Noble, My Love (고결한 그대)

Sung Hoon Bang & Jaekyung

By Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
January 19, 2016

2 stars

Lee Kang-Hoon (played by Bang Sung-Hoon)
Cha Yoon-Seo (played by Kim Jae-Kyung)

Note: Korean names denote the surname followed by the given name.

This 2015 Korean rom com is very pleasant on the eyes. The leads — Bang Sung-Hoon (who was so good in “Oh My Venus“) and Kim Jae-Kyung — both have model good looks and share some really fun scenes. Though you know going in that the poor-nice-girl-meets-rich-cold-boy storyline will end with a wedding, I was happy to be on board.

But, the main problem I had with this short series was the insufferable control issues that were played off as cute, rather than creepy. More on that later.

Kang-Hoon is the CEO of a huge conglomeration. He escapes from a trio of incompetent criminals who have kidnapped and stabbed him. Rural veterinarian Yoon-Seo stumbles upon him and stitches him back up. When he asks how he can repay her, she bills him exactly for her services (roughly $700).

Instead of being pleased that he got away so easily, he tells her that the value of his life is worth much, much more. He insists on giving her a more modern clinic in a chic neighborhood on Seoul, even though she doesn’t want it.

Coming from a family of poor farmers, it took her 8 years working part-time jobs to finish her college degree. On top of her university loans, she has a heavy mortgage on her vet clinic in a rural part of Korea. But, she accomplished that all by herself.

When she tells him no, he buys her current building in order to force her out and get his way.

Dude, WTF?

This man has control issues and doesn’t like getting, “No,” for an answer.

Sung Hoon

Unable to afford another vet clinic in her current city, Yoon-Seo finally relents. But because she has always paid her own way through life, she accepts Kang-Hoon’s offer on the condition that they will be partners, and she will repay him — with interest — for his share of the building purchase.

Because he is in his early 30’s and of marriageable age, Kang-Hoon is being pressured by his mother to marry. To get her to stop nagging, he hatches up a plan to pretend that Yoon-Seo is his girlfriend. He convinces her to sign a 3-month contract where he is the “dominant” and she is the “submissive” who must do everything he asks…though none of that will be of a sexual nature.

OK, even with sex off the table… ewwwwwwwwwwwwww. Yoon-Seo is a grown woman of 30. Just because she’s poor is no reason to treat her like an appliance that needs a service agreement.

I’m not sure whether the writers were trying to capitalize on the popularity of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie, but Kang-Hoon’s use of the dominant/submissive terms just are all kinds of wrong. There are plenty of people who live sham marriages for whatever reasons (hiding their true sexual orientation; immigration fraud etc.). It would’ve been easy enough for them to pretend they were a couple without even living together in the same house.

Speaking of which, our heroine is homeless now and sleeping at her clinic. The apartments in Seoul are much more expensive than where she previously lived and she can’t afford to get a place. When she finally finds a cheap studio, Kang-Hoon buys it and refuses to lease it to her. Why? Because he wants her to move in with him. Why? Because he’s actually falling for her and has heard that if you live with a woman and see them in their daily habitat doing everyday things (burping, using the restroom, waking up without makeup), you’ll lose that attraction.

Again. WTF?

If this series was recast with a male lead who wasn’t so handsome, I think the reaction to his actions would be quite different.

Meanwhile, a clique of Mean Girls aims to make Yoon-Seo’s life miserable. One of the only true things in her life seems to be the friendship of an old college flame, who seems so sweet and tries to woo her. But Kang-Hoon won’t have it and goes all territorial every time he spots the two together.

I know that we’re supposed to be rooting for Kang-Hoon, but hell to the no. This other guy seems so genuinely kind. More importantly, he’s not a domineering creeper stalker.

Of course, this couple does fall in love with each other.

The best line in the entire series is when Yoon-Seo’s younger brother asks, “By the way, wouldn’t his family disapprove of this, like in all the dramas?”

Yes, they would! Which is why everyone is worried about how Kang-Hoon’s mother will react. The only one who’s not intimidated by the mom is Yoon-Seo’s droll cat, who clearly has no Effs to give.

cat

Indeed, the mom doesn’t approve and tells Yoon-Seo that if she really loves her son, she will sign a prenuptial agreement. Yoon-Seo refuses.

This refusal didn’t ring true to me. First of all, in the real world, multimillionaires of any gender are going to want to protect their assets. Also, Yoon-Seo is the one who refused to let Kang-Hoon give her a vet clinic outright. She’s the type of woman who, if divorced, would just leave with what she came.

Though, that said, the prenup also stated that if she produced a child, she would leave the child with him in the event of a divorce. While I believe that prenups are a good idea for most marriages — considering that more than half will end in divorce — there is no way I’d give up my rights to my child.

Unfinished business:

I’d like to know what happened to the three goons who kidnapped Kang-Hoon. I realize that he didn’t want to publicize that he had been vulnerable. But, what would prevent them from trying it again? And why wouldn’t a man that rich and powerful want to track them down and get retribution?

I also wish the writers would’ve tied up loose ends a bit better. Instead of just sending her college beau off to England to study abroad (to get him out of the picture), I’d like to have seen a more uplifting storyline for him. Perhaps he could end up with someone who was capable of loving him back…or dating Miss Korea…or finding success in London…or…

Also, I found the couple’s younger brothers — particularly Yoon-Seo’s — to be very interesting and would’ve liked to have seen more storylines focusing on them. Both were much lazier than their elder siblings. But, they were street smart and had common sense, something that the leads lacked.

The K-Drama arm grab:

What is with all the men in these dramas aggressively grabbing the women’s arms and yanking them into a hug. It’s supposed to be romantic, right? I find it overbearing. Is there any series where the woman is so irritated at being tugged at like a rag doll that she gives her partner a good swift kick to the gut? This is a real question, because I’d really enjoy seeing that.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (6)

  1. Caladonia says:

    I had the same problems with this show as you did. I really liked it but couldn’t get down with the lead guy’s domineeering issues. I found him to be kind of a weirdo. You’re right. If they had gotten a ugly guy to play him, no woman would’ve thought his behavior was cute.

  2. Allie says:

    I think you took this show too literally. It’s not abusive. It’s fun!

  3. Diana Sarcona says:

    I wasn’t down with the whole submissive/dominant thing either. 50 Shades of Grey was so gross. I hate that KDrama even alluded to it.

  4. Meli Taylor says:

    Can you recommend any Korean dramas that feature relationships between men and women that aren’t domineering/rely on stereotypical gender roles? I want to get into Korean dramas but I haven’t had luck so far ^^;

  5. Yoon says:

    Good review, Jae. I had the same issues with this series. I still watched it all the way though because…Sung Hoon. 🙂 Like you said, it would’ve been interesting to see how viewers would’ve responded if the male actor was less attractive.

  6. Alicia says:

    See now I had a different take on this. I saw him as saying all these things, but it was clear he would never follow through on dominating her. Although I guess him buying her clinic to force her out was pretty domineering. But the contract that she signed wasn’t one that would’ve been enforceable by law so not a big deal to me.

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