Shopping King Louis just finished its 16-episode run last month. I was a little hesitant after episode 1, but after episode 2, we kept watching for two days straight until we were finished.
So, would I recommend it?
Well…that depends. (Warning at the end.)
First, this is a comedy. It’s really quite funny and endearing, and while the storyline is stereotypical in a way (as are most Korean dramas), it manages to remain fresh and engaging throughout the entire series. Shopping King Louis stars Seo In-Guk (from Answer Me 1997–another drama I haven’t reviewed yet, but must!), and Nam Ji-Hyun, in her first leading role. Each performer, at one time or another, makes you laugh until your stomach hurts, and each character also makes you want to hit them.
Seo In-Guk is phenomenal in his role as a chae-bol son, rich as they come, whose nickname is “Shopping King Louis” because he’s royalty whose main role is to shop. Objects speak to him–literally–and shopping exhilarates him. His existence is relatively shallow but he’s lived out his life in France in a literal castle and he’s returning to Korea to take over his grandmother’s department store empire when tragedy strikes and he is believed to have perished in a car accident. But the truth is that he didn’t die, and the body in the accident isn’t him, and he’s now wandering the streets with amnesia. (I know, I know…amnesia–again?)
But Louis, or his given name of Ji-Sung, is about as inept as they come despite his riches, or because of how rich he is. The guy has never done a thing for himself, and on the street, he’s incapable of fending for himself. Through a complicated plot, in walks Go Bok-Sil.
Tough as nails and poor as dirt, Go Bok-Sil grew up in the mountainside, living with her grandmother after tragedy befalls her over and over again in her young life. She has nothing but grit, and she has just come to Seoul to look for her younger brother. Everything Louis has, she lacks; everything she has, Louis utterly lacks. The two have to team up for reasons I won’t mention in this review so as not to give away the storyline, and from ensues a variety of ridiculous situations and circumstances that the two must get through.
Of course, only someone lucky as Bok-Sil would find a homeless, amnesiac man and it turns out that he is actually the heir to one of the wealthiest families in the nation.
When you or I find a homeless amnesiac man — guaranteed he is just homeless.
(This trailer isn’t subtitled in English but you can still get a good idea of the feel of the show.)
Really, it’s quite funny and altogether cute–but there were several times I wanted to beat both characters for utterly lacking any modicum of common sense. I’d say out loud while watching, “I want to hit him” or “I’d like to beat this girl.”
But Nam Ji-Hyun, for all her inexperience in the leading role, is fantastic. She’s like a chameleon where she literally can look like a country bumpkin with the right dialect and mannerisms, and in the same exact scene without a change in clothing or hairstyle, she transforms into a noticeably beautiful star.
All the roles in this Korean drama are really well-developed–kudos to the writer of the series. While the leads are great, the supporting actors are also really quite good in this series.
Supporting Roles in Shopping King Louie
Yoon Sang Hyun plays Cha Joong-Won–one of Korea’s finest merchandise directors who is feared and respected in his industry, a straight-shooter, but quirky. He’s focused on his career for all of his life, becoming very successful at work within the Gold Group, but emotionally stunted and is child-like in a way within a life that is guided by responsibilities and priorities.
I personally have appreciated Yoon in many of his roles including Secret Garden–and his performance, while over the top in Shopping King Louis, is hilarious!
Im Se Mi plays Baek Ma Ri in this Korean drama series. She’s the sole daughter of the man who is next-in-line for the Gold Group throne since Louis “died” in his car accident. She is a lot like Cha Joong-Won in that she is driven, ambitious, and excels. She’s also obsessed with appearing good, and the object of her desire is Cha Joong-Won. But Joong-Won sees through her shallowness and is utterly not interested in Ma Ri.
While I was not familiar with Im Se Mi, it turns out she was in That Winter, The Wind Blows as a supporting role. I’d have to go back and watch that series to recall who she played, but this girl is stunningly beautiful.
But the cast is also full of talented actors including the always delightful Kim Sun-Young from Answer Me 1988, who plays a hilarious, if not unrealistic character of “Busan Double Axe” Heo Jung-Ran, the right hand woman to the chairman, opposite to Eom Hyo-Seop who plays the right hand man to Shopping King Louis himself–a brilliant graduate of Seoul National University who opts to be the butler to the young prince, and spend his life protecting him.
Never in my life have I seen a kdrama start strong, come to an end and then continue anyway. From episode 13 onward, I’m not even sure why I continued watching. Up to 12, it was really good, people–but then it decided to take a bomb dive and just fill space. I watched in horror as a funny drama decided to kill itself before my eyes. It ended again and again, or so it felt, but then it would continue with nonsensical stories, none of which had any meaning. Like FORCED scenes between the characters, people talking really slow, just to pass the time until it could end in episode 16.
All in all, I wholly recommend watching Shopping King Louis UNTIL episode 12. It’s a funny and totally sweet series where any staleness of the “rich vs. poor” typical Korean drama storyline is enlivened by powerful acting by all roles, and absolute hilarity that keeps you engaged from episode to episode–until episode 13, 14, 15, and 16. (I’m still flabbergasted – what was that? Why accept a 16 episode run if you only have a story until 12, or you can’t extend the story until 16?) I’d recommend you just stop at episode 12 and call it a good series. Unlike Korean dramas like Venus which were unbearable despite the strong cast, Shopping King Louis is light, fast-paced, and the perfect drama series to binge on over the holiday season when you can dedicate 2-3 days to nothing much but kdrama and ramen snacking.
You can watch Shopping King Louie on Viki — the entire series is ready for your viewing now.
Here’s episode 1 in its entirety. Enjoy!