What is it about the rich CEO falling in love with his poor, indebted, beautiful employee? And where can one find such a CEO for themselves? Asking for a friend. Thanks. The 12-episode K-drama Business Proposal is adapted from the manhwa (Korean comic aka webtoon) A Business Proposal. The show is quick-witted, melodramatic, corny, sappy and all the things an avid K-drama fan would want which is all the more reason why the show is currently a global success. Being shorter than a typical K-drama, Business Proposal on Netlfix is only 12 episodes long. The show ended on April 5 and left fans wondering about what they would do with their lives now that the show was over. I am fans!
Tread carefully, spoilers ahead.
You asked for a typical drama, you got it but Business Proposal somewhat transcends the generic plot of a damsel in distress. This damsel is in distress but is pretty much capable of saving herself from any challenge she is met with. Our main lead is Shin Ha-ri (played by Kim Sejeong) who is the daughter of a fried chicken shop owner family that consists of her parents and a younger brother, Ha-min. Her parents are, well, parents who did not think better which led to a series of debts that Shin Hari, being the older child, was left to pay. Hari works as a food researcher for GO Food and is quite good at her job.
Other than her family and her job, Hari only has a couple of other people in her life. One of them is her best friend, Jin Young-seo (played by Seol In-ah) who is rich with money but not with love. Young-seo’s mother abandoned her when she was just a child and her father had been too busy to look after her which is why she was practically adopted by Ha-ri’s family and was like a sister to Hari. Other than Youngseo, Hari also had Min-woo, who had been her one-sided crush and first love for the past seven years. But, because of Minwoo’s on-and-off relationship with Yu-ra, Hari never confessed, and Minwoo, who is as dull as a doorknob never understood.
On her birthday, Hari sets out to finally confess her love for Minwoo only to spot him kissing Yura. Hari takes this as a sign to finally move on and Youngseo has quite the predicament to keep her distracted. Since Youngseo hails from a rich family, her father wants her to marry a rich man to secure her assets but our rich and beautiful side lead wants to experience falling in love at first sight. Bored and tired of going to one blind date after another, Youngseo often sent Hari as her replacement to reject the guy for her and now Youngseo requests Hari to go in place of her one last time in exchange for 800,000 won.
Youngseo now disguises Shin Hari as herself to meet her blind date who is none other than drum-roll, GO Food’s CEO, and Shin Hari’s boss, Kang Tae-moo (played by Ahn Hyo-seop). No lie but, Taemoo is quite the catch, all thanks to his face and his body, a body that has a stellar personality which is a plus *wink wink*. Kang Taemoo is an orphan who lost his parents to a tragic car crash on a rainy day that he witnessed, leaving a trauma behind (which we will soon get to if you know how K-dramas go). He is looked after by his grandfather who just like Youngseo’s father sets him up on blind dates. Taemoo alongside his secretary, Cha Sung-hoon (played by Kim Min-gue) are both tired of these blind dates because a man has got to get that bread, right? Taemoo declares that this date with Jin Youngseo will be the end of all blind dates and he will marry her to pacify his grandfather.
An unbeknownst Taemoo meets Hari, disguised as Youngseo and a series of unfortunate events follow featuring lines like “the one on the left is Samantha and the one on the right is Rachel” and “Do you want to get a room with me?” Enamored by her quirky personality and witty charm, Taemoo decides he wants to marry the girl in front of him but Shin Hari, who is actually an employee at his company, loses her guns and lies to his face saying her name is Shin Geum-hui, (a name she has made up). Taemoo now asks Shin Geumhui to sign a Business Proposal and fake date him to throw his grandfather off and Hari (Geumhui) agrees because she really has no copout.
We also see a side couple blossoming where Youngseo who is determined to date someone she falls in love with at first sight suddenly meets CEO Kang Taemoo’s secretary, Sunghoon at a convenience store. Both Sunghoon and Youngseo are initially attracted to one another but after learning about Youngseo’s lie and the mess it caused for his boss and friend, Taemoo, Sunghoon “draws the line”. The line is obliterated as soon as Youngseo moves into an apartment next to Sunghoon’s and the two eventually cross the line and begin dating.
Not learning from the side leads but taking it excruciatingly slow are Taemoo and Geumhui (Hari) who are still fake-dating to keep faces with Chairman Kang (Taemoo’s grandfather). We can see that Taemoo is clearly falling in love with Geumhui but he soon learns that Geumhui, really is his employee, Shin Hari, and practically bullies her into dropping the act. But, as I said, Hari is not a damsel in distress which is why she tries her best to keep the act up and Taemoo eventually backs down realizing that it was Hari and her charming personality that he has actually fallen in love with despite all of her disguises. Will Taemoo confess to Hari and will she really date her CEO despite the class barrier? What happens when Youngseo’s dad finds out she is dating a mere secretary, Sunghoon? Watch Business Proposal to find out.
Business Proposal is as grand as it can get and it is a marvel that saw all actors delivered their characters in all earnesty. We start with our almost GOT7 member, Ahn Hyo-seop as Kang Tae-moo who, in the words of fans, is literally the lovechild of Lee Young-jun and Kim Mi-so from the 2018 Korean drama, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim. Kim Se-jeong as Shin Hari/Shin Geumhui on the other hand is also a singing sensation and K-pop idol who was a member of I.O.I and Gugudan who is finally getting the fame she deserves with Business Proposal.
With Seol In-ah as Jin Youngseo and Kim Min-gue as Cha Sunghoon, the side couple also steal the show with their on-screen and off-screen chemistry. The show also has many other characters that all are fun with the exception of Yura and Minwoo, obviously. But seeing Victon’s Byungchan play Shin Hari’s brother Hamin was as dreamy as it can get for me, who is a K-pop fan first and a human being later.
As a lot has been said about the plot of the show, I will keep it lowkey and talk about why the show is as good as it claimed to be. The show is good, if you do not trust me, trust Netflix’s Global Top 10 list where Business Proposal sits atop watching other shows down below. The show has all the clichés from a rich guy falling for a poor girl plot, the grand gestures and yacht trips, the sad long-distance angle, the side characters instantly falling in love, the grandfather forcing his decisions on others, and many more that you can name. Despite all this, what makes the show stand out is its epic delivery.
The clichés don’t feel forced and the characters feel like they are having fun which is why the audience loved the show so much. We also have some beautiful OSTs that run through the show which are to die for. With Bambam of GOT7 singing ‘Melting’ that had fans over the moon, Mellomance’s ‘Love, Maybe’ is also a global hit. The only drawback that I could find if I reached for one would be the way things ended. While the rest of the show was a smooth-sailing joy, the final episode seemed so rushed only to give us the ending we got.
Fans had their hopes set high only for the show to end far too soon and I am talking on behalf of the millions of people that watched Business Proposal on Netflix that the show ended far too soon and a detailed unboxing of Samantha and Rachel was due!
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.