That Fool/Accidental Couple
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That Fool aired on KBS2 from April, 2009 to June, 2009 as a 16-episode drama. The drama starred Hwang Jung Min as Goo Dong Baek, an ordinary postal worker. Kim Ah Joong played Han Ji Soo, an actress that comes into Goo Dong Baek’s life. Joo Sang Wook played Kim Kang Mo, Ji Soo’s engaged lover. Lee Chung Ah played Goo Min Ji, Dong Baek’s sister. Baek Sung Hyun played Han Sang Chul, Ji Soo’s brother. And Jun Mi Sun played Cha Yun Kyung, Ji Soo’s manager.
That Fool is a drama about an ordinary man meeting, marrying and then falling in love with an extraordinary woman. It takes the heroine a while to realize that the man in question is actually extraordinary himself.
Goo Dong Baek is a postal worker with a loving sister. The two lost their parents years ago, but still live by the lessons they learned from their father. Dong Baek loves his job, but is not really good at it. He hasn’t been able to sell any postal insurance, and, as we see, is about to be transferred or demoted or fired. (I wasn’t sure which). Dong Baek largely spends his life being ignored by the general public, his co-workers and his crush. He even goes to an awards show alone because when he asks his crush to go with him, she ignores his request. Despite his lonely lifestyle, Dong Baek always strives to smile and is a hard worker. He takes pleasure from the little things in life.
Han Ji Soo is a big star, the center of everyone’s attention, and has been in a secret relationship with Kang Mo for many years. The reason for the secrecy is that Kang Mo, for financial and political reasons, has gotten engaged to So Yeon, the daughter of a rich corporate executive. Kang Mo’s father is running for mayor of Seoul and has convinced Kang Mo that they need this contact in order for him to successfully become Seoul’s mayor. Kang Mo becomes engaged to So Yeon, asking Ji Soo to wait until after the election. Ji Soo unhappily complies. Thus, at the beginning of the drama, Ji Soo is a very unhappy person.
During one of Kang Mo’s and Ji Soo’s dates, the couple are followed by intrepid Reporter Baek (played by Lee Hae Young). The two get into an accident, and Dong Baek witnesses this when he is going home after the awards show. Dong Baek is convinced to step in and cover for Kang Mo. To protect Kang Mo and his father, Ji Soo pretends that Dong Baek was behind the wheel when the accident happened, that she is in a dating relationship with him, and then even ends up marrying him for six months. Through it all, she resents Dong Baek for having to do this, blaming him for a situation that is in no way his fault. Dong Baek goes along with her because he is a good man, an admiring fan, and then because he loves her.
Despite the fact that their supposed relationship was kept well hidden, Min Ji welcomes the news with open arms. She had been worried about her brother from the beginning and wants him to live happily. In contrast, Sang Chul, Ji Soo’s brother, is not so happy. He comes back from Australia when he hears about his sister marrying. Due to his confusion and suspicion over why his sister would choose a man like Dong Baek, he is extremely hostile and makes Dong Baek’s life hell. Sang Chul comes into contact with Reporter Baek, and realizes that this entire marriage is fake. He then decides to use his knowledge to push Ji Soo toward Dong Baek, thus ensuring that she will not go back to Kang Mo, whom Sang Chul rates as a zero.
Ji Soo stops blaming Dong Baek for this situation and has an attitude adjustment. She and Dong Baek grow closer together, but she fights the attraction because she feels her loyalty is toward Kang Mo. She discovers that Sang Chul knew the truth, and Dong Baek hid this from her. Learning that Dong Baek hid this to protect her, she decides to forgive him. Ji Soo then finds out that Kang Mo plans on marrying So Yeon and making Ji Soo his mistress. That wasn’t said in so many words, but the fact that he doesn’t intend to let her go can only mean one thing. Though Ji Soo is hurt, she turns to Dong Baek and asks him to stay by her side. But when he proposes to her, asking her to wear his ring, she refuses. Ji Soo is unsure of her feelings, not knowing whether she wants Dong Baek by her side because she loves him or because she has gotten used to him. She is afraid to make the same mistake of trusting the wrong person.
Reporter Baek, getting irrefutable proof of Kang Mo’s perfidy and not wanting to hurt Dong Baek, takes the evidence to So Yeon, Kang Mo’s fiancee. When she finds out the truth, So Yeon breaks up with Kang Mo and forces his father to withdraw from the election. Kang Mo pretends as if he was the one who broke off the engagement and asks Ji Soo to come back to him. It is only when she has the choice before her, does Ji Soo realize that she only wants Dong Baek.
While the two reconcile, Kang Mo schemes to use a co-worker’s infatuation for Dong Baek to force the two to divorce. A picture gets out of the co-worker kissing Dong Baek in public. The response is severe, and Dong Baek, rather than hurting Ji Soo’s image/career, urges Ji Soo to divorce him. At first, Ji Soo agrees, letting Dong Baek have his way. But when she realizes that this is all a result of Kang Mo’s manipulations, Ji Soo reveals all to the public, thus taking away the only thing he could use to blackmail her.
Dong Baek and Ji Soo get married for real, surrounded by their loved ones. And Kang Mo slinks off overseas to ‘study’.
The drama got off to a slow start. It was too serious and our main character, Ji Soo, was such a downer. She kept blaming Dong Baek for her problems, and allying herself with Kang Mo. That only made me dislike her. Ji Soo’s sullen attitude also dragged down the other characters around her. Dong Baek was always confused and hurt when he was with her. Her manager was stressed out. And her brother could only shout and beat up on poor Dong Baek. The drama was depressing, but I soldiered through because other reviewers had said the drama would only get better.
In the second half, we see a change in Ji Soo. She begins to be playful and happier. She realizes that it is not Dong Baek’s fault, and she stops resenting him. The change in her attitude was abrupt and unexplained. I wish the writer had made an effort to explain. Even a throwaway line saying that she had decided to look toward the brighter side of things or that being around Dong Baek, and away from Kang Mo, had brought back the old Ji Soo would have even made it okay, but there was no explanation. Many episodes after the change, Sang Chul does mention something like that, but it’s too little too late.
Once Ji Soo’s attitude changed, the drama transformed from a melo to a comedy. And I actually began to like the mischievous side of Ji Soo. Kim Ah Joong and Hwang Jung Min had a nice chemistry, though it didn’t explode off the screen. But that was just the characters they were. I liked a lot of the other characters in the drama, as well. The lack of maliciousness in each and every character was refreshing. Usually, I watch dramas where 90% of the cast are backstabbing individuals, and only our hero and heroine and maybe the heroine’s . . . mother are good. In this drama we had a 90% cast of good people. They might have been self-involved and ignorant at certain points, but they were nice.
The relationships between Dong Baek and his co-workers, with his sister and with his brother-in-law were heartwarming. My favorite part of the drama was the relationships that the two main characters had with their own siblings and with their partner’s siblings. There was no jealousies and no being petty. I loved how protective Sang Chul was of his sister, and how much Min Ji wanted her brother to be happy. Even Reporter Baek had his own reasons for his nefarious deeds, he made all efforts to protect Dong Baek, and was righteously angry when it looked as if they were just going to throw Dong Baek away.
The only two individuals that stuck out were Kang Mo and his father. And they got what they deserved. How often does that happen in a drama? Isn’t it usually all is forgiven by the incredibly good characters, and no one is punished for their nefarious deeds?
That Fool was a treat to watch. I would highly recommend it as watchable.