[Memory Lane]

There comes a time in a man’s life where you lovingly look back at your past and gush lyrically about your first love. There also comes a time in a man’s life where you annoy your editor for an extended period of time and have to do something nice in return lest I incur the wrath of a perpetually annoyed mistress. So after annoying my delightful editor, , for the ninth time in a day, it was time for me to do something constructive. Great time then to write about one of my first loves, the drama that got me started on my love for romantic comedies and featured my first celebrity crush in my short eventful life. This is my look back at the 2002 drama “Successful Story of a Bright Girl” featuring Jang Nara and Jang Hyuk.

Disclaimer Alert!: The writer is not really an expert at anything much and is just a mere casual fan of dramas. The writer has been known to be rather weird and cynical at times. The writer’s opinions certainly DO NOT reflect the opinion of Soompi’s news team or Soompi as a whole.


The Start Of A Long Love Affair With Romantic Comedies

As my first impression article of “Prime Minister And I” made abundantly clear, I’m an absolute sucker for romantic comedies. No other genre over the years have captured my interest as much as a light-hearted story about love and misadventures. However if you asked me about dramas just over a decade ago, you would have received a completely different answer. Actually you’ll probably have gotten just a bunch of unintelligible grunts since that would have been my antsy pre-teen era. 

Fifa World CupOne of the biggest events of 2002 and one of my highlights of 2002

So what exactly changed since then to now? More precisely when did it change? If I was to list a major turning point in my life it would most likely be 2002. It was the year that gave us the South Korean & Japan Fifa World Cup and according to Wikipedia, a whole bunch of other important and significant events. Personally it was the year that finally started my love affair with football and more importantly the Korean entertainment industry. Actually let me the latter in a bit more detail.

Still one of my favorite variety shows

I had a passing interest in dramas and variety shows previous to 2002 with the highlights being KBS’s line of variety shows such as “99 second advertisements” with Kang Ho Dong & Fink.L along with “MC Battles – Kkung Kkung Da” with the now extremely famous Kang Ho Dong, Yoo Jae Suk, Lee Hwi Jae, Kim Han Suk and host Lee Ji Yeon. K-Pop was also something I only listened to occasionally whenever my parents would play a Kim Gun Mo or GOD album in the car. Suffice to say Korean entertainment wasn’t something I was particularly interested in.

 Successful Story of a Bright GirlThe one that started it all

But all of that changed in 2002 and the whole love affair started with “Successful Story of A Bright Girl” after which the World Cup pretty much cemented my long history of infatuation with Korean entertainment and culture in general. For a drama to have such a profound effect on my life, it must surely mean that the drama was something extremely special.

Successful Story of a Bright Girl

A Man Never Forgets His First Love, in This Case “Successful Story Of A Bright Girl”

There is this adage that I hear often and that is that a man never forgets his first love. Wikiquotes describes it as ” a person’s first serious romantic relationship, which is often distinctive for reasons such as intensity due to youth, naïveté, etc.” But what was it about “Successful Story Of A Bright Girl” that ignited my love for the light-hearted and romantic?

It’s been nearly 12 years since I’ve last watched the drama so please excuse me if my memory of the story is a bit iffy. I’ll still try make an attempt to summarise the story, digging into the depths of my rather shallow memory banks and the power of modern technology (Actually just Google search and Wikipedia but you know what I mean).

beethoven VirusOne of the “other” Hong Sister’s best work

“Successful Story of a Bright Girl” is for all intents and purposes your average Cinderella story. It was penned by the famous Hong Sisters BUT not the Hong sisters that were famous for writing stories such as “Delightful Girl Chunyang,” “My Girl,” “Fantastic Couple” etc but rather the other Hong Sisters famous for “Sharp Series,” “Beethoven’s Virus,” “The King 2 Hearts” and of course “Successful Story Of A Bright Girl.” Funny how most of my favourite dramas over the years have been made one set of Hong Sisters or another.

Successful Story of a Bright GirlEvery playboy drives a Porsche, it’s just one of those facts of life back then

Anyway the story revolves around a bright infallible country girl Cha Young Soon, played by my first ever celebrity crush Jang Nara. We then have the hot headed playboy Han Gi Tae played by Jang Hyuk, a character that lives a cushy affluent life running a cosmetic company he inherited from his father. After accidentally parachuting in on Young Soon’s bath session, the two characters  become forever intertwined in a story filled with comedy, romance, betrayal and feel good moments. The story really starts moving when Han Gi Tae loses control of his father’s company due to being betrayed by his uncle & cousin.

Still one of my favourite songs 

He then has to build his way back up with the help of Young Soon and regain the company he had once lost. If memory serves me right, the whole clincher was this brand new line of cosmetics that were said to be “naturally made” and they demonstrate that attribute in front of a shocked audience when they proceed to eat their array of face creams etc. Frankly I could be just remembering things wrong but something like that happened and it was one of the final and decisive actions that resulted in a big happy ending. All of this accompanied by one of the best OST songs ever in Jo Jang Hyuk’s “Love Song.” They say anything can be made infinitely more likeable with a great soundtrack and this was no exception.

Successful Story of a Bright GirlThis drama was responsible for make Han Eun Jung a household name in dramas.

Ok ok, the story wasn’t absolutely amazing in it’s sophistication but it was extremely well executed for the time. A story that kept moving along at a nice clip and kept me constantly engaged through set piece after set piece. More importantly thou, it had a host of interesting characters that were all immensely interesting and satisfying but one character stood out more than the others and that was Cha Young Soon.

Jang NaraThe star that started it all

In hindsight, I’m not really quite sure what made Jang Nara’s character so appealing. It’s not like she was an exceptional beautiful character nor was she one of those glamorous characters that dominate the hearts and minds of teen boys across the world. Perhaps it was because how well the actor suited the character. Here is a character that is extremely bubbly, full of energy and a bundle of a joy played by an actress that is immensely cute and happy-go-lucky in her demeanour and personality.

Cute Fluffy IdolsThey kind of have a similar vibe to them…I think…?

The drama and her character completely changed my perception of ideal girl types. It so completely changed my concept of attraction that when someone asks me what my ideal lady is, I either point to Jang Nara or someone extremely similar to her such as Han Seung Yeon, IU, Park Chorong and etc. In effect Jang Nara ended up being my first ever celebrity love affair and one of the first albums I’ve bought by myself was Jang Nara’s 2nd album “Sweet Dream.” (Still a great song by the way).

Successful Story of a Bright Girl

Nostalgia Is a Seductive Liar

I still have “Successful Story Of A Bright Girl” somewhere in my media server and there are times where I’m tempted to go back to watch it all again. However, I talk myself out of it every single time in the slight chance that going back to it opens my eyes to the fact that it may not have been all that great. It’s understandable though, the art of romantic comedies have evolved a lot in the last decade and we’ve seen dramas like “Fantastic Couple,” “History of A Salaryman,” “My Girl” and etc push the genre into greater and greater heights. 

I still regard this as Jang Nara’s best song

Likewise with Jang Nara, while my ideal type has never really changed since that summer in 2002. My love for Jang Nara as an actress and singer never really went much further than a few years. Not for a lack of trying mind you, I listened to all her subsequent albums and I watched through “Baby Faced Beauty” just because it had Jang Nara in it. But the only memory of the likeable actress that continues to endear to me is that lovable little country bumpkin trying to make a name for herself.

Jang HyukThis used to be fashionable a few years back

In some ways, I don’t think I want to go back and watch “Successful Story Of A Bright Girl” even if it had aged brilliantly. It was a drama that happened to enter into my life at just the right moment to make a large impact on me. It’s a drama that I still remember fondly through the filter of nostalgia and thinking back to it brings me great happiness, a memory of a time where everything was fresh and my opinion unclouded by pastures greener elsewhere. No matter how great the drama still is, it will never live up to that memory and watching it again will only proceed to cloud my opinions of it.

The start of a life long obsession

There is a a quote that says that “Nostalgia is a seductive liar” and you know what, it’s true. But in the case of “Successful Story of a Bright Girl,” I’m going to keep living a life of lies. No other drama will probably have as big of an effect as it did. It may have been flawed but it’s brushed away by the filters of nostalgia. In the end, I will choose to remember my first love as something great. Not because of any sort of logic or reason but because of a series of wonderful memories of 2002 and sometimes that is all that really matters. 

*Lordbordem is the writer that cures his boredom by occasionally writing long and snarky articles on Soompi. He also once went head to head with a Koala. He lost.

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