Rookie Historian, Goo Hae-ryung – Series Impression

Yes, I’m clearing up my in-progress back-log in this holiday lull and Rookie Historian, Goo Hae-ryung had been in limbo at episode 6 for too long and deserved a speedier completion. Although it suffered from a slightly split personality tonally, there is a lot to recommend about this fantasy piece (because after all, it is a fantasy to think that a female, let alone a historian where she to exist, would ever be permitted the free rein to speak and act as our heroine does in a Confucian society, but let’s not let facts get in the way of our enjoyment, okay?)

It took me a while, but I’ve come around to really enjoying Shin Se-kyung’s work, and as our heroine Goo Hae-ryung she shines. I particularly like the timbre of her speaking voice which is low and melodious. She’s nobody’s patsy or plaything and an independent woman with a mind of her own. She’s got no time for romance novels, such as the drivel written and published anonymously by the youthful Prince Dowon (played by Astro vocalist Cha Eun-woo, he of the sparkling dark eyes and innocent face and coltish limbs). She wants to learn things that mean something, like astronomy or medicine or history, so when the chance comes to sit for a civil service exam given for women in a ploy by government officials to keep secrets and weaken the current regime, she does what any girl needs to do. She works out a deal with a prospective bridegroom and skedaddles!

This is a large cast of regular characters, what with the 4 women chosen as historians, the 10 or so main male historians (including Lee Ji-hoon as the 2nd in seniority but of his status), the royal family, including older brother crown prince (Park Ki-woong) and father, grandmother, etc., and the key manipulative ministers, and so on, but they all tie in… eventually. I confess, the plotting for the throne part is fairly predictable so you have my blessing to fast-forward to your heart’s content. You’ve seen one coup plot you’ve seen ’em all, but the scenes with Shin Se-kyung and Cha Eun-woo are sparkly good fun.

He’s still green as an actor and it shows, but in a way that’s kind of okay because he’s playing a 21-year-old naive and sheltered baby prince with a loving heart who wants to be loved, who’s living in virtual isolation. She’s older than he by about 6 years in the story and has a lot more life experience so it’s perfectly logical that she should be more forceful and better able to control most situations in which they find themselves. They are so appealing together that it’s not hard to imagine that they could find each other attractive.

It’s also relatively interesting to imagine the ‘what ifs’ of a court that would allow women to have any kind of role of this importance, and what it might have meant to government structure. While some women have over the course of time played influential roles, they were far and few between.

Some of the other characters of note are those played by Park Ki-woong as the crown prince, caught between a rock and a hard place — or many rocks and hard places (cruel father, wife he cares nothing for because she’s daughter to his ministerial enemy, etc.). He’s underutilized in this role, but it’s nice to see him back in dramaland. Lee Ji-hoon as the moral and honorable historian sonbae gets a little more meat in his role as the brother-in-law to the crown prince and son of the villain of the piece. He’s proving to be a versatile actor too, handling drama and comedy equally well.

I think they could have trimmed some of the subplots and had a tighter, more cohesive story, and in a way if they’d not gone a little too far into progressivist history (just saying that of all the radical insertions of modernistic takes on aspects of the plot, the ending could never, ever happen) it would have potentially had more skin in the game, emotionally speaking because the risks would have been more grave, more realistic. If it were tonally more consistent it would have been a better drama, but I’ll recommend it (with judicious use of fast-forwarding) on the whole, and mainly for Shin Se-kyung.

#cha-eun-woo, #heo-jung-doo, #kong-jung-hwan, #lee-ji-hoon, #park-ki-woong, #rookie-historian-goo-hae-ryung, #shin-se-kyung, #sung-ji-ru

Your House Helper – Series Impressions

Usually, you see the multiple storyline-type plots in the weekend or daily dramas, where they’ve got 50 to 120 hours to round out the characters and stretch things out. But I’m noticing a trend toward ensemble short-form dramas, and Your House Helper is one of several I’ve seen this year, like the sequel to Hello My Twenties and Go Go Waikiki. When it’s done well, it’s not a bad thing at all; the tone is lighter, the villains are less villainous, and it’s generally a pleasant diversion. I think these three all can be assessed similarly.


I think Ha Suk-jin is a little on the bland side (for my taste) as an actor and in his role as the guy who turns from banking to becoming an organizational and cleaning specialist when his life goes out of control. (Bringing order to other peoples’ lives instead of his own, get it?) I think I’d like to see him in a role where he gets to play someone a little wilder, or intense, or cynical – something besides controlled and bossy. He’s done that a little too much lately, IMO. He also gets a leading lady who’s a little too young for him (he’s 36 playing 36, she’s 23 trying for 28ish) and for her role. For someone who’s supposed to be in her late 20s, she comes across a little too wet behind the years, like a little kid just out of high school. I don’t actively dislike their pairing, nor the plotting of their relationship, but when I contrast it to a similar age gap relationship in Radiant Office with Go Ah-sung, it feels like it needs a sprinkling of salt.

The strength of this pretty low-key drama lies in its ensemble stories and the sometimes too brief side trips into the lives of her friends and colleagues. Go Won-hee (who was so cute in Go Go Waikiki and Strongest Deliveryman) comes off the best as the ambitious and hardworking jewelry designer pal who is pursued by a likable lawyer (with horrible dating skills). The other stories involve a pal who is afraid of men and how she resolves that issue, another who has a thing for her best male friend (a love that cannot be), and workplace tales of sexual harassment and hard work.


This is not a drama that is going to inspire strong emotions, for the most part, but it was sufficiently entertaining to not regret the time spent watching it. And hey, I did pick up a tip for cleaning the vent screens on my cooktop fan, courtesy of the House Helper tips that end too few of the episodes! That “tips” the show into the Win column!

#bona, #go-won-hee, #ha-suk-jin, #jo-hee-bong, #jun-soo-jin, #lee-ji-hoon, #seo-eun-ah, #your-house-helper