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Seo Ye-ji in a still from Eve. Seo stars as a new face in high society who is out for revenge – her plan involves seducing the richest man in Korea.

K-drama Eve: Seo Ye-ji’s comeback, two years after It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, is standard high-society fare

  • Seo Ye-ji returns from a scandal-induced hiatus in Eve, a Korean drama series set in high society that sadly won’t rock the boat for its acting, plot or music
  • She stars as a new face in high society whose sudden appearance is no accident – she’s there for revenge and her plan involves seducing the richest man in Korea
Two years ago, Seo Ye-ji lit up the screen alongside Kim Soo-hyun in the hit series It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. A year later, her career was briefly stalled when she became the subject of a scandal which forced her to pull out of a project.

Now, she’s finally back on screens in a new high-society drama, which begins with her sultry character orchestrating her very own scandal.

Baroque music, flashy threads and grand entrances are the order of the day in this latest addition to South Korea’s popular run of upper crust satires. As with SKY Castle, The Penthouse and Mine, the focus is largely on the women behind the patriarchal paragons of society.

Prim and vain wives take every opportunity to assert the power afforded them by their social rank, and work even harder behind the scenes to maintain or improve their position.

Kang Yoon-kyum (Park Byung-eun), the chairman of the LY Group, is the richest man in Korea. During a press conference, he takes to the stage to announce record returns, but the headlines take a swift turn when a scandal erupts during his speech – his affair has been revealed.

Yoon-kyum’s wife, Han So-ra (Yoo-sun), cuts an imposing figure in a bold diamond pattern dress, but her steely poise is rocked when the scandal hits. He lashes out at her minions and shrinks at the thought of how her powerful father, Han Pan-ro (Jeon Kuk-hwan), will react.

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Seo makes an even grander entrance when Yoon-kyum goes into a dark room and looks up to her. Her back to us, she rises from an ornate rocking chair and towers over him, making it very clear what the balance of power is between these two characters.

The question is: how did they get here? The show proceeds to answer that by taking the story back to three months in the past as we settle into the main narrative.

During a recital at the elite Liyan Kindergarten, mothers gossip away in their seats. Yoon-kyum’s attention is piqued when a bandoneon (an instrument similar to an accordion) player appears and launches into a tango. Kim Sun-bin (Seo) graces the stage and takes everyone’s breath away (especially Yoon-kyum’s) when she performs a heady tango with a male dance partner.

Park Byung-eun as Kang Yoon-kyum, the chairman of the LY Group, in a still from Eve.

Adding to her allure is the fact that Sun-bin is a new face in this tight and exclusive social environment. She is the mother of another girl in the school and makes her introductions to the other parents in the reception following the recital, ingratiating herself with her poise and manners to everyone except So-ra, who resents seeing someone she perceives as lower class grab the limelight.

It’s no accident that Sun-bin has suddenly appeared in their midst. Her real name is Lee La-el and, when she was a teenager, her family was torn apart by Pan-ro, who at the time was Korea’s all-powerful prime minister.

La-el’s father was a brilliant inventor likened to Bill Gates but, when he refused to bend to Pan-ro’s greedy corporate merger aspirations, he was beaten to death in front of his daughter. The only person on La-el’s side was idealistic young lawyer Seo Eun-pyeong (Lee Sang-yeob of On the Verge of Insanity), who helped her escape to America.
Yoo-sun as Yoon-kyum’s wife, Han So-ra, in a still from Eve.

Thirteen years later, La-el is back on home soil and has set a grand vendetta in motion, which involves seducing Yoon-kyum. The only potential obstacle in her path is Eun-pyeong, now a popular assemblyman, who remembers the young La-el.

Seo made her debut less than a decade ago and it’s only in the past few years that she has become a household name. The actress has done so by crafting a very clear and frequently magnetic persona, that of an aloof and cool-as-ice prima donna.

She brings that cool and calibrated performance style to bear in Eve, where it is the driving force around which everything else must revolve.

Lee Sang-yeob as idealistic young lawyer Seo Eun-pyeong in a still from Eve.

Seo has probably been denied an A-list co-star, such as Kim Soo-hyun or Lee Joon-gi, for Eve owing to her recent scandal (the drama she dropped out of would have seen her act opposite Kim Nam-gil), and Park Byung-eun isn’t exactly a household name.

But, while his isn’t a name that many will be familiar with, Park is the kind of assured and versatile actor who frequently elevates the projects he appears in, whether as a righteous investigator in Kingdom season two or a conflicted scientist in Seobok.

As Yoon-kyum, Park has been stolid but quiet so far, though as the character expands over the coming weeks, so should his performance.

Seo Ye-ji as Lee La-el in a still from Eve.
Casting aside, Eve faces something of an uphill struggle given its premise and corresponding elements are too familiar. The elite schools and classical music of hits like The Penthouse feel like hand-me-downs that have lost some of their lustre, and call to mind the disappointment of 2021 Korean drama series High Class.

Despite its erotic overtones, Eve is a very safe project for Seo, one that relies on her pre-established image and is neither likely to dim nor burnish her aura.

Eve is streaming on Viu.