...when the screen takes over...

Cinderella and Four Knights, Episode 1

Bravely putting on the “Cinderella” label without pretension definitely deserves an applause. Some may have been dismayed by the familiar concept while others, like I do, take comfort in it. Moreover, I think it gives an entertaining first week.

Cinderella and Four Knights may have been dismissed for its out-of-date premise: poor girl surrounded by rich boys who are falling in love with her. But, hey, Cinderella stories have been told many times and more so in Korean dramas, one way or another. I prefer giving its execution a chance. Although as I was watching, I couldn’t help recalling previous dramas—another mark that, indeed, it’s the staple of Korean dramas.

The first week elaborates the set-up foretold in the synopsis or teasers. The first episode introduces characters and how they get tangled. The episode builds up a tension, out of necessity or sheer randomness, culminating in the crashing of the wedding of the year. Who doesn’t hate wedding, anyway?


A Cinderella’s Life: Don’t wait around for some stupid princes, girls!

The “stupid” princes are the three grandsons of Kang Jong-Do, the chairman of Sky Group. Kang Hyun-Min, the eldest and womanizer, and Kang Ji-Woon, the second eldest and a rebel, resent each other. Though one wonders if it’s because Ji-Woon is always around Park Hye-Ji, who seems to have unresolved history with Hyun-Min. Who knows, who cares… The youngest, Kang Seo-Wo, is a pop sensation, who seems nice and just be there silently. They clearly don’t aspire to become one big happy family.

They certainly dislike dancing to Grandpa’s tunes since they can do nothing about it. They did try apparently. But threats to allowance cut or credit card freeze, and having birth secrets revealed to the world will make them come obediently whenever Grandpa, or his right-hand man Lee Yoon-Sung, summons them.

Six o'clock sharp, guys, or else...

Six o’clock sharp, guys, or else…

Like today. Lee Yoon-Sung gathers them to hand them invitations to Grandpa’s fifth wedding. He wants them to come as family. They don’t take it kindly. “A new grandma the same age as my mom?” Hyun-Min comments. The meeting is over as they leave one by one, leaving Lee Yoon-Sung sighing in defeat.

Grandpa’s been trying to get the grandsons to get along and learn manners by lumping them together at the Sky House. So far, he gets no results. Though looking at how Chairman Kang solves problem—buy the publication that spreads rumours that affect Sky Group image—one shouldn’t be surprised that these princes learn problem solving using money. Kang Ji-Woon crashes his luxurious car to a particularly difficult customer’s car, who’s been harassing his mechanic-shop boss, and tells the customer to never return in exchange for a full repair he will pay. Kang Hyun-Min lets a woman take his car after she holds him to his words: granting girls one wish after breaking up with them.

Then meet the heroine Eun Ha-Won, the Cinderella who would rather get busy earning a living than sucking up to wealthy princes with bad manners. She takes care of herself since living with a step-mother, Park Soo-Kyeong, and a step-sister, Choi Yoo-Na, is not exactly pleasant. She lives in their house’s balcony and does the house chores while step-mother and step-sister order her around and get busy with themselves. She has been working ten part-time jobs to earn money to get to college since her family can only afford, or be willing, to send her step-sister to college.

One such job involves doing pizza-delivery. In one of the rounds that takes her to a party, she gets in the radar of Kang Hyun-Min, the eldest grandson and heir of Sky Group. Kang Hyun-Min has just launched Operation Crash Grandpa’s Wedding and in need of an accomplice—the first girl who comes through the door and she happens to be that girl.

Delivery Men and Women, Unite!

Coming in from the rain, cloaked in a red mackintosh, Ha-Won shouts for the customer who ordered. “Your pizza delivery is here, Sirs!” Two men waves their hands to claim her attention. “It’s ours!” She approaches and puts the pizzas on a table.

  • On one fateful rainy night...

    On one fateful rainy night…

  • A little red riding hood comes delivering pizza...

    A little red riding hood comes delivering pizza…

Jerk#1 observes her. “This is strange.”

“What?” She confirms their order, “You ordered five pizzas. I brought you five pizzas.”

“I mean this,” Jerk#2 points to a note included in the delivery special request: send the prettiest delivery girl!

She chides them for abusing the special request feature. “It’s meant for things like ‘use the stairs if the elevator malfunctions’ or ‘put the order by the door if no one is home’. You should write those stuff, Sirs.”

“Who says so?!” Jerk#2 rambles on. “I asked for a pretty girl! Why is it you, an ugly girl, who came? As a customer, I have rights to express discontent!”

“You’ll pay with card, right?” Ha-Won ignores him. “That will be 184500 won in total.”

“But I’m so upset I won’t be able to eat these!”

“Stop sprouting nonsense and pay while I’m still calling you ‘sir’, Sirs.” She recite every words with a firmer tone. “It’s 184500 won.”

“So you’re threatening customers now,” Jerk#1 smiles with malice. He upends the delivery bag and dumps the pizzas to the floor. Ha-Won watches them calmly, yet her eyes grows darker. “Why? Did that get you angry?” Jerk#2 pushes his index finger on Ha-Won’s head repeatedly. “Then why talk back too much when you’re just a delivery vermin?”

  • Or is she a debt collector?...

    Or is she a debt collector?…

  • One particularly difficult customer...

    One particularly difficult customer…

Nearby, Kang Hyun-Min and co observes the proceeding. He is about to come forward but his friends hold him back. “What are you going to do? You’ll just end up with hospital bills if you use your fists.” He denies such thought and takes out his wallet.

But Ha-Won has already resorted some fists as Jerk#2 gets into their vision, flying and groaning. Following him, Ha-Won comes flying into view as well and lands with gusto, commanding everyone’s attention, or at least Kang Hyun-Min’s.

“Haven’t I told you? Pay!” She yells at Jerk#2. Jerk#1 comes meekly and hands her the card. “Yes, I’ll pay. Please, let me pay.”

While processing the transaction, Ha-Won orders Jerk#2 to apologize for calling her delivery vermin. Clutching his stomach, Jerk#2 obeys. She then gives speech on the delivery men and women who are currently running various errands around town. “Don’t you dare comparing us to vermin!”

No. She is a little red caped scooter rider crusader...

No. She is —say these ten times fast!— a little red caped scooter rider crusader…

Ha-Won turns around to the crowds that have gathered around them. She bows, apologizes for the commotion, and then leaves the scene.

“Are you sure you want to bring her to the party? She’s a total thug!” Kang Hyun-Min’s friend warns him. He brushes them off. “I am a man of my words. I honour the promises I’ve made.” He goes outside and takes picture of Ha-Won leaving on a scooter.

* * *

Ha-Won manages to pass college entrance examination to the dismay of Soo-Kyeong and Yoo-Na, who doesn’t make it. When they bring up college fee to discourage her, Ha-Won assures them that she’ll manage. She has saved enough for deposit and will work to get money for tuition fee as she’s going to college. She’s still a little bit short on the money, but pay-days are coming.

* * *

  • A work of the Devils: Exhibit B

    “A Work of the Devils”, exhibit A

  • A work of the Devils: Exhibit B

    “A Work of the Devils”, exhibit B

Meanwhile a crisis befalls Chairman Kang as he finds Sky House empty and trashed, and the butler-caretaker strapped to the ceiling. He’ll be quitting too for he can no longer cope with Chairman Kang’s grandsons. “They are devils!” He vents his frustration. He realises his impudence in front of Chairman Kang and tries to retract his words. Although Chairman Kang begrudgingly accepts his judgement. “It’s in the genes sadly!”

Chairman Kang wonders why it is difficult to manage Sky House. Lee Yoon-Sung assures him that he’ll hire a new butler soon. “Just use money,” Chairman Kang orders him, “I’m sure someone will be willing for a high price.” Yet he is unsure who will be able to beat some sense into his grandsons.

* * *

Kang Hyun-Min attempts to get Ha-Won to go with him for three hours that night. He promises her money to make it worth her time. “Are you trying to imply you can buy people with money?” She asks in disbelief. He nods. She challenges him, “prove it then, if you have the mean to buy my time!” So he buys all the goods at the convenience store.

“Do you need cash receipt?” She babbles as she is at a loss for words. “I’ll give you one so give me your number.” He teases her tacky ways of asking for his number but still writes them on her arm. “Call me,” he says before leaving the now empty store.

* * *

a dress...

a dress…

Another one preparing for the Grandpa Kang’s wedding party is Park Hye-Ji. She is busy looking around the shops as a certain shade of blue catches her fancy. She asks for a length of the fabrics but the seller only sells in large batches. When a disturbance leaves the shop’s carefully displayed items in disarray, she strikes a bargain. She will rearrange the display in exchange for the length of fabrics she needs.

Now that the fabrics is hers, Hye-Jin gets to make the dress of that shade of blue that she has designed herself.

* * *

In another part of town, Kang Ji-Woon learns that his change of fortune—from a nobody Ha Ji-Woon to wealthy heir Kang Ji-Woon—also changes his relationship with people around him. He had intended to buy his mechanic-friends meal from a nearby convenience store, which is miraculously attended by Eun Ha-Won. He belatedly realises that he doesn’t have handy cash. Returning to the mechanic shop to probably borrow money from his colleagues, he finds them talking about him.

He stops as he is listening in their conversation. Now that he has money, he should treat them with better meals, not those from convenience stores. He should be generous with them, like lending them money. His boss tries to stop their whining. “He wishes to be treated the same as before!” The others keeps going. “But he is not the same!”

Ha-Won sees him walking away. Since Ha-Won has prepared the food Kang Ji-Woon is supposed to pay, she stops him and asks him to pay. They get into argument as she insists yet he doesn’t have money. When he tries to settle it with his wristwatch, she lets go. “But make sure you pay tomorrow!”

Ji-Woon goes to see Hye-Ji who is working on her gown. Her friend warns her to be prepared as Hyun-Min is coming to the wedding with a girl. She takes the news lightly but accidentally hurts herself. Ji-Woon chides her for being careless and looks for her stash of band-aids.

Ha-Won returns home to her balcony-room, takes comfort from Mom’s mementos, texts dad —to at least return her texts, especially since tomorrow is Mom’s death anniversary— and sleeps.

* * *

It’s the day of the Grandpa’s fifth wedding, Ha-Won and Ji-Woon cross each other’s path again. They both go to the same funeral home, visiting their respective mothers.

Another meeting...

Another meeting…

But Ha-Won finds out that her mother’s ashes has removed because of unpaid bills. It’s due for 5 million won. Ji-Woon sees her kneel and beg for her mother’s urn to be put back. She returns clutching the bouquet of white roses, an offering for someone one respects.

She’s already got 4 million won so she muses whether she should go on with her plan to college as mother has wished—”be a great teacher who earns the respect of others,” Mom has said in a flashback to her childhood— or pay for her mother’s place at the funeral home. In the end, she decides to dump college.

Since she still needs another million won, she takes up Kang Hyun-Min’s offer for cash. He agrees only if she poses as his fiancée for three hours. He makes up the story of a dying grandpa who wishes to see him settled. Ha-Won doesn’t fall for his lies but agrees to his scheme anyway. They get to the venue and attract the whole nation’s attention. Soon, their pictures fill the internet.

And this is how Ha-Won crosses Seo-Woo’s path, the youngest grandson. She gets into a room to change her clothes, not realising he’s there. In an effort to go undetected, he mistakes her phone as his.

Operation Crash Grandpa’s Wedding

a fairy tale wedding crasher...

a fairy tale wedding crasher…

Dolled up and prepared, Hyun-Min takes Ha-Won’s arm and they walk serenely through a raised ramp. At the other end Grandpa and the new wife are also walking towards the wedding dais while the guests are clapping. Something doesn’t seem right, Ha-Won thinks, as does Grandpa. They all stop. It draws the guests’ attention and murmurs. “What’s going on?”

“What are we doing?” Ha-Won asks.

“Wedding march,” Hyun-Min casually answers. “We’re getting married.”

She panics since this is different than the scenario they’ve agreed on. “Indeed. Just a tiny bit different,” he agrees. She won’t do it though he insists they will be fine. When she still won’t follow his lead, he carries her to the dais.

Everyone is interested in the spectacle, which is exactly what Hyun-Min wants. The pairs finally meet. “Dearly beloved Grandpa, I present you my fiancée as your wedding gift,” Hyun-Min announces. Grandpa is miffed. Ji Hwa-Ja, Grandpa’s latest wife, asks about Ha-Won’s family. She has no answer and instead says, “I am a senior at Jungsan Girls’ High” much to everyone’s amusement.

  • ... well, since you won't apologize..

    … well, since you won’t apologize..

  • ...should this fist talk instead?

    …should this fist talk instead?

“Do greet my grandpa’s fifth wife,” Hyun-Min playfully nudges Ha-Won. Grandpa scolds him for being rude. Ha-Won immediately apologizes.

Hyun-Min doesn’t like her apologizing. “Rebelling here, of all places? What are you? A kid?” Ha-Won chides him. “Apologize!”

“Why should I? I will not.” Hyun-Min insists. Ha-Won twists his arm and makes him kneel in front of Grandpa and his wife. Everyone is surprised by the sudden turn of event, and more so is Grandpa. Ha-Won nudges Hyun-Min’s head, forcing him to bow, and says, “I am sorry for the commotion.”

Ha-Won storms out of the room while Hyun-Min is trying to stop her. “Come on. No round two?”

Kang Seo-Woo sees the two bickering and finds it interesting. “So you really are his fiancée?” Ha-Won and Hyun-Min look at each other before Hyun-Min plays it up. “Of course!” He encourages Ha-Won and Seo-Woo to greet each other. Seo-Woo extends his hand for a handshake, “I’m his cousin. It’s nice to meet you.” Ha-Won hesitates a little then accepts the handshake.

Hye-Ji and her friend has been watching them. The friend suddenly bursts in anger on Hye-Jin’s behalf. Hyun-Min denies any wrongdoing since he and Hye-Jin are not in relationship. He puts his hand on Ha-Won’s shoulder and says, “Stop overacting in front of my woman.”

Hye-Ji gets up and approaches them. She introduces herself to Ha-Won. “I am Park Hye-Ji. Hyun-Min and I have been friends since we were young.” She offers a hand, “it’s nice to meet you.” Ha-Won takes her hand awkwardly.

Suddenly, Ji-Woon breaks their handshake. To Hye-Ji, he angrily scolds her for not having pride. To Ha-Won, he accuses her for doing it for the money, which is true. “You need money that badly?” He takes out a bundle of money, shows it to Ha-Won, and lets it fall to the floor around her feet.

The n-angle romance in the making...?

The n-angle romance in the making…?


Notes

I really hope it will deliver on each one’s personal growth and less focus on romance (no! not a chance, owl!). None of these knights currently earns my sympathy. Since I’ve depleted tolerance for angsty male character, I think Ji-Woon is overacting and over-brooding in the first week. And Seo-Woo? I forget that he exists. But I do find writing scenes of Ha-Won and Hyun-Min entertaining.

On the topic of rehashing old stories, instead of Boys Over Flowers, I’ve got more vibe of First Shop of Coffee Prince in the first two episodes. Two male leads harbour feelings for one girl who’s got artistic bend. Misbehaving heir-cousins need shaping up to be responsible people—we get a concerned Grandpa instead of a matriarch. The heroine is tomboyish and a martial arts practitioner, who works ungodly numbers of part time jobs—can’t miss the similarities when Ha-Won, as does Go Eun-Chan, does delivery service and causes ruckuss for similar reason: reaction to her look. Many has also mentioned more similarities of the premise between Cinderella and Four Knights and J-drama Atashinchi no Danshi.

I’d say, bring it on.

Last but not least, it’s Park So-Dam. ‘Nuff said.

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