I Demand a Recount! Protect the Boss Review

When I first started watching Korean dramas, I felt a little bit overwhelmed by all of the options on Netflix (click here for our current list of kdramas on Netflix) and Hulu Plus.  Since watching a full series is such a time commitment, I didn't want to waste my time on unsatisfactory dramas.  Internet to the rescue!  I quickly found myself googling things like "Best Korean dramas" or "Korean dramas like (insert whatever I watched most recently)."  While this method has been pretty successful so far, I have to admit that there are a few instances where I think the internet consensus got it wrong.  Not just kind of wrong, but I-think-I-have-been-transported-to-an-alternate-universe-filled-with-lying-robots wrong.  It's the same kind of feeling I get when people say that they don't like chocolate, or when Bradley Cooper was People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" (with that smug face?  How is this possible?).

So today, I'm bringing the jury back in on one drama where the internet got it wrong. I'm completely biased here, but I'm going to do my best to sway you anyway.

The Best: Protect the Boss

Protect the Boss might very well be my favorite Korean drama of all time.  Yes, it is the story of a rich, grumpy, emotional man-child who falls in love with a sassy poor girl, so I get the complaints that it's the same old cliche we've seen a million times.  But this drama tweaks the formula just enough that I thoroughly enjoyed every single cliche-riddled minute. Here's my case for the defense (VERY mild spoilers below):

Exhibit A: The Leads

It took me a couple of episodes to get used to them, but Ji Sung as Ji-heon and Choi Kang-hee as Eun-seol really won me over.  Unlike most third-generation chaebol leads, Ji-heon has a personality of his own that involves more than yelling at people and looking--sad? pensive? angry? It's hard to tell when their facial expressions barely change. Whereas most of these characters have hidden quirks that seem tacked on to make them seem slightly more human, Ji-heon's quirks are an integral (and hilarious) part of who he is.  It's so refreshing to see a male lead who can match (and even outdo) the female lead in physical comedy.

Let's compare, shall we? On the left, we have Ji-heon giving it his all and being awesome. On the right, we have Crown Prince Shin (Princess Hours) representing the typical male lead. "Movement is for poor people! I don't even swing my arms when I walk!" (All images are screen captures from the shows themselves.)

This brings us to Eun-seol, the female lead.  As I said, it took me a couple of episodes to get used to her, but once I did, I really loved her.  One of the problems that I have with the female leads in most dramas is that they start out awesome, but then spend the second half of the series crying and/or almost dying from stupid causes (Geum Jan Di, I'm looking at you).  Not so with Eun-seol! She's sassy and cool and good at her job throughout the entire series. When she starts to become mopey, Ji-heon threatens to break up with her.  I'm pretty sure she only cries once, and it's during a cute penguin video--what kind of monster hasn't cried during a penguin video once or twice?

Exhibit B: The Supporting Cast
This series has one of the most well-rounded supporting casts of any drama, ever.  Forget the rich parents who are horrible people or the ex-girlfriend who is pretty, but a monster at heart. While some of the characters start out as charicatures, they all grow over the course of the series, and I really grew to love them.  In fact, I just started to type the sentence "My favorite character is..." but found that I could fill in the blank with three or four different options (the gangster dad? the grandma? the mousy secretary? the best friend who wants to be a professional wrestler? SO MANY CHOICES!)

On a sidenote, the most consistent complaints I've heard about this drama have to do with Jaejoong--people either complain that he wasn't in the show enough, or they complain that his fangirls overrated the series.  I had no idea who he was before I watched the show (Don't punch me!).  He wasn't my favorite character by a long shot, and I STILL loved the whole thing. 

Exhibit C: Relationship Development
I will concede that this drama probably could have wrapped up within 16 episodes instead of 18, but one of the nice parts of the extension is that we get to see the relationship actually develop between the two leads.  I know that some people claim it's boring once they declare their love, but I really like that we don't get one kiss (and often a bad one, at that), and then everything ends. I want to see the fruits of all that angst!  Some of the scenes work better than others (trying to snuggle in the elevator as opposed to the awkward singing proposal--which I fast forwarded), but overall, I think it rounds out the story nicely.

Have you noticed that half of my examples come from the elevator? This series is far more comedy than drama (so if you love to weep with the characters, stay away), and the elevator is one of the most magical parts of the whole thing.  Maybe it should have gotten old, but I was busting up laughing every.single.time.  A close second for funniest scene would be the girly man-fight between Mu-won and Ji-heon in the restaurant.

Have I convinced you?  This might have been listed as one of the most overrated dramas of 2011 by both Seoulbeats and Dramabeans, but I must protest!

Tune in later for a review of You Are Beautiful, which runs at the opposite end of the internet disagreement spectrum.


  1. I'll take your word for it. Will start watching this tonight.

  2. Protect the Boss popped up free on my Kindle so I gave it a shot. Now I'm trying to savor the last few episodes like candy. I've read reviews that say Greatest Love is hysterical, by the 2nd half I wanted to punch Goo Au Jung every time she was on screen. I forced myself to finish it, but Protect the Boss is delightfully funny and fluffy. Every time the cousins are together it's gold. I kinda prefer watching them to the main storyline sometimes.

  3. Protect the Boss~
    the man hair pulling fight still stands out in my mind . LOL!
    just love Jaejoong & Ji Sung :)

  4. '...the typical male lead. "Movement is for poor people! I don't even swing my arms when I walk!"...'


  5. Woohoo!! I just finished watching this drama last nite. By far it is the most well-rounded korean dramas that i've seen. I love how the characters evolved and not stagnant esp the 2 main leads. love love their chemistry! What took me so long to find this drama - beats me! I will now pursue 7th grade civil servant just for Choi Kang-hee's sake. I am her latest fan!

  6. I agree, this is one of the best k-dramas to watch. It is a sure fire winner to recommend to any of my friends.


  7. THanks so much for the glowing recommendation, I absolutely LOVED this series. After watching several 20-24 episode series in a row featuring Park NoKiss Min Min Young in various dramatic trials, a sweet romance that actually gave us romance was a delight!

    I agree with everything you'e said above, but especially about the character development. I hate rooting for the second lead because I know it's doomed, but in this series the seconds were all so well developed, and the Cha Moo Woon/Seo Na Yoon storyline was the strongest second leads plot I've seen so far. It was very, very satisfying to watch a K Drama that did not make you invest in the seconds only to toss them aside at the end or dump them together in a rushed, superfluous "pair the spares" kind of match up. Especially after seeing Jae Joong's excellent performance as the conflicted second lead in Dr Jin I was very happy to see him so well rewarded in this one. Also, wow can that guy sing!

  8. Aside from Noh EunSeol herself, my favorite character was actually the ex-gangster father. I recently bought the DVD set and the sight of him serving his community service sentence by washing senior citien diapers just had me in stitches all over again. The actor, Park YoungGyu, is an old workhorse of a supporting actor, and he recently did a wonderful turn as the quack-ish but actually very wise 'Dr. Swarski' in the very funny romantic comedy 'How to Use Guys (with Secret Tips)'.

  9. I forgot to add my other favorite funny scenes! #1: The part where the dad is feeling guilty and is about ready to smash his own hand with a whisky bottle to punish himself, then Granny appears out of nowhere to grab the bottle out of his hand -- and finishes the job herself; #2: Dad is beating up JiHeon in the elevator and the secretary hurries to block the security camera! I think that was my first laugh-out-loud moment.

    1. You're making me want to watch the whole thing all over again!

  10. Finally!!! Protect The Boss was one of the K-Drama's that got me hooked! I couldn't understand why it didn't get better reviews. Another of my favorites which never got the respect it deserved was A Gentleman's Dignity.

  11. This was an adorable series which I've watched twice! The one thing I hated was that awful hair bun thingy she sported at first. I hate those messy weird buns and you see them a lot on Kdramas.

  12. OMG Can we please be friends?! I agree with Geum Jan Di being awesome for a bit and then completely losing her fight and spunk. Also, Bradley Cooper, not hot. So glad I'm not the only one. Anyways, I'm starting this drama! So excited!

  13. I have been watching Korean dramas less than 2 years. This drama was recommended by a friend of mind and then I found myself stuck to Choi Kang Hee. What a girl! She is the one who has never shown beautifully. She is No Eun Sol! that nobody could replace. The drama has just been aired in a cable channel in Thailand. I have just found your article through Google and I like it.

  14. The foolish fan prefer watching good face than good drama, i guess. they keep lingering to famous actors. anyway, Love this drama >_< the second one from me is Mackerel Run!

  15. Let's watch heart to heart it has the same female lead

  16. Definitely agree, this is a delightful laugh-out-loud comedy. Good writing (except for episode 17 and part of 18 when it was so obvious that the producers were inventing unbelievable conflict to create more episodes), good acting and comedic timing by both leads and many of the supporting actors. The only actor who, while nice to look at, needs to work on deepening his acting was Jaejoong. And then he sang and it was so fine that I checked him out on YouTube and Spotify. What a great singing voice! And a nice speaking voice, just needs more nuance in his acting. He does broody really well but smiling, not so much.


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