21 March 2008

소울메이트 Soulmate

Title: 소울메이트 Soulmaeiteu
English Title: Soulmate
Country: Korea
Language: Korean
Year: 2006
Episode: 12
  • 신동욱 Shin Dong Wook
  • 이수경 Lee Soo Kyung
  • 최필립 Choi Philip
  • 사강 Sa Kang
  • 장미인애 Jang Mi In Ae
  • 오타니 료헤이 Otani Ryohei (大谷慶彦 Otani Ryohei)

Nouvelle Vague - This Is Not A Love Song
Lee Soo Kyung and Shin Dong Wook are soulmates -- not only are they not aware of this, they also don't believe in soulmates.

Soo Kyung has been dating Philip for five years and she accepts his wedding proposal. Although concerned that she's not as ecstatic as she thinks she should be, she thinks (rather convinces herself) that she's made the right decision.

Dong Wook has the good looks, the amiable personality, the interesting profession (he's a music coordinator), and the right background -- he's the ideal guy personified and he knows it. He knows women very well and is a legendary expert in the dating game. Pressured by his family to settle down, he goes to a lot of formal blind dates and meets Yu Jin.

Hong Yu Jin is a well-bred only daughter of a rich family. She's naive and conservative; characteristics that attract Dong Wook's interest. She's dating Dong Wook and grows to love him as their relationship progresses.

Jang Min Ae shares an apartment with Yu Jin. She's a seductress and a playgirl, Dong Wook's female counterpart. She's dating Ryohei but not exclusively. She's an English instructor and Philip, one of her students, intrigues her.

Choi Philip is in a long-term relationship with Soo Kyung but he finds his English instructor Min Ae attractive. He's confused about his feelings and can't quite figure out who it is he really loves.

In this tightly interconnected circle, Soo Kyung and Dong Wook have crossed paths quite a number of times but they haven't actually met. Will they ever meet? Will they realize that they are soulmates? How will their meeting and this knowledge affect their lives and everyone else's around them?

Lasse Lindh - C'mon Through
Lasse Lindh - C'mon Through (SoulMate Edit)
Just from the title alone, it can be inferred that Soulmate is all about love, dating, and relationships. I was initially hesitant to watch this drama because of this premise.

But Soulmate is not the typical Korean drama (it is categorized as a sitcom but that's not the point) with its usual one-dimensional characters and trademark matching roles -- the good guy and the naive girl are the lead characters, while the playboy and liberated girl are the supporting cast.

The characters in this drama are much more complicated, and they get surprising roles. The playboy Shin Dong Wook is actually the lead guy and the naive girl Hong Yu Jin is not the lead girl. The good guy Choi Philip does not get the girl but he cheats on his girlfriend so perhaps this label does not really apply. The liberated girl Jang Min Ae is the other girl but so is the ordinary girl Lee Soo Kyung. But then again, the ordinary girl is the lead girl and she's destined to be with the lead guy so maybe she can't be classified as the other girl?!

I like how the characters are well-developed and realistic representations of every man. I just don't like how their world is too small for comfort: Yu Jin and Min Ae are flatmates, Min Ae and Ryohei are dating, Ryohei and Dong Wook are good friends, Dong Wook and Yu Jin are dating, Yu Jin and Soo Kyung are colleagues, Soo Kyung and Philip are dating, Philip and Min Ae are colleagues of some sort... keep in mind that Dong Wook and Soo Kyung are soulmates and it's just mind-boggling.

This drama brings up a lot of questions and the most obvious one is, 'do soulmates really exist?' Soulmates are portrayed in the drama as individuals who know, accept and understand each other completely. It's an endearing thought but when you think about it, hearing another person's thoughts is kind of freaky.

I like that everything about the drama is open for interpretation. The ending itself is hanging and it's up to the audience's imagination what eventually happens to the characters.

The best thing about it though is the eclectic music. Good music is weaved seamlessly in the drama, and its presence makes for more poignant scenes.

소울메이트 Soulmate