K-Pop and K-Dramas: Love Alarm

Promotional image of (from left) Jung Garam, Kim Sohyun, and Song Kang. Copyright goes to Netflix and Studio Dragon.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I was recently hit with insomnia for some unknown reason and ended up spending a sleepless night watching this drama because it was one of the first ones that came up on Netflix. Now, I know I roast shows a lot. But I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every single K-Drama I’ve watched, including ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’. Yes, the plot of that one was an absolute mess, but I actually liked the characters a lot and I thought the romance was cute. You definitely don’t watch that one for the plot. I don’t know if it was the sleep deprivation making me more annoyed at things, but this is probably the first K-Drama I’ve watched that falls into the dislike category for me. It wasn’t good. I watched the entirety of season one and then skipped through season two because I wasn’t sure I could watch much more of it. So let’s get into what I liked and a lot more of what I disliked. As always for these kind of reviews, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The Good:

Lee Hyeyoung- The purest boy and by far my favorite character in the entire show. Hyeyoung at first seems a little bit clingy, but what’s important about this character is that he pulls back when he needs to. Remember when I said it is really common for me to suffer from second lead syndrome because the second lead is usually the nice guy? Definitely applies here. He is the first person to have a crush on Jojo and Sunoh knows this when he starts pursuing Jojo. But instead of getting angry, Hyeyoung decides that it’s Jojo’s choice and actually backs off. We need to see more of that in dramas. In season two after a giant time skip, it is revealed that he still has feelings for Jojo after she breaks up with Sunoh. At first he knows that she won’t ring his love alarm, but tells her that it’s enough for him to have expressed his feelings even if he is rejected. Pretty great right? He also unquestionably defends the honor of all of his friends even if they’ve wronged him. He’s quite a forgiving guy.

The Second Romance- Of course, the first romance in this show is between Jojo and Sunoh, but the second one is between Jojo and Hyeyoung. After the time gap Hyeyoung finds Jojo again and decides to actually try and win her over. He doesn’t expect anything and he also respects her privacy by agreeing not to tell Sunoh. Which was a good idea considering how much Sunoh freaks out when he learns about their relationship. Jojo decides to forgo the love alarm app altogether in order to pursue a relationship with him. And that’s probably the most important part of this relationship. This is the big one that isn’t based off of what the app says. They learn to love each other because of their trust in each other rather than their trust in an app. It’s really sweet!

Jojo- She isn’t a completely blank slate and she’s very reasonable. She has a personality and she stands up for herself in relationships while also focusing on communicating with the people she’s in the relationship with. She never is untruthful about how she feels or her boundaries. There is only one major point in the show where her communication fails, but I’ll get back to that. She also is the kind of nice person who befriends people who are constantly getting bullied without constantly dealing with them in a stance of pity. Over-all, she’s a kind and smart character with personality.

The Bad:

JoJo- Yep, she’s going in both the good and bad. Jojo sometimes suffers from blank slate syndrome. She has more personality than most characters I’ve seen with this, but the plot devices she falls into sometimes takes her agency out of the story. Like her randomly downloading this shield on her phone to prevent people from knowing her feelings at a suggestion. Or when her past trauma drives her to break up with Sunoh even though it actually makes no sense. That entire part of the story was confusing. Like, I know it reminded her of past trauma, but it was also a completely different situation and she was not set up as the type of character to make rash decisions like this.

Sunoh- I never liked this character, he just came off as really presumptuous. He was kind of creepy about cornering Jojo at the beginning of the show and then he continued to be super overprotective. Except for when he randomly crashed a motorcycle for plot. He also forbids Jojo from seeing Hyeyoung even though he has no right to do that and is still not respectful of Hyeyoung after Jojo and Hyeyoung start a relationship. There are several times when she’s with Hyeyoung where Sunoh corners her and tries to force her to admit that she still has feelings for him. I would also like to point out that he has a really nice girlfriend at this point. He always assumed what Jojo feels and never asks her. And when Jojo tells him that she has past trauma she doesn’t want to talk about he’s originally pretty understanding, but then tells her all of his past trauma and tries to guilt trip her afterwards. I’m glad that he was there for her when she needed him, even though all of that was based off of Hyeyoung’s advice and not his own ideas or thoughts, but I wasn’t a fan of how many times he tried to control Jojo’s actions in the show. I also think it’s a little messed up to go after your half-brother’s crush when you know for a fact he’s liked her for a while. He also randomly sends her a shirtless pic as a “gift” and it just gave me massive f- boy energy.

Trauma- Both Sunoh and Jojo have these really ridiculously traumatic backstories. Almost zombie apocalypse degree traumatic. Which is not relatable at all and does not fit in at all with the world of the show. I know K-Dramas have a tendency to kill off the Mother, but this was something else.

Love Alarm- The app itself was weird, confusing, and contradictory. It takes you far too long to actually figure out some of the rules of the app and some of it doesn’t make any sense anyways. They establish that you can turn the app on and off and that sometimes this will help prevent you from showing your feelings to other people. But then they say that members of the LGBTQ+ community are suffering because of this app because it’s accidentally outing them while they’re still closeted. But then the show treats ringing another person’s alarm as a choice. It didn’t make any sense. There was also a moment where Sunoh and Jojo determined whether or not they liked each other by turning on their alarms, and Jojo would not reveal what hers said. This really distressed Sunoh, even though her phone would have told her his feelings for her and not the other way around. He already knew that he had feelings for her. There was just so much weird about this alarm.

The Developer- We all knew the developer was going to end up being Dukgu considering how he wanted to use the love alarm to show Gulmi how he felt, but it was really stupid the way it happened. He faked his own death and then he created an algorithm that will tell people who they should spend their lives with and then he closes it down so that people won’t trust technology too much. He barely learned his lesson. And his character development is so back and forth that you can barely tell who this character is at the end. The faked death was super unnecessary too.

LGBTQ+ Representation- The show attempts it, but never commits to anything at all. There is a very small storyline where Hyeyoung’s love alarm goes off and he realizes that it was accidentally rung by a bully who is bullying another gay man for having rung his alarm. Other than Hyeyoung being understanding but strictly warning the guy not to bully anyone again, this isn’t really touched on further. At first I thought they might end up having Hyeyoung be bisexual, but this storyline really did nothing for the main plot or characters. It really felt thrown in there.

Well, there you have it. The insomnia show that wasn’t much to stay awake for. There are so many dramas you could be watching that are better than this one, I promise you. I kind of wish I had watched ‘Boys Over Flowers’ again instead. But at least Hyeyoung was cute!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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