“Oh My Venus” (오 마이 비너스)

Oh My Venus

By Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
January 8, 2016

3.5 stars

Young Ho/John Kim (played by So Ji-Sub)
Joo Eun (played by Shin Min-Ah)
Woo Sik (played by Jung Gyu-Woon)
Soo Jin (played by Yoo In-Young)
Joon Sung (played by Bang Sung-Hoon)
Ji Young (played by Henry Lau)

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

My mother has been a Korean Drama fan since before it was trendy. I remember watching her watch her shows and being interested in some of the episodes. But, more than anything, I wondered what all the fuss was about.

Then over the holidays, I caught bronchitis and had a difficult time sleeping. I found “Oh My Venus,” started watching and was hooked to the point where I was trying not to fall asleep so that I could watch more. (The last episode aired this week. Boohoo. Yes, I’m sad and going through withdrawal.) This is the show that jumpstarted my newly acquired love of K-Dramas.

An easy to watch rom-com, the 16-part series has its flaws (the fat shaming could’ve been toned down). But, it’s a fun, addictive show that lives up to the hype. The two leads share amazing chemistry and are just so enjoyable to watch.

When we first meet Joo Eun, she’s the prettiest girl in high school and is referred to as the city’s Venus. Knowing that every teenage boy in Daegu is is love with her, Woo Sik ups the ante by declaring her his first love. He gives her his gold medal from a national swimming championship.

She bites on it to make sure it’s real.

That’s the kind of girl Joo Eun is. Beautiful, but also practical and driven, and not so easy to impress.

Flash forward to present day. Still unmarried, the two have been together for 15 years. But instead of proposing, Woo Sik gently breaks up with Joo Eun.

Henry Lau, So Ji Sub, Sung Hoon

—————————–(from L) Henry Lau, So Ji Sub, Sung Hoon

Meanwhile, we meet John Kim, a mysterious personal trainer to the stars. Famous for whipping celebrities into shape, he gets embroiled in a scandal involving American movie star Anna Sue.

Honestly, I’m not sure what that scandal is. Did they have an affair, or did he simply train her to get back in shape?

Regardless, the Korean press goes nuts trying to uncover his true identity.

It doesn’t take long before we learn that John Kim is Kim Young Ho, the heir to one of Korea’s wealthiest companies. The reason he keeps his “John Kim” persona quiet is because working with movie stars is considered unseemly and could hurt his family’s reputation.

His grandmother wants him to move back to Seoul to take over the family business.

Reluctantly, he leaves Los Angeles with his best friends Joon Sung — an MMA fighter known as the Korean Snake who he trains — and Ji Young, who manages Joon Sung.

The trio provides quite the oppa parade, for K-Drama’s female fans.

Through a series of mishaps, Young Ho saves Joo Eun (on a plane after she passes out; at a hotel after she falls and dislocates her shoulder; from a stalker who breaks into her home). Eventually, she learns that he is the elusive John Kim and she persuades him to become her trainer.

By American standards, Joo Eun isn’t obese. She’s lumpy and out of shape. The prosthetics added to her face do little to hide her beauty.

Joo Eun’s weight gain and health problems were caused by hyperthyroidism, which was exacerbated by her having to work long hours to support her mother and younger brother after their father died. Young Ho’s rock-hard body is the result of a meticulous diet and workout schedule, spurred on by his battle with cancer and multiple childhood surgeries. That’s one of the reasons he doesn’t want to lead his family’s business. They run hospitals, and he spent so much of his childhood in intensive care.

Both have overcome a lot in in their lives.

A few things that I really liked about this drama:

♥ During the time the spend together working out, Young Ho falls in love with Joo Eun. She is still heavy and not in the best of health. But she is smart, fearless and unfraid of the unknown. I love that they became a couple before her Venus-like transformation was complete.

♥ The proposal (in Episode 15) is insanely romantic and unique. Sorry if I spoiled it for you. That said, there’s no way anyone could watch this series and not realize that they would end up together.

♥ Woo Sik doesn’t become the villian by virtue of breaking up with Joo Eun. He didn’t break up with her because of her weight. He ended it because he wasn’t in love with her any longer. When he forges a relationship with their college friend, Soo Jin, it’s not rushed.

♥ The friendship that Young Ho, Joon Sung and Ji Young share with each other, and then with Joo Eun, is simply lovely. They are a family.

As with many series finales, I found this one to be lacking. While they addressed all the major plot points, it felt rushed and pieced together. But, you left feeling that all would be right in their world. And there’s something to be said for that.

Overall, this is the perfect K-Drama and one that I look forward to rewatching.

Spoiler alert:

The finale ends before the wedding, but Joo Eun is already pregnant with Young Ho’s twins. This will make his grandmother verrrrry happy. It would’ve made me very happy to watch her walk down the aisle in her wedding gown. But, that’s just a small quibble.

We also see a flashback to a time when the Joo Eun and Young Ho met briefly as children. Walking home from school, she sees him sitting outside by himself in his wheelchair. She puts a bandage on his cast and tells him he’ll feel better soon. He asks how she knows that. She says, “If you believe it, you can do it.”

Oh My Venus_Giordano

What I would’ve changed:

Near the end of the series, Young Ho’s uncle (his stepmother’s brother) tries to kill him, to prevent him from running the family company.

The recovery process takes over a year and is filled with painful rehabilitation, much of it in Los Angeles.

During that time, Young Ho refuses to see Joo Eun. He doesn’t want her to suffer by seeing him in pain.

He has always said that the most attractive trait is when a person is healthy.

I understand the need to forgive loved ones. But when Young Ho invited his uncle to come back to work for him — knowing what he had done — I found the move to be careless and stupid. You should never trust someone who has tried to kill you.

The subplots:

I was really impressed with all the issues that were dealt with in this series:

Fat-shaming. Besides being the butt of jokes, due to her weight, Joo Eun is ridiculed by the police when she tries to press charges against her stalker. They laugh in her face and ask why a man like him would have any interest in someone like her — as if perverts only harm thin, beautiful women. (This line of thought was also prevalent in a recent judo segment on the Korean reality series “Cool Kiz on the Block,” where the cast members joked that the middle-aged female comedian would be safe because she wasn’t pretty. WTF, people?)

Soo Jin is also ridiculed for her weight. There’s a scene from their college years when she is set up on a blind date. The male, who is unattractive, still feels he has the right to verbally abuse her for being fat. He orders her to never be seen in public looking the way she does. As if fat people don’t have a right to see and be seen. As if his ugliness wasn’t manifested in both his inner and outer core.

• Birth mothers. We learn that Joon Sung’s mother was abused by her husband and killed him in desperation. She gave birth to Joon Sung in prison and lost custody of him. He was raised in an orphanage. After he won fame as the Korean Snake, he donated most of his money. His soon-to-be girlfriend asks why an orphan would give his money to unwed mothers’ groups rather than to orphanages. This has been a huge issue in Korea amongst adoptees, who rightfully point out that the stigma against unwed mothers is so strong that many have no choice but to give their babies up. They are unable to find work, once it is out in the open that they have had a child out of wedlock. Joon Sung’s actions, I believe, are to help other children from having to grow up without their mothers. If the women have money to raise their babies, they won’t have to send them to orphanages.

• Domestic abuse. Showing that the cycle of abuse doesn’t end easily, Joon Sung’s mother is riddled in bruises. Her current husband also beats her. In the finale, they “resolve” this problem by saying that things are better now that the husband is getting treatment for whatever his issue is (alcohol? anger management?). I’d like to believe that’s the solution, but the better resolution would’ve been for her to move out and into her own place or with her son.

• Bloodline. The grandmother’s focus on bloodline is obsessive, but not that uncommon. Young Ho is her (deceased) daughter’s son and her only grandchild. Though Young Ho’s father remarried and had a second son, she doesn’t consider the younger boy to be a true grandchild, since he doesn’t share her bloodline. This provides a little insight into why Koreans are not the biggest proponent of adopting orphans within their own country.

Run dates:

The series premiered in South Korea on November 16, 2015 and aired its finale on January 5, 2016.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (26)

  1. klaudiarakyta says:

    Love this show ?

  2. doramatv_dag05 says:

    ??

  3. birdieagain says:

    It’s such a good drama! Get better soon !

  4. mrsjennyl says:

    Watching it now. I’m on episode 11. ??

  5. momfroggy says:

    I absolutely love this drama… Happy to see the conclusion, sad to see it end.

  6. m.salesses says:

    I’m watching this now too

  7. lee.dae.ho_038 says:

    Aww~ I feel your pain my friend. I am watching Sungkyunkwan Scandal! ? I hope you are feeling better~ ? My best to you and your family!

  8. zach_brake says:

    Feel better! And that is a great show haha

  9. Clarissa says:

    This got me hooked, too, Jae. I’m going to marathon watch it all again this weekend!

  10. doreenhwong says:

    I marathon watch shows when I don’t feel well too ? Hope you feel better soon!! (((Hugs)))

  11. Sandy says:

    LOVE this show! I’m only on episode 5 but I can’t wait to see how it all plays out! I love Korean Dramas, they’re the best!

  12. Amy says:

    BEST SERIES EVER! I would die to have Young Ho as my boyfriend. He’s my bias. hee hee

  13. Margaret says:

    It was cheesy and fresh in a new way and I loved it! Thanks for this review. OMV was a real treat!

  14. Kim Jaehwa says:

    Best KDrama ever! Loved it!

  15. Debby Freer says:

    I am sad. It’s probably one one the best shows I’ve watched. I loved him in the Master’s son. I do have to say they left me hanging with her best friend. I would have liked for her to have hooked up with his Secretary or what ever he was. She was fun for sure. They actually need to do a part 2, right?

  16. Jessica Walker Daniel says:

    I loved this show. 😉 Henry is a favorite in our house… My son also plays violin…. And I think I’ve loved So Ji Sub in everything I’ve ever seen him in.

  17. Fannie says:

    Fanatastic review of a fantastic series! I love this and could watch it over and over. I watched them every week, but now that it’s over, my girlfriends and I plan on having a marathon weekend of watching this. I love So JiSub and Shin Mina is gorgeous and so talented. I hope they team up for another series or movie soon!

  18. lissajov says:

    Mmmm~~ to So Ji Sub and K-food! Hehe. ❤️?

  19. noellecruz says:

    So Ji Sub!!!! Markus and love Shin Min Ah. So we’re gonna watch that drama very soon!! I LOVE that you’re reviewing k-dramas!! I’m gone be all over that!!

  20. hopeannn says:

    I love kdramas! ^^ I’ll haven’t watched Oh My Venus yet, hopefully soon~

  21. chicagokdramamomma says:

    I’m only on eps 6!

  22. Anna Tzanova says:

    Feeling the void… ?

  23. Good drama, we started it recently. Had to start something since 응답하라 is ending

  24. mrsjennyl says:

    Oh My Venus is a good one. I started Answer Me 1988, and am enjoying it. Sorry, So Ji Sub is not in it. ?

  25. zach_brake says:

    Best. Drama setup. Ever.

Join the Discussion

Psssst! Your E-mail address will not be published.

Name *

E-mail *

Website