Scent of a Woman

Kim Sun Ah- Lee Yeon Jae
Lee Dong Wook- Kang Ji Wook
Eom Ki Joon- Chae Eun Sok
Seo Hyo Rim- Im Se Kyung
SBS official site
Soompi official thread
Official MV- You Are So Beautiful by Kim Junsu

There are hundreds, if not thousands of dramas per year from Korea’s 3 main channels plus numerous cable channels. How do you choose? The last thing you want to do is waste 16-20 hours of your precious time, only to find out that you should have probably usesd that time to do the laundry or water the plants instead.

Some of the best dramas this year were not led by young hot idols, but rather good solid actors with strong story and production. ‘Scent of a Woman’ was one of them.

Generally speaking, weekend dramas tend to attract less attention, presumably more people are out during the weekend…especially the teens. This drama, therefore is not really targeted at the teenagers. This was Lee Dong Wook’s first drama after his release from the army…(strictly speaking, before he was released from the army as they started the filming even before he was officailly out). It would also be Kim Sun Ah’s first drama in 2 years.

I have to admit- I didn’t place much attention to it when I first read the synopsis. Afterall, cancer stricken heroine falling in love with rich, cold chaebols are so passé. But oh, how wrong I was and what a delightful piece of work. If there was a photo to describe the drama, I think this would be it:

A lowly, single excutive working all her life in a travel agency, discovered that she has cancer with only 6 months to live. Having worked hard to scrimp and save and pander to her obnoxious supervisors so that she could have a better life later on- ironically, she would not have that ‘later on’. How then should she make use of the remainder of her precious time on earth?

Lee Yeon Jae is typical of a single, middle-age, low rank female employee in a male dominant working society. She is afraid to speak out and obeys every unreasonable commands for fear of offending her supervisor and thus loosing her job. It may seemed cowardly of her, but when you are in your 30’s, with not much of a job prospect anywhere and lots of bills to pay, you do try hard to hang to your job.

She yearns for that special love and that special man in her life but that seems to be almost impossible to find. Though she is greatly attracted to her new, young boss (as are almost all the female employees in the office), she did not dare to think or dream further.

She worked hard and saved to have that better life later. So in the first couple of episodes, she is unfashionably dressed with a pair of hideous, big round glasses. There is spark in her but it is surpressed in the name of reality and work. And then, she learnt the shocking news that she has cancer and likely to live for 6 months.

How did she react?

She quit her job, took out her hard earned savings and went for a makeover and book herself on a holiday. I don’t think she really, totally believed she would die in 6 months, but it does give her a strong reason to do all the things she has always wanted to do but never did. She drew up a bucket list- 20 things she would like to do before she dies. Some of them are simple enough- make her mother smile once a day, go cycling along the coastline. Some a little more difficult- go on a date with Junsu (of JYJ), her idol, get her mother remarried.

And yet, as the story unfolds, we see that the list is ticked off one by one.

Kim Sun Ah is a marvellous actress. In real life, she is really slim (so much so that I’m really jealous). She has such a strong screen presence that you are drawn to the character she portrays. Most would remember her in ‘My Name is Kim Sam Soon’, where she acted opposite Hyun Bin. The drama was a great hit and remains one of my favouriet drama. Most of her roles in the dramas has a touch of comedy and are totally down-to-earth. I believe she is the same in real life too based on some of the interviews that I’ve seen and how really, really, friendly she came across during the press conference.

Kang Ji Wook is the son of boss of a top travel agency in Korea. As with most heros- he is young, rich and smart and cold. As the lead male, he also has the obligatory ‘scar’ that he hides deep within him (why do all the male leads always have some sort of deep pain/ emotional scar?) Soon, we can detect that he is isn’t really on great terms with his father but he’s agreed to marry the girl of his choice anyway as it would help the company and because well… he doesn’t want to love anyone in case they leave him like his mother did.

And then he met Lee Yeon Jae. They share a wonderful holiday in Okinawa and from them on, he coudn’t quite get her out of his mind. But he has a duty to his father..his company. There is no time for love with this slightly wacky woman, who seemed to live life to the fullest. Will he stay by her side when he discovers her secret?

This was Lee Dong Wook’s first drama after the army. In fact, they started filming even before he was released! Kim Sun Ah commented that she spent much of the initial part filming alone withouth him (though she did have lots of chickens for company. Look out for them! ^^). Almost all would remember his signature drama, ‘My Girl’. I know everyone was going ga-ga over him but my heart went to Lee Jun Ki. In this drama, he won me over with his excellent acting and body. Hehe! Eye candy is always welcome. Yes, there are the required shirt-less scenes (which was asked about during the press conference) where we get to drool over his lean, tone body. But hey, who’s complaining?

Dr Chae Eun Suk is not only Yeon Jae’s doctor, he is also her childhood friend. A brilliant doctor who is not so brilliant at relationships- whether with friends, colleagues or patients.

His gruff personality is slowly smoothened out by Yeon Jae and doing things that he normally wouldn’t do (like going to a fan meeting!). Of course, he starts to fall in love with her and more than ever, as her doctor, for the woman he loves, he wished he could save her.

The only drama I remember Eom K Joon in was ‘Dream High’ and I really like him in that drama. Like Kim Sun Ah, he has a slightly comedy feel and could be funny without tryinh too hard.

The second female lead is almost always bad, mean and bitchy (strangely, it doesn’t happen for the second male lead). So it is no surprise that Sae Kyung has all the attributes that makes her less than endearing to the viewers. But on closer look, Sae Kyung isn’t as bad…just irritating and the writers actually made us give her gave her some pity points as we find out that the man she loved (no, not Ji Wook) was really more interested in her money.

‘Scent of a Woman’ is not about death but really about life and hope.

Sure there are tears and pain. But Yeon Jae decided that if she was going to die soon, then she was going to at least try and live the remaining of her life doing things that would make her happy and fulfilled. So she started learning tango, went on a holiday, find her first love. Even the songs in the ost are mostly upbeat, with lots of tango music. It doesn’t mean she wasn’t in pain. In fact, Kim Sun Ah revealed at the press conference that the most memorable scene for her was her plea to Eun Suk to save her and let her live. But still, there is that warm fuzzy feeling in the heart and warm tears on the face after watching this drama… particularly in the last episode when she gave presents to all those that has been a part of her life…from the grouchy the obnoxious supervisor and even to her rival, Sae Kyung. In her words..”the time I’ve spent with you all, that is my life’.

Tango featured very prominently in the drama. Indeed, the main picture of the drama shows a couple doing the tango with a clock in the background.

The drama has some similarities to the movie of same namesake movie starring Al Pacino who planned a weekend having the time of his life before attempting suicide. For me, it also has some similarities to the movie, ‘Shall We Dance’ (the movie was remade into Hollywood movie starring Richard Gere but the original Japanese one is much, much better). Tango requires passion and of course, you need a partner to tango in tune to the right steps, or you will end up stepping on each other’s toes. Tango is also very sensual and sexy…and if done correctly, can be hotter than a bed scene. Here are some particularly memorable ones

If the song sounds familiar to you, it’s because it was also used in the drama, Scent of a Woman

The Thomas Crown Affair

Now does he have a purpose or does he have a purpose?

Fans of Junsu (JYJ) would have known by now that he made an appearance in the drama as himself and even sang to Yeon Jae. Here’s that scene that has everyone swooning away. Watch his BTS below. For the actual scene, watch out for episode 5.

Finally, I guess you can’t go away from this drama without mentioning the bucket list. Here it is, with much credit to foxyapple & So3 and much thanks to Alodia on soompi.

연재의 버킷리스트 (Yeon Jae’s Bucket List)
죽기전에 꼭 하고싶은 20가지… (20 things I want to do before I die…)

1. 하루에 하번씩 엄마를 웃게 만든기 (Make my mum smile once a day)
2. 나를 괴롭혔던 놈들에게 복수하기 (Revenge against those who harassed me)
3. 탱고 배우기 (Learn tango)
4. 갖고 싶고 먹고 싶고 입고 싶은거 참지 않기 (Whatever I want, eat and wear, I won’t hold back)
5. 웨딩드레스 입어보기 (Try on a wedding dress)
6. 준수랑 데이트 해 보기! (Have a date with Junsu!)
7. 자전거로 해안도로 달리기 (Go cycling along the coastline)
8. 하루동안 영화 속 주인공처럼 살아보기 (Be just like the heroine in a movie for a day)
9. 첫사랑 찾기 (Find my first love)
10. 진짜 사랑하는 사람과 듀엣곡 불러보기 (Sing a love song with the one I love)
11. 세상 모든 여자들이 부러워할만한 프러포즈 받아보기 (Receive a proposal that all women in the world would die for)
12. 틈틈이 봉사하기 (Contribute whenever I can)
13. 엄마 재혼 시키기 (Get my mom remarried)
14. S에게 용서 구하기 (To have S forgive me)
15. 누군가의 의미있는 사람 되기 (To be a meaningful person to somebody)
16. 내 인생의 흔적 남기기 (To leave the traces of my life)
17. 날 아는 사람들에게 멋진 여자로 기억되기 (To leave a real cool impression in front of people I know)
18. 화이트 크리스마스에 눈 맞으며 키스 해보기 (To get kissed while having a White Christmas)
19. 이 모든 것들을 사랑하는 사람과 함께 하기 (Do everything with the person I love)
20. 그리고 마지막으로 사랑하는 사람 품에서 눈 감기…(And lastly, close my eyes in the arms of the person I love…)

Did Yeon Jae die? You will have to watch to find out. What is your bucket list?

Scent of a Woman is now showing on ONE Starhub– Channel 823, Channel 876 (HD), Channel 124 (Malay) and ONE Singtel Mio TV– Channel 39. ONE is also giving away 5 sets of autographed photos by the couple plus other memorabillia. Check it out on their FB

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