The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Fated to Love You

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

A drama that’s fantastically cracky in its first half, but unfortunately meanders into Sad Angstville in its later episodes and never quite recovers fully from its detour.

Fated To Love You is extremely easy to fall for in its early episodes. Fabulously committed and nuanced deliveries by Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra not only bring the funny, but also land the emotional beats extremely well. Their lovely, very believable chemistry as our OTP is also a big draw. All of this, combined with a story that clocks a brisk pace, and finds time to serve up a variety of cheeky meta, makes Early Show one deliciously addictive package that charmingly sweeps us off our feet as it engages us in its confident, off-beat dance.

Unfortunately, the brisk pace slows to a crawl in the show’s last stretch, and it feels like our story gets weary from doing time on a Going Nowhere treadmill. On the upside, The Cute eventually comes back; Show’s just not quite as cracky at its end as compared to its glorious beginnings.

Depending on your love &/or patience levels, your mileage with this show as a whole is likely to vary.

Fated To Love You OST – Momento

THE LONG VERDICT:

Given my fangirl appreciation for Jang Hyuk, and the positive buzz that this show received, I really wanted to love this show. Like, really, really wanted to love it.

Ok, so I was cautious at the same time too, coz I’d heard on good authority that Jang Hyuk is OTT and very quirky in FTLY. And I love Jang Hyuk most when he’s being all macho & swaggery & cool (what can I say? I dig the manly man vibe on him).

Despite my barely contained high expectations driven by the show’s buzz, and my reservations about an overly-eccentric Jang Hyuk, I found myself falling for this show pretty hard, pretty fast.

The show’s technicolor-esque color palette, light, happy soundtrack and tendency for broad comedy made it feel like a manhwa come to life. Yet, its heart got me in the heart, and I found myself lapping up episode after episode, in the show’s early stretches.

Here, I break down Show’s cracky appeal a little, before touching on the aspects of the show that didn’t work as well for me.

WHAT BROUGHT THE CRACKY GOODNESS

There are a good handful of factors that come together to make FTLY as cracky as it is in its first half (note: I use the term “half” pretty loosely). The fact that these factors mesh together so well, to create such an engaging, addictive viewing experience feels like several constellations of stars lining up just so. For the moment that they’re in perfect place, FTLY feels fresh, inviting and almost perfect.

Kudos to the production team for managing to pull off an extended stretch of OMG-Gimme-Moar drama crack, even though they couldn’t keep it up all the way through.

To help everyone find their bearings in this review, I thought it might be useful to list the sub-sections ahead of time. This means that you can even scroll through them and digest the review in your preferred order, if you have something specific that you’re more interested in.

  1. Excellent Performances From Our Leads
  2. Chemistry, Chemistry, Chemistry
  3. Lots of Funny, Yet Lots of Heart
  4. Good Pacing – In the First Half
  5. Funny Meta Moments

1. Excellent Performances From Our Leads

Jang Hyuk as Lee Gun

Jang Hyuk the Actor

Jang Hyuk is fantastic as Lee Gun, period.

Yes, the big, semi-maniacal laugh and the flamboyant hair takes a little getting used to, but I didn’t mind them so much. The long-ish hair sometimes reminded me of the mane of glory on Dae Gil, his character in Chuno (and Jang Hyuk is absolutely, mesmerizingly glorious in Chuno). And the laugh, well, there were times in Chuno when Dae Gil laughed like that too, so it didn’t bother me too much either.

Jang Hyuk is committed to the funny from start to finish, and gamely goes OTT when the script calls for it, often making the funny bits quite hilarious.

Most importantly, Jang Hyuk gave Gun depth and dimension with his nuanced, expressive, emotionally rich delivery. That’s what made it possible and easy, even, for me to look beyond the quirky, OTT trappings to see the sensitive, caring, vulnerable man underneath it all.

Jang Hyuk’s expressive eyes are wonderfully expressive, and there are multiple instances in the show where his eyes completely sold the scene for me.

His eyes manage to speak volumes, even when the message is intricate, profound and complex. A sheen of tears; a tinge of wistfulness; love; fear; helplessness; regret. His heart is literally in his eyes, and I found it a lovely thing to behold, all series long.

I love the look in Gun’s eyes in this early scene in the show. You don’t even need any context to be able to see the kindness and gentleness in his gaze:

Sigh~

So, so melty.

Of course, one simply doesn’t cast Jang Hyuk and then not show off his hot bod, and PD-nim did not disappoint. Here’s a quick glimpse at just some of the shirtless awesome:

Oof. Very pleasing indeed. Cough.

With that delicious hot bod on ready display, his wonderfully layered delivery, and his very manly sort of charm (his voice turned my knees to mush so many times in this show, seriously), it’s no wonder that Jang Hyuk’s made so many drama fans sit up and take notice, with this show.

Lee Gun the Character

In spite of myself, I found myself liking Gun as a character quite quickly.

Yes, the OTT, theatrical bent of the character is rather in-yo-face, and can be a little startling in the beginning. But thanks to thoughtful writing and Jang Hyuk’s wonderful delivery, it isn’t very long at all before we see that he’s a good man with a sense of justice and empathy.

Although there were times in the show when I didn’t agree with Gun’s actions, I never doubted his heart, and that made him a hero well worth rooting for.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Very quickly, in episode 2, I liked Gun for being kind.

When Mi Young (Jang Na Ra) is being humiliated in her hotel room by the weasel not-a-boyfriend Lawyer Min (Kim Young Hoon who is beginning to stick in my mind as Annoying Lawyer, since he played a somewhat similar character in Ugly Alert), Gun stands up for Mi Young. He kneels down, gently returns her shoes and then helps her up, telling her that it’s not worth her while to talk to people like Lawyer Min.

This, despite his poor impression of Mi Young after their fateful mix-up of a bedroom encounter, and despite feeling like a victim in the whole incident.

What a timely and much needed intervention from Gun, since Mi Young is so shaken up and overwhelmed that she can’t stop the tears from flowing down her cheeks.

Not only that, despite his own disappointment and heartbreak over Se Ra’s  no-show (Wang Ji Won), Gun proceeds to invest time, effort and money towards giving Mi Young a chance to show Lawyer Min that he’d underestimated her.

I love the little beat when Gun leads a newly glamorous but very nervous Mi Young down the elevator into the main hall of the hotel.

He says to her in self-assured yet gentle tones, “Be confident. You are the queen. No one can ignore you. Be carefree and relaxed.”

And then puts her arm through his, as he walks into the casino, oozing confidence and dignity.

When Gun’s revenge ploy works and Mi Young chooses not to revel in it, I really appreciated that Gun doesn’t get upset with her, despite the fact that his efforts have gone to waste.

Afterwards, they have a quiet conversation that I really, really love.

It’s the way that Gun speaks to Mi Young that really gets me. He speaks with gentleness and kindness, and he shows a candid, frank sort of vulnerability too, that I really dig. He tells her truthfully about his situation, connecting them as comrades, almost, in similar situations, yet he doesn’t allow any self-pity to come through. He’s matter-of-fact, and his focus is on her, not himself. The fact that he does it so naturally and matter-of-factly just makes him even more swoony.

When Mi Young awkwardly excuses her name for being common, Gun replies gently, “Be proud of your name. It’s common because so many people like your name.”

In bidding her farewell, Gun tells her that it’s not good to be too kind, and then adds with a smile, “Be more confident and less timid. Remember, you are… superglue, right?”

Right there and then, I felt like this is the real Gun, and that all the theatrical antics and big laughter is just window dressing. And I found it easy to look past all of that, coz of his emotional groundedness.

It is that emotional groundedness that makes Gun so sexy, seriously.

[END SPOILER]

Jang Na Ra as Kim Mi Young

Jang Na Ra is truly wonderful as Mi Young.

In a less capable actress’ hands, Mi Young could have easily become a two-dimensional poor little Candy in need of saving.

In Jang Na Ra hands, though, Mi Young is a complex character with lovely facets and layers. Those facets are communicated subtly yet clearly by all the little things about her; her gaze, her mannerisms, and the minor twitches in her face as she responds to other characters and the situations before her.

Even though Mi Young is positioned as a doormat and everyone’s Post-It Girl – easily used and thoughtlessly discarded – Jang Na Ra makes her vulnerable without being pathetic, and I liked that a lot. When Mi Young cries, she doesn’t come across as pathetic, only hurt. I found this a very important point, as I don’t like my heroines pathetic.

Despite the fact that everyone else sees her as a Post-It girl, we get the sense that Mi Young takes pride in who she is, in her own small way, in her own small world. And I credit Jang Na Ra’s nuanced delivery for showing us that.

Jang Na Ra imbues Mi Young’s eyes with sincerity, truth, and a gentle steeliness that elevates Mi Young’s character to be a subtly strong yet vulnerable heroine, instead of a pitiful one.

Jang Na Ra’s expressive eyes are a fantastic match for Jang Hyuk’s eloquent gaze as well. This truly is a drama where the eyes pretty much say it all.

Sometimes, Mi Young’s eyes as she looks at Gun are so full, that she barely needs to say anything at all.

As a quick example, I pulled this random screenshot of Mi Young. Again without the context, we can already get a sense of what Mi Young is feeling in this moment; sadness, confusion and disbelief are so clearly written in her gaze.

Best of all, Jang Na Ra makes it all look so effortless and natural that it’s easy to forget that we are seeing Jang Na Ra in character. She became Mi Young, for me.

[SPOILER ALERT]

There are a number of things that I really like about Mi Young as a character.

For one, she has pride, in her own way. Like the way she saves her earrings in episode 2 in spite of her mortification and humiliation, not because of anything else, but because they’re hers.

We see it too, in how she eventually chooses not to use the opportunity that Gun gives her for revenge, in order to give dignity to her feelings, which had come from a genuine place.

In the same way that Mi Young gives quiet dignity to her (unrequited) feelings, she also gives importance to other people’s feelings and struggles. She consistently puts herself in other people’s shoes and empathizes with them, even in the midst of her own pain.

An early example is in episode 4, where she talks with Daniel (Choi Jin Hyuk), thinking that he’s a priest. Even though she’s in turmoil over the decision that she’s made, to abort her baby, she doesn’t forget to ask after Daniel’s reason for being at the hospital.

As she turns away from him to go to the consultation room, she turns to give Daniel an earnest fist pump, urging him to stay strong.

I just really love that about Mi Young. In her mind, it’s never all about her, even though she might be in the worst situation imaginable. To her, other people always matter too.

I love too, how Mi Young bubbles with genuine joy over simple things.

Like in episode 6, when Gun shows up unexpectedly for the prenatal class. As he makes a show of being adept at sewing, Mi Young’s simple joy at his very presence is so sweet to behold.

Sweet, lovely Mi Young.

Despite all of these great qualities, I really appreciate that Mi Young never fell into two-dimensional territory and remained a complex, lovingly detailed character with depth.

[END SPOILER]

Fated To Love You OST – 운명 같은 너

2. Chemistry, Chemistry, Chemistry

Honestly, Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra are jjang, together.

It really isn’t very often that we get to see an OTP with warm, sparky, natural chemistry right off the bat, but that’s exactly what we get with our pair of Jangs. Or should I say, Jjangs.

Maybe it’s coz Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra have worked together before (Successful Story of a Bright Girl, 2002) and therefore already have an existing rapport; maybe it’s coz they are both consummate professionals who immerse themselves so deeply in character that they actually feel their characters’ feelings; maybe it’s a little bit of both.

Whatever the magic behind the magic, Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra convey a nuance and depth in their onscreen interactions that really magnifies the emotional resonance of their characters and their relationship.

At every stage of Gun’s and Mi Young’s relationship, their chemistry feels so real and appropriate to the moment. Whether our OTP is just getting to know each other, or falling head over heels in love, or working through angst, their chemistry feels deep and natural and completely believable.

It honestly didn’t take me long to get behind this OTP and believe that they were meant for each other. And it’s largely coz Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra are just amazing together.

[SPOILER ALERT]

OTP Highlights

Here, I’d just like to give a shout-out to some of the things &/or moments that I really enjoyed about our OTP, particularly in the early stretches of the show.

I really like the fact that Gun and Mi Young are able to share candid, honest heart-to-heart conversations very quickly.

From the time in episode 2 as they say their good-byes, I thought they came across very believably as kindred spirits even then, and I could already see them as an OTP to root for.

In episode 4 (above), when they are faced with the Big Decision of what to do, now that they know she’s pregnant with his child, I love that their decision to marry has nothing to do with Gun’s family concern of preserving the family line, nor the pressure that the islanders are putting on Mi Young.

Gun and Mi Young make the decision very personal, and I love that about them. Regardless of the external pressures mounted against them, they choose to marry purely because Gun wants to be a good dad, and Mi Young a good mom. Aw. How can I not love them?

After the Big Misunderstanding that causes Gun to believe that Mi Young had schemed her way into his life, I like that through it all, it’s Mi Young’s sincerity that shines through to repeatedly give him pause.

Like this moment in episode 5 when Gun overhears her phone conversation with Mom (Song Ok Soon), and Mi Young says nothing to Mom about how hard things actually are, and only says good things about Mom’s new son-in-law.

It’s a similar dynamic at every turn, when Mi Young’s sincerity and genuine appreciation and joy takes Gun by surprise.

Like when he gives her the divorce papers, and also, at their prenatal class.

I liked the trajectory, of seeing Gun’s iciness towards Mi Young melting, in inevitable degrees.

Again, it’s in his eyes, as we observe Gun’s gaze towards Mi Young growing softer, then more and more tender as we get deeper into the show. Gun’s treatment of Mi Young growing more gentle and precious, is also lovely to watch, and Mi Young’s joy blossoming under his warmer, more protective gaze is also wonderfully sweet.

Like this moment in episode 6, after Gun has rescued Mi Young from an unexpected dousing while she was attempting to clean their bathroom. While Mi Young dries off her hair, Gun watches her with thoughtful, gentle eyes from the door.

It isn’t long before Gun decides to commit himself properly to Mi Young, and I love the moment in episode 6 when Gun finally decides to put on his wedding ring.

Up to this point, Gun has not worn his wedding ring, mostly as a demonstration to Mi Young that their marriage is not going to last.

It’s a quiet little beat, but that silent moment in the car, as Gun considers his wedding ring, then slowly slides it onto his finger, and leans back to admire it while smiling quietly to himself, is thoroughly swoon-worthy.

This scene demonstrates, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Gun’s in it for real now, and it’s just melt-worthy goodness. Plus, just look at the dreamy, swoony smile!

Throughout the early stages of their relationship, I really enjoyed the little moments between Gun and Mi Young when things are going well.

Like in episode 7, when Gun is the man of the hour for helping Mi Young’s sister Mi Ja (Lee Mi Do) deliver the baby, everyone in the hospital room praises Gun for saving the day, and Gun beams happily.

When President Park (Jung Eun Pyo) describes how Gun is building a community center on Yeowol Island in place of the plant, Gun shoots this pleased-as-punch face at Mi Young that is just super adorable:

Handsome, charming cutie~!

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Gun and Mi Young without acknowledging the sparky sexual tension between them.

As much as it often fades away when The Cute takes centerstage, it’s impossible to deny that when the situation calls for it, that there’s a Whole Lotta Sizzle at play.

Like this scene in episode 7, where they’ve just begun to share a bed and Gun begins to feel frisky. Gun’s intense gaze, locked on Mi Young, is dead, dead sexy. Uungh.

And then he reaches over and pulls Mi Young close, holding her face in his hands, his eyes never leaving her for a second.

Oof. Would you look at that sexy panther gaze?

There’s no kiss (yet), but the sexual tension in this scene is thick, and that’s quite breathtaking in itself.

With this kind of lava hotness simmering beneath the surface, combined with the adorable servings of Cute, it’s no wonder that the chemistry between our OTP accounts for a good portion of the show’s crack factor.

[END SPOILER]

3. Lots of Funny, Yet Lots of Heart

Whenever a show goes very broad with its comedy, there’s a danger that the show will start to feel farcical and lose its emotional connection with its audience. I don’t know about you, necessarily, but that’s how I am with shows.

And I really like this show for doing right what Haeundae Lovers didn’t manage to get right.

This show manages to be OTT and nonsensical in big, broad strokes, consistently challenging the fine line between the illogical and plausible, while retaining its heart through it all. No matter how ridiculous the comedy gets, the emotional beats remain well-played and feel true, and this grounds the narrative in a very satisfying way.

I think it’s this daring balance between the nonsensical comedy and the emotional resonance that amplifies the experience of watching this show. My theory is that the emotional resonance is the gateway to the Feels, and when our Feels are engaged, the laughs actually become so much richer for it.

And Big Feels + Rich Laughs = Drama Crack.

[SPOILER ALERT]

A great example of the show’s successful juxtaposition of OTT funny with emotional resonance is the kitchen scene in episode 5.

It’s Mi Young’s first night at Gun’s family home, and by this time, Gun is convinced that she’s a scheming gold digger.

Mi Young, hungry yet embarrassed and self-conscious, sneaks into the kitchen and mixes up a big bowl of bibimbap. She’s digging in happily when Gun wanders into the kitchen, restless and unable to sleep.

Cue nonsensical hijinks as Mi Young keeps flipping off the light in an effort to hide, effectively creeping Gun out. A nervous Gun then gropes around in the dark, getting himself a drink and poking around in the refrigerator. Mi Young, flat on her back and balancing the huge bibimbap bowl on her chest, hurriedly squiggles and wiggles around underfoot, just barely managing to stay out of his way around every twist and turn – until Gun sees Mi Young’s legs sticking out from under the table, and nearly jumps out of his skin, thinking it a ghost.

Gun grabs a frying pan for self defense, then gingerly approaches the table. As he nudges a chair away from the table, he screeaaams in terror as Mi Young looks up at him, deadpan, in the dark:

Hahaha! I practically cried with laughter at this scene.

Afterwards though, the tone of the scene shifts as Mi Young sheepishly sits up and Gun puts on the lights.

Mi Young self-consciously explains that since the pregnancy, she feels sick whenever her stomach is empty, and shyly invites him to eat with her, if he’d like.

When Gun gruffly declines, Mi Young hesitantly asks if there is anything that she needs to know or be careful about, now that they’re living together.

Gun pauses before delivering his brusque reply, “I… have no interest in you, so you don’t need to be bothered by me either. I don’t care what you do, either. Just don’t bother me… and live invisibly. Alright?”

There’s a long moment where Mi Young doesn’t say anything, and just looks back at Gun, as she processes the words that he’s just spoken.

Finally, she answers softly, “Okay,” and even though that’s all Mi Young says, we can see from her expression how taken aback, confused and disappointed she is. Gun’s words have clearly caused her heart to fall; even more so when we know that he’d been the one who’d been encouraging her to live more boldly all along.

It’s a poignant, heart-tugging moment, juxtaposed so effectively, and quite brilliantly, against such a comedic scene.

This show is an incongruous mix of campy cartoonish-ness and powerful emotional resonance, and a lot of the credit goes to Jang Hyuk’s and Jang Na Ra’s completely committed deliveries. Their gung-ho dedication to even the most ridiculous scenes, combined with their sensitive and nuanced deliveries in the more poignant beats, creates a potent mix that simply blew me away.

[END SPOILER]

4. Good Pacing – In the First Half

One of the things that surprised me most about this show – well, about its first half, anyway – is its brisk pace.

Stuff moves fast in this drama world, and given its penchant for Funny laced with Heart, the first stretch of the show feels like a heady, surreal, great fun ride.

Given the clear premise, we know that a contract marriage is on the way, even from the very beginning of the show. What’s great is that despite that fore-knowledge, the show isn’t boring at all, in getting us set up with its premise. The journey is engaging, fun and lively, and I remember chomping at the bit for more after each episode.

Even when misunderstandings arise to cloud the happy bubble of this show’s drama world, we never really need to wait long for the show to bring us back to the land of rom-com cute; something that I appreciated a lot.

And yes, there are patterns that are very obvious, like the repeated cycle of Mi Young being embarrassed/shamed by someone else, and Gun coming to the rescue, and Mi Young’s sincerity shining through to save the day.

Despite the show’s habit of rinse-and-repeat, I found that I didn’t feel bored or tired of watching this cycle, thanks to the show’s energetic pace, excellent character deliveries, and poignant character moments.

It’s too bad the show couldn’t sustain the lively pace through to the end.

5. Funny Meta Moments

As a bonus, there are multiple moments of meta littered throughout the show, to appeal to the seasoned drama viewer &/or the dedicated Jang Hyuk fan. Little references and spoofs of his other works are worked into the script, often to hilarious effect.

I thought these were really well done, coz the informed fans get a huge kick out of it, but the un-informed fans don’t get distracted by it either. I haven’t seen all of Jang Hyuk’s works, but I noted nods to Chuno (2010), Tazza (2008), and even Robber (2008). There are probably more in there that I missed.

The times that I did recognize a little spoof of something, though, I hafta say that the crack barometer in my head jumped sharply in delight while I gave in to the giggles.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I think my favorite of the meta spoofs is the first one in the entire series, for its added element of surprise by virtue of being the first.

In episode 1, when Gun and Mi Young are cornered after being chased down by a big black dog, a terrified Gun assures Mi Young that he’ll take care of the situation. As Mi Young trembles and fidgets worriedly next to him, Gun removes his jacket and readies it as a weapon, Dae Gil-style, while strains from the Chuno OST start playing in the background.

As the music gets to its climax, Gun swings his jacket dramatically in the direction of the dog, then asks, “Is it dead? It’s dead, right?”

That’s when the badass OST winds down to a disappointing groan, and Gun discovers that the dog is perfectly fine. Ha.

Several of the spoofs are similar in nature; we see Gun throwing out martial arts-like moves, all badass and fierce – but then clunking his way through at the end of each move. It’s great coz not only is it laugh-out-loud funny, it also gives us little glimpses of Jang Hyuk being badass. And I do love Jang Hyuk when he’s being a badass.

[END SPOILER]

Fated To Love You OST – Destino

WHAT KEPT IT FROM BEING THOROUGHLY AWESOME

Given that the show started off so strong, it makes me sad that there are several pretty big things that took this show from the cracky end of the scale to the draggy end of said scale in its second half.

Again, here’s the quick list of sub-sections that I’ll be touching on:

  1. Extended, Draggy Angst
  2. Stalling & Slow Pacing
  3. The Occasional Heavy-Handed Campy

 

1. Extended, Draggy Angst

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against angst in and of itself, even though I prefer to generally lean angst-lite in my drama diet.

When a drama incorporates angst appropriately and executes it well, the angst can really up the feels. Not only that, it can make the eventual happy ending feel that much more well-earned and satisfying. My problem with FTLY is that it leans a little too heavily on the angst in its later stretches.

Before I get into that, though, let me first acknowledge that there really is some good – excellent, even – angst in this show.

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

The Good Angst

Among the various things in this show that I consider good angst, I picked 3 that moved me &/or tugged at my heartstrings the most.

1. Gun & Gae Ddong

While I really wish that Gun and Mi Young hadn’t lost Gae Ddong (so sad, sniff), I found the way that both Gun and Mi Young continued to love Gae Ddong and regard him as their child extremely touching.

Even though both Gun’s and Mi Young’s continued love for Gae Ddong moved me, I found the scenes with Gun more poignant, for the added dimension that his continued precious treatment of his unborn child remains a secret to the world at large. As far as Mi Young is concerned, Gun has done the heartless thing and removed any remnants of Gae Ddong from his life and from his heart.

This made the glimpses that we see of Gun’s fatherly love all the more poignant. The fact that Gae Ddong remains very much alive in Gun’s heart and mind, and an integral part of his existence, is such heart-tugging angsty goodness.

Every time Gun spoke aloud to Gae Ddong, Gun’s sad eyes and wistful smile would get me in the heart.

Like this moment in episode 13, when Gun talks to Gae Ddong while in his secret man-cave, and tells him, with this sad little smile, that Mom’s really great.

So heartwarming and so heartbreaking at once. And just look at that wistful, yearning look on Gun’s face as he thinks upon Mi Young and Gae Ddong, the two people that are most precious to him, yet both of whom feel irreparably separated from him.

Oof. That hit me right in the gut, it did.

2. Heartfelt text conversations

At first, I was confused about why Gun would insist on keeping the painting that he’d bought from Mi Young’s exhibition, knowing how much it meant to her.

Later, though, when his intention became clear, of keeping it for a while, to spend some time with Gae Ddong, before returning the painting to Mi Young, I saw the sad poignancy of Gun’s position; feeling like he could only spend time with “Gae Ddong” for a short time, before returning him to his mother’s side.

Again, I was initially puzzled by Gun’s impersonation of Young Ja, the painting’s official “buyer.” Later, though, I really appreciated the text conversation scenes that we get between Gun and Mi Young, as they voice over the text conversations that Mi Young shares with Young Ja.

I thought that this scene in episode 14 is very nicely played, where Gun and Mi Young are in their separate beds, voicing over their texts to each other. It’s also a bittersweet visual cue, to know that Gun and Mi Young still sleep on “their” sides of the bed, even after so much time has passed since their separation.

As the conversation turns a little more personal, both of them speak with voices laced with sadness, and the wistfulness in their eyes is very touching.

I loved the moment when Mi Young asks Gun if he has a child, and Gun replies gently that he has a lovely child:

Mi Young, also speaking with a gentle wistfulness, then says she’d like to see him with the child someday:

And Gun softly replies that it would be very, very nice if that happened.

Such a very bittersweet scene, so full of pathos.

Beneath the cordial surface of Mi Young’s conversation with Young Ja, there is just so much subtext and unconscious truth shared by Gun and Mi Young.

It feels rich in its simplicity, and beautiful in its sadness, and completely blew me away.

3. Penultimate steps towards the truth

Regardless of how I feel that FTLY dragged out its angst for too long, I have to give it props for managing the penultimate beats leading up to Gun’s and Mi Young’s reconciliation in a pretty masterful fashion.

As stuff happens in episode 17, the emotional beats build up and gather momentum for the final hit to the gut, and it’s angst at this show’s best.

Here are the main highlights of those beats:

The moment when Mi Young realizes there’s something weird about the text messages lays the groundwork.

Throughout the episode, we get littered possibilities of people who might reveal Gun’s secret to Mi Young, and this gives us hope while keeping us very much on our toes.

We get several encounters between Mi Young and Gun – the charged meeting in the studio, when she realizes that he is Young Ja; the conversation in his office when Mi Young refunds him the money for the painting; their run-in at Mom’s restaurant – and the tension between them is consistently thick.

We also get the interview where Mi Young speaks truthfully of her appreciation for Young Ja, and it’s so poignant, that Gun gets to hear it, and that Mi Young looks right at him when she speaks the words.

We also see both Mi Young and Gun visiting the site of the accident, both speaking tearfully to Gae Ddong.

Oof. So, so sad.

And that sadness just continues to build, as we see Gun gently placing Gae Ddong’s “picture” in his family niche and confiding in his mom.

We hear Gun speaking of wanting to leave for Mi Young’s sake, and him even looking forward to joining his parents and Gae Ddong in death.

Guh. It’s just so tragic, this beat, and I cried at this scene.

And then we see Mi Young entering Gun’s secret man-cave, and discovering that Gun’s kept all of Gae Ddong’s things, all this time.

She also discovers the videos that Gun’s recorded for himself, in the event that he should lose his memory due to his illness, and Mi Young finally confirms various pieces of the truth: Gun is sick; Gun loves her and has always loved her; Gun loves Gae Ddong and has kept him close to himself all this time.

As Mi Young watches and listens to Gun’s recording, the tears begin to fall from her eyes as she processes it all.

And in the meantime, we see Gun stoically going to face the reporters at the press conference.

It’s a sad moment, and Gun’s eyes betray a sheen of tears as he prepares to announce his resignation from the company.

And then we get the final kicker of the episode, as Mi Young’s grief hits her full-force as she reacts to the truth and to Gun’s torment, and her pain is voiced in heaving, gut-wrenching sobs.

It’s the double whammy of both their pain hitting us full in the face. Oof.

I cried. Both Gun’s and Mi Young’s pain is so palpable, that I cried for them both. They’re good tears though. Bittersweet, good tears.

The angst this episode is brilliantly mapped out and executed, from a production stand-point. And just as brilliant, both Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra killed it, and then some.

So angsty, and so good.

The Not-So-Good Angst

To be fair, when we stack up the instances &/or episodes of Not Great Angst, it isn’t terribly overwhelming in number nor amount.

The thing is, when the Not Great Angst is added to what is already a healthy amount of Good Angst, we inevitably end up with A Lot! Of! Angst! And that just tips the balance wayyy over to the draggy side of the equation.

There are a couple of instances of Not Great Angst that I’m even willing to overlook. Like the amnesia arc in episode 11, since Gun regains his memory after just one episode.

Or Gun’s nobly idiotic reason for letting Mi Young go, coz I can still sorta see where he’s coming from. To Gun’s understanding, there’s a high chance that he’s dying, and he knows that knowing that would only increase Mi Young’s pain. Also, him having seen his mother’s pain at his dad’s illness and death, makes his desire to spare Mi Young that kind of pain sort of understandable.

It’s just, there were times when I felt like we were literally just going in endless circles around the noble idiocy, and, combined with All. The. Angst. already going on, it just became a lot to bear. It was just too much, for too long, basically.

By episode 15, I was very tired of Gun insisting on pretending that he’s got no feelings for Mi Young whatsoever.

At this point, I couldn’t understand Gun’s persistence at all, at being so evasive and unrevealing, and couldn’t help asking myself, Is it pride? Does he think that it’s genuinely helping her to think that he doesn’t have any feelings for her at all? Is he just plain BLIND??

Jang Hyuk still killed it, and the unspoken pathos in Gun’s eyes is still good through all of this. It’s just, it’s a farce that’s been going on for far, far too long, by this point.

Considering that it’s only in episode 17 that we finally get some good angst in the house, and have actual movement in our narrative, episodes 15 and 16 feel like serious drag and annoyed me a lot.

2. Stalling & Slow Pacing

Once Gun and Mi Young reconcile, there is time spent on necessary parental approval and such, but there’s also a whole lotta filler.

As our newly happy couple spend time together, there are multiple random interruptions to Gun’s attempts to spend romantic alone-times with Mi Young and take things to a more skinshippy level.

Y’know, I can appreciate a little bit of coy from a show, but this literally felt like Show was reaching for as much filler as possible, like the writers were trying to fill up a requisite amount of screen-time before Gun was allowed to kiss Mi Young properly.

Like the time in episode 19 where Gun and Mi Young are finally alone in their new digs and the entire gang descends on them for an impromptu housewarming party, which then evolves into a Go-Stop marathon, complete with Tazza meta.

It feels like filler, and it feels like an interruption specifically designed to shoe-horn in some Tazza meta, somehow, anyhow.

The whole incident of Gun searching for The Tree, and then interrupting his wedding (also in episode 19) just so that he could take Mi Young there just didn’t make a whole lot of narrative sense.

I mean, yes, it’s cheesy and gives us some lovely moments between Gun and Mi Young, and the cuff-links and letter from Dad are sweet.

Honestly, though, the letter itself doesn’t make a lot of sense. First of all, Dad advises Gun not to do the same thing in his shoes, but goes ahead and does it anyway? So, do what I say, not what I do? That’s not exactly a very convincing example. Second of all, it’s not like Gun’s hesitating with Mi Young anymore, at this point in the story. So it’s not like he needed to hear that from Dad, in order to make the decision to marry her.

Which then gives me the feeling of, well, Filler Alert.

All this filler, combined with the slow-moving angst up to this point, is just magnified when contrasted with the lively, brisk pace of the earlier episodes of the show.

I wanted Early Show’s energetic pace back, and didn’t get it, which made me a disappointed sad bunny.

3. The Occasional Heavy-Handed Campy

There’s a fine line between quirky-zany, and flat-out bizarre, and in my books, FTLY occasionally crossed that line over the course of its run.

When Show was being quirky & zany, I felt blithely along for the ride. But on the occasions when the tone of the show crossed over to bizarro wacko-land, I found it jarring and, well, just too much, y’know?

An early occasion when that happened in this scene in episode 4, where Gun wears exaggerated dark circles under his eyes and hollows in his cheeks, and basically goes nutso over the scam that he thinks Mi Young is pulling on him.

His off-the-rails outburst, complete with profuse cold sweats and animated snail on his shoulder kinda really threw me off.

And then, there’s that random Joker mouth that Gun wears in episode 10, after fighting round after comical round of sexual frustration.

Eep. Just, not a good look, y’know?

And then there’s the random painted-on cartoon tears that Gun wears in episode 16, along with the exaggerated undereye circles.

Just, whyyy?

Maybe some viewers found these moments of extreme camp fun, but it just.. wasn’t fun for me.

I like being able to root for my leading man, and I like it even better, if I get to swoon at him too. And, that’s just harder to do when Show randomly keeps springing moments at me that indicate that deep down, he’s just a crazy whack-job, y’know?

This is just one of those things that didn’t work for me.

Fated To Love You OST – Stars

A COUPLE OF FAVORITE THINGS

In the spirit of ending this review on a more positive note, I thought I’d give the quick loving spotlight to just one thing – and 2 scenes – in the show that I really liked.

Mom & Gun

There are a couple of heartwarming secondary relationships in the show that I liked, but the one that tops them all, is Gun’s relationship with Mom.

After all the drama around getting Gun and Mi Young married, it’s a really sweet moment in episode 6, when Mom declares that she’s Gun’s mom now, and encourages him to address her as Omma. Gun’s wonder in the moment, as he tests the feel of the word on his tongue, is sweetly poignant.

Gun doesn’t have memories of a mother’s love, since his own mother died when he was so young. Which makes this whole mother-son dynamic so novel and precious to him.

Aw~ ❤ The way Gun seems entranced while Mom pats him on the cheek and gives him a hug is just heart-tugging goodness.

From this point on, Gun’s bond with Mom is basically indestructible. The best thing about it, is that the love and attachment flows both ways. Mom is as fond of Gun, as he is of her.

I loved the moment in episode 8 when Gun receives a phone call from the doc about “Omma” and races to the hospital in a panic. He bursts through the hospital room’s doors, blustering, “Omma!”

The fact that he’s beside himself with worry, asking her what happened and why she’s sick, is just adorable and very sweet. His deep love for Mom is just so clear.

I love, too, that the love Mom has for Gun is just as deep.

After Gun’s and Mi Young’s divorce, I love that Gun continues to visit Mom at her restaurant after hours, just to be able to see her and eat her food.

Their surface grumbling and bickering belies the deep affection that’s continued for the 3 years since the divorce.

Although Mom grumbles, it’s obvious that she’s unable to cut off her affection for Gun.

In episode 13, when Daniel pays a visit to her home with Mi Young, and addresses her as “Mother,” Mom literally cannot stop herself from balking.

Aw. Mom can’t bring herself to allow Daniel to get close, coz Gun’s the son that she still keeps in her heart.

How Gun responds to and loves the Mom he never had, and how Mom does the same for the son she never had, is just one of those things that never got old for me, all series long.

I mean, just look at ’em. ❤

Riverside Kiss

In episode 8, after Gun’s dramatically rescued Mi Young from Lawyer Min’s attempt to publicly humiliate her, Gun takes Mi Young to the riverside, puts on some music and teasingly invites her to dance.

Mi Young confesses that she’s anything but a good dancer, but Gun assures her that he dances very well (might this be a nod to Jang Hyuk’s dancing in Dance of the Dragon?), and he guides her hands to rest on his shoulders (Eee!).

Then Gun snaps his fingers, and fireworks burst across the night sky, thrilling Mi Young and adding to the surreality of the moment.

Gun then levels his gaze at Mi Young and gently says, “You’ve been having a hard time because of me, haven’t you?”

Mi Young stutters that he’s been having a harder time, and Gun assures her that he wasn’t avoiding her because he hates her, but he’s sorry because he wasn’t ready to come to her.

Gun looks deep into her eyes and says gently, “Thank you… for waiting for me. And… for being with me now,” as he leans in to kiss her.

Eee! Such a sweet, tender kiss! And egad. The way Gun looks at her, with such gentle tenderness. I was toast, basically.

There are so many things I loved about this scene. Gun being so tender, so sincere and so sweet. And Gun being so very gentle with Mi Young; in his touch, in the tone of his voice, in his kiss.

I swoon.

Mi Young’s Confession

In episode 9, after another round of attempted humiliation, this time by Yong’s mother (Choi Woo Shik and Na Young Hee respectively), Mi Young beats a hasty retreat, and Gun catches up to her.

Mi Young confesses that she feels like a fool, and Gun cheerily assures that it’s not her fault that she almost lost Gae Ddong’s mug, and that he will punish the person responsible.

Haltingly, the words escape Mi Young’s lips, almost as if they have a life of their own, “This is the first time in my life… I’ve actually had greed for someone. The nicer you are to me… the more I want to have you.”

Thoughtfully, tearfully, Mi Young tries to explain, “If I continue to live like this… I still won’t be allowed… to live with you and Gae Ddong… so…  I can only dream… of the happiness other couples have. That’s what I’ve dreamed of… without your permission.”

Mi Young falters, looking down, “But I’ve only just realized… I’m like… an uninvited stranger in your life… who’s always causing you trouble. “

“Lee Gun-sshi,” Mi Young tentatively raises her eyes to meet his, and uncertainly offers her conclusion, “Let’s stop here. I think we should stop.”

With a penetrating, almost defiant gaze, Gun starts to speak, “Kim Mi Young-sshi. Kim Mi Young-sshi. Since when did you become such a selfish person?”

At Mi Young’s confusion, Gun continues, “Since when do you only talk about what you want… and not care about how others feel, Kim Mi Young-sshi?”

Gun thumps his chest, “What about me? What about my feelings? I only think of you more when you tell me not to be bothered by you. I’m uncomfortable when I can’t see you. I smile when you smile and cry when you cry. What about these feelings? Don’t you understand me?”

Earnestly, plaintively, as if the words are leaving her lips of their own volition, Mi Young tries to explain, “No. But… you always manage to surprise me. Since you keep being so nice to me… I keep forgetting that I have to be separated from you one day. I’m scared that… I won’t want… to leave you then… and I won’t be able to live without you… even though I shouldn’t feel this way…”

Which is when Gun swoops in to kiss her. His kiss is passionate and urgent, but Mi Young stays frozen in place.

When Gun registers that Mi Young is unresponsive to his kiss, Gun pulls away to look her in the eyes.

Intently, he gives her his answer to her protests, “What is there in this world that is impossible?”

Then Gun gently takes her chin between his thumb and index finger, and lifts her face to his, as he kisses her again, this time with gentle, deep assurance.

And it doesn’t take long before Mi Young melts into his kiss and his embrace, wrapping her arms around him, just like the way his arms are wrapped around her.

Melt. Meltmeltmelt~

I love Mi Young’s unconscious can’t-help-herself confession, and I love Gun’s gentle reassurance that she can dream, that they can have a future together.

I love how tenderly Gun leans in to kiss her the second time, and how Mi Young responds instinctively, as they wrap their arms around each other in such a tender, surreal, connected moment. And such a lovely, sweet yet sexy kiss it is, too.

Sigh. And, ummph.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING

The show finishes with a sweet ending, as expected.

The entire episode leans very cheesy and campy, and I hafta confess that there were times when I cringed a little.

Overall, I’d say that the show returned to its original campiness, but because we’d had those late episodes of drag and angst, it actually felt a little jarring to me.

It’s almost like someone whispered meaningfully to the writers, “Remember your roots…” and the writers hastily backpedaled to throw in as much camp and cheese as possible, to hopefully make up for the extended periods of angst.

As a result, a lot of stuff in the finale feels sort of shoe-horned in. In that sense, I almost feel like the writers were just throwing filler at us all hour long.

Like the whole operation to recreate the Macau incident. That part really didn’t feel right to me, at all. I actually felt rather disturbed by it. But, I get what the writers were trying to do, to bring us full circle to the show’s beginning. I actually think it would’ve been better to have turned that on its head, and have them avoid the drug, and enjoy their honeymoon night, and then still have the twins.

I did find Daniel’s reconciliation with Se Ra as brother and sister rather touching, despite it also feeling like a hasty attempt to tie up a loose end.

But for giving us lots of cute, lots of sweet, and even a nice spot of sexy, I forgive the ending for (almost) all of its flaws.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Even though I liked this show a lot more before the time skip than after, and even though I feel like it’s a huge waste for such a cracktastic beginning to have given way to a comparatively unremarkable second half, it was still a worthwhile journey.

Y’know, even if only for the combined awesome of these two Jjangs.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Uneven but solid. Not as perfect as it could’ve been, but packs enough awesome to still be a worthy watch.

FINAL GRADE: A-

VISUAL TREATS:

Here’s a cute little teaser for the show:

An adorable MV for a very cute song, and it’s only mildly to moderately spoilery, as it pretty much only deals with the show’s set-up:

Another boppy, happy MV, this time slightly more spoilery, and still full of OTP cuteness:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

45 thoughts on “Review: Fated to Love You

  1. OMO IT’s here!!!!! So happy when this landed in my inbox!!!!! Yaaaaay! Ok now am off to read! 🙂

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    • Disclaimer: In my excitement to comment, I used my soompi handle instead of my usual. Oh well. 🙂

      Okay. I’ve read through it all and I agree. I LOVED all of the pre-Angst, and then I loved some after the Unfortunate Incident. I honestly didn’t need the Tree. Seriously. And I honestly didn’t need the Macau part deux. Hi-jinks would be great without the broad references to Macau. Macau is Macau. Though they had bonded there, their trip was not entirely pleasant. So why commemorate that? Why not build new memories at another awesome place?

      I do love the Omma-Gun relationship. I totally believe it. And I cringed when Daniel attempted to call Mi Young’s mom, “Omma.” Ugh.

      I don’t think you mentioned Secretary Tak. I love him. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there were some moments there that he looked… ehrm… sexy. Still, nothing compared to JANG HYUK. Lawdahlmightyyy!

      I disliked the ending. Too rushed, and not enough of the moments that made me love this show in the first place. I’m like, “Really? Really?” And the Se Ra and Daniel gave me a creepy vibe–not sibling like at all.

      I have watched the episode where Mi Young discovers the videos more than once, and it destroys me each time. And I do love how they fell for each other during the first half.

      Thanks for the review! Love love love!

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      • Giggle. You are so cute, Jo! XD I can just imagine your excited flailing – thus the wrong handle. I’m honored that this review got that much excitement from you! (stores in mental treasure box)

        Looks like we are very much in agreement about this show! From the fabulous stretch Before Angst, to the opinion that we didn’t need the Tree, and we DEFINITELY didn’t need Macau Part Deux. High five, chingu! 😀

        Ah, Secretary Tak – he was funny. Admittedly, I found his character a little ridiculous, and a touch overdone even in the OTT campy context. But Choi Dae Chul was very committed to the role, and he did bring a good number of laughs. I was probably too enamored with Jang Hyuk to notice the sexier Secretary Tak moments – I mean, how did YOU manage to notice, given how Jang Hyuk’s Deep Sexy just takes over the entire screen? (cough)

        Y’know, your comment about Daniel & Se Ra reminds me of an article I read not too long ago, about several couples who found out belatedly (after marriage & kids) that they were actually long-lost siblings. Apparently, siblings who’ve been separated from young for a long time tend to be drawn to each other in later years when they meet, and without the sibling context, it tends to turn romantic. It blew my mind that this is an Actual Thing. So.. uh, perhaps it’s not that weird that Daniel & Se Ra have that creepy non-sibling vibe? 😛 I did think their resolution was rushed and not very well explored. But I also don’t hold a grudge for that, coz it means that the screentime was possibly used for our OTP instead 😛

        And YES. That scene where Mi Young discovered the videos. It’s SO GOOD. That whole episode was extremely well-conceived and well-executed, in terms of the mapping of the steps & milestones. The writers didn’t get everything right, but that part was brilliantly done. 🙂

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  2. I couldn’t help myself and read through this post even though I haven’t seen this drama yet. I just keep stalling and thinking it’s not for me. Maybe the future me, but not right now. I’m having massive guilt because it’s Jang Hyuk, you know, the man I would MARRY. lol! (Thank you gals for all your tweets about my Sunshine choice, btw!) I’ll eventually watch it.

    Dang, is that actress EVERYBODY’S mother? It was only a matter of time before she was Jang Hyuk’s mom in some form. LOL

    Wonderful, honest and heartfelt review as always! Just curious, because you didn’t write much, what did you think of Choi Jin Hyuk’s character?

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    • I’m really in pain at your refusal to watch this Lady G. Since my begging has no effect Im hoping Kfangurl’s recommendation helps. This review was pretty spoilery though. I hope you erase everything from your head before you watch, if you ever watch.

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    • Lady G, I hope you will take the time to try this one. It really is quite good, despite some flaws. I actually didn’t like Choi Jin Hyuk and Wang Ji Wan, and considered them to be weak spots in the show. However, I am not really much of a Choi Jin Hyuk fan, so may not be the best predictor about what you would think. However, the performances from the two leads are remarkable nuanced and memorable.

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    • Lol. I love how you brave any and all spoilers all the time, Lady G! XD In that sense, you’re so NOT like me. But since I’m the one writing this, thank you for braving the spoilers to read everything! 😉

      Don’t feel bad about not checking out FTLY yet (even though you did say that you’d marry Jang Hyuk! XD ).. In my opinion, and also in my experience, it’s way better to check out a drama when you’re in the mood for it. It sounds like you’re just not in the mood right now. And I think that forcing yourself to check out a drama when you’re not in the mood is more likely to kill the experience of watching the drama for you. I’ve tried before, to watch a drama that I just wasn’t in the mood for, coz everyone else said it’s great. And that drama wouldn’t hit the spot for me, and I’d feel like I’d wasted my time. So I say, wait for when the mood hits. And then dive in 🙂

      As for Choi Jin Hyuk, hmm.. To be honest, he hasn’t yet grabbed me as an actor. I admit he’s easy on the eyes, and has a lovely deep speaking voice. As an actor, though, I still find him a little flat, and I’m waiting for him to wow me. He.. didn’t wow me in this. His character is a pretty stock kind of Appealing Second Lead, and his delivery didn’t do anything to lift the character beyond that. I suppose to exacerbate matters, he’s sharing the screen with Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra, who both killed it with their outstandingly nuanced deliveries. Which, unfortunately, by contrast, just kinda made Choi Jin Hyuk look that much flatter. Maybe one day Choi Jin Hyuk will blow me away. He just didn’t do it this time. 🙂

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      • Oh yes, I remember we had that conversation about being in the right mood. I totally agree. I’m sorry I’m not. Ugh I’m so weird. LOL. I know I missed out on great discussions and posts over at stuckonhyuk, I didn’t read them all so I wasn’t too spoiled. But I’m a good fangirl and did contribute to the ‘feed the cast’ event! I still love Hyuk. 😀

        I won’t roll up my sleeves because you feel that way about CJH. LOL! I like him, but I still don’t think he’s been given a role that suits his potential. Hmm, he did kind of kill it as the Gumiho, but he didn’t really get a chance to do much of anything after the first episode except look dark and sexy in the woods. hahaha. Maybe my next dream drama will give him those added layers to the troubled/slightly corrupted but goodhearted individual I’m having him play!! LOL. 😉 No more spoilers on that one!

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        • Oh yes, Choi Jin Hyuk really captured a lot of people’s hearts as Papa Gumiho. I remember everyone flailing over him in that! But I never watched it coz in the end everyone was so disappointed with that show that I decided to spend my drama hours elsewhere. Maybe that’s why I’ve yet to fully comprehend his appeal? 😛 But yes, your dream drama might turn me around yet! Of course, I’d still need him to blow me away on my actual screen. I can’t let his dream drama self cover for him, now, can I? XD

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          • Oh, absolutely. An actor MUST prove himself to have potential in one ‘real’ drama before I can work with him well in a Dream drama. LOL. I need to see a kernel I can make pop.

            I mentioned on Twitter that I just skimmed GFB. It didn’t capture me. I’m just not a big Lee Seung Gi fan. I realized that after trying hard with My GF is a Gumiho and You’re all surrounded.

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            • So is the CJH kernel Papa Gumiho? Or something else? He hasn’t popped yet for me, in the various shows I’ve seen him in. But maybe he will soon!

              It took a while for Lee Seung Gi to grow on me. I think that’s why I didn’t love MGiaG on first watch. He wasn’t floating my boat. But I liked him in 1N2D, and then magically, I grew to like him more in MGiaG, which I LUFFED on second watch. I also liked him quite well in King 2 Hearts. Didja see that one? I liked that one quite a lot! 🙂

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              • Actually CJH popped for me from the first drama I saw him in, “It’s okay, Daddy’s girl.” LOL. Then I couldn’t find him in much of anything. Pasta didn’t count because he was part of a trio and in the background. I didn’t see Panda and Hedgehog then, too much other stuff to watch, but then I saw GFB and really liked him there. I was so upset I didn’t enjoy Emergency couple, not that he wasn’t good in the role as written, he really was, but there were too many nasty elements I didn’t like about that drama. I really hope I like Pride and Prejudice. I’m waiting to start that. I will when it ends. I’m already prejudiced though…against female leads with BOWL CUTS! ARRHHHHHH! Blearrghhhh!

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                • I suddenly see why we have such different opinions of CJH! *light bulb moment* It’s coz we’ve been watching completely different shows! XD I didn’t see It’s Okay Daddy’s Girl, and I also didn’t see GFB. I dropped Emergency Couple like a hot potato, and like you said, Pasta didn’t count.

                  Thing is, I DID see him in Panda & Hedgehog, and he made my skin crawl with his extreme male aegyo 😛 Ack. I still need to wash my brain of that mental image.

                  On the upside, I’ve been hearing good things so far about Pride and Prejudice, so maybe I’ll change my mind about him yet! 😉 I’m with you on bowl cuts tho – so unflattering! XD

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                  • LOL. I guess CJH is only just beginning to shine and needs some starring roles under his belt. I’m thinking Pride and Prejudice will be good too. 😀 Funny in P&H the two leads played brothers in daddy’s girl. I guess some writer and director thought they had good chemistry. They did in daddy’s girl as bros.

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              • I never saw King 2 hearts, it’s been on my list forever. I guess because LSG underwhelms me I’m not running to watch his dramas. :p So, I understand when others are not taken by an actor either.

                Actually the more I write my DD with CJH, the more taken I am with him! And reading Jaime’s ongoing FF right now drew me closer too. She’s a great writer.

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  3. OMG….Jang Hyuk’s gaze! on the bed…..so hot and intense and sexy… It was one of my favorite moments of the show 🙂

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  4. How can you start with nekkid pictures of Oppa & expect us to read anything?!

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    • If this thing had a LIKE button, I’d be liking your comment so badly now. Hahahaha

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    • Kfangirl!

      After passing that initial Giant Wall of a hurdle, I managed to read, and wow, I’m so happy to have read this. You articulate so well so many of the things I felt about the show, and many, many more little details that had escaped my attention. I felt much the same about the disparity in the first and second halves of the show, but I feel like the show hooked me so hard in that first and incredibly satisfying half, that I didn’t mind being put through a lot of the stuff I wasn’t particularly happy with. The characters mattered so much for me by the end, and I cared so much about them, I couldn’t just be an audience receiving and critiquing the drama. I got too involved, saw them as real people and had to keep rooting for them in spite of my grievances. It’s become one of those rare shows that remains with you long, long after you’re done watching.

      I didn’t mind some of the more outrageous attempts at humor, although I can see why they may have turned you off. That kind of humour revolved only around Lee Gun and I think it was nothing beyond a reflection of how Gunnie felt about himself. I found him all the more adorable for being unrealistically hyperbolic like that.

      Thanks for such a beautiful writeup, kfangirl! & thanks for putting up the instrumental ost. I’ve loved it ever since I got my hands on it and realised only in retrospect how much magic it infused into the drama.

      Keep writing!

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      • Aw, thanks jhu! 😀 Glad you liked the read. Thanks, too, for fighting past the “Giant Wall,” I know it was a HUGE challenge. Lol!

        Also, seems like we agree on the general differences between the crackier first half and the second half.. Although, it does look like you were more able to look past the flaws of the second half than I was. I’m generally all for looking past a show’s flaws to appreciate its good points. And on reflection, I think I’m more forgiving of flaws like writing, characters etc. I realize pacing is something that’s harder to overlook, since the drag is hard to ignore. Also, I think if the first half hadn’t felt so zippy, the second half wouldn’t have felt as draggy. It’s that double-edged sword. Because the first half was so briskly paced, the second half’s drag got amplified in comparison.

        The hyperbole didn’t turn me off, per se.. I guess it’s more like it threw me. As in, I found it very distracting, and since it really didn’t add anything to the story for me, I found it unnecessary. But I do get the campy tone that the show is going for. It’s just campier than I’m prepared to embrace, I suppose. Despite that, I did enjoy a lot about this show, and I’m so glad you enjoyed this review! 😀

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  5. The return of the epic review! Yay! Off to read.

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  6. Yay! I was so happy to see you wrote a review, so happy to see you gave the drama a chance, and happier after I finished reading your review. I was a bit scared thinking you didn’t appreciate any of the angst, because I loved it so much. I actually felt this drama was so very balanced between humor and angst. Even in the angsty episodes, there was humor you know? So I never felt it dragged even when others were complaining (you were definitely not alone in wanting the happy back fast!) Let me first tell you about where I completely agree with you, The OTP’s awesomeness, the Jangs as actors being wonderfully nuanced and both characters being so rich and complex. How their eyes said it all, always, YES, THAT. Their perfect chemistry. You should watch some of the later BTS videos! oh my! Their rapport is really just, well, it made us fans fantasize “wrong” things,despite knowing Jang Hyuk is happily married with two kids! Especially the BTS of the “almost kiss at the village” scene and “press conference reveal, confession and kiss” scene. By the way that press con confession, kiss is where Jang Hyuk looked the most beautiful in anything ever in my opinion. I love all the moments you highligted. I can see why wacky dark circled Gun might turn you off, oh but I laughed the hardest at these scenes! the first one was especially welcomed as I was fearing the show was going to turn too “serious” after Gun becomes paranoid about Mi Young being a gold digger, I was like Nooooo pleaseeee and then boom wacko Gun shows up and I realize I don’t have to take this crazy show “too” seriously. I can relax or rather just crack up insanely! I loved PDs wacky sense of humor. Plus I’ve always loved Jang Hyuk’s ability to just startle me and scare me one second and make me swoon and melt the next. I love this Johnny Depp-like quality in him. The angst, I see you loved my favorite moments so there isn’t much I can add. The parts you didn’t like? hmm well, I see what you mean about the dad’s letter not making sense in the sense that, he was telling Gun to do, the opposite of what he was doing even though we know he changed his mind before he had an accident, but I think one think a lot of people missed, was that Gun did need this letter. Why? because contrary to what seemed obvious, the drama does point out that he was still scared! Remember the nightmare he had about forgetting Mi Young at the beginning of the episode? The scene was presented as comic but it certainly showed his fear. And see how he hid it from Mi Young telling her he was dreaming of a dog chasing him? his fear of illness and death was still very strong, so he did need his dad’s reassurance. His Dad was the only one who could do it too, or rather, the best person to do it, since he went through the same exact crisis. In fact, the whole having to convince omma, to me, wasn’t filler. Omma was rejecting him for the same exact reason “he” was removing himself from Mi Young. You could see in his eyes how Omma’s words affected him, made him feel guilty because he still thought he was being “selfish” by making Mi Young stay with him. In trying to convince Omma he was fighting really hard, to convince himself that he was doing the right thing . His desperate attempt to show his health, he needed to convince himself as well, so when Omma approves, he exhales a deep and heartfelt “Thank You” because her permission, allows him, to give himself “permission”. I think the rushed feeling was more on the production side than on the writer’s. Basically live shooting system probably affected some aspects, like, the casting of the kids, etc. The only thing I would’ve removed from the finale was the second drugging, Anyway, as usual I really appreciate your thorough review and I’m so glad you enjoyed most of this drama 🙂

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    • Aw, Drama Fan. It’s clear that you have deep, deep passion for this show. Well, for this show AND for Jang Hyuk 😉

      Yes, I enjoyed most of this drama. It has a lot of things going for it. And for me, I think it’s not that the Bad Angst was great in number. It’s just mixed in there with the Good Angst, and altogether, I think there was just Too Much Angst. Once we hit the time skip, I felt the pace slow down significantly. And as I mentioned in another comment to jhu, I realize that whatever drag I felt with this show’s second half, also had to do with it being juxtaposed with its exceptionally brisk first half. So, I think it’s a couple of factors that made the second half feel draggy to me. I felt we danced around the noble idiocy for too long. I mean, I understood the concept of why Gun decided on the way of the Noble Idiot, but I felt we spent too much time circling around that. I got tired coz it felt like we weren’t making progress and there didn’t seem to be significant narrative movement. That felt frustrating, to be honest.

      And Hyperbolic Gun didn’t turn me off, as much as he threw me off. It took me out of the moment and I felt distracted. I think it’s just one of those things that works for some people and then not for others. I guess my tolerance for camp is lower than the writers were hoping for 😛

      Also, just to clarify, I didn’t think nor say that getting parental approval was filler. I mentioned it as necessary. It’s the other stuff that was filler. And there was a lot of that; more than I thought was necessary, since there were other things that the writers could have spent time exploring. Like Gun’s fear of sickness & death, or Daniel’s re-connection with his sister. Coz those were things that could’ve benefited from a more careful treatment than what we got.

      All in all, I definitely don’t dislike the show, so I would still recommend it. It’s just not as awesome as I would’ve liked it to be. But it’s great that you’re able to appreciate it so much, in spite of its flaws 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! I might still be under the effects of my love with it since I don’t see that many flaws. The noble idiocy to me was directly related to Gun’s fear of sickness but it’s ok I won’t dwell on that. My love for the show might have a lot to do with how low my expectations were before starting since I don’t tend to go for rom com, and the synopsis sounded like something I wouldn’t like. It turned out so much better. So I’m still in that state where I can’t be objective. Maybe some day lol

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        • Lol. I’m pretty sure that it’s hard for you to be objective about this show right now, DF! XD I think I can be more objective, since my fangirl sensibilities aren’t as finely attuned to Jang Hyuk as yours are. I mean, he’s a fine, fine man and an excellent actor and I do love him. I just love Woob more, heh. 😉 But I understand you, chingu. The fangirl heart washes over every flaw ❤ I’m very happy for you, that you loved Jang Hyuk’s latest work this much. It’s painful when Oppa is in a show that underwhelms you. *cough Heirs cough* XD

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, that although I don’t think its just my love for JH. I am convinced that even if I didn’t already loved the actor I would’ve fallen for Lee Gun and the actor because of this drama. I love this character, the drama and to make it even better, I love the female lead since I also fell in love with Kim Mi Young and JNR beautiful interpretation. All of this would”ve been enough to keep me hooked but on that, the two Jangs together are like MAGIC! Impossible not to love this drama, for me.

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          • I see you also turn every convo into an “oppa Woob” convo eh? Jhu will be proud! 😋 Its true that the presence of oppa can add to the intensity of the enjoyment but it can also make you worry more. I have to rewatch FTLY now knowing that it never failed me. Cause watching while it aired, I always worried. Now I know Ill rewatch infinite times. Its definitely among my favorites. But, Im already worrying over his next project *sigh*. Btw that could my fangirl question “Is it normal to agonize so much about your fave actor’s future projects instead of getting excited like other fangirls”?

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            • Lol. Agreed, both Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra imbued their characters with so much feeling that it’s pretty impossible not to feel along with them. This casting was pretty perfect 🙂 And yes, I can totally see you watching this again & again, on infinite loop! XD I mean, with your extent of fangirl love, I can expect nothing less! As for is it normal to agonize.. I think it’s normal to agonize a bit, but in this case, perhaps you’re over-worrying. Have faith in Oppa.. He’s shown himself to have pretty good judgment in picking his projects – he will choose well again! 🙂

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  7. What can I say? You are so eloquent, girl! You put into words exactly how I felt about this drama. Everything I love about it and everything I found absurd. I like this line a lot. “No matter how ridiculous the comedy gets, the emotional beats remain well-played and feel true, and this grounds the narrative in a very satisfying way.” As I’ve told Evez over FB, the emotional connect is what hooked me to this drama. I don’t easily cry but welled up quite a bit watching this. Kudos to the Jangs, really, for such wonderful performance.

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    • Aw, thankies, dear kaiaraia! You always say the most encouraging things! ❤ I’m so glad you enjoyed this review, and that we agree on so many thing about this show! Truly, despite its flaws, this show manages the emotional connection very well indeed, and a lot of the credit goes to the Jangs, coz without their heartfelt, nuanced deliveries, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been quite as engaging an experience. This show made me cry too, at parts. I used to say that I don’t cry easily when watching drama, but I’m wondering if I’m more of a softie than I thought, lol.

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  8. Excellent essay – found myself nodding in agreement throughout, as my nebulous thoughts during the show took form as you discussed them. I have to say, the hair did bother me quite a bit, though. I was sooo relieved when he finally cut it half way through – I thought it was vastly unflattering. I really enjoy Jan Na-Ra in almost everything she does. She represents the kindly introverts of the world with dignity. Her work in School 2013 was also quite memorable to me.

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    • Thanks, Brenda! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this review! 🙂 Aw, I do agree that Jang Hyuk looked a lot better after they cut his hair. In fact, I thought his hair looked best after they cut it, before they mussed it up for the end. So I completely understand that the hair wasn’t quite rocking your boat in the first half of the show. And I’m pretty sure you’re not alone, coz I’d heard that the hair was bothering some viewers in the show’s early stages when it was first airing. I guess my existing affection for Jang Hyuk and deep respect for the amazing job he did in Chuno helped me to accept the hair. There were moments in the first half when his hair reminded me of his mane of glory in Chuno, and because I associate Chuno with excellent, glorious things, it helped a lot.

      Jang Na Ra is wonderful. I loved her in School 2013 too. I watched it twice, and appreciated the show even more on the 2nd watch. You can check out my review of School 2013 here, if you’d like 🙂

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  9. another nice review. it really made me think about many things not related to this drama (and that’s a big plus). the drama itself didn’t work for me, but it’s good to see/read that others enjoyed it.

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    • Hi there, INTJ!! 🙂 How ARE you?

      I’m glad the review had some positives for you, even though the show didn’t work for you. I can understand that; the show’s campy tone just isn’t to everyone’s taste, I’m sure. What are you watching these days? 🙂

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      • i’m … getting older (not necessarily wiser) with each day 😀 … but i’m fine, thank you! 🙂

        nah, the campy tone was ok and i smiled at the snail inserts. what bothered me was (from my point of view) the lack of personality in Mi Young. you see, i often wondered why i do love whom i love. of course, there should be no rational/logical reasons for love (’cause that’s not love, it’s something else) … still i think that for love to be born (and to grow) there has to be something “lovable” (aka something which can be loved). even selfless love has it: the person offering it (that selfless love) surrenders an existing ego … an act that is (or can be) lovable. sadly Mi Young was a bit too much of a pushover for my taste (and/or cultural background/personality?) … even with the rosy lenses of “opposites attract” on.

        as an example, i percieved the kitchen scene you mentioned different: she’s his wife (for the time being) and even if it’s a contract marriage (which is basically just a nicer front than “a surrogate mother of my child”), she’s still a pregnant woman who has to be healthy so that the child will be healthy. that’s the reason i simply can’t accept her sneaking into the kitchen to eat (remember, it’s not about her it’s about the child). i mean: “you’re ok being a pushover? fine by me! but now you’re a mother of a child, you have other priorities (and responsabilities) than (just) yourself!”. later on, there’s a whole drama about the unborn child … but she had to sneak into the kitchen to secretly eat??? come on! i would’ve confidently turned on the lights and taken all the food i needed … and, why not, even strongly demanded whatever food my body was craving for.

        i really wanted to like it and i’m happy for every person who enjoyed it … but there were too many things that bothered me in this drama. the mix (of the good and bad elements) just didn’t work for me.

        lately i’ve watched some japanese dramas, taiwanese dramas and older kdramas. to name a few of them: “Don’t ask me about the past (2008)”, “Snow White (2004)”, “How to meet a perfect neighbor (2007)”, “Attic Cat (2004)”. now i’m watching “My Name is Kim Sam Soon (2005)”.

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        • Aw, it’s too bad that FTLY didn’t work for you, INTJ! That’s a pity. I really did love the first half in particular.

          About Mi Young.. I actually sort of get what you mean. At the same time, I felt like in her own small way, she held on to her beliefs and took pride in who she was. In that sense, I didn’t see her as too much of a pushover, since I believed that beyond the extremely giving nature, she held on to her dignity. Like in the way she let go of the opportunity for revenge, not because she was scared or intimidated or a pushover, but in order to honor her feelings, which had been true. I respected that grace and dignity in her.

          As for the kitchen scene, I can sort of see where you’re coming from. At the same time, I didn’t feel that way, coz I’d turned my logic dial way down, to accommodate this show’s comedic tone. And I think that’s the lens that works, for the first half especially. It’s not that the show doesn’t want to take care of her as a pregnant woman; it’s more that, in this comical, nonsensical world, her safety is not at stake. It’s played for the funny, so I didn’t take it seriously, which I would’ve, if it’d been played straight. If that makes sense!

          It’s great that you’re checking out some older shows, INTJ! There are a lot of older gems for sure. I remember liking Snow White quite well; I’d stumbled on it while on a work trip in China and was flipping TV channels. I ended up liking it quite a bit! How are you liking My Name is Kim Sam Soon? Sam Soon is a pretty awesome female character, isn’t she? Very different from the more common Candy type heroine 🙂

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          • yes, many of those older shows really are gems. the stories were new, the characters more real … nowadays we mostly get “reheated food” (aka remakes, similar characters, very predictable storylines, a.s.o.). this goes for SF too (LadyG is not alone): while i liked the somewhat Gibsonian atmosphere of Greg Egan’s “Diaspora” … “Stress Pattern” by Neil Barret Jr. , which is similar to classic SF, was imo a better read.

            i liked Kim Sam Soon alot because she felt very real and one can easily empathize with her. compared to her kissing Hyun Jin Hun near the piano, all other kissing scenes in shows i’ve seen are weak imitations. this is a kissing scene you should review 😀 … especially since we get to also see the filming of that scene and therefore we can better appreciate the actors. Kim Sun Ah’s acting in this show made me plan to watch “When It’s At Night” and “Scent of a Woman” as soon as possible … since i vaguely remember liking her acting in “I Do, I Do” also.

            i also liked the departure scene in ““How to meet a perfect neighbor” alot, the one where Jung Yoon Hee say’s goodbye to Baek Soo Chan … and i laughed alot watching an episode of a taiwanese show where they indirectly, without probably noticing, suggested that people in taiwan have sex only on christmas eve. :-))

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            • Oh, I remember liking Scent of a Woman quite well, even though I think I liked the earlier episodes more than the later ones. Kim Sun Ah shared some excellent chemistry with Lee Dong Wook. 🙂

              Perfect Neighbor was rather nice too – I remember liking it better on the second watch. If memory serves, Baek Soo Chan was originally supposed to be the lead, until audience reactions favored Park Shi Hoo, who ended up getting the girl. That helps to explain the unconventional direction that the character relationships took 🙂

              Glad you’re enjoying your foray into older dramas, INTJ! Like you said, sometimes it’s the older dramas that turn out to be gems.

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  12. I was just browsing “cutest kdrama couples” in google …. then I saw Fated to love you… and then I landed here.
    I have to thank you for letting me remember all my feels regarding this kdrama and I swear you pointed out the points I liked and hated the most in the show i.e the too much angst, fillers and the stupid animations inserted there… and the real good ones especially that part where Min Young got to Gun’s secret cave. I actually didnt remember majority of the scene cause I watched it 2 years before. But that scene plus your comments helped me remember it plus what I felt on watching it. I remember how I cried han river watching this drama. And at one point on watching it made me stop for like 2 days just to recover because I found myself so depressed.

    This is really a good review ❤ I was surprised that I read all of it despite how long it is. Good Job! Now I'll be reading your other reviews too

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    • Hi there Dana! Welcome to the blog! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed this review, and that it helped you to relive those FTLY feels. ❤ Coz in spite of its shortcomings, this show did manage to bring the feels so very capably, when it was in the zone. 😉

      PS: Not all the reviews on the site are long, so if you're looking to read shorter reviews, you could check out the Flash Reviews. Those tend to be shorter, and spoiler-lite. 🙂

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