Two of the most popular dramas from the early 2000’s, Lovers in Paris and Lovers in Prague, recently appeared on Viki. I thought they’d be interesting to watch, but wasn’t sure about tackling 38 episodes. Then I wondered which one was better, and started watching an episode of each in turn. What do you think happened?
How dated are they?
First off, I want to say something about the styling. The female lead in Lovers in Prague generally looked bad, with straggly flat hair and strange suits with knickers. One of the men in Lovers in Paris had ugly fat ties with huge knots in them, which was as distracting as the knickers. The female lead in Paris wore a lot of denim and had big fluffy hair, but she didn’t look bad. And as for the men’s hair, there was one in each show with spiky hair, and one with it longish. But in Paris the long hair looked good and in Prague it looked like a wig.
The plots are very similar, about women who meet a couple of likable men and get into a love triangle. Both stories begin lightheartedly, develop into melodrama, and drag in the middle. We get crying, wrist-grabbing, face-slapping, angsty showers, injuries, and parents who try to run their kids’ lives. There are evil chaebols (tycoons) and mean second-lead females. Sound familiar? Yes, they are dated, but the female lead in Paris is a candy girl (poor but spunky), and the one in Prague is a career woman. Prague also has a lot of endearing side characters, so that’s a big plus. They were written by the same person, Kim Eun Sook, and though she used the same tropes, she intentionally made the dramas different.
How do they compare?
Lovers in Paris has a lighter tone and is more slapsticky. The female lead, Tae Young (Kim Jung Eun), is cheerful but a klutz, and messes up a lot. She overdoes the innocent act and generally looks way too shocked. She becomes a housekeeper for a chaebol businessman (she watches his movies and drinks his wine) and then meets a charming drifter (who tries to help her fix a broken bike) and soon finds out that they are uncle and nephew. One of them falls for her right away, and the other one takes a while to realize he likes her. The slow fall is particularly sweet and fun to watch. Aww.
Lovers in Prague is darker but has some humor. Jae Hee (Jeon Do Yeon), the daughter of the Korean president, is a diplomat who speaks several languages. She is cheerful, but up front with her emotions and not at all embarrassed. She meets Sang Hyun (Kim Joo Hyuk), a detective who has come to Prague looking for his girlfriend, who had suddenly called him up on the phone and dumped him. Then Jae Hee’s ex-boyfriend appears after five years of silence and wants to pick up where he left off. These two guys take turns being pleasant and crabby.
How was my experience?
By the time I reached episode six in both dramas, we had gone clean through the cheerful part and into the angst. By then I had noticed both dramas shared an actor, Yoon Young Joon. In Lovers in Paris he plays Secretary Kim who works for the uncle, Ki Ju, and is very reliable. In Lovers in Prague he is Jae Hee’s friend at work, Yun Ku, who uses a wheelchair and pays for her drinks when she gets upset and cries.
I decided to just watch Lovers in Prague for a while because it was hard to keep the stories straight. Some of the more entertaining scenes are when Jae Hee tries to keep the detective, Sang Hyun, from finding out her dad is the president, and pretends to live in Yun Ku’s house. When Sang Hyun says he’s coming to her house (aka Yun Ku’s) she tries to beat him there.
Jae Hee’s ex-boyfriend, Young Woo, and his arrogant chaebol father cause a lot of trouble, as does Sang Hyun’s errant ex-girlfriend. To make up for it all, we get two cute side romances. Sang Hyun’s ditzy but practical aunt is seeing one of the detectives, and Jae Hee’s brother, Gun Hee (played by a baby Jang Keun Suk) is intrigued by a girl whom Jae Hee had befriended. By episode 12, it had gotten draggy and I was tired of Sang Hyun’s snippy attitude, so I took a break and watched another show altogether for a couple of weeks.
After the break, I picked up Lovers in Paris again and watched it all the way through. These characters go back to Korea as well. Ki Ju is mellow and even-tempered and his nephew Soo Hyuk is moody and volatile. Tae Young’s clueless uncle throws a monkey wrench into the works and abandons his adorable little boy, who becomes attached to Soo Hyuk. The love triangle was very soapy, and there are family secrets and resentments that cause trouble. There is a controlling dad, an arranged marriage with a spoiled rich girl, and a business conflict with another chaebol family. There are repeated confrontations, and it drags.
Finally, I went back to Lovers in Prague at episode 13 and what bad luck, I had to get used to the mean chaebol dad again. The fun parts involve Sang Hyun’s aunt taking things into her own hands, and the girl twisting Gun Hee around her finger. We get to see the police handle some important cases and a scandal that comes up. The love triangle is pushed to the limits and there is is moping and crying in every episode, so yeah, it drags too.
How about the endings?
Without really telling you the endings, I can say that I was satisfied with them. My connection to the characters pulled me through. Lovers in Prague had some cliffhangers, but it was one of those shows that gives you little peeks into the futures of many of the characters. It was nice. Looking back, I liked this one better, mostly for the characters, although I liked the male lead in the other one better. if I watch it again, I will be pretty liberal with the fast-forward!
Lovers in Paris is a different matter, because the ending is confusing. But I liked it because it was different and something to talk about. I enjoyed looking up what several reviewers had to say, but there were people who didn’t get it and hated it. See what you think, and give us your thoughts in the comments. If you want to see what I think, that will be in the comments too.
Until the next confusing ending,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi