Much too long intro:
Secret Garden was my gateway drug into Korean pop-culture, stemming from randomly watching it on Netflix. I fully embraced the crazy, the repetitiveness, the odd couple(s), and the ridiculata. It wasn’t till months later I started watching dramas regularly, so I really had no idea of just how crazy popular it was both in Korea and world-wide. But once you watch three dramas in a row using the Secret Garden OST, suddenly the 8th billed actor is getting their own starring roles, and you see articles from the WSJ on Hyun Bin’s return date from the military, one begins to think that this show might have had some cultural impact.
It will be interesting to see if such similar phenomenon will occur with My Love From the Star, which IMO has been the next drama that enraptured world and provided gangbusters ratings. Thus far MLFTS has sold out lip-stick, opened drama based-exhibits, and made Jeon Ji-Hyun (and chicken with beer) more popular than what was thought not possible, but I feel it’s star will fade faster then SG. Mostly because there is so much more material rife for parody with SG. Simply put, the humor from SG came from a mix between laughing at it, as well as with it, whereas MLFTS has decidedly less mockability. This may seem like a total take-down, but it’s not my number one drama for nothing. It’s much easier to remember Gil Rae Im and Kim Joo Won walking at a turtles pace in tandem then even a well-crafted joke or one-liner. Which is why I took note of the many, many times Korean shows payed homage to the body-switching phenom, and before you can say “but the cheesecake, that was some other bitch” here is number 5.
5. Musical inspiration – Padam Padam, History of the Salaryman, Queen’s Classroom
No matter what SG detractors can say about the dramas quality, it’s soundtrack will always remain excellent. From Baek Ji Young’s ballads, to its score, simply OST perfection. Which is why basically every variety or talk show has used a track or ten. Drama-wise these were the ones I noticed as having done the same. Secret Garden had a song for every occasion and mood, with all of them played several times over the course of the drama. Myself receiving several ear worms along the way. Unfortunately, I never wrote down the specific song being played in these dramas, so I took a stab at it with the songs shown below. Padam Padam often incorporated a certain French aesthetic, which is why I felt this instrumental would be fitting.
While, “Scars” by Bois, seems the song that would be perfect for a quick montage gag to add to HotS comedic gems. Again, can’t remember any specifics so please comment if y’all do, or know of any other dramas with SG songs that I missed.
In Queen’s Classroom, this wasn’t a song but rather a certain memorable ringtone that head middle schooler Shim Ha-Na had, perhaps in recognition of her favorite drama she watched as a 10-year old, or maybe trying to bring up similarities between Ha-Na and Rae-Im. It could just be a popular text-tone. Whatever the reason, kid has excellent taste.
4. Coffee Foam Kiss – Queen In-Hyun’s Man
It’s no secret that Yoo In-Na got her big break from SG, so paying homage by way of the infamous “foam kiss” was both fitting, adorable, and sweet. Especially since they used the moment as a way to play into Boong-Do’s character. Kim Joo-Won may have used messy coffee drinking as an excuse for skinship (much to the surprise of Rae-Im). But Boong wouldn’t use his “playa” powers like that. Instead he did what he does best, be the helpful gentleman who goes for the slow play, while also being the smartest guy in the room who is thinking ten steps ahead.
3. Outright watching Secret Garden (King of Dramas, Gentleman’s Dignity)
Having drama characters watch dramas always makes me smile. Probably because it makes them more relatable in that “oh ,must get home to watch the latest episode” drama addiction kind of way. In King of Dramas 1st episode they show a montage of people watching some of the more successful K-Drama exports as a framework to discuss K-Dramas increasing popularity.
Gentleman’s Dignity was SG writer ‘s follow-up project, and included a quick bit with the characters watching Oska, Joo-Won and Co.
2.Tracksuit style – Greatest Love, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop
Quick quiz, if you had to get a friend to guess this drama without using any names, what’s the first word you’d say? If you said “tracksuits” well… that’s odd as I’d have gone with body switching, but your’s is still a close second. Those handcrafted sequined suits made exclusively in Italy were the gift that kept on giving, and probably the best visual gag on the show. So it’s no wonder it became a future fashion statement and used to great comedic effect in Greatest Love and FBRS.
Part of the Hong sister comedic repertoire is riffing on pop-culture, so it should come as no surprise that their 1st drama post Secret Garden, would include a little something. So we have Ding-Dong and gramps, whose family may be short on funds, but doesn’t mean one should be short on style.
I haven’t actually seen Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, but I did see this clip including a fantasy sequence of a “precise and aggressive” man (starts around 9:00)
Pretty accurate Kim Joo-Won impression no? Plus, they included their own take on the famous SG line that will show up in 60 words or less…
1. King 2 Hearts – Billboards and One-Liners.
This was my third drama ever, so when Ha Ji-Won’s Hang-Ah arrived in South Korea for the first time, and noticed billboards that just so happened to feature HJW previous co-stars, there was only one I recognized.
After rewatching several times I truly appreciate how she is most gleeful upon seeing cheekboned perfection Hyun Bin, cause who wouldn’t be. Plus it signifies that SG is so popular, not even North Korean assassins can escape its hold. Case in point: In episode 8 (of King 2 Hearts) Hang Ah attempts to lighten the mood by using the “your my Kim Tae Hee or Jeon Do Yeon” line from the SG pilot. Except this time she uses two North Koreans which he obviously didn’t recognize. Jae Ha‘s laughter at the absurdity of it all is priceless. Meta humor for the win!
Honorable Mention – E.T. Forehead touch: Flower boy Next Door
This only gets an HM as this seems like an action that isn’t specifically SG related (though I could be oh so wrong). No matter, as nothing can take away how adorable the scene is with Enrique and PSH’s character. In SG it was played as a nice bit of symmetry that payed off in the final episode, in FBND it’s all about the characters, namely the leads. Though words to the wise, trying it out on a second date may cause confusion and should not be attempted. At least I had a downed a few drinks as an excuse, but don’t get caught performing dramaland antics in the real world. Leave it to the professionals.
Dishonorable Mention – No reference in I Hear Your Voice
Seriously what gives? as its been shown previously, have SG cast member, will often produce SG callback. So have two SG cast members (possibly 4 with guest roles), who were always in scenes together which also featured an unrequited love – crickets. UGH. It could have been as simple as a glance of recognition, or upon meeting having one of them remark about having deja vu, remarking on his sexiness and/or musical ability, I mean come on! Soooo what follows is an excerpt of a conversation I had with myself while watching an episode of I Hear Your Voice.
Me: Oye! Another scene with both [Sang-Hyun and Jong Suk], emotions running high, tempers flaring, obvious jealousy but not a single twinkle of some Secret Garden recognition, it’s like they are hiding the truth!
Myself: Calm down jeeze, Sometimes I can’t believe we come from the same genetic material. Check what network IHYV played on, bet it’s different than SG.
Me: Googling..Googling…and both are SBS affiliated. Got anymore ideas Einstein?
Myself: You really need to work on your clichéd putdowns… Well, and I know this hurts, but perhaps the writers didn’t want to draw attention to other dramas because it takes you away from this one. This is a fully immersive story and universe, with detailed attention to its characters. So even if a couple of actors happen to have worked together previously, the fact is these are different fully-drawn characters that don’t need to rely on silly references to appease a small section of viewers like some pop-culture parody laden Shrek movie. This is like Pixar Y’all – all world building, no filler.
Me: Wow your out of your chair and everything, which is strange considering we’re the same person.. Well fine then, you [Myself] make some decent points. But I still feel they are missing the easy lay-up to referential humorville. Population: me. Oh well tis not to be I reckon…Hey whose that guy on-screen meeting Oska?
Myself: Le sigh, you mean Yoon Sang-Hyun? His name in this drama is Kwan-Woo just so you know.. But I haven’t a clue, appears to be a cameo of some sort. Let me check. … … …
Me: Hey, who is the ajusshi? Been in anything worth watching?
Myself: Definitely not.
Me: Okay, whose acting weird now. What’s he been in?!?
Myself: erm hes fromgentlemansdignity.
Me: You just quickly whispered Gentleman’s Dignity didn’t you? Which is preposterous as why would a drama as refined as this not only refer to another drama, but refer to one whose creator/writer created Secret Garden before writing this Gentleman’s smignity nonsense.
Myself: I never said I was right, it was just a theory.
Me: Hm, well you were so full of it you were practically on top of that Greek Trojan thing, declaring the drama of having such dramatic purity that IHYV would never stoop so low. Well here’s a thought – This drama is really just platform in which copious amounts of products can be shilled out to the masses. I mean Lee Bo-Young would go into caffeinated shock with how much the character uses her special tea filters and coffee shop lattes. Plus this cameo is the character from Gentleman’s Dignity meaning that show takes place in IHYV’s universe. Thus taints your idealized IHYV world, that one where serial killers get the job done decades at a time, almost dying gives you sucky magical powers, and where the law was created by toddlers.
Myself: 1st off, was that a thinly veiled reference to “get off your high horse”? Not your worst I guess. Secondly, you spouting off hypocritical nonsense as coming from the fan of said drama where switching bodies is caused by precipitation. And lastly, you done venting yet?
Me: Never! In fact this is why my snark needs to be let free, as taking everything so seriously watching these dramas will drive me nuts! So, since Me wins this round I will say that the slight mockery snarkfest will not be reined in! At least not until the day comes when YSH and LJS are in yet a third drama together where the only other possibility remains. They become the OTP of all OTP’s and ride off into the sunset.
Myself: And that my friend, is why we are the same person. I concur vehemently. Let it commence!
Any other references or parodies that I missed?