Cinderella & the Four Knights: The Characters

Poster courtesy of tvN
Poster courtesy of tvN

It’s been a long time since I wrote about a K-drama but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching them. But I tend to only write about the ones that truly capture my attention like Cinderella & the Four Knights (신데렐라와 네 명의 기사) has. Which is one of the reasons I’ve only written about a few dramas over the years: Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점), A Gentleman’s Dignity (신사의 품격) and Vampire Prosecutor (뱀파이어 검사), oh and Dating Agency: Cyrano (연애조작단; 시라노) over on DramaFever. Of all the dramas I’ve watched over the years, those were the only ones that grabbed mine attention so much that I had to put my words on paper… or rather, the internet. ^^ And of all of them, A Gentleman’s Dignity was the only drama I’ve ever recapped here (FYI – don’t read them if you don’t want to hear a lot of ranting, there’s a reason I don’t write drama recaps). Okay, I probably would have done so for Coffee Prince but I watched it too early in my drama watching days.

But I accidentally started watching Cinderella & the Four Knights after seeing an exclusive clip from DramaFever that we shared on our social media (hey, I couldn’t share it without watching it) and I just that quickly (it was a short clip) was hooked. I ended up marathoning the first 6 episodes that same weekend. And now after 10 episodes I can definitely say that it’s another drama that has me so invested that I watch it as soon as the episode comes out on DramaFever. I haven’t chased a drama since Dating Agency: Cyrano (I usually wait until I can marathon them). Not that I’m entirely happy with it but I am invested.

So of course, being me, I did a little research and found out that Cinderella & the Four Knights has the same director as A Gentleman’s Dignity and suddenly my fascination with the drama made sense. Other than Coffee Prince, A Gentleman’s Dignity is by far my favourite drama (and the only drama where all the main characters were “oppas”). While the characters in Cinderella & the Four Knights are younger, it’s still very much a character-driven drama and I love those.

But enough about how it’s hooked me… let’s talk about the drama. I’ll try not to post any spoilers in case you haven’t seen it (what are you waiting for, go watch it!) but I can’t guarantee that I won’t let anything slip.

Synopsis

Ha-Won works several part-time jobs to save enough money to go to university as she’s about to graduate from high school. She finds out that her father hasn’t paid for her mother’s resting place at the crematorium and is faced with a difficult choice – her mother’s ashes or university? Oh yeah, she has an annoying step-mother and step-sister as well.

She randomly runs into Kang Hyun-Min, one of three rich cousins who live in a gorgeous house, “Sky House”, but don’t really act as a family, and he offers her a “job” of pretending to be his fiancée. But of course, it’s more complicated than that. However, his grandfather, who’s the chairman of a chaebol, is impressed with Ha-Won and offers her an interesting job – move into Sky House and make the cousins into a family. Sprinkle in various tasks, hi-jinks, love rectangles and annoying little twists and that’s Cinderella & the Four Knights so far. ^^

The Main Characters

Eun Ha-Won – played by Park So-dam (박소담)

The “Cinderella” in the story complete with annoying step-mother and step-sister, Ha-won is a just graduated from high school student that ends up living with three rich cousins at the behest of their grandfather. She’s trying to earn enough money to go to university to be a teacher and has had a difficult time since her mom died.

Okay, that’s who she is but what do I think of her? Quite simply, I love her. She’s sweet, smart, kind and adorable – one of those characters that’s impossible not to like. It’s easy to see how the guys are falling for her.

Kang Hyun-Min – played by Ahn Jae-hyun (안재현)

The eldest cousin, Hyun-Min is the arrogant “player” who’s used to getting whatever and whoever he wants.

He starts off all confident and a bit of an arrogant ass but that’s trailed off in the last couple of episodes as he’s become mopey and blah. I want to love or hate him but right now, he’s just pitiable. That being said, he’s not really a love interest for Ha-Won despite hiring her as it’s beyond obvious there’s tons of history between him and Hye-Ji. I just wish his character was more consistent.

Kang Ji-Woon – played by Jung Il-woo (정일우)

The middle cousin, he spent quite a few years as an orphan which has left him with a chip on his shoulder. He’s gruff and defensive with a sensitive core and an inner protectiveness that comes out from time to time.

He’s perfect for Ha-Won as they balance each other but he’s too busy either competing with Hyun-Min or trying to take care of Hye-Ji that he’s not ready to see Ha-Won that way… yet. He’s had a difficult life and I’m frankly surprised he doesn’t have more of a chip on his shoulder. That being said, it’s fun seeing him unbend and smile a little because of Ha-Won. He’s adorable when he smiles. ^^

Kang Seo-Woo – played by Lee Jung-shin (이정신)

The youngest cousin, he’s also the easiest to like. He’s a popular singer-songwriter (which is funny as in real life, he’s a member of CN Blue) who’s sweet if a bit absorbed in his music. He’s starting to fall for Ha-Won.

He’s sweet and easily the most likeable of the cousins. It’s too bad that he’s the obvious “2nd male lead” and is never going to get Ha-Won (Hyun-Min would be the “2nd male lead” but he has Hye-Ji and isn’t really interested in Ha-Won). I’ve already cried a couple of times on his behalf… man, it sucks to be the guy who’s not going to get the girl.

Lee Yoon-Sung – played by Choi Min (최민)

He’s Chairman Kang’s secretary and treats everyone with a solemn formality. But it’s also apparent that he’s hiding something and it looks like it has something to do with Kang’s 5th wife. He’s also very solicitous of Ha-Won but not romantic.

The most formal of all the guys, he’s actually the one I like the least – I know I’m going to be unpopular saying that but I’ve never really liked the ‘stiff suit’ personality. He’s also the biggest enigma at the moment. So while, I don’t want Ha-Won anywhere near him (he seems older than the other guys but that could just be because he’s so stiff and formal), I am intrigued to learn more about him.

Secondary Characters

There are a variety of secondary characters but the main ones are:

Park Hye-Ji – played by Son Na-eun (손나은)

A childhood friend of Hyun-Min who has a crush on him, she’s also a university student studying fashion design who has developed a friendship with Ji-Woon since he arrived at Sky House.

I’m not really a fan of her. I mean, Hyun-Min was a player right from the start and always dating other girls but she makes it worse by playing/using Ji-Woon. Why make the cousins already strained relationship worse? Don’t lash out by using someone else, especially a friend. Not cool.

Chairman Kang – played by Kim Yong-gun (김용건)

The Kang cousins’ grandfather is the Chairman of Sky Group and has hired Ha-Won to shape his grandsons into better, more productive people.

He seems like a decent guy at times but uncaring at others, and is quite oddly cheerful despite the fact that he’s dying. However, his parenting skills seem lacking. Rather than give the cousins responsibility in the company or respect them for pursuing their own dreams – as Seo-Woo is doing with music – he hires Ha-Won to change them. I was really not impressed by him buying Ji-Woon’s mechanic friends off, no wonder he doesn’t trust anyone. But he does show some slivers of decency when he won’t buy a new liver.

Final Thoughts

My mid-series verdict is that I’m enjoying it even if I’m not entirely happy with how the story is going or how all of the characters are progressing. It’s still engaging and makes me cry (which is a sure sign I’m emotionally invested). That being said, it’s not as good as Coffee Prince or A Gentleman’s Dignity which look to safe as my all-time favourite dramas. Not that I’m going to stop watching it (I can’t, I need to know how it ends!) but… it needs more… something.

Are you watching Cinderella & the Four Knights? What do you think of it so far?

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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