Episode 1 Review: My Heart Twinkle Twinkle (2015)
In a land far away named the Republic of Dramaland, a young man seeks redemption for his sins. Father (Jeong Dong Hwan) forgive me for i have sinned. My drama schedule is overburdened, on top of that i have to study for the semester exams. Instead, i added another drama to my currently watching list. It’s not my fault, i swear, it’s just that i had a very good feeling about it. First of all, there are three beauties to possibly make it to my “i love you and i know you’ll never know it” list and make My Heart Twinkle Twinkle. Then, here comes Bae Soo Bin right after The Greatest Marriage, he’s a good actor, Father, he’s got a good sense of humor and a shady villainous side, but when he wants to he melts in front of a woman. Father, there’s Lee Pil Mo here as well, he’s a good actor too and he has a good variety of facial expressions on awkward situations. To become more sincere, Geum Bo Ra’s here as well. She played the demented ahjumma on Spring Waltz, it seems like i missed her psychotic bulging eyes. Then, the scenario’s intriguing enough for a weekend family/romance/suspense/comedy drama, even though days don’t matter in drama land, every day is the same yet so different because the episodes, the actresses/actors and/or the dramas change. But even though it’s intriguing and promising, you never actually know how a South Korean drama will progress. Because, you know, Father, dramas are like politics. SBS is quite reliable too when it comes to its drama weekend promises. My most recent bright examples have to be Angel Eyes and Endless Love, even though i have yet to watch its five final episodes. Father, the first episode didn’t have high ratings, but i really don’t give a mermaid’s scale. Father, i am atrocious, i know, but press the play button and leave me alone, now!
So, My Heart Twinkle Twinkle! It presents the ill-natured fate of two families that were supposed to be overran by friendly bonds, but events brought things this way and they’re hostile to each other. The reason behind the root of evil begins many years ago and it incorporates the exceptional world of chickens. If you find it odd, i used to find it too, but South Koreans love chicken, enough to ruin two close families’ relations and start a war between a powerful company of chain restaurants and a regional restaurant. What’s their common ground? Something that rhymes with Charles Dickens, chickens. Did i say that i love the main promotional picture of the drama? No? Here it comes! I do, i do like it as it gets caressed elegantly by all these warm and bright colors! Concerning director Oh Se Gang and screenwriter Jo Jung Sun i’m not aware of any of their works, so have a little patience and as the episodes march in front of our very eyes i will refer to the way i conceive their work through this drama.
The first one is Lee family and it consists of the father, not that one from the first paragraph, and his three daughters accompanied by his sister and their aunt respectively. Lee Deok Hwa is the man behind the father, Lee Jin Sam. He appears to be quite busy lately since he’ll be playing in Shine or Go Crazy and Hyde, Jekyll, Me as well, two of the most anticipated dramas at the dawn of 2015 alongside the already airing and captivating Kill Me, Heal Me. Some of his recent, out of the many, appearances were on Hotel King and Secret Love, but he also played on the grandiose and personal favorite Comrades. The oldest daughter is Lee Soon Jin and the actress depicting her is Jang Shin Young who appeared earlier during 2014 on The Spring Day of my Life. Lee Tae Im depicts the second daughter, Lee Soon Soo, an introvert and a qualified pianist; and a beautiful young lady too! The youngest daughter is being presented by Nam Bo Ra (The Moon Embracing the Sun) as Lee Soon Jung. When she was born their mother passed away. Soon Soo considered her responsible for their mother’s death and Soon Jin had to replace their mother. Integral part of the family is Yoon Mi Rae as the girls’ aunt, Lee Mal Sook. She recently appeared in The Greatest Marriage and, among many other dramas, on Que Sera Sera.
The other family consists of four people. Bae Soo Bin who presents Chun Woon Tak who is the head of the family as his mother’s son and her two sisters’ older brother. He’s a merciless businessman who runs his father’s company and whenever a problem occurs he will deal with it, one way or another, by hook or by crook. Ha Jae Suk who recently appeared on Birth of a Beauty is the youngest sister. She’s a spoiled wealthy kid who uses the power and the name of her family as an excuse to do anything she wants to, even bully her classmates. The older sister, Chun Geum Bi is the role of Son Eun Seo from Love Rain and a guest appearance on You Who Came from the Stars. She’s got a playful personality and holds a deep admiration towards her brother’s face. As for the mother, Hwang Mi Ja by Geum Bo Ra, she’s a gambler and a bean-brained brain-dead first class lady who forgot her country bumpkin tales of the past. By the side of the family stands Woon Tak’s right hand, Goo Kwan Mo by Jung Eun Woo. Lee Pil Mo (Pinocchio, Emergency Couple), Oh Chang Suk (Come! Jang Bo Ri) and Yun Da Hun (Yoo Na’s Street and on the currently airing Perseverance, Goo Hae Ra) haven’t appeared yet, so i’ll refer to them on the following episodes once they come to the surface, but as the synopsis states at least two of them will play their own part in the girls’ love lives.
And a few thoughts as shy first impressions concerning the important subjects i personally think this drama will deal with. I won’t put my hand inside the fire as it is very early to be more precise, but i’ll give it a shot since they are my personal expectations. One factor has to be the ruthless jaws of the world of business and to be more precise, when the traditional local stores become frail victims to the power of overgrown companies with chain franchise stores. But also the way this reflects on the loss of tradition and personality from one country’s market as a sacrifice to the altar of massive economics’ homogeneity where the humane side and the personal contact between customer and provider of services becomes impersonal and a daily routine. Also, the position a woman holds in modern society, especially the South Korean one, since the drama springs from there. Not to the extent of The Greatest Marriage, but the first episode has given us hints about it. Plus, the fragile topic of bullying at schools, colleges and workplaces. Social discrimination and protesting and the illicit methods an employer may use to silence his employees and how power and wealth can change a person and the impact a modern society with its fast forward repetitive motives may have upon someone, depicted through different classes. These are the vibes my radar caught, just a few thoughts and personal expectations that will be adorned with humor, romance and mystery which are always parts of the salt and pepper of our beloved South Korean dramas. Let the journey begin!
The first episode opens up with a cosmogony which in fact is an animated presentation of the gift of birth! Usually that specific first cry offers insuperable happiness to the parents, but there are these unfortunate moments when the mother has to depart shortly after the child’s arrival. A life for a life never had a noblest balanced symbolism between the two edges of existence on that odd crossroad where life and death have to meet each other. And the mother of the family gives birth to her third daughter and leaves this world behind. The funeral though wasn’t as dramatic as it should be and i’m glad for that. Depicting one tragedy right after the other in an emotionally fortified way would be quite tough. Thanks to the second daughter of the family, the baby girl receives an unexpected attack and the mourning family has to deal with the young bully and keep the youngest member of the family safe. I have to admit that i laughed through the whole duration of the scene and before anyone accuses the production whether the attack on the baby was harmful or not for her health, i’m pretty sure they took good care of her. So, political correctness aside the second child of the family considers the baby girl responsible for her mother’s death. It’s a possible psychological reaction under the sudden veil of mourning.
We witness in a beautiful and with its own magic way the treasuring of the first impressions of all the simple things in life through a baby’s eyes, but the most important thing seems to be the majestic fragrance coming from the kitchen! The aroma of fried chicken that would become a lifetime dream, a threat, the salt and pepper of all things good and evil in the world of chickens, fried, living and in the intermediary stages!
And we arrive at the present! Soon Jung delivers the goods of her father’s chicken restaurant with a motor scooter. She’s got a bright personality and waves at the people around her as if she was a chicken president! She brings happiness to hungry workers, hungry ahjummas and hungry kids that will do just anything in order to get a hold of her chicken goodies, who said that the world of chicken’s is a playground? The Woontak restaurant chain is under strike and Mal Sook’s quite happy about it since their own restaurant has secured its sales recently. Jin Sam though is cautious about this artificial happiness and the official paper that summons him to testify at the court doesn’t seem to please him, not at all. Things are not as hopeful as they seem.
Soon Jung has one last delivery to accomplish and once she arrives at the square an unpleasant surprise awaits her. Some of her classmates activate their bullying mode and one of them is Eun Bi, Woon Tak’s youngest sister. Even though she eats all of the chicken she refers to her father’s chicken taste as something disgusting. On top of that, she’s not willing to pay and things get complicated. One would presume that Soon Jung would get beaten up quite easily, but she’s a gallant anti-bullying machine! She can handle a bunch of bullies all alone by herself in a hilarious and charismatic way! Something that will eventually lead all of them at the police station after a curious and worried ahjumma made an unnecessary phone call to restore the oh so badly disturbed social peace.
The scenery moves to the Woontak Chicken company building under the moniker Monachus where an important meeting’s taking place for the growth of the company. One of the directors presents a plan, although Woon Tak doesn’t seem to care. His cold and lifeless eyes stare into the unknown and the time arrives to break his silence. If Director Shin won’t do anything about the employees’ strike he won’t have to come back at the company and of course, nothing’s going to flow well for the other directors as well. If the strike keeps going on the chicken won’t be fresh anymore. Who would buy it? Nobody. Woon Tak doesn’t want something like that and he’s that kind of person that will proceed at all costs, even if he has to use violence, humiliation and all these beautiful words that make a businessman’s world ruthless to another level. One of the main figures of the protesting employees is Young Pyo and he’s been captured by Woon Tak’s men. He receives special treatment and he goes through a shady employer’s kindest methods and beating up is one of them. Hunger strike is the last shelter of a man fighting for his rights and Young Pyo puts his life on the line through this political statement and action. The price to pay is Woon Tak’s multifaceted generosity since he’s pretty much aware that Young Pyo would achieve a martyr status through the hunger strike and he would be forced to surrender to the strikers’ demands.
We get to meet Kwan Mo who’s assisting Woon Tak’s mother, Mi Ja, in her gambling fever! And the scene moves forward to the high school where the oldest daughter of the Lee family works as a teacher, Soon Jin. She takes care of her Principal’s shirt and she seems to be a kindhearted young lady. Soon Jin’s tranquility won’t last for long since Soon Jung and Eun Bi’s incident at the park will trigger the mobilization of lots of people! Kwan Mo, Woon Tak and Soon Jin meet outside of the police station. It’s a meeting that brings discomfort to Soon Jin whereas at the same time it seems to breathe some life into the lifeless corridors of the coldblooded businessman Woon Tak. Inside the police station the gang of young bullies starts feeling better at Woon Tak’s presence, Soon Jung though in a moment of clarity and self-justice placed herself willingly behind bars! She pretends to be someone else by changing her voice, but she can’t hide from her sister!
Woon Tak wants to resolve things as soon as possible without problems, but the police officer doesn’t seem friendly. Men like Woon Tak have their own methods as we witnessed before. When beating doesn’t do the talking it’s time for the right connections to do so. Of course he knows the chief of the police and a phone call makes things easier for everyone and the police officer all of a sudden is the friendliest person on this planet! Once everything’s solved Soon Jin stands for her moral code as a teacher, even though Woon Tak’s actions were helpful it doesn’t mean they were righteous. She asks him politely to stop acting this way in front of the kids, if they did wrong they should receive punishment and learn from their mistakes, getting away from their wrongdoings through indirect and shady methods doesn’t consist of a good lesson in life. And the wolf turns into a bowl of honey in front of Soon Jin! Even if it’s the first time they properly meet face to face under these unpleasant circumstances she manages to reflect a kinder side of himself. Instead of his usual assertive self a more submissive one comes to the surface! His great mood swings didn’t occur all of a sudden, he must be having a silent crush on her all these years, but they didn’t have the chance to talk to each other. And it’s only the beginning!
Nothing has ended! It’s Jin Sam’s turn to deliver the previous unsuccessful punishment the renowned South Korean way we’ve learned through the dramas. I refer to it as the rabbit-head stasis because the raised hands look like a rabbit’s ears whereas the rest of the body forms the mainland of the head. By the time she mentions that she doesn’t want to go to college and instead of that she wants to inherit her father’s chicken restaurant Jin Sam’s blood starts boiling! Every time the overall situation gets calmer Mal Sook’s words refuel the fire and things get awry anew! This noonim doesn’t known when to keep her mouth shut and in combination with Soon Jung’s lifetime dream her presence at the house feels limited and shortly after she manages to escape! Jin Sam’s though is stressed and it’s not only Joon Sung that occupies his mind, there’s a vast background of problems tormenting him. Soon Jin that had to replace her mother at such a fragile age is apologetic and puts the blame on her. She thinks she didn’t raise her little sister well, but her overall caring and calm personality proves the opposite and i think it was one of the reasons she became a teacher. The father tries to take responsibility, his problems overwhelm him and he downgrades himself in his moment of internal discomfort. He refers to Soon Jung as a chicken restaurant owner’s daughter and that’s why she gets into trouble, but that’s what soju, problems and negative thoughts do.
Soon Jung after her successful escape is having a discussion with a neighborhood ahjussi at his store. Soon enough the discussion turns into a monologue on ahjussi’s behalf and the story’s background starts unfolding itself and it pretty much relates to Jin Sam’s saddening current state of mind. Many years ago Jin Sam and Mal Sook’s chicken restaurant was one of a kind at their region. Everyone was passing by to cherish the grandeur of chicken pleasures whereas Woon Tak family’s branch at the same region was at the verge of closing. The owner ahjumma called Woon Tak himself in a plea for help and Woon Tak tried to deal with the problem his own way, trying to take Jin Sam by his side, but he refused simply because the restaurant was a lifetime’s pride. Woon Tak is a man that doesn’t accept failure and if he can’t have someone under his influence he will use his influence to ruin him. And that’s what he tried to do. He cut off the chicken supplies of Jin Sam’s restaurant and a specific chicken embargo began. On top of that, he stole his garlic chicken recipe as well! Jin Sam couldn’t do anything else but run his own chicken farm to supply himself, but Woon Tak didn’t stop there. He opened another undercover restaurant at the area right next to Jin Sam’s and he named it Nyamnyam Chicken; this name makes me instantly hungry, i want dakkochi to be more precise. As one can see, it’s a matter of life and death between Woon Tak and Jin Sam and highlander’s words receive a new meaning, “in the end there can be only one” chicken restaurant owner! That’s the reason Jin Sam wants to protect his precious little daughter.
Jin Sam’s moment of remembrance arrives and this time we dive deeper in the past at the root of the problem that withered the relations between three friends and their loving families as result. A deep friendship unites Jin Sam, Young Pyo and Woon Tak’s father. Mi Ja used to be different back then, pleasant and friendly. Her dishes, especially a sauce, evokes tasty ideas in Jin Sam’s braincells! And here it is, the first fried season chicken sauce in South Korea was born! Everything flows happily for the three friends until Woon Tak’s father patents the recipe and their friendship falls in the deepest pits of hell. Young Pyo reacts violently, but Jin Sam tries to ease the tension. Woon Tak’s father doesn’t mind whether Young Pyo kills him or not, the only reason he did it was because he has to feed his family members. He’s laughing, although even if it seems like a winner’s evil laughter, it isn’t. Judging from his absence at the present, i think he has passed away and his laughter in the past in combination with his facial expression beheld strong amounts of pain. I think he knew he was dying, if that’s the case, and that’s why he patented the recipe for his family to inherit it and survive through the struggles of life.
Soon Soo appears for the first time at the present. She’s playing the piano and her skills are quite impressive. At the same time, the older sister, Soon Jin tries to reach her via messages, but that leprechaun nerve-breaking head teacher interrupts her plans while scolding her. Seriously? She’s not a student and she’s not in the classroom! It’s not a prison where cellphones are prohibited, it’s the teachers’ office for chicken’s sake! Maybe she should place on the rooftop an anti-radar magnetic field to prevent the telecommunication signals from trespassing the school’s perimeter. Later on Soon Soo comes back to her dorm and notices Soon Jin’s calls and messages, but she doesn’t feel happy. She’s the ying-yang cellphone owner, the white one is for her family and the black one is for her personal life since she talked to someone on the phone, but then again, she didn’t feel happy either. Life doesn’t seem to be pleasing for her.
Piano’s continuation and Woon Tak’s sister, Geum Bi unfolds her own talent as well. Mi Ja’s watching through the TV the demonstrations out of Woon Tak’s company and her spoiled rich brain that cares only for gambling will bring her class discrimination thoughts to the surface. She has forgotten that once she was a humble working class housewife and she became “something” after her husband stole Jin Sam’s idea. Hypocrisy and megalomania at their finest. Ahjumma, if your son wasn’t draining his employees’ blood for low salaries you wouldn’t be spending needlessly your money on gambling just to lose them without caring about tomorrow. Her thoughtless rambling comes to an end once Kwan Mo appears and… the brain-dead ahjumma becomes a kindhearted honey-dripping sweetheart in front of him! Once he leaves to meet Woon Tak she returns to her arch thoughtless berserk mode. Woon Tak’s not pleased with Kwan Mo’s services, in fact he’s quite pissed off, he wasn’t paying attention at his youngest sister and she got into trouble with Soon Jung while he was accompanying his mother at her gambling journey. Kwan Mo tries to cover Mi Ja’s traces, but Woon Tak’s sharp enough to see through his lies and hits him with a punchline questioning his taste in women in case he’s ahjumma-friendly.
At the same time, Geum Bi’s practicing surrenders to a girly expedition in the world of nails and the piano gets abused! Woon Tak restores faith in humanity by letting her know that soon she’ll go abroad to continue her studies. She doesn’t want to and she wants to become a businesswoman by her brother’s side and at that point he unveils the typical thoughts of a South Korean man in power, that business is not a woman’s world. Continuing her studies or getting married are the only two options for her, as a woman. She tries to act cute, but it’s not something that would change that easily Woon Tak’s mind. Shortly after breakfast takes place and Woon Tak tries to trace her mother’s gambling expeditions and she’s not convincing, she’s not convincing at all. And when she tries to unveil her maternal instinct it’s not working, she’s a mere shadow of how a mother should be like, gambling seems to have burned her last active braincell.
After Woon Tak leaves, Geum Bi and Mi Ja share their thoughts on Woon Tak’s attitude. Mi Ja wonders why he treats her this way, well, i don’t wonder at all. Although Geum Bi loves her oppa dearly and he’s a manhood model to her eyes, had she not been her brother she would have married him instantly! Mother and daughter are nuts. And the youngest sister isn’t the most sane person on earth either, while she was abroad she didn’t achieve anything and by the time she came back she’s two years older than the ordinary high school girls, yet, she’s a bully and she doesn’t care about studying! She tries to prevent Kwan Mo from dropping her at school, but he can’t fulfill her wish in fear of Woon Tak! Money have corrupted the whole family and Woon Tak seems to be the most normal in that house whereas at the same time he’s coldblooded and has his own demented point of view in the way he deals with business and people.
In the meantime at the company the police starts preserving its usual role, protecting the high society against the righteous employees’ demands and tries to evacuate the place in front of the company. The protestors are aware that Woon Tak’s men have kidnapped Young Pyo whom they left alone for a while to prevent the employees from advancing deeper into the company. Young Pyo manages to escape. Discrimination’s continuation once Woon Tak arrives at Soon Jin’s workplace. The head teacher welcomes him brightly whereas at the same time she mistreats Soon Jin in front of her colleagues and Woon Tak himself and forces her indirectly to be more apologetic for her youngest sister’s attitude. All of them agree that such behaviors should not be tolerated and it’s something they should avoid; not! Because at the classroom Eun Bi and her peasants are bullying Soon Jung anew and… i love this girl! If she can handle a bunch of bullies by herself, she can run her father’s restaurant against all odds with her explosive temperament in the vicious world of business! She’s a ninja reincarnated inside the body of a high school girl! The desk is her throne, the air is her playground and the air kick her secret weapon! Bullying the bullies never felt more entertaining! Back at the Woon Tak & Soon Jin interaction, by the time they leave the office Woon Tak enters his submissive mode towards her once again and this time it’s more serious than i thought. I guess he wouldn’t mind her whiplash him in a huge square for the passers by to watch his intentional slavery. No wonder she can’t comprehend what’s going on! It’s the second time they talk to each other and he’s willing to change anything she might ask him to! Well, the front line of his hair looks a bit like an anchor at this point to be honest, but OK.
Slap me, Soon Jin, please!
Are you serious? I just polished my nails.
Young Pyo reaches Jin Sam’s restaurant and since Young Pyo was working for Woon Tak for years it must had been a long time since they last met. Jin Sam’s arch surprise is being followed by a second and most powerful puzzlement. Young Pyo’s condition seems serious after he got repeatedly beaten up by Hoon Tak’s minions. In the meantime Hoon Tak’s stalking side erupts from the mouth of his obsession and with his car he steadily follows the warmhearted and elegant Soon Jin who’s returning back home. An unexpected phone call puts his astonishment in the ice, he gets informed that Young Pyo has escaped and that his witness is Jin Sam who takes care of his wounds and offers him shelter. Soon Jung is not only a food delivery specialist, she’s not only an anti-bully hero either, she’s also a food taste stalker in search for the sauce that will open the tasteful pleasure’s gates! But the ahjussi at the restaurant manages to catch her! The only thing she wants to know is the secret behind his sauce, but it won’t be easy! She has to taste it and find out by herself! Homework time!
Hit me with these onions, Soon Jin!
Soon Jin has already returned back home and she’s cleaning up the restaurant and the sidewalk follows. Woon Tak’s nearby and keeps staring at her. His facial expression changes once Jin Sam appears and Woon Tak moves towards his direction and wrist-grabs him but Jin Sam disarms himself! Their eye contact is explosive!
And… at this point i have to confess that the song at the end of the first episode is highly promising of the overall OST’s potential! But the preview of the second episode pissed me off. The so called high society’s most precious garbage sons and daughters are violating Soon Jung and Soon Jin’s lives without fear but with a sickening passion that adorns their faces with an abhorrent sense of pleasure. Jin Sam’s willing to help Young Pyo, but once he notices his daughters’ serious problems he’s willing to give up his own dignity for his daughters’ sake by accepting Woon Tak’s offer for not testifying. Woon Tak in the meantime finds out that Soon Jin feels the pressure of her environment and sets sail on a journey to find the appropriate candidate for marriage and she meets someone, but Woon Tak doesn’t intend to let her slip out of the palm of his hands! Soon Jin could be a powerful gun in the arms of her father when it comes to Woon Tak, but she could easily become an innocent victim right in the eye of the storm. Let’s wait and find out what the second episode holds for us in full detail!