I am through the first half of “Secret Garden” and intend to finish this today (there is nothing I can’t do with few hours of no-sleep and fast forward button). I have pretty much made my mind up about the drama: I am really glad that I gave it a chance. For some reason, I really don’t like stories about body swap, which seems be just a very contrived method of making a movie or a book “funny”. Nonetheless, luckily “Secret Garden” is a case of confusing blurb (there seems to be so many of them nowdays!), and body swap does not feature heavily in the story.
The story in short goes like this: forget the body swap (it is just a gimmick), imagine a love story between a poor stunt woman and a rich guy with icicle-like heart (destined to melt soon), and a secondary pairing between his washed out singer cousin and his first love, a daughter of a rich family. Sounds familiar? Yes, but the main couple has incredible, rare chemistry together.
Overall, “Secret Garden” is a well-made, in many ways “traditional” Kdrama in which interactions between the main (admittedly scorchingly hot) couple become very repetitive after the first 7 episodes. I am in the episode 10 and I already want to shout: please get on with the program, already! Take me right, I don’t particular view this as a shortcoming, it is just “the way they do things” in Kdrama. There isn’t many dramas where I didn’t use my fast forward button in the second half, not many at all.
There are few things that set the drama above the average of this genre:
+ Ha Ji Won (the stunt lady Gil Ra Im) is awesome. I don’t even have enough words to describe how good she is. She hasn’t done dramas in a while , so it is so great to see her back
+ Oska, the singer cousin. And everything to do with Oska: his larger-than-life character, his love, and his gay friend. The gay friend (talented singer and songwriter) is actually in a separate category of great – isn’t it so good to see gay people presented so positively in recent Korean dramas? Kdrama seems to be way ahead of Western shows in this regard, and who would have expected it!
Among less positive things:
- Hyun Bin plays himself from “My name is Kim Sam Soon”, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Only he seems to have lost so much weight since then. The guy looks like he hasn’t had a dinner in days!
- There are few things that one just can’t find believable, no matter how hard one tries, and I don’t mean fantasy elements. For example, the horrible poverty in which Gil Ra Im lives. Ok, stunt woman is probably not the kind of profession you want your daughter to choose, but still – it doesn’t seem as the kind of profession that has extremely low wages. Plus she teaches as well. So, why she and her friend have to live in some horrible place? I don't know, her friend seems to be in full-time employment too.
Ratings: I haven't finished it yet, but most likely 7/10.