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You're the Best Lee Soon Shin is a Korean family drama, focusing on the lives of the three Lee sisters and their mother. The drama pays special attention to youngest sister Lee Soon Shin (singer IU) as she struggles to make it in the acting world. Meanwhile her oldest sister Hye Shin (Son Tae Young) returns home from Hong Kong - daughter and secrets along for the ride. And second sister Yoo Shin (Yoo In Na) deals with work and her love-hate relationship with the boy next door, Dr. Park Chan Woo (Ko Joo Won). There is also Shin Joon Ho (Jo Jung Suk), owner of an up and coming talent agency, who takes Soon Shin on. He bets his ex-girlfriend that he can make Soon Shin a star in less than a year. Oh, and there's a birth secret.

How do I explain this drama? I decided I wanted to watch it because I really have enjoyed Jo Jung Suk in his past two dramas, What's Up? and The King 2 Hearts. I also have soft spots for IU (thanks to Dream High), Yoo In Na, Son Tae Young, and Lee Mi Sook. Plus, I really liked the idea of a family drama focusing on the three daughters (ages 34-24) and their struggles in modern day Korea. It also didn't hurt that Writer Jung Yoo Kyung (What Star Did You Come From?) was behind the drama.

Then I started watching the drama, and I quickly realized something: most of the drama comes from the birth secret. Which is, in a way, a good thing. Get that out earlier and deal with it for the whole of the drama. I do hate when secrets in Korean dramas drag. But, it was bad in another way: it made several characters unlikable. And while they were being unlikable due to the secrets of Lee Soon Shin's birth - other characters were just plain unlikable or just had no story. I know they have 50 episodes (well, 34 episodes left at this point; unless they get more episodes, which is likely with the high ratings) but the pacing feels off.

Our Two Leads and Their Stories:

Lee Soon Shin is our main character. Played by IU, she is the youngest of three daughters. She is 24 and has been without a job for several months. (It seems likely she didn't finish college based on dialogue in early episodes.) She has no special skills, and when we first meet her the only unique thing about her is her name. (FYI: She's named after a real Korean naval commander, famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war in the Joseon Dynasty) We quickly learn that her home life isn't so great: her dad is dismissive at best (and than he dies early on, just as he seemed to really want to bond with her), her grandmother appears to hate her (even calling her 'that thing' at one point), her second sister is catty and rude and blames Soon Shin for everything that goes wrong (plus she has the affections of Soon Shin's long time crush, Chan Woo.) Only Soon Shin's mother seems to truly care for her.

However, things brighten up when Soon Shin (after a series of crazy events) ends up signed to Shin Joon Ho's agency. She even gets a mentor/acting coach in famed actress Song Mi Ryung (Lee Mi Sook). Things are looking up. Expect Soon Shin's mother, Kim Jung Ae (Go Doo Shim) really doesn't want Soon Shin to act or have anything to do with Mi Ryung. She even throws Soon Shin out of the house and later declares that Soon Shin is no longer her daughter.

I know what you are thinking. . .why? Well, turns out that Soon Shin is secretly (as in she's the only one who doesn't know) adopted. Also turns out that Dad brought her home in a scarf that belonged to Mi Ryung. Seems Mi Ryung is Soon Shin's birth mother. Also seems that Dad and Mi Ryung had something of a romance going in their younger days. This leads Jung Ae (Mom) to believe that Soon Shin is the love child of her husband and his lover; that she was tricked into raising the love child for 24 years. And with her husband dead and Mi Ryung a big star (and no prove that Soon Shin is actually a love child), Jung Ae decided to take all her angry out on Soon Shin - by disowning her.

Honestly, Jung Ae had my sympathies for a good long while. But, the second she started blaming Soon Shin for something that a) she cannot control and b) isn't proven, she lost my sympathies. Regardless of the past and who her birth mom is or the fact that Soon Shin wants to give acting a go (and she's good at it!), Soon Shin is Jung Ae's daughter. Jung Ae is the only mother that Soon Shin has ever known. She has no idea why her mother is suddenly screaming at her and kicking her out (just that Jung Ae hates acting and Mi Ryung). Also, Mi Ryung (realizing that Soon Shin is the daughter of her old friend, who died in a car accident she witnessed) has tossed Soon Shin aside and refuses to meet with the confused girl.

On the other side of things, you have Shin Joon Ho (Jo Jung Suk). He's the son of a doctor, who owns his own dermatology/cosmetic surgery hospital. Once upon a time, Joon Ho had tried to make it in show business, but he failed. His talent agency appears to be the home of boy bands, girl groups, and at the start of the series, Mi Ryung. (A shocking move to those in the industry)

Back in the day, Joon Ho dated Choi Yun Ah (Kim Yoon Seo). Yun Ah dumped Joon Ho when she started getting big. It's not outright stated, but it is implied that she did so because she thought he was an orphan with no money and a failing music career. Joon Ho and Yun Ah are the two that make the bet about Soon Shin. If he wins, Yun Ah must join his agency and if she wins, she'll start her own agency and take Mi Ryung as her first big name star.

Of course nothing goes as planned. At first Soon Shin wasn't interested. Than she was, but her family said no. Than she decided to go for it, but maybe she didn't have the drive or raw talent. Oh wait, she does.

Meanwhile, Joon Ho is clearly (and slowly) falling for her. His drive to see her win and grow is much more than a bet. And there are shades of Yun Ah becoming jealous of the attention Joon Ho pays to Soon Shin. To that I say: "Yun Ah, you had your chance. Your career as a run of the mill actress took off. Joon Ho's career as a singer didn't. You thought he was an orphan, so you dumped him. Now he's a success and it turns out his dad is loaded. No use crying over what could have been." What does make it really interesting though is that Mi Ryung has taken a mentor role with Yun Ah (Yun Ah even calls the older woman 'Mom') Plus, several characters have commented that Yun Ah is, at best, an average actress that hasn't grown in her craft. It seems like Yun Ah and Soon Shin could be true rivals in the future.

The Sisters and Their Guys:

Hye Shin is the soft spoken oldest sister of the Lee family. Ten years ago she left her job and married a business man. They moved to Hong Kong, had a daughter (Han Woo Joo played by Kim Hwan Hee), and what appears to have been the perfect life. Only, Hye Shin returns to Korea. She cannot tell her mother or grandmother (though she tells sis Yoo Shin) that her cover story is a lie. Her husband hasn't been transferred back to Korea. He's not coming back in a few months. She's not there early to get Woo Joo in school and to get a house. Nope. Her husband had a mistress and he divorced Hye Shin. She's a single mom and she's ashamed to tell her family.

On the plus side, there is local baker (and now Lee family boarder - he rents a basement room) Seo Jin Wook (Jung Woo). Not much is known about Baker Jin Wook at the moment. We know he is goofy and sweet and has a soft spot for Woo Joo (who dislikes him) and a crush on Hye Shin (whom he believes to be married). We also know that he was once in jail, though we haven't been told what for.

This romance (and it will be a romance, let us not kid ourselves) has not really begun. The good news: Hye Shin and Grandma seem to like Jin Wook. The bad news: Grandma is going to hit the roof when she finds out that the sweet neighborhood baker/boarder is an ex-con. (And Grandma is hard core when she dislikes someone - look at the way she treats Soon Shin half the time; and that's her adopted granddaughter!) My guess is they will have this as the comic and slow burning romance, and than have a big moment toward the middle of the drama. Either with the ex-husband coming back or Jin Wook's past coming to light. The family will fight against the couple, but it will probably work out in the end. I have a feeling Jin Wook's crime was minor.

Yoo Shin is the second daughter of the Lee family. She appears to be perfect at everything, but resents Soon Shin for a childhood accident. As the promo materials for the show state: Her self-worth was defined when, at age nine, she and Soon-shin played with matches and set fire to the kitchen. Her mother had run into the fire and saved Soon-shin first, leaving Yoo-shin traumatized for life. She has resented Soon-shin since. Personally, I don't really buy that as a reason to treat Soon Shin the way she does. Soon Shin would have been 4/5. . .so. . .yeah. How can you blame a toddler? Blame your mom. Anyway, Yoo Shin is a marketing exec for an outdoor sportswear company. She has no plans of marriage and has even stated that she's better than a son and will take care of her mom and grandma forever.

Honestly I didn't like Yoo Shin for the first eight or so episodes. She seemed unfairly mean to Soon Shin, even going so far as to blame Soon Shin for their father's death - several times. (Side note: he died in a car accident, saving Mi Ryung. Soon Shin was nowhere near them at the time.) But, I've warmed up to her (a bit!) in recent episodes. She was concerned about Soon Shin possibly being conned by Joon Ho, she has tried to get Mom to let Soon Shin back in the house, and she has begun a tentative romance with the boy next door. Something she had been trying to deny, because she (rightly, though Soon Shin has denied it) assumed that her younger sister was in love with Chan Woo.

Chan Woo is the boy (turned man) next door. Back in their youth, his father was best friends with Mr. Lee. Chan Woo is a dermatologist, who just so happens to work for Joon Ho's father. Chan Woo is the same age as Yoo Shin, and they were close until they entered college. That was when Chan Woo confessed his love and Yoo Shin cruelly rejected him because of his "old fashioned" ways. (In reality, she knew Soon Shin liked him). The series begins with Chan Woo back from the military. He's a caring friend to Soon Shin, but always fights with Yoo Shin. Mostly because he's still in love with her and hates that she causally dates every single guy in the neighborhood. (Or so it seems to him).

Through several events, the two end up admitting they have feelings and they have secretly started dating. This romance is moving the fastest. I'm sure most of their drama will come from their marriage, which will probably happen around episode 30 or so.

Other Characters:

Shin Yi Jung (Bae Geu Rin) is Joon Ho's bratty and spoiled younger sister. For a short time she took acting lessons (with Soon Shin) from Mi Ryung. Mi Ryung agreed to treat Yi Jung harshly (she made the deal with Joon Ho's dad; whose totally shady and probably knows about the big birth secret) so she'd give up and go back to the States and finish college. Yi Jung has developed a crush on Chan Woo. She really adds nothing to the story, truth be told. I'm thinking she might be used as an issue in the Chan Woo/Yoo Shin romance and than disappear.

Kim Young Hoon (Lee Ji Hoon) is the owner of the restaurant housed in the Gabi Entertainment office building (Gabi Entertainment is Joon Ho's agency). He hires Soon Shin as a waitress and appears to have developed romantic feelings for her. He is friends with both Joon Ho and Yun Ah. He hasn't gotten much development, so I'm not sure if he'll be a real third party in a possible Joon Ho/Soon Shin pairing or if he'll just silently protect and cheer Soon Shin on. He's a nice guy, so I hope they don't ruin him.

Hwang Il Do is Mi Ryung's manager for 30 years. He's the key to Soon Shin's birth secrets.

Park Chan Mi (Ga Won) is Soon Shin's only friend and Chan Woo's younger sister. She's a free lance writer. Hasn't been given a hell of a lot to do, expect walk in on her parents fighting. But, she's supposed to have a romance with Jo In Sung (Ji Hoon), who was once an actor and is now Joon Ho's right hand man. These two haven't even met yet, so who knows. As of now, In Sung is someone for Joon Ho to play off of.

Park Bok Man was Mr. Lee's best friend growing up. He's the dad of Chan Mi and Chan Woo. He knew about Mi Ryung (she, he, and Mr. Lee all grew up together) and seems to have always known that Soon Shin is Mi Ryung's daughter by birth. He may also know who her birth father is.

Shin Dong Hyuk (Kim Kap-soo) is the director of his own dermatology/cosmetic surgery hospital, Joon Ho's father, and Chan Woo's mentor. It's been hinted several times that he knows about Mi Ryung's secret child and that he knows who the father is. My guess is he delivered Soon Shin in secret and that he and Il Do told Mi Ryung that the baby died or was sent to a great orphanage. Some fans believe he may actually be Soon Shin's father and that Joon Ho may be his step/adopted son. . .not sure if it will go that melo.

There you have it. After sixteen episodes, one romance is moving along and the birth secret is moving (though mostly in a circle). Everything else is going rather slow, even for a 50 episode family drama. So, am I still going to watch? Yeah, but I think I'll fast forward through most of it and rely of drambeans to fill in the gaps. At least for most of the drama; I do think it could pick up in the 30s. Would I rec this drama? Maybe. But, it certainly feels like a drama you'd marathon over a month or two rather than one you'd watch over 25 weeks. I think, if anything, I'm watching for the interactions between the three Lee sisters and their respective romantic interests.


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October 2013


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