Delicious Proposal


Delicious Proposal

Written by Kim In Young

Directed by Park Sung Soo

Producer: Lee Eun Kyu

Originally aired on MBC/Korea:

February 7 – March 29, 2001


• Jung Joon as Kim Hyo-dong

• Son Ye Jin as Jang Hee-ae

• Soh Yu Jin as Ma Shin-ae

• So Ji Sub as Jang Hee-moon (Hee-ae's brother)

• Kim Kap Su as Park Geun Hyung (Hyo-dong's father)

• Kim Yong Gun as Jang Tae-kwang (Hee'ae's father)

• Jung Won Jung as Cho Pang-dal (Golden Dragon chef)


Production: MBC Television, Korea

Video: YA Entertainment (USA)


Aspect ratio: 4:3

Region All: NTSC

Feature: 480i


Korean Dolby Digital 2.0


Feature: English

Extras: English


• Jumong (20 minute excerpt, Episode 1)

• Sad Love Story (20 minute excerpt)


16 episodes, approx. 55 min/episode

Published in 1 box set

Each box set includes 2 volumes, totaling 6 discs

Release Date: July 29, 2008

[see also Introduction to Korean Drama]

The Series : 6

What starts off as an over-the-top comedy, soon settles down into a garden-variety love story of the Romeo & Juliet kind.  That said, Delicious Proposal does a better than average job in blending romance, drama and comedy into a savory confection, if I may be permitted the mix of gourmet perspectives.  Typical of Korean soaps of this period (they were still in their infancy in 2001) the plot doesn't stand up to close scrutiny, and it misses out on the dramatic potential of two plot developments.  Meantime, let's see what the story is about:

There are basically two interacting plot lines: the first concerns the bitter rivalry between restauranteurs: Park Geun Hyung and Jang Tae-kwang. Their history is told in brief flashbacks to their youth and early days as student chefs – and, as it happens, they each tell the story from opposite perspectives and reach opposite conclusions.  The audience is fairly certain of the truth and sides with Geun Hyung, who is seen rescuing a small child from a fire, which act resulted in his losing his sense of smell – death for a chef.

Geun-hyung now owns a small Chinese restaurant in Korea and, for reasons that have nothing to do with his cooking which is, despite his sensory handicap, very good.  His restaurant is on the verge of going under and it has just lost its chef, Pang-dal, to the competition.  Tae-kwang, on the other hand is prosperous, but not so much that he doesn't have energy and resources to bear to make certain that his old rival goes under – and, to twist the knife further, that Geun-hyung is made to sell out to him.


Hyo-dong is the son of Geun-hyung - a young man of two minds: he refuses to suffer disloyalty from others (as when he visits Pan-dal in his new kitchen and beats him good and proper), but disrespects his father's loyalty to his restaurant – not coincidentally named after Hyo-dong.  In an amusing sequence of events Hyo-dong meets up with the lovely Hee-ae and they court and fall in love, only to learn that they are the son and daughter of Geun-hyung and Tae-kwang.  To add to the stew, Hee-ae is studying to be a chef and Hyo-dong traipses after her only to learn he has hidden talents.

Korean soaps are never content with a single romantic duo, and so introduce another character to further spice things up.  Enter: Ma Shin-ae, by far the most interesting character in the series and the more emotive of the two women that vie for the affections of Hyo-dong.  Shin-ae becomes a pivotal player in the proceedings as things develop.  Always just one foot away from poverty, living on the streets by her wits and talents, Shin-ae dreams of becoming a great cook and of owning a three-story restaurant ("one story for Chinese, one for Korean, one for Western").  She meets Hyo-dung under the most embarrassing circumstances: carelessly coming upon him while he is stripped to his undershorts in a department store changing room.  Not to be undone by her indiscretion, he chases her through the store, still more or less undressed.  This calculated silliness of the first episode leads to further improbables when Hyo-dong comes upon Shin-ae as she is taking a leak in what she hoped was a unattended sidestreet.  (Things never get quite so out of hand again, I am happy to report.)  When Shin-ae meets up with Hyo-dong in cooking class, the expected triangle takes shape.

The fathers of our "star-crossed lovers" are both dead set against any courtship between their children but Hyo-dong and Hee-ae have other ideas – not the ones I hoped for, alas.  In fact, Hee-ae turns out to become an underdeveloped character, just as does a third romantic diad between Hee-ae's semi-ruthless brother, Hee-moon, and Shin-ae.  The unexplored ironic possibilities between this two was one of the series' great disappointments for me.  All About Eve, an MBC romantic drama from the previous year, was able to flesh out just such dimensions to their characters, but not so here.


As for the actors, we should note that Delicious Proposal saw early work from a number of eventual starts and superstars: Most obvious, and the probably reason for this series to have been taken up by YAE, is the presence of Son Ye-Jin (Alone in Love, Summer Scent, April Snow, Lovers' Concerto) in her TV drama debut.  Ye-Jin has one of the most disarming smiles in the business.  It starts as a kind of squint that opens up into a veritable pool of loveliness.  How could anyone not fall in love with her on the spot?  On the other hand, how could Hee-ae be treated so rudely by her family and, eventually Hyo-dong's father?  I'm telling you, these Koreans will stop at nothing to twist our emotions!  It's too bad that she is little more than a passive pawn in the hands of the writer.

Other young actors who would later become superstars, include So Ji-Sub (Something Happened in Bali, Sorry I Love You, Glass Slipper) – now a major fashion plate in the industry, Ji Sung (Save the Last Dance for Me, All in), and Kwon Sang-Woo (Stairway to Heaven, Sad Love Story). Less destined for stardom, but fascinating to watch all the same is Soh Yu Jin as Ma Shin-ae whose, character, as noted earlier, is placed more vigorously than Hee-ae.  Yu Jin - a sort of cross between a rabbit and Jim Carrey - conveys all sorts of mobility in glances and eye movements that simply exude anxiety or romantic love by turns.

One of my favorite characters is Pang-dal, the renegade chef played for comic relief by Jung Won Jung.  Pang-dal can always be counted on to break up the monotony of heavyosity that pervades some of the contrivances of the plot – as, for example, when our heroine just happens on a suspicious clinch between Hyo-dong and Shin-ae.  But even with such routine turnabouts in plot, Delicious Proposal picks itself up and finds ways to develop most situations in intriguing ways.


The Score Card

Image : 7/5

Being a drama series where much of the action takes place in and around kitchens and food preparation, we would expect, and get, mouth-watering images of food in the making.  This is fortunate, since we wouldn't want such a sensitive aspect of the proceedings to be marred by poor photography or a weak transfer.  Comparisons to two later series where food preparation is prominent – Dae Jang Geum and My Lovely Sam-Soon – are inevitable.  While the kitchens and the cuisine are as different as could be, Delicious Proposal holds its own.

That said, I must report that Delicious Proposal in many of its other scenes has a more inconsistent image quality than other drama series I've encountered from YA-Entertainment – and since they must have seen what I see when they vetted the tapes they were sent from Korea, they must have felt the series to be important enough to go ahead.  The problem is what appears to be simple carelessness in lighting for the photography.  It is also possible that the original source materials have been overcopied or degenerated to the point we now see them.  Enhancement and artifacts are at a minimum – not very noticeable unless you're looking for them.  As is usually the case with YAE DVD productions, the image is not progressive (as you can see by the ample evidence of combing – which, by the way, is not evident with my HD projector), though this is not the cause of the problems just mentioned.


Audio & Music : 6/6

The musical score is generally agreeable, if not generic and off-the-shelf, with ample use of Western pop music in the background – a common device in many Korean TV dramas.  The audio is clear, clean with well-balanced dialog, ambient sounds and music.

Translation & Subtitles : 7/8

Even the series is from seven years ago, the translation from YAE is new.  There are very few grammatical errors or misspellings, and I only felt misled about the action on one occasion.  Subtitles are unobtrusively sized, white and bordered in black so as to always be clear against any background. 

Operations & Box Design : 8/5

I don't usually comment on the photos on the box, but in this case the pictures provided by the original production company lead us to very much the wrong impression about the character of Jang Hee-moon, played by So Ji Sub.  This picture, which is repeated on the cover of one of the two inner volumes isn't remotely representative of a man who is usually smartly dressed and sporting a really cool do.  The guy just came back from the States with an MBA.  What's with the hat?

Like One Fine Day the DVDs come in one of YAE's more cheaply constructed boxes: a thin outer shell, housing two volumes with 3 discs, one of them on a plastic page.  One good thing: the release clasp is of the strain-relief kind.  The menu is easy to follow and makes use of video thumbnails to make scene identification easier.


Extras : 3

Diverting from their usual practice of including a complete one-hour episode from a K-drama they wish to promote, this time around YAE provides 20-minute excerpts from two of their series, a romantic drama and a history drama.  While twenty minutes is hardly enough time to draw one in, we do get an idea of the general tone of the series in these two excerpts which, in both cases, introduce us to most of the characters and suggest the themes at play.  In the case of Jumong, however, we don't even get to meet the title character, who doesn't make his appearance until Episode 3.

Recommendation : 7

Despite my reservations about the picture quality and plot development, I found Delicious Proposal to be more satisfying than its title.   A lukewarm recommendation, then.


Leonard Norwitz


August 30, 2008


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