Review: KBS’ My One and Only – When the Strength of Its Leads Can Carry a Show

Moderate spoilers.

KBS stuck gold with Smile, Donghae, it’s daily series earning national drama status in 2010 and 2011. Grabbing another daily drama hit would be a tall order for any Korean network.

The series that followed Donghae, My Bittersweet Life/Women of Our Home starring Jay Kim (President and Kpop band TRAX), Jung Eun Chae, Yoon Ah Jung (Reversal of Fate), Choi Min Sung and a pre-Dream High 2 Kang Sora, was a pleasant, though typical rich boy-poor girl romantic drama. Its positive was that it was more of an ensemble drama than Smile, Donghae was, involving more characters than just the main couple.

The current KBS daily drama Just You/My One and Only/당신 뿐이야 takes that a step further. My One and Only (its international KBS World title) is a true family drama, centering on the large, though struggling, Ki clan. But its two central characters are Ki Unchan and Gunghwa.

Unchan is the youngest son of patriarch Ki Bunam, but not of matriarch Bongja (Jung Aeri, Smile, Donghae). Though the story appears to be deeper than just Bunam having an affair, thus producing Unchan, for now the focus is on good-hearted Unchan wanting to provide for his family and to fulfill his dream of working at Mirae Architects.

Gunghwa is the heiress to the Mirae corporation, yet working at an architecture and construction conglomerate is the furthest thing from her mind. She and Unchan regularly cross paths, starting with Unchan saving Gunghwa’s life. After about 50 episodes of back and forth between them, they finally admit their feelings for each other.

And it’s that back and forth that really keeps one tuning in. Because otherwise, the series features a large group of unlikeable or uninteresting characters. And for an ensemble family drama, that’d be a killer.

For weeks, Unchan’s half-siblings looked down on him, actually coming a little shy of shunning him as the illegitimate child in the family, not to mention being completely selfish. With Gunghwa, it’s her mother and boyfriend forcing her into a marriage she isn’t even really sure she wants.

The only good thing about having so many people bearing down on Unchan and Gunghwa is the building up of their characters as rootable underdogs. Even when Gunghwa originally pesters Unchan for her own curiosity, knowing what’s coming in the romance department kept you interested.

And that’s the saving grace of My One and Only. Suh Joon Young and Han Hye Rin as Unchan and Gunghwa absolutely carry the show. Their chemistry and charming likeability is worth sitting through the rest. You almost don’t care about anything else going on on the show, it is just a joy to watch the two of them and their journey to eventual coupleship.

Just like Smile, Donghae had a turning point when Anna is finally reunited with her mother (excellent episode, by the way), My One and Only‘s turning point, which spans a few episodes between 47 and 51, is when Unchan and Gunghwa finally admit their feelings for each other. And Episode 57 brought about some of the juiciest and more pleasantly surprising scenes yet.

The episodes bring a sense of relief, yet excitement that it finally happens. And now that they’re official, you can go forward with all the bumpy stuff that’s sure to fill the next 70-100 episodes.

There’s not much groundbreaking material, but Suh Joon Young and Han Hye Rin single-handedly (together) make My One and Only a good watch.

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