If Scent of a Woman is my obsession right now, Protect the Boss most certainly has to be my other delectable crack of the season. The upper execs at SBS must be having a hard time containing their happiness right now, as dramas after dramas of theirs are garnering attention and ratings like never before this year. I, on the other hand, can only thank the drama gods for their immeasurable abundance and grace of quality this year. Never thought I’d be this addicted again after the brilliance that was of Can You Hear My Heart.
The plot is simple. You have a delinquent heir to a mega corporation. A poor but feisty girl trying to make ends meet. They both meet, one as the boss and the other as his secretary. Starting off being at odds with each other, they slowly come to appreciate each other, as employer-employee, as human and individual. And eventually fall in love with each other. Add 2 supporting characters to complicate matters. Hola, there you go, our typical rom-com formula. 😀
4 episodes of Protect the Boss, I’m already charmed to bits. It doesn’t have a mega-star cast (save for Jae Joong of course), a well known writer or PD, or even an original plot to begin with, and yet it is able to wriggle itself into my heart and make me care. It’s quirky, zany, wacky in all ways, but yet has an endearing heart beneath capable of stealing your precious smiles and laughter. It takes the cliche and typical-ness of the bickering opposites (told ya so this trope is never-ending) and weaves it into something more.
Ji Sung plays the titular character, the boss (Cha Ji Hyun) in the drama. A character void of several circuits in his brain, Ji Sung takes the wacky and zany in Ji Hyun to a whole new level. The drama does away with the usual cliches of the rich capable and suave main lead and instead goes for the unusual. Ji Hyun is nothing like the chaebol characters that we’re used to seeing in K-drama (incredibly capable, arrogant, confident, nonchalant, playboy..etc). Other than his good looks (yeap, I think Ji Sung pulls of he pama incredibly well, sooooo cute!), he’s immature, silly, insensitive, brash and blunt. He screams out of nowhere, throws a tantrum and gets into fits when things do not go his way. He gets all evasive and runs away like a kid when dad comes kicking at his butt. But yet, Ji Hyun is in no way annoying or irritating. Not one bit.
Ji Hyun has expectations of himself and of others but doesn’t get too overly hung up for too long if they are not met. He forgets and doesn’t hold a grudge for too long (as long as his attention is diverted somewhere else i.e. Noh Eun Seol). He is aware of how capable (or incapable) he is compared to his charismatic cousin Mu Won (Jae Joong) and yet doesn’t push for competition. In spite of his amusing annoyance to Mu Won, Ji Hyun in essence doesn’t hold anything against him. He just does what his head tells him to do. Simple as that.
I cannot stress how much fun and giggles I get into whenever I see Ji Hyun on screen. I believe Ji Sung is having a whole lot fun doing this because I cannot possibly see how he can go all funny and quirky without bringing out part of his real personality to this character. His emotions, expressions, gestures, all are so varied that you can’t help but to watch in awe and expect what’s next. The way he brings out Ji Hyun’s immaturity is really next to none, so believable and convincing, and extremely charming. It’s really hard not to adore him.
Next up, Ji Hyun’s guardian angel (or not haha) Noh Eun Seol played by the sassy and spunky Choi Kang Hee. The actress is MADE to do comedy. She hits all the right buttons when it comes to feisty and tough done the comic way. I’ve seen some of her movies and dramas in the past and whilst I think she’s not bringing anything new to her plate in this drama, her take on Eun Seol is wonderfully and charmingly done.
I love the volume of energy and confidence Choi Kang Hee inserts into Eun Seol. In the likes of other typical heroines (at least background and status wise), Eun Seol is a tad different in a way that she doesn’t indulge herself in her inadequacies and instead lives the life she wants to sassily. Often beleaguered by obstacles in all directions (i.e. unstable income, Ji Hyun’s ludicrous demands, her colleagues’ chiding and backstabbing..etc), she braves her way through and doesn’t back down. She stays the same and doesn’t strive to change the way she is, be it in front of her boss Ji Hyun or even her colleagues. She is who she is.
The supporting characters, Cha Mu Won (Jae Joong) and Seo Na Yoon (Wang Ji Hye) are equally interesting and intriguing characters. Jae Joong is doing a pretty okay job as the smart and occasionally amusing Cha Mu Won, cousin to Ji Hyun and potential contender to the company. The reason why I call him amusing is because while he does show signs of aggressiveness when it comes to competing with Ji Hyun for the successor position, he also shows signs of diplomacy and intimacy which make me scratch my head at times. I can’t quite figure out whether he’s at right now. Is he with Ji Hyun? Or is he doing all the nicey diplomatic act just for the sake of realizing his mom’s dream in becoming the successor? Na Yoon on the other hand is pretty much a simple cut-out secondary fiddle to me, but breathed with an adorably childish color by Wang Ji Hye. She reminds me of Lee Shi Young’s mean girl character in Birth of the Rich, but is less defiant and over the top in here. I get her relationship with both Ji Hyun and Mu Won, but I’m interested to see whether she’s just merely for the attention (seeing how she’s not happy that both guys are into Eun Seol) or whether she’s genuinely interested in both of them, for different reasons whatever they are.
And can I not mention Park Yeong Gyu and Kim Young Ok as Ji Hyun’s father and grandma? I honestly don’t have much to say about them, other than the fact that they KICK ASS! Ji Hyun is just a replicate of his father, and his father is just like Ji Hyun when it comes to facing mommy (grandma). LOL I roll on the floor whenever their interactions play out before me.
The boss-secretary aspect is always a controversial element in dramas. More often than not when the 2 words are put together, we immediately jump to conclusions, in that the secretary must have some secret relationship with the boss. It is no different in Protect the Boss, as this aspect arises right from the bat. How possible is it for Noh Eun Seol (Choi Kang Hee) to tame her boss Cha Ji Hyun (Ji Sung) when her so called predecessors have failed in countless attempts to do so in the past?
What I love about the boss-secretary aspect in here is that it focuses on the dynamics between the boss Ji Hyun and his secretary Eun Seol in different ways. From the employer-employee point of view, we see how Eun Seol is dedicated to her job. She may not be the most professional secretary, but she knows where her responsibilities and obligations lie. She helps her boss, covers for him whenever he requires it and that’s what secretaries do. On the other hand, on a more personal level, she tries to understand her boss as person. Why he acts in certain ways? What drives him to be the person he is? They go deeper than that of merely boss and secretary and actually forge a forge a relationship closer to what you call friendship. Of course like I said earlier, we get the usual gossipy talk about Eon Seol’s unusual relationship with Ji Hyun and how she’s so persistent in being by his side in comparison to those that have left him in zippy in the past. And I’m sure this will be the hurdle to whatever relationship that may be of them in future epis. But for now, it’s trust and friendship between the 2 individuals which makes the show such an enjoyable feast for me.
OTP chemistry? Totally awesome! Both Ji Sung and Choi Kang Hee are rawking their rapport and camaraderie like no other in this show. I wouldn’t go as far to say that they sizzle together, but when they get together, my world is turned upside down. My laughing button is turned on. It’s like even if they’re just friends in a normal show, and not the OTP or anything, you’d just like to see them together. That’s how much they compliment each other.
The boss and the secretary may be the focus and the driving force of the show, but can I say how much I love Ji Hyun’s relationship with his dad? Ji Hyun’s dad is really one of the funniest fathers I’ve seen in the many K-dramas I have seen! He is loud, insensitive and silly, just like Ji Hyun in many ways (or rather the other way round?). But I love how he’s so supportive of his son despite how aware he is of Ji Hyun’s lack of ambition and interest in the company. The way he scolds and tells Ji Hyun off? HILARIOUS. And when he switches to being apologetic and sorry for his harsh ways, save me. Can a father be more erratic and inconsistent? HAHA.
So far we have not been told of Ji Hyun’s real issues with his dad and his fear of speaking in public. We know that he had a brother who’d passed away because of some reason (maybe because of him) which somehow rendered him to be the panicky and scaredy person he is today? Although I love the way he is right now, I do hope that with the help of Eun Seol, he will be able to find the lost confidence he’s had prior and prove to his dad that he’s more than capable of leading the company. Of course, I wouldn’t want the drama to change their dynamics and all. Keep the cute and hilarious, and I’m all good.
Right now, Protect the Boss is riding on pretty well without much complaints from my part. The writing is solid, directing decent and acting generally good across the board. My only worry is that once the full-blown romance kicks in, the course of direction and tone of the drama may change. Change is inevitable of course, but I really hope that wacky and zany will continue to stay. Give us all the typical rom-com conflicts and drama, but please please do keep doing with the light and fun.
There were several hints of Mu Won showing interest in Eun Seol in the past 2 episodes, and while I think competition is good, I do hope that the drama doesn’t go too nasty or melodramatic on that part. Ji Hyun and Mu Won already have a somewhat brewing hostility between each other, but so far it’s been addressed in a more comical and subtle way. I love their interactions so far and I certainly do not hope it will veer towards full blown repugnance of even hate because of Eun Seol. If anything, fair play is more than welcome.
Last but not least, I hope Eun Seol gets to protect her boss all the way from the beginning till the end. Hopefully with her assistance and encouragement, Ji Hyun will come to realize his capabilities and self-value. And that he will slowly come out of his shell and open himself up. I’m in no hurry for them to fall in love with each other and all (as it is expected), but I do look forward to a once diffident Ji Hyun blooming into a confident and composed boss.
If the drama continues to be this good the way it is now, up till the very end, I have no doubt it will be one of my fav rom-coms this year. 😀