“Cinderella and Four Knights” (신데렐라와 네 명의 기사)

cinderella-and-four-knights

By Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
December 1, 2016

Kang Ji-Woon (played by Jung Il-Woo)
Eun Ha-Won (played by Park So-Dam)
Kang Hyun-Min (played by Ahn Jae-Hyun)

As you can tell by the title, “Cinderella and Four Knights” is a modern-day fairytale.

Ha-Won is a soon-to-be high school graduate. Her father is a truck driver who is rarely home. Her mother died in a fire when she was a young girl. So she lives with her evil Stepmother and Stepsister, who make her sleep in the cluttered balcony of their apartment. The only reprieve Ha-Won gets is when her father returns home from the road and the evil Steps move her belongings into an actual room.But instead of telling her dad how badly she is being treated, Ha-Won tries to make it appear as if they treat her well — even after her father slaps her for being disrespectful to his wife. (In reality, Ha-Won had finally grown a spine and was standing up for herself.)

She works multiple minimum wage jobs to save enough for her first year of college. During a chance meeting with a wealthy patriarch — who is impressed that she can hold her own in a group of unruly men — he offers her a job to live at his estate and keep his grandsons in line. She will be paid well, he says, if she can get them to act more like a family, rather than tenants. He tells her that his one cavaet is that she is not to date any of her grandsons.

Of course, you know what that means.

cinderella-and-four-knights-trio

There are a some really great moments in this series. For instance, when Ji-Woon and Ha-Won drunkenly flirt with each other, they are believable and incredibly likeable (until I remember the age difference).

Which leads me to am element that made me uncomfortable. When we meet Ha-Won, she is not yet 18 and is a few months away from her high school graduation. It’s vague how old the Knights are, but since they are all clearly out of college, I’d guesstimate that they range from mid to late 20’s. It’s just all kinds of wrong for a bunch of grown-ass men to be vying for a teenager’s attention.

The writers pit cousins Ji-Woon and Hyun-Min as rivals who want to date Ha-Won. (Again…she’s still a high school student. Ew.) The push-and-pull grew old fast, but what really bothered me was the inconsistency of the character development.

In the first episode, we see Ha-Won fight a man who refused to pay for the food he ordered. She takes him down easily. Later, we see her hold her own against Ji-Woon. When a man grabs her and throws her against a wall, she turns the table on him and tells him to never do that again, unless he’s ready to die.

But then in episode 6, a bunch of the high school Mean Girls bully her, push her into a chair and are threatening to cut her and she … just … sits … there. Seriously? It has already been established that she can fight and disarm grown men. Her mother ran a taekwondo dojang and trained her daughter personally to be a martial arts expert. And she just sat there trembling in fear until Ji-Woon came to rescue her.

Airdate:
This 16-part series aired on tvN from Augusts 12 to October 1, 2016.

[SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT]

Remember I told you how Ha-Won’s father slapped her in the face? In his anger, he also spit out that he never should’ve taken another man’s child into his home and says that he’s done with her.

WHOA! What an asshole.

We learn via flashbacks that Ha-Won had a lovely childhood when her mother was alive. Her father was loving to both of them. After her death, he began to suspect that she had an affair with her dojang partner (she didn’t) and that Ha-Won was their love child (which she isn’t). Instead of satiating his paranoia with a DNA test, he just treats her like trash, ignoring her phone calls, turning a blind eye to the way his second wife treats her and just being a Grade A jerk to her.

Even if she was the product of an affair, how could he treat a child he had raised in this manner? It’s disgusting.

By the end of the series, he has become a loving father again, the evil Steps show remorse and Ha-Won happily accepts them as family. She and Ji-Woon have won over his grandfather, who initially was against their relationship, because of her low position in life.

Winning? I’m not so sure about that…

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (7)

  1. Pat says:

    That’s gross and makes me wonder what’s wrong with these men that they’re attracted to a high school kid.

  2. Kathy Hewett Tsudama says:

    That bothered me as well. I’m okay with the age differences as long as the youngest is of adult age. Especially when 19 is the age of an adult in South Korea. Those exact inconsistencies of her being a strong person and then a weak one drove me nutty. I always wish the writers would stay consistent as well. Continuity please!

    • Jae-Ha Kim says:

      When I watch these dramas, I’m always aware of Korean age vs. Western age, so when I hear that she is 17 or 18, I automatically convert it to a year or two younger. I really like the female lead and think she did a great job with the material given to her. Because she looks younger than she is and because the actors all look around their age (late 20s), it just made the whole thing a little ew to me…

      • Kathy Hewett Tsudama says:

        Exactly! I’m watching the drama “The Man Living In Our House” now. The other title is Sweet Stranger and Me. A bit creepy that the main character actress has to go along with the fact that her mom married a guy 30 years younger than her just to protect their land from conglomerates and gangsters. So now this guy is her step-father. The storyline plays out that she’s falling for him and he’s been in love with her forever. I do like the drama but the story premise keeps creeping me out. I guess writers are trying to find a “new” spin on things?

        • Jae-Ha Kim says:

          I haven’t seen this one yet, but from what I remember of the synopsis, they’re all adults (mid-30s ish?). So…there’s that, I suppose? 🙂

          • Kathy Hewett Tsudama says:

            I think so. All but the one high school girl who’s obsessively crushing on the lead male character due to him being nice to her. Another-Ew.

  3. Renee Schneidewind says:

    Haven’t seen it yet. I just wrapped up K2. That man is smokin’ and such a great actor. Now I’m watching Squad 38 which is very different and interesting like Oceans 11 or something.

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