Drama

Writers of Dramaland: Park Hae Young

When thinking about the dramas we love, many of us often think of the more or less great acting talents and beautiful faces out there, or at least that is where Shiro’s first thoughts go but there are those like AnQuat who look beyond the oh so pretty faces and have noticed more and more how important the team behind the production is. AnQuat even started making a list where she keeps track of the screenwriters + directors she enjoys. Though Shiro knows deep inside that there is a whole team behind the making of a drama, she rarely thought of the importance of the people behind the oh so pretty faces in K-Dramaland.

However, thanks to our conversations Shiro has started checking out the people behind the scenes more and more, noticing writing she enjoys and what writers she may want to stay clear of. And so the idea for this editorial was born…

To be clea, we both fall for those pretty faces and though there are several interesting people working behind the scenes, this editorial will focus on the writers. But do not worry, there will be plenty of pretty faces, too. 

Things that can be good to know:
1. All links are
this color
2. Though we have tried to avoid spoilers, we can not fully guarantee that this is completely spoiler free, however each title is clearly stated in the beginning.
 3. Whenever these pictures appear, an opinion by that person will follow…

AnQuatHowl’s Moving Castle

Shiro 

Made by  Reneveer 

The birth of drama… 

Somewhere in a land far far away, there were dramas being released so that people all over the world could stream them. As to where they came from, some people seemed to believe they were made in heaven… as the magical creatures called oppas, noonas, writers and directors eat Subs from Subway, they dance the night away to the sound of chirping birds while soju filled waterfalls reveal the most beautiful rainbows…

source

Thus ignoring the actual human hard work behind the creation of the drama…

A milder way to say this would be that it all starts in the writer’s beautiful creative mind where they are free to write masterpiece after masterpiece… 

It is not like writers need to make a living, write something they can sell and live up to a whole bunch of rules… nee… in our mind they live a beautiful carefree life and that is it.


How does it feel to be a drama writer?

Yoon Nan Jong writes about the life of a woman who works as an assistant writer, trying to become a real drama writer in Because This Is My First Life. At her lowest point she aimlessly walks in a tunnel, in the middle of the night, in her pyjamas and all alone, talking to herself:

“When I decided to make a living off of my dream, I knew that my life would be like walking alone through a dark tunnel. But I didn’t know that it would be this dark! I didn’t know that it would be this lonely!” She cries out aloud: “How much further do I need to go?”

We tried to search for information about this writer, her name and the titles she has been involved in, but found very little. What we do know is that she is the writer who wrote about the darkness in the tunnel in Because This Is My First Life. She is probably one of our main sources of fear of becoming writers ourselves. Well, lack of talent and language skills might be a problem, too… (but that is a different story). We admit we have not watched a lot of her work but she is definitely a writer with great skills, that incorporates common fears and problems in society with great humour and a lot of fluff (cat). Scaring people off of becoming writers, but encouraging contract marriages… 

Writers in our world:

To be honest we actually know nothing about this but are just going to assume that what is portrayed in dramas is true, since it is allowed to air it must be true! So we basically think that it is a big mess, a whole lot of work, and that those few who did get to the point of actually getting their work turned into the actual dramas we watch, have both talent and worked their ****  off to get to where they are. 

We are sure there are quite a few friends here who tried to write a book, or even a short story – it is not an easy task. To be frank, a white piece of paper can be really frightening. Do not listen to any scare tactics, we want to give encouragement to those out there, struggling: Fighting!! Please succeed!


The Main Lead of This Editorial

The woman of the hour, our main lead for this article about the writers of Dramaland is Park Hae Young (abbreviated PHY), the writer of some of our personal favourite dramas. To be fair, most writers on MDL will have “picture not found”. We actually get to see Park Hae Young’s face, not bad right! 

Unlike the actors of Dramaland who get every detail of their life scrutinised, making it easy for us to find out more or less anything about education, blood type, the colour of their underwear and anything in between, the information available about PHYs previous work life is limited. However! We did actually manage to find an interview with PHY where she mentions that she did go to college (no clue where)  and that she worked in a small publishing house before she registered for SBS Broadcasting Academy.

We also learned that she has very intense work periods where she basically does not sleep, and according to this  guy in Be Melodramatic  (written by Kim Young Young and Lee Byung Hun)  she even stays away from eating raw foods just in case she gets sick:  

But then makes up for it between projects by basically doing nothing when she is done with a project, to be clear: we do not know how true the part about the raw food is, however basically doing nothing is from the above mentioned interview with her, we like to assume she spends all day eating sushi, watching dramas and drinking soju between projects … But honestly do not really know what the doing nothing actually entails. 

So in short, we know very little about her, other than her works touching our hearts… And well that is enough for us to appreciate her and is really all that matters right! 

Oh! And we are not the only ones to appreciate her, as she has both been nominated and won several awards for her screenplays. (Source) 

Source

Her early works

The earliest title to be credited to Park Hae Young on MDL is Old Miss Diary (2004), a family romance sitcom with no less than 232 episodes. The next one is the movie adaptation where she took all the 232 episodes or 116 hours of screen time and managed to boil them down to 1 hr and 48 minutes Old Miss Diary (2006). Followed by the 170 episodes short sitcom I Live in Cheongdam-dong (2011). We haven’t actually seen any of these but are going to assume that they are part of her journey towards greatness as we have seen the following titles, some more than once and will now present to you in chronological order.  

Two Weddings and a Funeral (2012) 

Movie

Score: 7.4 

Ranked: 4091

Popularity: 1308

Watchers: 7,228 

*April 29th 2022

Genres:  Comedy,  Romance

Tags:  LGBTQ+,  Gay Relationship,  Married Couple,  Lesbian Relationship, Lesbian Romance,  Gay Romance, Closeted, Secret, Fake Marriage, Homophobia

This movie did not make a great  impression the first 40 minutes or so, so much so that AnQuat actually dropped it. However it may just be part of PHY’s charm, having a slow start creating a build up so that once the pace goes up it feels even more intense than it would have been if the pace was more equally divided. 

As the tags show, this movie deals with social issues and family from an LGBTQ+ point of view. As people who belong to the LGBTQ+ must go through great lengths just to be able to have rights others take for granted. 

While the first half shows the adjustments the characters in this movie make in their lives in a more humoristic way, the second half shows a selection of consequences in a slightly, ok not slightly very much darker manner. The combination of the two is sure to touch the audience as there are a whole lot of spot-on one-liners and some pretty powerful scenes. You can read Shiro’s review of it here.

Another Miss Oh (2016)

Drama

Score: 8.2 

Rank: 786 

Popularity: 123

Watchers: 44,948 

*April 29th 2022

Genres: Comedy, Romance, Family, Supernatural

Tags:  Steamy Kiss, Mistaken Identity, Neighbours, Cold Man/Warm Woman, Precognition,  Healing, Love/Hate Relationship, Mistake, Successful Male Lead, Hardworking Male Lead

Our personal additional tag: hilarious!

Wi So Young  worked with Park Hae Young for the drama Another Miss Oh, after that she wrote the script to Work Later, Drink Now, a comedy that focuses on friendship fun but manages to incorporate a whole lot of depth and painful issues between the laughs. If it is a result of her work with Park Hae Young or not we do not know… but we want to mention her here as well as she is one of Dramalands interesting writers, just not accomplished enough to get her own article, at least not yet. But we are rooting for her. 

In this drama, we meet the newly dumped Miss Oh (Seo Hyun Jin) and the not so newly dumped sound director Park Do Kyung (Eric Mun), who cross paths so many times they might as well fall in love… 

This was the drama that made AnQuat start that precious excel file we mentioned in the intro. The drama sounds like just one of those comedies that deals with two girls with the same name getting mixed up. Something that indeed sounds like pure comedy and not much depth. However, leave it to Park Hae Young and her co-writer to mix good comedy with depth. The drama captivated the both of us within its first minutes. A sad woman, a man with headphones, putting on red high heels, the woman walking, a gun, the man adding sound to her movements.

We met a complex web of family relationships. The family relations are complicated and not always wholesome. We felt like strangling Do Kyung’s toxic mother, beating up some other annoying characters and moving in with Miss Oh’s caring parents.

There is a person who tries to change his fate with all might. Fright, despair, depression… this man gets it from all sides. And then he meets another wounded soul and some tiny little spark of interest and astonishment starts to ignite, along with the desire to survive. 

The story changes in the course of the episodes. There is a lot of going back and forth in the lead’s relationship, but all of that was relatable. A few characters were annoying, but they didn’t have a lot of screen time.

The colleagues: We loved the bromance in Do Kyungs crew – complaints all along, but when Do Kyung was sad, all of them gathered…

PHY: “I think the characters played a big part in the success. The casting matched the characters perfectly, and everyone played out their parts eagerly and very well.” (source) We agree, not only here but in all her popular dramas. And speaking of good casting, we would like to mention some of the supporting actors’ special achievements: Kim Ji Suk and Ye Ji Won were both hilarious and heartbreaking, just mind-blowing.

gif made by Manicmuse

Fun fact: The family name Oh is actually not so common in Korea. Two girls who go by the name Oh Hae Young in the same class? Unlikely. Very common names are Park, Kim and Lee. There are more than 500 screenwriters in AnQuat’s excel file, six screenwriters with the family name Oh and 46 screenwriters with the name Park. So the probability is much higher that there are two girls in the same class who are called Park Hae Young – and guess what, that’s AnQuat’s favourite screenwriter’s name! 

Sound: The male lead is a sound director, and when he scolds his subordinates for not distinguishing between the different sound of the sand on the Western and Eastern shore, we found ourselves learning about those differences, about the sound of sunlight, the missing sound of a closing door and how to produce a sound of a leg that gets multiple fractures. Leading us to never being able to watch a drama again without noticing the quality of the sound. Thanks a lot for that, PHY!

One thing that I kind of disliked were the scenes when the leads were taking turns complaining about the background music in a pub, the music being too noisy or not loud enough – there wasn’t any background pub music in the first place, so that put me a bit off. It is probably supposed to be artistic… I saw the whole drama many times, every single time it put me off. But I conveniently blame the director for that detail. Sorry, Song Hyun Wook gamdong nim, I am your fan, but this detail is meh.

I  would like to recommend: Manicmuse’s review on Another Miss Oh. I personally think her review is a piece of art in itself. She has really nailed it.

To be honest, it has been a while since I watched this, so I had to be reminded of a lot. What I remembered most were the shoes in the beginning, the second couple and the male lead’s walks of silence… This was probably the drama where I fell in love with Seo Hyun Jin and the way she portrayed a bubbly, slightly imperfect character here. 

On MDL, the rating for Another Miss Oh is not too impressive, but on wikipedia it says: “The series recorded the highest audience rating for a tvN Monday-Tuesday show and became one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television history.” (rank 30, 9,99 %).

My Mister (2018) 

Drama 

Score: 9.1

Popularity: 101

Rank: 10! 

Watchers: 50,353 

*April 29th 2022

Genres: Psychological,  Life, Drama, Family

Tags: Nice Male Lead, Strong Female Lead, Smart Female Lead, Healing, Depression, Poor Female Lead, Workplace, Infidelity, Office Worker, Hardworking Female Lead

PHYs most popular and highest ranked drama is without a doubt My Mister from 2018. A drama that may not seem very interesting at first glance, My Mister covers the miserable lives of a bunch of people – hard to say who is the most miserable one.

– Are you saying you have a harder life than I do? 

– I’m pretty competitive when it comes to being miserable, up for a battle? 
– Let’s do it.
– Cheers 

Instead of fighting it out (ok, there are some fights, too), PHY embraces the different types of pain and shares with us, the viewers, an enormous variety of pain, ranging from the purely deep emotional to the visible physical due to getting beaten up.

 

Warm and strong family bonds and the joyful, honest friendships more than compensate for the pain, and the music fits beautifully. The genre doesn’t have “comedy”, but be assured the one or other situation is definitely comical.

We fell in love with several of the actors and IU, of course – We were completely blown away. Such a complex web of human relationships, and a single person who hit rock bottom himself is still changing the lives of basically everyone he encounters, without even intending to do anything.

We think Park Hae Young works a bit like a painter who adds more and more colours to the picture. In the beginning we thought, oh, the plot is like this, then it changed, some information added, the picture changed. All the time the picture changes. So better watch this drama fast: An episode a day or even better by bingeing it you will be able to understand the whole picture better. If you wait a whole week you may just forget a part of the story. My Mister is just the type of drama where you get the most out of it if you don’t wait too long for the next episode.

Sound: This may look strange in an article about a writer, but the sound in this drama was an important part of the writing. The female lead doesn’t speak much, but we see her listening to the male lead’s steps, breathing, etc. There is no doubt that sound was given great importance when casting Lee Sun Kyun as the male lead of this drama, an actor who is well known for his memorable, warm voice. We get to hear him not only talking, but walking and breathing in abundance. Even if he doesn’t talk you still have his voice resounding within you. Did PHY just get lucky for working with people who do great sound or is it part of her writing? We are going to go for the latter. 

The best one of the villains – the loan shark: He is merciless, he even beats women, so we can hate him all we want in the beginning of the show. Jang Ki Yong embodies this loan shark who may seem just like any other drama loan shark at first, but he is more of a dark leather jacket hoodie type of loan shark with psychopath vibes than the money thirsty loan sharks we are used to seeing. But he too has a story to tell. Making both Shiro and AnQuat find themselves conflicted, why do we feel a little bad for this merciless psychopath who stalks and beats Ji Ahn?

 

But then again that is part of the beauty with the way she writes her characters (in this and other dramas), making sure we, the viewers, know that everybody has a story. In the end we are all just a bunch of lonely hearts trying to survive in this not so equal world. This story has a lot of pain and misery. We mean a lot of pain, we may have mentioned the pain before but we could write the words pain and misery over and over again and though one may wonder if anything really changes in this story there is definitely a lot of heart and encouragement to see beyond the dark shaded glasses and violent exterior. It is not as if she is excusing the behaviour in any way but there is a certain warmth in her writing, encouraging viewers to look at others with a kind heart. The world she shows us is still cold and dark but here and there, there are fuzzy blankets and odd solutions, they may not last but they may just keep us alive, just a little bit longer.

 My Mister had been on my PTW (plan to watch list) for quite a while before I  started it. The title sounded quite tacky, in my imagination there would be yet another hard working poor girl running after yet another rich tsundere man. Not that I dislike tsundere men XD –  but oh man, was I wrong…

When I finally started it I was captured within the first minutes. Dropping it? Not a single thought of dropping. I more or less binged it. 

I almost dropped My Mister after the first episode but once I got into it, it went straight into my heart and became one of my all time favourites.

My Liberation Notes (2022) 

Drama 

Score: 8.7 (scored by 4, 692 users)

Ranked: #112

Popularity: #626

Watchers: 15,145

*June 9th 2022

Genres: Romance, Life, Drama, Melodrama

Tags: Slow Burn Story, Character Development, Countryside, Multiple Mains, Loneliness, Introverted Female Lead, Alcoholic Male Lead, Slight Comedy, Slow Burn Romance, Inner Monologue

We waited until this drama had finished airing to wrap up this article and one thing is clear: our expectations were high and we were not disappointed in the least bit. Again, the genre does not include Comedy, but there are many situations where you can’t help laughing out loud.

My Liberation Notes is another great drama gathering a bunch of miserable people onto one screen, and in this case with the common hub of the little farmhouse in the village. The main characters in this drama are three siblings and a mysterious alcoholic guy living next door, being employed by their father. 

The drama starts off with the main characters being introduced with a very loud sound of silence, reassuring us that the use of sound is important in PHYs writing.

The eldest sister is the type to speak without thinking it through as well as a bit too loud and without reading the room. This makes way for a whole lot of confrontation as well as dialogs that deal with important issues, as seen here where she gets called out for her ignorance about divorce and single parenthood:

 

“I  may have gotten divorced, but the best decision I ever made was getting married, otherwise I would not have met such a precious kid.”

As the story progresses we get to see short glimpses of scenes outside the main timeline here and there. These small scenes are completely out of context. As viewers we know nothing about the events in them, including who actually is involved, if it is in the past, future or present.  As a result of this, viewers can not really be sure of anything adding a whole lot of suspense to the drama. In the same way, unexpected and out of nowhere, a sparkle of brightness breaks through again and again:

To be completely honest we are not sure if we ever get to see the whole picture, like a painter Park Hae Young leaves quite a bit to our imagination and interpretation in this drama. In a way she demands quite a bit from her viewers, making this the kind of drama you have to turn on your brain to understand, instead of one of those dramas that you have to turn off your brain to enjoy – all dramas we adore, just in different ways. We also think the empty spots may make it easier for viewers to relate to the characters, as the viewers are left to fill in the blanks with their own experience, like interpreting a great piece of art.

Park Hae Young always leaves a lot to our imagination and interpretation. You don’t have to register all the details to enjoy her dramas, but when you rewatch it (at least I have to rewatch it to get really excited) you will see that things are not simply put anywhere. A flower blooming in the foreground? Its delicacy mirrors what happens here, in the cautious dialogue or silence between the two main leads. There are little gems hidden everywhere in between.

The amount of powerful scenes and spot-on dialogs can almost feel overwhelming at times, as she shows reality more in a way we are used to experiencing it than in the way we are used to seeing it, toying with common conventions. Though few may actually experience most of the dialogues in real life, we are pretty sure many have talked to themselves in this way without willing to admit it, making the characters highly relatable but not always so lovable for all. 

Like here, when Mi Joung (Kim Ji Won) basically tells Mr Gu (Son Seok Koo) to butt out, this may seem simple but is actually very hard to do:

 

Would you admit that you spend all day cursing inside? Most people may not spend all day cursing like this guy, but let’s face it, there are those days…

One of the leads struggles with alcoholism (ehem, yes, there is literally a guy who recognises his alcohol addiction), and while one would think the others would do all in their power to try to get him to stop drinking, their approach could be seen as accepting and laughing at it and less fighting spirit.

The fighting spirit is rather left to the “Liberation Club”, a club that makes way for the problems less recognized by society, but can be a real pain for those wanting to break loose of, such as one’s own involuntary smile:

Or trying to free introverts from being forced by society to socialise against their will: 

Why do I need to know people from other departments? It is hard enough with those in mine. It’s as if everyone here used to be popular kids in school.

Can’t they just leave introverted people alone?

Side note: the Liberation Club reminds us in some ways of a Barbara Sher support group –where people support each other to find and reach their individual goals.

All  beautifully wrapped up with a bunch of monologues here and there. Here is one of our personal favourites: a monolog about those who become addicted to talking:

You start playing with you words… And once you start enjoying drawing attention to yourself with your words…  theres no turning back
Do you think there’s a single thing coming out of my mouth that’s actually worth while? 

It is of course a lot longer than this, but these are the highlights…  

Having these slightly unexpected subtle breaks from the way people are expected to act/think make for great humour and yes we will say it again: a relatable plot!

Have you noticed that her dramas My Mister and My Liberation Diary contain the expression 미워하는 마음없이, meaning: without a hateful heart. In Another Miss Oh, they talk about a fearful heart. However, dealing with a fearful heart or hateful heart is important to her. In My Mister, it is hidden in that song One Million Roses.

There is a brutal honesty about this script, that shows of how f** up society can be, and we love it! The way she incorporates a whole range of issues into the dialog, ranging with all  from silence towards domestic violence, men who like to mess up and blame the woman for it, and ultimately just how little rights temp workers have compared to those with just that little extra power of having an employment. Showing how easy it is to toy with her when incompetent seniority wins over and more or less kills the creativity and joy of the young and competent juniors. A message that on its own is pretty common but the execution and lack of “fighting spirit” is rather rare in dramas but true to real life. 

Another thing she does brilliantly is turn the PPL into beauty and humour… can’t you hear the angels sing as the light bounces off the bottles of Soju?

While watching this I found myself nodding my head quite a bit, but also yelling in my mind for F*** don’t go there and has anyone ever heard of privacy? 

I also kept taking pictures of the screen messaging AnQuat and updating feeds as my emotional balance was definitely provoked. 

I fell in love with the leads again. How come these actors are so perfect for their parts?

I didn`t nod and didn`t yell, I sat there, quietly and in awe, even perplexed, wondering how Park Hae Young managed to write a drama about a completely new subject, while keeping her humorous, calm tone and the depth of her approach to life.

Actually I suppose I fell in love with Park Hae Young from the very beginning – who else would be so unconditionally understanding towards all the different ways of life?


Our Last Notes

It is clear to see that Park Hae Young has become more and more popular with every script she has gotten made into a drama/movie, as her scripts also attract the top names in the drama industry. She manages to touch people’s hearts all over the world with her tightly woven stories with a deeper meaning. Stories that are relatable, have interesting characterisation and a sense of humour that goes beyond time and geography and so on. Since she is the type of writer to only release a script once every few years we will probably have to wait for her next project, however as she keeps getting better we are sure it will be worth the wait! 

I am grateful that I managed to pass my enthusiasm for Park Hae Young on to Shiro. I always wanted to express my gratitude towards PHY and without Shiro this article would have been impossible. 

And to everyone else who is still there: Thank you for reading!

Writing about writers is probably way out of my comfort zone so I am grateful towards AnQuat for asking me to write this with her. 

I am also grateful to her for reminding me of these dramas that I remember enjoying but had no clue they had the same writer. As I tend to notice umbrellas and hoodies more than those behind the scenes. Now one of the first things I check is the previous works of the writers and directors. 

We would be thrilled to know more about Park Hae Young, so in case someone is able to add some more information about her, please be so kind and leave a comment or write to us. 

That will be all from us, till next time… 

My Liberation Notes 

Credits: Screenshots and gifs are either from MDL’s database,  made by us or will have a link to their sources, same goes for information found  outside our memory or MDL. Special thanks to the editors! 

Edited by: devitto (1st editor)

Just a little bonus, for the curious: 

AnQuat’s unsent letter to Park Hae-young, 2019

Dear Park Hae-young,

I have to express my gratitude for your heart-warming writings.

I especially love Another Miss Oh, my favourite KDrama – and I have seen so many!

Of course the drama is the work of many people, and the director, the crew, the main cast, the supportive characters, – everyone is outstanding. However, the best cast can only shine when the screenwriting is brilliant, so it is you I am thinking of.

Another Miss Oh narrates so many individual stories that are delicately interwoven, and all of the characters have their own comprehensible biographies. There are so many beautiful and funny details – the crazy laughing toy, mother and daughter dance, Park Soo-kyung’s wild hair and French mode… but as the story is told, the funny scenes bring out my deepest feelings about what actually happens there.

Park Do-kyung’s struggle to heal the huge damage of his small, misled vengeance, his fight to keep himself and Oh Hae-young alive is so moving.

For me, Another Miss Oh is the most colourful and simultaneously meaningful series I have seen so far, and just like all your other fans I am looking forward to your next drama!

I also liked My Ahjussi very much, but it has a darker feeling. Also, the beginning was difficult to bear.

Thank you again for your screen writings. I hope your life is just as delicately and lovingly woven as Oh Hae-young’s!

Yours sincerely,

Anja from Germany (2019)

drama
movie
south korea
script writer

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