Secret Garden Korean Drama 2010Clearly, this drama is not exactly new, but it is arguably one of the most popular Korean series of the 2000s. With Hyun Bin’s release from the army at the start of this month, I was feeling nostalgic for his previous work. I’m sure that most Korean drama fans have seen this series, so continue reading and see if you agree with this review. If you have yet to watch it, see if this coverage ignites your interest for it at all!

Joo Won (Hyun Bin) is a very rich and spoilt young man. He is president of a large department store he inherited from his wealthy family and is used to getting what he wants, when he wants.
He lives a largely carefree life, pleasing his mother by going on organised dates with equally rich heiresses. However, none of these women interest him in any way and as a result; he is often left bored and apathetic. One of the only things that he gets excited about is competing with his cousin Oska (Yoon Sang Hyun) – an idol star that possesses zero musical talent. The two men are childish and fight all the time, but when Oska requests that Joo Won pick up his actress girlfriend from a film set, Joo Won is forced to oblige.
In his haste to pick up the woman, Joo Won actually confuses the actresse’s stunt double Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won) as the girlfriend in question. When her true identity is revealed, Joo Won realises that he feels a great attraction to the feisty stunt woman. He becomes obsessed with her, following her everywhere despite the huge differences in social status and the annoyance his persistence flares up in Gil Ra Im.
Gil Ra Im is actually a fan of Oska, much to Joo Won’s fury and she wins a competition to spend time with the star. A jealous Joo Won tags along, but the couple become separated from Oska and stumble across a ‘Secret Garden’ where the enigmatic owner offers them wine to drink. The two then awake the next morning to find that they have actually swapped bodies!
How will these two possibly manage unravel the mystery that has enveloped them?
  • The cast choices for this series are very good. Hyun Bin and Yoo Sang Hyun play spoilt children trapped in adult’s bodies so very well. All the characters seem quite two dimensional at first and seem to conform to simple stereotypes. However, as the episodes progress, each individuals’ deeper identities are revealed and each cast member plays their parts very well.
  • Words cannot describe how much I adore the character of Oska! He provides some of the comic relief for the series, but he does it in such an unusual way. You would think that a spoilt and talentless idol would not be on the top of anyone’s favourites list, but I defy anyone not to fall in love with his energetic and silly personality. His more emotional side is also exposed when he is given a tough storyline involving an ex-girlfriend called Yeun Sul (played by Kim Sa Rang), but he remains bubbly and caring towards his biggest fan Gil Ra Im through it all.
  • The body-swap archetype is probably one that scares away many an actor from many a script and it has equally been done enough times before to leave viewers bored and unwilling to open their minds to it. Here though, Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won mould to each other’s characters so well. You can really see that they have studied how one another plays their respective roles in detail and it really pays off.
  • Cousins Oska and Joo Won’s relationship never fails to entertain. Their often very fast and speedy arguments in dialogue scenes are not to be missed!
  • Joo Won’s assistant Kim Sung Oh (Kim Sung Oh) and his girlfriend – Gil Ra Im’s roommate – Min Ah Young (Yoo In Ah) have such a wonderful and funny relationship. I love the fact that the two are essentially to complete antithesis of Joo Won and Ha Ji Won in their relationship dynamics. They give viewers a refreshing side story to the protagonists’ and audience members will probably find themselves rooting for the two characters just as much as for the main characters!

  • Honestly, I think there were many more episodes than actually necessary for this series and this resulted in parts of the story being dragged out quite a bit in places. Personally, I feel that the length could have quite easily been cut down to around 15 episodes instead.
  • Sometimes, when the body-swap took place and long dialogue scenes would be carried out by Joo Won and Gil Ra Im, they would be shown as their original characters when speaking. I assume this was so viewers wouldn’t become overly confused with who was saying what, but I couldn’t help but feel that this was a little bit of a cheat on the actors’ parts. It came across to me that they were perhaps too lazy to play each other for long periods of time as maybe it was too difficult for them. This annoys me a little as the whole body-swap concept is done so well when they remain as each other.
  • Oska and Yeun Sul’s side story became slightly boring for me as it was also dragged out a little too long. Instead of confronting each other and saying what they truly felt about past events, they simply resorted to snide comments and actions to get back at one another.


I was a very late viewer of this drama series and was only pushed to after seeing so many references or parodies of it on variety programmes. At first, I failed to see what all the hype was about, but once things started to really get going a few episodes in, I really began to enjoy it.
It balances serious issues with lots of comedy. It involves a humour that is undeniably silly, but never cheesy in its execution. You will probably often be caught by surprise by the silly moments and I think that is great.
This is a drama full of great actors and a fairly unusual take on a rather stereotypical story. Although it is not without its faults, it makes for very comfortable and relaxed watching. It is definitely something that you can settle down and watch on a cold winters evening. The beautiful nature shown in many of the shots really makes you appreciate the wonder of seasonal changes and will probably make you yearn for the upcoming spring months!
Also, I really recommend fans of this drama to watch BIGBANG’s parody of it. It is really entertaining! 😛
Watch their parody with English Subtitles here!
Secret Garden BIGBANG Parody eng subs
What do you think of this drama?
Is it one of your favourites?
[Sources: Google Images, YouTube].

About Author

I love writing (especially about K-Pop) and am trying to improve my skills with every post!