A Business Proposal is the first rom-com title by Ize Press.
Hari Shin is an overworked employee, who is in debt due to her parents’ business woes. They own a fried chicken restaurant, but the avian flu has hit them hard, so dutiful daughter that she is, she takes out a large loan to help them out, only to have the interest rate skyrocket soon afterward. Hari is now poor and exhausted. The only light in her hard life is Minwoo, the guy she’s been crushing on for seven years.
However, when Hari thinks Minwoo is about to admit his feelings toward her and propose, he introduces her to his latest girlfriend. Heartbroken, Hari goes out to drink with her friend Yeongsuh w(ho just happens to be an heiress). When Yeongsuh hears of the struggles Hari’s going through, she proposes a deal, which will benefit them both. Yeongsuh’s dad is pestering her to go on blind dates one after the other, and she can’t take it anymore. If Hari will pretend to be Yeongsuh, she’ll receive a commission when the latest guy on the blind date dumps her. It doesn’t take Hari much convincing before she accepts. Hari will pretend to be Yeongsuh and act as a femme fatale. But the man she’s supposed to meet is actually her new CEO, Taemu Kang, said to hate liars and people who waste his time. He too has been forced into this date by his grandfather who wants him to have a life outside work. To stop his grandfather interfering any more in his life, he vows to marry the woman he’s about to encounter. As you can imagine, mayhem ensures.
Among mistaken identities and keeping secrets, Hari is forced to keep seeing Taemu, and even Yeongsuh needs to figure out how to protect her friend from Taemu, whilst crushing hard on Taemu’s secretary.
For manga fans, I’d categorise this series more as josei than shojo because of the language used, even though there are no explicit scenes. After all, Hari needs to pretend to be a femme fatale. Make-up, clothes and even a wig completely change her from the plain Jane she appears to be in her day-to-day life. After her first encounter with Taemu, she thinks her friend is now free, but they are both underestimating how tenacious and strong-willed Taemu is.
The story is full of misunderstandings as to who is who. The characters all seem to draw their own conclusions even before something happens, so it doesn’t take long for them to imagine the worst-case scenarios. The story is cute and fun, especially when Hari is pretending to be someone else. She tries her best, but her best isn’t enough, and now she needs to find a solution—and fast. The narration is a mix of present-day happenings and flashbacks to what brought the characters to their current predicaments. It’s a different style of narration for manhwa, and it made me, as the reader, quite curious to know what was happening and what will happen next.
This manhwa is also quite different compared to others I’ve been reading. The art looks like nice and almost like colourful sketches, while most manhwa use bright and bold colours for their illustrations that resemble an anime. The story is divided into short chapters, and we have character introductions before the story gets underway. The author also signs the volume (it’s a digital signature, but it still counts).
A Business Proposal Volume 1 is written by Haehwa, illustrated by NARAK and adapted by Perilla. It is published as a print volume in the English language by Ize Press, and the digital edition is available from the same publisher. The manhwa originated as a digital comic on Tapas and was turned into a K-drama in 2022 (showing on Netflix). Volume 2 is slated for release in August 2023.