Hello netizendrama readers. I’m Natasha and I will be doing the review for Her Private Life. Eventhough Her Private Life had concluded its final episode a month ago but I think it is still not too late to review about this drama. This drama has been dubbed as the most refreshing rom-com in Kdramaland and the drama you should not miss in 2019.
This drama has caught my attention even before it been filmed. When I learned that tvN going to produce a drama about fangirling, I was already looking forward to put the drama on my watch list as I want to know how it will be done. Then I heard it is also based on a popular webtoon so it’s already going to be something bearable to watch. Then, when I heard the female lead is Park Min Young I already put one foot to watch the drama as I believe in PMY works. Not too long after, the production confirmed that the male lead is going to be Kim Jae Wook. This actually what made me extra excited. Not because I am a fan of him (not yet at the time) but, I really wanted to see him in a rom-com as I was captivated by his talent as the psycho Mo Tae Gu in Voice.
Ok, enough with the history now let’s talk Kdrama. Her Private Life tells a story about Sung Deok Mi (Park Min Young) a curator at Cheum Art Gallery. Well, that is her day job. Unknown to others, after office hours she is a dedicated homepage master ‘Homma’ and die hard fangirl of Idol Cha Si An (ONE). Ryan Gold (Kim Jae Wook) is a standoffish art director at Mono Aret Gallery in New York. He used to be an artist but due to Stendhal Syndrome he cannot paint anymore eventually retired as an artist. When the current director Eom Seo Hye (Kim Sun Young) gets investigated in embezzlement scandal, Ryan Gold becomes the new Art Director of Cheum Art Gallery. Though he hasn’t paint but his views on paintings is precious. It’s like he has the eyes to pick good paintings and otherwise. He came to Korea from New York because of a certain mission. To search for the collection of Lee Sol, his favorite painter.
The first few episodes showed us how Deok Mi balance her life as a career woman during the day and also a fangirl in the evening and I believe many of us find it relate-able. She spent her time after work going to shows, concert and airports to take photos of her idol, photoshop it and post it on her website to be shared with the rest of Cha Si An’s fans. Because of her affection towards the idol she hardly had any relationship or I could say surviving relationship. But this doesn’t matter to her as she is happy to spend her time for her favorite idol. Most of fangirls I knew (including myself) all have a day job and fangirling is like our part-time job. Seeing how Deok Mi change clothes after work to go to airport and find a spot to take photos really portrayed the true side of fangirl. Then we see how Deok Mi and Seon Ju (Park Jin Joo) fangirling while watching music shows even go for a ‘pilgrimage’ as unlike Deok Mi, she is married with a kid so she can’t fangirl freely like her BFF. I kept on saying ‘Wow, I used to do that’, ‘Sung Deok Mi is so me’, ‘Yup, that’s how a homma works’, so on and so forth. That is how the drama shows the true life of a fangirl. I believe most of us can see a glimpse of Deok Mi in us one way of another.
It also showed us the other category of fan which is known as sasaeng through the character of Cindy. Sasaeng is a fan who will follow the idol everywhere and even follow them to know where they live.
We were introduced to Ryan as a cocky and standoffish man. He seems hard to approach and very direct with his words and action. He has good eyes in art that people wants his insight about art. In short, he is a no nonsense guy. It looks cliché right? Especially in rom-com. What I like most about this drama is, it is not cliché or more appropriately it did not follow the cliché route. When in most drama this kind of guy will change when falling in love with nice girl, but for Ryan he is not that arrogant as he seems. He is serious with his works that he wants perfection that he can’t accept if things did not go as his plan (just like the incident with Artist Ahn) but when he knew that he made a mistake, he will admit it and put down his ago to apologize. Well, this is new in Kdrama because in Kdrama it is hard to see male characters admitting their mistakes and say sorry. The writer already earns a gold point from me for making a less ego male lead character.
He is also a considerate and not judgemental kind of character. Taking into account Ryan grew up in the US, he is open minded especially on LGBT. When he misunderstood Deok Mi and Seon Ju are lesbian couple, he willingly changed his room with them as he thought he needs the room to see each other in secret. He even criticized himself through his reflection in the mirror for not being sensitive enough to the minority group. It is so refreshing to watch.
Ryan and Deok Mi encounters weren’t nice since the beginning. From the competition at the art auction, to the incident at the airport till Ryan becomes the new director at Cheum. Ryan Gold already left a not so good impression to Deok Mi. The peak of their quarrel is when Ryan fired her because of a misunderstanding. When Ryan realized his mistakes, he apologized but Deok Mi isn’t a pushover. She takes her revenge on him but it almost killed him. Feeling guilty she nursed him the whole night and accepted Ryan’s apology and got back her job.
Fangirl dream come true
Deok Mi is so lucky that the moment she comeback to work Ryan asked her to accompany him to meet a fellow collector and it is Cha Si An. It is so rare for your work and your fangirl life to collide but Deok Mi hits the jackpot as her boss also is into Si An but for different reason. I believe each of us wish one day we can be as lucky as Deok Mi. Get to see our ‘oppa’ up-close and personal. Though she has seen Si An many times but meeting him at event or concert is VERY different from meeting him outside of his works. Her expression when seeing Si An coming out from the bathroom is so on point. If you are a fangirl, you will understand her feelings and for sure we wish to be lucky as her at least once before we die. She is so star-strucked and cannot believe her luck until she accidentally wet herself in his bathroom. Ryan being gentleman as he is offered his jacket so that Deok Mi can cover herself from her wet dress to go home.
The incident of Deok Mi being attacked by Cha Si An’s fans is the key event in the drama. It is the turning point of Ryan-Deok Mi relationship and we get to see the humane side of Ryan which ironically is golden. Being a foreigner, Ryan is more open minded and a gentleman. When he knows he is wrong or at fault, he will apologize right away. He did not afraid to admit his mistakes. For example, when he saw Deok Mi being slapped by Director Eom because of he triggers the later with Ivanov painting, he knows that he should have not said that. Because of him, Deok Mi who is innocent got a hard slapped by Eom SoHye. He does not wait long, that night he apologized to her right away. In usual Kdramas, people tend to wait days up to years to say sorry but it’s not the case for Ryan.
Another incident where Ryan is being gentleman is stops the black car from hitting Deok Mi, knock the window and warn the driver ‘She’s my girlfriend‘. This scene gives the uwwuu moment but later turns to be hilarious when the driver is actually just an old man who always park there. Ryan’s embarrassed face is precious.
When he witnessed how cruel Si An’s fans attack Deok Mi and turn the gallery into a venue for stalking, he knows that he needs to step up and do something to help his subordinate. He knows he is partly (or his jacket is) the reason of Deok Mi’s attack he wanted to intervened and help her as he knows that she cannot ‘come out’ yet. I believe even if he did not misunderstand Deok Mi’s sexuality, he will still suggest the fake dating to kill the rumour and save her because he saw himself how Deok Mi become a target of hate over a baseless rumour.
I know for sure many of us starts to fall for Ryan from the fake dating scene. Who won’t? The deep gaze he gives her as he pulls her waist in at the ‘tunnel’ and the awkward but cute side of him as they stroll along the amusement park. Ryan Gold really melting our heart. What I like most about this scene other than the sweet date is we get to learn about why Ryan didn’t shake hands with others. He looked so soft when the little kid held his baby finger and never let go when he walked him to the information center to find his dad. In an episode we manage to see a lot more of Ryan’s true character. By the end of the fake dating scene, we can tell both of them starts to have crush on one another.
Sindy (Kim Hyo Jin) is a stalker inside out. Her effort creating CUPATCH just to prove Ryan and Deok Mi is not dating and stalking their daily life is crazy. Thanks to her, our OTP had to continue the fake dating to fool her. Their night out at Writer Noh house is heart fluttering. The scene where Ryan untangles the scarf from her hair keeps me hold my breath as it is so sensual and tense. Then when they discuss about the last photo of the photographer with the title ‘Annyeong’ both of them has different views on the title. Ryan is quite amaze by Deok Mi non-typical view and it makes him knows her in depth and starts to look at her differently. The deep gaze he gives her when she is telling her views on the photo also makes my heart beats abnormally. His self-control of not kissing her at that time is almost wears off. After their excursions, we witness that their ‘fake relationship’ doesn’t feel that fake anymore. They start to develop feelings for each other but get confused themselves whether it’s real or otherwise.
Of course in Kdrama there are clichés that you cannot avoid. In this case it’s the other persons who likes our OTP. Nam Eun Gi and Choi Da In. Gosh, I don’t know why but Choi Da in character is quite annoying to be honest. I do not know how Da In in the webtoon but drama Da In is irritating especially when she lied to Deok Mi. As for Eun Gi, I like him as Deok Mi and Seon Ju’s best friend cum sidekick but I was mad at him when he told Da In about Ryan-Deok Mi’s fake relationship. It’s good that he redeemed himself afterwards. Because of these 2, the OTP has slight delay in developing their love. Luckily, the writer is the type who did not love to drag things so the suppose ‘heartbreak’ only happened on one episode. That’s it. Phewww…..
Another thing I like about this drama is the girl is the one who brave up and ask what is wrong. You know in typical Kdrama, the female always keeps things inside and the other person is not aware of her sufferings until she ends up in hospital bed for whatever reasons. So when Deok Mi asked Ryan what is wrong to be in fake relationship as she did not ask much is refreshing. The way Ryan’s answer also is so cool. “I don’t like it coz it’s fake. I want to date you for real.” uwuuuu. And he seals it with the longest first kiss in K drama history. Practically, they are making out and the fact Ryan not letting anyone disturbing his precious moment with his girlfriend. And for the rest of 7 episodes we are being treated by this lovely couple with their sweetness overload.
No More Secret
Ryan and Deok Mi has the healthiest mature relationship in K-dramaland. For example, when Ryan saw Eun Gi is coming to Deok Mi’s house wearing a suit the night after he confessed, he didn’t act like a jealous boyfriend and stop Eun Gi. He went back to his apartment as planned (though he couldn’t sleep the whole night because Deok Mi didn’t pick up his calls). The next morning when he saw Eun Gi coming out from Deok Mi’s house wearing the same suit he is wearing the night before; Ryan is so civilized. He didn’t punch Eun Gi and caused a scene. He also did not force and pull Deok Mi who is hiding behind Eun Gi as her secret identity being exposed. He settles it like a gentleman. He comes clean that he knows her identity and he is okay with it. He manages to make Deok Mi comes to him without forcing or throwing a punch. He straightaway drives Deok Mi home to settle their problem. He gives the best line ever when Deok Mi question him from bringing her to his apartment “We are educated people; we cannot fight on the streets.” (WIN!)
Their confrontation is so cute and of course the two of them make up really quick. After he apologized from keeping a secret that he knows she is Sinagil-nim, he also comes clean and admits that he is latte-nim. When Deok Mi slaps Ryan after some chasing, OMG I think you can’t help from not shipping them. Ryan once again tops why he is the perfect boyfriend every fangirl is wishing for when he asks Deok Mi to teach him how to be a fan because he wants to be a fanboy to Deok Mi. They could have given us more intimate moment but Hyo Jin came and disturbed them at the wrong time! Sigh~~~
Thick and thin
After they have cleared all the secrets and potential misunderstanding, these two serve us with the sweetest relationship. They make up for all the fake dating, fake kiss, dream kiss and what ever the false hope they give us before. All we get is two people in love who always stay by each other in happiness or in sorrow. When Ryan had a nightmare about his childhood, he came to Deok Mi’s house to find comfort. But, when he saw Deok Mi is excited to see him he try to hide his initial plan meeting her. Luckily, Deok Mi realized something is not right with him and comfort him. I love the fact that he lets his wall crumble in front of her. At least, someone know what he has been keeping inside. I love the way Deok Mi comforts him. She just be there as someone who will listens and keep him company whenever he feels he needed someone to talk to.
Deok Mi is the cutest when she showed Ryan her memorabilia of Cha Si An. She explains to him what each and every item means and Ryan is not bored or mad at her collection though he did say he is sad that there’s only one picture of them. When Ryan thought of her first after he got the sandwich from Si An’s mom also showed us how supportive he is as a boyfriend for a fangirl. Is there a person like him existed?
Drawing Again & Deok Mi’s Birthday
Ryan thought he will cure and be able to draw again when he saw all of Lee Sol’s drawing collection. Sadly, after collecting all 9 of the paintings he is still unable to draw. Deok Mi found all those papers he throw away and know he is struggling. Instead of confronting Ryan and ask him to try to draw again, Deok Mi takes a different approach. She asked Ryan to ‘draw’ her for her birthday present. Who can deny that the drawing scene is like the most aesthetic scene in 2019. The scene is just so beautiful and artistic. Even when Ryan told her he can’t draw, Deok Mi just ask him to trace her silhouette. She cried upon seeing his final product as she knows his struggles. They said the magic ‘saranghae’ towards each other and spend the night together. Later on, we learned Ryan finally can draw again though he still shaking holding his brushes.
If there is an award for best boyfriend, the winner will definitely be Ryan Gold. Not only that he takes an effort to cook seaweed soup for Deok Mi’s birthday but Knowing that Deok Mi is a diehard fan of Si An, he threw a surprise birthday party for her where she get to celebrate it with Si An alone. How cool is that? He never judge Deok Mi for being a fangirl and always supports her all the way…Now tell me where can I get my Ryan? Just imagine your boyfriend invite EXO or BTS or Gong Yoo to celebrate your birthday. How cool is that?
Ryan’s Past, Mommy Issue and childhood connection
The reason why Ryan came to Seoul and leave everything he has in New York is to find the painter Lee Sol and to collect all her paintings because he believes once he gets to collect all 9 paintings of Lee Sol, he could be cured from his trauma and draw again. Besides that, he also believes that Lee Sol is his birth mother as he has some fragments of his childhood memories related to Lee Sol’s paintings.
I admit that Ryan’s past and his mommy issue does takes a little too much of screen time (till some said the second half it has become His Private Life) but to me still the writer is good of not dragging this issue. The amount of scenes to explain about Ryan’s past is just nice. Maybe because we are so thrown into the idea of Her Private Life, we missed to see that Ryan’s real reason coming back to Korea is to find his birth mother. So, to me the writer did justice to his character. He got the closure he wanted when he got the answer why he was being abandoned. I love how he reconciled with his birth mother who is also Cha Si An’s mother. So that makes Ryan and Si An brothers.
I know some commented about the childhood connection as it gets too common in Kdrama some finds it boring. This drama also being compared to many other Kdrama because of this childhood connection. Well, it’s true that childhood connection is the other cliché theme in Kdrama but what makes this story different than the others is because the childhood connection is not use as the reason for the couple to breakup or any noble idiocy. Ryan did not harbor hatred to his birth mother for abandoning him or to Deok Mi’s mother for leaving him at the orphanage. He understands why both women did those years ago. He forgives them and even thanked them. (Awww Ryan has such a golden heart). He did not want his past to stop him from being happy in the future. I love when he told Deok Mi that his past may affect a 7 year old him but it did not affect him now. He is happy and he wants to continue being happy with her. (Yes, this is the new way of thinking we want in K drama character). Bravo writer!
One of most touching scene in the drama is the conversation between Ryan’s mother and Deok Mi’s mother. These 2 women do not blame each other but instead thanked each other for taking care of Yoon Jae. It is very very rare to see mothers moments sans bickering. That’s why I said this drama though it has some cliches plot but the writer manage to change the outcome through her creativity. She is good in it. She manage to change the normalism in Kdrama.
All rom-coms end with happy endings same goes to this drama. To me the ending is neat and everyone has their own closure. Ryan gets to reunite with his mother and in addition he gets a little brother, Si An (who ironically adores him from the beginning). Deok Mi gets back her missing memories and learned about what happened in the past. Deok Mi’s mom gets the forgiveness she wishes for a long time from Yoon Jae. Seon Ju rekindle with her husband and waiting for new addition on their family. Eun Gi finally has a girlfriend and Joo Hyuk gets to be a singer.
The key event in the finale episode of course the exhibition. This whole story begins with the exhibition so it needs to concludes with the exhibition. Ryan finally gets to give Lee Sol the exhibition and the recognition as an artist. I love the family photo in front of Lee Sol’s painting. It’s nice to see both of her sons are the collectors of her arts and both of them inherits her art talent. Ryan on drawing and Si An in making music.
Ryan and Deok Mi relationship also is being concluded well. Deok Mi gets a call from Mono art gallery that wants her to be the main curator for Artist Ahn exhibition as she has been handling it from start. She asks Ryan to follow her as she wants him to gets back his name as an artist and Ryan’s art belong more in New York. Ryan proposed to her as he wanted to paint his happiness with her. The two move to New York and a year later, Deok Mi came back to Cheum and she has been promoted as Assistant Director. She takes the job from Director Eom who wants to spend time with her husband who just released from jail . As for Ryan, he manages to make a great comeback in New York and he is already booked for the whole year for exhibition.
Ryan surprised Deok Mi when he suddenly came to Korea to visit her despite his busy schedule. The last scene ends at the tunnel hallway. The location where Seon Ju took their photo for their fake dating. I love the parallels in this scene. Basically they did as what they used to do but this time it’s real. Ryan has become Deok Mi’s biggest and successful fan. I love the way they end the drama with voice over from Deok Mi.
“Are you a successful fan? I hope you can become a successful fan.”
To be honest I am not really a fan of rom-com genre because more often than not I found this genre is too cliche and too fairy-tale that it cannot be relatable in life. You know the ‘Cinderella’ story every rom-com drama love to potray. So when I learned about there will be a rom-com Kdrama will be produced that focus on the life of a fangirl, I was not that excite to watch. I watched it because I was eager on how will they portray it. I am a fangirl myself and I really want to know. At the back of my mind, I thought this drama will conclude that the female lead will be together with her idol (you know the typical style of drama where you get to be with the person you unexpected most). I am happy that the writer and producer manage to prove me wrong.
Her Private Life is a new kind of rom-com Kdrama. A refreshing one. Though it does have those clichés plots here and there but the writer manage to conclude it the non-cliche way. The relationship of Ryan-Deokmi also is very healthy. They did not take the usual path taken by Kdrama leads. They walk their own path. They manage to show us what does it mean by a healthy adult relationship.
I summarized 37 points why this drama is a must watch.
1) NOT CLICHÉ
2) There is no hand grabbing of the female lead.
3) There is no forced kiss
4) There is no rejection or any breakup
5) When Deok Mi fall from the stairs, Ryan didn’t suddenly run and catch her.
6) It is not love at first sight.
7) it is not ‘You are the most beautiful girl/man in the world and I can only see you’
8) When Deok Mi being slapped by Director Eom, Ryan didn’t suddenly appear and hold Director’s Eom’s hand.
9) There is no wide eyed reaction from Deok Mi during their first kiss.
10) There is no ‘assumptions’. Both of them talk things out like ADULTS.
11) There is no arguing in the public. Like Ryan said “We are educated ppl, we should not fight in public” (Spot On!)
12) There is no fist fight between the male leads because of jealousy to get Deok Mi.
13) There is no cat fight to get Ryan.
14) Ryan & Deok Mi didn’t keep any secrets between them.
15) Ryan & Deok Mi is professional at work even after they are together.
16) There is no over zealous PDA. In public they only give pecks not kissing sloppily.
17) Their bed scene is most decent but you can feel the love even when they just say good morning to each other.
18) There is no mommy issues.
19) It is not a Cinderella story (aka chaebol-low income working class relationship).
20) There is no bluffing/lie in the relationship.
21) It is not toxic
22) It teach us what is the REAL MEANING of MATURE relationship (which more often ppl misinterpreted).
23) It also show us that you should be supportive partner and never look down on your partner’s hobby/favorites.
24) It teach us how to make something that is often looks as negative, looks positive (like how Ryan find Deok Mi’s fangirling fun and not something shameful).
25) It teach us not to be judgmental
26) Deok Mi teaches us how to always be positive (she always see things as happiness and love).
27) It teaches us when and how to say SORRY
28) It teaches us to when and how to say THANK YOU.
29) There’s no accident happened to the leads to make the other person realize how important the person is.
30) There’s no inheritance issue or people trying to steal your wealth.
31) There’s no backstabbing from your trusted friend.
32) It showed us sometimes we need to give space to our partner to sort their problems.
33) It showed us how not to be clingy bf/gf
34) When Ryan kiss Deok Mi, he start off light first (kinda asking for permission). He will stop a while before continue to a deeper kiss.
35) Zero Noble Idiocy
36) They don’t settle problem with making out.
37) The healthiest relationship in Kdrama.
And here goes my rating:
Story : 7/10
Acting : 9.5/10
Overall : 8.5/10
You can follow me on Twitter @MizsNatasha to know more prompt view about K-drama I am watching.