“Uncontrollably Fond” (함부로 애틋하게)

uncontrobally-fond

By Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
November 10, 2016

2 stars

Shin Joon-Young (played by Kim Woo-Bin)
No Eul (played by Suzy)
Choi Ji-Tae/ Lee Hyun-Woo (played by Im Ju-Hwan)

What would you do if you knew that you had three months left to live? Would you spend it with the ones you love, or would you try to right the wrongs in which you played a part?

That’s the dilemma for Korea’s top Hallyu star Joon-Young, who is dying. I don’t feel bad about revealing this bit of information, because it’s divulged early on in this series.

Joon-Young was raised bv his single mother. Though he was handsome and popular with the girls in school, he got into fights with boys, who felt they were better than him since they had fathers and he didn’t.

He will, of course, fall in love with Eul. But their relationship will be complicated, thanks to murder, a coverup and revenge.

The most maddening part of this series was how many days Joon-Young wasted in the short time he still had left. It reminded me of “I’m Sorry, I Love You,” where the lead character knew he was dying. Yet, he spent most of his time running away from the woman he loved, because he thought that would make it easier on her after he died.

I’m not sure if there’s an easier way for survivors to deal with the premature deaths of their loved ones. I’ve always believed that one of the best gifts you can give someone is your time. When you show up at someone’s wedding and sit through a long service and reception — or you come out to pay respects at someone’s wake or funeral — the time that you’ve shared is more valuable (to me, anyhow) than any present.

For the person who is dying, memories can be the most precious gift that you can give the survivors. Your friends and relatives will grieve your death regardless. But, those memories will help them heal.

Before going on, take a look at this character relationship chart from allkpop. It’s helpful in keeping track of the intertwined relationships between the characters:

uncontrollably-fond-cast

Neither of the leads (Kim Woo-Bin, Suzy) is as skilled as more mature actors (such as So Ji-Sub and Shin Min-Ah in “Oh My Venus“). But overall, they did a good job with the melodramatic material they were given.

What I really disliked is the writers’ attempt to manipulate viewers’ emotions. Don’t give us heartless, immoral characters (like Ji-Tae’s parents), have them do one or two good things and then expect us to root for them. When they do this, it reminds me of “Melrose Place,” rather than a quality drama.

Violence as love:

In Episode 6, in what is supposed to be an awwwww-inducing moment, Eul pretends to be asleep after drinking too much. Joon-Young cares for her and cleans her up and says softly to himself, “What am I to do? Hit you, until you say you don’t like that other man.”

WTactualF?

Ick factor:

Hyeon-Joon’s daughter is infatuated with Joon-Young, not realizing they are half siblings.

Airdates: 

This 20-episode series aired on KBS2 from July 6 to September 8, 2016.

Spoiler alert:

There are very few redeeming characters in this series.  Let’s do a tally, shall we?

Joon-Young‘s parents are pieces of work. Hyeon-Joon abandoned Young-Ok when she was pregnant. Early on, we are told that she was ordered to break up with him by Hyeon-Joon’s older brother, because she wasn’t a suitable match fo him. But later we learn that Hyeon-Joon made that decision for himself.

√ Hyeon-Joon’s socially-acceptable wife, Eun-Soo, is so blinded by power that she will stop at literally nothing to maintain that status quo — even if that means having her son, Ji-Tae, killed. Surprise! He lives. And, he continues to live in the same house as them even after he find out what she did.

√ Young-Ok placed Hyeon-Joon on a pedastal and never blamed him for abandoning her when she was pregnant. Raising a child by yourself isn’t easy anywhere, but in South Korea — where single moms are treated horribly and often encouraged to give their children up for adoption — it’s almost impossible. She shunned her son for not becoming a prominent prosecutor like his father. In what world is it more prestigous to be a government employee than the country’s most famous movie star? The fact that she refused to have anything to do with Joon-Young in the early episodes made her an incredibly unlikeable character — even after she softened up near the end when her kid was dying.

Joon-Young isn’t without fault, either. Unbeknownst to each other, he and his step-brother, Ji-Tae, both saw a driver hit and kill Eul‘s father and then speed away. Instead of reporting it to the police — or attempting to help the dying man — they chose to protect their dad, who was ordered by the driver’s wealthy and powerful father to “fix” the case.

Ji-Tae is a jerk, too. Riddled with guilt, he befriends Eul and her little brother, by pretending to be a poor graduate student named Hyun-Woo. He does so because he knows that Eul would never be interested in dating the son of the prosecutor who fudged her father’s case.

Jeong-Eun — the hit-and-run driver — is a sociopath who is occassionally haunted by what she has done, but then dismisses it by saying that everyone has to die some time, and that isn’t it really a blessing that he died without putting his family through the financial wringer by staying hospitalized and alive?

√ Last, there is Eul — the trod-upon heroine of this series. Trying to escape loan sharks, thanks to the bills accumulated by her deceased parents, she takes bribes left and right from influential business people to not report on their wrongdoings. Here’s the thing: I get that she has to do what she has to do to survive and take care of her brother. But it almost becomes a joke how easily she is bought. When Eun-Soo offers her the equivalent of almost $10 million to stay away from Ji-Tae, she accepts, before returning it. She tells Eun-Soo that she will still stay away from Ji-Tae and she won’t reveal their family’s illegal actions. That’s taking the moral high road? No, girl! You’ve already been bribed so many times. If you’re not planning on turning them in for their illegal transactions, then take the money, pay off all your debts, buy a house for you and your brother and pay for his soon-to-be college tuition. And then turn them in anyways! There is no honor among thieves, remember?

You never know in these dramas if someone who is expected to die actually will. Joon-Young does not survive. He dies quietly in Eul’s arms. The scene was beautifully acted and filmed with understated grace. I wish the series showrunners had concentrated more on moments like this, rather than the convoluted plotline that made this drama drag on.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (3)

  1. Pat says:

    It is true that the best thing you can give someone is the gift of time. frown emoticon

  2. Kathy Hewett Tsudama says:

    I’ve yet to watch UF yet. I know people who still aren’t over this one.

  3. Jenny Lee says:

    Agreed. I was so frustrated that he kept it a secret for so long, especially from his mom.

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