korean dramas, recaps and reviews
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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

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