Review: ‘Business Proposal’, 4 Classic K Drama Tropes that We Fall for, Again and Again

A dramatic airport scene where lovers fated to be together are torn apart; a hospital scene where the hero/heroine’s heart monitor weakens to a near flat line…

Fans of the K-Dramas have come to anticipate certain gripping events before the curtain drops on any given season. In fact, K-Dramas can be lovable because of, and not in spite their familiarity.

Of all K-Drama genres out there, rom-coms are most known for their iconic tropes. Formulaic, yet thoroughly entertaining, if done well, the tried and true keeps viewers coming back for more. Here are my favorite well-worn yet can’t-wait-to-find-out-what-happens-next scene turners from rom-com, Business Proposal.

1. First love (Cheot sarang 첫사랑)

They say first loves die hard. K-Dramas take this obsession to the next level. In this trope, one (or both) of the halves of a couple is still in love with his/her first love, even if that first love bloomed in childhood. Because they knew each other from the beginning, they have history and memories that they can only share with each other. This is especially true if the first loves have gone their separate ways, but fate intervenes and the couple meets up again. First loves end up being the last and only loves, a destined happy ending for all.

In Business Proposal, Ha-ri is in love with Min-woo. They are friends from college and Ha-ri and has been pining for him for seven years. But Min-woo thinks they are simply good friends. Which brings us to trope #2.

2. One-sided love (Jjak sarang 짝사랑)

A is infatuated with B but B is totally oblivious. Or, maybe A has made overtures of interest, but B is not interested in A; however, A longingly holds out hope. 

Song Won-seok as Min-woo, the object of Ha-ri’s jjak sarang.

In Business Proposal, Ha-ri has high hopes that Min-woo will reciprocate her endearment. Of course, he has no idea she is pining for him. Instead, he gets a girlfriend (who is a mutual friend) and Ha-ri is crushed.

3. Love triangle (Samgak gwangae 삼각관계)

Ha-ri and Tae moo talk to Min woo.

K-Drama rom-com writers are on to us: there’s something about love triangles that’s irresistable. The first love and one-sided love would not be complete without the love triangle.

What adds intrigue and shakes things up more than a gorgeous new face? The stage is set as a new player promises to blow up or bring together lingering one-sided and first-love stalemates.

Business Proposal: The third leg of a love triangle comes into play when Ha-ri’s best friend, Young-seo, asks Ha-ri to go on a blind date in her place (Young-seo refuses to go because she rejects her father’s demands for an arranged marriage). Young-seo convinces Ha-ri that it will be easy peasy to make the guy go running.

On the date, however, instead of Ha-ri’s rudeness turning off the blind date (Tae-moo), he is intrigued because she is the opposite of most dates, who are so eager to please.

Despite Ha-ri’s best efforts, Tae-moo is interested in seeing her again. When Min-woo finds out that Ha-ri went on a blind date, he is bothered. But, at first, he doesn’t realize it’s because he is jealous. The love triangle is set in motion and viewers are hooked until the very end to find out how who ends up with whom.

4. Cinderella Story 신데렐라 스토리

No rom-com trope is more satisfying than the Korean equivalent of  Pride and Prejudice or Titanic’s Jack and Rose… when happily ever after is attainable despite one being rich and the other (relatively) poor, all is right with the world.

Business Proposal: Tae-moo is heir to a rich conglomerate family and Ha-ri is a middle-class daughter of chicken restaurant owners.

Without knowing Ha-ri’s modest background, Tae-moo finds himself head over heels for her. How they go about resolving their differences while rooting for their love to conquer all makes one stay up all night to find out what happens.

Nothing can satisfy my appetite for familiar favorites as rom-com K-Dramas. Business Proposal lives up to my expectations and classically delivers with endearing Korean-style flair. 

FB Smit was born in Seoul, South Korea and when she moved to the US with her family when she was 7 years old, she replaced Korean with all things Anerican. Now grown-up, she is having the best time (re) discovering all things Korean language and culture as a teacher, playwright, and author.

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