Dali and the Cocky Prince (2021) When the male lead rocks
“I never make mistakes with anything that involves my mouth. Eating, talking and that thing we did yesterday,” has got to be one of the best lines I’ve heard coming out of K dramaland in all the years that I’ve been watching K dramas. Since embarking on this journey with Dali and her gamjatang prince it quickly became apparent that the dialogue here sparkles and hits the high notes. The fact that this particular line tumbles out of the mouth of an indignant but besotted Jin Moo-hak makes it all the more precious. Dali initiates a kiss and Moo-hak responds in kind. The next morning Dali repents her impulsive gesture claiming that it all one gigantic mistake. Hence the rejoinder.
Certainly it’s a laugh out loud moment or at the very least it should elicit a chuckle. Even if she is hesitant and doesn’t know what she wants, he has plenty of conviction for the both of them. He knows what he wants and just because she gets cold feet, he doesn’t have to cave to her insecurities. He’s adamant about that bit of lip locking because regardless of her clumsy retraction, it meant something to him — it comes from a deep and sincere place regardless of her seeming change of heart. However he is respectful of her independence so he encourages her to think it through carefully without feeling the need to bully her into submission.
Needless to say, it’s a breath of fresh air and it repudiates a popular rom com trope —the one where the leads spontaneously share a moment of intimacy in a moment of vulnerability and the morning after one/both of them suffers a bad case of buyer’s remorse and convinces him/herself they were suffering a momentary lapse of sanity. They’ve crossed a line that they shouldn’t have and they both idiotically agrees that it was all a “misunderstanding”.
Not so here. There’s no temptation here to fall into such frustrating ways. It is invigorating when the male lead stands his ground with unwavering belief in his own judgment about his heart and mind. It isn’t just the fact that Dali who was burnt really badly the last time, is shy and needs assurance that she’s dealing with a different kettle of fish this time but this is key information about the successor to the Dondon F and B franchise. He doesn’t mess around with anything much less a woman he clearly adores. His honesty is underpinned by a sincere naivete. Why should he have to play mind games with the woman he likes especially when she kissed him first? In that regard he reminds me of Yong-sik from When the Camellia Blooms. Straightforward, steadfast and persistent.
Moreover between them work is work and romance is romance. He might be crazy about her, but he’s not so crazy that he forgets how to do business. Moo-hak is a shrewd operator where money is concerned and he can with the best of intentions, set her right if the need arises. He is always himself. That’s why despite all their ups and downs, Da-li can’t help falling for him.
This is why I’m rooting for him all the way… especially because the competition is nothing really to write home about.