쇼핑왕 루이 (Shopping King Louis Ep.1)

After the sageuk The King’s Face, thriller Hello Monster , and crime comedy 38 Task Force; Seo In Guk returns to full romcom, looking all dreamy in this prince turned pauper fairy tale, Shopping King Louis. The show, however,comes with a myriad of overdone tropes so its pilot episode sadly landed last place in ratings.

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The unbalanced tone of the show is quite off putting since at one point we’re seeing a somewhat realistic feel of attempting to tackle the world of commerce then on the next scene, we are being introduced to the titular character who lives in a European mansion,obsessing over extravagant purchases.  The dreamlike set-up and the slapstick bits with his butler make Seo In Guk’s character, Kang Ji Sung, look like someone who’s living inside a manga/manhwa. Am I missing something here? Are the characters living in two worlds just like in W? I’m sure there are other ways to make it known that he’s filthy rich without having to try so hard to be funny. I don’t know how Japanese dramas manage to make silly, over-the-top, situations look acceptable but it just doesn’t quite work when Korean dramas attempt to do the same.

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However, I am totally biased in favor of Seo In Guk so regardless of the show’s blunders, I was never on the fence on whether I’d drop this or not. His character here is actually quite a breath of fresh air since I am used to the whole ‘chaebol is equal to pompous manchild’ formula. His chaebol is different. Ji Sung seems to have done some introspection, knowing what he lacks and what he has. Given that he has all that money and claims to have a voice in his head that allows him to distinguish the items that are worth buying, then ‘shopping’ is his way of escapism. More so, I like that he doesn’t rebel against his overprotective grandma, he doesn’t treat his house helps like trash, and he’s well aware of being financially blessed that he didn’t even think twice about getting the best refrigerator for the girl from the mountains.

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Go Bok Sil first appeared in front of Louis via special documentary he just chanced upon on TV. She lives with her brother and grandmother away from civilization, but after her brother went missing and her grandmother’s passing, there’s no reason to stay deep in the forest in a house where electric wires can’t reach. Unfortunately, due to her own kindness and naïveté, she ended up at Seoul station with only a bottle of water and wild ginseng, the rest of her other valuables gone. This is where she encountered Oska! I mean Cha Joong Won, a charismatic but hotheaded president of an online store. Bok Sil seems to have an eye on who to deal with since after a few exchange of words, she successfully sold her ginseng and even got the well-off guy’s phone number as a bonus. If it weren’t for him, she’d probably be wandering around for a while, penniless.

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I don’t usually complain about the actors’ real life age difference but Yoon Sang Hyun has a whopping 22-year age gap with Nam Ji Hyun and reports said that his character’s feelings will develop into a romantic one. That’s pretty awkward because Yoon Sang Hyun looks old enough to play her uncle.

The show should’ve just chosen an older actress to match Yoon Sang Hyun since it won’t pose a problem for Seo In Guk anyway. The latter’s always standing at the corner of cute and manly so his leading ladies’ age was never an issue. According to Director Lee Sang Yeob, Nam Ji Hyun was selected for the role since she was a perfect match for what the production crew was looking for in Go Bok Sil. Her character reminds me of Jin Se Yeon’s role in the web drama, High End Crush- a simple and earnest woman who values nature while the rest of the world has become so superficial. And I’d have to agree with the director that Nam Ji Hyun totally embodied that innocence but with more zeal than Jin Se Yeon. I love her already and I’m excited to see her chemistry with Seo In Guk.

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Chaebol with amnesia, businessman second lead, adorable grandma, and an evil uncle~ Is this another Beautiful Gong Shim? I just hope the show will not go off track the way Gong Shim did when the identity search and corporate issues overtook the romcom aspects. Shopping King Louis’ plot is utterly predictable but it’s an easy watch compared to how Cinderella and Four Knights is currently testing one’s patience!

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