The second of three Korean dramas I followed simultaneously was MBC’s Personal Taste starring Son Ye Jin and Lee Min Ho.
The drama first gained a lot of attention thanks to it being the first post-Boys Over Flowers project of star Lee Min Ho, and it was an interesting choice for him.
Min Ho plays Jeon Jin Ho, an architect hoping to land his small firm’s first huge project to get them into the big leagues, an immense art museum, the Dam Art Gallery. Up against stiff competition, including an archrival with whom he has a painful past, he looks for a way to get the upper hand.
The project was originally tasked to Professor Park Chul Han, one of the most prolific architects in the country, but mysteriously turned it down.
Enter Professor Park’s daughter, Park Gae In, a woman unlucky in love and grew up without a mother and a frequently absent father. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she is a furniture designer, but feels like she fails to live up to her father’s expectations, adding to her frustration. But Gae In is satisfied with her life, not caring about much her personal appearance, but still hoping to find happiness.
Jin Ho and Gae In’s paths cross repeatedly until Jin Ho discovers the Park family’s traditional Korean home, named Sanggojae, was the original basis for the Dam Art Gallery and a reason why Professor Park was chosen in the first place. Jin Ho has found his ace and tries to find a way to get himself into Sanggojae to study it and hopefully incorporate the home’s unique elements into his firm’s proposal.
And of course, the road to romance continues. But while the set-up isn’t particularly unique, it is the numerous twists that unexpectedly pop up that really propel the story forward.
The first twist, that essentially sets up the rest of the series, is Gae In’s assumption that Jin Ho is gay thanks to a series of moments that, out of context, would suggest he really was. Though at first hesitant about renting a room out to a man, Gae In reasons it’s okay since he is gay and won’t try any funny stuff while staying there (and him being good looking doesn’t hurt either).
So begins the series. Though Jin Ho doesn’t go out of his way to lie, he also does little to make Gae In think otherwise, thinking this is all for the advancement of his firm. Gae In, however, is happy to have a new friend and maybe someone who can “make [her] into a woman.”
But as this is a romantic comedy, the romance develops between the two, both struggling to keep their feelings to themselves for various reasons. And in comes the twists that really help pick the series up from getting lost in the sea of romantic comedies and dramas on Korean television.
Son Ye Jin and Lee Min Ho have great chemistry and are very engaging, helping to enforce the light, happy and fun air of the series. The legitimate twists cut into the levity, but never derails it and even when some dramatic revelations come crashing through the last four episodes, the series continues its honest flow.
The supporting cast of characters are very much involved and are able to each stand out in their own right, but never detracting from the story, always with a reason for being there.
Personal Taste was a fun and enjoyable ride, with two charming leads, and a very good flow that keeps you from losing interest at any point of the 16 episodes.