|A scene from TV series "Mine" / Courtesy of tvN|
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Mystery thriller TV series "Mine" has enjoyed durable popularity since its first episode aired on tvN on May 8 with a relatively high viewership rating of 6 percent.
The latest episode, which aired last Sunday, hit 9.4 percent ratings.
Considering that "Mine" is another version of the same old story about a superrich family, sibling rivalry, and the brutal infighting to become the heir of their family business, its steady popularity among viewers is something rare.
As always, there are things that keep viewers tuning in to the Saturday-Sunday drama.
Veteran supporting actors who know how to spice up the TV series are some of the unsung heroes behind its steady popularity.
Ms. Ji (played by Park Sung-yeon) seems to be one of the top contributors. Playing a housekeeper in charge of domestic staff, she is disciplined, ambitious but playful. Having served the superrich family for 10 years on, she knows all the dirty secrets of each family member. Her knowledge is her weapon. To keep her quiet, Mr. Han, president of Hyowon Group and owner of the mansion, gave her a four-bedroom apartment in Seoul's affluent southern district of Gangnam. But she is not satisfied with the financial compensation.
Park recreated the ambitious lower-class woman's character with her witty reactions and playful interruptions which help viewers find time to laugh while watching the mysterious thriller full of turns and twists.
Park Hyuk-kwon who plays Han Jin-ho, Mr. Han's incompetent, helpless first son, is another supporting actor who makes the drama addictive. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he is the spoiled brat of the family. With his consistently disappointing academic and professional performances, he failed to impress his father to be chosen as heir apparent to succeed his multi-billion-dollar business. A reformed alcoholic, he keeps trying to win back his father's heart and remove his smart younger brother, a child born out of wedlock, from his father's radar in the selection of his successor.
The more he does that, however, the more his actions screw him up.
"Mine" overcomes the temptation of portraying a simple dichotomy of a competition between good and evil characters. In many dramas, the haves are portrayed as greedy, destructive and self-serving, while the have-nots are the ones that are always down to earth, genuine and good natured. Viewers are sick and tired of that kind of simplistic, unconvincing storytelling.
"Mine" seeks an alternative storytelling. It says greed and desires are part of every human's nature, regardless of wealth or social status.
Kim Sung-tae (played by Lee jung-ok), for example, is a male employee of the family responsible for property maintenance. He is poor but has the heart to pity the billionaires living dramatic lives with no peace in sight. But the man who seems to be the last person to cheat on others is wicked enough to steal Mr. Han's iconic blue diamond necklace he purchased at an auction.
"Mine" captures the darkness that every human has ― no matter how rich and successful they are ― and this makes it different from other dramas about superrich families.
The drama writer's sophisticated skill in touching on lesbian love, a topic that has rarely been addressed in Korean TV series, also plays a part in its lasting success.
Jung Seo-hyun (played by Kim Seo-hyung), Mr. Han's daughter-in-law, has been involved in "forbidden love" even before she married her husband. Her love interest was (and still is) a woman she met in college. They both found their hearts were pounding whenever they are together. Also born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Jung was raised and educated to live like other women of superrich families. She chose to live the way she was supposed to and married her husband for the sake of her parents' business. Her heart, however, is still wrenching because of her choice.
Veteran actor Kim perfectly pulls off that character, a woman who has it all but feels her life is empty because of her decision to choose her family over her love.