Marrying a bit of fairytale magic with classic comedy, "Cinderella Man" is, in the words of director Yoo Jung-joon, "a tart and lively tale."
"This drama is about Cinderella and a Cinderella man," said scriptwriter Jo Yoon-young, who crafted the series around a romance between a modern-day pauper-turned-prince and a Cinderella with a sense of style.
Girls` Generation sweetheart Yoona plays a student at a prestigious Paris-based fashion school who is forced to return home and eke out a living in a small store in Dongdaemun Market after the sudden death of her father.
Korean Wave star Kwon Sang-woo stars opposite the pop pixie. Seemingly determined to give his nunchakus a rest and prove his mettle as a thespian, Kwon is tackling not one but two roles in the upcoming series, which hits the small screen tonight.
Riffing off the classic tale of a pauper and a prince who, upon realizing that they look alike, decide to swap roles, "Cinderella Man" entrusted Kwon with the daunting task of winning viewers over as both Oh Dae-san - a work uniform coordinator struggling to make it in Dongdaemun Market - and as Lee Joon-hee, the son of the chairman of a prominent fashion apparel group.
The decision to cast Kwon, however, may be a risky move. Not only is there a 14-year age gap between him and co-star Yoona, Kwon has been suffering from negative publicity regarding his marriage to actress Sohn Tae-young - news reports say she was pregnant prior to the wedding - and a controversial interview with movie magazine Premiere Korea.
"I don`t want to talk about my wife and child," said Kwon, whose wife recently gave birth to a baby boy, at a press conference on April 2.
When asked about the controversial interview, he answered: "I was truly dumbfounded. Of course one gets angry when the front and back of what one says is cut off, just to sell a magazine."
The 32-year old actor, however, remained upbeat about his upcoming roles.
"I think Oh Dae-san is a really funny and silly character," Kwon said.
Co-star Yoona closed the book on the age gap issue. "I do not feel that there is a huge age difference."
The girl group member cemented her reputation as an actress when she carried home two 45th Baeksang Arts Awards and the 2008 KBS Drama Award for Best Female Newcomer for her role in the KBS series "You Are My Destiny" (2008).
Kwon praised his 18-year old co-star at the press conference, calling her "very talented."
Poised to further her career in the world of television, Yoona revealed that her upcoming role as a modern-day Cinderella involves a less than black-and-white ending.
"Later on, I think she hesitates over whether or not to become a Cinderella," said the singer and actress.
The fusing of two popular classics, a liberal dose of fashion and not one but two big stars ensures MBC`s "Cinderella Man" steady-if-not-successful ratings. Flanked by KBS` soap opera worthy "Again My Love" and SBS` dramatic "Cain and Abel," the sugar-spun fantasy also offers viewers a moment of respite from an otherwise heavy line-up.
"Cinderella Man" airs tonight at 9:55 p.m. on MBC.
By Jean Oh