Follow

Keep Up to Date with the Most Important News

By pressing the Subscribe button, you confirm that you have read and are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

Review: Queen Of Tears – The Fangirl Verdict


THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show lands as a loving homage to all – ok, many of – the things that we love about kdramas, while still managing to not feel like a rehash of tired clichés and tropes.

This means that the watch experience feels fresh yet familiar at the same time, which, I’m coming to realize, is one of my favorite things. 🥰

I’d call this one a warm melodrama at heart, with a side penchant for humor – including black humor.

Some lens adjustments would be helpful, which I talk about in a bit, but overall, I’d say this one is a crowd-pleaser for a reason, and – in my books anyway – lives up to the hype.

Very much recommend. ❤️

THE LONG VERDICT:

Park Ji Eun writer-nim’s basically done it again, folks. 🥲

When she gave us Crash Landing On You (review here!), I really, really liked it, and felt that it was a show that really encapsulated a lot of the things that we love in kdrama, so much so that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone looking to get into kdramas, or at least understand its appeal.

Five years later, I feel like she’s, in essence, done the same thing with Queen Of Tears.

This story isn’t at all like the story in Crash Landing On You, to be sure, but it does do that same thing, of encapsulating so many of the thing that I love in kdrama, that I wouldn’t hesitate to put it on the same recommendations list, as Crash Landing On You. 🥲

Coming into this, I really hadn’t known what to expect, from Show’s title and brief synopsis, but Show turned out to be a really, really enjoyable watch for me.

I know that this show hasn’t been working for some folks, but I gotta say, this show had me eating out of its hand. 😋

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the music in this drama. In many ways, the soundtrack reminded me of a time in Dramaland, when the music was so present, that it often became a legit character all its own, as it shaped the story world we were immersing ourselves in.

I really liked how present the music was, in this show, and found many of the tracks evocative. Just listening to the songs brings on the feels for me, and that’s a good indication that an OST really, really works for me.

It’s hard to pick favorites, because I enjoyed so many of the songs. I really like Tracks 2 & 3 “Tell Me It’s Not a Dream,” Track 4 “Hold Me Back,” Track 5 “Love You With All My Heart” and Track 8 “From Bottom of my Heart.”

I find that I do have a soft spot for Track 7 “Can’t Get Over You,” though, for it’s interesting mix of wistful poignance and that sexy, slightly jazzy groove. 🥰

Here it is as well, in case you’d prefer to listen to it on repeat. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”

HOW I’M APPROACHING THIS REVIEW

First I’ll talk about how to manage your expectations going into this one, and what viewing lens would be most helpful.

After that, I talk about what I liked and liked less, covering both the more macro aspects of Show, before diving into selected characters and relationships.

Of course, I also spend some time talking about my thoughts on the penultimate episodes, as well as our finale episodes.

If you’re interested in my blow-by-blow reactions, &/or all the various Patreon members’ comments during the course of our watch, you might like to check out my episode notes on Patreon here.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

1. Sometimes a black comedy lens is useful

While Show is, overall, a melodrama, it does also dip into comedy a fair amount of the time, and sometimes, that takes on shades of black comedy.

Specifically, I’m thinking that the black comedy lens is particularly useful in the first two episodes, after which it really only is needed on the odd occasion.

2. The episodes are long

..but (to me, anyway), it doesn’t feel like the episodes were stuffed with filler, to make them long on purpose.

Instead, it felt to me like the episodes were well-paced despite their length, and I didn’t actually feel the drag of the 90-minute episodes, so I’d say, don’t be intimidated by the length of the episodes.

Keep an open mind; you just might surprise yourself by not minding the episode lengths, after all. 😉

3. This is a hopeful story, not a tragedy

I thought this would be helpful to mention upfront, because if you’ve heard a few things about the story details, you might be wondering if it’s necessary to brace yourself for a sad ending.

I’m here to tell you that it’s all going to be ok in the end, so you’re safe.

Yes, that’s a little spoilery, but in this case, that’s ok, yes?

4. Suspension of disbelief is required, sometimes

I personally think that if you choose to use a more analytical lens while watching this one, it would likely make your watch less enjoyable.

The thing is, there are a fair number of things in this drama world, that aren’t really rooted in reality.

Keeping your logic lens a little loose and blurry would be a helpful move, in my opinion. 😁

STUFF I LIKED

Show is very pretty

There’s lots of stuff that I liked about this show, but the most immediately noticeable one, is that this story world is very, very pretty to look at.

From the good-looking actors (especially our leads), to the gorgeous landscapes, to the pretty Spring color palette, to the careful framing of scenes, everything is really easy on the eyes.

In particular, I thought the flashbacks to our OTP’s happier times, from their courtship to the wedding, are all really cute and sweet – and beautiful.

The wedding scenes look like they came straight out of an airbrushed picture postcard; everything just looks so ethereally gorgeous. 🤩

This is one case where Show’s big budget shows – compared to The Impossible Heir (Dropped post here, and Guest rant post here!), for example, where folks have been wondering where the big budget went, because it’s not apparent onscreen. 😅

Show’s overall writing and handling

The writing really is one of my favorite things about this show. There are so many ways in which the writing and general handling appeals to me, so I’m going to try to break it down a little bit:

Show’s got heart

It didn’t take me long to pick up on the feeling that a lot of heart went into crafting this story, and these characters.

The more I watched this show, the more I felt like writer-nim had poured a great deal of affection into creating this show. Not only did I feel like she had a deep fondness for our characters, I also felt that she had a lot of love for the classic romance in kdrama, as a genre.

That’s one of my favorite things, because as a fan of kdrama, it just hits different, when you watch a show where it’s clear that the writer is a fan too, much like you. 🥰

The way our story world is filled out, feels thoughtful and detailed

Like, yes, there is some degree of drama coincidence that has to happen, in order for certain situations to take place, but these are woven into our story in advance, enough that the eventual cause-and-effect doesn’t feel like connect-the-dots writing.

Instead, it all feels pretty organic, to this story world, I liked that a lot too.

The typical hard-to-watch stretches aren’t actually hard to watch

There were several points in our story, where I’d expected the following episodes to be hard to watch, because of the necessary angst that would follow – but each time that happened, I didn’t actually find the ensuing episodes hard to watch at all.

In fact, I found the development of our characters and relationships all very organic and engaging, and.. fresh.

A fresh twist on familiar tropes

Even though this show does use tropes, I never felt like writer-nim was rehashing tropes to serve us; it always felt like these developments were specific to our characters and their respective situations and I liked that a lot.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E7-8. That scene at the end of episode 7 is so great.

Amnesia has been a trope in kdrama for the longest time, and yet, the way it’s used here, feels organic and fresh.

And the reason I think it lands as fresh, is because it’s refreshing in the watch experience, to suddenly see such clear-eyed affection and hope in Hae In, where just a while ago, we’d seen hardened anger, fury and hurt.

It feels like a breath of fresh air, to see this side of Hae In, if only for a while, even though it’s also a moment that’s filled with pathos, because of what this signifies, about her condition.

That contrast between Hae In’s clear-eyed, hopeful expression, and the sorrow and pain in Hyun Woo’s tears, is just so, so well done, and this scene had me feeling all kinds of things, while I watched.

So, so well-played, honestly.

I have to give Hyun Woo props, for leaning into the hard stuff, and telling Hae In the truth, even though it means breaking her heart, all over again. 😭

It would have been much easier for him to just play along and let Hae In be happy for a while longer, but instead, he respects her right to know, and breaks it to her, as best as he can.

[END SPOILER]

The use of different perspectives [MILD SPOILERS]

Show doesn’t do this a great deal, but I did like the fact that episode 1 is seen mostly from Hyun Woo’s point-of-view, while episode 2 is more from Hae In’s point-of-view.

I thought this added a nice point of contrast, while remaining quite subtle.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The scene from Hae In’s point of view

E1-2. We realize in episode 2, that episode 1 was basically all from Hyun Woo’s point-of-view, and so, it’s quite possible that his strong feelings of unhappiness, had skewed Hae In’s behavior towards the wildly unreasonable, and her behavior hadn’t been as terrible as Hyun Woo received it to be.

Additionally, we learn that Hae In’s condition makes it such that she does suffer from hallucinations and loss of memory, from time to time.

This also presents more factors that would either explain or mitigate her behavior.

Like, we see that it’s not that she’d missed her appointment with Hyun Woo on purpose, although that is how Hyun Woo understands it.

Rather, she’d blacked out, mentally, and had only come to a proper awareness of herself and her surroundings, long after Hyun Woo had left the restaurant where he’d asked to meet her.

The same scene, from Hyun Woo’s memory

By extension, I take this to mean that it’s also possible that when she’d appeared to be distant or uncaring at other times, it hadn’t been intentional.

I find that Show’s approach, where we see much of episode 1 from Hyun Woo’s point of view, and then much of episode 2, from Hae In’s point of view, quite interesting.

It sometimes offers different perspectives of the same moment, and I find that thought-provoking.

Besides the incident where Hae In doesn’t show up to meet Hyun Woo at the restaurant, there’s also the moment where they run into each other at the elevators, and Hae In asks Hyun Woo to go somewhere with her.

It’s reasonably subtle, in that, if you’re not paying much attention, you might actually miss it, but there’s a difference between the scenes, in that, when we see things from Hyun Woo’s point of view, Hae In’s voice is sharper, while Hyun Woo sounds more neutral.

And then, when we experience the same moment from Hae In’s point of view, it’s the other way around; Hae In sounds more neutral, while Hyun Woo sounds more curt.

It’s quite thought-provoking to me, because isn’t that so true to life? We often think of ourselves as the more neutral party, amplifying our own neutrality, while amplifying the other person’s curtness or rudeness.

The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, in our own experiences, as well as in this scene between Hyun Woo and Hae In.

As in, I don’t think we have actually seen an objective presentation of what had happened at all; all we’ve seen is the way Hyun Woo saw it, stacked against how Hae In saw it.

[END SPOILER]

Show’s scene transitions are very nicely done

I actually found myself feeling impressed, quite often, at how thoughtful and meaningful, and yet seamless Show’s scene transitions were.

Here’s an example that I really liked, from episode 8.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The flashback..

There are several times when Show fades from a flashback to the present, while keeping our characters’ faces in the exact same position, and it feels so poignant, to see what things had been like, juxtaposed like that, with how things are now.

One great example is at the top of episode 8, where we see the entire proposal scene, when Hae In had taken Hyun Woo on a date and booked the entire aquarium, and Hyun Woo had proposed, believing that the entire universe was on their side.

That scene fades into the scene of him standing there in the rain with her, as he realizes that she’s lost her memory, and it’s just excellently done, I feel. 🤩🥲

..Which then fades into this scene in the present.

[END SPOILER]

The emotional beats

I’ve kind of alluded to this in the previous section, but I just wanted to say that no matter what kind of hyperbole Show might dip into, the emotional beats, which remained a strong feature throughout our story, helped to ground everything – and keep me very much invested.

Even though there were a number of things in our story that I wouldn’t consider rooted in reality, Show was consistent in treating emotional arcs with authenticity and respect, and I liked that a great deal.

Show’s sense of humor

Surprise! If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while, you’d probably know that it really isn’t often that I find myself jiving with the k-humor served up in our dramas.

I’m very happy to report that, by and large, Show’s sense of humor worked very well for me, and I often found myself giggling at the funny moments that Show served up.

Here’s a sampling of some of my highlights – and a lowlight.

[SPOILER ALERT]

When it worked for me

E1-2. The scene that I found most entertaining in episode 1, is when Hyun Woo is all drunk, and bemoaning his cuteness, like, WHY DID I HAVE TO BE SO CUTE?!? WHY?!??!? 😂😂

I found Kim Soo Hyun’s delivery of this scene just fabulous; I’m reminded that his comic sensibility is really good. I just couldn’t stop giggling at this scene. 😁

E1-2. Oh Jung Se’s cameo was great too, with him playing Hyun Woo’s therapist.

His deadpan delivery was quite perfect, particularly, when Doc calls his wife after the session, just to tell her that he loves her and is very, very, verrrry happy – all because he’s put his life in perspective, after hearing all about Hyun Woo’s struggles – to which Wifey gets all suspicious about what he’s done wrong now. 😂

E9-10. I also find myself enjoying some bits of unexpected humor, like when Hyun Tae muses that Hyun Woo bringing his ex-wife and her family to Yongdu-ri is like North and South Korea being one team in the Olympics; being united in the face of a common enemy.

I found that very funny; even funnier, when he extends the metaphor, and clarifies with Dad, that just because they’re playing on the same team, doesn’t mean there’s a guarantee of reunification.

HAHA. Very clever, I thought! And such a great nod to Crash Landing On You too! 🤭

When it didn’t work for me

E1-2. I found it comparatively less funny, when we see Hyun Woo actively hope for Hae In’s quick demise in episode 2, but reminding myself of the black comedy lens helps a lot, and I find that I’m fine to roll with it.

Certain bits I didn’t find so funny though, like when Hyun Woo puts on an exaggerated sad face to go check on Hae In, to see why she hasn’t woken up yet. That wasn’t very funny, to me.

But I did find it rather amusing when Hae In gets all touched by the sight of the internet searches that Hyun Woo’s done, on cancer patients who beat the odds, when in reality, he’d felt quite concerned, thinking that he wouldn’t actually be free from Hae In after all.

[END SPOILER]

The episode 8 cameo [SPOILER]

E7-8. It honestly was a lark and a half, to see Song Joong Ki reprise his role as Vincenzo (review here!), and appear as Hae In’s legal counsel – so much so that I’m giving it its own section, instead of including it in the one above. 😁

One of the things that tickled me a lot, was the way Yang Gi (Moon Tae Yu) speaks of Vincenzo, going through the various rumors about his true identity, because each rumor is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Song Joong Ki’s various roles in other shows:

The younger heir of a chaebol family (Reborn Rich – review here!), a former soldier stationed abroad (Descendants of the Sun – review here!), someone who came here on a spaceship (Space Sweepers), while others say he’s a werewolf (A Werewolf Boy – review here!).

Tee hee hee! I was very amused by this, no lie. What a fun wink at the audience! 🤭

When Show turns the funny poignant

I know I’ve already talked about the many ways in which Show’s writing and handling appeals to me, but I love this particular so much, that I’m giving it its own section.

There are many occasions when we get to see Show demonstrate its deftness in balancing its varied tones.

Often, it’ll be serving up something funny, and then turning that on its head to give us something a lot more poignant and heartfelt.

Sometimes, it’s the other way around, and Show might undercut a more serious moment, with something unexpectedly comedic.

I thought this was very well done indeed, and really showcased our showrunners’ confidence in handling this story and these characters.

Here are some examples.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3-4. The way Hae In walks through all her various collections of possessions, repeating how she can’t die, because it would be too much of a waste – and then the way she stops at the sight at a sleeping Hyun Woo, and says, with a strong note of wistfulness in her voice, that he would be too much of a waste.

Augh. That hit me with a nice big impact, because it’s such a poignant thought, that he’s the thing (well, person) that she most can’t bear to part with, when she considers her potential impending death.

E3-4. Show plays for comedy, the scene where Hyun Woo frantically tries all manner of significant dates, to unlock her phone, and then turns the whole thing around, to reveal something with deep pathos; that Hae In’s passcode is the date that their baby would have been born.

Oof. That changes everything, doesn’t it?

Even though it’s clear that Hyun Woo and Hae In don’t talk about it anymore, Hae In still very much treasures the child that she never had.

I’m sure this realization adds a whole new dimension to Hyun Woo’s perception of Hae In as a person, which I feel is really needful and helpful.

Additionally, this also informs us of the happy time that they’d once had, preparing for their baby’s arrival, with such excitement and anticipation.

We don’t know exactly what happened, but just those scenes of happy anticipation are enough to give me a sense of just how devastating it must have been for both of them, to lose the baby.

I thought this was a very clever approach; show us the happy, and yet somehow, use that to inform us, of the sad. 💔

Very well done, I felt. 🥲

E7-8. We get a bit of the black comedy coming back, and this time, it blends so well, with the deep emotional beats that we get, from our OTP arc.

I thought this was really well done, honestly, and I’m sitting here, silently giving Show a standing ovation on this, because it’s meshing such varied tones in such an expert way that it’s making it look effortless.

You only really realize how hard this must be to do, when you compare it to other dramas trying – and failing – to mesh opposing tones, and often, ones that are not even quite as complex as the ones we’re seeing in this show.

Well done, I say. Very well done indeed.

It’s honestly heartbreaking to see Hae In process the fact that Hyun Woo had actually wanted to divorce her, and that that moment, when she’d told him about her diagnosis, had been the same moment he’d wanted to serve her those divorce papers.

It’s also heartbreaking to see Hyun Woo’s desperation, as he tries – and fails – to find a way to make it all better; a way to make this hurt less, for Hae In.

You can literally see Hae In lose the desire to live, particularly in that incident where she finds herself walking in traffic, and she tells Hyun Woo, who’s beside himself with worry, that if this were to happen again, to not save her.

Ack. What a punch to the gut this must be to Hyun Woo, because he knows for a fact that it’s his actions that have led Hae In to feel this way?

It’s very hard to see him change tack and be mean to her (because, hasn’t Hae In suffered enough pain already, as it is, right?), but I can see where he’s coming from.

If love can’t give Hae In a reason to live, then perhaps hate can – not that I think that this is healthy or anything, but whatever works, right?

Plus, knowing what we know now, about how Hyun Woo really feels, does help. I am certain that it’s killing him on the inside, to do this to Hae In, but he’s pushing through anyway, because of how desperate he is, to give Hae In something to channel her energies towards.

Afterwards, you can see the wistful resignation in Hyun Woo’s eyes, as he readies himself to be on the receiving end of Hae In’s wrath.

But then, I found it very amusing, honestly, that all the investigations, whether by the two guys tasked to tail him, or by the Audit team, turn up nothing negative about Hyun Woo.

Everything about his work is upstanding and impeccably clean, while his private life is quiet, and kinda dorky, even, with his penchant for Grandma’s soup rice and running punishment rounds at the school track. And his habit of calling out to the non-existent Yeong Suk, while on the rooftop garden. 🤭

I thought this was very cute, and a great way for Show to swerve away from the somberness, for a bit.

[END SPOILER]

Strong performances by our leads

I’ll talk more about this later in my review, when I get into detail about our lead characters and their relationship, but I just wanted to state upfront, that both Kim Soo Hyun and Kim Ji Won blow it out of the water, in this show.

In particular, I love that the emotions Hyun Woo and Hae In show, are tamped down and restrained a lot of the time, yet faceted and layered enough in the delivery, that I can feel that so much of what they’re feeling, is complicated.

And that complicatedness feels relatable and true to life; like, I could imagine myself feeling a similar complicated mix of emotions, if I were to find myself in either of their shoes.

I thought this was really well done. 🤩

The OTP feels [BROAD MINOR SPOILERS]

I will absolutely get into more detail when I talk about the OTP relationship later in this review, but I just wanted to say first, that I really enjoyed Show’s treatment of this loveline.

Despite all these OTT-feeling shenanigans, the story of Hyun Woo and Hae In feels heartfelt and grounded, and I liked that a lot.

Every time we get a moment of true emotion between them, my heart surged with hope; it’s so clear to see, from where I’m sitting, that these two people love each other, and long for each other, whether they’re cognizant of it or not.

It’s admittedly frustrating to see the three-steps-forward-two-steps-back sort of thing that’s going on, where we get forward movement in their relationship, only to have something come up, that causes everything to not only stall, but slide backwards, all over again.

However, I do think that this feels true-to-life; real relationships aren’t healed by a single magic moment, after all.

It’s muddled by the fact that there are so many layers and factors at play, and also, as humans, we tend to be complicated, confusing and inconstant.

We’re seeing exactly this dynamic between Hyun Woo and Hae In, and it’s so much more believable, because of this.

The silver lining is, this does make any progress taste extra sweet, because it feels so earned. And, Show does make sure to serve up some really great moments, from week to week. 🥲

STUFF THAT WAS OK

The long episodes

I’ve got this in this section because I am in-principle not really into long episode running times.

Show’s episodes are 90 minutes long each, on average, and that is literally the length of some movies.

To Show’s credit, I never felt like the episodes had been stuffed with filler, or dragged out, in order to fill time.

I felt that the episodes were actually well-paced, with developments that all worked out to be related to our main narrative threads, and nothing felt like it should have been sliced to the cutting room floor.

At first, I was all, “I don’t mind this, but I do wish the episodes were shorter, coz 90 minutes per episode gets tiring.”

But then, as I got into Show’s final stretch, and as I marveled that I still wasn’t chafing at the long episodes each week, this late in my watch, I realized that I had become grateful for Show’s long episodes.

I kid you not, while watching episode 11, I checked the length of the episode, and saw that, despite having already watched about half an hour, I still had a whole hour left – and I felt pleased about it.

I think that really says something about how authentically engaging I found this drama.

And so, all in all, the long episodes worked out fine for me – which is why they’re in this section. 😁

The childhood connection trope [VAGUE SPOILERS]

I don’t hold this against Show per se, because this didn’t affect my enjoyment of my watch, but I couldn’t help but notice that there is a great deal of childhood connection going on, in our story world.

We’ve got childhood connections involving our leads, our second leads, and even some supporting characters, for good measure.

It’s honestly pretty excessive – and yet, Show makes it work enough, that I didn’t feel that it took away from the story, for me personally.

STUFF I LIKED LESS

The scheming stuff [SPOILERS]

To be brutally honest, I wasn’t super interesting in the scheming and family feuds per se, and the only reason I even paid attention to them, is because these things affected our OTP.

All the machinations actually add up to be rather OTT, in my view, particularly with the way Eun Seong and Da Hye had started setting their sights on the Queens Group since they’d been children at that orphanage.

I didn’t love this, but I did find that it helped to think of all the scheming as being somewhat akin to Money Flower (review here, and Open Threads here!), like Show is Money Flower’s cousin; less elegant and refined, but with the same restrained makjang DNA. 🤭

The unpleasant characters

One of the things I’ve heard said about this show, is that there are way too many unpleasant characters around our OTP.

It’s true; there are a lot of them, so I agree on this point.

At the same time, I’m pretty sure that I was less bothered about this, than many other folks, and I think that’s because my attention was always on the OTP, and I often saw these characters as catalysts that writer-nim was using, to further our main OTP narrative.

Additionally, I like that it doesn’t really take too long (ie, we don’t have to wait until the final episode), for many of these characters to start changing for the better.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E7-8. I love that, in a perfect, perfect sort of twist that I hadn’t seen coming, the entire chaebol family ends up going with Hyun Woo to his little hometown – ahhh, I can just smell the hijinks to come!

In particular, I’d like to see Chaebol Mom eat humble pie a bit, after being mean to Hyun Woo’s mom.

E9-10. All the bad people in our drama world all end up being quite unhappy, this set of episodes.

We have the snooty chaebol family members being taken down quite a few pegs while they hide out at Hyun Woo’s family home.

And there’s also Grace (Kim Joo Ryoung), who gets a metaphorical slap in the face, when she realizes that she’s nothing but a hunting dog, to Seul Hee and Eun Seong.

The utter shock she experiences, when she realizes that instead of becoming head of the department store like she’d imagined, she’s being expected to pack up and flee the country, so as not to complicate matters, is pretty satisfying, especially given how she’d planned with such glee, to feed the Hong family to the paparazzi.

And then again, it’s quite satisfying, to see that Seul Hee and Eun Seong are anything but happy, even though Seul Hee keeps repeating to Eun Seong, how wonderful it now is, to have all this wealth to themselves.

The fact that even these two, who’ve essentially won the whole scheming game (so far, at least) aren’t spared from misery, is definitely adding to my satisfaction.

Like, Aha, see, being evil and terrible isn’t actually going to buy you happiness, so there. 🤭

The way Seul Hee is left all alone to enjoy the wealth that she finally has in her hands, kinda-sorta gives me Miss Havisham vibes, especially because Seul Hee does enjoy dressing up and being quite excessive.

[END SPOILER]

SPOTLIGHT ON CHARACTERS & RELATIONSHIPS

Kim Soo Hyun as Hyun Woo

I’ve had a soft spot for Kim Soo Hyun for a long time, and I have to admit, his casting in this, was one of the main reasons I was keen to check out this how, despite not really knowing what it would be about, apart from its very sparse synopsis.

Altogether, I loved Kim Soo Hyun as Hyun Woo, a great, great deal. ❤️

First of all, there’s the fact that Hyun Woo’s such a good, decent guy. That was one of my favorite things about him.

On the lighter side of things, I thought it was a fun, affectionate touch by writer-nim, to make Hyun Woo the perfect man – where, every so often, we’d learn that he was even more perfect than we’d originally thought. 😁

I thought that was a rather amusing little running gag.

I also thought that Kim Soo Hyun was pretty fantastic in the lighter, funny scenes, with my absolute favorite being [MINOR SPOILER] his drunk-crying scene which I talk about above, where he bemoans his cuteness. 🤭 [END MINOR SPOILER]

Even more than his delivery of the funny scenes, though, I thought his delivery of the more difficult, emotional scenes was just fantastic.

I found myself regularly responding with awe, with the way Kim Soo Hyun interpreted the more complex nuances of Hyun Woo as a character.

I will share more examples in the my section where I talk about the OTP, but for now, here’s one example of where I found myself thinking that Kim Soo Hyun’s delivery was really, really good.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E11-12. Kim Soo Hyun did a pretty fantastic job, in the scene at the end of episode 11, where Hae In believes that Eun Seong is Hyun Woo.

The scene isn’t long, but even in that short period of time, it was so clear to see, that the Hyun Woo that we see, isn’t being himself; every expression and movement, is so unlike Hyun Woo, and so like Eun Seong, that I was immediately able to make the connection, that this wasn’t really Hyun Woo in the car with Hae In, but Eun Seong.

Really, really well done, I thought. *wild applause* 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🤩

[END SPOILER]

Kim Ji Won as Hae In

I really, really enjoyed Kim Ji Won as Hae In; she’s done such a good job that I literally find it difficult to imagine another actress playing Hae In. 🥲

Hae In’s introduced as a rather cold, aloof sort of character, and I like that, in Kim Ji Won’s hands, I found it quite easy to see that there was more to Hae In, underneath the ice princess persona.

I really enjoyed getting to know and understand Hae In better, over the course of our story.

And, every time we see Hae In do something good, or badass, or warm, I found myself cheering for her. 🥲

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3-4. Hae In’s reason for not telling her family about her illness, turns out to be because she doesn’t want to worry them, because they’d already lost a child, rather than the excuse she’d originally told Hyun Woo, that she doesn’t want her family to take advantage of her weakness.

That’s really poignant, given the fact that Mom (Na Young Hee) seems to blame Hae In for the death of Su Wan, her brother.

Also, what about that hero moment at the department store, when Hae In deals with that unreasonable couple?

SO badass! 🤩 I love how fearless she is.

E3-4. As for our final arc, this pair of episodes, where Hae In goes to save the day, at Hyun Woo’s dad’s village head rally, I have to say, some suspension of disbelief is definitely required.

I mean, there’s just no way that Hae In could have gathered so many resources, and gotten there so quickly, after receiving Mi Sun’s text about the situation.

But, I’ll roll with it, because I like the idea that Hae In cares enough, to do this for Hyun Woo’s family.

E5-6. I appreciate that even when Hae In allows Eun Seong’s presence to push Hyun Woo’s buttons, she remains completely unmoved by Eun Seong’s efforts to, 1, poison her against Hyun Woo, and 2, get closer to her.

I like that resoluteness about her, honestly. 🤩

I also like that the more we get to know her, the more we get to see her more caring side, like in the way she orders juice for herself and her entire company, in order to help the Juice Guy, because his baby’s sick and he’s feeling the financial strain.

That was a very kind thing to do, and I like that she found a way to help him, without making it feel like charity, so that his pride wouldn’t need to take a beating. 🥲

E9-10. I also like that Show is making sure that we know that Hae In’s not the ice queen that she makes herself out to be.

For example, there’s the way she tells Soo Cheol (Kwak Do Yeon) that it’s not his fault that their family is in this situation; that anyone in his position would’ve been taken in by Eun Seong, and so to stop crying.

Aw, doesn’t that give off Big Noona energy? Like, she just wants to comfort her little brother so that he’ll stop crying? I thought that was sweet. 🥲

[END SPOILER]

Hyun Woo and Hae In

Just by the fact that we start our story where Hyun Woo and Hae In are married, but distant from each other, it’s not hard to guess that our main narrative thread, would be about our OTP falling in love with each other, all over again.

Honestly, for a good chunk of my watch, the main attraction for me, in this show, was:

1, observing all the signs that Hyun Woo and Hae In do care very much, about each other, and

2, waiting on tenterhooks, for them to pick up on these signs too, and slowly realize that they are more in love, and more loved, than they think.

This worked out to be catnip for me, and I couldn’t inhale fast enough, each little nugget of progress that Show served up.

Here’s a sprawling look at my thoughts and feelings around this loveline, during my watch. 🥲

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1-2. Honestly, I really struggle with the concept of hunting, coz these are live animals that are shot – for FUN. 😭🙈 I found this very uncomfortable to watch, no lie.

I had to forcibly tell myself that this is one of those stupid rich pastimes, and it’s not surprising that a chaebol family like Hae In’s, would indulge in such a pastime.

But, as a silver lining, it does give us that set-up, where Hae In gets one of her mental blackouts, and it’s Hyun Woo who saves her, by shooting that wild boar that’s charging towards her.

I appreciate that this tells us, very clearly, that Hyun Woo’s instinct isn’t actually to want Hae In dead.

If he’d wanted her dead, he could’ve just let that wild boar charge at her, yes? Instead, he puts himself between her and the wild boar, and shoots it, despite clearly disliking the entire idea of hunting.

I guess this is one of those times when actions speak louder than words. He does care, and more than he thinks. 🥲

E3-4. I like what Show’s doing, giving us selected flashbacks to when Hyun Woo and Hae In had been dating, and then juxtaposing those flashbacks with what’s going on in the present day, so that we have some form of budding context, for what life had been like for them, before things had grown cold and they’d become distant from each other.

One of the recurring gags is how Hyun Woo kept thinking that Hae In had had an underprivileged childhood, and was struggling financially.

Every time he brags about how influential his family is, and how he’d take care of her, so she didn’t need to worry, I find it very dorky and endearing, even though it’s become a running gag by now.

I do like that Show’s tone is gentle, even though its approach to this gag is persistent.

That opening flashback in episode 3 had me chuckling, because Hyun Woo is so innocent, as he assumes that Hae In’s mother hadn’t bought her popsicles because their family couldn’t afford them, not because Mom had disdained popsicles as junk food, which is the much likelier scenario. 🤭

The way he looks so sorry for her, and assures her that from that point onwards, he’s going to let her enjoy all the things in life that she couldn’t before.

It’s so cutely, endearingly naive, isn’t it? 🥲

Because this has become a bit of a recurring soundbite, in different forms, I’m actually coming to accept that one of the key things that had attracted Hyun Woo to Hae In, was his belief that she needed his help and protection.

It does seem to me that Hyun Woo’s a protector at heart, and that he likes to feel that he’s keeping his person safe and happy – and provided for. I find it quite sweet, honestly. 🥲

Even sweeter, of course, is his assurance that no matter what troubles her family has, it’s all ok, because he’ll be there with her.

Of course, the kind of troubles her family has works out to be very different than what he’d bargained for, but I can see why this thought, that he’d always be with her, would touch Hae In, and make her like him more.

And honestly, I feel like Hyun Woo’s really coming through nicely, on that front, this pair of episodes.

The concern in his eyes, after he saves her from that wild boar, is sincere and urgent, and I can easily believe that he’d saved her because he’d cared, not because he was trying to preserve her life just so that she could give him her millions –  or billions, as the case may be.

Of course, there’s also the way he princess-carries her back to the resort, because she’s sprained her ankle.

That’s a swoony combination of things, and I can see why Hae In would be affected by this.

It’s really cute how she tries to talk herself out of glamorizing him, and thinking that he’s cool and charismatic, only to be promptly discombobulated by the sight of him, all glistening and bare-bodied, in his towel.

I couldn’t stop giggling at how she tries to manage the situation, but ends up concluding to herself, that she’s too stimulated for such a late hour. Tee hee! 🤭

I honestly kinda love how quickly Hae In’s heart melts in Hyun Woo’s direction; I mean, she even suggests cuddles, that very night. That’s a pretty huge step, given how distant they’ve been with each other, for what seems like a long time.

That tells me that her heart hasn’t actually been that hardened against him, and that perhaps, at some leve, she’s been hoping for some closeness to be restored between them.

Even though she brushes off her suggestion as a joke, when Hyun Woo balks, I’m pretty darn certain that that was just a cover, to save her pride.

E3-4. I gotta tell ya, I could not get enough of all the scenes of Hae In and Hyun Woo taking turns to walk past the other person at work, and not being able to look away, because they’re too entranced by the other person.

Gurgle. This gives me such cozy feels; there’s something so romantic about this idea, I feel, of falling in love with your spouse all over again. 🥲

And, I do like the way Hae In is shown to consistently speak up in defense of Hyun Woo.

Even when Eun Seong tries to poison her against Hyun Woo by saying that Hyun Woo had hesitated on whether to save her, she replies in way that puts Hyun Woo in a positive light; that the difference between them, is that while Eun Seong had his eyes on Hyun Woo, Hyun Woo had his eyes on her.

Which is a very sharp observation, honestly.

Coz if Eun Seong cared so much, why didn’t he step in to save Hae In, instead of using the moment to test Hyun Woo, right?

With Hyun Woo and Hae In slowly falling in love again, despite not being fully cognizant of it, I was really holding my breath there, hoping that Hae In wouldn’t hear about Hyun Woo wanting to divorce her.

I literally rooted for every single moment, where it looked like Hyun Woo would be able to prevent her from seeing the text from his sister.

I rationalized that even though he’s trying to get into her phone to delete a message that she has every right to read, that it’s ok because he might be changing his mind, about wanting to divorce her.

I also really enjoyed the little role reversal moments that we get, like when Hae In’s the one grabbing Hyun Woo for a kiss, while Hyun Woo is the one being on the  discombobulated receiving end.

Traditionally, it’s always been the male lead giving the unexpected kisses, and I just love the way Hae In’s fulfilling that role here. It feels kinda.. fresh, on my screen? 😁

It’s amusing how Hae In’s so taken with Hyun Woo’s efforts to get close to her phone, thinking that he’s just making excuses to spend more time with her, but also, I actually like the idea of her feeling this way, if that makes sense.

Like, I want her to believe that Hyun Woo wants to spend more time with her, and, for her sake, I also want it to be true.

E3-4. I also love all the little moments of hyper-awareness that we get, between Hyun Woo and Hae In.

The way he stares in wonder at her beauty, and the way he literally skips a little, after she compliments him on looking good in his suit, is really cute. 😁

In spite of himself, Hyun Woo can’t help but care about Hae In, and I was very amused by how he yells across the entire department store, to tell her to be careful.

It’s funny to me, that it’s such a visceral, instinctive thing for Hyun Woo, that he only realizes that he’s yelled out at her, after he’s done it, and ends up ducking out of sight by fumbling to the floor, right in front of the shoe section. Hahaha.

And, even though Hyun Woo buys that pair of sneakers as an excuse for being on the floor of the shoe department, I can’t help but notice that when he presents the shoes to Hae In, his reasons given, are all things that he’s observed of her.

He knows her shoe size off the top of his head, and he also knows that she doesn’t have comfortable shoes, which definitely count for something, yes?

How could Hae In not waver, particularly at the part where he says that perhaps she could wear comfortable shoes, once in a while.

Awww! Isn’t that so caring? 🥲

And isn’t it SO CUTE, when he reflexively smiles that pleased little smile, when he spies her wearing the sneakers, later that day?

Plus, when he tells Yang Gi that Hae In wore the shoes, you can totally tell that he can barely stop himself from smiling at the memory of it.

Ahhhh! The cute! 🥰

And, I just love that Hae In persists in wearing the shoes, even when Eun Seong tries to get her to change her shoes for the meeting with Mr. Hermann.

Even though Hyun Woo has that very dramatic “oh no, what am I going to do now?” reaction when he hears from Hae In that there’s a research center that’s pretty confident of curing her, it seems pretty clear to me, that this is more about his horror at having to live the rest of his life while suffocated by her family, rather than about disliking her.

In fact, what we see is Hyun Woo getting more and more jealous of Eun Seong spending time with Hae In, for the rest of the episode.

Not only that, we also see Hyun Woo showing more and more concern for Hae In, over the course of the episode.

Like how he comes to her defense, when Mom is ranting at her, and Hae In starts to feel faint.

E3-4. When Hae In has that mental blackout spell, and gets lost, it culminates in such an emotional moment, when Hyun Woo finds her.

The way he’s all wound up with worry, so much so that he throws the bicycle aside with such force; the way he stalks up to her, his eyes brimming with tears and and his face full of worry; the way there’s such urgency in his voice, as he demands to know why she’s there.

Everything about him screams strong concern, so strong that he can’t contain it.

The very fact that he’s that worried about her, tells me everything I need to know about how he really feels. The truth is, he really cares. 🥲

I’m so glad that Hae In seems to finally get a sense of that, because she finally tells him the truth, eyes full of tears, that she can’t remember, and that she was scared.

I just love – LOVE! – how this just galvanizes Hyun Woo into walking right back to her, and gathering her in his arms, so that he can hold her tight.

Ahhhh!!! My feelz; they are all over the place and I’m flailing all over the floor; my heart feels so full, in the moment. 🥲

It feels so powerful, when Hyun Woo’s tears fall too, as he holds her; this resonates as a moment of true, unadulterated connection, and I love that so much, for them.

This would have been perfect, just as it is, and I honestly kinda think that the flashback to the high school connection, where Hyun Woo had helped Hae In with the scrape on her knee, was kinda overkill, but I won’t quibble, because I love that hug, so much. 🥲

Of course, Show’s not going to leave it at this, because we’re only 4 episodes in, and surely there will be more challenges to come, but for now, I’m just going to bask in the loveliness of that hug. 🥰🥰🥰

E5-6. Even though I was admittedly disappointed that after that initial heartfelt hug, when Hyun Woo hears how scared Hae In had been, and how she couldn’t remember what had happened, and how she’d ended up where she’d come to herself, I could buy that, after several years of being so distant from each other, it would feel weird and foreign, to attempt to become closer again.

I do like that as they find themselves spending more time together, they also find themselves softening towards each other.

I feel like the more Hyun Woo talks to Hae In, the more he discovers that there’s a softer, more considerate, cuter side to her than he’d realized or remembered.

The way he looks surprised and amused at her reason for coming to his hometown – because his sister had texted and said that their father was losing the election because of pork and rice soup – really does give me a bit of a thrill.

Like, yesss, he’s softening towards her; he’s seeing beyond the ice princess facade, to the cute and sweet Hae In underneath. 🥰

I do love how organic the moments of unplanned hyper-proximity are.

The hairdryer scene is a perfect example of that.

Because, of course Hae In would need a hairdryer, and of course the only one Hyun Woo would have, is old and temperamental, such that Hae In can’t quite manage it on her own, and he has to help her, which is how he ends up drying her hair for her – which is one of those classic romantic scenes. 🤭

I thought this was very clever, honestly. 🤩

Of course, it makes sense that they’d both feel awkward about it, after a short while, and hurriedly put an end to the couple hair-drying moment.

As much as I gasped at the fact that Hyun Woo just ups and leaves Hae In sitting there, in the middle of leaning in to kiss her, I can understand that he doesn’t know what else to do, after having worked himself into a state where he’s only wanted to be free of her and her family.

This is a very big change in position to make, and I can understand that Hyun Woo wouldn’t be ready to make that change, all of a sudden, after a burst of emotion.

I do feel very, very sorry for Hae In, though, because how awkward and humiliated must she feel, to be the one left abruptly behind, in the middle of an almost-kiss, no less? 🙈

Especially since she’s actually been opening up to Hyun Woo, like the way she tells him that she’d felt scared, and the way she asks him if he’d go to Germany with her, for  her treatment.

She’s allowing herself to be vulnerable with Hyun Woo, which is clearly something that she finds difficult to do with people in general, and which must feel particularly strange and awkward, after their estrangement over the past several years, so it must feel extra mortifying, to be treated like this.

I can understand why Hae In would be so angry and therefore distant, after this.

It’s roundabout this point in our story, that we get to see what had happened to trigger their estrangement, and it’s heartbreaking to the nth degree.

It’s easy for us to see, as an objective audience, that Hae In’s tendency is to mask her pain with a prickly businesslike manner, and so, when she loses her baby, she masks even harder – but that’s exactly the thing that alienates Hyun Woo from her.

Hyun Woo, in his simplicity, doesn’t realize that beneath her dismissive words and nonchalant manner, is a great deal of pain that Hae In doesn’t know what to do with.

He reacts to what he sees, and what he sees, is Hae In turning her back on their baby as if they were yesterday’s trash, and he’s too heartbroken to do anything else but mourn their baby on his own, because he believes that Hae In won’t. 💔

The scenes of them crying on their own, feeling so grieved and so alone, were really heartbreaking to watch, and I felt so sad for them both. 😭

Back in the present, I can’t help but notice that, despite Hae In’s anger towards Hyun Woo for leaving her all alone in the room, she does care about the fact that he’s getting rained on because he’s holding the umbrella more over her, than over himself.

It comes out as a sharp reprimand, where she tells him to hold the umbrella properly, and I know that that comes from her anger, but the fact that she wants him to make sure that he’s sufficiently protected from the rain, comes from a place of care, and I do wish that Hyun Woo would realize that. 🥲

E5-6. Of course, there’s also Hae In’s own heart, that Hyun Woo sees in that video, where she talks about what she’d like to do, after accomplishing all her work goals – and all she talks about, is spending time with him. Aw. 🥲

It’s no wonder Hyun Woo’s heart is galvanized into action, and we have him hunting down Hae In like a homing missile – coz he literally doesn’t stop till he finds her, even though she’s left the research hospital and moved on to a different location.

It says so much, I feel, that he would know exactly where she’d be – the place where they’d gone during their honeymoon, where it’s said to be without sadness or worries.

I love-love-love that moment on the steps, where Hyun Woo makes his earnest plea to her, saying that he needs to be by her side at times like this, and Hae In admits, in a quivering voice and with tears in her eyes, that she’s always wanted him by her side.

And then, we can see that split second of realization in Hyun Woo’s eyes, as he apologizes, sincerely.

I love that it’s Hae In who reaches out her hand first, asking that they go home, because that’s all she’s actually wanted to do; to go home with him.

And then he’s pulling her into his arms and holding her, and he’s crying, and she’s crying, and he finally pulls her in for that (heartfelt, heartfelt 🥲) kiss, and I’m just flailing over here, with all of the feels. 🫠🫠🫠

Ahhh. So good. 🥲

(How cute is that epilogue at the end of episode 5, where we see that the odd line of ink that Hae In had found on her palm, had been from Hyun Woo extending her lifeline for her, because she’d said that she’d felt offended that hers was short. Aw.)

But of course, again, this moment of emotional breakthrough is followed by a spell of awkwardness, partly because they’ve become so unused to being in close company with each other, and also, partly because this is such a sensitive, difficult thing that Hae In’s going through, and her default mode is to mask.

The way she talks about what she’d like Hyun Woo to do, after her death, while they wait for their cup ramyun to cook, is so clearly her way of masking her discomfort at the thought of her possible impending death.

But, this is also her way of connecting with Hyun Woo, and I appreciate the way she brings up the will all on her own, and explains that she’d signed such an unfavorable will in the first place, because that had been the only way Mom would have allowed her to marry Hyun Woo, and all she’d wanted, was to marry him.

Aw. Put that way, the whole deal with the will now lands as romantic rather than cruel, doesn’t it?

Like I always say, context really is everything. 🥲

And then, I love, so much, Hyun Woo’s answer, which is, essentially, yes, thank you, please do that, but not now. Later, when you’re all better; do it then.

Ahhh. SO GOOD. 🥲

That is the perfect answer, and I love that it feels sincere and heartfelt.

The whole thing about Hyun Woo asking to sleep in the same room as Hae In, henceforth, is super cute, and I loves it. 🤩

It’s amusing how Hae In clearly actually wants Hyun Woo to share the room with her, but feels too awkward to say so, and it’s amusing too, how he is so focused on treading cautiously, that he doesn’t act on the hint that she drops, that he can do whatever he wants.

The moment he does realize it though, it’s adorable how he practically falls over himself rushing over there, to stop her from closing the door, so that he can ask if it’s ok for him to sleep in the same room as her that night – and always.

Ahhh!!! I love that that’s what he wants, and I love that that’s also what she wants, and I love that this step forward, makes them both so bashful-happy. 🥰🥰

Even though Show plays for a bit, with the idea that Hae In misunderstands all of Hyun Woo’s past not-so-great behavior (like him leaning in to listen to her breathe) as indications that he’s always cared so deeply for her, it doesn’t last for too long.

I’m glad that instead, we get to see a genuinely sweet moment, like Hyun Woo reaching over to hold Hae In’s hand, as she sleeps, and he watches over her.

Aw. That is precious, isn’t it? 🥲

I also appreciate that Hyun Woo loves in practical ways too; that he’d loaded up his legal guns and basically pressured the research center to work harder, to treat Hae In.

It somehow lands as even sweeter, that he doesn’t let on that he’d had anything to do with it, and allows Hae In to believe that this is just her good fortune.

We get to bask in a few scenes of Hyun Woo and Hae In eating and walking and even doing a spot of shopping (for four leaved clovers), but the scene that gets me more, is the one where Hae In loses time again, and gets lost just as she’s going for her injection.

I love the fact that she doesn’t hesitate to tell Hyun Woo what she’d remembered; that she’d seen a vision of her elder brother, Su Wan, who’d died saving her.

It’s such a painful memory, that I’m not even that surprised that Hae In’s never told Hyun Woo about this before; it must be very hard for her to think about, let alone talk about it, particularly given that she seems compelled to show strength, and hide weakness.

Now, it feels extra poignant to hear Hae In talk about it, because she’s digesting the vision of Su Wan as a possible sign that he’s here as her angel, to guide her soul to the afterlife.

I appreciate that Hyun Woo resets her perspective by telling her that this was a hallucination that’s a side effect of her treatment, and not a sign that her time is up.

But also, Hae In’s eventual conclusion, that one day, she’ll come for Hyun Woo, as his angel, made me tear up. Like, noooo, can we not assume that you’re going to die first?? 😭

Honestly though, as Hyun Woo tears up listening to this, I feel like I can see, through his sadness, that he’s also falling in love with Hae In, all over again – perhaps even more this time, because this time, they’re loving through the hard times, and not just buoyed by the rush of emotions from their early courtship. 🥲

I’m bummed that all the scheming eventually (but yes, inevitably) messes with our re-blossoming of our OTP relationship, but I’m hopeful that Hyun Woo will be able to clear his name, with that SD card from his car’s blackbox.

Yay Hyun Woo, for having the foresight to park his car in front of the shop.

My heart did drop to the floor, when Hyun Woo, all poised to give Hae In that sweet bouquet of four-leaved clovers, is confronted instead, by that image of the divorce papers, and an incensed Hae In.

Oof. This is going to be hard, isn’t it?

I appreciate that Hyun Woo doesn’t try to lie his way out of it, and admits that he’d been the one to prepare those divorce papers.

At the same time, I can imagine how hurt and shocked Hae In must be, and how this would cause her to start doubting a lot of things that she’d believed about Hyun Woo.

It’ll likely take some time, before Hae In’s able to process this, and Hyun Woo’s able to gain her trust again.

I do trust Show, though, to give us an emotionally satisfying outcome, particularly where our OTP relationship is concerned.

I mean, that epilogue is the cutest, isn’t it?

I love that Hae In’s earlier remark about first loves, had actually been about her own experience watching Hyun Woo from afar, going so far as to get her driver to tail his bus, all so that she could catch a glimpse of him riding the bus.

I love that, so much. It’s sweet, and innocent, and so pure.

I’m hoping that some of that sweetness and innocence will be returned to our OTP, and soon. 🥲

E7-8. I liked seeing how Hyun Woo and Hae In both still have deep interest in each other, even post-divorce.

There’s the way Hyun Woo follows Eun Seong and prevents him from tailing Hae In, in order to protect her and her privacy.

And there’s the way Hae In ponders the photos of Hyun Woo, and goes to try all the various things for herself, from batting baseballs, to eating sundae soup – which is where she overhears Hyun Woo telling Yang Gi that he’d wanted to live that life, because he’d wanted to be next to Hae In.

Augh. So poignant, truly. 🥲

And there’s also the way Hae In steps in and prevents the security team from escorting Hyun Woo off the premises, in spite of Chairman Gramps’s order.

The conversation that follows in the elevator, says so much, really.

Hae In demands to know why Hyun Woo isn’t demanding something in exchange for leaving, and why he isn’t leaving anyway, while Hyun Woo explains that the only reason he’s doing this, is because he wants to be there (he doesn’t say it’s for her, but it’s totally for her, and I hope Hae In sees that in the sad, wistful gaze in his eyes 🥲).

And he asks about how she’s feeling, health-wise, and that just says everything about why he’s still there. He cares about her. 🥲

E7-8. I kinda love that after all that early bragging we’d seen Hyun Woo do, about how his family is rich, with many cows, and fields, and even a shop, now, he’ll really get the chance to take care of Hae In and her family, like he’d once promised.

And, given the poignant note of our epilogue, where Hae In, after overhearing Hyun Woo’s words in the restaurant, about wanting to be next to her, cries too, because she now wants to live, badly, I’m hoping and believing that coming here, and living out the heartfelt promise that Hyun Woo had once made, will bring about healing and refreshment to their relationship, like a reset, if you will.

I’d really like to see that. 🥲

E9-10. I love every indication that Hae In and Hyun Woo care about each other more than they’d like to admit, or more than they appear to.

I loved that moment when Hyun Woo persuades Hae In that her family should stay comfortably at his family’s home, and admits that this is the solution that is most comfortable for him.

And how about that gentle note in his voice, when he tells Hae In, who tells him not to concern himself with her or her family, that he’ll stop worrying, when she’s better?

That gentle note says so much more to me, than the actual words themselves. That gentle note tells me that he does care, and a great deal, at that.

That not worrying about her, is something of a sacrifice, because he wants to concern himself with her. 🥲

The way they draft texts to each other, with the texts showing a mutual desire for closeness and connection, and then deleting those drafts in favor of a more clear-cut, businesslike tone, is quite heart-pinching stuff.

Like, oh two, if only you knew what the other person really wanted to say to you!

And how about the way Hyun Woo sneaks into the room in the early hours of the morning, to make sure that the curtains are drawn, so that Hae In won’t be disturbed by the rays from the rising sun?

That’s so tender and thoughtful, isn’t it? 🥲

I do also love the moments that Hyun Woo and Hae In discuss the situation, together.

E9-10. It’s heartbreaking that underneath the businesslike talk, they’re actually longing for each other, and wanting to be together.

Instead, we have Hae In stating matter-of-factly (though not without a slight sheen of tears in her eyes) that her goal is to be well enough so that Hyun Woo can leave her without worry, and Hyun Woo sadly agreeing that this is the goal that they should work towards.

Oof, it hurts, but it hurts good, because I can see that these two people don’t really want to be apart. And it is absolutely a silver lining, that they are currently in a situation where they are working closely together.

E9-10. I love the concerned way Hae In reacts, when she sees Hyun Woo’s cuts and bruises, from fighting off that group of guys.

There is absolute real concern with the way she tilts his head so that she can get a good look at his face – and then it’s so funny to me, that she proceeds to take off his shirt, to examine his body too. 😁🤭

I like how Show is getting creative in weaving in shirtless scenes for our male lead, ha.

But also, Hae In is genuinely upset to see Hyun Woo hurt, and it shows in the tears in her eyes, and the slight quiver in her voice, and augh, it just gets me in the heart, y’know?

I do love the scene where she’s putting ointment on for him; this chemistry is really great, honestly, where they’re opening up to each other and showing care, and I’d love to see more of it.

It’s so cute how Hyun Woo tries to humble-brag about being a boxer, and how it didn’t hurt at all – only to wince right away, the moment Hae In touches that cotton swab to his lip, heh.

And then how about that gentle note in Hae In’s voice, this time, when she tells him, while dabbing ointment on his busted lip with the cotton swab, that the next time something like that happens, he should run away?

Augh. Again with those feels, Show. She cares, and I love it. 🥹

Show does this thing, quite a few times I feel like, where we start to see glimmers of mutual care and devotion, only for it to be undercut with our OTP being brought back to the reality of their situation.

Like in this scene, for instance, when Hyun Woo starts to talk about how he can’t promise Hae In that he’ll run away like she asks, because he’s made a promise to himself, that concerns her.

I’m all ready to clutch my heart, for how it’s very likely a promise for how he will protect her no matter what, but I end up clutching my heart for a completely different reason, as Hae In says soberly, that only married couples do that, and since they’re divorced, he doesn’t have to.

Ack. My heart. *clutch*

It is still sweet though, how they pinky promise, that Hyun Woo will never get beaten up like this again – or Hae In will kill him herself.

ALSO. How cute is it, really, that the next morning, Hyun Woo starts driving away, then gets out of the car and comes back to Hae In on foot, because it’s rush hour and it’s best to wait 5 more minutes before setting off.

Hahaha. That makes no sense at all, but it’s cute how Hae In agrees that it’s always better to avoid traffic – and that’s how they end up eating popsicles together, outside the minimart.

It’s so dorky-cute to me, how these two are literally making up excuses to spend just a few more minutes together. 🥲

And then, just when I think Show’s going to do that thing again, where our couple gets brought back to a businesslike reality, it goes the other way, and surprises me in such a poignant and lovely way.

I just love that, when Hae In muses that Hyun Woo would have been better off if they’d broken up, because he would’ve met a nicer, warmer girl, Hyun Woo replies that he would have been regretful; that even if he’d known how things would end up, he would have made the same choice.

But that, if he’d known then what he knew now, he would have asked her more often, how her day had been, and if there was anything troubling her.

Oof. There’s so much gentle, thoughtful regret in this sentiment, and I’m like, crying on the inside for all the times that these two have passed each other by, in the past three years, when they could have been leaning on each other, for solace, comfort and companionship. 😭

E9-10. The scene that’s got me breathlessly on the edge of my seat, is that of Hae In, who uses the press conference stage, where she’s supposed to announce her return to Queens Department Store, to tell the world that she’d been threatened by Eun Seong, that he would put her husband (she didn’t say ex!) Hyun Woo behind bars, and that she has a recording as proof.

As if that’s not enough, she even carries on to say that she cannot return to her position at Queens Department Store, because she only has a few months left to live.

And then she locks her teary gaze with Hyun Woo’s similarly tearful gaze, and now I’m clutching my heart at how MUCH these two people care about each other. Augh. 🥹

He’s ready to allow himself to be destroyed, for her sake, and here she is, basically destroying herself, for his. OH MY HEART. 😭😭

And what a perfect, perfect bittersweet note on which to end the episode, where we see that, when Hyun Woo had chuckled to himself, while playing the leaf game – that Hae In liked him, but it wasn’t true for him, coz he loved her – she’d heard it all.

So yes, Hyun Woo is the cutest, most endearing, adorable, lovable drunk, and it’s absolutely true that Hae In has a soft spot for tipsy Hyun Woo, and it feels so perfect, that it’s tipsy Hyun Woo who spills the beans – that Hyun Woo is still very much in love with Hae In.

I’m just flailing all over here, in a puddle of poignant swoon, y’all. So, SO good. 😭❤️

E11-12. As we open episode 11, and see everyone reacting to Hae In’s announcement that she doesn’t have much time to live, I find myself only cursorily clocking that Chaebol Mom looks genuinely bereft, even though that’s something that I’ve been waiting for; I find that I only have eyes for Hae In and Hyun Woo, not only in this moment, but for much of these two episodes as well.

In the face of the entire world focusing on her, with all the camera flashes popping, and all the questions being thrown her way, Hae In only has eyes for Hyun Woo, and he, for her, and I’m tearing up and flailing all over the floor, at the same time. 🫠🥲

It really brings out the idea that in the midst of all this craziness, nothing else matters; they only need and want each other. 🥲

The way she makes that deliberate beeline towards him; the way he rushes to her side, as he sees her crumple to the floor; the way her thoughts immediately go to what she wants to say to him, before it’s too late.

I was waiting with bated breath, to hear what Hae In wanted so badly to say to Hyun Woo, before she breathed her last.

I honestly thought that she wanted to tell him that she loved him, but it turned out to be so much more than that.

She wanted to tell him that it was okay, that she didn’t resent him; that she was grateful that he’d stayed by her side all this time, despite the harsh words that she didn’t mean; and that – yes, as I’d anticipated – she loved him.

Augh. My heart.

That is so beautiful, that she would be concerned with showing gratitude to him, but even more than that, releasing him from any guilt that he might feel towards her.

That feels very loving; to my ears, this sounds like she cares more about him than about herself, really, and I am really touched by that. 🥲

And then, while Hae In’s being tended to by the emergency medical team at the hospital, there’s Hyun Woo, his eyes fixed on her, all watchful, tearful, and fearful, and you can sense that he’s barely breathing because he’s so worried about Hae In.

Oof. My heart, seriously.

I mean, I do hate that Hae In’s ill, but I do appreciate the silver lining here, that her consciousness of her potentially limited future, makes her much more forthcoming with her thoughts and feelings.

I’m glad that she goes ahead and tells him all the things that she’d wanted to say, but had worried she wouldn’t have a chance to say, when she’d collapsed.

I love that she tells Hyun Woo that she loves him, and that she’s loved him from the very beginning, and I’m glad she tells him that she’s sorry for everything, and that she’s specific about what she’s sorry for, and that it’s okay; he doesn’t need to feel bad about anything.

So many tears – theirs and mine – as Hyun Woo holds Hae In and tells her that she won’t die; he won’t let her.

Augh; isn’t that just so beautiful and poignant at the same time? *wipes tear* 🥲

We do get some moments of OTP Cute, and in particular, I like the moment when Hae In, perplexed that people are looking at her pitifully for being a divorcée who’s in love with her ex-husband, tells Hyun Woo to look at her lovingly, and he obediently kneels before her and lifts his face to her.

All I can see, is an open, pure-hearted trust and affection shining out of his eyes, and I just love that. 😍

And then, how about that moment, when Hae In goes to Hyun Woo with that old hairdryer, and asks for help, because she basically wants him to do that romantic hair-drying thing?

Aw. Cute. 🥰

Of course, Show does that thing, where it interweaves all the Cute with the Poignant, and this scene is no different.

When Hae In tells Hyun Woo the truth about her condition; that she’d had trouble recognizing Soo Cheol, and remembering her doctor’s name, the pathos really undercut the moment for me, and I find myself in that wistful, absorbed, invested space, where my heart is fully in my throat, for these two. 🥲

E11-12. I’m glad that Hae In manages to figure out that it’s really Hyun Woo in front of her, instead of Eun Seong.

I like the idea that it’s her familiarity with Hyun Woo and his continuous humble-brag line, that he doesn’t get beaten up, that helps Hae In to know that this is the real Hyun Woo.

Aw. True connection for the win, yes? 🥲

Hyun Woo bringing Hae In to his apartment is so full of little rollercoaster moments, for me.

One minute they’ll be acting cute (like when Hae In needles him about being soooo comfortable in his new apartment), and another, we’ll get poignance and open-hearted honesty (like in his passcode for the apartment – 1031, their baby’s due date 🥲, and the way he tells her that the worst thing about the apartment, is that she’s not there).

It feels like such a welcome respite, to be able to see our OTP enjoying a bit of small domestic bliss, with Hyun Woo preparing dinner while Hae In looks on, and them eating together, at that small table.

I love that moment when Hae In needles Hyun Woo about seeing other women after she dies, and Hyun Woo protests that he wouldn’t be a good prospect – and Hae In comes back with how he’s such a perfect catch, that if she were to be born a hundred times, she’d want to marry him each time.

Eee!! Isn’t that the sweetest thing? 🥹

And isn’t it adorable how, while Hae In’s all matter-of-fact about it, Hyun Woo gets all flustered, muttering how she really knows how to make his heart race. Cuteee!

And then, I love-love-LOVE the morning-after scene, when Hae In comes upon Hyun Woo, asleep on the sofa (or so she thinks).

I love everything about this scene, from the soft lighting, to the song by Paul Kim, “Can’t Get Over You,” to the gentle, tentative, loving way Hae In traces Hyun Woo’s features.

I love Hyun Woo’s husky morning voice as he asks her if she’d slept well, and then I love how he wraps his arms around her and pulls her down to lie down on the sofa with him, so that they can spoon for a while.

Such a beautifully, cozily sexy moment, that I wish our OTP could just sink into, forever. ❤️🔥🥲

I also love the setting for the proposal scene; it really is gorgeously shot, and I love Hyun Woo’s romantic intention, of proposing to Hae In at this confession spot in Yongdu-ri, where the fail rate is zero.

Aw. Isn’t it such a sweet and lovely thing, that he wants to be married to Hae In, even though he thinks it’s too much to ask her to remarry him, so he just asks her to cancel the divorce?

But what a sad punch to the gut, that even though Hae In loves him and would want to marry him every single time she’s reborn, she says no now – because she’s only growing sicker, to the point where she can’t actually recognize him.

Guh. The quiver in her voice, as she gets the words out; the tears in both their eyes; the way they then cry separately, with her sobbing in the car, as he sheds his tears, facing that glorious sunset.

It’s just so much, really. 😭😭

It is a relief, though, that Show gives us a bit of Cute to make up for it, with Hae In sneaking into Hyun Woo’s room to try on the ring, and then getting caught out, when Hyun Woo comes back to take the ring to get that refund that Hae In had insisted on.

I’m glad that Hae In ‘fesses up, that she’d just put on the ring to try it on, and to study jewelry trends, and then I’m glad that Hyun Woo leaves the ring behind, and pointedly calls out to Hae In that she can study the trends as much as she wants.

Tee hee. Isn’t it so cute how Hae In squeaaals into that pillow in mortification afterwards? 🤭

Aw. I just want these two to be this cute together, always. 🥲 Make it happen, Show!

[END SPOILER]

Park Sung Hoon as Eun Seong

As much as I enjoyed my watch of this show, and as much as I have a soft spot for Park Sung Hoon as an actor, I have to confess that I didn’t enjoy Eun Seong as a character.

He just.. didn’t make a lot of sense, to me, honestly.

[SPOILER ALERT]

First of all, the whole thing with him wanting to shoot the dog in episodes 3-4, haunted me for the rest of these episodes; I just kept worrying that he would go back and actually shoot the dog, to make a point. 🙈

THANK GOODNESS he didn’t, but still. It really niggled me, and I wish he wasn’t like this, so that I wouldn’t be haunted by something like this.

I’d imagined that he was pretty much a sociopath given how he doesn’t seem to have any feelings for anyone, or think that there’s anything wrong with killing a dog for fun.

But, he’s got this weird fixation for Hae In, and it’s supposed to be because they’d met, briefly, as children?

This just never made sense to me.

Also very importantly, his behavior lands as the opposite of someone who claims to love Hae In.

In episodes 7-8, I hate that Eun Seong snoops in Hae In’s bag for her medication, because who’s to say that his snooping, which deprives Hae In of her medication when she needs it, isn’t the trigger that causes Hae In’s subsequent memory loss?

And who knows what other further damage this caused, right? At least, that’s the niggling thought that’s haunting me, somewhat.

For someone who claims to care about Hae In, Eun Seong sure is inconsiderate of her needs, eh? 😒

I mean, for all he knows, him swiping her medication like that, could actually kill her – but he does it anyway.

Show serves up a tragic ending for Eun Seong, and I’m not sure if I was supposed to feel sorry for him, because.. I didn’t.

In fact, I felt quite indifferent about it all, and I put it down to the fact that Eun Seong just never really popped for me, as a character.

Or perhaps I should say, the baddies in this drama world landed more as caricatures to me than actual real people. Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t find any real feelings to feel, for them. 😅

[END SPOILER]

Lee Mi Sook as Seul Hee [SPOILERS]

After watching Lee Mi Sook in Money Flower, I’ve kind of seen her as a shoo-in natural, when it comes to roles in the realm of elegant-makjang, and this absolutely qualifies, since Seul Hee turns out to be our Big Bad.

Long-suffering genteel elegance on the one hand, but fierce badass is very capable of causing bodily injury, I found Seul Hee quite fascinating, honestly.

I’ve said before that the scheming in this show isn’t as convoluted or refined as what we see in Money Flower, but that innate elegance is there, and I think, most likely just by virtue of Lee Mi Sook injecting her own elegance into the role.

Even though I do also count Seul Hee as being a caricature, she comes across as an elegant caricature, and I did find her more interesting than Eun Seong, our other Big Bad.

Kim Jung Nan as Beom Ja

I just loved the casting of Kim Jung Nan as Beom Ja, Hae In’s flamboyant aunt with tyrannical tendencies.

I mean, I’ve mostly seen Kim Jung Nan in more demure roles, and most memorably, she played the head housewife among the North Korean village housewives, in Crash Landing on You.

And so, I could barely recognize her as Beom Ja, with her fierce glares and wild antics. 😂

Overall, I found her wild and OTT vibe more entertaining than aggravating, and I think that’s credit to both the writing and the delivery by Kim Jung Nan.

I also have to say, I found myself growing quite fond of Beom Ja, over the course of my watch.

As wild and crazy as Beom Ja gets, there’s a good amount of heart to her, and I liked that a lot.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E5-6. I found it really quite endearing how Beom Ja can’t help but get all concerned about Hae In, once she finds out about Hae In’s illness.

When Beom Ja cries so hard in the car, when she hears that her friend, who’d had a brain tumor, had died, I found it poignantly endearing, because it’s clear that she’s not only crying for her friend, she’s also crying out of fear for Hae In.

It’s also sweet of her, to offer to drop everything and accompany Hae In to Germany, because she doesn’t think Hae In should go alone.

And then when Beom Ja gets all worked up about Soo Cheol getting the expensive ginseng while Hae In gets nothing, and insists that Hae In should get it instead, I found it endearingly funny.

Like, yes, she comes across as obsessive, random and crazy, but she’s coming from such a strong place of concern, that she just can’t contain herself. And that is just really quite endearing.

E9-10. It’s actually quite poignant to see that Beom Ja’s so upset on the inside, because she feels responsible for the state that Chairman Gramps is in.

She thinks that it’s her fault that Seul Hee resorted to this, because she’s been mean to Seul Hee all this time.

Aw. Beom Ja’s a wild handful and a half, but it’s endearing to see that her heart is in the right place; she’s not fixating on the money, because she’s more worried about Chairman Gramps. 🥲

Her little crush on Young Song is quite cute too, and now I finally understand why they cast someone like Kim Young Min for what had looked like such a minor supporting role.

I can totally see Beom Ja falling for Young Song, and maybe even giving it all up, to stay in Yongdu-ri with him? Or taking him back with her to Seoul, and giving him a makeover – coz Kim Young Min does clean up well in a sharp suit. 😁

E11-12. I feel bad for Beom Ja, because she’s genuinely torn up about Chairman Gramps.

The way she cries and begs Seul Hee to let her at least see her father, is a huge deal for her; she’s always been so disdainful of Seul Hee, and so proud, as a general rule.

And when she confides in Young Song, that the thing weighing on her mind, is that the last thing she’d said to him, was that she’d see him at his funeral, it really hits homes for me, why she’d even be willing to beg Seul Hee on her knees, to let her see her father.

It would change everything for her, if she could just see him and speak to him, one last time.

It’s unfortunate that Chairman Gramps turns out to be suffering from vascular dementia, but the small silver lining here, I think, is the fact that Beom Ja gets to hug him one last time, yes?

[END SPOILER]

Soo Cheol and Da Hye [SPOILERS]

I’m very pleasantly surprised by how well Show ends up selling this loveline to me, considering that we start at a place where Soo Cheol is dimwitted and annoying, and Da Hye’s in the marriage because she wants to get a piece of the Queens Group money.

Not a great starting point, for sure.

And yet, thanks in large part to Kwak Dong Yeon’s very convincing portrayal of just how genuine Soo Cheol is, in his love for Da Hye and their son, I – and Da Hye too, it seems! – came around to this loveline. 😉

That moment in episodes 9-10, where Soo Cheol manages to contact Da Hye via that video game, was very well done, I thought.

I thought it was a pretty clever thing, really, to have Soo Cheol and Da Hye bond over that video game – and to now have that video game become the link via which Soo Cheol sends a desperate message to Da Hye.

I don’t know if that was PPL, but if it was, then that was very, very well woven into our story, seriously.

Also, what a great way to weave sincerity into the relationship, where Soo Cheol and Da Hye had real fun playing that game together, and now, that game, is the means via which Soo Cheol sends a desperate message to Da Hye, to please make sure that Geon Woo gets all his shots on time.

Aw. Instead of anger or sadness at her leaving him like this, he’s only concerned for Geon Woo – whom, for the record, Da Hye has stated is not even his son.

Soo Cheol’s heart for his family is so strong and so pure, isn’t it? 🥲

And when Da Hye eventually comes back, isn’t it so touching, that Soo Cheol defends her and Geon Woo so vehemently? I immediately get the feeling that he would protect them with everything that he has, for all eternity. 🥰

And I’m glad to see, eventually, that Da Hye does love him back, after all. 🥲

Hwang Young Hee and Jeon Bae Soo as Hyun Woo’s parents

In comparison to Hae In’s parents, I found that I liked Hyun Woo’s parents much better.

I liked Dad’s kindness, particularly to Chaebol Dad, but it was really Mom’s kindness towards Hae In that really hit me in the heart.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E9-10. I love the moment when Mom overhears Hyun Woo and Hae In talking, and eventually finds out from questioning Hyun Woo, that Hae In is sick.

(I love how Show actually uses that detail of the trail of leaves in this beat, and then explains the trail of leaves in the epilogue; that it was left by a tipsy Hyun Woo, doing the “she loves me, she loves me not” thing. So perfect!)

I just love how much heart Mom has, and how her heart aches for Hae In, like Hae In’s her own daughter.

The way Mom cooks up a feast for breakfast, so that Hae In can eat well, is exactly the thing a mom does for her child. 🥲

It’s such a stark contrast to Chaebol Mom, who is so quick to suspect that Hae In’s colluding with Eun Seong to kick out her own family, and gain Queens Group for herself, when she hears that Hae In’s going to Seoul.

UGH. Get your act together, Chaebol Mom. You are going to regret this, just like Beom Ja said!

I’m so glad that Mom comes along on her tractor, and literally comes between Hae In and Chaebol Mom, and takes Hae In away from Chaebol Mom. This feels like such a symbolic move, honestly, like Mom’s going to take Hae In away, if Chaebol Mom’s not more careful, and love Hae In the way she deserves to be loved. 🥲

[END SPOILER]

Na Young Hee and Jung Jin Young as Hae In’s parents

Between Hae In’s parents, I have to confess that I generally preferred Chaebol Dad to Chaebol Mom, who spends much of our story whining and acting all-around entitled.

That said, Show does a pretty decent job of giving Chaebol Mom a redemption arc, such that I found myself not disliking her, after all.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Chaebol Dad

E9-10. Mainly, I like that Chaebol Dad’s respectful, dignified and grateful, for everything that Hyun Woo’s family is doing for them.

Given how silly and snooty this family’s been made out to be from the beginning, Chaebol Dad’s ability to see that Hyun Woo’s family is being very kind and gracious to them, is quite refreshing, honestly.

Chaebol Mom

I did find Chaebol Mom quite insufferable, through much of our story.

The thing that I found really hard to digest, was how cold she’d been to Hae In, for so many years, because she’d blamed Hae In for the death of Su Wan, her eldest son.

I mean, if, as a mother, she grieved so much for her son, how could she not see that she was hurting her own daughter, in such a terrible way, by withholding herself from her?

Her refusal to show care or concern for Hae In, even when Hae In fainted, was pretty aggravating, particularly because she tried to make the moment about herself instead.

I’m glad that Chaebol Mom gets taken down several pegs, when Hyun Woo’s mom makes her work on the farm to earn the money to buy coffee. Muahaha.

And, I’m glad that she has a moment of reckoning and a change of heart, before it’s too late.

The way she runs to the stairwell in shame, at the hospital, when she hears that Hae In has woken up, says a lot, I do think, about where her heart is.

I’m glad that she and Hae In have a conciliatory moment, and for the record, I do think that Hae In’s being quite generous, in saying that she would’ve struggled with a daughter like her too, so it’s not all Mom’s fault.

I’m also glad that Mom apologizes for the way she’s treated Hae In, whether that has anything to do with Hae In falling sick or not.

Given how put off I’ve felt by Mom’s terrible attitude and behavior all this time, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I believe her repentant tears. Yay that I don’t have to hate her anymore..?

[END SPOILER]

Yoon Bo Mi as Secretary Na

I just wanted to give Yoon Bo Mi a shout-out, because even though Secretary Na is a relatively minor supporting character, I found that I really enjoyed her scenes.

I loved Secretary Na’s deadpan forthrightness, particularly when talking to Hae In, even though Hae In is supposed to be suuuper intimidating and scary.

I also thought Secretary Na’s collaboration with Hyun Woo’s secretary (Jung Ji Hwan) was quite cute; the way the two of them were reluctant comrades, trying to manage their respective bosses, was quite amusing to me. 😁

SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODES [SPOILERS]

E13-14. Color me very impressed by this pair of episodes, you guys.

I found these episodes to be excellent – even more so, when you consider that this is the penultimate stretch; the part of the show where things can infamously go off the rails, &/or become rushed or inconsistent, &/or be really hard-going. with all the pre-finale angst.

I found the writing consistently tight in these episodes, and I even kind of forgot that we were in the penultimate week, even.

And the angst? Man, it hurt, but it hurt so good, y’know? My eyes leaked tears regularly during my watch of these episodes, and I didn’t begrudge Show a single one of those tears. So very good. 🥲

Backing up to the top of episode 13, I just wanted to give a shout-out to PD-nim, because I thought the intersplicing of the scenes from the past and present, juxtaposing Chairman Gramps’s first and last tour of the house with his family, was so effective.

It’s wistfully poignant, especially considering the joy and pride with which Chairman Gramps had brought his family into the house, all those years ago.

What a far cry it is, when compared to the current situation, where his family is soberly walking his memorial portrait through that very same house, still searching for the money that he’d once hidden in his secret room.

I’d been hopeful that the family, led by Hyun Woo, would finally find the hidden money, once they found the hidden room, but – dang it! – Seul Hee’s already found and moved the money.

Can’t say the woman isn’t dedicated, eh, since she basically pored through hours and hours of family video recordings, in order to find that recording of Chairman Gramps revealing his hidden room, and the mechanism to unlock it.

I’m glad, though, that Chairman Gramps got to leave Hae In that final message, and I can’t help but notice that in that final message, it’s family and kinship that’s on his mind, and he doesn’t even seem to care about telling Hae In where he’d hidden the money.

I do feel sorry for him, because of how he says that he regrets the life that he’d led, and hopes that his family won’t have the same regrets, at the end of their own lives. That’s pretty sad, isn’t it?

I do really appreciate how Show is really deft at changing focus, while still retaining a very strong thread of logic.

The shift in focus, from Chairman Gramps’s death, to our main pair, is a great example, with Hae In musing about her own impending death, after Gramps’s funeral, thus catapulting us into her emotional landscape, and the OTP dynamic that so closely exists alongside, in one smooth, quick move.

At this point, I also want to give shout-outs to both Kim Soo Hyun and Kim Ji Won, who play these episodes with even more nuance and what lands as heart-pinching authenticity, such that I got completely sucked into the emotion of it all.

Hae In’s desire to be brave, showing up in that rather aloof, rather offhanded manner, and her genuine fear, peeking through, in the glint of tears in her eyes, and the occasional quiver in her voice.

And then alongside her, there’s Hyun Woo, feeling so many complicated feelings, as he tries to honor Hae In’s wishes, while holding out hope for her future – as well as their future; fighting to remain steady, even as his heartache and heartbreak shines through, in every tiny micro-expression.

So, SO good, I thought. 🥹

I really appreciate the genuine connection and care that’s becoming more and more visible, between Hae In’s and Hyun Woo’s families.

In particular, I enjoy the connection between the two dads, because it feels like Hyun Woo’s dad genuinely feels for Chaebol Dad, and is sincerely offering words of consolation and advice.

Plus, I do enjoy the dynamic here, where even a rich chaebol who’s spent so much of his life at the top of the food chain, has lessons that he can learn, that are gleaned from the unassuming, everyday farming things, like how to turn bitter persimmons sweet.

I like that back to basics line of thinking, and I like that Show is giving it a moment to shine. 🥲

The whole thing, about Hae In losing her memory as a result of the lifesaving surgery, feels very kdrama in its essence, yet makes logical sense (once you accept the cloud-like nature of her tumor, that is).

I can totally buy the idea, that because the surgery is likely to damage the part of her brain that controls memory, that she might lose her memory as a result of undergoing the surgery.

I can also buy why Chaebol Dad and Hyun Woo agree not to tell her about the risk of losing her memory as a result of the surgery, until she gets to Germany.

This seems like a good compromise to me, because I can see that Hae In would have probably refused to go to Germany, so at least getting her there, seems like an acceptable reason to withhold the possible memory loss from her, at least for a while.

At the same time, I’m glad that Hyun Woo follows through, and breaks the difficult news to her, before the surgery, and faces, head-on, the difficult task of persuading Hae In to accept the risks of the surgery, in order to live.

There are so many poignant scenes in this set of episodes, that I find it hard to talk about them all.

One of the scenes that really stands to me, is the one where she has a good cry, after confirming that she really is qualified to undergo this surgery, and that it could save her life.

This is the most openly vulnerable we’ve seen Hae In, I think, and it’s beautiful and poignant, to see her tell Hyun Woo that this is the most ok she’s felt in a long time, and see Hyun Woo’s tearful smile, in response.

It just is such a great extra layer of pathos, to know that while Hyun Woo’s supporting her, he’s also grappling with the fact that he’s hiding the full truth from her, and also grappling with the truth itself; that Hae In is likely to lose her memory as a result of the surgery, including her memories of him and their relationship.

I love that we get to see the two of them go on a few dates, before heading off to Germany, and I love that Hae In decides to tell Hyun Woo the three things that she hasn’t yet told him.

I love that they get to talk about that moment in high school, when their paths had crossed in the school yard, and it’s so cute to me, that they were so drawn to each other, even then.

Hyun Woo’s confession, that he’d searched for her everywhere, in hopes of meeting her again, is such a great complement to Hae In’s own confession, that she’d been the owner of the mp3 player all along, and had totally noticed him, when he’d helped her with that bandaid. 🥰

It’s perfect that Hae In also takes this time to tell Hyun Woo that she’s withdrawing the divorce – and flashes him the ring that he’d bought for her, for good measure.

Aw. The way Hyun Woo can’t hold back the tears – both the happy and the sad ones, as we know – and hugs her, crying, is so bittersweet, honestly. 🥲

I’m glad we get those scenes of Hyun Woo and Hae In living as newlyweds in his new apartment; this feels like the life that they could have had, if they’d not lived with Hae In’s family, after getting married. Or if Hae In hadn’t actually been a chaebol princess. 🥲

It’s cute how Hae In wants to have it announced to the whole neighborhood, that Hyun Woo isn’t a bachelor anymore, but has a beautiful wife, hee.

And then isn’t it so sweet, that Hyun Woo makes sure that there’s fake snow falling, when Hae In walks through the department store, so that her wish will come true? Aw.

After that, I thought it was freaking adorable, when Hae In tells Hyun Woo her second secret; that he had been her first love all along, and that he was Bus Guy, the person whom she’d gone to such great lengths to, just to get a longer glimpse of him.

I just love how Hyun Woo is so surprised that he can’t connect the dots at first, and then runs after Hae In in delight, asking again and again, if it was really him. Aw. Cuteee~! 😍

It’s not all cuteness and rainbows, of course, and I wanted to mention specifically, the epilogue of episode 13, where we see Hyun Woo recording that video for post-surgery Hae In, introducing himself, and telling her that he’s promised to stick with her no matter what.

Augh. The hopeful earnestness mixed with tearful sadness is just so much; I feel like I can actually see into his heart here, and his heart is just all love for Hae In. 🥹

Truly, such a beautifully delivered scene by Kim Soo Hyun; it’s the perfect mix of emotions, served up in such an organically complex way that I can totally believe that I’m watching Hyun Woo the person on my screen, instead of Kim Soo Hyun the actor.

On another note, I find that I really am growing rather fond of Da Hye.

I mean, the way she is so matter-of-fact about not expecting forgiveness from Soo Cheol’s family, but still requests that she be allowed to address Chaebol Mom as “Mother,” because she’s the only person in the world she’s ever addressed as “Mother,” is quite disarming, at least from where I’m sitting.

I hate that Seul Hee threatens Da Hye with Soo Cheol’s safety, because of course Da Hye would feel compelled to leave Soo Cheol, in order to keep him alive.

I felt really bad for Soo Cheol, when he realizes that Da Hye’s left him once again, but even as I was feeling bad for him, I couldn’t help but register in my head, that the whole reason Da Hye turns back and returns to Soo Cheol, is a direct echo of the whole reason Hae In agrees to have surgery.

Both women get to see and experience, in a direct manner, the effect that their departure would have, on their significant others, and they both change their minds, because they cannot bear to see the person they care about, in so much pain.

Isn’t that a pretty great way to drive home a theme, while keeping the various threads organic?

Which leads me to my next point, which is, I found myself thinking all over again, while watching this pair of episodes, that writer-nim really had had everything mapped out really well.

I mean, it makes perfect sense to me why Seul Hee would send those men to Germany, to get rid of Hae In, because we’ve already seen her bristle at the fact that Eun Seong is willing to be used by Hae In, with no regard for himself.

And yet, this creates the perfect – seriously, PERFECT – way for Show to nudge a change in Hae In’s thinking.

Hae In’s mind had been so firmly made up, that she will not lose herself by losing her memories, and it really only is the sight of a seriously distraught Hyun Woo, in response to her apparent death in that hit-and-run by the Truck of Doom, that makes her change her mind.

Being confronted by how losing her would affect Hyun Woo, in such a deep and visceral manner, is THE thing that causes Hae In to change her mind, and I find it all so believable and organic.

Really well done, I thought.

On that note, I’d also like to say that Kim Soo Hyun really KILLED it in this scene; I honestly thought Hyun Woo would end up busting a blood vessel, because he was that distraught. 💔

I am also very touched by the fact that Hae In makes the choice to receive the surgery, not for her own sake, but for Hyun Woo’s.

She’d hated the thought of losing herself, but she’s willing to do that – if it will help Hyun Woo not to lose himself, over losing her.

Augh. Isn’t that so sacrificial and loving? 🥹

I’m so glad that Hae In asks Hyun Woo to tell her the things that he never had the chance to say to her – because that’s when he finally tells her that he loves her (after laying out a couple of grievances, for good measure). 🥲

It’s a very neat little narrative twist, and yet, at the same time, I feel it’s completely in Hyun Woo’s nature as well. I thought this was a very nice touch.

I was suitably blown away by the emotional intensity of the scene where Hyun Woo sends Hae In into the operating room.

The mix of emotions that cross his face, as Hae In is wheeled out of sight feels every so complex and nuanced; you can see that he’s relieved, but also sad, and scared, and not even sure what he’s feeling, at this point.

Again, so impressively delivered by Kim Soo Hyun; I definitely shed some tears too, while watching.

Poor Hyun Woo, but also, good job, Hyun Woo. *blinks away tears* 🥹

Of course, I hate the fact that Eun Seong frames Hyun Woo for the murder of Real Estate Guy, but again, I can buy that this is something that Eun Seong would do.

In fact, the very minute we see Eun Seong heading for Germany, I knew in my gut that he was going there to usurp Hyun Woo’s position as the first person to greet Hae In, upon her waking from her surgery. I just didn’t know how he was going to do it.

And so, when Show revealed the “how,” I was frustrated, yes, but I also had to concede that this felt organic to Eun Seong’s personality in terms of how Show has established his character, and that it made story sense.

It’s gutting that Eun Seong is the one who’s there when Hae In wakes up, while Hyun Woo’s behind bars in the penitentiary, but I have confidence that Show will work this out, somehow.

For a start, I’m glad that Hae In remembers Hyun Woo’s name; this means that her memory faculties aren’t completely gone, and she is able to remember things from before her surgery – just not right now.

I’m banking on her finding the video that Hyun Woo had recorded for her, so that she’ll be able to go to him, the way she once had, in that glamorous early scene, where she’d gone to get him back, in that helicopter, thus bringing everything full circle. 🥲🙌🏻

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

It absolutely says a lot about this show, that I had no problems whatsoever, with the idea of Show serving up extra long episodes for its finale weekend – after consistently giving us 90-minute episodes, on average, all through its run.

Not only did I not mind this, I even welcomed the idea. Show had my heart around its little finger, and I didn’t begrudge it that victory, at all.

In fact, even as I got to the end of episode 16, which is a whopping 109 minutes long, I felt wistful about saying goodbye to this drama world, and these characters.

If you’ve been watching dramas for a while, you’d know that this rarely ever happens, especially once you’ve accumulated a healthy number of dramas under your belt.

I suppose it’s blindingly clear by now, that I found the finale episodes solid and satisfying, yes? 🥲

I’ll admit that I did feel like Show leaned a little indulgent with some of the more melodramatic elements, especially around Eun Seong and Seul Hee and their actions.

However, Show was so, so good at serving up the feels around our OTP, that I didn’t even really mind, y’know?

Yes, it was frustrating to see Eun Seong try to frame Hyun Woo for murder, while trying to brainwash Hae In, who didn’t have any of her memories, that Hyun Woo had been a total jerk to her, and that she’d hated him.

Thankfully, though, this doesn’t last long, and Hyun Woo gets acquitted and released soon enough.

And then, I enjoyed the subsequent arc so much, of Hae In falling for Hyun Woo all over again, that I forgave Show for driving a wedge between them in the first place.

I love how Hae In keeps finding excuses to keep tabs on Hyun Woo, or follow him around, when in truth, she’s just really drawn to him.

Even though she doesn’t have her memories, some things just don’t change, do they? Coz when she’d first had a crush on him, she’d also made up all kinds of excuses to follow him, just to get another glimpse of him. That’s so sweetly poignant, isn’t it? 🥲

And I love that the more Hae In follows Hyun Woo, and listens in on the conversations that he has with the people around him, the more she finds reasons to like him, instead of the other way around.

..Which totally reminds me of the time when Chaebol Dad had questioned the two dudes who’d been assigned to tail Hyun Woo – and only found out very pure, innocent things about Hyun Woo, like how he likes soup rice, and how he likes to go to the batting ring. 😁

I just really, really like this idea that Hyun Woo overcomes all of the prejudice that Eun Seong creates against him – by being himself. There’s something about this idea that I just love. 🥲

The other related thread that I loved, was Hae In slowly regaining her memory, and also, coming to believe and trust Hyun Woo.

I loved hearing what Hae In had written in that notebook to Hyun Woo, as well as to herself, prior to her surgery, and I loved just as much, post-surgery Hae In being so affected by the words that she’d written to herself. 🥲

I honestly had my heart in my throat, at the end of episode 15, when Hae In is on her way to see Hyun Woo.

The way they both look at each other, across the busy road, with so much emotion in their faces, for each other, is so very affecting – and that’s when Hyun Woo gets run over, while Hae In gets abducted, both by Eun Seong’s design.

It’s.. all uber dramatic, what with Eun Seong getting all murderous, and Hyun Woo launching his own search for Hae In, after literally running away from the hospital instead of receiving treatment for his broken ribs. 😱

I think Show is trying to make Eun Seong into this damaged-beyond-repair, tragic character, and somehow, despite the dramatic developments, and Park Sung Hoon’s valiant delivery, it doesn’t really grab my heart.

I find that I don’t really feel anything for Eun Seong’s death, nor Seul Hee’s very brief mourning of her son, which I’m sure was meant to be shocking.

(On this note, that scene of Seul Hee shedding a few brief tears for Eun Seong, before turning her attention to more pressing practical matters like how to use his shares to her benefit, rather reminiscent of Lee Mi Sook’s character Mal Ran in Money Flower. If you’ve watched Money Flower, you probably know what I mean. 😉)

That said, I did like the poetry that was then afforded us, with Hyun Woo taking the bullet for Hae In, and therefore being the one to go into surgery while Hae In worried outside; a direct role reversal, from when he’d been the one to wait for her, while she’d gone in to surgery.

And, despite my detachment from Seul Hee’s arc, I did still feel a stab of satisfaction that she ends up in prison, where her cellmates do not tolerate any of her diva nonsense, and are quick to beat some sense into her, if required.

Overall, I’m really satisfied with how Show wraps up our various characters’ stories.

I thought it was quite refreshing, honestly, to see how happy Chaebol Dad is, after stepping away from the management of Queens Group. I like this message, that it’s better to choose what makes you truly happy, kinda like what Young Song’s done.

I thought the little loveline between Beom Ja and Young Song was pretty cute, with her agreeing to take things at his pace, because he’s intimidated by hers. The little kiss on the cheek that he ends up giving her, is cute as well, even though Beom Ja would have much preferred a kiss on the lips. 🤭

I’m honestly quite surprised at how much Soo Cheol and Da Hye have grown on me, as a couple.

I do love that we get to see both of them rise to the occasion, and do what they believe is best, for themselves, for the other person, and for their relationship.

I’d kinda had a feeling that Soo Cheol’s secret boxing training with Hyun Tae would come back into play, but it was still hugely satisfying to see him take out Da Hye’s would-be kidnappers, in spite of his own injuries.

And I have to give Da Hye props, for insisting on turning herself in to the police, not only to aid in their case against Seul Hee, but to clear her own conscience.

The way Soo Cheol takes care of Geon Woo and waits for her to be released from prison, is really quite touching. 🥲

It even seems pretty apt, for the Hong family to include Grace in their celebration, coz she’s now paid for her crimes, and she did contribute towards them winning their case against Seul Hee, after all.

On our OTP’s side of things, it was cute to see them enjoy each other, all over again, and I did feel the genuine concerns that each of them had, about getting married again; that they might end up losing their happiness over the trivial, mundane things of life.

Given what they’d gone through in the past, this feels like a valid concern.

And it’s so simple, yet so brave and poignant, when Hyun Woo concludes that he can’t promise anything else, but that he would stay by her side.

I love that Hyun Woo proposes all over again, if Hae In would have him, and I love that Hae In accepts immediately, saying, “Of course.” 🥲

On that note, how cute is it, that Hae In specifies that because they’re still in the “some” stage of their relationship, that she’ll need some time, and he can’t hug her until they’ve held hands at least 5 times.

Tee hee. Isn’t that cute? 🤭

Many other dramas would stop here, so I love that Show gives us a glimpse into the life that Hyun Woo and Hae In end up having together, complete with a child, and many happy memories through the years.

It’s so very poignant, to see that after Hae In eventually passes, at the ripe old age of 84, Hyun Woo continues to visit her daily, thus fulfilling his promise to her, that he would always be with her.

And then, it’s even more poignant to see that at the end of Hyun Woo’s life, it’s Hae In who comes to fetch him, just like she’d once talked about, because this way, it wouldn’t be scary, because they’d be together.

Augh. Isn’t that just so beautifully touching and satisfying?? 🥹🥹

My heart feels full as I bid farewell to these characters, and really, what more could I ask for, of a drama?

Thank you, Show, for a great ride. I won’t be forgetting about you anytime soon. 🥲

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Very emotionally satisfying; a great tribute to so many of the things that we love about kdramas.

FINAL GRADE: A-

TRAILER:

MV:

PATREON UPDATE!

The next drama I’m covering on Patreon, in place of  Queen Of Tears, is The Atypical Family [Korea]. I like what I’ve seen so far, and am suitably intrigued!

You can check out my episode 1-2 notes on The Atypical Family on Patreon here.

Here’s an overview of what I’m covering on Patreon right now (Tier benefits are cumulative)!

Foundation Tier (US$1): Entertainment Drop (Sundays) + the first set notes of all shows covered on Patreon (that’s 2 episodes for kdramas and 4 episodes for cdramas)

Early Access (US$5): +Blood Free [Korea]

Early Access Plus (US$10): +Will Love in Spring [China]

VIP (US$15): +The Atypical Family [Korea]

VVIP (US$20): +Lovely Runner [Korea]

Ultimate (US$25): +Captivating The King [Korea]

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️



Source link

Add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Keep Up to Date with the Most Important News

By pressing the Subscribe button, you confirm that you have read and are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
Advertisement