Give me more! That’s me after ten episodes of SBS’s I have a Lover. I find myself mesmerized by this melo and ended up marathoning the first eight episodes over one weekend and then promptly followed up with episodes 9 and 10 as soon as they were aired and subbed.
But imagine the horror I felt when I learned that it is 50 episodes long! Oh dear! Normally I don’t touch dramas longer than 20 epis but I was reeled in before I did my homework. Will I get through the wait or will I lose interest? That’s the million dollar question.
It’s been a while since I am this hooked into a drama. Real life has taken a turn lately and I find myself not glued to the small screen as much as I was before. So how did I happen on I Have a Lover? Oh well. Nothing extraordinary. I was merely browsing through the collection of new dramas on my reliable streaming site for nostalgic reasons and came across the poster that caught my eye.
Four good looking leads. They appear familiar and yet I couldn’t put my finger on any of their work. I was drawn to actress Kim Hyun Joo’s expressive eyes and facial expression. She’s got one of those faces that says I’ve got a story to tell…if you know what I mean….a beautiful face but one with substance. Next comes the synopsis or blurb. These blurbs are such a difficult thing to write and most of the times they are not well written. But this one did it for me and voila….I clicked my mouse through to the first episode and the rest, shall we say is history.
So here’s what I like about it so far. Spoilers included.
Do Hae Gang (Kim Hyun Joo)
Do Hae Gang is the main draw for me. A complex character with so many layers, she is neither the perfect goody two shoes heroine nor is she the pathetic victim or the insufferable villain. She traverses somewhere in between this continuum. The first few scenes show a haughty and unfeeling Hae Gang, driven by career and ambition. Devoid of emotion even when the plaintiff she defeated (amid questionable scruples) committed suicide, one would have easily dismissed her as a character to root for. But unlike many one dimensional characters, we get to see another side of Hae Gang. Her deep-seated pain comes through on screen thanks to her masterful acting and excellent scriptwriting.
On the outside she maintains her aloofness and detaches herself from reality; whether it is her love-hate relationship with her mother or her strained love for her husband. She fails to nurture her marriage and blindly assumes that the love Jin Eon has for her will survive at all costs. But even a desert cactus will eventually wilt away if it does not receive nourishment. But I am happy to see that the writer did not make her into a pitiful wife. She finally lets go and walks away with dignity after seeing Jin Eon willing to compromise his values to work for his father in exchange for his freedom.
Choi Jin Eon (Ji Jin Hee)
Jin Eon. Many (including me) despise him for being the adulterous husband, the weakling that deserves to be cast aside, forgotten, wiped off our memories but somehow I also want to see him redeem himself in Hae Gang’s eyes. Though I do not condone his behavior, I don’t hate him either. It is a show after all, a make belief reality….a drama for dramatic sake. If this were real life, my opinion will beg to differ.
Yes, he is vulnerable to a fault, and deserves our loathe but he is also a conflicted human being. Broken by the loss of his child, he never recovered and though we don’t know yet how she died, hints are that it has something to do with Hae Gang’s neglect. That could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Each chooses to deal with his/her grief differently; she chooses to internalise her grief while he wants to grief openly, longing for the warmth that Hae Gang fails to deliver, hence both allowing the marriage to slowly slip away.
Tempted and seduced by a younger version of Hae Gang, he finally caved. But his love for Hae Gang never really went away, buried deep within his sub-consciousness. Now and then his eyes betray his lingering love but he had to walk away so he can breathe again.
Kang Seol Ri (Park Han Byul)
A hot blooded man’s ideal woman, beautiful, smart and engaging; hard to resist for any man, let alone one with a marriage waddling on the rocks. She is irritating and her manners despicable. Though she did fall for Jin Eon at face value and not because of his background, at least not initially, she did ultimately cross the moral boundary by tempting a married man. How this relationship unfolds is yet to be seen. She’s the antagonist and her character is one that is easy to hate. But I hope the PD and writer keep it real for the rest of the show and don’t turn her into an over the top deplorable, conniving character.
Baek Seok (Lee Gyu Han)
The nice guy that will not get the girl? As much as I like Baek Seok and all his good intentions, I am not yet invested in his character. He adds some spice into the show but it is too early to tell where this is heading.
As expected of a 50 episode drama there are many subplots and secondary characters which are necessary to fill the dead space. I am intrigued with Yong Gi’s story and what has become of her but I could easily do without most of the other storyline. The grandma is endearing and the mothers bickering over their Miss Korea supremacy may be fillers but most of all I want to see the evolution of Hae Gang’s journey and see it come full circle.
Is it perfect? Of course not! It has its share of unbelievable scenes (like how did she survive falling off the cliff 🙂 ) and makjang galore. Diehard critics will find plenty of flaws. I do too but the main story has kept me engrossed that I can easily overlook the rest. If needed, the fast forward button is never too far away.
Bottom line, I have a Lover has somehow managed to remind me why I love kdramas in the first place; the good, the bad and the ugly all intertwined into one compelling entertainment.