Miss Ripley – Jang Miri


Oops, mind the expletive. I need to rant.

Lee Da Hae, I bow before you.

You see, I actually doubted my girl way before the Ripley premier. I said she hammed her expressions a bit too much. I said she went overboard. I said I wanted to see her work her talent off and prove her worth. I said I wanted more than what she was capable of.

I cannot believe I said that!

I’m sorry I doubted you before, Da Hae ssi. Jeongmal jeongmal MIAHN!

Ripley is not a great drama (yet), might never end up becoming one. You know, sloppy/silly writing and bad editing combined? Illogical plot twists and all. Overwhelming use of horrible BG music? Regardless, I am so still uber uber happy that this drama is bringing out a NEW her. A never seen before her. And the feisty and fiery side of her that we never got to see in the crappy *coughsEOEcoughs*. I’m relieved. I’m proud. As a long time fan.


I must get this out, I’ve seen some comments about LDH being all OTT and self-aware (again) in her acting in Ripley (the criticisms and negativity on her are never-ending, that I have come to terms with). Oh yes, she sure is very self-aware, and very OTT. But guess what? That’s the thing I love about Miri. Her explosiveness. Her going-all-out to the extreme. Her outburst of emotions. All done with acting never seen before from Da Hae. All delivered with acting so raw and detailed, so full on and voluminous.

Miri is essentially one badly damaged and frustrated character. She hails from the lowest of the lowest. Has gone through the worst. And lives with only one goal – to get out. There aren’t many heroines like that I’ve seen in Korean dramas in the past. Sure, we’ve seen enough and countless heroines in dramas who live with goals to make their lives better blah blah blah in spite of their poverty or deplorable life conditions. We’ve seen heroines who toil thru mud and soil to prove their abilities. We’ve seen some who’re not likeable but at least are human enough not to harm others. But have you ever seen a heroine who has to toil thru not only mud, but also thru drags and scum of the earth to make it out? Have you seen one so cunningly manipulative that you’d want to just pull her hair out? I mean technically speaking, a main lead in a drama? I can only count like 5 in my head right now.


I’ve only seen 4 episodes of Ripley, and I can already say that this is LDH’s drama. Not to say that the rest of the cast are not good or anything (seriously, can anyone find any major fault with Kim Seung Woo or Kang Hye Jung? Or even the cute smiley angelic Micky who plays Yutaka? <3333), but in essence, LDH is the one carrying the drama. She really is. The way she transitions from the sweet vulnerable and angelic Miri (albeit all played on pretense) to the scheming, cunning and scarily ambitious Miri is a sole sight to behold for one. 2nd, the way she engulfs herself in those varied and different emotions, the fire, fury and intensity, you just cannot believe that she used to be Su Ah in Green Rose, or Joo Yoo Rin in My Girl. The sweet demure and cute LDH is so gone. So gone. Like my dear friend imogene said before, LDH has totally stripped off her old acting skills and tactics whatsoever, and began from scratch in Ripley.

People will say I’m biased because I love LDH. Probably that’s the reason I’m saying all good about her. Who knows my subconscious mind right? But I seriously honestly think that whatever praises she’s getting for Ripley are warranted and justified. Her acting may not be anywhere near mind-blowing or amazing (yet), but her range alone is enough an intrigue for viewers to enjoy. The intensity she gives into every single side (facade) of Miri, just gripping and fascinating to watch. OTT-ness, sure I see it and at times I think it can be done without, but when she goes all out, all I can say, she’s all explosive, with sheer conviction and passion. You can see it, and feel it.


A lot of times I think Da Hae doesn’t need music or a plot to get her into her EMO mood. She can just do it on que. Maybe that’s why some of us feel some sort of disconnect with characters she play. She’s too engrossed in trying to make her character work that she forgets that she’s part of a drama and ensemble. Has its good and bad. But I think this works very well with her character Miri. Like I said before, Miri is really one different heroine. She’s so occupied with getting out of her lowly life that nothing else really matters to her. She just doesn’t give a damn or shitz about others. Love at first sight by Yutaka? What’s that? Hee Joo’s friendship? A total disgust to her. Working hard to achieve her goals? Those are BS to her. All and what she cares about is nothing more than just getting to a point where she doesn’t have to be looked down upon by anyone anywhere. It doesn’t matter how she does it or get there. And this is the sort of self-engrossed and aware acting of Da Hae which is actually making Miri the way she is in the drama.

It’s interesting and intriguing in a way because Miri is essentially still very early into her scheming plot and her inner guard is still up. She’s still very cautious about how her lies are panning thru. And she knows that she may be busted anytime soon. Altho the drama doesn’t delve deep into her inner thoughts much (which I think could really work better for the plot), I can feel from LDH’s acting that Miri’s still gauging her way thru. She still feels incredibly insecure about her position and fears that one day everything will come back to her. But I really really like that the writer doesn’t make Miri a damsel in distress in this situation (some crying here and there, tearing up at some point, but no nothing of Miri backing off in her plans) and instead gives her more fire and ambition to cover up her lies, to secure her current position.


If you watch closely enough, there is this major role reversal in Ripley. In a normal rom-com, Hee Joo would most definitely be the lovable and endearing lead. And Miri? The resented and detested 2nd female lead who will be chalking up never-ending insults, bashing and antis. Myung Hoon would be main lead as the cold, confident and arrogant hotelier while the nice, sweet and ever-kind Yutaka will always be sit at the back-burner, be the supporting and caring friend. It’s quite refreshing, to see how the writer actually tries to make this whole set-up work. IMO, viewers are still generally more inclined to support characters which are nice, sweet, endearing, bubbly, cute..etc and so on or at least darker characters who have a nice and endearing side to them. Miri is no way near any of that, and doesn’t seem to show any sign of self-conflict or remorse whatever in her whatever she does.

What I love about Miri is that she has so many different sides to her. She is bold, daring, fearless and aggressive upfront. She can be sweet, angelic and kind in a sec, and the next minute she’ll be all nonchalant and disrespectful. Of course, she has her own fear and worries, but she doesn’t fall flat on her own insecurities and let them ruin her plans. Instead, all of that fires up her desire to go even further, with all means possible, good or bad. You know we shouldn’t be rooting for her to plot, scheme, lie and cheat her way up. But what’s interesting is that we’re intrigued and we want to see her do all of that. We can bring out morale and ethics, but to Miri, she doesn’t even care. She just wants out, and UP.

Another thing which amuses me is that Miri doesn’t learn from her mistakes. She’s stubborn and ignorant. She’s over-confident and thinks she can fool everyone. When she’s right, yay, she’s all in giggles that her plans are working smoothly. When she’s in the wrong, she manipulates her way to make her look as if she’s the pitiful one, the one in the right. The one scene in Ep 3 that left a deep impression, when she was totally pawned by Myung Hoon for her incompetence as a PR in the hotel. She was all fiery and angry that he had placed her on temporary status but MH totally won her over by telling her how incompetent she was. I was like, there you go girl, you don’t win every single time. Yeah.


Miri’s journey towards success, if that’s what she calls it, is destructive and corrupt with depravity. She’s just so damaged by her desire to get out that without her even realizing it, she’s sinking deeper into the wrath of greed and ambition. From her initially just wanting to secure a job in Korea, to now, her wanting to be at the top (without any credentials)? Sick. But wickedly amusing. It’s probably sickening to many (and I read, a turn off to many viewers) that she would eventually gain so much love from 2 men – Yutaka and Myung Hoon. Cos really, apart from her looks, what do they actually see in her? I’m sure Micky fans are still scratching their heads. lol

IMO, Ripley’s writing is nowhere near stellar or wonderful. The entire premise is intriguing but so far the writing still lacks coherency and flow. Too many coincidences coupled with some ridiculous plot twists here and there make for an interesting banjun drama but in a way render the whole drama more contrived and convoluted.  Directing is passable, editing is crappy (so many scenes abruptly cropped off here and there), music is just downright horrible (the MD really needs to get a new job!) But strangely and surprisingly, having bowed out from Lie To Me for the exact same reasons, I find myself wanting MORE of Ripley. It’s so damn addicting.


The triangle oh the triangle. I am for one, a ship of both couplings. So far, I’m not settled yet, most probably because I’m still firmly with Miri on her choices. I think LDH has this quiet burning chemistry with Kim Seung Woo, and an increasingly cute rapport with Micky. It gives for more interesting discussion and analysis because both MH and Yutaka are both of equal and outstanding caliber, are capable and smart in their respective fields. And yet they’re falling mad for a woman who has nothing but lies and façade shrouded around her. All 3 of them are already so interconnected in all sorts of ways and you can’t help but want to see how their dynamics will pan out. How they’ll face each other when the truth comes out? Will Miri use MH all the way right until she achieves her goal? If yes, where will she stop? Where is the end for her? Will Miri pursue Yutaka upon finding out of his real chaebol status and at the same time take MH for a ride behind her back? Gah, just predicting all of that makes me brain into a mush. But I’m sure if Ripley had nothing else to hang on to, it’s the triangle which will keep us going. Myung-Ri? YuRi?

Last but not least, Miri’s redemption or self-destruction. Part of me yearns for her to find happiness that she has never had since young, yet another part of me wants her to just go all out and pay for misdeeds, for what she’s done. So far she hasn’t done anything THAT malicious or evil, but from the pace and progress so far, it’s highly likely she will take that path soon. Will she find a way out and just leave in the end? Will MH and Yutaka forgive her and take her for what and who she is and has been? Will Miri accept her fate and just move on? Worst come to worst, will she die?

All in all, everything is about Miri. Her life. Her ending.

From the opening of Ep 1,we know MH and Yutaka will be fine. They reminisce about Miri, think about Miri and miss her.

But what about Miri?

Where will she be by then?


5 thoughts on “Miss Ripley – Jang Miri”

  1. oooh ripgal what a review!!!!! how can you think that way and write those wonderful words?????
    Really thank you for the great review and I must agree that this is all about Miri and her journey.

  2. Guh. Why was I automatically logged in by fb? LOL can you delete my first comment? It displays my fb account. LOL

    Brilliant article, Jo.

    And LDH has actually been getting RAVE reviews from the public, though not a perfect performance, it’s enough to get people to notice and invest in an antiheroine’s journey.

    My thing is, though Lee Da Hae could sometimes go for rather lazy acting habits once in a while such as her LE GASP (which can be a bit much, she can tone that down a bit), but her other grand moments are justified, IMHO.

    you must understand RIPLEY is anything BUT a SUBTLE drama. Subtlety is not the name of this game. The two female characters cannot be more stark BLACK and WHITE different. When we reach the climax, the violins start blaring. When we cry with Miri, she lashes out and she wants you to feel it.

    Kang Hye Jung is a nuanced actress (if you are even familiar with her film performances) but her take on Hye Joo is nowhere near subtle, in order to work that contrast.

    It’s actually quite interesting how the men here are more “meek” while the women have such defined characteristics.

    Anyone who is subtle here is rendered emotionless, like say KSW, he is a brilliant actor who is severely nuanced but his character is all deep within and never shows that much emotion. He is supposed to be nuanced.

    Miri cannot be like that. That is just NOT Miri. Her overthetopness goes with her different masks and disguises. She seems so lost up in a game of pretend, she is losing herself slowly.
    Miri is GRAND, HUGE, EXPLOSIVE. She is derranged, she is erratic, she is blase— she is a damn SOCIOPATH for God’s sake. But also underneath it all is quiet waters, mourning for the life she was supposed to have, longing for her mother, all vulnerable… she’s a FASCINATING character.

    The drama does not hold it in. It’s a SOAP OPERA. It is makjangish. The coincidence, I have come to accept because I think this is our welcome to Miri’s f*cked up world. Her ball of karma will collide within the moment she landed in Korea. Most of my problems with the drama is some of the easy-patch ups or common themes like Miri rejecting Yoo Hyun over and over again, or say HJ bleeding on everyone that it’s kinda gross or how Miri got out of the lesbian charade a bit too easily.

    But performance-wise? not perfect but brilliant.

    Ryan Gosling in The Believer had to show a nonstop pendelum of emotions as he drowns himself in rage and anguish as a self hating Jewish boy who became a Neo Nazi.

    Shin Eun Kyung’s Na Young was as explosive as Miri — but I think Miri is a more relatable character.

    Cate Blanchett is a FLAWLESS actress, but has anyone seen HANNA? She was lavishly lapping it up… BUG EYED and all because the role is like so, she is so indulgent that even in her emotions, she was blase about it. Unapologetic. Like the wicked witch in that film.

    Miri is the same, she is in a constant child’s play and in over her head… about to lose herself in ANY SECOND. She is SUPPOSED to be OVER-THE-BRIM with her emotions and masks. She may have nuanced moments, and that is great. What makes Miri is how she is in this pull of danger and excessiveness and also the same pull to vulnerability… it’s the clases as she comes up with lie after lie. Losing herself up in this world. And you see that ESCALATE within each episode. She is effective both in her quiet moments and her emotionally tornado-like moments.

    If you think MIRI is like a crazed woman with LDH’s performance ask again WHAT drama you are watching. Just sayin’.


    1. Love you Amber, you’re just so good! Amazing write-up there, so spot and totally took words out of my mouth. =D

      I think if we recall and look back at Miri’s childhood, she was already very bold and abrasive. The way she treated Hee Joo, her classmates, and even her teacher.. the way she looked and glared at them. It’s quite a sad sight actually, especially from a young girl. All the hate and grudge, how much of that has eaten this girl up? Part of me thinks it’s all within her, even way before her mom left her. That incident merely evoked whatever anger and frustration she had with her life, and made her a believer that life was and is never fair. Hence, the Miri we have right now. Who doesn’t trust anyone, and who doesn’t believe in any good.

      You know how alert I am when it comes to comments regarding Da Hae’s acting. haha, just being over-sensitive at times. But I’m so glad most of the comments are positive and good so far, and what makes me happiest, is when people comment on her vast acting range. There are a lot of great actresses, way better than LDH, pawns her by miles, but really, not many actually possess the type of range our girl has. It’s like she still has many to show us but she has yet to find the right time to show us. And for this I’m happy for her, for I know, she still has room for improvement, and if she can find a way to control and hone her skills effectively, she’ll be really really good. Not the best, but def, one of the few in that league of hers.

      Re: Miri and Yutaka

      I read this very good article (written by a LDH or Ripley fan in baidu) on Miri and how/why Yutaka actually fell for her. A lot of viewers actually expressed their urge to have Miri redeemed in one way or another, in order for them to buy into Yutaka’s affection or love for her. The reason, because 1) they cannot see why Yutaka would fall for a person who constantly puts him down and rejects him outright; 2) they will eventually have hard time rooting for them, with Miri using him for her own cause (i.e. they feel bad for Yutaka/ or Micky haha). Miri needs to have some sort of “good” in her for them to openly root for the OTP. This writer however looked at it with a different perception. Why did Yutaka fall for Miri? Because of one word – loneliness. Yutaka saw Miri at her saddest, at her most emotional state, at her worst. And most importantly, he saw in Miri what resonated with him the most, one thing that they shared in common – loneliness. It was love at first sight in the beginning for sure, but then, I think it slowly came to a point whereby Yutaka, having seen how lonely and alone Miri was (he noticed she was always alone..etc), just wanted to Miri to have someone beside her. Having seen how helpless she was, he just wanted to give her some comfort. When Yutaka said that one didn’t need a reason to like someone, he was just unaware. So blissfully unaware that his lonely heart had already bridged a connection with Miri.

      Now, thing is, how will Miri deal with the 2 men? I really really can’t wait to see. I read previews that she’d immediately step up her plan to get closer to Yutaka the minute she finds out about his real status? How will Yutaka react?

      1. I think Yoo Hyun’s attraction to her was because she has some similarities to his birth mother, yet his fascination grew more and more because she is so straightforward with him and just says what she feels, something so refreshing about it for him because if you look at his life… EVERYONE is so formal and proper to him. Everyone treats him like the second coming and his parents are so coldly formal with him, the guy is probably just sick of it. Even when he told her he was rich, she was like GO AWAY. LOL. He liked it.

        I think the echoed loneliness is also a factor, he is drawn to her because she has these sad eyes… what he does not know it speaks to him because he has that same kind of sadness too.

        Remember both of them long for their mothers, so this will be interesting. Big MOMMY ISSUES these two.

        I think Miri will fall in love with him for real,though. In the middle of her seduction to Yoo Hyun, I bet she will fall for him hard.

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