THE SHORT VERDICT:
An updated, refreshed, and much more polished take on the classic Retro Hallyu favorite themes of Fate and First Love.
Show is filled to the brim with classic tropes, but manages to be engaging for the most part, thanks largely to solid performances by its cast, as well as careful touches by PD-nim’s clearly loving hand.
There are draggy, frustrating stretches, but if you love classic retro dramas, there’s a good chance you’ll like this too.
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.
THE LONG VERDICT:
Recently, I was rather intrigued by jTBC’s apparent experimentation with fresh takes on retro Hallyu type premises.
First, there was Falling For Innocence, which had felt like a fresh and rather fun new take on the classic Summer Scent (2003) with its heart-that-remembers set-up.
Despite having found Summer Scent rather underwhelming way back when, I really enjoyed Falling For Innocence (review here!).
So I couldn’t help but wonder whether My Love Eun Dong would be able to serve up a similar new-and-improved take on the classic Hallyu pillars of Fate and First Loves that it’s built around.
And here’s the thing: My Love Eun Dong really does feel like a polished, shiny mashup of Hallyu classics such as Winter Sonata (2002) and Autumn In My Heart (2000). So is that a good thing? Well, I’m gonna hafta say, it.. depends.
WILL YOU LIKE THIS SHOW?
Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying that My Love Eun Dong outright copies actual plot points from Winter Sonata or Autumn In My Heart. It’s just, flavor-wise, it’s distinctly echoes those classic dramas.
From its high points to its low points, My Love Eun Dong doesn’t venture very far at all, from the tradition of these classics.
It literally feels like the producers of this show cherry-picked their favorite tropes and plot points from among the retro Hallyu classics, then delicately and lovingly glued them all together, while upgrading everything to look prettier, glossier and all-around more sophisticated.
Fateful First Love? Check. Separation? Check. Amnesia? Check. Meddling parents, clingy second-leads, brooding, wrist-grabs and tears? Check, check, check, check and check.
Honestly, whatever classic kdrama trope that you could name, it’s more than likely – though not a guarantee – that this show’s got it in there, somewhere.
To Show’s credit, it’s all presented very prettily, acted by very pretty people, and scored with appropriately pretty music to go with, as well.
So ultimately, whether you’d enjoy this show, boils down to the question of how much you enjoy the classic premise of a Fateful First Love that’s not only Very Intense, but All-Consuming and Life-Defining; the kind of First Love where you’d literally rather die than give it up.
If you find that sort of thing romantic, then you’re very likely to love My Love Eun Dong. If you don’t care for that type of story, though, then you’d probably not care much for this show, either.
For the record, I’m not a huge fan of the retro classic theme of the Fateful First Love.
I managed to enjoy Winter Sonata and Autumn In My Heart, but hated Stairway To Heaven, and with a passion too (at the time, I hadn’t yet learned how to drop a show, and I’d endured that show to its painful, tearful finish. Silly me).
I didn’t love this show, but the good news is, My Love Eun Dong is no Stairway To Heaven.
STUFF THAT WORKED FOR ME
This show actually took a while to grow on me. For the first two episodes, it just wasn’t sticking with me.
Ok, I rather liked the childhood portion with our main characters Hyun Soo and Eun Dong (17-year-old Hyun Soo played by Jr., and 13-year-old Eun Dong played by Lee Ja In), and thought their youthful, caring, sibling-esque bond rather sweet.
Overall, though, I found the concept clichéd, and I found Hyun Soo (27-year-old Hyun Soo played by Baek Sung Hyun, 37-year-old Hyun Soo/Eun Ho played by Joo Jin Mo) quite obsessive in his laser focus on Eun Dong (23-year-old Eun Dong played by Yoon So Hee, 33-year-old Eun Dong/Jung Eun played by Kim Sa Rang).
I found his intensity and desperation – sustained over two whole decades – quite unrealistic and even a little suffocating.
By the time set-up was complete, though, I was quite happily surprised to find a narrative hook that sucked me into the show quite nicely – at least for a while.
Since the hook itself is present in just about every synopsis there is of this show on the interwebs, I don’t consider this section spoilery.
Basically, I started to enjoy the show once our characters were in place to solve the mysteries before them: where is Eun Dong; how can Hyun Soo find her again; and perhaps most important of all, how can she find herself, too?
As clichéd as it sounds, I actually liked the plot device of Jung Eun writing as Eun Dong, and feeling the story and the characters resonate within her in an inexplicably deep and profound manner.
I found it all quite thrilling, to see what these clues were, and how Jung Eun and Eun Ho would find their way to each other, via these clues that kept surfacing, despite everyone else’s efforts to keep them apart.
It was all Fated with a capital F. Essentially, it didn’t matter what anyone else tried to do, Absolutely Nothing was going to keep these two from eventually finding each other. As retro Hallyu as it sounds, there really was something rather romantic about that idea.
I also felt drawn to Eun Dong’s journey, of finding out her own truth through her fragmented memories, in spite of the made-up life that everyone around her had created for her.
I felt for her, not so much in terms of her conflicted feelings over Eun Ho, but for the life and the memories she had lost, and I rooted for her to find her memories, and herself.
Of course, it helped a lot that both of our leads put in very good, solid performances to make it all come alive.
Even though the actors playing the flashback versions of our leads did decently solid jobs, I hafta admit that I liked the present-day versions of our characters best.
Together, Joo Jin Mo and Kim Sa Rang breathed life into the characters of Eun Ho and Eun Dong, which definitely helped me to feel much more engaged with the show.
Joo Jin Mo‘s got a very strong masculine aura about him that makes Eun Ho’s intensity quite arresting.
His deep voice made Eun Ho’s emotional, soul-baring voiceovers sexy and almost hypnotic; his unwavering gaze, piercing. Because of Joo Jin Mo’s masculine aura channeling Eun Ho’s love, longing and desire, Show often felt sensual, as a result.
There’s a moment in episode 5, when Eun Ho sees Jung Eun, and recognizes her as Eun Dong. Joo Jin Mo kills it.
Eun Ho looks like he’s about to implode; his tears well up and overflow of their own volition; he’s paralyzed in the moment. It’s not only convincing, but quite mesmerizing as well.
Kim Sa Rang does a great job of embodying Eun Dong’s lovely, sweet, gentle vibe, while also effectively giving Eun Dong touches of steel when the occasion arose.
In terms of OTP chemistry, Joo Min Mo and Kim Sa Rang were strongest in the intent, loving gazes, and the tension-filled almost-touches. When it came to the actual kisses, though, I felt a distinct lack of chemistry.
Yes, Joo Jin Mo brought it, complete with heavy breathing and lip-locking moves. But, Kim Sa Rang basically looked like she really didn’t want to kiss him.
I don’t know if it had to do with preserving her sweet image, or if Joo Min Mo had serious cigarette breath, but she definitely kept her lips smilingly and determinedly locked through all of their kisses, which had the unfortunate effect of negating all the chemistry that they did manage to share.
The Whole Mess-With-Your-Mind Confusion
This wasn’t a very major thing, but another thing that worked for me, in this show, was how it messed with my mind.
On the one hand, I very much disliked second lead Jae Ho (Kim Tae Hoon) for being deceitful and clingy; I hated how he’d basically stolen Eun Dong’s life from her. But on the other hand, I did sort of feel sorry for him, coz he was so miserable, so physically helpless, and so lonely.
At the same time, while I rooted for Eun Ho to find his Eun Dong, and for them to regain the memories and time that they’d lost, it did somewhat niggle at me, that Eun Dong was technically married to Jae Ho (towards whom I had those mixed feelings).
As the interactions between Eun Ho and Eun Dong became increasingly intimate, that intimacy between them started to feel rather forbidden, because Eun Dong was technically married.
YET, with Eun Ho gazing at Eun Dong so intensely and breathing so heavily, I couldn’t help but want him to kiss her anyway. Which felt pretty messed up to me.
In a drama world that’s built on classic Hallyu foundations, it’s not at all surprising that there are a number of things in there, that are designed to basically make your blood boil.
Given the Retro Hallyu lens that I was using while watching this drama, it didn’t feel right to label these things as stuff that didn’t work for me, since they pretty much were required to be there.
Clingy Second Leads
Kim Yoo Ri reprises her now-typical role as our illogically clingy second female lead, and is serviceable – though unmemorable – as Seo Ryeong.
Seo Ryeong doesn’t stray far from the tradition of classic Hallyu clingy female leads, and her behaviors include:
- fixating on Eun Ho and doing everything she can, to be in his orbit, even though he has expressly declared that he has no romantic interest in her;
- choosing to be manipulative when she realizes that her feminine wiles are getting her nowhere;
- deciding that she needs to kill Eun Ho’s love, by making up stories about Eun Dong having been pregnant with someone else’s baby when she’d had the accident; and
- deciding that the only way for Eun Ho to ever give her the time of day, was to ruin him conclusively.
I found Seo Ryeong’s behavior largely predictable, and found her characterization – as well as Kim Yoo Ri’s delivery – uninteresting and decidedly flat.
On the other hand, I felt that Kim Tae Hoon got – and delivered – a much more faceted character in Jae Ho.
Over the course of the show, Jae Ho’s character undergoes a trajectory that can be summed up as a path of destruction, followed by one of redemption.
Through it all, his characterization is multi-layered and complex. While I might not have found him to be a very likable character, I did find him interesting and thought-provoking.
Jae Ho’s growing suspicion and discomfort around his wife’s interactions with Eun Ho; his increasing sense of helplessness; his growing desperation at wanting to protect his family; his guilt at having lied to Eun Dong all this time; these facets all came together to make him a somewhat sympathetic character.
As we get deeper into the show, Jae Ho’s actions take on shades of manipulation, such as when he repeatedly pushes himself over the limit, both physically and emotionally, and lands himself in the hospital.
Eventually, when he feels pushed into a corner, Jae Ho even uses threats and emotional blackmail on Eun Dong.
Jae Ho’s turning point comes in episode 14, when he truly feels that all is lost, and attempts suicide. In that moment, I did feel sorry for him.
All alone, devastated, and still crippled, having suffered a huge emotional blow and with no hope in sight, and no emotional support, it’s not surprising that he decided to take his life.
For the first time, I didn’t feel like his self-hurt was done in an effort to manipulate Eun Dong. I think he simply couldn’t see himself going on without Ra Il (Park Min Soo) and Eun Dong, who together had been his life up till that point.
This didn’t make all his wrongs right, but just from a humane standpoint, I felt sorry for him, to be in that situation, so lonely and without hope.
I also appreciated that in the moments leading up to his suicide attempt, Jae Ho doesn’t try to poison Ra Il’s mind against his mother or against Eun Ho, but tells him to be good to both of them.
To the best that he is able, barring actually telling Ra Il that Eun Ho is his bio dad, Jae Ho does the right thing by Ra Il.
While some viewers may have felt that Jae Ho “got off easy,” I appreciated his arc for its emphasis on finding peace and personal freedom.
Because, when you break it all down, nothing in Jae Ho’s life actually brought him peace, until he found the strength to do the right thing for himself, and for his family.
Channeling the Hate
This is a pretty general thing, but one of the hallmarks of the Classic Retro Hallyu type of drama, is having somewhere to channel the hate. That’s how the shows took over our emotions, and it’s also what made the shows feel larger than life.
Writer-nim knows it, too, and we get plenty of people to hate, in this show.
In this show, the large-scale conspiracy in Eun Dong’s family and Jae Ho’s family, to keep Eun Dong in the dark about the truth, is all kinds of crazy.
Because, how can you do that to someone? Plus, they don’t hesitate to lay on the blame either, to keep Eun Dong right where they want her.
Lots of room to spew angry words and throw stuff at our screens, right there.
STUFF I DIDN’T CARE FOR, TOO MUCH
Despite managing my expectations, and despite adopting a strongly Retro Hallyu lens while watching this show, my interest in the show dropped sharply at around the episode 9 to 12 mark.
I felt distinctly disengaged from the show, and found it all just overly emotional and melodramatic, with characters behaving unreasonably because of those emotions.
[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]
Obsessive Male Leads
While Jae Ho is obsessive pretty much all series long, Eun Ho’s obsession with Eun Dong is presented as something positive and desirable, for the most part.
In episode 9 and 10, however, I actually found Eun Ho’s intensity borderline off-putting, and his behavior, delusional, reckless and extremely unreasonable.
His jealousy at seeing Eun Dong with her family in episode 9, followed by his insistence that he must see her, and then the recklessness that he shows when he drags her away from her family; it’s all borderline scary, and not far from actual stalker behavior.
In episode 10, he continues with his obsessive behavior, and imposes on Eun Dong’s personal boundaries while disregarding her wishes for them to keep a distance from each other.
In these episodes, Eun Ho’s behavior is selfish, far from appealing and exhausting to watch. Worse, I felt like he was being rewarded for his bad behavior, since Eun Dong continued to waver because of him.
I found all of this rather hard to swallow, and even though I did want Eun Ho and Eun Dong to have their happy ending, it made me uncomfortable that Eun Ho’s bad behavior was basically rewarded.
Clunky Noble Idiocy
In episode 15, we get the whole “let Ra Il go if you’re a true father” arc, which I found quite illogical.
I believe writer-nim was gunning for some kind of “poetry in the pain” effect, but I found it hard to buy what Show was selling. This all-or-nothing notion seemed extreme and uncalled for, to me, and it felt artificially shoved in there just to give Eun Ho a reason to leave.
THE FINAL STRETCH
The final stretch of the show was a mixed bag, for me. There were a couple of threads that I felt I could get behind, but overall, it felt like a whole lot of unnecessary pain.
The Better Stuff
On the upside, I appreciated the arcs in episode 13 and 14, where the writers take us through Eun Dong’s and Eun Ho’s individual journeys to disentangle all the threads in their lives, in order to put things in their proper places.
The threads are presented as complex and intermingling, and I appreciated the idea that the process isn’t easy, nor is it simple.
There are real feelings involved, and real relationships involved, and Eun Dong struggles to handle everything with sensitivity and strength, in the face of multiple conflicting forces.
When I look at it as her story, of getting her rightful life back; the life that she really wants, rather than the fake life that her adoptive parents created for her together with Jae Ho, I found the show much more meaningful and engaging.
The Not-Great Stuff
On the not-so-upside, the final stretch felt extremely angsty and overwrought. In particular, the scene in episode 15, of Eun Ho driving Eun Dong to the hospital to see Jae Ho, had strong echoes of Winter Sonata about it.
In general, there was lots of crying and angst, all very much drawn out to maximize the pain. We even get extreme and random-feeling scenes, of Eun Dong &/or Eun Ho being treated poorly by members of the public, who disapproved of their scandalous relationship.
Let’s just say that it was bad enough that I seriously contemplated dropping this show. The only reason I didn’t, was because I was so near the end, and I was morbidly curious about how the writers intended to end it all.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
Honestly, how much you like the ending really depends on how much you were bracing yourself for a classic melo ending. I thought the show was going to go Winter Sonata on me, and so I found the eventual happy – though muted – ending, a mildly pleasant surprise.
On the other hand, if you were hoping for fireworks, sunshine and roses, then you’d probably be sorely disappointed.
I think the finale seeks to expand the story’s lens to become more inclusive; we’re less intensely focused on Eun Ho and Eun Dong as our main characters, and what they’ve been through to be together.
Rather, it feels like the story lens seeks to heal the people in Eun Ho’s and Eun Dong’s orbits, so that everyone gets to move forward and grow, at their own pace.
I get that the writers were gunning for several things to come full circle, story-wise.
- The story begins with Eun Dong leaving Eun Ho, twice, and the finale gives Eun Ho the chance to leave, so that Eun Dong can be the one to find him this time;
- Eun Dong gets to receive a second “To my beloved Eun Dong” letter;
- The story begins with Eun Ho’s story, told in book form, of how he loves Eun Dong, and ends with a promise of Eun Dong’s story of how she loves Eun Ho, to be told in drama form;
- The story begins with them making a pinky promise, and ends with a brand new pinky promise, for a new and better future.
Narratively, it’s neat, and I get why the writers would want the story to come full circle.
At the same time, this circular pattern necessitated an arc of noble idiocy, of Eun Ho taking the blame for everything and leaving the country for Eun Dong’s good, and without telling her beforehand. It’s the kind of stuff that’s classic Hallyu, and frustrating to watch.
To Show’s credit, the finale doesn’t dwell too long on Eun Ho’s absence.
Instead, it fixes the mass misunderstanding of Eun Ho by giving Jae Ho a chance to redeem himself with the truth, and then hums along quite quickly to after our time skip, so that we can spend more time catching up with how everyone’s learning to live well, after all the upheaval.
When you break it all down, there’s quite a bit of happy ending to go around too.
Jae Ho continues to redeem himself by helping to warm Ra Il to the idea of embracing Eun Ho as his dad; Ra Il’s come around to being cool about having 2 dads; Eun Ho returns to Korea, embraced by old friends, and ready to embark on a new path with the new agency they’ve started; Eun Dong’s pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a writer; and Eun Ho and Eun Dong reunite and are finally able to look forward to a happy future together.
For a show conceived and executed so much in the vein of Hallyu classics like Winter Sonata and Autumn In My Heart, which tended to have mostly sad endings, that’s actually not bad at all.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A classic Hallyu melodrama at its heart, except with more polish and (slightly) fewer tears.
FINAL GRADE: B-
Long time fan of the blog but this will be my first comment…and I realize how late this is so idk if you will even see it lol. I got into argument about the drama today. I just found the drama as a whole off putting because of how obsessive and creepy I found the male lead. The idea that he fixated on this girl he dated for a few months for the next two decades to the point where he essentially built his whole life around her was really unnerving. I felt like I never really learned if he even liked acting since it was all about him finding her. What did he do in his free time besides stare at her photo for the hundredth time? Who knows. He is entirely defined by his obsession and it sort of ruined the magic they were going for because I did enjoy the narrative device of her listening to his words and getting her memories back. Oh that and the fact like every single character attempted to keep them apart often for reasons that didn’t really make sense to me beyond we just need to create more tension and stretch out their eventual meeting. In summary the romance didn’t work for me and I found the plot contrived and bloated. Am I being too harsh?
Hi there Venkat, thanks for enjoying the blog all this time! 🙂 I agree with you that the male lead’s behavior in this story is extremely excessive, and there were times during my watch where I felt quite put off by it all. So I can totally see why you’d find this one contrived and bloated. At the same time, I do think that this show was trying to give us a polished take on Classic Hallyu, and this kind of near-obsessive kind of love is fairly typical of Classic Hallyu. Which is why I think if you’re looking at this with a Classic Hallyu kind of lens, it definitely helps to make everything more palatable. It totally crumbles under a more modern, feminist lens, of course. 😉
I felt the same way about this drama. A superb review. Her looking like a cat you are trying to get in a bath when he kissed her really killed the chemistry for me as well glad I wasn’t the only one picking up on it lol.
Aw! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this review, Meghan! And THANK YOU, for affirming the dearth of kissing chemistry between the OTP too! It was such a letdown, after all that broody smoldering and all those longing gazes. Felt like much ado about nothing. Ha. 😆
Nice Review, taking into account everything. I just watched this drama and wish I hadn’t. So so frustrated. I did not feel an ounce of sympathy for Jae Ho. What he did was inexcusable! How in the world you gon lie and manipulate , and steal another mans family from him for 10 years and garner sympathy for it?? It’s like, you’re a cripple (who did that to yourself out of jealousy over someone who did not love you at all) , and then all of a sudden you’re excused for being an A grade psychopath?? Like where is the justice?? I know it’s a drama but that’s just so unrealistic! No woman would wake up from a 10 year sleep, realising that she had been washing the feet of the man she dumped (who caused her to lose her memory and lose the life she chose for herself) AND still feel sympathy for him?? AND take the crap treatment from his female dog mother and from him too. Like how dare he even shout at her, smash the mirror and lay the blame on her! Are you serious?? In what world would someone so wronged take that from her oppressor AND his equally guilty mother? It’s stupid! How can people actually enjoy that ending?? And actually feel sympathy for him?? He deserved hell for the 10 year BS stunt he pulled. Stupid weak lead girl, and whatever obsessive tendencies the lead guy had; whateverrr, because he loved her and she loved him. Everyone else is wrong because however he loved her, that was his love for her, and the feeling was mutual! So who the hell else can say that he was wrong in the way he tried to be with her when she wanted to be with him too? lmao Especially when they were robbed of the lives they wanted for themselves. Stupid ass hat jae ho came out of nowhere and came between them and the family they could have had! Marriage? That was all a lie! She basically was not cheating because SHE DID NOT WANT TO BE WITH HIM! Had she been fully aware of the lies that were being told I bet my bottom dollar that she would have rather died than be with him and have him act as the father of the son she shared with the man she loved so deeply. My gosh. All this compassion for a kidnapper, who would 100% receive hate and disgust from everyone if it were a true case. lmao The case of of Jaycee Dugard comes to mind. And I guarantee nobody felt sympathy for the man who kidnapped and brainwashed her for years. The only good thing this writer did, was make Jae Ho crippled down there so that no consummation of the marriage or anything like that could happen lmao. That would’ve been just too much for me. For all their faults and bad acting, atleast Filipino/Tagalog dramas can dish out the punishment and karma for the evil people in their dramas and make it fair. Way too overwhelmed after watching that hahaha. Need a happy drama now to fix these personal feelings of injustice lol Thanks for providing a platform for me to rant hahaha..
Hahaha! I feel your rant, Vegito! 😝😅 This was in the vein of classic Hallyu, so a lot of the melodramatic illogical tropes weren’t too much of a surprise, but no less easy to swallow, all the same. So often, I wanted to reach into my screen and shake almost everyone in it, to get them to their senses, ha.
Since I just finished Lingerie Girls’ Generation (quick review here) and loved it, I thought you might want to check it out if you haven’t. It’s a very different show, and there’s definitely more cute and happy in it than this one! 😉
My first Korean drama so I didn’t have older ones to compare it to. Completely loved it, some times it was crazy but love is crazy and I love the Korean girls so hot. I’m a new Korean drama fan, it’s creative and full of comedy and love.
Hi there! Welcome to the wonderful world of kdramas! I guess if you haven’t seen any of the older kdramas, My Love Eun Dong is a pretty good one to give you a flavor for what was huge back in the day. These days, this style of drama is less popular, so this was a nice walk down memory lane for me personally. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your first kdrama, and I hope you’ll enjoy many more to come! 🙂
This is the best review ever! Congrats! I recently watched this drama on Netflix and I’m in love with it!! So intense and romantic. The actors where incredible in general. My first corean drama and definetly will look for more.
Oh, welcome to the wonderful world of Korean dramas, Vanessa!! 😀 It’s so cool that you enjoyed your first Korean drama this much! If you enjoy this style of Korean drama, you might also enjoy Love Rain, which is another more modern drama, done in the style of Korean drama classics – much like My Love Eun Dong was.
If you’d like other dramas to consider, you could explore my Full List here, which is a collection of all the reviews I’ve written on this site. It doesn’t cover all the shows I’ve watched, but it’s a good place to start, I think 🙂
LOVE LOVE LOVE, this show. Seriously best show I’ve ever watched.
Happy to have stumbled upon your review, I’ve seen plenty of movies but MLED is the first kdrama I’ve watched. The M/V SeeYa did for Shoes & Crazy Love Song, but the story line in those videos struck more believable in 14 min than MLED even though there were good moments.
I’ve met Korean guys who act like 27-year-old Hyun Soo and Korean girls who liked it. I’m an adopted Korean so I assume that is a cultural thing. I wish there was more of 23-year-old Eun Dong because there seemed to be a lot of filler toward the end and she is so pretty. I’m also confused why the issue Eun Dong’s step dad abused her never really was brought up to Eun Ho or more than a conversation with her step dad after finding out he lied to the reporter.
Overall a solid drama that I would watch again. I really liked Joo Jin Mo but Kim Sa Rang’s acting didn’t seem very genuine to me (maybe too much plastic surgery).
Hi there Travis, great to meet ya! 🙂 Glad you gave MLED a try even though you generally don’t watch kdramas. It’s not a bad one to have as your first kdrama, since this show is quite similar in flavor to many of the original Hallyu classics that first took the world by storm. 🙂
You’re very right.. Cultural context makes a huge difference, and if it’s considered romantic to act in a certain way among Korean young adults, but not in other cultures, then I can see how there would be a disconnect with some audiences. Generally speaking, though, I do think international audiences enjoy kdramas for that touch of cultural exposure and immersion that it offers. So thanks for sharing about meeting Korean guys who behaved like Hyun Soo – that’s definitely an interesting little nugget! 🙂
Just finished 7 episode and I really felt sorry for eun dong’s son. There was not a single scean where you can see son and mother bonding. Writer definitely stressed on actress feeling about her past but it seems irrational that a lady will ignore her child in any situation. In any case say, if the child is not her’s then also she is his mother for 10 years. What I don’t like was that she was more occupied with her own thoughts and drama(lead actor drama that was telecasted)rather than her son who stayed in doctor’s home.
That’s a really interesting point, Ritz. I hadn’t actually thought of that – most likely because I don’t have kids. If it helps, I do think that Eun Dong shows her love and care for her son more, in later episodes. 🙂
I LOVED THIS DRAMA SO MUCH!! even though I couldn’t stand the second lead; evil husband. Jo Jin moo was perfect for this role! His expressions pierced through this drama so well that it made me love it even more. The intense love he feels for eun dong was ever lasting, and he never GAVE UP. i would love a man like that, so passionate, persistent, and romantic!
Aw, that’s cool, that you loved this drama so much, sunny! 🙂 I must agree that there was something very romantic about Joo Jin Mo’s intensity, even though in the later stretches, I sometimes I found it a little too much. It’s perfectly in line with Show’s emphasis on Fated First Loves, though, and this show is definitely a nice polished-up tribute to Retro Hallyu. 🙂
thanks for a great review…your writing style is open, warm and to the point. I’m watching this drama now and it’s quite predictable, but not an unpleasant experience. It’s like a comfortable pair of slippers or a warm cup of cocoa. Nothing spectacular, nothing terribly traumatic. I would just like to add a comment about the clothing Joo Jin Mo wore during the drama…I believe the character is in his late thirties or early forties? All those boy band jeans and gothic tees made me cringe! I sighed a sigh of relief when they dressed him in a suit. I wonder when the red hair trend will die? I hope soon. Once again, I liked you review and will return for more. Oh…just a plug for one of my favorite traumatic dramas…”That Winter The Wind Blows”. I highly recommend this drama for anyone wanting a roller coaster ride of “feels” and “tissue under the eyes” experience. So memorable.
Hi there gllitterkid! Thanks for your lovely encouragement on the reviews, it really made my day. 🙂 Also, I apologize for taking this long to reply to your comment. I had no idea that this much time had slipped away from me. 😛 But, rest assured that I saw your comment way earlier, and it made me smile. Thank you! 🙂
I’m glad you managed to enjoy My Love Eun Dong in spite of its flaws.. I enjoyed it pretty well, even though I’m not generally one for classic-style melodramas. And yes, I do agree that Joo Jin Mo’s boy band jeans and gothic tees looked weird! SO dissonant, given his otherwise very manly sort of aura! XD
I did watch That Winter, actually, and yes, it did suck me in with its feels. I was rather upset with the ending, though, and that definitely marred my overall experience with the show. If you’d like to read more about how I felt about this show, you can find my review here. 🙂
Hi, I watched My Love Eun Dong first before coming across your review. (It was the case too for Secret Love Affair, Witch’s Romance and Sly & Single Again, ie, reading your reviews after I’ve watched the Shows.) You are on point with MLED especially the frustrating parts. I cringed everytime they replayed the same soppy scenes again and again. This Drama could have ended 1 or 2 episodes earlier. Loved Joo Ji Mo’s performance though. Anyway, having watched so many KDrama, don’t you think it seems that the Script Writer’s all came from the same School? Always the same clichéd scenes for every Drama. Time they get on board some foreign inputs and ideas. Or, is it because this is how Korean society and Life in Korea is like? Anyway, your Blog is great.👍Keep it up!❤
Aw thanks, TS! I’m pleased that you like my little corner of the interwebs! 🙂
Oh yes, MLED definitely had its frustrating stretches, so I totally feel ya! I agree the show could’ve been shorter, and would’ve probably benefited from being shorter. Less angst, hopefully. But as a tribute to retro Hallyu classics, I thought it was a solid drama overall. If this show hadn’t been a clear tribute to retro Hallyu, though, I probably would’ve been a lot less patient with its tropes and angst.
Which brings me to your point, about cliches in kdrama. I think there are just some things which are hallmarks of kdrama. Like, having an OTP, and having that OTP take up a lot of narrative real estate. There are dramas that deviate from that, but it’s such a big part of kdramas that it’s still a large presence in most shows. Some stuff is cultural, I think, like showing people eating together, and extended families living together, and all the noisy interactions that come with it.
Despite all that, though, I do think there’s room for creativity, not only in moving away from some of these cliches, but also in how the cliches are executed, when they are included. When it comes down to it, I feel that it’s all in the execution. A show could have cliched elements but still feel engaging and cracky (like My Love From Another Star), or have cliched elements, and feel really boring (like Warm and Cozy). At the same time, there are more shows that show influences from western shows, like crime procedurals, medical shows, and now the impending disaster show D-Day. It all really depends, though, on which ones get the execution right, to resonate with audiences. For all of our drama-loving sakes, I’m hoping for more shows to demonstrate cohesive storytelling and consistently solid execution 🙂
You’re right about some of the medical dramas being quite realistic, with less cliches and stereotypes. I quite enjoyed watching It’s Okay, That’s Love (your review echoed my thoughts about it) and Hyde, Jerkyl and Me (starring Hyun Bin) which was quite good (do check it out). Love Rain was so draggy I’m surprised you didn’t ditch it halfway. I guess as Reviewer, you need to cater to a broad audience. Nowadays, I limit KDrama to 1 every 5 to 6 weeks, choosing the latest popular ones with max. 16 episodes and starring my favourite actors & actresses. Check out the other new melodrama “The Time We Were not in Love” starring Ha Ji Won & Lee Jin Wook. Can’t wait to read what you think.
Oh, I finished Love Rain more because of my stubborn completist streak, which I hadn’t yet learned to tame, at the time! 😛 Now I’m much clearer about whether a drama is working for me, and also, more sure about dropping a show. I think if I watched Love Rain more recently, I might not have made it to the finish line!
I am unlikely to check out TTWWNIL, as I am indifferent to the premise AND the actors, and most people I know were rather underwhelmed by it overall. I’ve got too many other shows on my list to make time for one that I’m not very interested in, unfortunately. I did check out Hyde, Jekyll and Me, though. Sadly, it didn’t work for me, in spite of it being Hyun Bin’s much-hyped comeback drama. You can read my post about it here.
Lately I’m really liking Oh My Ghostess and Twenty Again – though I’ve paused on OMG for a bit. Not for any fault of the show’s, I’m just really busy with work right now, and saving the last few episodes for later 🙂
It broke my heart when the son told his real father that they were happy when he’s not around , that he hated his real father awwwww
Aw. Yeah, I remember feeling sad at that part too. Poor guy, I did feel sorry for him, that his newly-found son didn’t want to connect with him. Have you finished the show already Nancy?
Yes , I’m done with the show , i’m don’t particularly love it , but don’t hate it as well , it left me thinking it would be awesome to have someone like Hyun Soo in a person’s life , enduring love and all <3
Oh , I loved the 13 and 17 years old Eun Dong and Hyun Soo <3
Ah, I think our reaction is somewhat similar. I didn’t particularly love this one, but I didn’t hate it either. I think for what it set out to be (a polished take on retro Hallyu), it does a solid job. And yes, I think out of the 3 age groups, I found myself enjoying the scenes between teenaged Eun Dong and Hyun Soo the most. I found their friendship endearing and sweet. 🙂
It’s good to see someone actually appreciate this drama as a whole! I got completely swept up in My Love Eun Dong from start to finish.
Apparently, I need to watch more retro dramas because I loved the style and epic first love feel. Like you, I also appreciated the complicated character of Jae Ho and experienced quite the mix of feelings toward him. In the end, I felt he redeemed himself as much as he could (not excusing at all what he did).
It seems most people hated the ending, and that ruined the whole drama for them. Although I agree with most of your ending points, I don’t mind melodrama and overall I liked how it tied everything together and ended happily for everyone 🙂
Ooh, it does sound like you’d enjoy retro dramas, Kay, since you loved My Love Eun Dong so much! Although I must say that many of the retro dramas in this melo genre tend to have sad deathy endings rather than happy ones. Which is why I felt that the ending for MLED was a step up, even though it was muted in comparison to other more recent dramas.
Given that you enjoyed MLED, I think you might also like Winter Sonata, if you haven’t checked it out yet. Autumn In My Heart is a good one too, but, uh, sadder than Winter Sonata. 😛 Other retro melo-ish dramas that I liked (but which weren’t so strong on the idea of Fated First Love) include: Beautiful Days, Hotelier and All About Eve. I’m also told that Sandglass is very good, although I’ve yet to check that one out myself.
PS: If you’re looking for more recent shows that are strong on the retro First Love sort of theme, you might actually like Love Rain. I didn’t love it too much myself coz I found a number of characters (including parents) very aggravating, but there were definitely fans who loved it. I hope that helps! 🙂
Thanks for the suggestions! Love Rain and Winter Sonata have been on my watch list for a while, and they sound right up my alley. I’ll definitely have to check out Beautiful Days, Hotelier, and All About Eve too. My Love Eun Dong was great because it really felt like a true romance drama. Despite there being so many rom coms (which I do still enjoy), I’d love to see more pure romance dramas. Maybe they’ll come back in someday. 🙂 Thanks again!
Hey Kay, it occurs to me that if you like melos about Big Love – not necessarily the Fated First Love, but Big Love nonetheless – then you might also like The Princess’ Man and Secret Love Affair. If you haven’t seen them, you might want to consider putting them on your watch list. 🙂 TPM is an intense, Romeo-and-Juliet-esque sort of love story, without the tragic Shakespearean ending. And SLA is an art-film-like drama, about love that is essentially the meeting of souls. Both are beautifully filmed, which is a bonus. 🙂
I just wanted to thank you for recommending Love Rain up above! Since you thought I might like it since I really enjoyed My Love Eun Dong, I decided to finally give it a go. And I absolutely loved it! I know it wasn’t quite to your liking, but how I loved the epic love feel and really everything about it.
My review of it was quite positive because it just checked all of the right boxes for me. Love Rain is high up on my favorites list, so thanks again for the recommendation 🙂
Aw, you’re so sweet, Kay! And you’re also so welcome! 😀 I’m happy to offer recommendations, and in this case, it’s so cool that Love Rain worked out for you so well, even though I didn’t love it myself. Just goes to show that drama love is such a subjective, personal thing, doesn’t it? 🙂
Hi. I have been a fan of Kdramas for two years now but this is the only time i am responding to a review. Great review and i am intending to watch the dramas you recommended. I already watched Winter Sonata which i think was also great! More power to you!. Thanks for the review!
Hi there, Jean! 😀 Wow, thanks for taking the time to respond to this review, given that you don’t usually! I’m so happy that you enjoyed this review and that you’re planning to watch the dramas I recommend. There are some lovely ones that don’t get enough love and attention, in my opinion 🙂 My 2015 year-in-review post will be out in a couple of days, so you could also check that out for an overview of this year’s dramas 🙂
i know i’m repeating myself but so be it: aaah … another great review! 🙂
my impression of the show … hmm, let’s see: whenever i see the title of a watched show i usually remember at least one bit/part of it and that bit/part is a like a memento of my feelings when i watched the show. in this case it’s the scene where they meet again (this time she’s the one who falls when they meet). i have to say i liked that scene so much that i’m willing to forgive & forget everything else the show did wrong or not-so-good. for me it was the driving force that made me ignore all the tropes you’ve checked and just smile at the shortcomings the show exhibited. therefore i’d rate it a solid B (compared to the rest of summer shows i’ve seen till now).
Thanks INTJ!! No matter that it’s repeated, it’s always nice to know that the review is appreciated and enjoyed, so thanks for that encouragement my friend! 😀
I must concede that when this show was good, it was very solid. I did enjoy the part that you described. That stretch, where we see Hyun Soo and Eun Dong in their twenties, is particularly sweet, I think. I found the later stretch rather frustrating, but overall, this show did what it set out to do, and was the kind of show that it set out to be. And for that, I can’t say it did badly. Pretty solid overall, I’d say 🙂