Amnesia, Cohabitation, and Lots of Clinginess in New Fall Drama ‘Shopping King Louis’

Seo In-guk is one busy man. I haven’t quite gotten over his clever cons and occasional satoori in 38 Task Force and now he’s back in dramaland – speaking random English and French!

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New MBC Wed-Thu drama Shopping King Louis opened this week, promising a quirky romance between an amnesiac chaebol raised abroad and a kindhearted (this seems to be an understatement) country bumpkin. Honestly though, it started out as a bit too weird and ridiculous for my liking, but the main couple’s winning performances got me watching on. The second episode is much better with the chemistry and cuteness now that the hijinks are kicking in. However I’m still cautious that things may spiral out of control in the future. I’ve already been burned by quite a number of dramas to be blindly optimistic.

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But if there’s anything I appreciated right away, it’s that the male lead chaebol is not obnoxious! Hooray! Pre-amnesia Kang Ji-sung (Seo In-guk) was a lonely prince in a luxurious French castle, and is known in the world of retail luxury as Shopping King Louis. If Bruce Wayne has Alfred, Louis has Butler Kim (aka the annoying dude from Doctors), who has doted on him as ordered by CEO Grandma. He’s spoiled, sheltered, and cheeky, but he never goes overboard to do anything that would upset his beloved grandmother back home in South Korea.

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I love how he’s so much similar with the heroine Go Bok-shil (Nam Ji-hyun), despite having an entirely different upbringing. Her life is so much humbler in the mountains, supporting her grandmother and younger brother by digging medicinal herbs.  But looking closely, they’re both naïve having lived in closed-off environments, and they both love their grandmothers dearly after being orphaned at a young age. They’re perfect company for each other as they try to survive in the real world.

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Completing the love square is Louis’ childhood friend Baek Ma-ri (Im Se-mi) and luxury marketing expert Oska Nam Jung-gi er, Cha Joong-won (Yoon Sang-hyun). They’re both have an interesting story and connection with the main couple, but right now I only care about Louis and Bok-shil. Clingy Seo In-guk and sweet Nam Ji-hyun look adorable together, and I especially love how Nam Ji-hyun is not over-the-top with her approach to certain scenes. And of course there’s Seo In-guk with his cheeky smile and elitist outbursts! I’ve said somewhere before that the production seems to be going for a certain look, knowing that the role of Louis was first offered to Seo In-guk’s younger doppelganger Yook Sung-jae. I kinda get it: Louis is mischievous yet charming like a fox, which these actors can naturally pull off.

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On the technical side, I’m a bit torn with the subdued color grading that sometimappears too dull in contrast with the outlandish comedy. The music choices are also a bit of a hit and miss to me, maybe because I’ve been spoiled with beautifully-scored dramas this year.

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Am I completely sold? As of the first two episodes, I’m not 100% onboard yet. This drama’s main asset for me is its lovable characters and actors, and I am interested enough to follow what happens to them (I just hope it doesn’t dwell too much on the politics and power struggle). Maybe I need some more time to adjust to the storytelling and overall treatment of the production, so I’d be able enjoy the rest of Louis’ riches to rags tale.

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