Jang Nara and Lee Sang Yoon are enjoying great success with “VIP,” their performances are gaining praise from critics and fans alike.
“VIP” recently reached 13.2% with its latest episode, the ratings have been steadily increasing ever since it premiered, with 6 more episodes to go; it’ll surely go higher from there and could potentially even aim for the 20% mark, a feat achieved by very few kdramas in 2019.
But what was the reason behind the drama’s great success? What made it so different?
Today I’d like to talk about why I personally believe “VIP” is a great success both nationally and internationally.
Note: spoilers of episode 1 to 10.
Note: this is a subjective article based on my personal opinion.
The bold choices
Jang Nara is one of my favorite Korean actresses ever, not only beautiful but an amazing actress with interesting projects choices. 2019 was a successful year for her, “The Last Empress” did extremely well and she’s now back with “VIP,” it’s not an underestimate to say that she’s one of the strongest currently promoting South Korean actresses.
Lee Sang Yoon choices are either a hit or miss to me, but it was interesting that he even agreed to take on such a role to begin with because he will naturally be hated by the public for his portrayal of Park Sung Joon. Regardless of how well his choices panned out, he is still one of my favorite underrated Korean actors who deserve more praise and attention.
I believe the main reason for the drama’s great success is the storyline which we’ll tackle in greater detail in a bit. The acting is important, of course, among all other things, but if the storyline is bad no matter how good the acting is or the chemistry, it cannot save the drama, at least for me.
The beautiful thing about “VIP” is that it’s not really your average kdrama where the male lead might be slightly cold at first but is very nice once you get to know him, the male lead, in this case, is also someone who becomes colder and worse as time goes by, in many kdramas, the female lead usually heals the main lead and turns his life for the best, it’s the opposite here.
The drama has characters that at surface level can’t be easily liked, not an easy feat to pull off.
“VIP” is about a cheating spouse, Park Sung Joon, and his wife Na Jung Sun who finds out he’s been cheating on her with one of her co-workers. She goes through all stages of grief and decides to try and forgive him only to be shocked by how much he’s changed since meeting his new lover.
“VIP” is a mature drama; it’s not your fluffy typical kdrama with the average clichés that we’re so used to. This also explains why the Korean public probably liked it this much, it’s different, people want something different.
It doesn’t follow the narrative you think it would, the editing also gives it an advantage because it plays in its favor, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, bothered and annoyed by some of the characters’ actions but still very interested in next week’s episode. That perfect balance.
The reason why writers, in general, are afraid of writing difficult lead characters is the fear of losing the audience’s interest. No one wants to root for the bad guy; few are interested in the bad guy unexplained rude disrespectful actions. This is why I was shocked to see Park Sung Joon character crafted that way; I couldn’t believe the role of Park Sung Joon wasn’t given to the second lead but to the first lead. This is a key factor in why this drama is different in my opinion.
The writer, who doesn’t have any other credits to his/her name, is marvelous. I can easily tell that the writer has put so much thought into this. The writer doesn’t choose the easy way out.
“VIP” could’ve easily gone downwards at any given moment, any crucial mistake would’ve compromised the plot, luckily, every single time I thought the writer was about to screw up, he/she didn’t.
I personally was about to become pissed because the identity of the mistress took so long to be revealed but it did help to build the plot in that direction so I can’t really complain, at least the writer didn’t try to stretch it for too long.
I also especially liked how they explained why their marriage fell apart and how the death of their child devastated both of them in different ways. It was a nice twist that added more depth to their characters, it made their actions more understandable as well.
It’s like peeling an onion, and just when you think the writer ran out of ideas, you’re shocked again by how events turn out. I am so impressed by this new unknown writer.
The attention paid to all characters
Park Sung Joon is a timid personality who doesn’t always know how to express himself, he’s polite and hardworking but a man with serious flaws, he’s playing with fire and is losing the battle.
He knows he fucked up real bad but at stage where he can and won’t back down, a part of it has to do with how she made him feel and the other part has to do with how much of a coward he is in dealing with this issue, which is typical of men in general when they screw up like that.
Na Jung Sun is also not your typical kdrama female lead, she’s not always bright or nice, she has her limits, she carries herself with grace and knows when to fire back. It’s not like she’s waiting to be saved but works towards protecting herself without leaning back on someone else.
Na Jung Sun is surprisingly refreshing because she doesn’t beat around the bush; she immediately confronts Park Sung Joon which was a relief to me because it meant that the writer won’t keep trying to stall time while Na Jung Sun figures out how to confront her cheating husband.
I like how all the other characters behave so realistically, it’s something I don’t see many talking about. They behave the way you’d expect a normal human being too. The awkward tense interactions between people at work and how it plays out, how couples lose their spark due to various life stressful situations, and more.
I found every single character in “VIP” to be a simulation of a real character; oftentimes typical kdramas draw unrealistic characters to please the narrative. This tells me the writer likes to take a chance and gamble because, with all honesty, about 60% of the kdramas I’ve seen in 2019 are repetitive; they bring nothing new to the table and repeat each other.
Everyone has a story and every action can be explained. “VIP” doesn’t try to trick you into believing one person is 100% good or 100% bad, there are people in between.
Na Jung Sun certainly isn’t perfect but so is Park Sung Joon and every other character in this drama. Even supporting characters have their own interesting backstories that don’t take away from the main couple but rather enrich the full picture.
While there is the rich siblings’ fight we’re so used to, it’s drawn in a way that doesn’t come off so cliché, the same goes for how Lee Hyun-A’s character struggles deeply with her mother’s issues, she’s dealing with creditors who keep knocking at her door. The reason Hyun A behaves this coldly towards her suitor, Cha Jin Ho, is also very heartbreaking.
Cha Jin Ho is one of my favorite characters, he’s so cute. I needed to point that out.
And this is why I believe “VIP” became so successful. What did you guys think of it? Do you like the drama so far?