The slew of Korean dramas that raged in February came to an end – the hugely disappointing Forecast love and weatherannoying him twenty five twenty one, the bland Thirty Nine and now, the absurdly adorable business proposition. The show stars Ahn Hyo-seop, Kim Sejeong, Seol In-ah, and Kim Min-kyu. I was curious why the show was such a rage and seemed to dominate the discourse on Twitter. Given the tradition of office romances, this felt like another cute workplace drama, where the male protagonist’s ice thaws after meeting a woman, who is a breath of fresh air in his dreary life. Well, I wasn’t entirely wrong.
To my surprise, this caught my eye when the suspension of disbelief began. Because without it, you can never profit from the business proposition.
Business Proposal is far from an artistic masterpiece. It was an entertaining mish-mash of every Korean office romance we’ve seen, and it’s blessed with virtually every K-drama trope. However, surprisingly, it works. If you watched the show like I did after the emotionally damaging Twenty Five Twenty One, it almost felt like soothing balm. Sign me up for the unrealistic expectations of a wealthy president reserving an entire restaurant for his girlfriend, love confessions on deck, and rainy scenes. There’s just something addictive about wealthy presidents falling in love, or so K-dramas would have you believe.
At first, the show seemed eerily reminiscent of What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, possibly because Ahn Hyo-seop plays the frosty chairman Kang Tae-moo, just like Park Seo-joon. He even had a similar hairstyle, which made me think he was the love child of Young-joon and Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young) from the 2018 show. Nevertheless, this time the reserved Kim Min-kyu, who owes a lot to the president and his family, plays his secretary. Much to his chagrin, Kang Tae-moo suffers from desi issues as his grandfather is determined to get married and is keen to see him go on blind dates. He arranges the date with Seol In-ah’s Young-seo, who sends his best friend Shin Ha-ri instead. Unknown to Kang Tae-moo, Shin Ha-ri works in his office.
It’s obvious from there. What you might find hard to believe is that Shin Ha-ri pretends to be a wealthy heiress with a made-up name, and even dons a wig as a sort of disguise. Turns out Kang Tae-moo doesn’t recognize her without the wig. The show wants us to believe that Kang Tae-moo will never ask, “Hey, why did you cut your hair?” But hey, we’re going to swallow this scenario which seems strongly inspired by Disney’s Hannah Montana. They enter into a “relationship contract”, which is initially designed to trick his grandfather into believing that Kang Tae-moo has finally found a wife for himself. But surprise, surprise, love blossoms between our two charismatic protagonists.
There are several hilarious and embarrassing situations that are so entertaining that you can’t help but laugh at Shin Ha-ri frantically trying to hide the truth from him through many goofy schemes. Kim Seojong fits perfectly as a messy and confused employee trying to save her love life, while Ahn Hyo-seop shows the transition from cold boss to loving boyfriend in the span of four episodes.
Nevertheless, Kang Tae-moo questions his intelligence – and hopefully that of the writers – when he finds out the truth about him. After acting like a little man-child and needled her at work, he falls in love with her and she returns the favor after much uncertainty. It’s persistent, because it apparently works like a charm, as people would have us believe. He says lines like “I’ll keep asking you until you say yes.” Stalker alert. Even with Ahn Hyo-seop’s smoldering stares and the ensuing steamy kiss, you can’t help but wonder, when are we ever going to cross those age-old lines that don’t have the shine that people think they have? But then I sigh and realize I’m applying my mind here.
Love of K-drama always takes time to watch, especially when there’s electric chemistry between the leads. Why bother with anything else, then? The story of the second main couple, Young Seo and Cha-seong, is equally captivating and much more passionate. They have a few bumps in the way, of course, as Cha-seong tends to act like a little stooge for Kang Tae-moo, almost endangering his own relationship. Everything can be resolved, including deep childhood traumas. Hush, don’t question it, just watch Ahn Hyo-seop and Kim Seojong in the rain.
Watch the business proposal for twelve hours of cuteness, fluff and hilarity. Sometimes that’s all you need.
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