The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

솔약국집 아들들 / Solyakgukjip Adeuldeul - The Sons of Sol Pharmacy

54 episode KBS2 drama that aired in Korea between April 11 and October 11 of this year. This sweet, light-hearted look at Korean family life starred Son Hyun Joo as Song Jin Poong, the eldest of four brothers living with their parents and paternal grandfather in a modest home outside Seoul.

Jin Poong, 38, is the timid Pharmacist, and he isn't handsome or popular and is rather shy, but his biggest character flaw is his inability to let go of his first love - which occurred back when he was still in High School.

From the start of this drama, I had a mild affinity for Jin Poong, and the more I watched, the more I began to love the man. His winsome smile, his soulful gaze, and his infectious chuckle all helped to make me wish I had a guy like him for a buddy.

What a charmer!

The type of guy who can make you shed tears without trying, and who is capable of drawing you in without much effort based solely on his personality. He's a big teddy bear with real innards instead of fluffy stuffing.

Lee Pil Mo is Song Dae Poong, the second son, a Pediatrician, and the Playboy of the family. He carried this drama from start to finish, and half-way through viewing, when I went to the kitchen for something to eat, my mother happened to be watching an old, black & white movie that starred Cary Grant, and it hit me.

Either Lee Pil Mo studied Cary Grant movies religiously, or the director insisted that Song Dae Poong take on the characteristics of a guy like him.

Regardless, Ajusshi Lee pulled it off brilliantly, and as bumbling an asshole as he portrayed Dae Poong to be, it was a memorable performance that kept me smiling throughout.

I remember him from Here Comes Ajumma, and it was the first & last time that I saw him in anything until The Sons of Sol - and again, he went from portraying a Ken doll corporate whiz to his present character, Dae Poong - polar opposites.

Great acting ability, imho.

Han Sang Jin played Song Sun Poong, the third son of Sol Pharmacy House, and his character remained true to form from beginning to end. (He was in What Happened in Bali - and maybe it was just a bit part? I don't remember seeing him, or what his character might have been.)

Intelligent, dedicated, and purpose-driven Sun Poong works as a news reporter, and his main interest is to show Koreans another side of the news; like animal abuse, social reform, and the seamier side of life as an attempt to help improve society. He's bookish and wears horn-rim glasses that accent his nerd attire. His boss loves him, though, and he thinks that Sun Poong would make a terrific son-in-law.

Lastly, we have Ji Chang Wook as Song Mi Poong, the baby. He's 17 years younger than our Jin Poong and a handsome high schooler who keeps failing his entrance exams for college.  Mi Poong is the daydreamer, the helper, and the guy with a mind of his own. He's into things like needlepoint and crafts, but he cares less that his school chums think he's gay.

Chang Wook is a hotty, ladies!

Anyway ...

This is a story about a woman with four, grown sons and her desperate attempt to have them married off - but to the right women, and to women of her choosing, not theirs. A concept that annoys me, but that seems to take on a sense of validity in a drama like The Sons of Sol.

I can't explain why, though.

(sorry so blurry)

I felt über sorry for Jin Poong for 3/4 of this drama, and the more his mother pushed him, the angrier that I became until I thanked the Lord I wasn't raised in Korea.

Jin Poong decides not to marry the woman his omanee chose

It was pointed out that our poor, sweet, suffering Pharmacist wanted to be an artist, but that his mother poo-poo'd the idea and encouraged him to study Pharmacology instead. He fell madly in love with a pretty girl Dae Poong's age, and they became good friends, but he was so painfully shy that he could never express his feelings properly - and then one day she left for America, and our adorable Jin Poong was crushed. She returns years later though, with a husband, two small children, and a caustic sister-in-law who doesn't get along with Jin Poong at all.

She's come home - to die - why else.

So, while teddy-bear Jin Poong is suffering immeasurable sorrow all over again, and with his annoying mother still on his case about his getting older and causing her countless hours of shame for still being single, our 3rd son, Sun Poong, is getting closer and closer to his boss's daughter, Oh Eun Ji (Yoo Ha Na).

Eun Ji is more annoying than Mrs. Song, and she's also ten years younger than our stuffy Sun Poong, too. She's a budding actress with an abrasive personality, is extremely uncouth, and at first, she can't stand Sun Poong since he is way above her in all respects.

Her father (Kim Yong Gun) is hilarious as a media exec with a silly wife (Kim Hye Ok) and the whining daughter. I don't recall ever seeing Yong Gun portray anyone other than a stuff-shirt with lots of money, so it was refreshing to see him behave so ridiculous - even with money! 

I especially loved Hye Ok's character, Ahn Moon Sook (the mother of the whining actress). She was adorable, interesting, and sweet, like our irrepressible Jin Poong. She lived in an average neighborhood, yet she behaved like a Queen and always wore hats while walking a male dog (Bobby) whose fur she had died pink.

Bobby disappeared about a 1/4 of the way through the drama, and for a reason that was not explained, either.

Continuity, again.

Ahn Moon sook

So, Sun Poong ends up getting married first, which puts our Mrs. Song in a tailspin of sorts, bemoaning yet and again about Jin Poongs constant ability to shame her publicly.

Sun poong getting kissed by Eun ji

mom & pop happen to see it live

cute, dazed look on his face while she seems rather surprised

oma shares the good news about their younger brother's upcoming wedding

But, Jin Poong is falling in love with Lee Soo Jin (Park Son Young) the sister-in-law of the girl he first fell in love with years ago.

so cute together - Jin Poong and Soo Jin

Naturally, Mrs. Song isn't pleased, and she insists that Soo Jin isn't the girl for her precious Jin Poong since she's parent-less and has a niece & nephew to take care of, along with an older brother, (Jo Jin Woong as Brutus -Bruce- Lee) a widower now who wears an earring, has a ponytail, and rides a harley.
Bruce is supposed to be an American transplant, but his English is limited to things like 'Oh My God!' and 'No, No, No!'

Cho's character was pretty funny, too. A tad on the sappy side, but still funny - especially when, toward the end, he began to clash with Miran, Mrs. Song's niece.


Ok, so in the meantime, we have the dashing yet irritating Dae Poong, the 2nd eldest and a Pediatrician who for three years treated his nurse assistant, Kim Bok Shil (Yoo Sun) like crap.

Bok Shil arrived at the mid-range hamlet upon returning her mother's ashes to Korea from America, and when she sees a notice for a nurse, she applies at Dae Poong's Children's Hospital (though it's nothing more than a doctors office above the Pharmacy).

She rents an apartment near the 'hospital', which is right around the corner from the Song household, and Bok Shil ends up spending the next, three years catering to her boss while working as a maid in the Song house.

She cooks, cleans, and takes care of Dae Poong every time he has a hard time shaking off one of his many, clinging admirers.

It's obvious from the start how Bok Shil feels about Dae Poong, though it's nearly impossible for the viewer to figure out WHY she feels anything at all, trust me.

Bok Shil asking the same question over & over again

Dae Poong thinks he's in love with Soo Jin, Soo Jin thinks she's in love with Jin Poong, and Bok Shil is crazy about Dae Poong.

Jin Poong is still reminiscing about Soo Jin's sister-in-law, and he's becoming more attracted to Soo Jin, but he knows how Dae Poong feels, too.

It was Sun Poong who was crazy about Bok Shil, but he's married now, so - WHEW! what a plot!

Dae Poong with Bok Shil

Jin Poong hiding from Dae Poong and Soo Jin

Dae Poong with Soo Jin, Jin Poong with Bok Shil

Bok Shil finally comes to her senses, but then she's kidnapped, so she can't say goodbye to the Song family, who took veritable advantage until she disappeared, and then the house was suddenly turned upside down.

Dae Poong's father, Song Kwang Ho (Baek Il Sup) ordered Dae Poong to find Bok Shil and bring her back, kicking him out of the house and warning him not to return without the girl.

bummin' about Bok Shil

Baek Il Sup was freakin' hilarious.

Again, the last time I saw him act was in I Really, Really Like You, and he portrayed the President of Korea, so it was a change of pace for me to see him act as a middle-class slob raising four, grown sons in a modest environment. He drank a lot but is a happy drunk, and he said what was on his mind regardless of the rigid protocol in place over there. He and his father ran the show at home, and though his father was a strict man with a quick temper, Mr. Song was a silly man with a child-like personality that I find adorable. Mr. Song, while taking a heaping helping of verbal abuse from his nagging wife, manages to keep a light-hearted approach to life, and he also serves as a go-between for the boys.

While she does nothing but bitch, he takes them aside and has meaningful one-one-one discussions with them, helping them to do the right thing, to make the right choice, or to follow their hearts.

It's touching and sweet.

he's talking about his and Mrs. Song's opinion about Jin Poong

another insulting remark to his eldest, Jin Poong

There's a scene toward the end that made me fall on the floor with hearty laughter, and that still makes me giggle when I think about it. I don't know why or even where I acquired my sophomoric sense of humor, but farting, while disgusting in and of itself, makes me lose it - every, single time.

Mr. Song sings while stumbling home from the bar, and he'll pause to let one go - not caring if there might be someone behind him.

Anyway, toward the end, Bok Shil's father arrives at the Pharmacy - and after asking for an energy drink, he sits down and starts to ask Jin Poong personal questions, taking the already timid man by surprise and making him more anxious since he has no idea who the stranger in town is.

Mr. Song shows up, asking for help with a sty, and when he sees the distinguished man seated behind him, he grows curious. When the stranger doesn't answer his questions about who he is and what it is he's doing in town, Mr. Song proceeds to let one rip - loudly and in the direct line of Bok Shil's father's face.

I'm sorry, but my eyes watered, I laughed so hard.

It's in the middle of episode 53 in case you're interested and your sense of humor is as crass and juvenile as mine is. =)

Twists and turns don't necessarily abound in this one, and the plot (there are a number of them) is rather predictable, yet the story and it's characters made me want to watch episode after episode without growing tired or frustrated or annoyed.

The lingering pauses, recaps, and dwelling scenes are to be expected, and SOMEONE DIED - but all in all, I really enjoyed My Too Perfect Sons tremendously, which is why I gave it five flowers.

Now for my curiosity corner -

m - perhaps because of the occasional cussing - but more likely because of the unwed mother content

I can't find any info on her (or him) but, she (he) strikes me as a tranny

I know I am clueless about a lot of things, especially when it comes to other cultures and their way of thinking. Still - The Sons of Sol left me with some questions - On the lighter side of things - I'm curious to know if our Pine Sol product derived it's name from a Korean aspect?

At the beginning of this drama, the translation kept saying "Pine Pharmacy House", though the title is Sol. Then, from the middle onward, the translation referred to it as Sol Pharmacy House.

Is Sol the Korean word for Pine?

Second - Mrs. Song gave birth to and raised four, handsome and respectable sons. A Pharmacist, a doctor, and a news reporter, with only the baby lacking in any, real brain power, yet it was the youngest she had the least concern for when it came to marriage.

Now, I understand this is fictitious stuff - but, somehow based on real-life situations in Korea (to a certain extent at any rate). So, I think I need to understand that it's not only vital that a child grow up to be something wonderful and get a job making tons of money, but that it's just as important to get married - especially to the right person - or else. (From where I stand, it might not be such a bad thing to be an orphan over there - at least there aren't any outrageous expectations and strength sapping demands to worry about). I completely understand the point and/or the reason why an eldest son should be expected to live with his parents after he's married. Personally, I think this is a custom that needs to return to America.

Here's what I don't get, though (at least in the drama) -

So, the Song's live in a house with a room for omanee & obajee, a room for grandfather, a room for two sons, another room for two more sons, and yet another room for the baby to sleep & study in.

They sent Sun Poong to live with his in-laws up the street.

They put the baby, Mi Poong, in the biggest room of the house.

They kicked out Dae Poong.

So, when Jin Poong brings home a bride, they're relegated to a closet-size room with not even a bed to sleep on?

With everyone gone - why couldn't Mi Poong have Jin Poong's old room, thus making available the huge room for Jin Poong and his bride?

Why wasn't Miran asked to babysit Bruce Brutus Lee's kids?

On the same topic - I know about family loyalty and responsibility - but, wasn't it Bruce' duty to take care of his offspring and not Soo Jin's?

Even if she intended to take care of her niece & nephew after she got married, what was the big deal when the Song's house & Sol Pharmacy were right where she once lived?

She still worked as a lawyer, so she was still able to take the kids to school in the morning.

Lastly - and what will always puzzle me the most probably, is the salary of professionals.

TWO doctors, a lawyer, a pharmacist, an ACTRESS, and a news reporter, yes?
Between the six of them, you'd think the Song's would have it made, no?
Is it taboo to want to buy your parents a bigger house in a better neighborhood?

Take Jin Poong alone - since he didn't get married and was pushing 40, let's say for the better part of twenty years, he worked daily at the Pharmacy, ok?
So - not taking any vacations, he should have amassed a small fortune in that time, right?

Not one of them could even afford to hire a maid for their omanee???

I need to research these things, I guess.