This show was surprisingly awesome but I’m not sure why it was named Happiness.
Plot and Characters
There is a viral infection that is infecting the central nervous system of people and making them want to drink human blood. This virus is spreading all over the city and in order to contain it, the government is mandating a city-wide lockdown. This show takes place in the Le Ciel apartment building in Seoul. Up to the 5th floor are renters and floors 6 and up bought their apartments.
Yoon Sae Bom (Han Hyo Joo) and Jung Yi Hyun (Park Hyung Shik) have been friends since high school and decided to get married to get an apartment. There was a points system and Sae Bom accumulated almost enough points and only needed to be married to get the apartment through her job. Her friend Yi Hyun once asked her out when they were in high school and she turned him down. She asked him two questions: “Are you dating anyone?” “Do you snore or grind your teeth when you sleep?” He said no to both and move in together. He agreed because he hasn’t stopped liking her since high school (so cute) and they moved into the apartment together. Sae Bom is a cop in a special task force to investigate the murders that are happening. Yi Huyn is a detective.
After a series of events Yi Hyun and Sae Bom are in lockdown in their apartment building with some of the other residents. See the full list of characters and actors can be found here https://mydramalist.com/690709-happiness/cast. There are a lot of them and My Drama List has done a great job of listing all of them.
It was discovered that Sae Bom is immune to the virus by a military doctor Han Tae Suk (Jo Woo Jin) and he is running a very ethically questionable clinical trial to make the antibodies to cure everyone. Of course, he also has a personal interest in finding a cure.
The residents in the apartment start going into full-on Lord of the Flies after being trapped in the building together after a few days. Sae Bom and Yi Hyun try their best to keep everyone alive and are hopeful of a resolution soon.
This show is about surviving a lockdown with all different types of people. There’s a lot of politics at play and everyone’s ugly side comes out that normally wouldn’t under normal circumstances. It’s kind of a much harsher version of how we have been living for the last year.
Despite the dark subject matter, this show was entertaining and worth watching. The leads are likable and you feel bad for the infected even though they want to drink human blood.
I really enjoyed this show. I waited to watch because it was a little too close to home with government-mandated lockdowns and infectious diseases. Although my region wasn’t bad that feeling of hopelessness was probably the same for everyone. Despite it being such a dark subject, there was constantly a feeling of hope during the entire series. I think it was because Sae Bom and Yi Hyuk never stopped trying to keep everyone together.
Firstly, I read some comments and a lot of viewers complained that there was no chemistry between the two lead Sae Bom and Yi Hyuk who is played by Han Hyo Joo and Park Hyung Shik. I completely disagree. They are supposed to be childhood friends who kept in touch in touch the entire time. They’re not supposed to have that typical Kdrama gooey romantic feelings. It’s more of a comfortable familiar love and they pulled it off perfectly. It was supposed to be a contract marriage but you can see the subtle affection they show each other. Sae Bom feels a sense of relief when she realizes that Yi Hyuk is locked in with her. Another time when Yi Hyun thought he was going to die and he tells Sae Bom through the door, I was happy to be together with you. Throughout all of the chaos, they grew to love each other.
Don’t get me wrong, this show is not a love story. There are no long pauses with the two of them and it didn’t feel like the writer just threw in a love story to keep all viewers interested. Sae Bom and Yi Hyuk’s relationship was very natural and added to the main storyline. Their relationship was written in perfectly.
The only other show I’ve seen Han Hyo Joo in was W: Two Worlds. I hated her character in it which made me not like her as an actor. She 100% redeemed herself in this show. In W, she played a cardiothoracic surgeon who was clumsy and stupid. I absolutely hate when k-dramas take these women in badass professions and make them stupid so the man looks good. Sae Bom was perfectly suited for Han Hyo Joo. She was a natural at being a badass in this show. She could’ve easily overacted in this show like most actresses do when they’re in high-stress situations. She kept her cool without taking away from the seriousness of the situation. A woman who is a part of the Special Operations Unit or SWAT never freaks out when shit hits the fan. She received some criticism for this role because they think her acting was flat. I think she understood her character perfectly. I’ll compare her to Seo Hyun Jin in Dr. Romantic. There is no surgeon who would freak out the way she did the ER when she had to perform a procedure on an urgent patient. Seo Hyun Jin is very popular but I find her to be an awkward over-actor and to me, she did not play the role of a surgeon. I’ll definitely look up some more shows with Han Hyo Joo to watch, My opinion of her has completely changed.
Park Hyung Shik has always proven to be a great actor and he did a fantastic job as Yi Hyuk. He was cute as he always is. I remember watching him in the Heirs and he was a complete goofball in it. He has incredible range as an actor. Again, he also got some flack for gaining weight. I mean come on! Really? No one was safe from Covid weight gain and also he can not stay an emaciated 20 something idol forever. His physique matched his character as an injured aspiring baseball player turned cop. Both lead actors look like happy healthy adults. He did this one crazy sexy action scene (not sure if it was stunt double) and it was my favorite Park Hyung Shik scene. He runs out and slides across the hood of a car in front of a bunch of armed soldiers when Sae Bom gets kidnapped.
There was a perfect combination of different characters in the building to keep the story going. The people that you least expect to become infected end up infected and need to isolate. It’s interesting to see everyone’s reaction to each of the infected. You should watch for yourself. You can see the sliding scale of evil to good between the characters. The evilest would be Oh Joo Hyung (Baek Hyun Jin) who is solely interested in his own well-being and doesn’t mind killing people, even his own wife. Then you have characters like the cleaning company who got trapped there who try to be good but are cornered into an impossible situation and do what they need to survive. Then there is the writer Na Hyun Kyung (Park Hee Bon aka Ji Eun Tak’s mom in Goblin) who tries her best to be helpful despite being afraid.
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This show is a great show and story of human interactions during stressful situations. The show highlights the social class hierarchy problems. Some of it was hard to watch since all of us are fighting to get out of the pandemic. Overall, it was a great show and a definite must-watch.