Candidate N3 in Top 10 Most Underrated Dramas is one of my all-time favorite kdramas, a vastly underrated 2007 gem Que Sera Sera
, starring Eric Mun and Jung Yumi.
QSS is that rare beast - a passionate, dark, messy, fully grown up, very physical kdrama. In a kdrama world, where even 40-somethings often act as pure as kids in love and where heroes and heroines are usually unequivocally good, QSS is unusual indeed. The drama QSS reminds me most of is Bali, only if Bali added a lot more physical passion and a lot more hope.
The plot is pretty simple at first glance - QSS follows the interactions of a group of people but at the center of it all are Eun Soo (Jung Yumi) and Tae Jo (Eric Mun), a completely impossible pair of dysfunctional lovers. I don't mean impossible in a traditional kdrama sense - there are no opposing parents or deathly illness. No, they are impossible in the sense that when you watch them destroy everything - themselves, each other, innocent bystanders, you want to take them aside and try to convince them they are better off without each other. Only - you know it's not true - they may be dysfunctional together but they cannot exist apart. Eun Soo is a naive, unworldly girl at the start of the story. She is sheltered and emotionally needy - ripe pickings for the first smooth talker who comes her way. And the first man whom she meets and gloms onto in the big bad Seoul isn't just anyone - it's Tae Jo, a good-looking, charming, emotionally hollow man who supplements his meager middle-class income by sleeping with rich bored women who shower him with gifts - a sort of a dilettante gigolo. Eun Soo is entirely not Tae Jo's type - she is poor, dowdy, and inexperienced. And Tae Jo is definitely not someone Eun Soo should meddle with - she is not familiar with games Tae Jo enjoys as easily as breathing. And yet the two find themselves irreistably drawn to each other - Tae Jo is drawn in by Eun Soo's emotional openness and ability to be hurt (so different from the women he plays with) and Eun Soo is wallowing in her romantic fantasy of the good-looking man paying attention to her.
Of course, nothing is so simple. Tae Jo is terrified of opening emotionally and of commitment. It's a question mark as to whether he can be capable of love at all. And being pushed away and discarded brings out the latent complexity and darkness in Eun Soo and soon she is matching Tae Jo hurt for hurt, lie for lie. Throw in a pair of stepsiblings trying to fight a latent attraction to each other and the most dysfunctional love quadrangle ever is set.
The relationships and feelings are equally messy but, no matter what, the story revolves around Eun Soo and Tae Jo - two people who cannot live together, but who cannot live without each other, either, drawn back together as much by their matching dysfunction as by lust. Ah yes, lust. It is perhaps the most physically passionate drama I have ever seen. Eric Mun and Jung Yumi have insane chemistry. Insane. And the drama takes advantage of it - there is more kissing, make-outs and physical contact in QSS than there is in another 20 dramas put together. This drama is delicious
- like very dark, bitter chocolate. As I have said, it pulls no punches. Almost every character does something truly despicable before the drama ends. At one time or another during the running time, I hated each of the main quartet. And yet I ended the drama loving and pitying them all.
The acting knocks it out of the ballpark. I have never liked Eric Mun in any other drama but in QSS he drops his usual goofball drama persona to play someone broken and damaged on a very basic level and it blew me away. He is also sex on legs in this - so very strongly masculine you can see why Eun Soo abandons her common-sense to get involved with him. This is the only drama in which I have seen Jung Yumi but I loved her - her unusual looks fit perfectly but what really got me was the feeling of high-strung fragility, of repressed energy. Lee Kyu Han is more known for playing second-string jerks but he knocks it out of the park as a reserved, controlled man who is, perhaps, the best person in the quadrangle. Yoon Ji-Hye takes what could be seen as a typical secondary girl role and turns it into something else - needy and sad.
My favorite scene? Oh, this is so hard. Probably, the scene of Tae Joo shaking and sobbing dryly, fists to his mouth, literally banging his head on the bar, trying to control his feelings of Eun Soo being lost to him.
Have a MV: