A really exhausting ride, one that may be the funnest of times, or the most torturing of times; it really depends on which ship you sail with. But one thing is for certain – you will definitely stick around for other reasons other than the romance.
Hey guys, I’m back again with another review! This time it’s a daily drama that I had randomly picked up a week ago after realising who the main protagonist was (through utter shock!) and that the amazing Lee Tae-Gon was in it too. After looking up online that there was not really a lot of reviews out there about this drama, I decided to give it a try myself and see how I would find it.
This is in fact the longest drama that I have ever watched. And even though each episode is only 35 minutes long, the whole drama still clocks up to over 60 hours worth of content. It just seems so scary that I was able to finish this entire drama within a time span of a week… Oh dear, my addiction is official (not that I wasn’t aware of that before) And it’s slightly worse with this drama because objectively speaking, this wasn’t exactly the best drama I’ve ever seen…
On a side note as well, there is a certain section that does include spoilers. Please be aware and venture forth with caution. It has been marked and labelled, don’t worry, but just…be careful, ‘kay?
Name: A Well Raised Daughter Ha-Na/ One Well Grown Daughter/ Good Daughter Hana (잘 키운 딸 하나)
Broadcast Date: 2nd December 2013 to 30th May 2014
Number of Episodes: 122
Note: I marathoned (is that even a word?) this drama over the course of a week, months after it finished broadcasting. I also had an idea of who the main lead ends up with, but had no idea about how the story went; knowing this ending didn’t hinder which ship I chose to sail with though 😉
Jang Ha-Na (Park Han-Byul) is the 4th daughter of a family that has been producing soy sauce for generations. For 400 years, this family business has followed the tradition of only passing the right of inheritance to the sons of the family. Due to certain family circumstances, she is forced to disguise as a male from a very young age in order to become the leading male representative of the family business. Will Jang Ha-Na, now using the name Jang Eun-Seung, be able to win the battle against her half-brother to inherit the family business, and finally bring justice to her wrongfully treated mother and sisters?
Honestly, I didn’t really have a good feeling about the whole drama at first. The whole “makjang” mambo-jumbo kicked in really early, but I knew that I had to hold on at least until Han-Byul unni or Tae-Gon oppa appeared. When they finally appeared, things did turn out better, as we got more plot-driven scenes, along with some romance that made us either squeal out in cuteness, or swoon into a puddle due to how attractive our both “true” male leads were, especially when together.
But we’re talking about initial impressions, aren’t we?
Initially, in regards to both the characters and plot that we are introduced to, was not great at all. Due to a woman’s inability to produce a male heir, she and her daughters are all driven out of the house that they were living in for years. Instead, an outsider who forces a one night stand on this woman’s man and ends up producing an heir, is welcomed into the family without question and becomes the new ‘Madame’ of the house. Was this tradition that strict and final? Did it honestly need to be a man that can only inherit this family business? And are you seriously telling me that for 400 years, there has not been one generation where there was no true-blood male heir to inherit the business?! Just looking that these questions seem to highlight the plot holes that were bound grow bigger and bigger as the drama continued. Not to mention the gender issues that arose simply from the introduction. However, what really took me by surprise was in fact that despite the horrendous excuse of a plot this drama had, the writer still somehow kept me hooked, no matter how frustrated I became.
That was probably due to how hateful the antagonists of this drama were. We knew right from the beginning that these people were willing to do anything, and I mean anything, to bring the biggest misfortunes towards Ha-Na’s family. The fact that they were just down-right greedy and selfish really boiled my blood from beginning to the end, but I’ll get into that a little later. Basically, if they wanted to keep me on the ride just for the sake of raging at these annoying and horrible people on screen, then this drama has certainly achieved their goal *clap, clap, clap* As for the heroes of the story, they really drew out all of the sympathy you can ever share. We really felt the distress and unfairness that these poor characters felt, and we unconsciously can’t help but root for the victims because the villains are just that hateful.
So, I guess you can say that my initial impressions weren’t that positive, but they indeed got me interested to see what would happen next.
Opinions about the drama:
Basically, this whole drama was not well-written in terms of plot. We caught onto that right from the start. But, I do have to give credit to the writer, Yoon Young-Mi, for writing something so frustrating that somehow got me, like many others, trailing behind the story like a lost puppy. While I was planning and brainstorming about this review, it was surprisingly to find out that she is also the same writer for the drama “Birth of a Beauty” which I am currently finishing up now as well. In terms of absurdness, I do have to give credit here and say that she does well in writing it. Really.
As I have mentioned before, this is the longest drama that I have ever watched (in terms of episodes) in my history of watching dramas of any kind, and never before have I been so committed to finishing a drama as ridiculous as this one. I mean, what really shocks me was that content-wise, this can’t compare to dramas like “49 Days” or “Coffee Prince” even – it just mysteriously captivated my attention for over 60 hours. Sure, there was a lot of skipping that need to happen (it is a daily drama after all) but still, I never skipped parts because I got bored of it – I skipped in order to find out what happened next faster. Crazy, huh? Right now as I’m writing this drama, I’m still trying to explain to myself what was it that really got me hooked. Was it the silly plot, the desire to see the demise of these horrible people, or the typical love triangle/square that appears in every drama?
Perhaps it was a mix of them all…Let us discover it together!
1. Jang Eun-Seung/Ha-Na is a really easy character to root for and love
Especially if you felt absolutely offended of how everyone treated her by the first 10 episodes or so. We understand how difficult it must have been to be disguised as a man, and be forced to fend for one’s self when no one is there to protect you from the direct harm you face each day. The way that she approached every situation was so admirable, and she was also so self-sufficient that you just can’t help but feel great whenever she gains a sign of approval from her grandfather, or wins a battle against Jang Ra-Gong (Kim Joo-Young), her rival and half-brother. It was this sense of strength that drew me in, and drove my desire to root for her, so that she could achieve the greatest she possible can.
When we are first introduced to her, she was so lovable yet so badass as well. There was always that sort of rebellion side of her which sometimes was not predictable. As time passed, although she changes and grows as a character due to the greater challenges that she faces (which are ridiculously impossible for one person to conquer), never does she change in a way that is unexplainable or honestly ‘out-of-character’ – you understand why she acts in this certain manner due to the issues that erupt and force her to react in such a way.
And I guess another reason why we enjoyed watching Ha-Na and how she resolves the problems she faces, is probably due to how ‘her’ world works. Now, before I get into more about the other characters, I have to be honest here and quickly mention that if you are some sort of hardcore feminist, then this drama is definitely not your calling; you will probably be screaming and pulling other people’s hair out before you even get to the first 3 episodes. From the get go, we are told that sons are more superior than daughters, just because.
Yep, that is what we are told to believe, and so we have to follow along with the drama, seeing time and time again why it is so crucial for the next heir of the Soy Sauce company to be a male rather than a female. Just because. Which is probably why I rooted for the main lead even more than it needed to be necessary, because this drama kick-started the feminist mini-me inside, and I swore at those enemies to all end up in hell or at least somewhere similar. And so, not only did this drama frustrate me right from the start, but it also got me hooked to see how the hell are these people going to turn out when they are all mentally functioning in the anti-clockwise direction.
Now, one of the main issues I found about the way the drama has been written overall, was that if you were not able to gain a liking for Ha-Na, than this drama is practically dead to you. Sometimes, some dramas are able to be redeemable through other characters however, with this drama, if you never end up warming up to her, don’t even bother trying to finish this, because the main focus is honestly just her and who/what she encounters. So take note of that if you are interested in watch this. Thankfully, I liked her as a main character therefore I stayed for the ride 😉
2. Han Yoon-Chan is the man worth watching for
Oh my gosh, where do I even start? Yoon-Chan is possibly the most greatest character out of the entire drama – even greater than Ha-Na in my opinion. The main reason behind this is because his character, right from the start, is the man we see for the entirety of the drama. He was just simply solid from start to finish, and never did he act in a way that didn’t make sense, nor allow us to randomly go on a rant-fest against him. It is for these reasons also that I enjoyed watching Yoon-Chan over Do-Hyeon (Jung Eun-Woo), because for half the drama, Do-Hyeon almost seemed like the opposite of what Yoon-Chan was.
A man as wonderful as Yoon-Chan was, should honestly put any other leading male to shame. I may seem slightly biased at this point, but Tae-Gon’s character was simply perfection. That voice, with his particular stance, and the way he looks when he is working *swoon* How is it possible to not fall for this man?! *clears throat* But, it wasn’t simply the way Tae-Gon visually appeared in the drama that got me hooked; it was in fact his character itself and how he had been written.
Yoon-Chan was a man who was very clear on who he was and who he wasn’t from the very beginning. We are told right near the beginning about how he feels towards Ha-Na, man or not (which is an amazing statement in itself!) This was a man who never hesitated to act for the one he cared for, whether it meant using his fists, or to use his brains. Yoon-Chan was a man who stood up for himself and others when he knew that justice was not being served, and never gave up even though he knew that the situation had not been favourable. He was a man who made the other men who stood around seem him small and weak, and never could anyone compare to how strong his presence was in every scene. He never denied anything when he knew he was in the wrong, and was always first to admit and acknowledge another person’s efforts or work. Never have I seen such a genuine and solid man like him in any other drama before. If this man was a real person then please, somehow get me to hook up with him because I will probably be the most luckiest girl on the planet, period. This man seems too good to be true huh? *sigh* I guess he was….
My most favourite bit from the drama relating to Yoon-Chan was this particular moment that I have quoted below. Read it, and try to admit to me that you would not fall for him after hearing that, just try lol
“Hold my hand
I’ll give you three tickets
You can’t see them, but pretend you got them
When you’re having a hard time, when you’re scared and when you need someone, call me
I won’t ask anything and will do what I can do for you”
Credit to http://mincisensei.com/ for quoting
1. How absurd the plot became
As with most daily dramas, it is understandable why they would create a plot so frustrating – in order to gain a greater audience that is willing to tune in every day to watch the drama, the writer and production crew have to create something that allows the audience to follow along and want to pop in and watch it everyday. But for someone like me who tends to either marathon the drama after it’s finished broadcasting, or hop along with the ride towards the end once I’ve been convinced that it is a pretty good drama to follow, this drama was just in it’s own category and group. I have to admit, the plot wasn’t horrible in terms of “nothing made any sense” type of horrible; it is more like “you are so absurd that I have to discover how much more insane could you get?!” Basically, the plot/whatever-story-there-is-left hooked me in but, if I was to read the plot written on a piece of paper and judge whether or not the story itself is good, then this gets a HUGE no. Just no. If this story was written as a book, I would probably never pick it up, ever – the fact that it was a daily drama kinda saved it, weirdly enough.
Basically, I found the mess to be quite entertaining (hence why I stayed and finished the whole thing) but I can’t really say that I liked the plot for being a plot, if you get what I’m saying. This was mainly due to the fact that the only reason why this story was going on for so long, is all due to how down-right evil the antagonists were. I mean, these people just don’t give up. Never could they take a hint to leave the Jang family alone, and just hung onto them for dear life. But, if we looked at it from a different perspective, without them, there would not be this 122 episode drama; it would probably be just like any other typical 20-30 episode drama. So, I guess in that case, thank you for being so evil?
And also, I have to make note of this and say that due to how evil these people were, the ending in my opinion was just so much more satisfying than any other drama I’ve seen before, simply because I finally thought in my mind “Yes, FINALLY they get what they deserved”, and it made me think that all is right in the world again lol
SPOILER ALERT! Do not read this section if you don’t wanna know about who Ha-Na ends with.
2. Not knowing who the main male lead was
This was an aspect of the drama that got many, such like myself, absolutely frustrated. As I have stated quite clearly above, Han Yoon-Chan was definitely a big reason why I continued to watch this drama; that I hoped this man’s ending isn’t as bad as it started to seem. But why am I thinking in this manner? Since he is so great (and not to mention, the actual main lead!), how come he isn’t with the girl? Well, it’s because that the other leading man, Sol Do Hyeon, is with our Ha-Na for the majority of the drama. I mean, they are literally together (almost like a married couple) for about 75-80% of the drama!
For the longest time (at least until the 60-70 episode mark), I thought that I had the most serious case of second-lead syndrome, but everything is flipped upside-down when I realised that Yoon-Chan was in fact the main lead after reading around online. And then I began to question everything!
“If he is the main lead, how come he is left in the background half the time?!”
“If he is the main lead, how come Ha-Na has absolutely no clue about his feelings towards her, despite him being quite clear about him so early on?”
“As the main lead, isn’t he being slightly unproductive relationship-wise? Yoon Young-Mi-shi, what are you thinking??? Don’t you want Yoon-Chan and Ha-Na to get together?”
*sigh* As I kept watching on, gradually my hopes and wishes faded away, as it seemed like Yoon-Chan’s chances of hooking up with Ha-Na grew smaller and smaller. I even started to question about everything that I read online. I mean, as the main lead, how come he is left chillin’ on the side while he watches these two develop their relationship further and further? I swear, it must have been a conscious decision made by the writer in order to get silly people such as myself, hooked and wanting to see what will happen to Yoon-Chan oppa!
Thankfully (for me anyway), Yoon-Chan does end up getting the girl in the end, after what seemed an enormous roller-coaster ride for the both of them. However, one thing that I can sadly admit that may ruin the genuinity of this couple is due to the fact that during the drama, there was not a lot of couple moments between the two that could convince many about how these two could have got together. We see Do-Hyeon and Ha-Na together quite often during the drama, sharing hugs and kisses and really romantic moments with each other that really convinced us how in love they were. However, to have Ha-Na suddenly shift towards Yoon-Chan when it got quite close to the end seemed…sudden? I felt that all of this may have been too hard to swallow for the people who shipped for the Do-Hyeon/Ha-Na couple. However, since I wasn’t on that ship, I didn’t find too much to complain about, except for the fact that Yoon-Chan and Ha-Na didn’t kiss in the end….major disappointment in my opinion LOLOLOL
In my own opinion, I felt that the Yoon-Chan/Ha-Na couple had the slow build-up of becoming a couple by about the time Eun-Seung returns as a woman. As they gradually gained more time and interactions with each other, their relationship slowly morphed into something more than just business partners or close siblings. And I personally felt that Ha-Na realised that too towards the end, by thinking back to all the times when Yoon-Chan was there for her rather than Do-Hyeon.
Finally, the main reason why I was against the Do-Hyeon ship is because, by the midpoint of the drama, I felt a huge shift in his character in comparison to the one we were introduced to initially. In the beginning, I didn’t mind his character because he was just so adorable when he was with Ha-Na; how could you love him then?? However, after the first time he split from her, he just seemed to be too different for my liking, regardless as to whether or not he was forced to act that way or not. If he really loved this woman, he wouldn’t need to change the way he is in order to get her. But instead, he did, twice. It’s just when we compare Do-Hyeon to Yoon-Chan, Yoon-Chan just never changed in terms of who mattered to him most. Ha-Na was the most important person to him, and he made sure that she knew that too. I know, this may seem not that fair since so much was happening that tried to drive Do-Hyeon and Ha-Na apart on purpose, but honestly if Do-Hyeon really wanted her, he should have just ran away with her, rather than just using words to reassure her. Put your words to action, ya’ know? So yeah, not a huge fan of Do-Hyeon as much towards the end >_<
END OF SPOILERS!!!
So overall, I felt that this show was quite average in many ways, story and acting-wise. Even though there was indeed plenty of time to ties all loose ends together, sadly not everything did, which was slightly disappointing. However, I do have to admit that this 122 episode journey was indeed entertaining to watch and follow, and I do have to admit that I absolutely adored our leading characters.
Personally, I felt that this drama allowed me to realise what I really care about in terms of the values I consider in life. Family is such a huge aspect of my current life, and I do consider it to be the most important part of my life. “A Well Raised Daughter Ha-Na” really personified what I want to be to my family – someone who is capable to fend for myself and become that protective barrier to them in order to shield the world from them. Ha-Na, in particular, displayed characteristics that I relate really close to, and demonstrates what I should probably strive to gain as I grow older in both age and maturity. As for Yoon-Chan, I seriously just need to seek a man who at least shares a majority of personality traits like him 😉
So, borrowing the rating system from the lovely goddesses of Kdrama reviews themselves Javabeans and Girlfriday, I would rate “A Well Raised Daughter Ha-Na” as:
How much I liked it: 6.5/10
How good was it objectively: 5/10
Thank you to the cast and production crew for bring us such a wacky roller-coaster ride that I surprisingly still enjoyed enough to stay on for the entire time. Although not everything was perfect, and the drama was not fantastically great from start to finish, I still liked it, so that probably counts for something. Don’t forget everyone; make sure that you know what or who matters to you most, and let them know that you are there and that you care ❤
Thank you everyone for reading this super long and possibly boring review, and I’ll see you in the next post xoxo
❤ Yami Hyunnie ^^~