Updated: May 18
"Mine," tvN's new high society drama premiered to strong ratings on May 8, smoothly taking over the time slot previously occupied by the hit black crime comedy "Vincenzo." Its stylish depiction of chaebol life and those who wish to infiltrate it is reminiscent of the 2017 drama "The Lady in Dignity," and comes as no surprise since it's from the same brilliant writer.
Here, we list the reasons why the new drama may just be "The Lady in Dignity 2.0"
A female-led drama through and through, Mine stars Lee Bo-young (I Can Hear Your Voice, Mother) and Kim Seo-hyung (Temptation of Wife, SKY Castle) as strong, capable women who have married into the Hyowon chaebol family and are responsible for raising its heirs. Behind the scenes, the all-female tandem of PD Lee Na-jeong (Fight for My Way, Oh My Venus) and writer Baek Mi-Kyeong (The Lady in Dignity, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon), calls the shots.
Writer Baek Mi-kyeong's earlier female-led high society drama The Lady in Dignity (2017) reigned as the highest rated series on JTBC until SKY Castle broke its record two years later. A hit among audiences and critics, it earned six nominations for the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards, including Best Actress nods for both its leads, Kim Sun-a and Kim Hee-sun.
With The Lady in Dignity being one of my favorite makjang lite dramas about the ultra rich, I found it impossible to watch the first two episodes of Mine without noticing all the similarities between the two. Here are the reasons why Mine gave me a serious case of k-drama déjà vu:
1. The opening sequence.
Both dramas open with a dead body. While in The Lady of Dignity, the face of the victim, co-lead character/anti-heroine Park Bok-ja (Kim Sun-a) is immediately shown, the identity of the murdered woman in Mine has yet to be revealed. Could it be one of our heroines as well?
2. The chaebol family structure.
We are introduced to Mine's Han family by way of a lavish dinner party held at their ginormous estate, complete with outdoor chandeliers (who does that? South Korean chaebol families do!) and a battalion of uniformed servers. We learn that the family has two sons and a daughter, with the daughters-in-law playing major roles in the family's affairs, much like the structure in The Lady in Dignity.
3. The beautiful, angelic daughter-in-law.
Woo A-jin (Kim Hee-sun) and Seo Hi-soo (Lee Bo-young) are both beautiful and kind-hearted daughters-in-law favored by the family patriarch. Strong yet gentle, they are the moral centers of the crazy rich families they married into and who depend on them for various reasons, damage control being one of them. They both live in the annex of the main mansion with their husband and child, have a trusted female assistant, and most crucially... naively hire young, attractive female tutors for their children. In The Lady in Dignity, the art tutor seduced Woo A-jin's husband. Will Seo Hi-soo suffer the same fate?
4. The mysterious outsider.
Every chaebol family must have a greedy figure just dying to infiltrate its ranks, right? Both dramas kick off when said ambitious and greedy interloper is hired by the family, while obviously hiding some dark secrets and nefarious agenda. Despite the early red flags that should immediately get them fired, they of course stick around to drive the story forward.
5. The bratty heiress.
As the Korean Air heiress "nut rage" scandal taught us, bratty chaebol daughters are definitely a real thing. Bringing these overprivileged women to life on the small screen in the two dramas are Oh Na-ra and Kim Hye-hwa, both sporting curly hairdos. Oh Na-ra's hilarious blend of unabashed greed and sheer incompetence was a joy to watch, so as far as I'm concerned, Mine's resident spoiled heiress has some big shoes to fill!
6. The bumbling son.
The moment Park Hyuk-kwon (Something in the Rain, Extracurricular) showed up as one of the Han sons, I knew he was not meant to be taken seriously. Sure enough, just like SNL Korea cast member Jung Sang-hoon in The Lady in Dignity, his role as the inept chaebol son provides some much needed LOLs in what is often a tense drama.
7. The upstairs-downstairs social commentary.
For us slapsoils in the audience who can only dream of living with the insane amount of wealth that Seoul's top 1% has, the household help serve as sort of stand-ins. Both dramas offer up social commentary via the gossiping sessions of the staff. Endlessly fascinated with the lives of their uber-rich employers, they astutely comment on their dysfunction with a healthy side of schadenfreude.
While all the parallelisms between the two dramas are pretty glaring, there are still a lot of elements that set Mine apart from its eonnie: the belligerent chaebol mom with her pet peacock, the potential young romance between the young male heir and the new housekeeper, and most of all, the intriguing first daughter-in-law played by Kim Seo-hyung.
With 14 episodes to go, we're prepared to be taken on a rollercoaster of twists and turns, while gawking at the jaw-dropping architectural set pieces and high end fashion. The Lady in Dignity was already an incredible ride. Let's hope Mine gets crazier -- and even more entertaining -- for the rest of us who can only dream of owning peacocks and wearing Louboutins as pambahay.
New episodes of Mine are released on Netflix every Saturday and Sunday night.