Drama Review: Prime Minister & I

Prime Minister & I

Prime Minister and I is a Korean drama series written and directed by Lee So Yeon. The drama aired in year 2013.

Non-review Rant

This is a first… watching Korean drama, that is.I have read, seen,heard people being obsessed about Korean dramas. Having watched a coupel of Turkish dramas, I understand how difficult it is to read the subtitles while trying to grasp the visuals. I had never thought of or planned to watch any other language, but then they say ‘Never say never’.My sister talked me into installing Viu app, and the first title that grabbed my attention was ‘Prime Minister and I’. Why? I just finished reading Haalim and… Well… that’s pretty much the reason I have.

Cast & Characters

Nam Family

Im Yoon-ah as Nam Da-jung

The female protagonist, the ‘heroine’. Nam Da-jung works in a gossip tabloid ‘Scandal News’. Her job is to cover romance scandals of celebrities. She dreams of being a novelist (don’t we all?) failing which she settles to work as a reporter. Girl’s gotta eat, right? Also, she has to provide for her father who is suffering from Alzheimer and is admitted in special care center.

Lee Han-wi as Nam Yoo-sik

Da-jung’s father who is suffering from Alzheimer

Kwon Family

Lee Beom-soo as Kwon Yul

Kwon Yul, 42 years old, is Korea’s youngest Prime Minister. Yul has lost his wife in a car accident seven years ago. He now lives with his three children and raises them with the help of a full-time maid. He is an honest man with high integrity and knows how to run the nation, but at home. As a father, not so much. His three kids have varying degree of grudge against him.

Choi Soo-han as Kwon Uri

Kwon Uri, 15 years old, is the eldest of Kwon Yul’s children. He wants to pursue music and has other demands as teenagers do, like having a cellphone, but his father does not allow him to, making him bitter about Kwon Yul.

Jeon Min-seo as Kwon Nara

Kwon Nara, 12 years old, is the second child and only daughter of Kwon Yul. Nara is a sixth grader in middle school. She is a fashionista and like all kids, expects her father’s attention.

Lee Do-hyun as Kwon Manse

Kwon Manse, 7 years old, is the youngest child and son of Kwon Yul. Manse has just recently started primary school as a first grader. He is quite naughty and sharp. Being the youngest, he needs his father the most but is always saddened to experience otherwise.

Park Family

Ryu Jin as Park Joon-ki

Park Joon-ki, 42 years old, Minister of Strategy and Finance, is Kwon Yul’s brother-in-law and political opponent. He is grudges against Kwon Yul – personal and professional.

  1. His sister Na-young was married to Kwon Yul and died in a car accident. He blames Kwon Yul for the same.
  2. Park loves Seo Hye-joo but she loves Kwon Yul.
  3. He wants Kwon Yul to fail as a prime minister. Politics!

Jung Ae-yeon as Park Na-young

Kwon Yul’s wife.

Yoon Hae Young as Na Yun Hee

Joon Ki’s wife. She is a typical trophy wife, too full of herself and is always surrounded by two minister wives to butter her up. She never lets go of any opportunity to insult Kwon Yul or Nam Da-Jung or Seo Hye-joo.

Others

Yoon Shi-yoon as Kang In-ho

Kang In-ho, 32 years old, is the Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s office. He speaks at least four other languages other than his native tongue of Korean – those languages include Chinese, Japanese, English, and Spanish. Ever since the first time he had met Nam Da-jung, he found her unique and interesting. However, when she started pestering Kwon Yul to marry her, In-ho began to perceive Da-jung as just another woman who wants to get close to the Prime Minister, and despised her greatly. Later on, when he got to know the reason behind Da-jung’s actions, he regrets misunderstanding her. Deciding that he doesn’t want to have any more regrets in life, he falls further in love with her. He just wants to prove to Da-jung that when he said he would protect her, he truly meant it.

Chae Jung-an as Seo Hye-joo / Jung Da-bin as young Hye-joo

Seo Hye-joo, 35 years old, is Kwon Yul’s university, his chief of staff and truly, madly in love with him.She is quite ambitious and determined that she will get her way, now that Kwon Yul is single.

Jeon Won-joo as Na Young-soon

The house maid. She is responsible for running the house whne Kwon Yul runs the country.Lee Young-beom as Shim Sung-ilChoi Deok-moon as Go Dal-pyo

Lee Tae-ri as Park Hee-chul

Da-jung’s aide and a loyal friend, although temporarily works against her.

Min Sung-wook as Byun Woo-chul

Yoon Hae-young as Na Yoon-hee

Kim Ji-wan as Kang Soo-ho
Jang Hee-woong as Bae In-kwon

Song Min-hyung as Kim Tae-man

Kim Jong-soo as Gong Taek-soo

Hong Sung-sook as Jang Eun-hye

Lee Yong-yi as Lee Dal-ja
Ko Joo-yeon as Roori

Han Young-je as Kwon Yul’s bodyguard

Lee Deok-hwa as Na Yoon-hee’s father

Kim Junmyeon of EXO as Han Tae-woong

Plot Summary & My Commentary

Nam Da-jung is genuinly messy girl who wants to excel at work. And, she puts all her best efforts to get a good scoop on the youngest prime minister. Her father wants her to be married and that adds to her worries.

Kwon Yul is so focused on his job of being a prime minister that he ignores his family. When Nam De-jung and Kwon Yul meet for the first time, they start on a wrong foot. He mocks her and her gossip tabloid, as do other media people. Then, he also mistakes that she has kidnapped Manse, while in fact, she was the one who rescued him.

A nosy reporter captures them fighting together. In pictures, it looks like they are kissing. It creates a lot of fervor. During press conferences, Kwon Yul is blamed for an alleged affair. To calm the matters, Kang In-ho tells Nam Da-jung to lie to the media that she is getting married to the prime minister.

They get into a contract marriage, and she gets attached to the family. When Nam Da-jung marries Kwon Yul, Manse is the happiest, as is the case with the youngest borns. Their young and unadulterated minds are purest and anybody who treats them nice wins their heart. Manse is a kid and already a fan, but she struggles while dealing with Uri and Nara.

I like the thought that he has put in to name his kids – Uri Nara Manse (Our Country Honour). He is a good father who wants only the best for his kids from table manners to self-defense techniques, he does not shy away from teaching them anything. Too bad for the kids, though. Because, he comes across as rigid, stern and a disciplinarian. And, let’s face it. No kid loves it.

Gradually, Kwon Yul also starts to care for Nam Da-jung, even gets jealous of her friendship with Kang In-ho.

Review

Let’s begin the dissection – a systematic one.

Observations About Their Content and Style

1. Very Asian, very conservative, very traditional in approach; a lot like Pakistani dramas. 17 episodes had two kissing scenes. Very chaste kisses and Kwon Yul himself described it as ‘lip butt’. Hahaha, I love that term.
2. Pacing is slow and a bit too dramatic. I mean, I would read the subtitle and wait for 15 seconds for the next line to appear. The focus on emotions and facial expressions is a bit much.
These are the only observations so far. Everything else is part of review.So, the series is about a gossip tabloid ‘Scandal News’ reporter Nam Daejong and Prime Minister nominee (and thereafter Prime Minister) Kwon Yul.

Tropes

Love triangles – 4 of them. Or, should I say an entangled chain of love relationships.

  1. Kwon Yul, Park and Seo Hye-joo were in college together. Park loved Seo Hye-joo and Seo Hye-joo loved Kwon Yul.
  2. Kwon Yul married Park Na-young, who falls in love with Kang In-ho. Seo Hye-joo still loves Kwon Yul.
  3. Park Na-young dies, Seo Hye-joo still loves Kwon Yul and works for him. Park is married but still loves Seo Hye-joo.
  4. Kwon Yul married Nam Da-jung, who falls in love with him. Kang In-ho loves Nam Da-jung and Seo Hye-joo still loves Kwon Yul.

Things I liked

The Heroine

Nam Da-jung is genuinely sweet and caring. And, she doesn’t annoy as most of the heroines do in rom-coms.There is no in-your-face comedy, as you see in some of the rom-coms.

The Plot and Subplots

There are layers and sub-plots to keep you engage in the story, even if the protagonists are not in the frame.

The Ending

We love happily ever after, but there is no concluded happily ever after. They don’t end up living together. Nam da-jung leaves him to pursue her dreams and wander around the world. In last scene, they meet again and formally introduce themselves. Awnnn!

Things I don’t like

The Pace

Slow, oh-so-slow. As I was watching it on Viu (an app that I have since denounced), and there was no option to change the play speed. That tested my patience.

Also, since this was a Korean drama with english subtitles, I was staring at the same line for hours before the scene and the corresponding subtitle line would change.The Twist Regarding Mrs Kwon YulIt was shocking, to say the least.

Performances

I can’t really say much. Most of them wore a steely blank expression most of the time. And, that is true for all Korean actors – as far as I have seen in several YouTube clips. I liked when Kang In-ho smiled.

What did you guys think of this drama?

Happy watching!

Shabana Mukhtar

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