korean dramas, recaps and reviews
Comments 13

First Impressions: Man to Man

Park Hae Jin, we meet again!

I remembered being thankful that I was already such a huge Kim Soo Hyun fan in You Who Came From The Stars, so I didn’t really suffer when the second lead was heartbroken. Yet, it’s always nice to watch these second leads rise up to the spotlight (and then some other poor soul has to fill in the dark hole of the second lead). Didn’t watch Cheese In The Trap, so this is my second Park Hae Jin drama!

Man to Man is a pre-produced drama on JTBC starring Park Hae Jin, Park Sung Woong and Kim Min Jung. I’m up to date with the current episodes (6 episodes till date) and here’s what I think about the show!

The bromance: If you read any synopsis of this drama, it usually talks about the bromance between Agent K and Un-Gwang. I don’t know when it first started, but this bromance thing is really in trend nowadays and one of the more recent examples will be that of Chief Kim. Indeed, this is one of my favorite parts of the show. You get to watch how Un-Gwang initially is wary of his bodyguard but slowly relies on him as a friend and a “bruh-der!”. It is also hilarious to see how Un-Gwang is akin to a clingy girlfriend while Agent K is often put-off by his advances hahaha. Adorable boys. Beyond the superficial things like how Agent K is able to expertly fend off ex-girlfriends for Un-Gwang, one also notes that the man slowly and unknowingly reveals parts of his emotional wound to Agent K. Whether he knows it or not, Agent K has slowly started to sincerely care (just the slightest) for this VIP.

The romance: Now, here is where most of the debate begin. You have no idea how much spat and hate I’ve seen flying around in the comments section, both for and against the romance, for and against Kim Min Jung. I will attempt to try and explain what’s happening. Of course, this is just based on my own personal opinion, views and perception. Based on the different sites you watch from, you probably see a different set of comments. I realise how strong the herd mentality is.

Some start off hating Kim Min Jung and Cha Do-Ha. It’s kinda intertwined. They think Cha Do-Ha/Kim Min Jung is ugly and just plain unattractive. Then people start lashing back by saying that Kim Min Jung is a very talented actress and that the viewers against her are just preferring a pretty face to talent. Slowly, people start liking the idea of the romance and don’t understand why people are hating on it.

Well here’s my own take on it. I am one of those who were pretty unimpressed by the female lead. Her hairstyle was unattractive, her eyebrows were horribly drawn. The most common retort I’ve read to this was – she’s just supposed to be a manager, a plain girl, and this isn’t the first time the plain girl/handsome guy trope has been used! Here’s where I disagree. She’s not just plain – she’s very unattractive in the first few shots. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that she’s ugly, but there’s just something very tacky with her packaging. There are actresses who are not the normal K-beauty but have shone through with their natural beauty, such as Kim Go-Eun. Heck, this girl even got flamed for being ugly but if you watch her shows and see her smile, I dare say you will just fall in love with her! Those are the ones that are convincing. However, this is not even the annoying part. I think most viewers in this camp are ticked off by the fact that Do-Ha keeps being referred to as a beautiful woman. That’s where it goes wrong. You need to let viewers get acquainted with this woman and love her for who she is, that’s when we say yes she’s beautiful. If you intentionally create a persona who is tacky and then immediately label her as beautiful, you cannot blame the instinctive outcry which follows after! There’s just something very contradictory in what the director/scriptwriters expect out of its viewers.

Furthermore, I am unimpressed with the protest that Kim Min Jung is a talented actress and that anyone who dislikes her as Cha Do-Ha is one of those superficial fangirls who prefer someone more beautiful. I think that’s just a fallacy. I will come out right and say that I don’t think Kim Min Jung was an exceptional actress thus far. She’s definitely not bad, but I can’t see how she’s leagues ahead of the “plastic surgery k-beauties who can’t act” (not my words). If we just base it on talent alone, I think she did a great job carving out Cha Do-Ha’s personality, but just because we prefer someone else with better features (or hair, or just eyebrows omg) doesn’t mean that that someone else necessarily lacks acting skills. *Shakes my head* As a side note, I do think that she looks obviously older than Park Hae Jin even though they are almost the same age. This is to do with the packaging once again. More famous couples of noonas with dongsaengs have succeeded in tricking viewers that they are same age or the reversed. I just think that fundamentally, you either choose to intentionally market her as unattractive but convince the viewers that she’s beautiful (as what most dramas do) or you package her better. She doesn’t need such a short bob if it doesn’t flatter her. A normal bob would do. I feel like the drama had its notion of how Cha Do-Ha is supposed to look like and forced Kim Min Jung into the mould, with no regard for whether it suits her or not.

As for the romance, I’m pretty on the fence about it. I do think that there’s a lacking chemistry but at the moment, Agent K hasn’t really, really liked her yet so I’m looking forward to developments in this area. I guess the romance does bring the spark to the story and maybe you can’t portray a betrayal as keenly as duping your female lead. Also, I do think that 16 episodes may feel slightly empty without a love complication of any sort.

All the harsh words being said, I must say that I am starting to like Cha Do-Ha more now . The interaction is also quite cute (although not romantic yet). In Episode 6, I like how the script stays through to K’s analytical and calm nature by telling Do-Ha so matter of factly that she’s about to get abducted. Thank you.


Final words: Thank goodness this isn’t a love triangle story because kill me if Un-Gwang actually likes Do-Ha. I will continue to watch this because I am actually intrigued by the spy story hahaha, the bromance, Un-Gwang’s and K’s development. I think we have actually seen a lot of Park Sung Woong’s acting, so I really want to see scenes where we can feel and watch Park Hae Jin perform.



  1. Kdfan says

    Enjoyed your review…TQ. I’ll watch it now that you’ve helped explain the female lead actress & her character which seems weird, unlikeable? Was reluctant to start as I’m Park Hae Jin’s fan & didn’t want to watch a drama with poor casting on top of a story which I’m not sure I’ll like haha 🙃


  2. Pingback: Review: Moonlight Drawn By Clouds | THOUGHTSRAMBLE

  3. milaguru says

    Started on this 🙂
    For now I’ve only watched two episodes (okay and a third of ep3 because I was into it, but it was already 2am).
    I’d promised to come back here, so here I am 😀 I’m not far in the drama, but for now, I like the female lead. I was worried at first because of the “I’m gonna kill you” scene, which … kinda scared me, haha. But now, I actually find her quite sweet with her oppa, and I like the interactions between her and K. I’m also glad she’s not useless: she saw what K was doing (stealing stuff, taking pics) when no one else did, and she clearly knows her actor quite well.

    And now that I’ve seen a bit of the drama, I’ll be honest, I don’t really get your whole thing about her appearance. First of all, because I don’t think they’re especially labeling her as beautiful (when she tells her friend about the whole “you’re beautiful” incident, her best friend’s even like “come on, aren’t you happy? I mean, how often does a dude like that tell YOU you are pretty ?” … which, btw, is a very jerk-y thing to say, esp for a friend), and also because I don’t find her unattractive at all (apart from that “I’m gonna kil you” bit o.o). I don’t like her haircut much, but she’s expressive and fun, so I like her, and so, nope, still really disagree with you, and still find it sad how many comments I saw flying while the drama was airing.

    Anyway, I’m enjoying the drama for now, and am hoping I’ll keep enjoying it 😀 The bromance looks really really fun already~


    • Omg so sweet of you to actually come back!! Tbh I don’t really recall the details since this was quite some time ago, but I distinctly remember them calling her a “beautiful” lady right off the bat though, even before we got acquainted with her character. For e.g I think it was when she was photographed next to Un-Gwang. That is my main issue with the whole thing. But I think that is a factual point we disagree on + the fact that you find her attractive from the start while I don’t, that’s totally okay! I think my reactions were towards people who try to defend her based on retorts like she’s a great actress/anyone who thinks she’s not good looking is very superficial – basically ad hominem attacks and rebuttals which are built on the presupposition that she’s not attractive (which then actually make some of these defenders aligned with what some of the people are commenting).


    • All that being said, I have to clarify that she did grow on me because I liked some parts of her character and they were a pretty couple – but that still reinforces my own belief that they should have given us time to get to know her better!


  4. milaguru says

    Of course I came back, I said I would ^-^

    Sometimes I forget though… but this time I didn’t, woohoo !*celebration*

    “the fact that you find her attractive from the start ” To be clear: not from the START. The “I’ll kill you” thing put me off. But afterwards, even though I still think the haircut is wrong, I started to like her (because she’s clever, capable and touching with her oppa), so yes, I did find her attractive by the end of ep 2 🙂

    See, to me, the drama does try to make her “plain and unattractive”. When K tells her she’s pretty, it’s because she caught him doing something wrong, and he wants to escape + he has a tendency to seduce women to obtain what he wants. Later, when he’s supposed to actually seduce her, he says he has a bad feeling about this, and (I quote) says “Maybe it’s because she’s not beautiful”. The only ppl who actually tell her she’s pretty (with the exception of Un Kwang, but he’s actually known her a long time) are people who want something from her, like her dad that needs her money, or K when he needs to get out of a situation. I don’t think the drama tells us she’s beautiful: people are lying to get what they want. The one time I think K was honest was when he saw her in that white dress, and that’s after he’s spent time with her. Which is why I do not agree.

    But that’s okay 🙂

    I’m at episode 5 now! It gets totally ridiculous at times (like that whole bit at the Russian’s place, lol… wtf, K got seen by at least 5 or 6 people, his plan was so weak xD) spy-wise, but I’m enjoying it a lot. I love the bromance, and the “I’m judging you/I’m so over this” Park Hae Jin face. This one:

    K is definitely not amused.
    But I am 😀
    A lot.


    • The thing is I actually agree with you on those incidents. I knew he was lying to get what he wanted in those scenes so no I didn’t get the vibe from those. I remembered there were situations where K was alone and he already was swayed by her – i.e situations where he didn’t need to pretend. Although I think a part of this disagreement could be in some part due to translation; different subbers translate the nuances slightly differently. I know a large portion of people who were commenting on her appearance were annoyed because of the reason I stated as they later on came back to defend themselves. In fact, quite a number of them found her cute after a while!

      Hehehe I see you are spamming the episodes!! Me too, I wasn’t superbly impressed with the spy-bits but somehow things were just enjoyable and pleasant and yes definitely in part due to the bromance!!!


      • milaguru says

        I guess it could be down to subs… Coz I’m really getting a totally different vibe. Oh well~ In the end, I’m just happy to be enjoying this. I’d heard a lot of negative things on this drama, mostly about the female lead but not only: it was quite panned by drama watchers. So I wasn’t too optimistic, but I’m having a lot of fun, not taking it too seriously (don’t see how I COULD take it seriously, anyway, haha)

        That said I’m SO bored with the villains. I don’t care. At all. I almost zone out when they’re on screen. The plot is definitely not this drama’s stronger point.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah it was just something fun, I think that’s what they were going for anyway. That’s true I remember not being very engaged with the villains!


  5. milaguru says

    P.S. I wish I could read and comment on your other posts, but I’m so behind everything and not watching those dramas right now 😥


  6. Jess says

    I just started watching this show on Netflix and couldn’t agree more. The male lead character is undoubtedly classy, good looking and talented. He fits the part to the T. On the flip side though, the female lead is just plain ugly! I actually fast forwarded most of her screen shots. Pathetic acting and really bad looks.


Leave me a comment!(:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s