Her Private Life completes 5 years: How Park Min Young, Kim Jae Wook's rom-com sheds light on K-pop idol fan culture

Park Min Young, Kim Jae Wook starrer Her Private Life completed 5 years. Let’s explore K-pop culture with Park Min Young, Kim Jae Wook's rom-com series.

Updated on Apr 10, 2024  |  03:10 PM IST |  87.8K
Her Private Life (Image Credits-tvN)
Her Private Life (Image Credits-tvN)

In Her Private Life, Sung Deok Mi (played by Park Min Young) leads a double life as an art curator by day and an enthusiastic K-pop idol fangirl by night. When Ryan Gold (played by Kim Jae Wook) joins as the new director at Deok Mi's art gallery, their initial clashes evolve into a realization of a deeper romantic connection between them. 

Kim Jae Wook's portrayal of Ryan Gold garnered significant attention during the series' airing, as his character embodied the traits of an ideal boyfriend—kind, gentle, understanding, and deeply devoted to Sung Deok Mi. Witnessing Ryan's love for Deok Mi flourish throughout the series is a heartwarming experience, guaranteed to uplift your spirits. One of the other themes that gained prominence was K-pop and idol culture which was depicted through the show as Park Min Young was a fangirl of the fictional group White Ocean. Let’s go through the idol culture the series depicted.  


Sung Deok Mi fangirls over White Ocean: The positives

Behind her composed persona as an art gallery curator, Sung Duk Mi (played by Park Min Young) harbors a passionate fangirling spirit for the K-pop group White Ocean and their leader, Cha Shi An (portrayed by Jung Je Won). Engaging in fan events and embarking on K-pop "pilgrimages" to sites frequented by Shi An, she also excels as a devoted fan photographer of the idol. 

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Duk Mi faces the challenge of hiding her inner fangirl when her gallery collaborates unexpectedly with none other than Shi An. While the series primarily delves into Duk Mi's obsession with Shi An, the other members of White Ocean hail from SKYE (IN2IT), including Hyunuk, Inho, Inpyo, and Jiahn. SKYE is also the group responsible for White Ocean's hit track Snapshot.

Her Private Life (Image Credits-tvN)

Her Private Life captivates viewers with its exploration of the dynamic world of idol fandoms, seamlessly intertwining romance and fangirl life. Sung Duk Mi's balancing act between her high-powered career and her fervent passion for idols, concealed under a veil of secrecy, adds intrigue to the storyline making it relatable for the real-world fans.

The series highlights the joy of fans coming together to share their adoration for their favorite idols or groups. It showcases the diverse spectrum of fans, ranging from successful career women like Duk Mi to business-owning mothers like her best friend Lee Seon Joo (played by Park Jin Joo). Through their shared love for K-pop, the show underscores how a common interest can unite individuals from different backgrounds, offering humorous and relatable moments along the way.

Her Private Life (Image Credits-tvN)

Her Private Life (Image Credits-tvN)

One of the standout qualities of the show is how it portrays Deok Mi's character. Not only is she a dedicated fangirl, but she's also exceptionally skilled at her job. Despite her passion for idol fandom, she demonstrates professionalism and competence in her career. This portrayal of a multifaceted female character excelling in both her personal interests and professional life is a refreshing and rare depiction in Korean dramas. It highlights the message that it's entirely possible to maintain a professional career while indulging in fangirling activities, challenging stereotypes, and offering a more inclusive representation of women.

The Saesang culture displayed in Her Private Life

While Her Private Life celebrates fandom culture, it also offers a nuanced critique of it. The series sheds light on some aspects of fan behavior that may be uncomfortable to acknowledge, such as instances of stalking and mobbing of idols like Cha Shi An, as well as the backlash faced by Deok Mi after a dating scandal involving him breaks out. These depictions challenge the glorification of certain fan practices and prompt viewers to reflect on the behaviors exhibited by some fans.

Her Private Life (Image Credits-tvN)

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The comedy sheds light on the behaviors of sasaengs, fans whose intense devotion to their idols can escalate into extreme actions. While fans naturally seek to learn more about their idols, sasaeng fans may resort to stalking, trailing their idols in taxis known as "saesang taxis," camping outside their homes, and waiting at recording studios or airports for their idols' arrivals.

Moreover, the drama touches upon the strict dating bans imposed on idols and the societal stigma surrounding idols dating, which can lead to extreme reactions from fans. This portrayal highlights the harsh reality faced by both idols and fans in navigating the complexities of the entertainment industry and public perception.

However, the series also suggests that societal attitudes are evolving, leading to a more positive environment for idols and fans alike, where they are increasingly able to express themselves and form genuine connections without fear of excessive scrutiny or judgment.

Deok Mi's character becomes a positive influence within the fandom, admired by many for her rationality and guidance. Furthermore, her fangirling is depicted as an integral part of her identity, bringing her joy and fulfillment. However, as the plot delves deeper into melodramatic elements such as Ryan's childhood trauma and Deok Mi's own past, the fangirl aspect takes a backseat.

This shift may disappoint fans who were drawn to the show for its unique portrayal of fandom culture. Nonetheless, the chemistry between the leads and the exploration of complex emotional themes continues to drive the narrative forward, albeit with less emphasis on fangirling in the latter half of the drama.

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About The Author

Pratyusha Dash is an English Literature Graduate from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies with a deep passion for Korean

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