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Korean Drama Intro: Roommate

soompi-roommate collageWhether or not you’re into reality shows — which I’m usually not — SBS’ new reality / variety show Roommates is one to watch. I just finished episode 3, and laughed until I was doubled over grabbing onto my stomach. Eleven mostly stranger — six guys and five girls, all celebrities in their own right — are put together in one large, gorgeous house to live together for six weeks. What they all have in common is that they’ve never been married and are single in relationship status. Some of them live with their parents (still!), and others are in a boarding situation with peers, or live completely on their own.

Some of the ladies of Roommate – Park Bom, Nana and Hong Soo Hyun

Surprisingly, in the opening interviews, the lack of adequate money despite what appears to be a successful acting career is most notable. I’d have guessed if you’ve been on three consecutive successful drama series, you should be rolling in money — but that’s not the case in the Korean entertainment industry.

The Oldest (Over 30 years Old))Residents in Roommate

Former supermodel, maybe Korea’s real first, Lee So Ra

Shin Sung Woo (신성우) and Lee So Ra (이소라) are the two oldest — more than double in age of some of the youngest roommates in the house (the youngest is 19 years old). Korean series Roommate is a hilarious and accurate glimpse into Korean culture, and the status one’s age automatically grants you, even when you don’t know each other at all.

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Shin Sung-Woo — oldest man in the house, singer and actor — sex symbol

The maternal character of the two is not Lee So Ra but actually, Shin Sung Woo. The portrayal of this rugged and sexy man in this series is HYSTERICAL!! And in contrast, how they portray Lee So Ra, who is of an age to be considered an “old miss” (as in couldn’t get married at an appropriate age) is also really funny.

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Hong Soo-Hyun joins Roommate

You always need that one girl in any series that likes all the  guys — any guy will do so long as he’s cute. That appears to be Hong Soo Hyun’s character and personality. That said, many of the guys like her, too — so how things turn out remains to be seen. This powerhouse of an actress shows a very cute but sensitive side to herself, and she seems to committed to showing her true self in Roommate.  At the ripe  age of 33, she has senior status to most in the house except for Shin Sung Woo and Lee So Ra.

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The kind and caring Lee Dong Wook on Roommates

Having lived with his parents for all of his life, Lee Dong Wook (이동욱) joins the cast of Roommate to see what life with roommates is about. At the age of 32, he’s also looking for a life partner, and admits he’s probably not leaving his parents’ home until he’s married. Early on in the show, Lee Dong Wook shows that he’s a very typical “oppah” — caring, doting and reliable. While I don’t consider him to be the best-looking in the house, it’s remarkable how quickly he grew on me to become one of my favorites. He’s the only one in the house I’d peg as premium husband material!

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Jo Se Ho — Korean Comedian joins Roommate

The youngest of the oldest, Jo Se-Ho (조세호) injects a ton of humor into this series, partially because of how he’s so easily confused and gets himself into awkward situations — and partially just because he’s funny. He brought a life-size framed photo of the picture above into the house, so plan to see it often. He’s ultimately a nice guy who wants to find love, but in the house in Roommates, he’s among tough competition with well-known and handsome actors and singers, with guys outnumbering the gals.

The Younger (3o Years of Age or Under) Residents in Roommate

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Park Bom — from 2NE1

Keeping in mind that I don’t keep up with Korean pop culture, I’ll say off the bat that I had no idea who Park Bom was, never mind what “2NE1” was. When I first saw Park Bom (박봄) in the intro, all I could think was “Wow, that is a LOT of plastic surgery!” and “Why does she talk like that?” Within two episodes, I’m in love with this quirky, adorable and sweet character. Her English is not perfect, her Korean isn’t either — so I’m not sure what language is her first language, but whatever Park Bom says is hysterical and an absolute delight to watch. I promise you, if you aren’t already — you’ll be a fan in no time.

(Edited August 2014: read our latest news re: Park Bom. We’re so bummed!)

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The adorable Park Min Woo

Park Min Woo from Flower Boy Ramen Shop kicks off the first episode with an unspoken competition with Seo Kang Joon for the affections of Hong Soo Hyun. Some of it is jokingly, but there’s an underlying element of seriousness to this silent duel. A couple of episodes later, they have a friendlier duel over basketball — which was so funny — but he adds a nice flavor to Roommate. His dimples are adorable, too, so that doesn’t hurt the yumminess of the show.

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Nana from band After School joins Roommate

NANA is a stunning addition to the resident cast members of Roommate, but to now, at episode 3, I’m not sure she really adds anything. Perhaps there will be come chemistry between her and anyone else in the house; in episode one, it felt like she and Lee Sora would develop a bond but nothing special about the two have been shown since. Nana rooms with Hong Soo Hyun in Roomate, and the two appear to get along well. She seems to have had a tough life — and there’s more to her than just the outer beauty, I suspect. I hope!

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Park Chan-Yeol — adorable!

Park Chan-Yeol couldn’t be any cuter if he tried. Part man, part girl, almost — he is so sweet and obedient to all of the residents of Roommate. Rather shy and needing to bust out of his outer shell, I suspect pairing him as roommates with the oldest (and most confident) man in the house, Shin Sung-Woo, was not by accident. PS14050300368I’m excited to see how he blooms in this series!

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Seo Kang-Joon

If you don’t recognize the face above — you haven’t been watching Korean drama. With major hits in “I Can Hear Your Voice” and “Sly and Single Again”, Seo Kang-Joon is everywhere these days. And on every girl’s mind in Roommate, apparently.  By a landslide, he’s the most popular man in the house, but at a mere 21 years of age, almost every single girl in this house (except the one shown below) are older than him by two to twenty-five years’ difference!

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Song Ga-Yeon — MMA Fighter. She’s awesome.

Song Ga Yeon is the only one on Roommate who hasn’t turned 20 years old yet. At a young age of 19, she’s also a female MMA fighter, and the only person who is not an entertainment celebrity in the K-pop or K-drama scene. She’s extremely calm, mature and no-drama, but she will kick your butt if you ask her to….as some guys did, and got just that done to them. song ga yeonOf the females, I think she might be my favorite only because of how aloof yet approachable and cool she is. She’s clearly a dedicated person who is so respectful and polite, but totally unfazed by the celebrities in the home. She’s the most refreshing addition to the series thus far.

Summary of SBS Korean Drama Roommate

This is one of the few reality shows that I’ve liked. Of Korean variety shows, it’s definitely the first. While I reluctantly watched the first two episodes, I was hooked by episode 3 and can’t recommend this series enough. Give it a try. Each episode is about 90 minutes long — and you can easily catch up with the existing three episodes over one weekend. You can watch all of the episodes here.

Stay tuned for episode 4, airing on May 25 in Korea. It should be available on Dramafever by May 26.