Chaebol and amnesia are two of the most overused tropes in Kdramaland but to everyone’s surprise and to Seo In Guk’s fans’ delight, Shopping King Louis actually ended up being one of the most endearing shows we’ve seen this year.
Just as I’ve written on my first impressions, everything about Shopping King Louis is completely predictable including its biggest “mysteries” – the uncle being the mastermind, Bok Nam being alive, and Koboshi being Ko Bok Sil. The revelation of Louis’ encounter with Bok Nam and how the former got his amnesia were ridiculous, too. No matter how pampered Louis is, a normal person would not wait on the sidewalk for a stranger who has just robbed him. All it takes is a little common sense. He should’ve just hailed a cab and paid the driver once he arrived back home. Oh well, a drama is a drama. The succeeding events wouldn’t have happened if Louis was able to return home that night.
The important thing here is the writer knows how to utilize cliché, develop the characters, play with pop culture references, and even wisely insert subtle product placements. The use of Maxim Gold in finding the culprit is definitely an ingenious way to promote the brand compared to the cheesy, in your face, Subway sandwich scenarios in The K2.
While most dramas attempt to explore the dark side of humanity, Shopping King Louis chooses to highlight a person’s innate kindness. Even the ones who are considered as “villains” have become more of a comic relief.
Director Lee Yang Seob once said that Seo In Guk has the perfect mix of cute and manly, and we can all see that. Kang Ji Sung proves that a chaebol doesn’t always have to be a self-absorbed prick to look charismatic. Being an adorable lost puppy works just as fine. He shops like there’s no tomorrow but he doesn’t only splurge on himself. Louis is generous and he knows how to treat people well regardless of his status as heir.
Ko Bok Sil seems like the typical Candy heroine but her cluelessness about life in the city in the earlier part of the story is exactly what makes her relationship with Louis even more touching. To take care of someone you barely even know when you don’t even have enough money to support yourself is a sign of being brought up well. Even though she hit the jackpot for dating someone as rich as Louis, she isn’t the kind of woman who’d accept being a princess overnight. She works hard and develops her own career. Getting hired in the company may have started with Joong Won having a crush on her, Bok Sil undoubtedly earned her position at Singsing Line based on her own effort and skills. Her parents and grandma in heaven are surely proud of the woman she has become. I also like that she has gradually changed her fashion and hairstyle. Nam Ji Hyun is a great actress and I must say that while Reply 1997’s Eun ji is a tough one to beat, out of SIG’s leading ladies, Nam Ji Hyun with Seo In Guk is the best chemistry I’ve seen.
People probably still see Yoon Sang Hyun and think, “Oska!” but at the end of this series, he managed to give Cha Joong Won a distinct style and personality that sets him apart from his famous Secret Garden character. And yes that includes the hideous bow ties. *clears throat* I was initially concerned about his growing romantic feelings for Bok Sil but I’m glad that it didn’t go into the awkward zone. (There’s nothing more awkward than when his parents walked into his room and found a naked Louis on his bed anyway. ) Chae Soo Bin’s cute cameo shows that our Daddy Long Legs is getting his own Bok Sil too.
I thought I’d eventually hate Im Se Mi as Baek Ma Ri since the character looks like a stereotypical second lead who’s a two-faced spoiled brat insecure bitch. Eventually, we learn that she’s got a soft side. She’s a daddy’s girl who just doesn’t know exactly what kind of woman she wants to be. It meant a lot to her when Louis said that it’s ok to be herself and that she doesn’t need to feel all tired pretending to be someone fancier. It was just surprising that she’s suddenly pursuing her crush on Joong Won again when I thought she should’ve been paired with In Sung by now.
Jo In Sung is like the Samcheonpo in this drama. He looks old enough to marry his mother but it was revealed that he’s even younger than Joong Won. Oh Dae Hwan has played several antagonistic roles in the past that there were times when I thought this guy might betray Louis for money. But sticking with the “good” as central theme of the show, Jo In Sung continued to be a proper hyung for Louis through and through.
Mr. Baek showed remorse since he wasn’t even a completely bad person to begin with. He isn’t evil. He’s just a weak person who makes really bad choices. It was a mistake to prioritize work over family that’s why he felt it was unfair that Ji Sung is inheriting the company despite all the hard work he has done over the years. It doesn’t justify his plans to harm Louis but at least he admits that he gave in to his greed and he is willing to pay the price in jail.
The rest of the characters were initially like caricatures but have turned into some sort of real people that we have grown to care about: Louis and Bok Sil’s doting grandmas, loyal butler Kim, badass secretary Jung Ran, sassy Geum Ja ahjumma, herbal fanatic Vivian and her sweet husband Mr. Cha, classy Audrey, Detective Heartthrob, troublemaking Bok Nam, and the employees at Goldline especially the funny, instinctive and 5-star worthy Manager Lee.
Filler episodes dragged the story out but is entertaining to watch nonetheless. I don’t think the whole childhood meeting was meant to force the fate cliché since Louis and Bok Sil’s innocent and heart fluttering relationship was established based on their strong mutual trust and affection for each other. It was more of a realistic proof that the kindness you have given others will definitely come back tenfold. Little Bok Sil’s simple act of generosity in giving up her limited edition music box returned in the form of a priceless memory of the parents she barely remembers.
Saying goodbye to the characters of this show feels like sending off good friends that we’ve known for a while. We won’t get to see how they’d live from here on but we’re thankful that they have been a part of our lives. I had tears in my eyes when the drama ended. Shopping King Louis is exactly how a romcom should be. In Louis’ words,”Perfect!”