As the year 2010 comes to a close, I feel a little shell-shocked at how quickly time has passed by. Pretty soon, I’ll reach one year since I first become a fansubber/translator and since I started this very blog. By extension, this is the first year-end review I’m writing so please bear with me as I try to be as objective and impartial as possible. Not only will I be reviewing dramas that aired this year that I watched, but a few that I watched for the first time this year although they aired in previous years. Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one.
Before Life is Beautiful began its run, I was nearly scared off by the long length of it (originally planned to be 50 episodes, but extended to 63). The only reason why I caught the first episode was because as y’all may know by now, I love me some Nam Sang Mi and am willing to watch almost anything for her. I was tasked to translate the first episode as well, which literally made me want to fling my laptop across the room at the sheer amount of dialogue (topping over a thousand lines per episode). But I continued to plod through each episode, something about LiB keeping me coming back for more despite the many reasons why I wanted to quit watching. I had somehow gotten invested in learning about the Yang family and getting a glimpse of their lives, and the drama had a strange innate appeal that hooked me right from the get-go.
LiB was subject to much controversy due to the gay storyline featuring Song Chang Eui (Yang Tae Sub) and Lee Sang Woo (Kim Kyung Soo) but I honestly thought the progression of their relationship was quite lovely and natural. Their final scene in the last episode of LiB left me with a warm feeling in my heart, having been reminded of the pure and wondrous beauty of love, and I knew that despite the obstacles that they may have waiting for them in the future, they’d have a happy ending no matter what. I saw Song Chang Eui for the first time on the now defunct variety show Family Outing. He had a very reserved personality so it was difficult for me to form an opinion about him, but I loved the way he portrayed his Tae Sub character, infusing him with a vulnerability that had me rooting for him all throughout the length of the drama. Lee Sang Woo was not as fluid in his acting, coming off forced and awkward at times, but I have to give him credit where credit is due.. he contributed in making the relationship between Tae Sub and Kyung Soo seem realistic and loving, which couldn’t have been an easy feat to accomplish.
My next favorite couple on LiB was between the handsome Kim Sang Joong‘s Yang Byung Joon and Jang Mi Hee‘s Jo Ah Ra. It took me a very long time to warm up to the character of Jo Ah Ra not because the actress lacks talent, but because I thought the character was irritating. It’s funny though how when Yang Byung Joon started seeing Jo Ah Ra in a different light, I could see her going through some kind of transformation. She wasn’t as shrill and loud as I thought her to be in the beginning, she was just a lady in love who expressed said love with a child-like excitement and joy. By the end of the drama’s run, Byung Joon realized that a life alone wasn’t as easy as he previously considered, and that this enthusiastic, talkative woman could provide him with a sense of support and comfort that he didn’t know he’d been lacking. Like I said, it took me a while to warm up to this couple because of my initial dislike for the character of the representative, but once their love story got going in earnest, they quickly rose to my list of favorite couples from Life is Beautiful.
My last favorite couple was definitely the mom and dad of the family, the mom played by “Korea’s Mother” Kim Hae Sook, and the dad played by the wonderful Kim Young Chul. Although the marriage was the second for the both of them, there was absolutely no indication of that in their relationship. All one could see while watching their dynamics was their steadfast love and respect for one another. Whether that be conveyed by her immediately accepting the fact that Tae Sub is gay without an ounce of disappointment or anger and instead urging her husband to be openminded to Tae Sub’s past scars and pain, or his constant presence by her side, his offering to massage her feet or shoulders when she’s in pain from working too hard or having been on her feet for too long, their relationship is what we should strive to build our future relationships towards.
I decided to format my review of LiB in this fashion because I wanted to showcase these three couplings for their extraordinary abilities to touch my heart and make me wish I was in a relationship as loving and strong as theirs. There were a ton of storylines that progressed throughout the drama’s 63 episodes and it would take me all day to get into all of them, so I won’t do so. All I’m going to say is that this drama had the same slice-of-life appeal that Playful Kiss had for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I got to spend in the world of the Yang family. If ever you are in need of a drama that reminds its viewers of the unconditional love of family in a very realistic way, Life is Beautiful is the drama for you!