Unexpectedly chancing upon a drama that captures my entire attention leading me to marathon all available episodes in one night is like running a marathon, it’s painful but oh so satisfying afterwards. The currently airing KBS weekend drama What’s With This Family (What Happens to My Family) is my current crack thanks to one story arc with the younger leads Park Hyung Sik, Nam Ji Hyun, and Seo Kang Joon. I checked out this drama for my love of Nam Ji Hyun and Seo Kang Joon but after powering through 17 available episodes the standout star here is Park Hyung Sik. He was decent but unmemorable in Heirs but in his first major leading role he’s an impressive natural.
Park Hyung Sik confidently goes toe-to-toe with the always outstanding Nam Ji Hyun and it’s actually Seo Kang Joon who is getting his thunder stolen here when he usually does the thunder stealing. I’m not interested in any part of this family drama other than the story line with the three young leads, and the times when they interact with the elders like the awesome daddy, the wise haraboji, or the self-centered mom. I find the drama easy breezy overlaid with a caring low-key vibe, perfect as an uncomplicated weekend watch. I’ve done an OT3 recap of the young cast love triangle below to whet the appetite for those curious looking for a cute romantic fix.
Twenty-four year old Kang Seo Wool (Nam Ji Hyun) comes to Seoul from the countryside to look for her “fiancee” Cha Dal Bong. When they were kids she saved him from drowning and they spent an idyllic day together. Before parting Dal Bong promised to marry her when they grew up and twelve years later they would meet on top of Namsan Tower. Seo Wool doesn’t know that the “Cha Dal Bong” who made the marriage promise is not the real Cha Dal Bong that she’s going to meet. Sure it’s the promise a kid made but Seo Wool took it seriously so when she grew up she packed her bags to go meet her man as promised.
Seo Wool encounters the real Cha Dal Bong (Park Hyung Sik) in a packed subway, he’s rushing for his first day of work and she’s cluelessly missed her stop. During their discussion about where to go, a clumsy pickpocket has his eye on Dal Bong but accidentally slices his thigh when snatching his wallet. Dal Bong gives chase but the pickpocket gets away. Dal Bong drags Seo Wool to the police station accusing her of being in cahoots with the pickpocket but she’s cleared of all charges and heads off her way.
Dal Bong ends up being conned at his new job which is a direct sale scam company forcing him to buy a stash of vitamins and resell it. He doesn’t want to disappoint his dad since this was supposed to be his first job so he runs into Seo Wool again that night at the park when he’s trying to sell vitamins. She helps him pick up the vitamins when it starts to rain and both of them get hauled into the police station since Dal Bong violated park rules in solicitation. During the interview Seo Wool learns for the first time that his name is Cha Dal Bong.
Seo Wool arrives bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the Cha residence the next day announcing herself as Dal Bong’s fiancee. Dal Bong’s dad and aunt freak out and think Dal Bong has knocked a girl up or toyed with her heart. Dal Bong tries to get rid of Seo Wool and insists he never promised to marry her. He hears her story about saving a boy from drowning twelve years ago who promised to marry her and a light bulb clicks in his memory. Dal Bong insists that he’s not that boy but doesn’t tell Seo Wool who that boy is. The Cha family lets Seo Wool stay for the night and the next day Daddy Cha convinces Seo Wool to go back home to the countryside.
Dal Bong gets in trouble with the shady direct sale company that hired him to sell vitamins since the supply he took was ruined in the park in the rain. He’s getting beaten up to pay for the goods when Seo Wool saves him by using all the money she brought with her to pay the shady company president off. Seo Wool asks Dal Bong to let her live in Seoul at his house until he can pay her back. Dal Bong agrees since he doesn’t want to tell his dad the trouble he got into.
The Cha family finds out Dal Bong has stashed Seo Wool in the house when she sneaks in the kitchen starving to look for food. Dal Bong convinces his dad to let Seo Wool stay (over the objections of the other family members) so she’s given a room up in the rooftop annex.
Seo Wool is a total drinking lightweight and after Dal Bong’s older sister Kang Sim makes Seo Wool drink with her, Seo Wool drunkenly kisses Dal Bong wondering what she needs to do to make him agree to marry her like he promised. Dal Bong is surprisingly patient with Seo Wool’s misguided affection for him.
Seo Wool is adorable, earnest and considerate, and pretty soon she has Daddy Cha and even Auntie all warming up to her. Seo Wool asks Dal Bong to help her look for the other Cha Dal Bong, the one who she saved and promised to marry her. Dal Bong doesn’t seem all that excited about the prospect and tells Seo Wool to give up, the guy won’t marry her now even if she finds him. She disagrees since he promised and makes a bet with Dal Bong, if the other Dal Bong agrees to marry her then Dal Bong will have to get on his knees to bow to her 100 times and say I was wrong 100 times, if not then Seo Wool will forgive the debt Dal Bong owes her.
Dal Bong takes a part time job at Dongdaemun Market delivering wares to the clothing stalls. Seo Wool notices Daddy Cha’s shoes are worn out and goes to Dongdaemun to buy him a new pair of shoes for Dal Bong to give his dad. She notices the pickpocket who stole Dalbong’s wallet in the subway as he tries to steal a woman’s purse in the market. She tussles with him and gets her shirt ripped while Dal Bong chases after the thief.
A man walks up to help Seo Wool and he’s Yoon Eun Ho (Seo Kang Joon), formerly best friends with Dal Bong in junior high and the real “Dal Bong” who Seo Wool saved and made the promise to marry her. Eun Ho tosses his jacket over Seo Wool and when her knees are still weak, he picks up her in a princess carry off to the nearby cafe to calm down. Eun Ho is the only son of a rich and self-absorbed mom and he’s currently running a restaurant that she owns.
Dal Bong can’t catch the pickpocket and by the time he finds Seo Wool again, he is shocked to see that the person who helped her is Yoon Eun Ho. Dal Bong is antagonistic towards Eun Ho who wonders why Dal Bong is still harboring a grudge since junior high. Eun Ho assumes Seo Wool is Dal Bong’s girlfriend. Dal Bong drags Seo Wool out of the cafe but she leaves the shoes that she bought for his dad on the chair. Eun Ho notices and takes it for Seo Wool, leaving a note with the cafe for her to come find him to get it back.
The next day Seo Wool goes to the address Eun Ho left for her and finds that it’s a restaurant and also notices the restaurant is hiring servers. Eun Ho seems intrigued by Seo Wool and flirts with her to thank him for helping her and for taking the shoes for her. He notices Seo Wool doesn’t have money so suggests shaved ice dessert as a thank you. During dessert, Eun Ho asks Seo Wool about Dal Bong and hears that she’s here to marry Dal Bong because she saved his life twelve years ago and he promised to marry her. Eun Ho realizes who Seo Wool is, and that he was the one who she is talking about while Dal Bong hasn’t told her the truth.
Dal Bong and Eun Ho hash it out over telling Seo Wool the truth but Eun Ho offers to let her misunderstanding stand for now. He’s curious about what’s going to happen if she keeps thinking Dal Bong was the one who promised her while Eun Ho was the friend who was there that day but Seo Wool doesn’t remember. Seo Wool ends up working at Eun Ho’s restaurant as a server and he starts to find her company reassuring whenever he gets frustrated with his scrutinized and controlled life dictated by his mom. Dal Bong starts getting jealous and also starts to realize that he really likes Seo Wool. In fact, twelve years also Dal Bong did have a crush on Seo Wool and Eun Ho found out which is a reason why their friendship ended.
Eun Ho’s mom is getting remarried to a very rich company chairman and Eun Ho lets out his frustrations in a hedonistic drinking party where he drags Seo Wool along. The next day Eun Ho gets sick and Seo Wool finds him feverish in the office and takes him to the hospital. Eun Ho wakes up and asks her to keep him company so she ends up falling asleep at the hospital which leads Dal Bong to spend a sleepless night wondering why Seo Wool hasn’t come home yet.
Dal Bong and Seo Wool keep doing little things for each other, he buys her a dress from the Dongdaemun Market that he noticed her eying and she helps him get a job in the kitchen at Eun Ho’s restaurant. Initially Dal Bong refuses to work for Eun Ho but finally swallows his pride because he wants to do more with his life. Seo Wool is happy to see Dal Bong working hard at the restaurant and she waits for him after her shift is done to go home together.
Eun Ho gets Dal Bong to admit that he likes Seo Wool and also reveals he likes her as well. Initially Eun Ho was just curious about Seo Wool showing up in his life again but in spending time with her he gradually has fallen for her. Eun Ho threatens to tell Seo Wool the truth about twelve years ago because he believes Seo Wool is his destiny but Dal Bong took her. Eun Ho’s mom notices Eun Ho’s interest in country girl Seo Wool and tries to get her fired. Seo Wool decides to give up on her Seoul dreams and go back to the countryside to see her haraboji. She says her farewells to Dal Bong’s dad and aunt.
Seo Wool’s haraboji calls her cell phone to tell her that he’s coming to visit her in Seoul. She left her cell phone at work so Eun Ho answers and he goes to the train station to bring haraboji to the Cha house. Haraboji immediately identifies Eun Ho as the grown up boy from the picture (the one who Seo Wool saved and promised to marry her) but Seo Wool explains to her haraboji that her boy is Dal Bong and Eun Ho is just Dal Bong’s friend from junior high and how is their boss at the restaurant. Dal Bong tries to impress haraboji by pretending his the head chef at the restaurant rather than just a busboy but is busted. Haraboji is furious that Dal Bong is so boastful.
Seo Wool asks why Dal Bong lied to impress her haraboji and he admits that he wanted to keep her in Seoul so thought he needed to be successful so her haraboji would approve of him. Seo Wool is so touched and they hug and haraboji sees this. Haraboji leaves the next day and tells Seo Wool to stay in Seoul. Dal Bong goes to the train station to send him off with snacks to eat on the trip. Haraboji gives Dal Bong advice that a man’s failure is nothing to be ashamed about but living a lie is that is shameful. He wants Dal Bong to come clean with Seo Wool about who really is the boy who she saved twelve years ago, if he really likes Seo Wool then he needs to tell her the truth to start with a clean slate. When Seo Wool rushes to the train station, haraboji has left already but Dal Bong hugs her tightly saying that her haraboji told him to give her more hugs.
Eun Ho has a big fight with his mom and drags Seo Wool off at work in front of everyone and drives to clear his mind. He starts crying to Seo Wool and asks if she can save him again. He tries to tell her the truth but she senses it and refuses to listen so he stops. Dal Bong has been trying to tell Seo Wool the truth but repeatedly gets interrupted so when hears that Eun Ho dragged Seo Wool off he makes up his mind to come clean no matter what. Dal Bong takes the day off work and has Seo Wool do the same before taking her on a cute date for the entire day. They are beyond happy and adorable together.
As Seo Wool and Dal Bong are walking home from the date, it starts to rain and they find shelter under the park pavilion. Seo Wool notices Namsan Tower in the distance and also the rain both reminding her of her destiny with Dal Bong. He finally comes clean and tells her that they are not destined, he is not the boy from twelve years ago who she saved and promised to marry her. He tells her that Eun Ho is that boy while he was the other boy at the scene who Seo Wool doesn’t even remember. Seo Wool is shocked and furious, asking if it was so fun for them twelve years ago and now to toy with a dumb country girl like her. She tells Dal Bong that she doesn’t want to see him ever again.
Dal Bong’s dad finds him heartbroken and devastated and hears that Dal Bong doesn’t understand why he was born. His mom died giving birth to him, he’s always a failure and screw up in everything he does, and now he really likes Seo Wool but told her a big fat lie that had led to him losing her. Dal Bong sobs in his dad’s arms about how his heart hurts so much. His dad comforts Dal Bong and tells him he’s still young and making mistakes is fine, he just has to learn from it and keep moving forward. Eun Ho has come by to see Seo Wool and sees this scene, confirming that Dal Bong came clean to Seo Wool.
Seo Wool goes to ask Eun Ho for the truth and he admits that he didn’t know why he lied back then or why he promised to marry her. Back then he just learned his parents were divorcing and felt like his life wasn’t worth living anymore, he was just an emotionally screwed up pre-teen and he doesn’t know what made him do what he did. But he knows his heart now and he likes her and wants to be with her. Seo Wool doesn’t buy it and calls off the promise since it was just a joke to him back then. Eun Ho pleads with her to see how much he’s hurting now that he hurt her and asks her her to give him another chance.
Dal Bong hears from Seo Wool that Eun Ho wants to be with her now and he doesn’t hide his hurt, But she’s still mad at him so he asks if they can still be friends. That upsets Seo Wool even more since it feels like all the Seoul guys can just turn off their hearts willy nilly. Dal Bong and Seo Wool were dating before this and now he claims he can just be friends with? He’s okay if she chooses Eun Ho then? Dal Bong tries to explain that’s not what he means but Seo Wool ends the conversation and leaves Dal Bong unable to figure out what approach to take with her. And that’s where the drama currently stands having aired up to episode 17.
I’m totally a Dal Bong-Seo Wool shipper if that’s not already clear, but I also love every loaded interaction between Seo Wool and Eun Ho. All three are very flawed young adults and the mix-up in who Seo Wool saved and proposed to her was cumulatively a shared misunderstanding. Weekend family dramas follow a very standard pattern but ones that work for me almost always include a casting good actors who play easy to like characters placed into an interesting enough premise. That’s the crux of my love for the younger generation love triangle in this drama. Every scene between these three leads makes me heart pitter patter, that elusive but satisfying sensation of being really into the emotions presented onscreen.
It doesn’t hurt that Park Hyun Sik and Seo Kang Joon are equal charisma eye candy male leads, the perfect combination of looks and acting performance. Nam Ji Hyun is so realistic and charming it is completely believable that the two guys would be smitten by her. I currently love this drama to pieces and if anyone wants a nice alternative to the mostly lackluster prime time offerings there check What’s With This Family out. It’s airing on the KBS golden ticket time slot, Sat-Sun at 8 pm, and netting ratings over 20% already. That’s about what its predecessors Wonderful Days and You’re the Best Lee Soon Shin got, but still a ways away from the over 30% ratings of Wang’s Family and My Daughter Seo Young.
Have awesome Dal Bong-Seo Wool MVs:
A sweet OTP scene cut: