It has been awhile whereby I have been able to watch a saguek drama from start to finish and not only not be bored; forgo fast forwarding and even enjoying the ending. Top that off with the fact that watching the drama makes me immediately write a blog post about it. What can I say more that will convince you how well I thought the drama, Maids was put together?
Jung Yoo Mi as Gook In Yub
Oh Ji Ho as Moo Myung
Kim Dong Wook as Kim Eun Gi
Lee Shi Ah as Heo Yoon Ok
Jun Noh Min as Gook Yoo
Lee Cho Hee as Sa Wol Yi
Im Hyun Sung as Poong Yi
Ji Seung Hyun as Duk Goo
Kim Gab Soo as Kim Chi Kwon
Jin Hee Kyung as Lady Han
Park Chul Min as Heo Eung Cham
Jun Mi Sun as Lady Yoon
Lee Yi Kyung as Heo Yoon Seo
Lee El as Lady Kang
Jun So Min as Dan Ji
Lee Yun Kyung as Dan Ji’s mother
Chae Gook Hee as Hae Sang
Kim Jong Hoon as Dduk Soe
Jun Soo Jin as Gae Ddong Yi
Hoon Ki as Yong Joon
Kim Hye Na as Ok Yi
Ahn Nae Sang as Lee Bang Won, later King Tae Jong
Lee Do Kyung as Lee Sung Gye, later King Tae Jo
Lee Chae Young as Ga Hee Ah
Uhm Tae Goo as Chi Bok
Yang Seung Pil as Ba Woo
A historical drama about the lives, friendships, and love stories formed among the lowest class of servants and the nobles during early Joseon era. Gook In Yub was a former noble lady who became a slave after her family was branded as traitors. She befriended fellow servants and among them was a stoic and secretive man named Moo Myung. They eventually fall in love with each other, but as expected, they are entangled in political and class turmoils.
This drama was beseeched with all kinds of issues from its inception with the final blow being the massive fire and death on the set. Unfortunately, this is the bane of these type of dramas and I’m surprised accidents don’t happen more frequently, especially when there is so much action and specialized sets involved. So, we mourn the loss of main script coordinator, Yeom Hye-sun, may he rest in peace. Onto brighter moments, I must say that Director Jo Hyun Tak and Screenwriter Jo Hyun Kyung were able to continue on successfully and bring us what I felt was great entertainment; especially from two relative newbies to the field! So glad that more and more of these up and coming directors and screenwriters are putting out great dramas!
Good directing, writing and add to that equation some pretty decent acting, that is what we got from Maids. From Jung Yoo Mi in the lead to even minor characters like Im Hyun Sung as Poong Yi (I hated the man right until the end!). There were a lot of new actors and actresses that were introduced to me
I think what surprised me the most about watching Maids was my expectations to be seething mad as I watched the treatment of slaves in general and In Yub in particular. Even the initial treatment by Moo Myung as the Head Servant couldn’t dissuade me. I loved how we got to watch the transformation of the characters as In Yub became resigned to her fate and was willing and able to become a slave even with the additional hardships thrown her way by the jealous Yoon Ok and Eun Gi, who wasn’t willing at first to let her go.
Besides the wonderful sets, I had high praise for the costuming! With all of the beautiful hanboks and colors, you couldn’t help be drawn into the story even more as time went on. Even the maid costumes were of varying degree based on your status and household. The drama definitely dismissed the myth I had that all slaves were dressed in rags and dirty.
Let’s talk a little about the acting. I was pleasantly surprised with Jung Yoo Mi as Gook In Yub. I really didn’t have any expectations. A lot of us remember (and despise) her character in Rooftop Prince as Se Na. But I even said then that if an actor can make me hate them so throughly that just the mention of their name elicit memories of how much I hated them, that is good acting. I had plans to watch the daily drama, Mother’s Garden but alas as dailies go, it wasn’t subbed. She was originally going to be cast in the defunct City Conquest but that project crashed and burned; so, it was with surprise that when I heard she was going to be in this drama, I was looking forward to it. She didn’t disappoint. Her portrayal of In Yub was on point and well done. When she facing the reality of her new life and she showed a remarkable ability to show us her joy as well as happiness. I cannot wait to see her and Yoo Ah In together in “Six Flying Dragons”, September 2015.
Oh Ji Ho, what can I say about this handsome species of male!? After watching the disastrous (my opinion), Cheo Yong and then reading how he felt he’d lost his “sexual” mojo, I still had hope as he was returning to saguek dramas once again. A lot of us remember him fondly from Chuno, right? His dark and sometimes mysterious Moo Myeung reminded me why I liked it and have continued to watch his dramas. Even his subtle attempts to be romantic were nice to see as I really didn’t expect to see it from our recently married leading man but what a great job he did in showing us all the spectrum of emotions.
Kim Dong Wook as Kim Eun Gi was a big surprise for me. I had my doubts that he could pull it off. While I find him to be a decent actor, I really wasn’t expecting much in the romance department especially when acting against such a he-man as Ji Ho. I was a little surprised at the casting but Dong Wook held his own well. He made me a believer in his love for In Yub and when he turned evil, he pulled it off without a glitch! What started out as questionable casting in the beginning, make me that much firmer in my praise, “Job Well Done!”
Now, the standout for this drama was definitely Lee Cho Hee as Sa Wol Yi! Looking at her previous dramas, I don’t even remember her in Inspiring Generations (but that could be a testament on how little I remember about it). Sa Wol was a character that was written perfectly. She was so loyal to In Yub; that kind of loyalty you won’t see too often in a drama, especially a saguek drama whereby the female is willing to not only protect but to give their life to the one they have served, even after they have lost all. Sa Wol had me in tears so many times in this drama! And it is with pleasure that we will get to see her again with Jung Yoo Mi in the upcoming “Six Flying Dragons”. Thank you, thank you, casting directors! For recognizing when an actor did a damn good job!!
Lastly, I’d be remiss in not mentioning Lee Yi Kyung as Heo Yoon Seo. His character of Yoon Seo always promised you a laugh or two. He was so funny in his pursuit of poor Dan Ji (played by Jun So Min) but it is later that you realize just how much he really loved and cherish her despite her status which was a nice surprise by the writer.
Onto the highlight of the drama or the fact that there actually was a little: romance. I thought it was subtle and well placed. As I wasn’t expecting any which is actually the norm for most saguek dramas, I was pleasantly surprised by the occasional kissing/hugging/hand holding that was in this drama. I also like the fact that even with a look, you could tell that the characters were in love. As Moo Myeung fell for In Yub first, I loved that it was apparent to us viewers at what moment that his feeling changed from prison guard mode, to wanting her to love me too mode. Oh Ji Ho did a great job of portraying this emotions of a man willing to wait for a woman’s love! Yes, he did well. Even I was surprised as I really haven’t seen him do any real romances since watching Couple or Trouble in the earlier drama watching period. Dong Wook as the the old love of In Yub also did well with his transformation as a man in love with his first (and only love) to an obsessed and angry man who couldn’t have the woman he wanted regardless of how hard he tried. Both men did well in showing us those necessary emotions to draw us viewers into the story but not so that it is overwhelming and detracts from the story.
So what is my final verdict? For us hard core saguek drama watchers, I would classify this in the “different” category. While it is definitely an historical drama and a lot of facts (and mostly fiction) are weaved into the story, I found it very entertaining to the point that in a mere 3 days I was done. For the occasional saguek drama watchers, they may find it to be a good story but will walk away slightly disappointed because of the lack of romance.
In my opinion, even with the ending, I didn’t find it totally bad and in perspective made sense. I cannot believe that I watched the entire drama without fast forwarding; being bored; or wanting to totally kill characters. Everyone got their just desserts and we didn’t get all the repenting in the end for any of the characters I hated! I laughed/cried/got angry! For me, that’s a good sign of a damn good drama!
And if you need any more reasons, Oh Ji Ho was just so handsome in this drama…damn handsome!
MDL Rating: 8.5 because I watched nothing else and was never bored.