Is this the most anticipated show of the year or what? Kim Woo Bin is all you need to make a show be amazing, and he truly delivers. Suzy is a delight, and they’re surrounded by a really solid cast of Im Joo Hwan, Im Joo Eun, Jin Kyung, and Yoo Oh Sung, among others. My favorite people are in this show. I can’t not watch Uncontrollably Fond.
Continuous recaps are a maybe, but I’ll do my best! Wanted has my heart for now…
We’re in a church, and Shin Joon Young (Kim Woo Bin) is standing before the altar with a woman of no consequence. He’s pledging his love to her and promising himself to her as a husband, but she’s crying as if she’s making the biggest mistake of her life. Hence, “woman of no consequence.” Just before he kisses her, a bunch of goons break into the church. Apparently Joon Young stole their boss’s woman and it’s time to beat him out.
Cue an awesome fight scene with slo-mo used to great effect. I get flashes of the amazing fight scene from Twenty when I watch this but here, Joon Young fights way better. Eventually everything is for moot when one of the guys shoots him in the heart. A tear escapes from Joon Young’s eyes, but instead of falling to the ground and dying he simply walks up to the shooter, grabs up the gun, sniffs, and announces to the director that he doesn’t want to die anymore.
Okay, of course we’re in the middle of a drama shoot, as we all know Shin Joon Young is a super famous Hallyu actor. He’s starring in the drama “Eternal Love” and it’s supposed to end with him dying. He even agreed to star in the show because his character dies. But now he wants the writer to change everything and have him live. Oh and they’re already shooting the finale and they don’t have much time left before broadcast.
Joon Young’s manager Gook Young (Jung Soo Kyo) now has to arrive on set and do some damage control while the top star makes his escape… to a hospital. To meet his physician. To ask if he’s really dying from an incurable disease.
If the first seven minutes made you think this was a comedy, by the tenth minute you have no doubt this is a melodrama.
Joon Young really doesn’t want to die, but there’s no cure, and his doctor did not misdiagnose. However it’s easy to understand why he doesn’t want to die in the drama anymore: he doesn’t want to die in real life and doesn’t want to act it out. However his manager begs him to just do his job, and so Joon Young completes his death scene.
Plenty of anti-fans out there are pretty happy with his death, but there are also plenty of fans who despair. One of them is No Eul (Suzy)’s friends. I’m going to assume that friend is Haru, whom we’ll meet a little later on again, but it doesn’t have to be as literally anyone could be Joon Young’s fan. No Eul is a PD for a small gossip media company and she’s trying to catch an industrial company for illegally dumping its wastes. She gets caught though and her footage is all erased. However, No Eul is undeterred and tells the director of the company that she has enough footage to make a show and expose them. The director throws her some cash, and though No Eul makes a grand statement about justice and not selling out – she does.
But for good reason! She’s in debt and the money helps pay off the loan sharks. Also she needs to support her brother through college. However that move ends up costing her her job. Her bosses are full of hypocrisy though as they’ve accepted bribes in the past too but weren’t punished for it. Nevertheless No Eul loses her job again (for the fifth time) for accepting bribes.
Let’s jump back to Joon Young: this man owns the real star of the show, a sheepdog named Pororo. This little guy is so cute he’ll make your ovaries explode and cry tears of jealousy. Joon Young tries to get Pororo to eat some ramen, which is his staple dish, because he wants his dog to be used to cheap human food. When Joon Young dies, no one will buy Pororo expensive dog food.
But ramen is depressing when eating alone, and Joon Young feels like he is dying because he doesn’t eat proper real food. He shrouds himself with a huge black coat and hood, a scarf, and glasses, and makes his way to a yookgaejang restaurant that his mother Shin Young Ok (Jin Kyung) owns and runs. Young Ok has pretty much disowned her son because she disapproves of his career path and wanted him to go into law, so she knows nothing about his illness. She refuses to serve him any of the spicy stew and kicks him out. They start fighting verbally in the restaurant and some customers start taking pictures when they recognize him. His uncle Jung Sik (Choi Moo Sung) tries to mollify him and get him to leave, but then also scolds his sister for being so harsh to her own son.
If you’re wondering where his dad is, the suspicion seems to be that Assemblyman Choi Hyun Joon (Yoo Oh Sung) may be the father because he is Young Ok’s first love (presumably). It doesn’t look like Choi Hyun Joon knows about this son as he doesn’t have any reaction towards his daughter Haru (remember her?) having a crush on Hyun Joon. A former lawyer, he holds a perfect reputation with the 20-somethings of Korea, and has a perfect wife (Lee Eun Soo, played by Jung Sun Kyung) who seems to not be as motherly or close to her daughter Haru as I’d expect her to be.
Complicated, I know. But it’s a K-drama.
Okay let’s go back to No Eul. Since she has no chance of getting her job back she goes to a local restaurant to drink her woes away. Choi Ji Tae (Im Joo Hwan) scolds her for getting in trouble again and thinks she deserved her firing. The relationship between Ji Tae and No Eul isn’t clearly established but he clearly knows her, and she kind of doesn’t. Ji Tae is also Choi Hyun Joon’s son, so that makes him Joon Young’s half-brother. Again – dramaaaaaa.
Eventually Ji Tae leaves, and No Eul overhears Gook Young arguing with a documentary PD. Apparently Joon Young decided at the last minute not to participate in a high-profile documentary that includes other famous people (like Kim Yuna the Olympic skater, Park Ji Sung the soccer player, and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon). The documentary PD is mad – and drinking himself to death basically – that Joon Young is going to ruin his biggest project ever.
No Eul then proposes a deal for them: if she can convince Joon Young to participate in the documentary, the PD will have to help her find another PD job. Everyone is (rightfully) skeptical as they don’t know how she could convince Joon Young if she doesn’t know him.
At first, No Eul tries the good ol’ “ring the doorbell and convince them to let you in” trick. It doesn’t fly with Joon Young, but he is startled to see her. It’s as if he recognizes her but then can’t be sure. He doesn’t let her in, so No Eul stays outside all day into the evening in the cold weather. She only leaves temporarily when she finds out her brother isn’t eating proper meals, but she makes it back the following early morning to catch Joon Young as he’s about to go ice climbing.
No Eul gets into his car and buckles herself in, having no intention to leave until Joon Young agrees to do the documentary. Guys, this is why you should lock your car doors immediately. Joon Young gives her to the count of three, but No Eul doesn’t leave, suggesting that they get breakfast instead. So Joon Young steps on the gas and zooms right on to the highway, weaving dangerously in and out until they reach the first stop light.
Joon Young: “You sure you won’t get out now?” No Eul shakes her head. Light turns green. Off they go again weaving through traffic. At one point Joon Young ends up on the wrong side of the road and they nearly hit an oncoming truck. That’s enough to make No Eul puke on the side of the road.
Joon Young tosses her some money for “medicine” and tells her to never show up in front of him again. No Eul lies in the middle of the road, tired and utterly defeated. I found myself mentally yelling at her to pick up the money before it flew away because that’s how badly she would need it, and I empathized with her.
Further down the road, Joon Young finally turns on the radio and hears a report of an accident on a nearby highway. He sees an ambulance driving in the direction he just came from, and Joon Young fears the worst: he just left No Eul alone and defenseless, and she just got struck by a truck. Cue dangerous U-turn in the snowy road!
Joon Young drives back to where he left her, but she’s no longer there. However, he does find her safe and sound, trudging down an empty road. Just then, his Lawyer Pyo calls him with news: he’s found the girl that Joon Young has been looking for for awhile. Yes – Joon Young is looking for a girl from his past and doesn’t want her to know he’s looking for her.
And who’s this girl? You guessed it. No Eul. At the same time Lawyer Pyo called him about finding the girl, Joon Young has physically found her. He did recognize her from when she rang his doorbell, but didn’t know how to face her then. He didn’t know how to face her at all in such proximity. But now, on that empty road where he just thought she was killed, he won’t let her out of his sight again.
Joon Young runs up to No Eul, who smiles. He must have changed his mind! No Eul believes that this documentary will not only help her find a job, but also help him break free of his asshole-image with the public. Joon Young interrupts, “Do you not know who I am?” No Eul freezes, then breaks into an easy smile. Of course she knows who he is; everyone in the country knows who he is!
Joon Young: “No Eul! Do you not know who I am!?”
Finally No Eul’s smile fades. “I do. You son of a bitch.”
Cue overbearing OST song as the two of them stare into each other’s eyes, facing off.
Oh man. It has been so long since I saw a predictable, classic romantic melodrama. But it’s not a bad thing! Oh no, not here. In fact I welcome it because I think it’s being handled by a very good cast of actors.
I must admit I had fears and flashbacks to the early episodes of Heirs, which I really don’t want this drama to become. But where Lee Min Ho allowed himself to look pathetic while pining for the girl he loves, Kim Woo Bin manages to pull his character away from becoming completely pathetic. And that’s a good thing, because Shin Joon Young could easily become a pathetic character who does nothing while he waits to die. Instead, we see Shin Joon Young at the moment where he’s still in denial but also starting to feel the depression sink in. He’s still doing things and trying to remain active in the mind and body, but he’s slowly giving up on his career. Kim Woo Bin gives him life in some scenes, and then makes him completely lackluster in the next just so you know where his state of mind is. Before we get too depressed in the show, we are given glimpses of comedy. For example, after his mother pretty much kicks him out of the restaurant without a single bite to eat, Joon Young asks for just a sip of his mother’s famous stew from another customer’s bowl.
I found myself liking how Suzy portrayed No Eul. She could easily be annoying with her plucky attitude and almost grating personality. But she provides moments of thoughtful silence where you can see No Eul calculating what her next moves should be. I’m also looking forward to meeting Im Joo Eun playing Yoon Jung Eun, whom I’m sure will play the foil to No Eul and be the other love interest. I haven’t encountered a character that I have not liked with Im Joo Eun as the actress, so I’m anticipating a battle for the two of them.
It is so easy to see how this show will be a hit, as it’s hitting all the right melodramatic notes, it’s got the textbook OST that has soaring ballads being overused one too many times, it’s got the right actors, it’s got the pretty cinematography, and it’s predictable as heck. I’m someone who usually stays away from these types of dramas; as much as I planned to watch Descendants of the Sun I couldn’t really get past the first episode because I felt like I knew everything it was going to give me. I could watch Doctor Crush but I can’t bring myself to watch Park Shin Hye opposite Kim Rae Won. I even initially thought that this drama was going to be terribly imbalanced between Kim Woo Bin and Suzy because I couldn’t believe their pairing. So why this one? It’s a question I asked myself as I was watching it, and it’s a question I asked as I was recapping.
And the answer is… I have no good answer. I think aside from everything that makes it your “typical Korean drama,” this show still manages to stay grounded by forgoing expensive overseas shoots and crazy crane shots. It might happen, it’s true – but first impressions are lasting and usually they would have done the impressive overseas shoots already. Based on her resume, the writer, Lee Kyung Hee, is an expert on melodramas so she knows exactly what she’s doing without overdoing it. She has allayed my fears of the show not being able to handle the comedic elements alongside the melodramatic elements. So as I watch Uncontrollably Fond, I feel like I’m being very deftly handled by a writer who may be coloring by the numbers, but painting a beautiful and intricate picture, nevertheless.
I’ve been converted. If it keeps up its tone and pace, this could be quite the decent drama.