This recommendation is perhaps a little belated, since I originally watched this show earlier in the year. (And I intended to write a rec for it then, but I just never got around to it.) However, I recently re-watched this series and was reminded of how much I love it, so better late than never. I’m about to explode feels all over you and tell you why you should watch A Business Proposal.
A Business Proposal, based on the webcomic from Kakao Entertainment Corp (which in turn is based on a webnovel by Haehwa), is the story of Shin Ha-ri (Kim Se-jeong), lowly food researcher at the highly profitable Go Foods. Her best friend, Jin Young-seo (Seol In-ah), is constantly being set up on blind dates by her father and getting Ha-ri to help get her out of them. This time, Ha-ri masquerades as Young-seo, intent on scaring the guy away and hopefully ending the blind dates forever (and earning a little cash on the side to help pay off a debt). Unfortunately, the blind date is Kang Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop), the president of Go Foods – aka Ha-ri’s boss.
I’ve found that it’s virtually impossible for me to succinctly explain the premise of K-dramas. I almost always end up giving people a detailed summary of the entire first episode instead. Because most K-dramas have a lot going on, and just saying, “Oh, it’s a mistaken identity fake dating story,” seems woefully inadequate for everything that happens in A Business Proposal. But yes, this show melds mistaken identity with fake dating, sprinkles in a little enemies to lovers, and adds a dash of secret relationship for flavor.
I love everything about this show. It’s funny and tense and sweet. I mean, fake dating is my jam, and everything else just adds to my enjoyment. The characters are charming, and I’m a sucker for a good romance. The people who need to get told off absolutely get told off. Everyone who deserves a happy ending gets one.
Ha-ri is smart and capable, and she’s a fiercely loyal friend. Tae-moo is the typical tough guy with a gooey center, though at first he’s extremely standoffish and kind of a jerk. Their romance is actually super cute, because everything that Ha-ri does to turn Tae-moo off when she’s masquerading as Young-seo only intrigues him. He likes that she’s different from all of the other women on the many, many blind dates his grandfather makes him go on. He also is interested in Ha-ri, his employee (before he realizes that they’re the same person), because she’s just so darn good at her job.
They have a lot of stumbles on their way. For example, the fact that Ha-ri keeps lying to him (for very good reasons! but still, you know, lying). Then there’s the fact that Tae-moo’s grandfather really dislikes employee!Ha-ri but loves the fake persona Ha-ri puts on when she pretends to be the girlfriend.
The show does introduce a sort of love triangle with Ha-ri’s longtime crush Min-woo, but it’s handled pretty well. I say this as someone who detests love triangles. When Min-woo gets back together with his ex-girlfriend, Ha-ri decides it’s time to move on. Yet as soon as it appears she’s unavailable, Min-woo starts getting possessive of her time. Luckily, Ha-ri calls him out on it and doesn’t let affect her relationship. Although Tae-moo gets unnecessarily competitive about it.
The secondary romance between Young-seo and Tae-moo’s childhood friend and assistant Cha Sung-hoon (Kim Min-gue) is just as good (maybe even better? IDK I just really love these two) than the main pairing. The two have a legitimate meet-cute moment at a convenience store before they know who the other is. Young-seo and Sung-hoon also get their act together faster than their friends, which leads to some super cute moments. Also, let me tell you, the scene where Sung-hoon takes off his glasses to better kiss Young-seo is ten times sexier than the scene where he takes his shirt off. Seriously, heart palpitations over here.
This series is slightly shorter than most K-dramas, with only twelve episodes. (It’s standard to have sixteen.) This allows for a tighter narrative and means that there is less time spent on dreadful miscommunication plots. Tae-moo finds out pretty quickly that Ha-ri is not Young-seo, and when Ha-ri gives a fake name so that he doesn’t realize she’s his employee, he discovers that fairly quickly, too. My only concern with having fewer episodes is that, after the obligatory time skip, everything gets wrapped up very fast. Some of the lingering conflicts (like Tae-moo’s grandfather not liking Ha-ri) are basically hand-waved to get to the happy ending.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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