Kdrama Review: Invincible Lee Pyung Kang
Romanized title: Cheonhamujeok Lee Pyeong Kang
English title: Invincible Lee Pyung Kang / Taming of the Heir
Broadcast dates: 9 Nov to 29 Dec 2009
Broadcast station: KBS
Cast: Nam Sang Mi, Ji Hyun Woo, Seo Do Young, Cha Ye Ryun, Park Ki Woong, Kil Yong Woo, Choi Myung Gil, Kim Heung Soo
Synopsis: Lee Pyung Kang works hard at a resort in order to save money to go to college to become a golf course designer. When her mom makes off with her hard-earned money, Pyung Kang is stuck working at the resort and is tasked with whipping the spoiled heir into shape so that he can inherit the resort instead of his new step-brother.
I admit a reluctance when I first read the synopsis for this Korean Drama. The premise has been done before, many times, not just in K-dramas, but J-drama and T-drama as well, so I was reluctant to watch something that had been done over and over again. But I am glad that I gave this drama a try. Invincible Lee Pyung Kang gives a new spin to the whole ‘whipping spoiled rich boy into shape.’ Of course, no matter how good a storyline is, if the acting is bad then it will still fail, however, the acting in this drama was exceptional – specifically in regards to the two main leads played by Nam Sang Mi and Ji Hyun Woo.
The story begins with the wedding of Woo Pyung Won, Chairman of Shine Rose Resort, to his secretary Je Wang Hu. Woo Ohn Dal (played by Ji Hyun Woo) is rushing back from the states to try to stop this marriage from taking place, believing that Secretary Je is just after the money and the resort. However, Secretary Je and her son Je Young Ryu have a plot in motion to make sure Ohn Dal is too late. Thus begins Ohn Dal’s journey of bad luck and misadventures which eventually leads him to the doorstep of Lee Pyung Kang (played by Nam Sang Mi). Pyung Kang was not having the best of days when she got a call from her little sister saying that loan sharks had come calling and their mother was gone again. Pyung Kang rushes home only to find out that her mother had stolen all the money she had saved up. After the loan sharks disappear, Ohn Dal shows up half naked and steals their clothes causing Pyung Kang to unleash her anger at him, thus their tangled relationship begins.
This drama is a fight about the inheritance rights of the resort. Will Ohn Dal’s new step-brother take over the reins or will Ohn Dal step up his game and actually try hard to accomplish something and preserve the resort his father built for his mother? Thrown into the mix is the mysterious Edward (played by Seo Do Young), Ohn Dal’s longtime girlfriend Kwan Ja Rak (played by Cha Ye Ryun, love the actress, didn’t really like the character), and various staff members of the resort and townspeople from Pyung Kang’s home-stay. To top off the already at times complex storyline, there is another story running parallel to this one. Each episode contains glimpses of the past lives of all the main characters.
Nam Sang Mi did a wonderful job playing Lee Pyung Kang. Her emotions were believable – you wanted to cry and laugh with her. She really brought the character to life. The sparks that flew with Woo Ohn Dal (both romantically and otherwise) were a real treat to watch. Pyung Kang is the daughter of a famous golf course designer who works at Shine Rose Resort in customer service while also running a home-stay with her mom and little sister. Her mom is constantly taking money and gambling, putting the Lee family into great debt. Pyung Kang works at Shine Rose because it has the last golf course her father ever designed as well as trying to earn money to pay for school so she herself can become a gold course designer like her father.
She is a very innocent and realistic person despite her strength and fiery temper. She has never had a boyfriend and really has no time for love as she must take care of the home-stay and her little sister, although her little sister seems more mature and knowledgeable than Pyung Kang at times despite being only in elementary (primary?) school. She constantly fights with Woo Ohn Dal who consistently barges into her life throwing everything into a tailspin. Despite his childishness and selfishness, Pyung Kang begins to be drawn to him as he begins to mature and shows the side of himself that is the hurt little boy who lost his mother at a young age.
Woo Ohn Dal seems to be your typical spoiled rich boy. He only seems to care about himself and ignores others, which gets really annoying so you cheer when Pyung Kang puts her foot down and starts fighting back with Ohn Dal. However, as the show progresses, we begin to see a development of Ohn Dal’s character. Besides Pyung Kang making him change for the better, we learn he wasn’t so spoiled, cold, and selfish to begin with. (He is self-centered, but he is actually thinking about the people around him more than he shows and sometimes his attitude and inaction is his way of trying to make things better/easier for those he cares about.) It is like he acts this way to distance himself and to basically become what other people always accuse him of being.
Since his dad was always working hard at making the resort into a big success, Ohn Dal spent most of the time with his mother, so that when she died of cancer when he was a young boy (7-9 – can’t remember exact age), it really broke his heart and he began becoming the bad seed he is seen as today. Despite his problems with his father, he really does love him and wants to make sure the resort stays alive. So after a little cajoling and outright scolding from Pyung Kang, Ohn Dal joins the successor competition to save the resort from his calculating step-brother and step-mother.
Truthfully, as much as I found this a refreshing and enjoyable drama, there were some holes in the plot. One such being the relationship between Ohn Dal’s father and his secretary-cum-wife. Did Secretary Je really love the chairman or was she just after his money? At first it seems to be the latter, but towards the end of the drama we begin to think that just maybe she might actually care about him. As to whether or not the chairman actually loves her or just feels sorry for all the hell he’s put her through over their 30 years of working together, that remains unseen. I think he is supposed to genuinely love her, but that is actually never really played out. Another plot issue comes with the health-related issues with the chairman. Supposedly he has dementia and he was even rushed into brain surgery after collapsing. But throughout the entire series there are hints that he is actually a mastermind behind a grand scheme to get the “children” together and let them find themselves and reform themselves. So how truthful was his memory loss? Or did he ever really lose it? I honestly could not figure that out.
Another problem with plot came with the flashbacks to the previous lives of the characters. As much as I enjoyed the cry-baby princess Lee Pyung Kang and the plebeian Woo Ohn Dal, there were gaps between events and storytelling. Princess Lee Pyung Kang falls in love with the hapless money-grubbing, Ja Rak-obsessed Ohn Dal, and we see this, but what we don’t see is Ohn Dal falling for the princess. Just in one episode they declare their love for each other without actual basis to support it, but I suppose a reason for love is unnecessary in dramas. I still love the flashbacks. Ji Hyun Woo is a great comedic actor with a very expressive face and his portrayal of both Ohn Dals was amazing, refreshing, and keeps me wanting to see more of Hyun Woo in the future.
Another minor hole comes with Pyung Kang’s best friend who is a little older than her and already divorced. The problem (minor as it is) comes in her relationship with a young man. This young man is always in the background and we know nothing about him, he just keeps popping up. Since neither the best friend nor her relationship is actually essential to the story, I can see why they didn’t give much time or back story, but I really would like to know more about what exactly is going on there.
I loved the love-hate relationship between Ohn Dal and Pyung Kang. I also liked how their tragic love story from the past was rewritten to the successful love story of today.
TOP love moments:
- When Edward accuses Pyung Kang of giving up her dream, her answer was great. She wasn’t giving up her dream, it was just that Ohn Dal’s dream had become her own.
- I also loved how Ohn Dal told Ja Rak that he would do anything to make her happy to make up for all the mistakes he had made when they were together and when she says leave Pyung Kang, he said that was the only thing he couldn’t/wouldn’t do.
Ohn Dal easily became an integral part of the Lee family. Even after gaining control of the resort and with his father gaining back his memories, he kept living at the Lee’s home-stay with Pyung Kang and Pyung Ohn and even their mother (who was back and finally stopped gambling).
Definitely worth watching and the comedy, romance, and bickering definitely make up for some of the storyline problems.