If you like a rural setting, Really Really Like You (a.k.a. Love Truly, 2006) has it. If you don’t, you’ll be glad to know the story moves to Seoul after three episodes. Want something lighthearted? You’ll laugh till your sides ache. Want mystery? It’s here. Not on-the-edge-of-your-seat gripping, but enough to make you curious about the next episode and the next. Finally, want to see some gravity-defying feats? You’ve come to the right drama.
First, let’s take a look at the main characters.
Eugene is Yeo Bong-soon, although one person calls her “hillbilly.” (More on him later.) When the drama opens, Bong-soon is this sunburned and tomboyish character living in a mountain village. A girl of many talents (and strengths, literally), Bong-soon can yodel so loudly the entire valley hears her, she can climb super-tall trees faster than chimps, and she can pull a cow or wagon (the latter with even a man on it!) as if it’s a bag of cotton. She also wins cooking competitions, plants her own produce, and is pretty to boot. Wow.
(Don’t hurt your sides laughing when you watch the tree-climbing. It’s the zaniest thing ever.)
Bong-soon lives in the village with her grandmother and an assortment of animals all sharing her same middle name. (What a way to assert “Me human, you animal, but we all are equals.”) After her grandma passes away, Bong-soon leaves the village and travels to Seoul with her duck (yes, her breathing quacking duck called Bong Something, and no, I’m not wading through 34 episodes of the drama to check its full name!), a bag of belongings, a priceless 100-year-old plant-like thing (“bellflower” in the subs) that she hopes to sell for US$20,000, and two photos which hold the clues to her parentage and real identity.
Ryu Jin is Jang Joon-won, a doctor and also son of the President of Korea. Strangely (and most incredulously) the public has no idea who he is, which means his supervisor in the hospital gets to kick his shin, yell at him, and generally abuse him physically and verbally.
Dr. Jang gets bitten by the wander bug occasionally and whenever that happens, he slips away from his personal guard (who hails from the elite Presidential Guards but is obviously not very astute) and goes off for long periods by himself to connect with nature.
On one such trip he gets lost in the woods, is rescued by our Bong-soon, ends up on her wagon (because he injured his foot and can’t walk, how convenient), and provides her with yet another opportunity to demonstrate her other-worldly strength. He also gets to witness her climbing prowess (and it’s a wonder the guy can keep his face straight in that scene).
Calling Bong-soon “kiddo” (because he is six years older and at least two feet taller), he is gentle and kind with her and she naturally falls in love with him. Unknown to her, the good doc is married with a daughter (played with snooty aplomb by little Jang Da-bin). His wife has health issues which I won’t reveal here, but they are serious enough to make his life difficult. (In one scene, Dr. Jang decides to cheer his wife and daughter by putting on a skit. Wearing a shawl around his head, he mimicks an old lady and makes ajumma-like gestures while singing and giggling. It’s the scariest sight ever. Note to Ryu Jin: DON’T do comedy.)
(Aww, the most adorable thing ever! Excuse me for a sec while I squeal. On second thought, make that one whole minute.)
Lee Min-ki is Nam Bong-gi, a member of the Presidential Guards. One day when he’s on leave and about to board a plane for Phuket with his hot date, he gets a call summoning him back to work. A man of secret identity is injured in the countryside and Bong-gi is supposed to escort him back to Seoul. Bong-gi doesn’t know said injured man is the President’s son (and you wonder why all that hush-hush is even necessary), but he is mad anyway at having his vacation cut short even before it’s started.
Grumbling all the way, he takes the train to the rural town and is met at the station by Bong-soon and her chicken, Bong-gi. (Bwahaha!)
Naturally the meeting of the Bongs (and remember, there are several of them) gets off on the wrong footing. After getting an egg on his shoe, losing his all-important identity pass, falling into the stream, getting hives from a food allergy, and suffering various other mishaps, Bong-gi (the presidential guard, not the chicken) is ready for war. He detests Bong-soon with every itchy hive on his body. “That hillbilly!” he rants.
After Bong-gi cooks and eats her $20,000 bellflower, our hillbilly hates him, too. (In his defense the guy did not commit that act out of spite; he was just hungry and foraging for food. Adorable presidential guards need to be cut plenty of slack, right?) Suffice to say the two can’t stand the sight of each other. Which makes me whoop with devilish joy when circumstances force the two into close proximity, duck included. Oh, the fun of watching two people who absolutely detest each other fight it out (literally!) and fall in love.
This was my first look at Eugene and it took me at least three episodes to warm up to her. (Blame the eye-popping feats that Bong-soon had to perform in the village which necessitated some over-the-top acting to pull those off.) But I liked how her character grew. I liked her spunk and doggedness. Loved her chemistry with Lee Min-ki (the hilarity and the heartbreak), but hated how her infatuation with Ryu Jin’s character dragged on unnecessarily.
My favorite character was of course the human Bong Gi. I loved the layers and depth in his character. His sorrow about his mother, his relationship with his dad, his commitment to his job (the way he protected the president’s granddaughter and drew her out of her shell), his sadness as he watched Bong Soon falling more deeply for the doctor, his friendships in the Blue House… He was hilarious in many scenes, but some scenes I just wanted to reach into the screen and hug him, to soothe away his hurt. I loved watching how he changed in the drama, from being so obnoxious at the start to becoming this really caring guy who quietly watched over Bong-soon and protected her. (And remained insanely adorable to the end!)
The supporting characters were generally very enjoyable to watch (except for the president who was anything but presidential. Imagine the head of state as a bumbling guy who can’t control his hiccups and who pines for lollipops like a kid. *rolls eyes*) Since this was thirty-four episodes in all, there was plenty of room to develop the side characters and give them their own stories and romances. The camaraderie in the Blue House provided the drama with many touching and funny moments; even the tension in the presidential kitchen (so reminiscent of Dae Jang Geum) was not overwrought.
To end, Really Really Like You is not a great drama by any means, and it won’t make my Top 20, but it’s decent and meaningful enough. Watch it if you are a fan of the leads and want something that’s a romantic comedy and wholesome family fare. The mystery bit, which has to do with Bong-soon’s parentage, will keep you in suspense for a good part of the drama. And, depending on who you are rooting for, Bong-gi or Dr. Jang, the romance part will keep you engaged till the end.