlfriend Yoo Hee-Jin (Jung Ryo-Won). Years ago, she left him without an explanation. He has not heard from her since but secretly still pines for her.
Although Jin-Hun definitely has a arrogant and self important manner about him, there is a hidden vulnerable side to him that most ignore. Due to an accident several years ago, he has a severe trauma that prevents him from driving. The accident caused severe injuries to his head that required extensive reconstructive surgeries.
But Jin-Hun was not the only victim of the accident. His older brother and his sister-in-law lost their lives that day, leaving their little baby girl an orphan. Blaming himself for the tragedy, Jin-Hun since tends to keep people at arms length and to behave in an aloof and rude manner.
Sam-Soon and Jin-Hun first meet the night of her break-up. Jin-Hun happens to be at the same cafe/bar as the couple for an arranged blind date, orchestrated by his mother. Not interested in his date, he instead amuses himself by listening to the conversation between Sam-Soon and her boyfriend at the table behind him.
Distraught over being dumped, Sam-Soon runs into the washroom and locks herself inside one of the stalls for a good old ugly cry. However, she accidentally entered the Men’s washroom instead of the Women’s washroom. Jin-Hun happens upon this scene a bit later and keeps knocking on her stall door until she opens. Recognizing the women from the earlier overheard conversation, he is quick to share his [questionable] wisdom on how she could improve her dating life. Sam-Soon obviously doesn’t welcome any of it and instead feels even further humiliated. Both walk away from this encounter with a horrible impression of each other and no wish to ever meet again.
Alas, fast forward a few months and that is exactly what happens.
Sam-Soon coincidentally applies for a patisseur job at the hotel owned by Jin-Hun’s family. She makes a cake to bring along to her interview at the hotel, but is turned down based on her résumé. Intact cake in hand, she walks by the kitchen on her way out and pauses to look in awe at the hotel staff pastry creations.
This is when Jin-Hun sees her and mistakes her for a potential spy. In a moment of surprise and confusion, Sam-Soon’s hair gets tangled on one of Jin-Hun’s suit buttons. Before anyone can fully grasp what is going on, he has taken a scissor to the tangled strand of her hair. In a blur of fury, she slaps him in the face with her cake and storms out of the kitchen.
From strangers to partners
Jin-Hun came to the hotel that day for a specific reason: He needs a favour from the pastry chef. His restaurants French patisseur recently up and left and he came to request help until he can find/hire a replacement. Getting a cake thrown in his face was not on the agenda.
Wiping the cake from his face, Jin-Hun happens to taste it and is immediately impressed. He rushes after Sam-Soon and, presenting her with his business card, offers her a job Interview.
The interview goes well and Sam-Soon is hired to work at ‘Bon Apetit’.
Not the least because of their stubborn personalities, Sam-Soon and Jin-Hun start a back and forth of ultimatums. She demands to be known at work as Hee-Jin and he is forced to reluctantly agree. It’s either that or look for another patisseur.
Despite their bickering, they increasingly start to rely on each other and work as a team. Sam-Soon agrees to be Jin-Hun’s pretend girlfriend to help him get his mother of his back. Peeling away his layers of aloofness, she discovers the scarred person underneath and helps him face his past trauma.
Jin-Hun initially makes jokes about Sam-Soon’s weight and age, but it soon becomes obvious that this is just a defense mechanism. He starts feeling oddly protective of her.
As he comes to know her better, he starts to admire her strength of character. Seeing her interact with his family, he realizes the precious person she is. How long will it take for Jin-Hun to realize that he has fallen for Sam-Soon?
A ghost of the past
Just when it seems that things are falling into place between Jin-Hun and Sam-Soon, Jin-Hun’s past comes calling. His girlfriend returns to Korea with the intention of winning him back.
How will Jin-Hun handle seeing his long lost love again? And where does this leave Sam-Soon?
‘My Lovely Sam Soon’ is a story that takes all of it’s characters on a self discovering journey. Nothing is as simple as it may seem at first glance. Not everybody fits the ‘bad person’ label they were given.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this drama and look forward to hearing what you thought about it.
Have a Korean Drama that you would like to feature? Leave us a comment below.
More Korean Throwback Dramas:
- Boys Over Flowers
- Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance
- You’re Beautiful
- When it’s at night
- Goong/Princess Hours
- City Hall
- My Girl
- Heading to the Ground
- Coffee Prince