“Her Private Life” basically grew a cult following after its premiere and for a variety of reasons.
While the drama was met with lackluster viewership ratings, its reputation worldwide is pretty solid and all in part thanks to the script, Park Min Young and Kim Jae Wook.
But is it really worth your time? Today I shall discuss the drama aspects and try my best to be as inclusive as I can be, and discuss my personal opinion in a spoiler-free review to help you decide whether you should watch this drama or not.
Before I begin I would like to clarify that I have not read the novel which the drama is based on and my judgment and review is based solely on the drama. I am treating “Her Private Life” a standalone script.
I had low expectations going in and my expectations were met. I didn’t expect a solid drama with a lot of suspenseful events or even something at least challenging to what we usually see in kdramas, and it was exactly that.
“Her Private Life” is about a gallery curator Deok Mi who leads a double life (played by Park Min Young) she is a curator by day and a fangirl by night (or whenever her schedule allows her to). She meets a new gallery director Ryan (played by Kim Jae Wook) who takes an interest in her habits, he becomes her fan.
Let’s take a look at who wrote the script. It’s written by Kim Hye Young. I tried googling her name and there isn’t much information out there, so I am assuming she is a rookie writer (please correct me if you know otherwise).
In a way, I can see it’s written by someone who wants to play it safe, it feels like it’s written or in this case adapted by someone who is trying to be as cautious as possible.
I said ‘adapted’ because it’s based on the novel “Noona Fan Dot Com.” As I have previously stated my review is not about how this drama fairs in comparison to the novel because I didn’t read that.
Regardless of how long Kim Hye Young’s been writing, I don’t see how “Her Private Life” differs from the influx of other kdramas with the same story but better twists.
The main plot point is that she’s a ‘fangirl,’ an older (than usual) fangirl who is so obsessed with her oppa Shi An (played by rapper ONE).
However, as the drama progress, it doesn’t seem to actually really affect her private life as much as we had expected or been led to, it’s more of a hobby that she enjoys to do whenever she can and it depends on how busy she is with other things. When she has projects or a boyfriend fangirling takes the backseat.
Throughout the drama what I perceived to be the core element of the entire plot outline dissolves, its no longer about her, its about Ryan. As episodes went on it almost stopped being about ‘her private life.’
The premise is nice and promising, this could’ve been a deep dive into how toxic fan culture can be in South Korea and how sasaengs (obsessive so-called fans) are deeply troubled individuals who need to seek help. And it could’ve also tackled Deok Mi’s obsession with younger idols beyond control but it ended up being a rather playful hobby opposed to something serious.
I did wish the drama delved into that side of the story but it rarely did and merely glossed over it.
Overall, the script is very friendly, very sweet but lackluster and can be considered extremely boring if you’re not into romantic comedies. Also, if you’ve seen your fair share of rom-coms (and you’re going tired of them), this is not the next IT.
For the majority of international kdrama fans, this drama was heaven. I personally found it boring for the most part, overrated and lackluster but still, I can see why international fans were so drawn to this drama.
I have been a kdrama fan for a while to be able to tell what the community gravitates towards. A lot of kdrama fans LOVE these type of rom-coms and this script style, so I naturally expected the drama to grow a cult following.
International kdrama fans also relate to this story specifically because many of them are also kpop fans. The fangirling struggles (if we get to call it that) strike a familiar cord and that in itself helped the drama grow a sizeable international following.
Not only eye candy leads but familiar struggles and fangirling moments we can all agree on. People love familiarity, this is why such kdramas with typical plots get made over and over again and still manage to receive attention.
There are a lot of repetitive scenes; there is nothing remotely creative about the majority of this drama script. What made it interesting and different was abandoned halfway through. I usually see kdramas lose momentum halfway through and that is exactly what happened.
Some conversations are great but there are also many dumb ones that are borderline childish. There are a lot of scenes that can be considered extremely cringy, there are also many cheesy scenes.
There were certain clips in the first episodes of the drama that threw me off, the editing and the conversations were executed in a similar fashion to a kids show. Since this is a spoiler free review I can’t say which scenes but if you’ve watched it and want to know feel free to ask me in the comment section.
The issues with these particular scenes were just how childish and cringy they were. I felt like I was watched the Disney channel pre-teen comic shows, very similar in the vibe to old shows we all know and love from Disney. I was embarrassed watching them and usually skipped them because they were so cringy.
Regarding important monumental events, it takes a long time for anything of substance to happen in this drama. Park Min Young and Kim Jae Wook characters transition from strangers to lovers was extremely slow-paced. When it happened it was filled with cheesy scenes of them pampering each other (it was so adorable). This was great for shippers. They have excellent chemistry but I’ll discuss that in its section.
There is a certain element of surprise that happens towards the end of the drama, it felt forced and took a long time to unravel. It felt like it was added merely because they needed the drama to be 16 episodes long.
If we were to compare this to “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim,” “Her Private Life” is like a watered down version of that, and I previously reviewed “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim” and I mentioned it was overrated for the amount of success it got.
There was a certain ‘creepy/suspenseful’ element in “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim” that made watching it exciting but once the danger and misunderstandings were resolved, it went back to being just any average rom-com.
So if you’re into heavy suspenseful dramas with sophisticated scripts, “Her Private Life” is probably not the drama for you.
However, if you enjoy rom-coms, you will really enjoy this drama.
Characters and Performances
Let’s start with the characters.
The story as I said is very light. The characters are written in a way that makes them approachable, fun, and easy to like.
Deok Mi and Ryan very typical, you’ve probably seen them in other kdramas a lot previously.
They’re super fun and quirky in their own way, of course, they have their struggles that make them likable.
Ryan is that hot CEO who is slightly a jerk but super nice once you get to know him, he is righteous and straightforward.
Deok Mi is that sweet determined smart girl who gets things done, sometimes overpowered by rich people or circumstances but still positive and fun to be around.
Other characters around the main actors are also simple but cute. Some characters presence felt forced especially the second male lead Eun Gi.
I don’t know who’s holding a gun to kdrama writers heads telling them they’ll kill them if they don’t add a second lead that has a secret crush on the first female lead.
It’s been long overdue. Not every drama needs a second lead that is deeply in love with the first lead. It makes the actor sound needy and kinda jerks, more like substance for conflict between the first male and female lead rather than a character.
There are other characters that were well written and there are some who had more potential but sadly the focus was on Ryan and Deok Mi mostly. I would’ve loved to learn more about other characters aside from conversations we hear in every single rom-com.
Everybody did great except for rapper ONE but we’ll get to that later. Let’s discuss the main characters first.
Park Min Young and Kim Jae Wook are excellent actors in whatever you put them in. They gave their best and treated this production just as important as they treated other heavier productions, a testimony of their commitment and professionalism.
Kim Jae Wook doesn’t usually do rom-coms. He is experimental and does many scary roles; he’s been diving into rom-coms recently.
I have been a fan for 7 years. I always thought he was underrated ever since I saw him in “Coffee Prince.” I think he wanted to try this and to be more approachable to the general public because he took on heavier roles in the past.
It’s fun to see him portray such a character that is so in love with someone. It’s refreshing because he’s never done this so we can’t really say he’s been repetitive.
Would I prefer to see him play a psychopath who kills people because he thinks he’s superior? Damn right I would, but at the same time I enjoyed him in this drama.
I saw him in a different light and I was so happy he was gaining so many new fans because he’s not mainstream even though I personally believe he’s far more competent (as an actor) than other mainstream hallyu actors out there. (and that’s the tea)
Park Min Young is a delight in this drama as well, you can tell she’s giving her all just like Kim Jae Wook.
Other actors are also great and familiar faces to me since I’ve seen them many times in other dramas as well.
I would like to talk about rising actress Kim Bo Ra’s performance here which I personally found underwhelming.
I have seen her in “SKY Castle” which is by far THE BEST written kdrama of 2019- so far. She played a heavy role, a role of a spiteful teenager that was out for blood. For the first time in a long time, I was actually scared of a female character.
I do not understand the reason she chose this drama as her next project after the smashing success of “SKY Castle.”
She could have chosen better and probably had the luxury to because EVERYBODY was praising her. Yet she chose to play such a minor insignificant character that stuck around just because.
The character she plays had a purpose but felt like it should’ve been a special appearance rather than an integral part. She was a tool that brought the leads together. She stuck around and became more likeable and grew slightly as a character but still, I was disappointed and I didn’t see anyone address this.
I just felt sad because I personally would’ve loved to see Kim Bo Ra hitting the iron while it’s hot. This certainly isn’t the drama that I personally expected to see her in. She played such a significant role in “SKY Castle” but a very underwhelming lackluster role in “Her Private Life.”
It felt like she just wanted to have fun and not take thing seriously with this production which could be a bad career decision but it’ll depend on what route she takes in the future and what characters she choose to portray from now on.
Onto the idol of this drama, rapper ONE.
If you follow my blog you’re aware by now that I don’t like it when idols take roles they don’t deserve simply because they’re of a popular group or of a HUGE company.
Rapper ONE is part of YG entertainment. He is an okay actor.
I have seen him in “Hwayugi” (not by choice) but was annoyed with his performance because it was bad. He was obviously the idol in the drama and in comparison to the experienced actors on that set, he was the weakest link.
In this drama, he plays a lighter role that doesn’t require heavy acting or anything too serious, which is good because he still needs lots and lots of practice.
He’s slightly better here than he was in “Hwayugi” but with all honesty this role should’ve been given to someone who deserved it.
This is not me shitting on the poor cutie. I have been a fan since I saw him for the first time on a show called “Show Me the Money.” I’ve been following him since he started. He is super serious about rapping so it made no sense to me (at first) why a rapper is doing acting instead of rapping.
He released a debut album and literally has done nothing musically since 2017. If YG can’t give the good money makers of his company timely comebacks what would you expect with ONE? I can’t blame ONE for pursuing acting; he probably wants to be remembered.
Regardless, he needs to practice acting. He needs a coach and if he has one then a better coach because he’s obviously still struggling.
He looks uncomfortable in front of the camera and has no confidence while delivering his lines which I find an issue with, it’s like he’s not convinced by what he says.
He also opens his eyes too wide sometimes as if he was trying to remember his lines but can’t look away from the camera so he looks at it intensely instead, which creeps me out.
He’s no embodying the character and that’s an issue because his bad acting takes you out of the experience.
Luckily he doesn’t have many scenes but still whenever he’s on, its awkward and in comparison to the experienced actors around him, he’s lacking, really lacking.
One of the main reasons people won’t tell you what I just told you is because of Min Young and Jae Wook. Their chemistry is perfect. Min Young has great chemistry with almost every male lead she’s been paired with.
There isn’t much to say here but everybody was super adorable and cute together. The cast looked like they were in harmony. Min Young seems like a friendly person who makes people around her feel comfortable.
The main female characters friendship with each other is cute. Jae Wook’s chemistry with everybody is also cute.
This was one of the integral reasons why this drama was so popular among international kdrama fans. If the main leads have no chemistry then their games over but these two were amazing together.
Should I Watch This Drama?
If you love rom-coms you will really enjoy this drama. If you love any of the lead actors you will also love this drama.
As I said before, if you’re looking for something with a kick or something that’s better written and more adventurous, this is probably not the drama for you.