So I re-watched Who Are You with an open mind and you know what? I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t too bad. It won’t ever be one of my favorites but instead of hovering around the upper bottom, it has worked its way to solid middle. If I were in school it would be a solid B-. Which is unfortunate–not for the drama–(congratulations drama)–but for my schedule. I’ve been contemplating a move to just reviewing as I go along rather than doing the rewatch. Where at one time I was seriously concerned I was going to run out of Kdramas, I realized that, with how quickly they come out, that this was not only not going to happen, but that I am super backlogged with shows on the TBW list.
I told myself the rewatch didn’t matter. How often did I change my mind? Also, if I did it while with the “Ahhh I just watched a Kdrama” sheen still on , wouldn’t the review be more interesting? Ummm….
But now I have to rethink my plans. I reread what I wrote in the post right after I watched this the first time and I seriously didn’t care for this drama. Yes, there were parts I liked, but the irritating issues far drowned them out. Now? I still liked what I liked and the irritating parts were definitely toned down.
Initially my main issue was with the father and how, ugh, over the top he was. Also how reckless. He seemed like one of those typical bad Kdrama parents. Not a Big Bad Kdrama Mama, but the slacker happy-go-lucky parent who leaves the grunt work to the children (See JanDi’s parents in Boys Over Flowers). Come on, what are with all of these terrible, irresponsible parents? I definitely see a post in my future.
In Who Are You, I wondered why the hell the father was out there going to dancing classes, dating a woman when his daughter is getting harassed at school by loan sharks. Seriously. It’s called a second job, buddy. Then on top of it, he does ruin Seung Hyo’s career. I worry in the future how Seung Hyo’s going to support himself. Is he going to start at the bottom again? No firm is going to hire a president with his record. I’m pretty sure his only option is an entirely different field.
I do understand what the show needed to establish at the beginning. These two characters who would eventually share one body needed to be polar opposites. Il Gun therefore was over the top, wacky and animated while Seung Hyo is completely cold and closed off with his OCD. We as viewers needed to clearly know who was in the body at which time.
You know. Especially once the romance with the daughter started.
Once we were more connected to the characters and they to guys started to learn from each other, both sides started to calm down and meet more in the center–while still being two separate individuals. This is when I really started enjoying the drama. Seung Ho’s character arc was well crafted and well acted. He doesn’t really know how to be a regular person until these two people come into his life. He has built this wall around himself with his personality and the OCD, which no one breaks though, until he is forced to be with Il Gun. Interesting plot device. You literally cannot get away from the other person. And since the other person is determined to stay close to his daughter, you have no choice but to be with her as well.
Seung Ho doesn’t like it and really doesn’t know what to do with his new developing feelings for Young In. (Seriously, how cute was it when he admitted she was his first love to Young Duk? So cute.) It’s funny to see him try to express himself and his wishes always comes out as a demand. He just can’t tell her how he feels especially when it comes to his jealousy of our villain Jae Ha. It just makes whenever he is nice to her, or his small gestures all the more important.
Which is when my irritation for the father kicks back in. At the beginning we didn’t care for the hero. He was a Grade A jerk, who deserved to be played with. However, once he starts to soften, we see how sad and alone he is, and the heroine starts fighting for him rather than against him, our loyalties now rest with Seung Ho and our main couple. When he realizes the two have feelings for each other, Il Gun starts jabbing at our hero telling him he’s not good enough for his daughter and saying such crappy things to him, we can see the chunks it starts taking out of our hero.
And we are not pleased.
Of course, this could just be me. In any story once my couple begins to gel, I hate anyone who gets in their way. I was going to say especially if it’s a well meaning parent, but then thought about it, and ex-girlfriends, wannabe girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, wannabe boyfriends, business rivals–really any of the usual break up the couple suspects irritate me just as much.
You have to give it to Il Gun, for all his embarrassing ways, he is actually a great father. He has nothing but his daughters interests at heart. Surprisingly, he’s actually pretty wise. Or maybe this is brought out by either by his connection to Seung Ho, or, you know, being dead.
The body swap was done well. You never get the feeling “Ugh, is she dating her dad?”. The only thing that irritated me was where the father was when he was outside the body. He had to stay within a 3 km radius of the body. Fine. So there were scenes where you had the couple and whatever they were doing and the father was right there. I get it. However, once the couple starts to get together and it’s not convenient for the dad to be hanging around during the coupe-building scenes, the dad is just, not there. There are a few times where yes, in his off time, he’s hanging around with the girlfriend. Or he’s been summoned by the death-guy (because of 49 Days I want to call him the Scheduler). However, mostly he’s just not there. Where is he during these important scenes? Taking a nap in the car? I don’t think so, especially once he realizes the couple have feelings for each other and tries to break them up. It just doesn’t follow. And since I’m sitting there wondering where the dad-ghost is, it kind of takes away from the important scene playing out in front of me.
A large part of the plot is given to the missing paintings. They are basically what drives the plot forward, but really they are a Mcguffin. The paintings are ultimately unimportant. Even the death-guy tells Il Gun time and again to leave the circumstances of his death and the paintings alone. The reason he came back was to spend time with his daughter, not to actually do anything for her. Closure. The only thing the paintings get us are the villains mainly Shim Jae Ha and his lackey Cha Ho Joong.
Okay, the only good thing the paintings give us is Shim Jae Ha. Cha Ho Joong, as main lackey, kidnapper, thug, and surprising half brother to our hero, didn’t really seem necessary. Yes, the hero got a wee more angst from it, but was that really necessary? I don’t think there was anything Cha Ho Joong did which wouldn’t have been more interesting if it had been done by our main villain Jae Ha. Wouldn’t have been an interesting twist if Jae Ha had actually not reported the accident? Or if he had even kidnapped Young In. He liked her, but he thought he was too far gone in bad guy territory. His pussy-footing around being bad without actually being bad wasn’t as interesting as it could have been. As it was I don’t get his motivation. Why did they need the paintings so badly–badly enough to almost kill and torture? Seriously. At the beginning the bad guys almost rape Young In. Her father owed them money, but you find out later they are actually being controlled by Jae Ha. It makes his, I’m just now becoming a bad guy, doubtful–because we know these other facts.
Here’s the kicker though. I liked him. I wanted him to be an almost good guy. When he tells Young In he wanted to be a musical actor but he had to quit when his father died. Okay, I get that. That’s good motivation. He couldn’t cut it in his chosen field, his parents probably disapproved, then his dad dies? Okay. He wants to make the gallery a success either in honor of his dead father or to try to appease him. But then we find out his father isn’t actually dead?
Um… huh. Well I’m out then.
I do like how he tries to redeem himself at the end. When he goes to Young In to basically try again, although he knows there is no chance for him. He’s already gotten the paintings, at this point he doesn’t need anything from her.
Jae Ha: I just wanted to come. I know I should have but I was worried. I know you won’t allow me to stay but I wanted to see how you were doing. I gathered all my courage and came but I don’t think I have any left now that I’m in front of you. When your dad’s paintings are sold, royalties will be paid to you. You don’t have to do any work, you can go to college and draw cartoons as much as you want, I’ll help. I know we started off in the wrong direction, but I want to make amends. I’d like to start all over with you, so I can do something for you in my life Won’t you allow me?
Young In: No. I don’t wish to see you. We don’t know each other even if we ever meet on the street. Then, goodbye.
This is the one time you can truly believe what he is saying. And let me say–way to Young In for being so awesome at that moment.
Okay, so I’ve talked about all our lead guys, dead and alive. Do I have anything to say about our heroine? Well, ah… She’s very pretty? No, I didn’t hate her. I understand why she does a lot of the things she does. Why she’s so mean to her father and his girlfriend. Does she mature? Well, not really. We see her as being pretty immature the first, I dunno, half hour? Then her father dies and more and more terrible things happen to her. She becomes older and is forced to mature pretty quickly. She seems like a pretty well formed character right from the beginning. But with two main guy leads arcing all over the place, perhaps she didn’t really need to. This wasn’t really her story–she was what the two men achieved at the end–basically she and her favor was the reward for their own journeys.
And I’m okay with that.
I’m not really okay with our lead actress. Would this have been a better show with a better or more expressive actress? Possibly. While she cried prettily, and had a little spunk, there was a lot of woody-ness in there. Take the last scene. Or the last minute of the last scene. The man you love, who you have fought to be by his side, finally tells you he loves you. Not only that he loves you but that he will love you forever and then bends in for a sweet kiss? And the only facial expression you can come up with is awkward, what are you doing? Seriously. It’s not even your first kiss (which I much prefer). I just don’t buy it and it casts a shadow on my “awww….” happy ending. I’m not asking you to jump him. A smile, heck even a smize (shout out to any ANTM fans out there), would do it for me.
One thing I liked about the heroine was her friends. In Kdrama, you don’t really see our heroes or heroines have friends. Which is weird. These two people and their devotion to each other and Young In was so sweet. You could sense the combined history they all had. . I actually wished there was more with them. I really wanted to see them get together at the end. Unfortunately, the writers, after creating these two characters, didn’t really know what to do with them. They would be picked up and dropped as the story needed–but then would have a scene which had nothing to do with the plot. Showing their two normal lives together. I was pretty disappointed that the writers just left them hanging, never revisiting them. With two such strong characters, again who had their own scenes throughout the drama with nary a main character in sight, deserved better. I actually would have loved to see a drama about them. A lead actress in a wheelchair would be interesting.
The two actors were so good in the parts too. I liked Lee Min Jung as the fiancée in Boys Over Flowers and Lee Un as Min Yeop in Coffee Prince. Their parts weren’t big, but they really made the most of them. I wish Lee Min Jung would do more dramas–I’d love to see her as a lead. Unfortunately, Lee Un died after completion of Strongest Chil Woo, which is a shame, I didn’t think much of him in Coffee Prince, but I really liked him here. He wasn’t lead guy material but was an interesting B guy.
So, would I watch this again? Probably not. But I liked the main couple enough that I will probably do a highlight reel in the future. Would I recommend this to others. Well. It’s not bad. It’s never going to be a “Hey, you should totally watch….” but if someone wants to watch something with an interesting premise, a very well done hero, and has pet turtles? Yep. I’d totally tell them to check it out.
Okay, I had a place earlier where this quote fit in. I changed the text and had to take it out, however, this is one of my favorite parts of the show. It’s Seung Ho’s voiceover talking to, the now hopefully in heaven, Il Gun. So here it is:
I met you at the end of a very cold winter… and we spent the short winter and spring together. Now I am alone again. You were a ghost and a I was alive for the time we spent together… but I realized I was the one who was actually the ghost, not you. Thank you for reviving my life that was joyless and lifeless.
Thank you for making me realize that the pain in my heart covered with scabs and anger was actually my love for the world. I will love as much as I can. The world, myself, and your daughter. I am 11 years older but I will love her with all my heart including your share. I will love her a today, at this moment, without leaving anything for later. Because today is the very first day of my remaining life.