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Review: Warm and Cozy – Jeju Island Gatsby (First Impression)

Warm and Cozy (맨도롱 또똣; Maendorong Ttottot) is a 2015 South Korean television series starring Kang So-ra and Yoo Yeon-seok. Written by the Hong sisters as a twist on the fable of The Ant and the Grasshopper, it aired on MBC from May 13 to July 2, 2015 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 22:00 for 16 episodes.


The Cast:

Kang So-ra as Lee Jung-joo
Yoo Yeon-seok as Baek Gun-woo
Jinyoung as Jung Poong-san
Kim Sung-oh as Hwang Wook
Seo Yi-an as Mok Ji-won
Lee Sung-jae as Song Jung-geun
Kim Hee-jung as Kim Hae-shil

The Plot:

Lee Jung-joo has struggled and worked hard all her life, but has never caught a break, leaving her perpetually grouchy. In her five years as an administrative employee at a clothing company in Seoul, she has never missed a day of work. But that doesn’t stop her from losing her job, her house and her boyfriend in quick succession, so she unwillingly sets off to start a new life in Jeju Island.

There, she meets Baek Gun-woo, chef and owner of the restaurant “Warm and Cozy.”. Jung-joo met Baek Gun-woo previously during their eighteenth birthday and mistaken that they are twins. Jung-joo first mistakes him for a con artist, because he can’t seem to help himself from telling charming lies left and right. Gun-woo is a laidback romantic from a wealthy family who only does what he feels like doing, including opening a restaurant on Jeju simply because that’s where his crush lives. Jung-joo and Gun-woo clash over their different personalities and priorities, then gradually fall in love with each other

Review:

So, I just left out the part where I normally write an introduction to give some hype to the drama, but I’m not going to do that right now since there’s going to be a part two to my review anyway after I finish watching Warm and Cozy, which is going to be more personal than this one.

Average but Cozy

I must say that after realizing that Warm and Cozy was written by the Hong Sisters–the women behind My Sassy Girl, My Girl, Hong Gil Dong, You’re Beautiful, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, Master’s Sun, and the most recent one, The Korean Odyssey–halfway through I start having more expectations about the drama. But I guess every piece written by them are unique from one another although you’ll see snippets of the core of their work, their mark in each and everyone of them.

The Hong Sisters are pretty known for their funny and interesting out of the box rom-com plots and smart dialogues that Warm and Cozy just kind of brings a safe playing ground for them that sometimes may drag on, become tiring and easily forgotten. I’m not saying that it’s boring for me, but while watching the drama (I stopped at episode 8 to write this review) I feel like the constant push and pull, the noble idiocy and lack of gradual progress in their relationship, the twist in the story makes me feel kind of just contented, laidback, and waiting while wondering whether I would lose much if I skip an episode.

The opening scene when they met and Jung Joo told Gun Woo they may be twins and that Gun Woo’s mom might know the man with her in the picture Jung Joo actually gave me hope that there is some underlying secret that may later on affect their budding relationship but I don’t know. So far after 8 episodes there’s no saying who the man really was in Jung Joo or Gun Woo’s life that could wound them and make them feel their like ill-fated lovers who met in the wrong time and space. So far I am still waiting for that.

But at least, besides Gun Woo’s annoying sister and Ji Won who only likes men for what they have (warning: fickle stringing greedy bitch on the loose) and takes love for granted, I like how the Mayor (aka Red Clay Man Model!) always subtly tried to help Jung Joo and wasn’t really such an ass as Gun Woo, and also how Jung geun and Hae Sil’s relationship have more progress than the two lead characters. I would think that their relationship has even more depth and material than Jung Joo and Gun Woo, but I can never know for sure until I reach the end. Other than that, I definitely love Poong san secretly becoming the two’s cutie wingman.

Welcome to Jeju Island!

If you will ask me what I really think of Warm and Cozy, I’ll say that right from the start I feel like I am watching some big-time advertisement for Jeju Island. I’m not sure if it was planned to be that way, but I am not taking it in a bad way. I love Jeju even though sometimes it feels like the story is more about Jeju than Jung Joo and Gun Woo. So, I just learned to enjoy the beautiful scenery in the drama. They have such a nice setting and I must praise them for using it well. In fact, this drama makes me want to visit Jeju Island in the near future. I’d definitely love to try watching the sunrise too just like them and also visit Windmill Beach!

Characters

Kang Sora as Jung Joo. I must say that she made Jung Joo’s character more lovable with her strong image. She has always appeared really vibrant, bold and headstrong that I feel like Kang Sora alone is the definition of a really independent woman. Adding this character to Jung Joo makes her one-sided crush look less pathetic. She wasn’t hard to watch and you don’t look at her as if she was just letting Gun Woo step on her and use her purposely even though she always just goes back to him with one snap of his finger. This personal trait made me sympathize more with her character if any.

Truthfully, I think that Kang Sora’s Jung Joo character doesn’t really stray away from the many damsel in distress characters that she often portrayed, but even though it’s kind of almost the same role all over again, I see the uniqueness of each character–how real her struggles are yet how strong her determination is. So, it’s not really tiresome to watch.

Yoo Yoon Seok as Gun Woo. I love this man to every bits. He was my bias from the sunken ship during Reply 1994 and I continue to follow him since then; not to forget he totally looks kind of like my Oh Sehun, so yeah, I have every bit of crush towards this man.

But not to stray much from the topic, I’d say that I liked his character when Gun Woo first met Jung Joo. Back then even though he was obviously filthy rich and didn’t know what hardship was, at least he wasn’t an ass.

Then when they met again I just have to know him even deeper and figured that Gun Woo is a very confusing character with a tendency to become an innocent idiot who would probably deny his true feelings every chance he get just to save himself from the drama. Obviously, deep down he probably knew even before he met her again that he likes her that he’s being a possessive jerk who constantly watched Jung Joo 24/7 like a CCTV camera whenever Mayor is lurking around her. He was just too far from realizing his true feelings especially whenever Ji Won is around.

But despite his wrongly-placed devotion towards the really bad bitch, I really enjoy seeing Gun Woo act cute whenever he pleases or whenever he just simply wants to be laidback or whenever he’s being serious and smiling while cooking. He has so many sides more positive than him being a jerk who often took advantage of Jung Joo’s kindness that you can’t just really hate him even though you should and that’s truly saying something about Yoo Yoon Seok. His charms are endless.

Kim Sung Oh as Hwang Wook (aka Mayor).

I didn’t think he’s going to play a really big role in the story so I dismissed him upon seeing him the first time, but with an underlying suspicion. I just didn’t expect he was the Mayor more so that he’s the Red Clay Man model displayed in a huge frame at Sunghan’s showroom. He looks so youthful yet so serious and mature for his age that I didn’t think he’s the mayor, but getting to know him made me love that awkward, always flustered and secretly admiring guy that he is around Jung Joo. If there was even such an honest, humble, fulfilled guy out there whose dedication for the girl he likes is just on par as his, I would definitely vote for him as governor of my heart. Yeah, it’s a shame we can only find a gem like him in the ocean once in a blue moon.

Seo Yi An as Ji Won. To be fair with the character I’ve introduced since the beginning of this post as the bad bitch I must commend her for the effectiveness of her acting. If it was probably not her doing Mok Ji Won it wouldn’t look as convincing so I give her one clap for the job well done.

On the other hand, I just want to say I hate how she’s just bad and doesn’t even have any concept of ‘shame’ in her bones that she goes with whoever rich men out there just to fish the biggest pearl in the sea. Gladly, not everyone is as blind as Gun Woo and karma is much more a bitch that Ji Woo doesn’t always get whatever she wants, though that makes her even greedier.

That’s why I am still trying to understand how Gun Woo fell in love with such a cunning, lying bitch who won’t even look at him until she has no options left but him. She’s just really bad. But I have my hopes you know.

B1A4’s Jinyoung as Poong San. So, this lovely actor who has stolen my heart in Love In the Moonlight has again earned my admiration for him with his character Poong San. Even though the role he has is just a side character, Poong San is like a breath of fresh air in the consuming love-hate relationship that Jung Joo and Gun Woo has. Besides, who says we don’t need a cute wingman who will do everything to get them together–intentionally or not?!

Haenyeo

Haenyeo are also known as the lady divers of Jeju Island. These incredible women of the sea has a really long history in Korea and are known for their independent spirit, iron will and determination.

I must say I am thankful that Warm and Cozy has done a fine job of portraying the life of a Haenyeo, how they are still important in the culture of Jeju Island and how they contributed in uplifting the image of Korea, which brought more empowerment to women in the country.

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Interesting cameos

I think you’re going to love the interesting appearances of some of the most popular faces in Korean TV. They, for sure, played really interesting roles that brought a lot of laughter to me. I read somewhere Seohyun’s doing a cameo too?



This post first appeared on The Korean Lass, please read the originial post: here

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Review: Warm and Cozy – Jeju Island Gatsby (First Impression)

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