Mine: family, wealth, and murder from Korea

Kim Seo-hyeong in Mine

Mine, streaming on Netflix, is a soapy K-drama about a wealthy extended family. In 18 hour-long episodes, the series looks at parenthood, family, wealth, privilege, and loneliness. There are many characters, but the women in the story are the triumphant ones in the end.

Mine is elegant and so stylized it’s almost like watching a chess game. The characters are beautiful and handsome, the fashions are stunning, the surroundings are rich and luxurious.

Who is Who in Mine?

Several generations of an extended family live in two large homes on a huge estate. We’re taken into the story when two new faces enter the family compound and shake things up.

Hak-Yeon Cha and Yi-Seo Jung in Mine
I’ll pretend to ignore this maid.

There’s a new maid, Kim Yu Yeon (Yi-Seo Jung). She and the 25 year old son just home from college Han Soo Hyuk (Hak-Yeon Cha) quickly fall in love. Of course, a romance between a wealthy man and his maid is strictly forbidden. Soo Hyuk’s family has a wealthy wife in mind for him already.

Ja-Yeon Ok in Mine
The tutor is really WHAT?

Kang Ja Kyeong (Ja-Yeon Ok) is introduced into the household as a tutor for the child Han Ha Joon (Hyun-jun Jung). The new tutor really shakes things up. Here’s why.

Han Ha Joon’s stepmother is Seo Hi Soo (Lee Bo-young). Han Ji Yong (Hyun-Wook Lee) is his father. Ji Yong is in the process of trying to take over as the family’s corporate chairman through most of the season. Ji Yong is ruthless and cruel, but he loves his son. His crimes and ambition lead to the overarching mystery in the series.

I mentioned Hi Soo is the boy’s step mother. His biological mother is Ja Kyeong, the tutor! What a twist!

Jung Seo Hyun (Kim Seo-hyeong) is the actual brains running things in the home and corporation. She’s not the corporate Chairman, as she probably should be. Her husband, the current Chairman’s son, is Han Ji Ho (Hyuk-kwon Park). He’s a drunk and fairly useless. Their son Soo Hyuk is the one in love with the maid.

Seo Hyun is a lesbian. She’s been secretly in love with an artist she met in collage, Suzy Choi (Kim Jung Hwa), for years. Although Seo Hyun’s lesbian identity is crucial to the progress of the story in this family soap opera, we never see anything more than hand holding between her and Suzy. Everything about this series is socially circumspect.

The eldest generation includes the grandmother Yang Soon Hye (Won-suk Park) and the current ailing Chairman Han (Jung Dong-hwan). Soon Hye is a screeching monster of a woman who verbally abuses everyone. Chairman Han only wants to sit in his underground bunker and dream about his real love who was Ji Yong’s real mother.

The staff are very important to the story. They know all the secrets, can be pressed into doing unsavory things by their bosses, and are crucial to how the story ends. Joo Min Su (Seong-yeon Park) is the head maid. Kim Seong Tae (Joong-ok Lee) works in the house and drives people around the estate in a big golf cart.

A Catholic nun, Mother Emma (Soo-jung Ye), is a key figure to the family. They all rely on her for spiritual advice. She was friends with Ji Yong’s biological mother and has known the family for years. When the murder occurs, Mother Emma is the one who discovers the body first.

The Story

The story unfolds slowly. The twists are pure soap. A Mexican telenovela has nothing on this South Korean drama. The timeline goes back and forth through the days and weeks before and after the murder. We revisit certain events several times and learn more about what happened with each visit.

People stare at each other or stare out windows much of the time. Many things are unspoken or plotted behind the eyes in such scenes. Every footstep resounds on the hard floor of the mansion and outdoor walkways, but nobody ever hears anyone coming.

Every character (including some family members I haven’t mentioned) gets plenty of time in front of the camera as their relationships and issues are explored.

To me, the most interesting characters were Seo Hi Soo and Kang Ja Kyeong in their struggle to mother the young Ha Joon. Together with the closeted lesbian Seo Hyun who ran things, these three women created most of the interesting storylines.

Ji Yong drove much of the action outside the family home, either in his business life as he tried to take over the corporation, or in his secret pastimes which were dangerous and illegal.

The key storyline is about the murder and learning who was responsible. I won’t spoil the surprises by telling you who was murdered and who did the murder. The murderer isn’t revealed until the very end, which creates much of the suspense in the series. There are subplots galore to keep up interest and give the characters personality. Many of the subplots made various members of the household look like potential suspects in the murder.

Over all I found the series slow but interesting. It was often a glimpse of Korean elegance in terms of homes, food, and clothing. But it was only beautiful on the outside. Inside the elegance was corruption and unhappiness. This family needed more love but didn’t know how to find it. A few characters survived to the end in a better place, but only a few.

Did I mention the actors are gorgeous?

Poster for Mine

Here’s a very brief trailer.

K-drama fans will like this series. If you’ve watched it I’d love to hear who your favorite characters were and if you guessed the murderer before the end. I was sure I knew who it was – but I was wrong.

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