A house-poor man and homeless woman become housemates in a drama that examines the institution of marriage and the problems that young people face today. Nam Se Hee is a single man in his early 30’s. He has chosen not to marry. He owns his home, but he owes a lot on his mortgage. Meanwhile, Yoon Ji Ho is a single woman in her early 30’s. She does not own a home and envies those that do. She has given up on dating due to her financial struggles. Yoon Ji Ho begins to live at Nam Se Hee’s house. They become housemates. (Source: KoreanDrama.org) Edit Translation
Where to Watch Because This Is My First Life
Cast & Credits
Let me just start off with the fact that two of the first dramas I watched were I Really Really Like You and Playful Kiss, so seeing Lee Min Ki and Jung So Min in a drama again was exciting and nostalgic. I had high expectations for this show since the writer of this show also wrote Ho Goo’s Love (which, by the way, is a MUST watch) and I worried that the bar I’d set for the show would not be met, which would probably ruin my love for the actors and the writer. However, my worries were unnecessary, because THIS SHOW IS IN MY TOP FIVE NOW! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I adored this show (though I must, since this is a review after all)! My expectations weren’t just met, they were exceeded! The plot, the actors, the music, the CHARACTERS! Everything was just so, so perfect and genuine!
Story/Plot: Oh my god, where do I even begin? This show was just so layered and wonderful! It wasn’t a melodrama by any means, but contained so much depth. The plot contained three simple plotlines: cohabitation/contract marriage, rich man and poor woman, and a struggling long term relationship. Often, when stories try to cram too many plotlines into one show, there are too many loose bits and ends. But in this drama, every character was purposeful and important, adding texture and depth to the story and the themes, and there were no loose ends. Speaking of themes, this drama was very progressive and dealt with issues that usually aren’t dealt with in Korean dramas. It challenged traditional gender stereotypes, sexual harassment in the work place, and the traditional meaning of marriage, but all in a very thoughtful and eloquent way. Perhaps I’m making this show sound boring, like a class at school, but it’s difficult to explain how such a simple idea was so revolutionized through some VERY skilled writing. The whole show seemed deliberate, and not cliche at all, despite how the storyline seems on the surface. You’ll just have to see it for yourself! I promise that you’ll love every moment of it!
Characters/Cast: As I was saying earlier, the surface level plotline is very simple, but what really enhanced the story and made it so enjoyable were the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT characters! All of them were so realistic, and their thoughts were clear and coherent, and they weren’t there just to waste screentime. Starting with the main couple, Ji Ho and Se Hee were just so nice to watch. They had great chemistry and by this point, I just want LMK and JSM to date in real life! Ji Ho was really the star, because seeing such an intelligent main character in dramas is rare. She knew what she wanted and she approached it wholeheartedly, and overall, she was a very relatable character. Se Hee, on the other hand, encompasses a person’s more weary and cautious side, because he was afraid to be hurt and even more afraid of hurting others. The show focused on them and their character development rather than adding useless love triangles. On the topic of triangles, there were technically two, but both were short lived and ESSENTIAL to the story, because they brought out new sides in the main characters. What really stood out to me was how realistic the rivals were (if you could even call them that). I’d say that one of my favorite characters was the ex girlfriend, and I can’t say more without spoiling the story, but her arch was one that was worth watching. She was a realistic and admirable character, unlike the conniving ex girlfriends you usually see in dramas. The other two couples in the story were equally important, and their stories were full of substance and lessons worth watching. Soo Ji teaches us to follow our dreams and stand up for what’s right, against the face of adversity. Ho Rang and Won Seok teach us that there’s a difference between love and marriage, and that the bad things that happen are often unavoidable and we must move forward. I won’t go into the details, but the character development in all three couples is worth watching and then rewatching a couple more times! Every wonderful character in this story was played by a wonderful actor that truly did the characters justice, and I have no complaints at all with the perfect casting or the extremely convincing acting. (I might be a bit biased since I love Lee Min Ki, but the difference for someone who doesn’t love him already might be the difference between an 11/10 vs a 10/10 rating. Either way, it’s PERFECT!)
Music: This review is already long enough, so I’ll be brief. I downloaded the whole soundtrack! So cute and perfectly suited for this drama! >v<
Rewatch Value: Usually I don’t even mention the rewatch value since I rarely rewatch dramas regardless of how good they are, but I have to mention it this time! I finished episode 14 two days before episode 15 came out, and I started to rewatch my favorite episodes while I waited! I just wanted to relive all the cute moments, and I can’t wait to finish the show so that I can rewatch and relive everything a few months from now! The show is really refreshing and light, despite the heavy progressive reform oriented subplots, and it seems to be very timeless. It’s worth watching at any age, but I feel like it gets better and better as you get older and experience dilemmas faced by the characters. The value for me is a solid 10/10, since I’m already itching to rewatch it!
Overall: As you’re probably aware by now, because of all the gushing I’ve been doing, I LOVE THIS SHOW! I can’t recommend it highly enough! Everything was flawless, and I don’t say that very often. Please give this beautiful show a chance, because I know you won’t regret it! <3 In fact, you’ll be missing out if you don’t!
Maybe this show will be part of your room 19 ;))
Edit (Contains a hint of a soft spoiler): I've been reading a lot of comments saying that Ji Ho was selfish in the last two episodes, and I just wanted to say that I completely disagree - Ji Ho was trying to understand her own feelings and see whether or not her feelings were long lasting, and she gave Se Hee a chance to do so as well. While this might have hurt Se Hee in the short term, it let both of them be sure about whether or not they want to be together for the long term, so that they aren't hurt once they're in a truly serious and committed relationship.
Let me get this out of the way first. Nobody growing up in Korea would think that a marriage of convenience would ever be the simple answer to life’s problems. With all these family obligations, societal expectations and unspoken rules, it’s ridiculous to imagine so. There are so many great things about this drama that are so different. No one pays attention to the CEO. The feminine representations are the best. The chirpy office girl is so sardonic. The women treat each other with respect.
Ji Ho – female lead
Ji Ho is a wonderful Kdrama heroine. She has this beautiful inner strength and the ability to laugh at herself and own up to her crazy actions. She actually runs very hot and cold like a Korean male hero. Towards the end of the drama she really has gender role reversals and is totally tough.
“Do you know how much stress people like you give me?”
Se Hee’s honesty is beautiful. I also love the way his preserves Ji Ho’s autonomy.
The cat is a major focus in Se Hee’s life. It’s so adorable. Yes, Se Hee is introverted, but he still is highly aware of other people’s perspectives and feelings.
“Something that’s not simple just started.”
It’s such a great start to a relationship that Se Hee likes everything about Ji Ho. He’s not looking down on her for those usual reasons of messiness, clumsiness, chattiness, etc. He’s not annoyed by her at all.
“If you have some time, would you marry me?”
“I noticed you washed the instant noodle bowl.”
“Yes, it’s a habit.”
“You have a really good habit.”
These two are an amazing couple. They are so normal. I love the way the pair meet through a series of texts and notes. I was concerned about what would happen when the truth came out, but they both dealt with it maturely without the ridiculous high drama that I predicted would ensue.
I appreciated the approach that they first found themselves to be so compatible and the relationship developed from there instead of this opposites attract sort of premise that is so rampant.
They have a great positivity in their relationship. Se Hee is so polite to Ji Ho.
Se Hee’s way of falling in love is too cute. He is such a reserved character, but the drama shows all the little ways that he is falling in love. Actually, when he talks to other people about Ji Ho, you can really see how much he cares about her and how much he notices about her.
I love the way they start really looking at each other. For me, that was the sweetest moment when they’d bump into each other somewhere, do an awkward bow and just look at each other as if they’re savouring the happiness and looking at their love’s face.
I thought the ending would go the standard route of miscommunication and missed opportunities. But the drama does well to surprise us with what each character actually knows.
While normally I wouldn’t encourage emotional whiplash from either gender, I feel a bit satisfied seeing the heroine get to play the strategic hero when it comes to romance while the hero flops around helplessly. It’s a bit of a different angle too, that throughout the show the hero is flawlessly considerate and he needs to pull out some selfish sentences so the heroine understands he actually has feelings.
“We are not family. Let’s get paid properly.” I love this slogan haha.
The drama portrays different work environments from Ho Rang’s restaurant to Soo Ji’s corporate world.
Ji Ho’s mother is really a great dynamic to the show. I enjoyed her unpredictable interactions with people and she has a most meaningful conversation with Se Hee. Considering her relationship with her husband, it was wonderful to hear Se Hee’s point of view of how he won’t be lording over his wife.
Ji Ho’s sister in law is quite nice. I was glad she was also normal, wanting to be on good terms with Ji Ho.
Ji Ho’s friends are great. They are both actresses that I’m familiar with from shows that made a big impact on me. They are multi-dimensional women. I always feel so happy to see a cheery slightly ditzy character in a managerial position.
She’s a pretty average girl. Who knew a sofa could be the cause of so much drama and miscommunication.
I first saw Esom in White Christmas where obviously she seemed so small next to all the male models that starred in that show. She is an amazing character in this show with so many hidden layers. She’s snarky, but also motherly. She has an active sex life but doesn’t flaunt it and yet continually gets discriminated and harassed at work for her gender. The drama demonstrates this so strongly but not in an in your face harsh manner. I liked seeing Soo Ji still living life despite being so submissive at work. I wasn’t sure if I would like her love line but really Mr. Ma is so cute with her. I agree with his assessment of her.
“You look like a baby when you smile. But you look scary in general.”
“I’m a bit scared to be scolded by you twice in one day. Gosh, Soo Ji is the scariest in the world!”
Mr. Ma has a unique way of using his voice in different scenarios that makes his character really come alive.