K-drama Review : Secret Garden

A friend recommended this drama a few months back (while it was still airing), but I didn’t really get the chance to watch it until this week.  This was partly because I wanted to wait until the show was over so I could watch it all in one go.

The show originally has 20 episodes – each about an hour long – but due to its popularity, two additional episodes were added after the show ended.


The show focuses on the lives of Kim Joo Won, a wealthy CEO  and Gil Ra Im, a stuntwoman. It’s the typical “rich dude meets a poor girl” kind of story.  They fall in love and must overcome various obstacles to be together. Perhaps one of the most challenging obstacle they must face is the fact that they end up switching bodies somewhere along the story. From this, they learn more about each other’s lives and become closer as they try to figure out how to get back to their own bodies.


My thoughts on the show:

This has everything you could imagine of when you say “Korean drama”.  A love story, action packed scenes, acts of revenge, couples who hate each other’s guts in the beginning and end up falling madly in love, interfering relatives, someone with a hidden past, someone with amnesia, someone who got in an accident and almost dies, someone willing to sacrifice himself for that dying person, secret events that happened in the past that ties the characters together, a shower scene, a scene where a poor girl gets a makeover and stuns a crowd of people, etc. The show even has a step mother, a step sister and a message in a bottle! I mean seriously, it’s like the producers crammed every cliche they could think of into this show. But don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed it. I don’t know how they did it, but they took all these overused themes and combined them in such a way that the audience will find exciting and new.

I enjoyed this drama a lot.  I spent the past 2 and a half days glued to my laptop, watching the show.  There were scenes that I laughed so hard because they were just hilarious, and there were others where I cried my eyes out because they were just too touching or too painful.  I loved seeing how Kim Joo Won’s and Gil Ra Im’s relationship developed, and how they handled the difference obstacles thrown at them.  This show had a good balance of romance, drama and comedy, which is probably why I liked it so much.

I loved Kim Joo Won’s and Gil Ra Im’s relationship.  However, in the beginning, it annoyed me that Kim Joo Won’s initial plan was just to toy with Gil Ra Im. He knew that society wouldn’t let them be together, but he still wanted her – even if it was just for a little while. He argued that most couples that date don’t end up together anyway, so there’s really nothing wrong with them going out even if it meant that they would have to break up somewhere in the future. I mean what woman in her right mind would agree to such thing?  Ra Im said it in the series – no woman would enter a relationship that has a pre-determined ending, especially one that calls for the other to “disappear” at the end of it. (The whole “Little Mermaid” reference thing confused me).

I couldn’t understand what Joo Won’s fascination with Ra Im was at first. I mean, sure, she’s different from the rich girls he’s used to meeting. She’s not your typical prim and proper aristrocrat. But for a guy who could have any girl he wanted, why go for someone who obviously doesn’t care for you. Maybe it just had to do with his huge ego not being able to handle rejection, which made him want Ra Im more each time she pushed him away. It seemed to me like he was just a rich kid who was bored with his usual life so he wanted something exciting. And what could be more exciting than trying to obtain something so forbidden?  At least that’s what I thought at first.  But in the very last scene of the final episode, we find out there is a deeper meaning behind his obsession with her.

There was one thing that really confused me in the show – what was Gil Ra Im’s dad trying to achieve by switching his daughter’s body with Kim Joo Won’s?  And how did he get that power in the first place?  Was is because he was dead?  Dead people automatically become fairies with special powers to control the destiny of their loved ones?  Why switch their bodies in the first place?  Did he do it so his daughter could live as a rich person?  Then why did he make it so that they would return to themselves when it rains?  Or did he really plan for them to fall in love?  I’ve only finished watching the drama yesterday, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  Up to now I’m still stumped.  Maybe someone could explain it to me?

EDIT: I think I get it now, after watching Episode 5 again.  Ra Im’s dad knew that she was destined to get in a car accident and go into a coma.  So by making it possible for her to switch bodies with Joo Won, she could be saved.  So does this mean that her dad knew that  Joo Won would fall so madly in love with her that he’d be willing to trade his life for hers?  And did he know that he would be able to save both of them in the end, or did he plan on sacrificing Joo Won for his daughter?  I’m still rewatching the series, so maybe I’ll understand it better when I finish it again.

Anyway, another thing I absolutely loved about this show was the soundtrack. Yes, I know, I say that about almost every show I’ve reviewed here on my blog, but seriously, the soundtrack is awesome!  It dominated Korea’s music charts even after the show finished airing.   Hyun Bin’s “That Man” ranked first as the most popular song last January 2011.  My favorite songs are “That Woman” (the female version of “That Man”), “Here I Am”, “You are my spring”, “Scar” and “Appear”.

As for the main cast, I’m pretty satisfied with most of them:

Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin)

I absolutely loved his character. He plays an arrogant CEO with an ego large enough to reach the moon. I mean, sure, the “bored rich kid who falls in love with a commoner and goes against his mom just to be with her” character is not something original, but Hyun Bin’s charms made me (and thousands of fans) love Kim Joo Won.  I admire him for knowing what he wants and doing everything in his power to get it, even if it meant that he had to be a jerk at times.  Honestly I didn’t mind so much – Hyun Bin’s arrogant smirk is totally to die for!  And I loved his deep voice. I could listen to him speak all day.

I’ve never seen any of Hyun Bin’s past works before, this is his first drama that I’ve watched. I must say, I was blown away by his amazing talent.   He’s not afraid to make himself look stupid and I love that about him.  I will definitely check out his other works. It makes me a bit sad to know that he’ll be gone for a few years for his army training, so there won’t be anything new from him for a while.  Hopefully he’ll have a number of projects waiting for him when he returns.

Gil Ra Im (Han Ji Won)

I first saw her in 100 Days with Mr. Arrogant and I liked her there. I didn’t really recognize her at first when I watched this show (its been a long time since I saw 100 Days), but I still thought she was great. She plays a hard working stuntwoman in this show. I loved the fact that she’s all hardcore and macho but when placed in front of Oska (a Hallyu star that she’s adored for 13 years) she turns into this sweet and shy fangirl –  I can totally relate.

Oska/Choi Woo Young (Yoon Sang Hyun)

(I’m not sure if this is supposed to be “Oscar”. But in the subbed version I watched, they wrote Oska, so I’m sticking to that.)

When I saw the first episode, I thought the casting director made a mistake in choosing this guy to play Oska. I mean Oska’s supposed to be this extremely good looking playboy/chick magnet, and I just couldn’t see Sang Hyun in that role. I don’t really find him *that* attractive (no offense to Sang Hyun fans – I’m not calling him ugly or anything, because he’s not, he’s just not my type of guy, so don’t flame me for that.)  But I do like him as an actor. (I wasn’t really a fan at first, but after seeing him on Family Outing 2, he sorta grew on me.) He still wouldn’t be my first choice for this role, but he’s definitely a good actor.   That scene in the hospital when he was talking to Joo Won (in Ra Im’s unconscious body) made me bawl like a baby.

Yeun Seul (Kim Sa Rang)

I hated her character in the beginning, but I think that’s what the director wanted the audience to do. She was the typical rich snob you see in Asian dramas. And I hated the fact that she didn’t mind treating people and love as simple pawns for her revenge. But she did realize her mistakes in later episodes and became a good friend of Joo Won and Ra Im, so I ended up liking her.

Director Im Jong Soo (Phillip Lee)

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this guy. I don’t know why they chose him for this role. Because he speaks fluent English I suppose?   I didn’t find him to be a good actor at all.  He’s a bit too emotionless and lacks facial expression. I wish they chose someone else to play this role. I liked Director Hwang more than I liked this guy.

Assistant Kim (Kim Sung Oh – he played as himself)

He’s not really a main character, but I just had to add him to the list. I loved this guy, he’s just too funny! He always has this worried/panicked look on his face. And I love his relationship with Joo Won. They’re like best friends/brothers/slave-master. It’s a bit complicated really, but I really find the way they interact amusing. I guess other people enjoyed their bickering as well, since they even ended up filming a CF together:

The other characters I liked were Ah Young (Yoo In Na) because she’s just too adorable (and she’s a great friend to Ra Im), and Director Hwang (Jang Seo Won) because he’s just hilarious.  Oh, and I also liked Han Tae Ssun.  I heard that Jay Park was supposed to take that role, but there were problems with the agencies and so the part when to Lee Jong Suk.   Being a Jay Park fan I was disappointed at first, but Lee Jong Suk was alright too I suppose.

Favorite Scenes

I have a lot of scenes that I liked from the show, but these are some of my favorite ones:

-When Joo Woon mistook Ra Im for a porn star and was asking her about how much she earns. I loved his reaction when she said she gets paid more when they shoot inside a moving car, because it’s so hard.

-Everytime Joo Woon tries to explain his expensive tracksuit to someone (or anything expensive he owns, like his car and his office floor).

-Joo Woon’s interview/audition at the action school

-When Joo Woon was trying to describe the place where Ra Im lives to Oska. (“In shows like National Geographic – where there are flies everywhere and poor children” LOL)

-When Seul dropped by Joo Won’s house and asked why Joo Woon wasn’t surprised to see her, and he did this little fake gasp to act surprised.

-The sit ups scene! C’mon, who doesn’t love that scene??  Major kilig moment, hahaha.  I loved it when Joo Won was complaining about not having someone to hold his legs down and this other guys attempts to help him and he practically kicked the guy away. And I found it hilarious how all the other guys were just doing their own things as Joo Woon and Rae Im had their “moment”.  And such a sweet moment it was.   I totally loved Joo Won’s arrogant little smirk.  I watched this scene at least 5 times before continuing on to the next part ❤

-“Munja washo!” : everytime this line came up, LOL.  Both Ha Ji Won and Hyun Bin looked adorable saying it.  It’s really catchy too.  Many people changed their cellphone message alert tone after seeing this drama, myself included XD

-The flirting scene between Oska and Ra Im while they were in Jeju Island. I loved Joo Won’s reactions.

-When Joo Won and Ra Im first exchanged bodies. Seeing Hyun Bin getting all excited about waking up next to Oska, LOL. And Rae Im’s (as Joo Won) first bathroom experience.

-When Joo Won stole Oska’s new game

-The cream on the lips scene at the coffee house. It was so cliche but still made me squeal!   Kyaaaaaaaah~  (I replayed this scene over and over too XD)

-The scene where the action school had to film a movie and Joo Won tagged along. I loved the part where he got shot by an arrow and he laid down on top of one of the other actors because he didn’t want to touch the dirty ground XD And how he was secretly slashing Director Im’s back.

-The sleeping arrangements during the workshop. The longing gaze between Joo Won and Ra Im was sweet (but a bit too intense), and I loved how Joo Won sneakily snuggled up to Ra Im after Director Im pulled him away.

-When Joo Won “sprained his ankle” and had to lean on Ra Im and Director Im to walk down the mountain, LOL!!! Such a sneaky/horny dude.

-Oska dancing My Ear Candy. Brings back too many memories of Family Outing 2.

-The kiss during the Christmas party. Uber sweet ❤ I loved how it started out with just a light peck on the lips, then sweet kiss on the forehead and finally a passionate kiss on the lips.

-When Joo Won called Assistant Kim to ask him why certain items were precious to him (after he got amnesia). I loved Assistant Kim’s reaction, LOL

-The scene where Kim Joo Won was asking Gil Ra Im if they’ve kissed before (again, when he got amnesia), and he leaned towards her.  This time it was Ra Im who had to do the “Kim Soo Han Mu” chant to “protect” him.

-When Oska told his fangirls to let him love and just go for 2PM or B2ast.

-The wedding signatures/autograph

-The sit ups scene part 2 (final episode) – this time with the positions reversed 😀

Scenes I sorta liked even though they were a bit weird:

-When Joo Won threw a tantrum and dragged Ra Im into the department store dressing room (Ep 4). They were in a fight and Joo Won was being an arrogant jerk as usual, but their proximity kinda make me all excited. I was hoping they’d give in to the obvious sexual tension and just start making out in the dressing room, mwahaha.

-Joo Won and Ra Im’s first kiss in Episode 5. It was when they first exchanged bodies and were trying different solutions on how to undo it. It looked good on screen, but thinking about it, it’s definitely weird and a bit disturbing actually. They’re literally kissing themselves.

-When Joo Won tricked Ra Im into opening the bedroom door during the workshop in Episode 13 and he practically pinned her down so he could cuddle up next to her. Tell me that wasn’t sexual harrasment. But, since it was Hyun Bin, fangirls (like me) went crazy over that scene.  Besides, I don’t think Ra Im minded that much.  I mean she could have easily knocked him out, we know that she’s capable of protecting herself, judging by the way she took on a group of thieves single-handedly in Episode 1.  And at this point she has already shown signs that she cares for Joo Won and feels some sort of attraction towards him.   I loved it when Ra Im finally stopped struggling and Joo Won just held on to her tightly with this pained look on his face because he knew that no matter how much he loved her, their situation made it extremely hard for them to be together. I teared up a little when he started his little “Kim Soo Han Mu” chant while holding on to Ra Im.  From what I understand, it was his way of “protecting” her against himself.

Some parts I didn’t really like:

There were a couple of times when I found Ra Im a bit too stubborn and hardcore.  Always focused on her work, putting others before her, etc. It can be a bit annoying after a while. Like when she collapsed with Park Chae Rin on the weapons and injured her arm. She was bleeding like crazy but she tried to hide it. I know she just didn’t want to cause problems on the set, but she should have at least cleaned herself up.

-The kiss scene at the Christmast party. Yes, this is listed under my favorite scenes as well, but it got weird after a while. I mean they were practically making out on the dance floor in front of all those people. It was sweet at first, but it should have ended with just one kiss I think. (Side note: Hyun Bin looks like a really good kisser *sigh*)

-The scenes with Director Im. I don’t know, I just find this guy weird and a little too emo for my taste. Oh, but I did like that scene when he was talking to Yoon Seul about Oska’s MV. She said something in English (well, she tried LOL), expecting him to be impressed I suppose, only to be replied to in perfect English.

-The elevator scene in Ep 16.  This scene was included in the  poll of top 10 scenes of the entire show, but personally I found it a bit too over dramatic. I don’t have claustrophobia, or know anybody who does so  I might come off as a bit insensitive and ignorant to some people.  But honestly I didn’t really like this scene that much because it was just too dragging for me.   If they had shortened it a little, I probably would have enjoyed it.  However, I did love that it showcased Hyun Bin’s amazing acting talent.

-The car accident during filming of Dark Blood. The guy who caused it was extremely stupid. When a road is blocked, you normally search for an alternate route instead of forcing your way through. But this guy was all “Tch, how troublesome” and ran over the barricade. They could have at least made him look totally drunk or something, instead of just annoyed, at least that way it would be more realistic.

-All the scenes with Kim Joo Won’s mom.  I’m guessing I don’t need to explain this further.

Anyway, my list of favorite scenes obviously outnumber the ones I didn’t like.   You might have noticed that most of my favorite scenes included Kim Joo Won.  This drama turned me into such a Hyun Bin fangirl. I seriously loved him in this show.  He’s such a great actor, and easy on the eyes too XD (Plus, I’ve mentioned numerous times here on my blog how much I love seeing guys in suits.) I found this fanvid on youtube which compiled some of his most adorable moments in the series:

I really loved all the kilig scenes between Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won.  Especially after seeing how close they were off camera as well.  There’s good chemistry between them, which was pretty obvious during the sweet moments in the show.   Here’s a cute MV I found on youtube which shows some of their special moments:

I mentioned earlier that 2 additional episodes were aired after the drama ended.  They weren’t really a continuation of the story though.  The first episode was a behind the scenes look at the show, the NGs and a short interview with the cast.  I still enjoyed watching it because it recapped some of the best scenes in the drama, and I was able to hear some of the actors’ thoughts and stories of what went on during filming.  Like how Ha Ji Won was actually asleep during the times she was supposed to be in a coma, and how Hyun Bin had to do over 100 situps just for the sweet sit-ups scene.  And the NGs cracked me up of course.  The 2nd episode consisted of 2 parts, but it was just a 2-hour recap of the entire show, so I didn’t bother watching it.

My Rating:

Overall, I would rate this show 4.8/5. I enjoyed it a lot, but there were times I had to fast forward some scenes.  These were mostly ones where Kim Joo Won’s mom appeared (I hate her!).   All those meetings between her and Gil Ra Im got boring after a while. They kept saying the same things over and over

Joo Won’s mom : Leave my son alone! I’ll pay you lots of money

Gil Ra Im : I refuse to take your money. But don’t worry, I’ll never meet your son again!

(Then she goes and meet him again. Eventually they fall in love and her line changes to something like “I refuse to take your money, and I’ll never give your son up!”)

But aside from that, I did like the show the A LOT!  Watch it if you have time, you’ll probably enjoy it as well.   You can watch the entire thing on dramacrazy: HERE

Or for Filipino fans who don’t like subtitles, a Tagalog-dubbed version of the show will air on GMA 7 this coming May 2011.  Be sure to watch out for it!


6 thoughts on “K-drama Review : Secret Garden

  1. Pingback: Favorite lines from Secret Garden (and some animated gifs) « What I have shown you is reality …

  2. Pingback: 49 Days (AKA Pure Love) Review | What I have shown you is reality …

  3. Pingback: K-drama Review : You Who Came From The Stars | What I have shown you is reality ...

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