This time I’m back with another Korean drama review and this time, it’s the drama, Bachelor’s Vegetable Store. While on a hunt for Ji Chang Wook starred dramas, I came across this one and found the theme quite interesting. Which ultimately lead me to watching it.
Now this post will have an overall review with no spoilers.
If you’re looking for an episode by episode summary (which has a lot more spoilers), click here–
Country of origin : South Korea
Language : Korean
Based on : Bachelor’s Vegetable Store by Kim Young Han and Lee Young Seok
Written by : Yoon Sung Hee
Directed by : Lee Joon Hyung
Starring : Ji Chang Wook, Wang Ji Hye, Kim Young Kwang, Park Soo Jin, Hwang Shin Hye
Number of seasons : 1
Number of episodes : 24
Status : Complete
Released: 21 December 2011 – 8 March 2012
Broadcast channel : Channel A
Genre : Comedy, Romance, Melodrama
Now this story was based on the book which accounted the success story of a man Lee Young Seok who turned a small vegetable store into a Nationwide store. But of course there were some dramatic elements added to it as well. This drama’s plot has always been a complicated one to explain so I will divided it into four parts and explain. No major spoilers or suspense leaks!
Part 1 – The part actually based on the book
Our protagonist here is Han Tae Yang (played by Ji Chang Wook). His mother passed away and his father left him and his younger sister, Han Tae In to their grandmother when they were young. After their grandmother’s untimely death, he had a rough journey what with taking care of his sister. He always had a talent and interest in vegetables and starts work at a market.
Although that doesn’t work out, he eventually starts business out of a truck with 4 other friends who are having just as much hopelessness in their lives as well.
This part of the drama entails how they strive to run the business not just for the sake of making money, but for providing the best products and services and building a good customer environment. He firmly beleives that unending optimism, energy and beleif in himself will bring him success in what he loves. And let me tell you, he goes through a lot. We would always be rooting for him.
Part 2 – The secondary leads
This part isn’t something that’s strange in K-drama. Nearly every drama has it and they would have a substantial story as well.
Our first guy is Seol Woo whose mother is let’s say a new generation chaebol. He gets insulted by our lead heroine and her mother which leads him to hate her initially, but of course like in all dramas grows to like her instead. At a certain point in the drama, his mother is imprisoned for tax evasion and he needs money, fast, to bail his mother, and he’s just about ready to do anything. Even if it might not be the right way to.
We also see Dan Bi, who is Seol Woo’s ex-girlfriend and close with his mother as well. Their breakup is accepted by his mom which is why his mother suggests he try in asking for the lead heroines hand in marriage as she really liked her.
Dan Bi’s father and her don’t speak to each other after her mother died and he re-married. She doesn’t talk to her step mother either even though she really cares for Dan Bi. Her father, Jung Tosa is the man who manages the vegetable market out of which all our characters are based off of. But there’s a little bit of a story behind him and his new wife, something we get to see im the drama, throughout.
Part 3 – The main leads and their love story
Not a big surprise that the two leads have a love story right?
Our heroine here is Mok Ga On, heiress of the Mok business group. She however like all good chaebol children decide to work from the bottom and work her way up to the top. Which is what Seol Woo liked in her.
She starts working as a vegetable market auctioneer (quite interesting as Ive never heard of this job), and meets Tae Yang who works there as a junior. The two obviously fall in love although Tae Yang is concerned of their status difference.
But what is really setting them apart? Well that’s –
Part 4 – The Real Problem
This requires a little flashback to when Tae Yang and Tae In , his little sister are living with their grandmother.
He has friebds up in school, but his best friend is –
Jin Shim is an orphan who lives in the orphanage at church. Jin Shim although having good friends desperately wants a doting mom for her as she jealously watches another rich girl Ga On and her mother Kang Sun.
Jin Shim eventually becomes friends with the otherwise lonely, Ga On and her mother Kang Sun is also very nice to her.
But there’s a reason Ga On and her mother are not living with her father.
Her father is the head of Mok group, (yes the group, whose daughter Tae Yang dates in the future). Kang Sun is not from a well off family and therefore can’t marry him, despite having his daughter. He married someone else, but she waits patiently until a time comes when she can approach Mok. Till then she is making sure Ga On learns all sorts of refined things – such as learning the violin.
One day she receives news that Mok is divorcing his wife which means it’s finally her time! She restricts Ga On from meeting Jin Shim as they are all beneath them. (Pretty mean I mean isn’t she supposed to be more understanding here?).
But Ga on can’t be away from Jin Shim. She waits for Jin Shim at their usual meeting place only to be met by Tae Yang who is lonely and jealous of the relationship between the girls.
Ga On asks Tae Yang to tell Jin Shim to meet her at a place at a specified time. However he never passes that message on.
Ga On waits, only to be attacked by some goons and dying in an accident.
Kang sun is initially torn and tries to kill herself, but Mok calls her to meet her and his daughter. Desperate and crazy, she asks Jin Shim to be her daughter. Yes, she takes fake family photos, cuts her hair, tattoos on a birthmark and makes her – Ga On, as she beleives that’s her only way to Mok’s life. Talk about crazy!
As Jin Shim says goodbye to Tae Yang, his grandma who finds out the truth confronts Kang Sun only to collapse and have Kang Sun kick away her medicine. The lady is a true villian from the start.
Many years later Tae Yang falls in love with Ga On (whose the Jin Shim that he’s been looking for). As the old characters come together and get entwined in their fate, the secret identity of this daughter is about to come out. And Kang Sun literally does ANYTHING, to stop it. And this affects all the other parts of the drama that I mentioned too.
So there you have it, that’s the geist of this drama. Quite a plot right.
There’s a lot going on here and it goes on for 24 episodes so of course there’s a lot of drama involved.
As far as the back story- or part 4 is concerned that’s quite a hefty one. And coupled with a young man’s dream to succeed in his own business sounds really good.
Now as part 1 is concerned, well, although the book it’s based on entails the story of how it became a Nationwide franchise here that wasn’t the case. It was mostly the success of the first outlet and the story ends with subsequent plans in mind. But that doesn’t mean the journey was boring. And it wasn’t just on how Tae Yang achieves his dreams , but his four friends as well.
From how they meet, to how they join hands for this venture, to the struggles they face individually. Especially the fact, that being a vegetable vendor wasn’t seen as a shiny and cool profession in the minds of their family and public. But they still went for it. Just goes to show, each job has its own respect and dignity and value in this world and none of it is beneath or above the other. I think that was a major takeaway from the boys. Furthermore their struggles faced because they weren’t “good looking”, now that’s just sad. How can you measure talent with how someone looks?
Coming to part two, or the secondary leads, well their story wasn’t completely central to the story here, but was better than what I had seen most other characters in other dramas get especially as secondary leads. Seol Woo really turned out to be not that charismatic or confident as he seemed initially especially when he was it his worst. However his relationship with his mother was really nice to watch.
Coming to part three or our lead couple, well their relationship because a full blown one in the initial part itself. Then of course this whole identity crisis and “status differences” play out especially with her mother forcing her not to be with Tae Yang.
It’s kind of ironic she should stop such a thing, when she and her husband were separated due to these status differences and she of all people, should know how it feels.
And in between I was getting frustrated with Ga On, it took her literally 24 episodes to get a grip and make her voice heard which was tiring for me.
Thankfully the series didn’t develop into a full blown love story and kept it at the right level.
And now part 4 or the identity crisis. For let’s say like three fourth of the drama it really grips you, like the whole tension of whose going to figure it out first, and how everything will turn out.
With each episode Kang Sun gets crazier and crazier. Her initial antics and stuff were entertaining but then it just got downright irritating. Towards the end I felt it was a drag. The shuw runners could have a had a great run with just 16 episodes I feel.
Overall I would say Bachelor’s Vegetable Store was a good watch. There’s a lot of good characters and plotlines for them all, intertwined in this drama.
It’s those rags-to-riches kind of story, but not something immediate where the hero only faces rises. Tae Yang and all the characters have a literal roller coaster ride, which we would be riding with them as we root for them from beginning to end!
If you want to read an episode by episode recap, which obviously contains a lot of spoilers, click here!
Do let me know what you felt in the comments below!