Kdrama Review: Rooftop Prince

Micky as Lee Gak and Han Ji Min as Park Ha

What do you do when four strange men, dressed in historic Joseon era garb magically show up in your rooftop flat? The short answer is that you freak out. The long answer is that you get a pretty hilarious drama which deals with all sorts of issues, include falling in love with someone 400 years older than you and some pretty hilarious scenes where those four strange men try to adapt to 2012. You also get a lot of heartache and frustration, as well as some good drama. Because not only is Rooftop Prince (get it?) a time traveling historical fusion drama, it’s also a family drama because the Joseon era princes is a dead ringer for a missing heir. If it sounds like a lot to handle, it’s mostly not.

But I will warn you, before you put the effort into watching the show (on DramaFever), the ending has some issues. They try to make it work, but time travel dramas are hard and usually end in tears and Rooftop Prince is no exception. But, in spite of the less than satisfactory ending I really quite like the show.  Most of the 20 episodes tend to balance between the drama and the comedy, with some working better than others. It helps, of course, that in this case, it was well done (for the most part).

Do Chi San, Woo Yong Sul and Song Man Bo.

The prince I’ve mentioned, Lee Gak (as well as his look-alike, Tae Yong), is played by JYJ singer Micky (real name: Park Yoochun). I was actually pretty surprised by his acting, as what I’d read wasn’t really appealing. But this drama looked entertaining enough to give it a go and Micky did a pretty decent job. The other half of the lead couple is Park Ha, played by Han Ji Min. Park Ha is an aspiring business woman (she wants to open her own shop) and it’s her apartment that those four men appear in. Lee Gak brings with him Lee Min Ho (the younger) as Song Man Bo (advisor to Lee Gak), Cho Woo Shik as Do Chi San (eunuch) and Jung Suk Won as Woo Young Sul (bodyguard). It’s these three characters that really make the drama a lot of fun.

Their, and Lee Gak’s, exploits as they learn about modern culture are priceless and mostly hilarious. It is also their inability to lose some of their Joseon era habits that also causes much amusement for the audience (and Park Ha, though also some embarrassment). But the drama isn’t just the boys and their attempts to fit into 2012. There’s the drama to contend with.

Prince Lee Gak ends up pretending to be Tae Yong, a rather rich young man, whose grandmother wishes for him to inherit her company. There’s also sorts of drama involving Tae Yong and his cousin (played by Lee Tae Sung). Unfortunately this is the weakest part of the drama. It’s not bad, not really, but the drama tends to dwell a little bit too much on the business side of the story  for my liking. That being said, the plot thickens when we learn secrets about Park Ha’s background and that Tae Yong’s former love interest (played extremely effectively by Jung Yoo Mi) may or may not be related to Park Ha herself. The show twists characters around so that sometimes it’s hard to hate them as much as you should.

And that’s just a taste of what happens in the modern part of the drama. There’s also the whole Joseon era stuff that Lee Gak and his three retainers escaped from. In their world, the Crown Princess has been murdered — and to solve that murder the four men travel through time. We’re treated to flashbacks where we slowly realize that not only is Lee Gak a dead ringer for Tae Yong, but Park Ha and Jung Yo Mi’s character, Hong Sa Na are dead ringers for characters in Joseon. I won’t tell you who, because that would spoil the fun. Suffice to say that the answers to the murder are both note quite as satisfying as one would like and satisfying in that at least we got a conclusion.

Obviously there’s much more to this drama, since it is 20 episodes. Not everything works, some of it fails spectacularly. But as someone who’s watched some pretty bad dramas, Rooftop Prince holds it’s own. I might not want to watch it again, but I did enjoy watching it. I recommend it, because it’s fun and cute — just don’t think too hard about the ending and you’ll be fine. And, of course, why pass up the opportunity to watch these guys in action?  They really are just as fun as they look.

Choi Woo Shik (Do Chi San), Lee Min Ho (Song Man Bo), Micky (Lee Gak) and Jung Suk Won (Woo Yong Sul)

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Wednesday Nights: kdramas, martinis and Running Man

Starting the week after Christmas (last year), my friend (I’ll call her H) and I started hanging out on Wednesdays. We’ve been doing this every Wednesday (except for three: we missed one due to a family emergency and two due to illnesses) since that week after Christmas and it’s a lot of fun. It started out with us meeting at my job and going out to eat, then spending hours in Barnes & Noble. But after my bad experience with acquiring a signed copy of John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars (B&N never did send it and it’s still on my account), we stopped going there and instead spent time all our time at Starbucks. Until the day we decided to watch episodes of Rooftop Prince  (watch for free at DramaFever) together. We managed to watch one and a half episodes one week and then the wireless at Starbucks just couldn’t handle it. What did we do? Started going to my apartment.

One of the things I really love about getting into kpop/Korean culture/etc is that I’ve ended up developing a really great friendship with H. I forgot how awesome it was to watch TV shows with other people — in the same place (my sister and I watch Star Trek via Netflix and chat online at the same time, but it’s not quite the same). I used to do this all the time in college. We never went out Friday nights, because that’s when X-Files was on (yes, I was in college in the late 90s). And it’s so much fun to be able to do this again.

photo via soulbeats

We’re almost done with Rooftop Prince (by the time this gets posted, we should have hopefully finished it) and then who knows what we’ll be watching. But it’s not just kdramas we’re into. We spend a lot of time talking/fangirling/just generally having fun. But we also plan to watch some Chinese movies. Though at the moment, we’re both really into this variety show called Running Man. It’s so hilarious that sometimes I laugh so hard that my face hurts. There’s just something about Korean variety shows that makes them way more interesting than anything on English speaking TV (I mean, my reality TV shows in English are stuff like Mythbusters, Top Gear, etc).

I know what you’re thinking, what about the martinis? We both realized that spending so much money eating out and getting drinks was costing us and solved by making our own martinis. We don’t do it every week, but it’s fun. Especially since my mom gave us a recipe for the pineapple upside down martinis.

Moral of this entry? Hanging out with H, watching Korean (or Chinese or American or WHATEVER) is way more fun than doing it alone. I didn’t know I was missing this until we started and I didn’t realize how much I needed this every week until my family emergency. The best part is that we’re both doing something that’s fun and sharing what we love. There might be other problems in our lives, but at least we have our Wednesdays (at sometimes Thursdays. Or Fridays. Or Saturdays. Or Sundays ….).