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Understanding Kdrama: What's A Candy Girl?

BY Joan MacDonald | Sep 09, 2013 11:17 AM EDT

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If you've been watching "The Master's Sun" lately, you may have heard the characters use the expression "Candy Girl" several times.

So Ji Sub's character thinks other people are confused about his relationship with the seemingly crazy character played by Gong Hyo Jin. And he's a little confused by it himself. When he is pretending to be engaged to someone else, he suggests they define their relationship and that Gong Hyo Jin should become his Candy Girl.

This means he will become her "sugar daddy" and sponsor her, buying her a home and a car and paying for her expenses.

She also comments that people probably think she is a "Candy Girl," a woman who wants to marry a rich man or be taken care of by him. That's what people have to think since she is always hanging around him.

But of course that's not their relationship at all. She sees ghosts. He can make them go away. They actually like each other but in the tradition of kdrama love, it will take them several episodes to be honest with each other.

The term "Candy Girl" also comes up often in "Cheomdamdung Alice" when Moon Geun Young is called a Candy Girl for wanting to snag the rich guy played by Park Shi Hoo. It's not usually a compliment when someone calls a character a "Candy Girl." It means she's only interested in a man for his money.

But who is this "Candy Girl?" Where did the expression come from?

It all started with a manga character named Candy. "Candy Candy" was a Japanese anime story written by Kyoko Mizuki in 1975. The Cinderella-meets-Little-Orphan-Annie-story is about an orphan named Candy who gets adopted twice, first by a family that mistreats her. Then a wealthy anonymous benefactor sponsors her. Candy is an optimistic, cheerful character who deserves her good fortune.

The manga has all the elements of a good kdrama, including a cheerful heroine overcoming hard times, a difficult first love, and cliffhanging endings so that the next episode begins where the last one left off.

The manga ran for four years and became an anime series as well as inspiring several films. By the 1980s, the soap-opera-style anime became popular throughout Asia and the term "Candy Girl" had become synonymous with a hardworking cheerful young woman who is sponsored by a wealthy benefactor.

"Boys Over Flowers" is a classic "Candy Girl" k-drama, in which a rich boy wants to sponsor a poor girl but she's not interested.

In "The Master's Sun" Gong Hyo Jin refuses to become So Ji Sub's "Candy Girl" because she is not interested in money, but in many other ways she is a Candy Girl, hardworking, cheerful and optimistic despite the ghosts that torment her.

Can you think of any other "Candy Girl" dramas? Let us know.

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