BY HanCinema | Sep 23, 2016 05:03 AM EDT
"Shopping King Louis" has a premise one does not expect much from. Rich man meets poor woman and understands love. It is the standard Korean romantic drama tale. Much to my surprise, the series makes a start much more contemplative and impactful than its stock premise does it justice for. Underneath all the familiar elements lies what I hope will be a story about appreciating value and finding meaning in the right places.
Before going to the more character focused aspects of this, I have to say that I do love the drama's social commentary and look at consumerism. There is an interesting contrast here, because "Shopping King Louis" inevitably functions are a popular monetized product for consumption, but at the same time it shows awareness of how unhealthy and dishonest promoting the addiction of consumerism is. The ginseng peddling scene aptly shows how prominent this psychological war is, not just for the elitist rich, but all social layers.
Coming to our characters now, can I just say what a breath of fresh drama air Louis/Ji-seong (Seo In-guk) is? I was fully prepared for another abusive, arrogant, misogynistic man-baby of a drama lead, but what we get instead is a nice person who is aware of his spoiled nature and sad situation. Ji-seong is coddled, but he does not treat others like trash and most importantly, the drama does not ask us to find such behavior desirable. We still get the arrogant jerk in Cha Joong-won (Yoon Sang-hyeon), but his personality is presented as what alienates others and harms his relationships.
Go Bok-sil (Nam Ji-hyeon) is more of a standard lead, but I see potential in her through the similarities and differences the series so nicely displays between her and Ji-seong. When it comes to value, Ji-seong can spot expensive products, but he makes empty purchases. Bok-sil spots precious herbs, but she understands their value for people, not business. Both are passionate about discovering, but unlike Ji-seong, Bok-sil's grandmother raised her to appreciate the world and live in harmony with it.
Ji-seong's grandmother on the other hand is so hurt, scared and superstitious that she treats her grandson the way he treats his purchases. As precious goods to be kept safe, but not treasured. Even so, she is clearly a loving person and the always wonderful Kim Yeong-ok portrays her well. This is important, because along with Ji-seong's awareness it makes his devotion meaningful, rather than just a product of conditioned obedience.
Good first impressions aside, I do have some minor complaints and worries. For one, the washed out visuals are frustrating. I would love a twist where this gets more colorful as Ji-seong discovers love and life, but that is unlikely to happen. The second leads are still on the stock end of things and the evil uncle bit worries me about the future, but for now I can say I am very impressed and entertained.
SPONSORED FROM AROUND THE WEB
Latest Photo Slide Shows