THE SHORT VERDICT:
Find Me In Your Memory does a rather unusual thing, by tapping into one of Dramaland’s favorite sources of dramatic tension – the stalker arc – and then using it as a platform for our main characters to work through the healing that they need. In this way, Show sets itself apart from other healing dramas, which tend to be more introspective in vibe, by being comparatively more action-heavy instead.
Despite a tendency to use tropes in its narrative, Show manages to serve up characters and relationships that feel real and relatable, where growth feels earned and true. The OTP relationship is portrayed as sweet and restrained, and taps nicely into the chemistry between Kim Dong Wook and Moon Ga Young, which feels sweet and natural. As a bonus, the secondary loveline between Kim Seul Gi and Lee Jin Hyuk is super cute.
Not groundbreaking by any means, but a solid watch overall.
THE LONG VERDICT:
Because this show has a reputation as a healing drama, I’d had it in my head – likely from watching other healing dramas this year, like When The Weather Is Fine and A Piece Of Your Mind – that it would be quiet, introspective and maybe even a little abstract.
I was mistaken. Show is nothing like that.
Instead, Show’s narrative consistently feels like it’s actively moving forward, and some of the elements are quite in-yo-face. Sometimes, it’s entertaining and funny, and sometimes, it’s tense and dramatic. I actually like that. It feels refreshing, that a drama like this could be a healing drama too.
In its own way, Show comes across as more straightforward than its healing drama cousins, and I rather like the idea that this represents: that you don’t need to be exceptionally thoughtful or abstract in order to access healing; healing can be accessible to regular people too.
Trigger warning: Some of the stalker-related scenes are very hard to watch.
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. There are only 5 tracks on the album, so you might want to loop the video (right click and select “Loop”).
My favorite track is the first one, titled “Here We Are.” I like the gentle plucking of the acoustic guitar, and the chorus strikes me as quite dreamy and surreal. I thought that worked really nicely to amplify and lift our OTP moments.
STUFF I LIKED
Kim Dong Wook as Jeong Hoon
It actually boggles my mind a little, that Kim Dong Wook is the same guy who flailed about brightly, chanting “My Chan” in Coffee Prince. If I hadn’t looked him up, I could’ve sworn this was my introduction to him. His energy in this show is basically the opposite of Coffee Prince, so color me impressed.
Also, once I connected Kim Dong Wook to his role as Ha Rim in Coffee Prince, I couldn’t help but hear Ha Rim in his voice, all the time. It’s quite mindbendy, that Ha Rim could sound this serious. I like it. I must confess that I’ve grown quite fond of Kim Dong Wook’s voice while watching this show; there’s a slight rough edge to his voice quality that’s grown on me.
On the acting front, I really like the calm, measured, steady sort of energy that Kim Dong Wook gives Jeong Hoon. He’s just so cool and collected all the time, and it’s quite satisfying to see him remain completely unruffled while everyone else around him is basically losing their minds. There’s a sense of calm control about him. [MINOR E1 SPOILER] Even in the moment when he has only 60 seconds to change his tie and he’s working quickly to beat the clock, that sense of control and confidence doesn’t leave him. [END SPOILER] That’s pretty impressive, and that’s not a situation where his memory gives him an advantage.
In the midst of the unruffled demeanor, there’s a consistent air of sadness about Jeong Hoon, which is communicated largely through his gaze. It’s quite impressive to me that I can feel that it’s specifically sadness – rather than a general sense of jadedness – that’s leaking out of his aura.
Kim Dong Wook does a great job of communicating Jeong Hoon’s various facets, and he really shines during difficult emotional scenes, managing to show us what Jeong Hoon is feeling, while still managing to retain Jeong Hoon’s general air of restraint. Really well done.
E5-6. Jeong Hoon looks so different in the flashbacks when he’s happy and carefree, it’s quite startling. Kudos to Kim Dong Wook for managing to show us such varying sides to Jeong Hoon.
E9-10. It’s really disturbing that the stalker had planned to drop Seo Yeon (Lee Joo Bin) in front of Jeong Hoon. That is so sick and so twisted. And to think that Jeong Hoon can’t escape that memory, because of his condition. That’s harsh, to have that horrific memory fresh in your mind, all the time, no matter how much time has passed. It’s no wonder he can’t move on.
E11-12. That’s a very sad thought that Jeong Hoon has, that it’s because of his negligence that Seo Yeon died, because he’d noticed the stalker guy in their orbit, but hadn’t thought to get him checked out. And, because of his condition, he can’t forget any of it; he can’t forget each instance when he’d seen the stalker and thought nothing of it. The guilt must be crushing him.
E11-12. It’s so sweet and heartwarming that Ha Jin (Moon Ga Young) gets on so well with Jeong Hoon’s mom (Gil Hae Yun), and it’s really nice to see Jeong Hoon smiling with Mom as well. But what a punch in the gut, to realize that that’s the last time Jeong Hoon would ever see Mom.
That discovery, that she’d died, when he stumbled upon her wake, is the most awful thing. I can’t imagine what a shock it must be to him, to have such a happy moment with Mom, only to lose her, so soon after. Oof. That’s just so tragic.
E13-14. It’s hard to watch Jeong Hoon take his mom’s death so hard, and blame himself for ruining her life. I do believe that Mom was telling the truth, when she’d said that she was happy to have him in her life. And I do believe that she’d made his decision, to not let him see her on her deathbed, out of love for him. It was the lesser of two evils, so to speak, because he would’ve been devastated either way. But she wanted to spare him being haunted by the memory of her on her deathbed.
E15-16. I’m very impressed by Kim Dong Wook’s delivery of Jeong Hoon’s distress. Jeong Hoon appears so wan and pale, and he even looks like he’s lost weight while on leave from work. It makes me wonder if Kim Dong Wook lost weight for this portion of the show. I can believe that Jeong Hoon’s still physically recovering from his recent shock and loss, even while doing what he can, to protect and help Ha Jin.
E17-18. Jeong Hoon’s mom leaving him her treasure box, is so touching and bittersweet. I love that she makes it a point to tell him that he’d brought her a lot of joy by being her son, and I love that he takes her request to heart: to go after it, when he finds something precious; not for someone else’s sake, but his own. I feel like when he agrees to have dinner with Ha Jin for her birthday, that this is what he’s doing; he’s allowing himself to spend time with Ha Jin and enjoy her company.
E19-20. Jeong Hoon’s such a hero this episode; without him, the police wouldn’t have been able to apprehend Director Ji (Ji Il Joo), literally. Not only does he call in Director Ji’s location, he personally puts Director Ji under lock and key, and frees Ha Jin.
E27-28. Aw. Jeong Hoon’s dad (Cha Kwang Soo) comes by with a chair that he crafted himself, and apologizes for the times he’d locked Jeong Hoon in the cupboard in the past. It’s a quietly gruff moment and father and son don’t linger, but that was still an important conversation to have, for both their sakes, and I’m glad they had it.
Moon Ga Young as Ha Jin
My biggest impression of Moon Ga Young on my screen, prior to this drama, was as a spoiled, manipulative rich girl in 2018’s The Great Seducer, so it was a slightly startling but very pleasant surprise, to see her essentially be the opposite of her character in The Great Seducer, and do it so effortlessly as well.
As per Dramaland law, it’s par for the course that Ha Jin is the direct opposite of Jeong Hoon. He remembers everything, and she seems to have trouble remembering; he’s calm, she’s bubbly; he’s sad, she’s happy. Importantly, Moon Ga Young makes Ha Jin endearing and likable, despite the rather predictable characterization.
Ha Jin has a ditzy sort of charm; she doesn’t seem to be very smart about a lot of things, but she’s got a pure and innocent heart, and doesn’t seem to hold grudges. I really enjoyed how guileless Ha Jin is as a character; she doesn’t have any hidden agendas, and just sincerely wants to be happy and get along with people.
This spoiler section looks quite skimpy because quite a few of my observations about Ha Jin are in relation to Jeong Hoon, which I’ll be touching on in the OTP section.
E1-2. It’s rather extreme to me, that Ha Jin takes the scheming bitchy lead actress’s (cameo by Yura) slap so well, but I guess Show is trying to demonstrate how different she is from Jeong Hoon, ie, they are on two different ends of the spectrum. He’s serious and melancholic and can’t forget, while she’s lighthearted and carefree, and is able to let go of things easily.
E5-6. It’s only clear this episode, that Ha Jin doesn’t only suffer from memory loss around Seo Yeon, she also suffers from a leaky memory in general. There’s quite a bit of pathos in the idea that she takes lots of pictures to help her remember that she’s lived a good life, because she might not be able to actually remember.
E9-10. I do like how expressive and carefree Ha Jin is. When she’s happy that Jeong Hoon agrees to help her, she can’t help but hug him. That’s pretty endearing.
E11-12. For someone who tends to come across as a little ditzy and possibly not so great with details, I’m impressed that Ha Jin manages to piece together the fact that Jeong Hoon is the friend that Tae Eun (Yoon Jong Hoon) had referred to in one of their sessions, and put thought into what it’s like for him, to live with the condition. She’s a lot more thoughtful than she first appears.
E11-12. Ha Jin’s slap upside Chul Woong’s (Lee Seung Joon) head is so mischievous, but it’s amusing and quite endearing that she’s standing up for Jeong Hoon, whom Chul Woong was badmouthing. She’s also a lot more mischievous than she first appears, heh.
Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin together
Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin together make a very sweet and understated couple, and I enjoyed them very much. I think the chemistry between Kim Dong Wook and Moon Ga Young is easy, natural, and quite perfect for this OTP.
Despite the obstacle (& tropes, ha) that Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin encounter, the general way that they handle things is restrained, with honest conversations on display enough of the time, to make me feel that this couple’s dynamics lean healthy. Admittedly, we do see lashings of noble idiocy in their interactions, particularly in the later parts of our story, but I see that more as Show leaning on a familiar trope as a stepping stone, rather than as something that’s knitted into the fabric of their relationship.
Somehow, even though this OTP relationship isn’t very dramatic or exciting, they were still a highlight of my watch, in their modest, unflashy, unshowy way.
E3-4. I was not at all expecting the fake relationship, and I think that unexpectedness added to my amusement with the arc. I find Ha Jin disarmingly guileless, so it was very funny to me, that she decided that she was interested in Jeong Hoon after all, and wasted no time in telling it to the world, when the paparazzi jumped on the picture of them together. And, when everything seems to line up in her favor, with Jeong Hoon calling her to sort things out, and getting caught on air calling her personal mobile, is amusing to me too. It’s like he’s getting more and more stuck as her perceived boyfriend, with every move that he makes. His consternation is my amusement, ha.
E5-6. Jeong Hoon becoming more understanding with Ha Jin results in a distinct softening in his vibe and his manner around her. It’s quite sad, though, that this moment of understanding, empathy and gentleness, is positioned as goodbye; that he wants nothing more to do with Ha Jin. But, I can understand why he would think it best not to have contact with her; after all, it only reminds him of Seo Yeon even more.
E7-8. It makes sense to me that Jeong Hoon would think it wiser to not have any further contact with Ha Jin. First of all, she was best friends with Seo Yeon, and that in itself is a bit weird; most people would agree that dating your ex’s best friend is not a good thing to do. On top of that, Jeong Hoon is suffering so much pain from losing Seo Yeon, that I’m sure the mere sight of Ha Jin would trigger memories that he’s already bummed that he can’t forget.
Plus, Ha Jin herself is also quite broken, with her memory issues, which are tied to emotional issues, and I generally would say that one should fix oneself first, instead of seeking to be fixed via a relationship with another person. However, it is admittedly possible for people to help one another heal, and I’m curious to see how this pans out between Ha Jin and Jeong Hoon.
E7-8. I do appreciate that Jeong Hoon’s manner towards Ha Jin is now much softer and more understanding. Even when he’s telling her that he doesn’t want them to be in contact anymore, he speaks gently and kindly. There’s no disdain about him, which had clearly been there in the beginning, and I appreciate that.
E7-8. HAHA. Jeong Hoon going to watch Ha Jin’s movie on his own, because he’s due to interview the director, and getting ambushed for a photo with some of Ha Jin’s fans. It’s ridiculous, and so ripe for misunderstanding. I do like the indication, though, that Jeong Hoon is touched by her performance, with how he stays behind till the credits stop rolling.
E7-8. Ha Jin getting all dressed up to go see Jeong Hoon, assuming that he’s not over her, and misses her, is embarrassing but cute. And I do love how matter-of-fact she is, when she realizes that she’d misunderstood his actions. She looks sad about it, but she gathers herself up with dignity and is cordial as she bids him goodbye. I like that.
E7-8. Even though Ha Jin is upset and confused for a while after Jeong Hoon breaks off contact with her, I like how she recovers enough to be gracious and matter-of-fact when they see each other at the awards show. There’s no lingering malice or awkwardness; she comes across as completely guileless, and full of wide-eyed sincerity, as she talks with Jeong Hoon and congratulates him for his win. She’s a sweet girl.
And because Ha Jin is as guileless and sweet as she is, I’m happy for her, that she’s become so popular because of her movie.
Jeong Hoon taking the opportunity on stage, to wish Ha Jin happiness in her future, is quite a big deal, I think. He could have easily declined, but he chooses to say something kind and sincere, to her. Aw.
E7-8. The stalker arc feels rather convenient, however, I do appreciate how it works to throw Jeong Hoon into protector mode. The way he crosses that road, in the thick of oncoming traffic, with a real risk of getting knocked down by an oncoming vehicle, is so singleminded. And when he gets to Ha Jin on the other side, his instinct is to fend off the guys around her, whom he perceives to be a threat to her, and hold her in an embrace. That’s quite a turnaround.
E9-10. I find it well within the realm of this drama world, to have Ha Jin be targeted by obsessive fans, especially now that she’s in public dating news, and with a known personality at that. And, given what we now know about what happened to Seo Yeon, I can totally see why Jeong Hoon would put aside his previous preference of not getting involved with Ha Jin, to go into protector mode. He doesn’t want the same thing to happen again, even if it’s a different stalker.
Also, I like that the issue of the stalker isn’t kept from Ha Jin for long. For one thing, I like that she states that she’s not a baby, and that she deserves to know. And for another, I like the possibilities that this turn of events gives rise to. Now she and Jeong Hoon can contact each other directly about this, rather than have everything go through Ha Kyung. I like this new thing, where they agree to text each other when they get home each day. It feels like the beginning of a greater connection, and I do like the idea of that.
E11-12. Jeong Hoon is definitely becoming more protective of Ha Jin, and is on high alert about all the people who are around her. He would rather take her home personally after the dinner with the drama writer and director, than have Chul (Shin Joo Hyup) pick her up.
Also, there’s how he indirectly stands up for her, when he overhears the director putting her down and saying that she’s not fit for the role and only got it because of her connection with Jeong Hoon. That was pretty satisfying, to see him put the director in his place, without actually being rude.
E11-12. The conversation in the alleyway, where Ha Jin’s all tipsy and starts speaking banmal to Jeong Hoon, asking if he thinks badly of her like the director, is pretty cute. He’s got his guard down, and I find his tone gentle and kind, and when he speaks banmal to her as she requests, and curses out the director for being a coward, she’s cutely slack-jawed, and she backpedals on wanting him to speak banmal to her, because it makes her heart flutter. Aw. Cute.
I do understand why she kisses him; he’s been protective and sweet, and she already likes him too. But I can also understand why Jeong Hoon doesn’t think it’s a good idea, and why he backs away from it.
E11-12. I like the little arc of Ha Jin going to research the role at the news station, and taking all sorts of notes, and most of those notes turn out to be little details about Jeong Hoon. It’s sweet how earnest she is, in wanting to know more about him.
Jeong Hoon jumping to the conclusion that she’s doing this to tiptoe around him because of his condition doesn’t make sense to me, but it does show how raw of a nerve this is, for him. The moment that he realizes that she knows, he filters all her actions through that lens of pity. I’m glad that Ha Jin gets a chance to clarify that she’s doing it for herself, because she doesn’t want to forget anything about him.
E15-16. It’s thoughtful of Ha Jin to go to the station to provide moral support to Jeong Hoon as he returns to the news. It does appear that her presence brings him a degree of assurance and comfort; he even smiles at her from his anchor’s seat. That’s pretty huge, for Jeong Hoon. Plus, the way he takes his mom’s pen with him, along with the bottle of water Ha Jin got him, feels like he’s surrounding himself with good luck charms, in a way. That smile means extra, I feel like, since not that long before, he’d been lost in thought, trying to gather himself together, to go back on air.
E15-16. Jeong Hoon does seem to be softening towards Ha Jin. As they walk back to the station, he amiably agrees to coach her for her role as a newscaster, and even smiles, as he catches her when she misses a step. No wonder Ha Jin gets a bit nervous, that he’s about to cut off contact again.
E17-18. I like watching Jeong Hoon become more comfortable with Ha Jin. The way he agrees to chat with her, when she can’t sleep, and the way he smiles that he’d asked the wrong question about what she likes, because they’ll be up all night at the rate that she likes everything, is more relaxed and unguarded than I’ve seen him so far, and it’s really pleasant to see.
E17-18. It’s telling that Jeong Hoon is more concerned with Ha Jin’s safety than with punishing the stalker. He definitely cares about her, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s not just because he wants to prevent a similar incident to what happened with Seo Yeon. It feels personal, and I like that.
E19-20. I can empathize with Ha Jin’s melancholy and anxiety. Every caring thing that Jeong Hoon’s done for her can be explained away as concern because she’d been in danger. And even when he shows up with a birthday present for her and talks to her nicely, she’s afraid that it will be a similar situation as before, where he’d been kind, just before asking to cut ties. Now that the stalker issue appears to have been resolved, it’s understandable that Ha Jin fears that Jeong Hoon is getting ready to cut ties again.
I am very pleased that Jeong Hoon comes clean with his feelings, and tells Ha Jin that he won’t be going anywhere because he wants to be by her side now. The way he moves in to kiss her, is gentle, tender and unhurried, and I do love that he pauses to look into her eyes and see her smile, as he wishes her a happy birthday, before leaning in to kiss her again – this time, with much more.. ahem, feeling. It’s all so sweet and innocent, yet tender and hungry. Flail.
E21-22. There’s a lot of cuteness and sweetness between our newly minted couple this episode, with Ha Jin getting news anchor lessons from Jeong Hoon, and them going out on their first proper date, walking under the cherry blossoms and taking wefies together. I like that Jeong Hoon is smiling more, and he definitely looks happier than before.
At the same time, I can’t helping thinking that this version of Ha Jin isn’t the “real” version of her, because she doesn’t have her memories back. When her memories are back, those memories and feelings are going to affect her outlook and even her personality, and therefore this happy dating scenario feels like a pocket of happiness in a bubble, and that bubble is looking like it will burst soon, which underscores all the cute and sweet scenes with a sense of anxiety.
E23-24. It’s sad that Ha Jin feels that Seo Yeon died because of her. It’s similar to how Jeong Hoon feels that he’d caused Seo Yeon’s death too. I think that in wanting to set Ha Jin free from this guilt, as Jeong Hoon processes for her, that it was an accident and not her fault, Jeong Hoon will also process for himself, that it wasn’t his fault either, that Seo Yeon died. I hope that in this way, these two will help to heal each other.
E23-24. Even though Jeong Hoon’s aware of Tae Eun’s concerns, he really does look happy when he’s spending time with Ha Jin, and his brighter, more open expression is really nice to see.
E23-24. I appreciate that when Ha Jin tells Jeong Hoon that she’s been feeling so happy that it makes her nervous, he assures her that she fully deserves to feel happy, and tells her not to feel afraid or nervous, and teaches her to focus on being present in the moment.
I love that she learns it, and then teaches it right back to him, when he says that he’s wanted to tell her something for a long time, but had felt afraid and uncertain. And it’s quite perfect that he then tells her the thing that’s been on his heart: that he loves her. I mean, what a long way we’ve come, that he’d tell her so openly and sincerely, that he loves her. It makes me happy to see that.
E25-26. I get why Ha Jin would ask to break up with Jeong Hoon, now that her memories are back. There must be so much guilt that she feels towards Seo Yeon already; it makes sense that she would feel that it’s inappropriate to date the man whom Seo Yeon had loved. On top of that, there’s guilt that she feels towards Jeong Hoon; she feels that in contributing to Seo Yeon’s death, she hurt him too, because that took away the person whom he loved, and that then caused him years of pain.
I appreciate that Jeong Hoon does his best to assure Ha Jin that she has nothing to feel guilty or sorry for, because it was an accident, and when she can’t accept his assurances, takes her cue and gives her time and space as she requests. That’s respecting her wishes even though he doesn’t agree with them, and I like that he puts her wishes above his own, and takes care not to intrude, even when he wants to reach out to her.
E25-26. It’s makes perfect sense, that when the drama gets canceled, Ha Jin finally realizes that she misses Jeong Hoon so much that she can’t breathe. Not only does she no longer have a big project to keep her busy and prevent her from thinking about things, she can’t help thinking back to all the times Jeong Hoon helped and supported her, in preparing for this role.
I love that when Ha Jin tearfully asks Jeong Hoon if she can just stay by his side, Jeong Hoon’s only response is to wordlessly pull her in for a tearful embrace. Aw.
E27-28. I was a little afraid that Ha Jin changing her mind would result in another episode of separation and angst, but Jeong Hoon’s gentle steadfastness saves the day. I love that he doesn’t fight Ha Jin on her taking back her decision to be with him, and instead quietly persists in expressing care for her, and finding ways to see her and talk to her, without being aggressive about it. He’s unfailingly gentle and wistful when he talks to her, and I’m touched by how he won’t take her words at face value or give up on their relationship, because he understands how she feels.
E27-28. The puppy photoshoot is great. Not only does it throw out OTP together, but Jeong Hoon kissing puppies is endearing and adorable. How could Ha Jin’s heart not waver?
E27-28. It’s kind of predictable that Ha Jin’s resolve to break up with Jeong Hoon crumbles in the face of his stab wounds and surgery, but I’m just glad that these two are officially together again. The way he holds her hand when he wakes up from surgery, and asks her not to go anywhere, is quietly plaintive and gently earnest. And the way he looks at her is so tenderly intent. Melt.
Ha Kyung and Il Kwon together
I really loved the little loveline between Ha Kyung and Il Kwon; they are just so funny and adorable together! ❤️ As our main narrative goes through its angsty melancholic phase in Show’s later stretch, the cuteness of this loveline really helped to add lightness and sparkle to the watch experience. I found myself perking up every time these two appeared on my screen together. Luff. Them.
E13-14. Reporter Park (Jang In Sub) is being a real pest, and it’s awful how he even bullies Il Kwon (Lee Jin Hyuk), as a sunbae. I’m quite gratified to see Ha Kyung (Kim Seul Gi) put her judo moves to good use, and rescue Il Kwon. Also, is this a connection I’m seeing, starting to form between Il Kwon and Ha Kyung? He seemingly gets dumped by his girlfriend (which felt quite random), and Ha Kyung treats him to a hefty convenience store breakfast to cheer him up. If this is a potential loveline, I’m in, because these two are amusing together.
E17-18. Ha Kyung’s arc with Il Kwon is getting cuter and cuter, with him visiting her at the hospital and bringing snacks and suggesting a movie marathon. He’s obviously the beta in the maybe-relationship, and it’s cute how Ha Kyung’s always the strong, fearless one. The way he ties her hair for her is sweet, and I like that moment of self-conscious hyper-awareness that we see in Ha Kyung. Their guilty expressions in the morning, after Il Kwon accidentally spends the night in her hospital bed, are hilarious, and I am legit looking forward to more scenes of them together. They are very amusing and they definitely brighten up my watch.
E19-20. I do like seeing Ha Kyung and Il Kwon together. Their arc feels easygoing and cute compared to the whole stalker thing, and brings a sense of balance to the watch. The little scene of Ha Kyung teaching Il Kwon how to enjoy rice soup is cute, and I like how she knows that he’ll like it, even before he knows that he likes it. In some ways, it feels like she’s interacting with a little boy. The way they keep stealing glances at each other while at the video arcade is so endearing as well; they definitely are growing feelings for each other, and I very much approve.
E21-22. Ha Kyung and Il Kwon are super cute together, and now that they’re spending more time together, the instances of hyperawareness are growing in number and frequency, and I am so here for it. Il Kwon can’t shake the memory of Ha Kyung straddling him, her face just inches from his, and Ha Kyung can’t shake the memory of the drunken backhug he gave her, mumbling about how cute and tiny she is, while squeezing her tight. Eee!
Major props to Kim Seul Gi, she really did carry Lee Jin Hyuk on her tiny frame. Also, I did not know this until now, but Lee Jin Hyuk is an idol?? I wouldn’t have guessed it. I think he’s doing really well as Il Kwon, being all earnest and dorky.
Since these two don’t appear to have hidden angst issues like our main OTP, I feel like I can freely ship them as a couple, and squee over their discombobulation over each other. And I must say, Il Kwon is extra dorky and endearing when he’s discombobulated.
E23-24. My favorite thing this episode is Il Kwon and Ha Kyung’s sudden romance. I love how Il Kwon confesses so quickly and abruptly: “I like someone already. She teaches me sports.” Ha Kyung’s wide-eyed stunned reaction is hilarious: “What other sport are you learning??”
The way Il Kwon seizes the moment to kiss her, to clear up her doubts, is hilarious because of the way Ha Kyung reacts, all discombobulated, not wanting to let him think she’s rejecting him, but too mortified and embarrassed to do anything much at all. I love how she gives him a lunge-hug, before running away, then running back to give him the medicine she’d brought – then running away for real. Hee hee. That’s so funny! Il Kwon throwing a text out there, to make sure there’s no evasiveness – “We’re dating starting from today” – is just icing on the cake. Their ensuing lovey-dovey cute for the rest of the episode is amusing and endearing to watch.
E23-24. Tee hee. The way Il Kwon grabs Ha Kyung’s hand and blurts out to Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin that they’re dating, is so funny. Ha Kyung looks as stunned as when she’d first realized he was talking about liking her, and I just have to giggle at how cute they are together, holding hands and looking like the wide-eyed dorks that they are.
E25-26. Il Kwon is so cute when he’s feeling jealously disgruntled. The way he’s scowl-pouting in front of the house, waiting for Ha Kyung, is so cute. He feels neglected and starts complaining about her taking so long to arrive, but immediately changes tack and asks cautiously if he did something wrong to make her unhappy, and coaxes her to tell him if he did, because he can change, unlike other people. Hee. He’s such an earnest puppy.
I like that Ha Kyung tells Il Kwon everything instead of bottling everything up and keeping him in the dark. Yay for healthy couple dynamics. The way he takes her to the Han River Bridge and encourages her to let out all her frustration in a long yell is earnest and cute, and the way they end up yelling at the water, but really at each other, with messages to each other about being idiots, is ridiculously adorable.
E27-28. Il Kwon texting Ha Kyung telling her that he’s sick – is he really sick, like he says he is, or is he just playing? Either way, these two are very cute together, and I love how they tease each other and laugh together. The shy-awkward-sputtering confessions of when they’d each started liking the other is very amusing too.
Ha Kyung’s relationship with Ha Jin
It took me a few episodes to realize that Ha Kyung is actually Ha Jin’s little sister, and once I realized that, I found that I had a soft spot for this relationship. It’s very touching, really, that Ha Kyung’s made a career out of protecting her sister, because she’s just that concerned about her. Ha Kyung often seems more mature and level-headed than Ha Jin, and it’s incongruous yet sweet, that she’s the little sister, between them. And, even though being Ha Jin’s manager does cramp Ha Kyung’s own life choices from time to time, she never seems to be upset by it. It’s very sweet.
Lee Joo Bin as Seo Yeon
Major shout-out to Lee Joo Bin for doing a great job playing Seo Yeon. There were some seriously difficult scenes for this character, and she does particularly well in those. [SPOILER] In episodes 9-10, there’s a scene where the stalker is holding Seo Yeon over the railing by the throat, and watching it, I really feel like she’s about to die. [END SPOILER] Kudos to Lee Joo Bin for doing the scene; I can only imagine how traumatic that must’ve been, to film it.
STUFF THAT WAS OK
Yoon Jong Hoon as Tae Eun
I felt quite indifferent towards Tae Eun as a character, to be honest.
He spends most of his screen time trying to be a good friend to Jeong Hoon, but instead, he comes across as a terrible doctor who’s mournfully fighting a losing battle with his daddy issues.
I did feel a little sorry for him, though, and I realize that he means well, which is why he’s in this section.
E5-6. Tae Eun is not a very good doctor at all. Not only does he quite easily break his code of conduct by revealing patient information for personal purposes, he’d prescribed sleeping pills to a patient who’d bee struggling to have the will to live. That’s a weird leap, from the scene where Ha Jin had said that she wanted to sleep. I would’ve thought this meant that she wanted to go to bed, not that she wanted to take sleeping pills. That wasn’t very well-handled, I thought.
E7-8. Tae Eun gave the photo from Ha Jin’s medical records to Jeong Hoon? Tae Eun’s a terrible doctor. Patient confidentiality means nothing to him, clearly.
I feel sorry for Tae Eun when his dad says negative things about him and disparages him as a doctor, but when Show serves up scenes of Tae Eun breaking all kinds of codes of conduct, I can’t help but think that Dad is right about some things.
E15-16. I do feel sorry for Tae Eun; his dad seems to disdain him and only talks to him about his patients, expressing interest only in Jeong Hoon’s progress, and berating Tae Eun on a regular basis, for not doing a better job. Tae Eun’s distress is clear this episode, when Dad casually brings up the incident when Tae Eun had overprescribed sleeping pills to Ha Jin. Poor guy. It seems that he craves his dad’s approval and love, but is getting neither.
E21-22. Tae Eun and his dad are both meddling in Jeong Hoon’s relationship with Ha Jin, and it’s just bad doctor behavior, all around. At least I can rationalize that Tae Eun means well, and genuinely wants what’s best for both Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin.
E25-26. Tae Eun finally tells his dad exactly what he thinks of Dad’s obsessive and inappropriate behavior. Good on Tae Eun, but will Dad actually listen?
The stalker stuff
As we progress deeper into our story, the stalker arc takes centerstage more and more, and even though the stalker arc has a central purpose in our main narrative, I have to confess that as much as it kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing at everyone’s motives, I also felt that it distracted from the main thrust of the story, which is Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin helping each other to open up and heal.
There were times when I felt like we spent entire episodes dealing with stalker-related stuff, and everything else had to take a backseat. That felt rather heavy-handed, to be honest. The main healing theme got overshadowed quite a bit, especially in Show’s third quarter, and that made Show feel a little off-kilter.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
Kim Chang Wan as Tae Eun’s dad
Tae Eun’s dad starts the show as a gruff but relatively benevolent figure, dismissive of his son, but asking continuous questions about Jeong Hoon and his recovery progress. As we get deeper into our story, though, Dad proves himself to be a worse doctor than he’d ever criticized his son for being, and there were times when Dad’s behavior was so aggravating, that it made me want to throw something.
E23-24. Tae Eun’s dad behaves really deplorably this episode. What kind of doctor is he, that he would plot to drive a wedge between Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin, using his identity as Jeong Hoon’s doctor in order to win Ha Jin’s trust, in order to then – hopefully – break up the relationship, all for the sake of his book? That’s horrible, and so wrong, on so many levels. He should have his doctor’s license revoked.
E23-24. The way he wheedles his way into Moon Sung Ho’s (Joo Suk Tae) hospital room, brushing off the risks, saying that Moon Sung Ho’s attempted suicide many times before, is just bizarre. The fact that he just forces his way in and attempts to have a conversation with Moon Sung Ho, asking him to tell him the truth, is nuts. Why would you ask a person as unstable as this, for his version of the truth? Who would believe that truth anyway? I feel bad for saying this, but I thought Doctor Dad deserved the body slam he suffers, when Moon Sung Ho throws him down while running away.
Logic stretches [SPOILERS]
There are several logic stretches that I noticed during my watch. Some niggled at me more than others. Here they are, for the record:
E5-6. I find it a bit of a stretch that Jeong Hoon is able to connect the dots and conclude that Ha Jin is the best friend that Seo Yeon had referred to as Hana, and it’s even more of a stretch that Ha Jin happened to have been Tae Eun’s patient as well. But, that’s Dramaland logic at work, and I would rather have Jeong Hoon stop misunderstanding Ha Jin than not, so I’m willing to roll with it.
E23-24. Moon Sung Ho being able to get civilian clothes and a mobile phone is a bit of a stretch, and it’s even more of a stretch that he’d have Jeong Hoon’s mobile number handy. I do rationalize that maybe Moon Sung Ho stole everything, and had Jeong Hoon’s number memorized, since he’d been preparing for this occasion. However, Jeong Hoon trying to call Ha Jin instead of Ha Kyung, when he’d seen Ha Jin on the stage in the video, makes no sense. Jeong Hoon and Ha Kyung have already had experience being a buddy team, while protecting Ha Jin from the other stalker, so he should have thought to call Ha Kyung.
E25-26. I wish Show would be clearer about how Moon Sung Ho managed to get civilian clothes, a cell phone AND a gigantic camera for the fan sign, so quickly after making his escape from the hospital. I can rationalize that he maybe knocked out a fan who was actually there for the fan sign, but if Show doesn’t acknowledge it with a quick scene or something, it just feels like a logic stretch.
E25-26. I also feel like it doesn’t make sense for Ha Jin’s security to be so lax, considering that Jeong Hoon knows that Moon Sung Ho is on the loose and is specifically targeting her.
E27-28. Tae Eun finally finds out about Dad’s book and confronts him about it, and even takes up the matter with the publisher, threatening legal action if they publish the book, because it contains his medical records. So, yay for Tae Eun making a stand, but.. the book get published anyway? How did that happen?
THEMES / IDEAS
There’s one idea that Show serves up, that stands out to me more than the others, and that is that your happiest moments can turn into your most painful moments. This is true in both Ha Jin’s and Jeong Hoon’s experiences, and also, in terms of Ha Jin’s character in her movie.
It’s true that sometimes you want to forget everything in order to avoid the pain, but sometimes, you don’t want to forget, because that would mean forgetting the happiest moments. A very poignant thought indeed.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]
Was this the best penultimate episode I’ve seen from a drama? No, because it felt predictable in its angst. There’s trouble in paradise and our OTP separates, each thinking of the other’s betterment, without having to deal with the fallout of their relationship background going public. It kinda-almost smacks of noble idiocy, but not quite.
However, in Show’s defense, the events this hour feel believable.
I like that in the face of the initial backlash, Ha Jin and Jeong Hoon stay strong in their relationship, and promise to stick by each other, no matter what. That date in the park was very sweet, and Ha Jin’s earnest desire to cheer him up, and the look of soft content in Jeong Hoon’s eyes, as he smiles at her, are lovely.
Beyond this, I can believe that once the complicated background, of Ha Jin having been best friends with Jeong Hoon’s late girlfriend, becomes known, that the court of public opinion would be this harsh, with Ha Jin’s contracts being canceled willy-nilly, and Jeong Hoon being pulled from his anchor position, to quell the collective wrath of k-netizens.
I can believe that with her career completely stalled, that Ha Jin would have to consider pursuing work outside of Korea, and I can believe that the US would be the place, since US audiences are much more forgiving and tolerant of scandals than Korean audiences.
I can also believe that with both their careers in disarray, that Ha Jin would think it’s better for her to leave Jeong Hoon and not complicate his life further, and I do think that Jeong Hoon would respect her wishes once he’s sure that that’s what she really wants, because that’s just how he is.
What hits me in the heart, and lifts these developments above predictability, is Kim Dong Wook’s delivery. In every scene, particularly as Jeong Hoon senses that a separation from Ha Jin is imminent, there’s an underlying sadness in his gaze which feels profound and true. The moment Jeong Hoon agrees to a break-up, because he believes that that’s what’s best for Ha Jin, he looks sad, even as he strives to keep a stiff upper lip and remain casual.
And the moment, 2-year time skip later, when Jeong Hoon spots Ha Jin in her car, while they’re stopped at the same stop light in opposite directions, the longing and wistfulness in his gaze, mixed with a rueful half-smile, at the wonder of actually seeing her like this, makes my heart ache.
Ack. I just want Show to fix things, so that our OTP can be reunited again, as soon as possible. And Ha Kyung and Il Kwon too, while we’re at it – coz poor Il Kwon pining after his Ha Kyung is such a pouty, forlorn, sorry little puppy.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
I have to confess, I was expecting a more.. emotionally compelling final episode, but instead, our finale landed in a more muted fashion than I expected. It was still pleasant and I am pretty satisfied with it. It was just.. different than I thought it would be. I guess after having to deal with so much unwanted stalker drama, it’s contentment rather than excitement that Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin are drawn to.
After a 2-year separation, I was expecting either a deeper angst, or some kind of fireworks, for when Ha Jin and Jeong Hoon reunited. Instead, their reunion was pretty low-key and moderate, with a fairly quick confirmation of mutual feelings and a just as quick recommencement of their relationship. They fall quick back into rhythm with each other,
I have to admit that at first I rolled my eyes at the successive almost-meets, because that is such a trademark cliché in traditional Hallyu. But, I came around when I realized that Show was making reference to the script where Jeong Hoon had helped Ha Jin with her lines before, and Ha Jin had remarked that the multiple almost-meets were a sign that the couple were destined to be together. With that in mind, having Jeong Hoon reference that and articulate the same conclusion, does feel a lot more meaningful and far less tropey than I’d first thought.
Also, I want to say that the tent-side camping kiss, is lovely. So tender, unhurried and sexy, with a few chuckles and giggles on the side. So real, that in this moment, I feel like I’m a voyeur watching real lovers sharing an intimate moment. ❤️
I am, as always, amused at the goings-on between Ha Kyung and Il Kwon. Il Kwon’s reflexive jealousy at Ha Kyung hugging another man, when she’d just been saying goodbye to an American co-worker, and their subsequent lover’s squabble where their voices rise higher in pitch with each successive jibe thrown at the other, was funny. And then, a few days of cold war later, Ha Kyung basically proposing to Il Kwon, and his overjoyed, “Can we move in together starting today?” reaction, was super cute. These two are such a delight to watch, truly. ❤️
Tae Eun comes back from his overseas stint doing medical charity, and appears on a guest on the News Live, which is once again hosted by Jeong Hoon. He looks much happier in general, like he’s no longer carrying the burdens that used to make him look so mournful all the time. I think that’s pretty great. Also pretty great, is how Tae Eun and his dad reconcile. Even though Dad is still gruff and grumpy, Tae Eun remains cordial and unruffled, which shows how grounded Tae Eun is now, compared to before. Tae Eun’s time away seems to have helped Dad see his son in a new and more respectful light as well, and that’s Pretty Big, considering where this father and son started.
Jeong Hoon and Ha Jin agree to go on as many dates together as possible, and they do just that. Ha Jin finally meets Jeong Hoon’s dad, who sweetly expresses that he’s grateful to her for dating his son, and they also visit Jeong Hoon’s mom’s grave, and agree to make it a regular thing for every time Ha Jin comes back to Korea.
Ha Jin gets to choose between doing a 3rd installment of her American movie or a Korean movie, and Jeong Hoon advises her not to worry about him, and make the choice that makes her happiest. Ha Jin chooses the Korean movie – meaningfully titled Find Me In Your Memory, ha. At the press conference, in response to a question on whether she’d chosen the movie because of Jeong Hoon, while looking right at Jeong Hoon, Ha Jin expresses that she made the choice not for him, but for herself, and that she wants to be a person who’s remembered daily and forever, and wishes to remember and love in Korea.
As we see Jeong Hoon identify himself and prepare to ask a question, we hear him complete what he’d started to say in voiceover, at the beginning of the episode.
“I still remember too many memories. I’m pretty sure these memories will not fade away… for the rest of my life. They will remain inside me like tree rings.”… “Now I know how to etch those memories in my heart… and move forward. I know how those memories can become good memories, not wounds. I just need to live this moment beautifully.”
I have to admit that I was rather thrown by where the finale cuts off, coz we don’t get to hear the question that Jeong Hoon is poised to ask. (So like, does he propose to her or something? We will never knowww..) But after some thought, I think that writer-nim makes this choice, in order to allow the ending’s emphasis to be on Jeong Hoon’s healing, rather than on the romance.
This story was never meant to be all about the romance; rather, the romance was part of the journey towards healing, and it’s fitting and heartening to know that both Ha Jin and Jeong Hoon have found a way to live happily together, in spite of their painful memories.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Sweet and understated, despite some (occasionally intense) stalker stuff.
FINAL GRADE: B+