First Impressions: “Big” is a Hit With Me
It’s hard coming off a drama that stole your heart and time for the past few months. But unlike the weeks after Damo ended, I’ve had a creative outlet to pour out my feelings and help find closure. So this week I was ready to tackle a new drama and see where it took me.
Before Queen In-Hyun’s Man stole all my attention, I was very excited for Big. Who wouldn’t be? It would star Gong Yoo (Crucible, Coffee Prince) in his first drama comeback after his military service and it was being penned by the Hong Sisters. Despite not being completely enamored by their most recent project- Greatest Love- I have been a longtime fan of their dramas and I always look forward to them. I was also excited aesthetically about the pairing of Lee Min Jung (Smile, You) and Gong Yoo. I couldn’t wait to see all the pretty exploding on my screen. These two are one of the few couples that find to be very aesthetically compatible (e.g. Lee Min Ho and Park Min Young). Can you guys name some others?
I was wary, though, of what kind of antics Big would deliver. As a drama about an 18-year-old boy switching bodies with a 30-year-old doctor, I knew that there would be a lot of situational comedy. But I was worried over whether the comedy and inevitable angst would take over the story, leaving me disconnected with the characters themselves. I had no real complaints with Greatest Love when it was airing but I couldn’t connect emotionally with the characters and I ended up skimming the last half of it. When I look back now, I think I found the hero over-the-top and the comedy predictable. After watching so many Hong Sisters dramas, Greatest Love seemed formulaic and I could smell every drama, angst, and pun coming from a mile away.
After watching four episodes, I am finding Big to be a nice surprise. The Hong Sisters always put a lot of heart into the romance and their main characters, and Big is no different. But because of all that heart, their stories often lose the quietness and subtlety of love and all its lessons. Fortunately, Big is definitely toned down in comparison to Greatest Love, and the comedy is balanced with a sense of wistfulness and quiet heartache.
Ah, the quiet heartache. While I think the writing, which allows the characters to breathe a little, has something to do with it, I mostly attribute this to Gong Yoo. In the first episode, we saw Shin Won Ho play the 18-year old boy, Kang Kyung Joon. Through the body-switching, Gong Yoo is now playing both the 30-year-old doctor, Seo Yoon Jae, and kang Kyung Joon stuck in Seo Yoon Jae’s body. (I will refer to Kyung Joon in Yoon Jae’s body as Kyung Jae from now on.) While Gong Yoo’s Kyung Jae is different from Shin Won Ho’s Kyung Joon, Gong Yoo is still knocking it out of the park in portraying the lonely 18-year-old boy. Shin Won Ho’s Kyung Joon was more subdued and tried very hard to be an adult while Gong Yoo’s Kyung Jae is loud and childish. I attribute this to the need in emphasizing that a child is in an adult’s body. So while there is a disconnect at first between Kyung Jae and Kyung Joon, I can’t help but praise Gong-Yoo. His incredibly expressive face makes the comedy funnier and his English pronunciation tickles me in my funny bone. But it is when Gong Yoo portrays a sad and hurt Kyung Jae that I become completely engrossed with the character.
Gong Yoo portrays Kyung Jae’s pain and loneliness with a quiet subtlety. He has the ability to draw you into the sadness of a character and not just leave you as an outside observer. I can’t help but compare him to Cha Seung Won, but when Cha Seung Won was playing Dokko Jin, all I saw was Cha Seung Won playing Dokko Jin. I think this is a trait in many veteran actors who develop such a presence that they are seen more as the actor rather than the character. (Tom Cruise and recently, Leonardo DiCaprio come to mind.) Don’t get me wrong; I think Cha Seung Won is an excellent actor with a lot of charisma. But when I watched him in Greatest Love, all I saw was a skill set honed by years of experience. Cha Seung Won wasn’t Dokko Jin; Dokko Jin was Cha Seung Won. Here in Big, I see Kyung Jae, instead of Gong Yoo.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t see Gong Yoo’s body because sometimes, I think that is all I see. Wooh! Someone pass me a fan. It is heating up in here.
I know a lot of people have trouble with Hong Sisters’ heroines because they can come off as noble idiots, dimwits, and complete doormats. I for one, have never really had any trouble with their heroines because I understood what the Hong Sisters were trying to portray. One thing I really enjoy about Hong Sisters’ dramas is how much they show that the writers believe in the innocence of people and the innocence of love. So Hong Sisters’ heroines are often the pure-hearted type who will think of others first and think the best of them. While this can be frustrating sometimes, I still want to root for the heroines because I like their version of the world.
Lee Min Jung, playing the sweet high school teacher heroine, Gil Da Ran, is not anything spectacular in this drama but she is well suited for this role. Lee Min Jung in general does not bring a lot of energy to a character and that is a plus for this drama since it keeps her Gil Da Ran quieter and approachable. Oh, and I love how shy Gil Da Ran’s love for Seo Yoon Jae is. It’s a breath of fresh air from the usual K-drama prickly love.
Typical of a Hong Sisters drama, the villains or second leads are truly detestable people whom I can’t have any sympathy for. Seo Yoon Jae’s ex-girlfriend and hospital colleague, Lee Se Young, is already annoying the hell of out me, and I want to claw out the eyes of Kyung Joon’s aunt and uncle. As for Jang Mari, played by Miss A’s Suzy- she kind of borders on the annoying side because of my own personal distaste for stubborn people like her, but I can stand her for the time being. She’s pretty harmless.
Can I say how surprised I was by Shin Won Ho? What a cute-hot boy! He’s like the love-child of Song Joong Ki and Lee Min Ho. Or the love-child of Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In. Or the love child of Song Joong Ki and Ji Chang Wook. Anyway, from the brief one episode appearance, I see a lot of potential in Shin Won Ho. He emits a similar aura to Lee Min Ho and that is a good thing in my book. I look forward to his reappearance later in the drama and his future projects. Yay for jail-bait! (Well, not exactly. Born in 1991, Shin Won Ho is technically of legal age.)
Overall, the writing is dependable, the directing decent, and the acting well suited. The chemistry between the OTP isn’t off the charts but I’m invested in the characters and I want to know what will happen to them in the future. There is also the larger mystery that has slowly been developing around Seo Yoon Jae. Was he really cheating on Gil Da Ran? Why was he planning to leave South Korea? And what is the connection between Kang Kyung Joon and Seo Yoon Jae?
While I won’t be writing recaps for this one, I will definitely be tuning in every week. Who knows? I just might fall head over heels for Big and the creative juices might follow. 🙂
Have you guys seen Big? What are your thoughts on this drama?
ah Big.my love for Gong Yoo overrides everything about this drama. i can’t , and i just can’t avoid to compare my notes with the scenes and storyline similar to 49days and FBRS and SeGa. 49days for the coma (and possible relative connection of KJ and YJ , with hints at episode 4..) FBRS for the teacher-student relationship. and SeGa for the swapped souls.
however, as Gong Yoo is nailing these dual characters plus nekkid scenes for 3 episodes straight. LOL. i should not be complaining!
yes shin won ho. that dude killed a noona here, officially. ><
Do you think that KJ and YJ might be brothers with the same father?
maybe..i thought bout it too..the might be brother
Please watch “Ghost” too. Exciting. Keeps me on the edge. Goosebumps. New insights into computer technology and the possible happenings in cyberworld.
That sounds tempting. Okay, I’ll check it out.
I kinda like the storyline but I hate the acting. The main guy is so stiff and his character is boring and I think it’s mainly the actor’s fault for that kind of portrayal. I mean seriously, does his expression ever change? The only reason I am still watching this is because of the main bad guy. I find him fascinating and the cyberworld crime is intriguing. I don’t mean to be rude at all, but I was just frustrated at his acting.
I downloaded all Big episodes but I’ve seen only ep 1 so far… lost interest in halfway… but from what I read ep 2 was better. I really need to disconnect myself from QIHM 😀
Funny thing is I find JHW’s back in white short hotter than half naked Gong Yoo 😀
LOL. Eyes only for JHW I see.
Haha, JHW’s girl through and through. You’re the same too, admit it 😀
But I’m going to watch Big… maybe next week 😀 Not only fur GY, but I really have a soft spot for Suzy… don’t know why I just adore that girl 🙂
You too? I adore that girl for some reason too. It’s weird. It’s not like I follow her on music shows, dramas or variety shows (although I’ve seen my share of them) and know her well, but I just like her.
I’ve slowly started to move on from QIHM – as hard as it is – too and I’ve started watching Gaksital. So far it’s pretty similar to City Hunter’s premise but I have great hopes for this one!
Sadly, I don’t have enough interest in Big to even pick up the first episode, despite reading recaps on it, I think that it’s the sort of drama that I’m content to merely read recaps on instead of watching it myself. I loved all the Hong Sister’s dramas, but this time it really isn’t my cup of tea.
I’ve seen 2 episodes of Gaksital and I like it a lot. There is so much potential there.
What about Big isn’t your cup of tea? The child in an adult’s body?
Well, maybe it’s because I’ve seen the original movie “Big” that the drama is supposedly based on. Rather than the premise, the characters simply don’t seem to appeal to me, and I don’t feel like I care enough about them to want to watch the drama.
It’s a pretty humourous and interesting show, I guess – just that I can’t relate or connect with the characters emotionally and it just doesn’t make me feel for them the way I want to when I watch a drama.
Spoiler alert: I like Bridal Mask but I am getting impatient with the story development (only saw up to ep 5 out of 6 so far). The emotions I have been getting from this drama are anger and sadness. No ounce of happiness at all which is quite depressing esp. since I haven’t fully recovered from my QHIM happiness. I understand that the tone and the time period of that drama is serious but some happy turn of events would be a nice change of pace. And oh, I am still hating the main guy for his harsh treatment (beating her) of our main girl. I don’t care what time period it is, but I just can’t stand abuse in any form or shape. I donno how he will redeem himself after what he did to her.
Well, I do agree that Gaksital can be pretty depressing, but there are sweet little moments of happiness when Kang-to interacts with his family, aren’t there? Gaksital is just starting to find its own pace and get into the main story, and while I can’t say that ep 6 is going to be full of sunshine and rainbows, I suggest that you give it a chance and continue watching, it seems like things will pick up soon.
Just finished ep 6 and thank goodness for the big turn of event that I was waiting for. Another week of waiting would really test my patience but yay for the story to finally take off to where I can finally stop hating the main guy for a bit. Just a bit. I can’t wait to see how the writers will have him redeem himself. I look forward to that the most.
i was excited abt out BIG.. and am very pleased that the excitement stayed.. i was intially into in for Goong yoo .. now the plot is thickening i am getting excited ..
He is sooooo adorable and HOT!!! ha i am sure any 18 yr would be ready to swap bodies if its as chiseled as his…
all i hope is that at the end of it they come with proper answers to all the setups that they are establishing and give a satisfying explanation for the body swap…
and i dont think they would be brothers jooni.. in ep 4 they showed yoon jae’s mom having the same miracle pic.. but who knows .. only anticipation is high!!
P.S watch ep 4 people if you have started this drama or net.. Goong Yoo will just steal your heart in the last few minutes..
mine’s long gone
After QIHM ended, i’ve tried watching other dramas airing but most of it just not for me. Not Gaksital or l Do l Do or Ghost can replaced QIHM placed in my heart. But for Ghost, i did read the recap on Dramabeans and my love for Joo Won makes me read Gaksital thru Cadence.
So far QIHM got all my attention. l’m a fan of GY too, not bcos of his dramas but …he’s the only one GY. l started watching Big bcos of adorable GY in it and l also love Suzy, she’s kind of cute.
Big does not dissapoint me so far. Nice story. Never see GY that funny before. Body swap is for Da Ran to realise what type of man he’s crazy and marrying for.
Not sure how it end up, Not sure Da Ran is with whom in the end. Hopefully happy ending. l just hate sad ending.
Anyway, sad QIHM ended, and btw l agreed with you Aisling…JHW’s back in white is hotter than GY half naked!!!!
Joonni..first of all what the meaning of this >,< "Can I say how surprised I was by Shin Won Ho? What a cute-hot boy! He’s like the love-child of Song Joong Ki and Lee Min Ho. Or the love-child of Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In. Or the love child of Song Joong Ki and Ji Chang Wook" i was like..repeat SJK three times? "she's cute!"
oh wait..i did not finish yet..but i already post the comment -.- (above)..anyway joonni..im hoping for recaps..Pleaseeeeeeee…i would love to know your opinion for this drama too..it will be great if u do…thank you so much!
“He’s like the love-child of Song Joong Ki and Lee Min Ho. Or the love-child of Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In. Or the love child of Song Joong Ki and Ji Chang Wook. Anyway,…” LOL You make me miss Joong-ki. I’m into Big, not only for Goong Yoo, but more curious about the OTP, the guessing game reminds me of 49days. But the disconnection you’ve mentioned still kinda bug me, Shin Won Ho really steal the show for me maybe because the green umbrella scene on ep1 is so sweet for me..that the only scene I rewatch.
Well after QIHM I only watch Gaksital and Big and QIHM..again..off course..LOL
btw I must’ve been blind I didn’t see this post before, I guess my eyes are only for QIHM related when it comes to Scattered Joonni..I need to move on..ara..
I miss Joong-Ki a lot. That’s why I can’t wait for “Nice Guy.” Man, I think I might be able to make a committment to recapping it without even watching the first episode.
YAYYYY!!! *happy dance*
Btw did you hear about Joo Ji-hoon’s drama comeback, you love him too don’t you? According Soompi its a done deal.
btw I’m not asking for a recap though 🙂 I’m also not sure I’m going to watch myself its a 50 eps melodrama *sigh* but will definitely check the two first ep.
I heard about Joo Ji Hoon. So happy he’s back. The drama sounds angsty. He does good angst. But I’m worried about the writer. She wrote “Temptation of a Wife.” The iconic makjang drama. I don’t know….
Oh, yeah, I am down with Big.
Shin under the umbrella just about knocked me out of my seat. Holy hot glaring boy!
The set up gives me frissons of delight and a little unsurness, dissureness? asurenss?
I know I should really dislike LMJ because she is the anti-heroine, but who else would allow herself to fall in love (eventually) with a HS boy in her man’s body? She isn’t supposed to be all that mature or clear thinking.
Gong Yu makes this role look easy. The way he can project the three or four characters we see on screen impresses me like crazy. HIs physical comedy is as beautiful as HE is, too.
Suzy is such a SMART actress. I can imagine she would be a favorite with PD’s because while she in inexperienced, she GETS it, really really gets how to use her own personality to work with the script. Watching her do the exaggerated fast walk elbows out and in the air cracks me up every time. And, we know she can deliver on the pathos, too. Remember in Dream High – her signing to KSH when he was singing deaf on stage? That still makes me cry…
My only fear is that it all goes to chit later like their other shows, like you said.
But until then, I am enjoying this story to the point where I rewatch the episodes. Haven’t done that since QIHM. Remember that show? heheheh
I’m not that big of a fan of the Hong Sisters but I’m really enjoying Big. I’m not into the Noona-Dongsaeng love thingy but it’s that really nice, funny kind of friendship.
I immediately felt for Shin Won Ho when I first saw him in Ep 1. He is just so cute, cool and chic. And I love the interaction between him and Gil Teacher in this first ep.
After the body switching.. Well..
I’m impressed with GY’s acting. He really makes me believe that he is some teenage boy, not a 30-year-old guy. Still, I don’t see Kang Kyung Joon in him. I totally agree with you when I read this
“While Gong Yoo’s Kyung Jae is different from Shin Won Ho’s Kyung Joon, Gong Yoo is still knocking it out of the park in portraying the lonely 18-year-old boy. Shin Won Ho’s Kyung Joon was more subdued and tried very hard to be an adult while Gong Yoo’s Kyung Jae is loud and childish.”
However, while you find the inconsistency in Kyung Jae’s portray acceptable, I don’t. I think it is mostly the writer’s problem in portraying her character. Goo Young’s Kyung Jae is too childish, active and lack of taste (for fashion), while SHW’s Kyung Jae was totally the opposite: always (pretended to) be calm and cool, and always dress stylishly. I don’t know, but I just really really miss SHW’s Kyung Jae :(. I dropped the show after ep 2.
Currently I’m still obsessed with QIHM, and Gaksital is the only show that could really catch my interest now 🙂
Hmm, I agree that the writers made Kyung Jae too childish, and I think it is to emphasize the fact that there is a 18yr old in a 30yr old’s body. I do wish though that I could see a bit more of SWH’s Kyung Joon in Gong Yoo’s facial expression.
The only thing I am enjoying about Big is seeing Gong Yoo’s great acting through his portrayal of two very different characters and I am not even a fan of him, but that’s the only reason I am still watching Big. I am a teacher so it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that a teacher is getting physically close to a student. It weirds me out and I just can’t get on board with that esp. if she does end up with the 18 year old guy. If he was a college student and they don’t go to the same school then I would be more accepting. When I watch them get physically and emotionally (in a love sense) close, I feel icky and very bothered. Anyone else bothered by this at all?
I definitely see how you can feel like that. Teachers who abuse their power are dangerous…but I don’t imagine our DR will be preying on KJ.
They are not romantic yet, and they weren’t before the body switch. Mostly what we see developing is a friendship based on them being put into a very strange situation. Post body switch they share a BIG secret and are becoming dependent on each other to stay sane. They will develop a close bond.
I liked that the pair got along as teacher/student when they were teacher student. I didn’t see any squickiness between them – just a sweet connection.
Not sure where the are headed, not at all sure, but I will hazard a guess that there will be no deliberate skinship – only that tantalizing accidental stuff.
If they do fall in love, ages be damned, I don’t see any skinship until after a time jump. It’ll be all taboo and squelched temptation.
I am intensely curious to how the writers will develop this story because of that awkward factor. Will it turn out to be an actual love story between a student and a teacher or will it be about a boy finding family and friendship in someone who is older and a complete stranger?
@jomo143, thanks for the insight and I do agree.
@Joonni, I am very curious, too, so that is why I will keep on watching.
” I think this is a trait in many veteran actors who develop such a presence that they are seen more as the actor rather than the character.”
You pretty much nailed it right there, Joonni. For the longest time, Greatest Love felt “off” for me but I just couldn’t nail it down. When you explained your grievances about the series like that, I suddenly understood. 😛
As for Big, I’m still in the “like it ok”/”entertaining enough” stage. Not completely in love with it yet – it’s hard for me to warm up to any Hong Sisters production. But then again, I always knew it was going to be tough trying to top QIHM.
Oh BIG! Well, I have only seen some parts of episode 1 but I have read recaps of all 4 episodes and so far it’s OKAY…for now. I haven’t seen a Hong Sisters’ drama that disappointed me yet so I believe BIG will be exciting to watch. (Though I think it wouldn’t be that exciting as QIHM…hehe!)
I’m actually a fan of the Hong Sisters’ dramas and everytime I hear something new from them I always take time to watch it myself, in fact “My Sassy Girl Chun Hyang”, “You’re Beautiful” and “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” are my top 3 favorites from all their works. These sisters always put in a lot of quirky and then tug us later on with heartbreak at the story’s climax. But there’s always this element of surprise that keeps me hanging on till the end so it’s not a waste to spend some time with a drama that’s made from these genius sisters.
With the characters, I think they have a pretty good cast. Gong Yoo oppa is definitely a MUST-SEE since this will be my first time seeing him after 2 years of military service. I totally adored him in Coffee Prince…who would’nt? Even my mother who’s not a Kdrama fan got glued with the story and praised GY oppa for his acting. He is one of the few actors who for me does an excellent job in showing emotions that you would forget that he’s just acting. His expressive face makes it all the more convincing no matter what he does. In fact, I only see Kyung Joon even though he’s trapped in Yoon Jae’s body now because of the effective portrayal by GY oppa. He’s funny, cuddly and immaturely sexy all in one body!
Lee Min Jung unnie!!! Oh she’s one of my bias…I just love her! I’ve been a fan of her since BOF but she totally got me in Smile You! (Just like QIHM, I had a hard time withdrawing from that drama…hehe!) Her character here in BIG is one that doesn’t require much acting from her basically because I think her real personality is somewhat similar. She’s best when she does aegyo and petty stuffs and I wouldn’t mind if she ends up with Kyung Joon in the drama since she doesn’t look that old to me…hehe! She’s just plainly…GORGEOUS!!!
Oh! I shouldn’t forget Shin Won Ho, right?!?! My younger sister would kill me if I fail to mention and praise him for that matter…why? Coz she’s just so head over heels for him right now. Say, he’s the ‘apple of her eye’…well, actually ME too…but she’d bite me if I tell her so I’d rather keep quiet…hehe! Anyway, as you’ve said Joonni, Shin is such a surprise! I know he’s basically a newbie and all but man, the child…er…this guy can act! (I’m not even sure if he is qualified to be called a ‘guy’ since he looks way much younger than he’s actual age!) He also has this expressive eyes that any noona can fall for. Idk but all I can say is aside from him being an eye-candy, he sure is promising and I can’t wait to see more of him in BIG…that is if he’ll even wake up from his coma. I hope its anytime soon…
Oops! Sorry for the long post Joonni…peace! 😀
Have I mentioned that my sister is planning to buy a yellow green umbrella same as that used by Kyung Joon?!?! Well…honestly…I want one too! I know you guys also thought the same…hehehe! BIG Fighting!!!
Wait…I failed to mention SUZY! I like her too…she’s CUTE! I’ve seen her in “Dream High” and “Introduction to Architecture”. Though, she wasn’t that convincing in Dream High for me but I think as the story progressed, her portrayal of Hye Mi was later justified. What I also like about her is that she always gives off a mysterious vibe in all her characters that I’ve seen so far.
But she totally made a good impression in the movie “Introduction to Architecture” for me. Her scenes with Lee Ji Hoon were very good. They were able to create a beautiful foundation and a heartbreaking past for the present main leads Han Ga In unnie and Uhm Tae Woong oppa since they play the younger versions there. I can see that she has improved a lot acting-wise that’s why when I heard she’s doing BIG, I was excited for her. I hope her character Jang Mari will have more depth rather than just plain annoying and clingy to our Kyung Joon/Yoon Jae.
Oh…I love her outfits in BIG! They’re PRETTY! 😉
LOL. Actually I love the green umbrella. It is such a nice color. I would buy one too if a Shin Won Ho came attached to it. 🙂
I started watching Big purely for Gong Yoo, at least the shallow part of me did that purely to see how the abs come out after military service. Show, you didn’t disappoint me there.
But does anyone else think that Gong Yoo just didn’t seem all that attractive as he did in, say, Coffee Prince? Probably the whole acting young cut off the charm-supply; I am just waiting for him to wow me again with how awesome he can be.
Till then, Shin Won Ho helps the aesthetics. I am actually sad that I am younger than him; being ‘noona’ to Mr. Uh-oh would have been great.
I once again invest my faith in the Hong sisters. For me, up till now, what is different about Big is that it is yet to develop a clear distinction between 1st lead and 2nd lead, not because of the obvious one-being-in-the-other’s-body, but because while the action is by Kyung Joon, it’s Young Jae’s character which is being unearthed. That, in my book, is just awesome.
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