International Dramas: A Love So Beautiful

Promotional image of So Jooyeon and Kim Yohan in ‘A Love So Beautiful’. Copyright goes to Kakao TV and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

This is the last of the reviews for the four K-Dramas that I recently binged. Despite this fact, this is also the first of the four dramas that I watched. Why did I leave it until last? For the simple fact that I just didn’t like this one as much as I liked the other ones. And really, it’s difficult to compare this one at all to the likes of ‘Vincenzo’, ‘Her Private Life’, and ‘Lovestruck in the City’. Those were by far some of my favorite K-Dramas that I’ve ever watched. And that isn’t to say that this one was bad by any means. It was certainly cute! For those of you who don’t know, this K-Drama is actually based off of a C-Drama of the same name. And I actually heard about this drama from a friend who had watched the C-Drama. Because I’m attempting to learn Korean as a language right now, I’m trying to watch only K-Dramas so that I can get more acclimated to the language. So, when I saw that there was a Korean version of the drama she had recommended, I decided to watch it knowing that it wouldn’t be exactly the same but probably similar enough. Unlike some of my ventures into C-Dramas before, I am probably not going to watch the Chinese equivalent. Especially considering that this wasn’t necessarily the best thing I’ve ever watched. But I’ll just get into all that from here! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Short Synopsis: Soli is a high school student who has been in love with her neighbor and classmate, Heon, for as long as she can remember. Despite her constant willingness to be by his side, his cold indifference doesn’t seem to change. Until he realizes that her presence at his side has been a comfort to him all along.

The Good:

The Male Lead- I’ve heard a lot of good things about the actor who played Cha Heon in this. He’s pretty young, but people say he’s really good for being so young and that he has a long career ahead of him. After watching this drama, I completely agree with that. Cha Heon is well acted and a very believable character. From what I understand about the original drama, the male lead is much colder to the female lead. Here he is cold at certain parts, but that warmth is always noticeable simmering under the surface. And when that warmth is at the surface, you can’t help but smile at the adorableness. He goes through a lot but he really does have a heart of gold. When he makes mistakes in the relationship, which he does, he very easily concedes that they’re his fault. Even when they aren’t completely (I’ll get to that in a second). But something that I liked about this character was that he was very obviously flawed but also very obviously learned from his mistakes. He’s also so extremely supportive. While this character is a bit too cold at the beginning, his character development and changes make him an amazing boyfriend by the end of it.

Sub-Plot Romance- Hayeong and Jinhwan were nothing short of adorable. Hayeong was one of my favorite characters for much of the show because she wasn’t what the typical female best friend is. She wasn’t overly quirky or demure. She was a relatable character who was bold and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Her willingness to tell off Soli’s bullies was always something admirable and made me wish I had a friend like her. She doesn’t originally have a crush on Jinhwan, but after a series of mishaps she starts seeing him differently. And when they are a couple, they just work. They have a mutual respect for each other that goes unmatched in the entire rest of the series. Jinhwan has an illness that he’s initially too fearful to reveal to Hayeong, but she never sees him as weaker for it. And though Hayeong is very conventionally attractive, Jinhwan never has anything but the utmost trust in her. I have seen way too many dramas with overprotective and untrusting boyfriends and I’m glad that this was not one of them.

Character Growth- This series takes place over the course of several years. From high school, to college, and then beyond that. Because of this, all of the characters had plenty of room to grow and change as the series also changed. It became such an in depth look at the characters that they really start feeling like friends to you as you watch the drama.

Friendships- Speaking of which, there is a group of five friends in this drama and they really focus on the bonding between these five. From when Heon wasn’t necessarily a part of the group until Heon was an integral part of the group. The friendships here are so cute and pure and I really do love them so much. This is one of those shows that reels you in with that friend group that you wished you had or were a part of.

The Bad:

The Female Lead- Soli is a character that I had a lot of problems with, simply because the narrative didn’t seem to have a lot of problems with her. What I’m saying here is that she was depicted as being so sweet and adorable that the show overlooked her flaws. They did focus on one flaw, which was that she wasn’t very good at studying. This resulted in her not passing her first attempts at college entrance exams. But this type of flaw doesn’t necessarily affect character development, especially when the show time-jumps and doesn’t only take place while they’re at school. Then, after Soli has a really bad day, which I will get back to, she goes to visit Heon in his place of work. She is already kind of jealous of the nurses at the hospital Heon works at talking about how handsome he is, but this is only amplified when the nurses imply that Heon will be moving away. When she confronts Heon about this, he only says it was something he was considering and hadn’t made a decision yet. This is an example of Heon’s character development that I was talking about before. His coldness and logical thinking can often result in him not communicating properly to the ones he cares about most, and this is something he grows from. But Soli never grows from her rash decision to break up with him right then and there instead of actually talking through their problems. Or the fact that she was very jealous in that situation. In fact, the entire situation is treated like Heon’s fault and Soli’s absolute reluctance to even see him years later because she’s still angry is treated as relatable. Even though it isn’t. Soli failed to do the exact same thing she was angry at Heon for not doing, which was communicate.

The Romance- Obviously, not great. It has some really cute parts. But in the end this couple doesn’t communicate nearly as much as they should. Plus pretty much all the dramatic needless breakups that are possible in dramas are in here too.

Second Lead- Another drama where I didn’t suffer from second lead syndrome! Daesung is a great friend for most of the show, don’t get me wrong. And his swimming storylines and the moment he ran as a teddy bear mascot next to Soli to cheer her on are all cute. But he’s way too obsessed with Soli and also has that mentality that I don’t like where he believes that Soli will eventually come around. He even has this mentality when she’s in a committed relationship during some of the time skips. If a guy friend of mine was not respectful of my relationship, I don’t think I would be friends with him anymore. That’s not a supportive friend anymore. Speaking of which…

They’ll Come Around- This entire drama revolves around the idea that a person who sees you platonically will eventually come around to see you romantically. And while that can be cute in some instances, literally every relationship in this drama revolves around this line of thinking. And I don’t think that it’s completely healthy. Platonic relationships are often just platonic, and I wish there was more of that in this.

Time Jumps- The time jumps in this show are needed. The show aims to cover several different eras of the lives of the characters, which added a lot of development for the characters. But the time jumps aren’t always seamless. And often time jumps also happen within eras, which can lead to some really confusing moments. For example, there’s a kind of dream sequence where Jinhwan comes to school dressed very cool, as he is usually pretty stereotypically nerdy, and asks out Hayeong. The issue is, it seems like they’re on the cusp of dating the next moment. And I’m still confused as to whether or not this scenario even happened. Was it a dream sequence? I feel like I missed something important. And that’s not the only time that happens.

Beyond Uncomfortable- I’m really sick of shows exploiting women’s hardships in order to add some quick drama. This is exactly what happens to Soli on the day she breaks up with Heon. Her bad day is caused because her boss tries to sexually assault her. And that is entirely used as a plot device to lead to their breakup. The assault is never mentioned again and there are no consequences for the actions that happened. This show also deals with several other uncomfortable power dynamics. Hayeong spends much of the show with a crush on her teacher, which is very uncomfortable to watch. From what I understand, South Korea has different laws concerning things like teacher-student relationships. But it’s still disturbing to see any side of that whatsoever and for it to be treated as a regular thing. I have an issue with some boss-employee power dynamics as well, but there are a couple shows (such as ‘Her Private Life’) where they were able to balance it by giving each character a job where they were similarly treated by other employees rather than there being a huge difference in power. And of course mutual respect is also present there. But, even if it’s one-sided, teacher-student relationships are gross no matter how your portray it. This just made me really uncomfortable.

I know I had more in the bad category, but I didn’t actually think that this show was bad! There were some really cute moments in the romance part of it specifically even if it failed in some major areas. The main male lead was so good! And the friendships in this drama are adorable! But there are definitely better things to watch out there. I think I’m going to watch ‘It’s Ok to Not Be Ok’ next because I keep hearing really good things about that one. But it might be a little while because I’m going to be a bit busier than I thought for the next couple weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to give that one a try soon! And though this drama wasn’t the best, I think I scored with my choices for shows to binge watch this time around.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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