So, only a couple of posts ago, I voiced my hesitance in watching the drama Smile, You because it might have 50 episodes instead of 30. To date, I have avoided most, if not all, dramas that are in the category of long dramas (which is basically anything with more than 30 episodes). So now, posting about a drama that is exactly just that is a pretty historic day for me. ‘Sons of Sol Pharmacy’ has become my first ever long drama. I finished the entire 54 episodes in mere two weeks. Of course, I can’t say that I didn’t utilize the fast forward button a few times, but it is safe to say that 54 episodes felt like a zip. I enjoyed watching the drama SO MUCH.
I couldn’t remember what it was that made me start watching SSP. I think it was one of the comments over at Javabeans about Daepung and Bokshil or something. But I started watching casually. Just like I never finished New Heart or Dae Jang Geum or Lawyers of Republic of Korea even after almost halfway the series, I just went into SSP with the thought that if I managed to finish it, then awesome, great but if I grew bored, then whatever. So, 6 episodes went by in a flash, then 16 and it became clear that this drama has to and will absolutely be finished because it is just so frickin addictive.
I skipped classes and stayed home to watch whether or not Seonpung came to his senses and proposed to Eunji, whether or not Mipung got his Baby Hana back from Suhee, or whether Sujin dumped Daepung for Jinpung just yet, or whether the Bokshil finally stood up for herself. I even looked forward to whether Mama Song and Mama Oh caught their respective husbands in the hair salon and drag them home.
SSP has finished airing a few weeks ago and became this year’s highest rated drama, recording 48% in its last episode. It effectively became the nation’s drama of the year, trumping the record number 47% set by Brilliant Legacy.
To give a little summary, SSP is about the Song Family whose 4 sons are yet to be married, 3 of them have surpassed the 35 year old mark. And their Mom is anxious for them to finally get married and delegate some of the housework to her daughters in law. Jinpung, the eldest, is approaching 40 and his shy personality coupled with his long time one sided love to a former close friend makes it really hard for him to get a girl. Daepung, on the other hand, is 37 and is living his glory days. He dates and outdates his girlfriends easily and is as flaky as a leaf.
Seonpung, 35, is a reporter who doesn’t think much about marriage and has no time to entertain romance. A huge animal activist, it’s been said that he might love animal more than people. Mipung, the magnae, is only 20 and is studying to get into a good university after failing the first time. His passion is sewing and knitting, yet he can’t pursue it because his hobby is not ‘for men’.
‘Sons of Sol Pharmacy’ revolves around these four brothers and the people around them. Their friends, their parents, their neighbours, their enemies, etc. The drama boasts an extensive cast and dare I say it, they ALL deliver. If I have to pick someone I don’t like among the characters, I would have a hard time. SSP has the amazing ability to make all characters likable and sympathetic that in the end, you just root for them. To sidetrack a little, I think this is the problem with Smile, You right now. At the moment, after watching 10 episodes, among the many characters I can say for sure that I only like at most 3 people.
But ‘Sons of Sol Pharmacy’ introduces a wide variety of personalities. Most often, you don’t like them when they first appear, not right away anyway. Miran, Mama Song’s niece, was pretty annoying when she first appeared and basically invaded the house because she put all her money into a failed production play and had nowhere to live. But I ended up liking her so much that whenever she says she’s going to an audition (she’s a stage actress, btw) I actually prayed that she would get the part. That’s how much emotionally attached I became to her, and she’s only one of the supporting characters!
There are in essence 4 pre-scripted couples. Jinpung marries Sujin, Daepung marries Bokshil, Seonpung marries Eunji, and while Mipung does not develop romantic storyline with Suhee, they become close.
Now, if I have to pick a favourite couple, it’s Jinpung/Sujin, hands down. Sujin is the new neighbour who happens to be Hyerim’s sister in law, who happens to be Jinpung’s long time love. When they first met, Sujin thought Jinpung was the neighbourhood creep ahjussi who went around getting drunk and vandalizing properties. Little by little they get to know each other and Sujin falls for Jinpung’s kindness just as Jinpung falls for Sujin’s blunt spunk. I’ve read a few comments that think this couple is a little too normal and boring. I find this couple to be the most compelling and I attribute acting skills to one of the reasons.
Son Hyeonju is awesome. Plain as that. I first saw him in What’s Up Fox and at first he was really creepy. By the end of the drama, it’s not a stretch to say that he’s my favourite character in the entire drama. He’s got brilliant comedic skills, yet he does the sad scenes SO. DAMN. WELL. Midway through ‘Sons of Sol Pharmacy’ there is a scene where Jinpung and Sujin, on camping, sit together and talk about Hyerim who has passed away. That scene had me crying and snivelling at exactly 4 in the morning.
Park Sunyoung is the perfect counterpart as Sujin, who is strong on the outside, yet shows her vulnerability only to Jinpung. It wasn’t easy for them to finally be together, yet even after they get together, I enjoy and look forward to their scenes. One little part I like about their storyline is conflicts after marriage. In marrying the ‘First Son’ of the family, Sujin understands the important implication of being THE daughter in law. A perfectionist herself, Sujin is very VERY careful to the Song family that they even wonder why she seems to fear the family so much. She memorizes all the birthdays, the Chuseok shopping lists, etc. I appreciate that Sujin takes it seriously, but I appreciate the family and Jinpung as well because instead of accepting it as face value, they want Sujin to just take it easy and enjoy herself. And btw, throughout this drama, all I could think about is that I want to have a husband like Jinpung.
Now, Seonpung and Eunji are the cutest couple. I really like how the style of their courtship is very straight forward, but by no means cold. They grow closer and get married less than halfway the drama. But the downside is that for the remainder of the drama, Seonpung and Eunji do not get too much focus anymore. Sometimes they barely even appear onscreen, which is such a shame. Like the other couples, this couple fit like a puzzle. Eunji is the kind of girl who spouts whatever she has in her head, without much thought. In a way, Seonpung is a lot like that too, he’s careful about his manner, but he’s oblivious that sometimes he speaks bluntly. Eunji is much younger than Seonpung and she’s childish a lot of times. But because of this, Seonpung is able to channel his caring personality for Eunji, while she is able to evoke different kind of reactions from Seonpung.
Eunji herself, is a very adorable girl. She talks really fast and has a lot of weird habits. On the onset, I thought she would clash with her mother in law who expects great things from her very first daughter in law. But she doesn’t shy away from her mother in law. Instead she treats her just like she treats her mother, with familiarity and warmth. She teases and gets teased by Mom Song and their interaction has more like a mother daughter dynamic rather than the polite and proper in law mannerism. This is why that even if Mom Song wants to reprimand her for her less than ‘daughter in law-y’ behaviours, Mom Song can never get herself into this ‘Dominating’ Mother In Law mode. It is a little saddening tho because after getting married, Seonpung and Eunji sort of became a filler in the background. They were just a little here and there and a little disconcerting. It was a relief that toward the end, they found their tandem again.
So anyways, next part will be about the other two couples, the storyline and the pluses and minuses of ‘Sons of Sol Pharmacy’. In the meantime, enjoy the awesomeness of Son Hyunjoo below: