By Jae-Ha Kim
March 10, 2017
Kim Bok-Joo (played by Lee Sung-Kyung)
Jung Joon-Hyung (played by Nam Joo-Hyuk)
Jung Jae-Yi (played by Lee Jae-Yoon)
If I were to rate this series, I would give it a 👎 for the first half. But the second half … wow. It was worth sitting through eight hours of meh to get to the satisfying ending.
Bok-Joo is the top female wrestler at her school. In order to give the other women on her team a chance of medaling, her coach asks her to go up a weight class. The 5-foot-9 athlete weighs roughly 127 pounds and must go up by about 10 pounds. Bear in mind that by U.S. standards, she would be considered thin. But much is made of the fact that she’s a big, overweight girl.
When she reunites with elementary school classmate, Joon-Hyung — who, as one of the country’s top swimmers, is the Big Man on Campus — they forge a friendship.
Their friendship is complicated by his jealous ex-girlfriend, Shi-Ho (played by Kyung Soo-Jin). Once an Olympic contender for rhythmic gymnastics, she is crumbling under her family’s expectation that she becomes famous and rich. As she grows out of her teen years, she has gained a few unwanted pounds that she can’t shake and that is affecting her confidence and performance. Though she dumped Joon-Hyung when he needed her the most, she now wants him back.
Also involved is Joon-Hyung’s older brother, Jae-Yi, who is a handsome and kind doctor (who seems clueless about the effect he has on women). Bok-Joo develops a crush on him and concocts a lie about being a cellist, because she is embarrassed about admitting that she is a weightlighter who could probably bench press him.
Willowy Lee Sung-Kyung — a former model who gained a bit of weight to play this starring role — is unconvincing physically as a powerhouse athlete. Judging by her physique, she would be better suited portraying a pole vaulter, long distance runner or volleyball player. That’s actually less of a problem than some of her acting. I’m not sure why the director wanted her to mug so much on camera. Early on, her facial expressions were so over-the-top that they took away from the dialogue.
This kind of mugging also hindered her performance in “Cheese in the Trap.” She is a solid actress when given the chance. (Watch Lee’s performance in “Doctor Crush” to see what she’s capable of doing.)
Sixteen episodes aired on MBC from November 16, 2016 to January 11, 2017.
Spoiler alert /Adoption element:
There was an important plot element that was never addressed that really bothered me. When Joon-Hyung was 9, his widowed mother left him in Korea with his aunt and uncle. So that she could get remarried. And move to Canada. Without him.
What? The? Frack?
They didn’t seem to be poor, so the marriage likely wasn’t driven by poverty. Why couldn’t she take Joon-Hyung with her? Was it related to immigration issues? Or did she not want to “burden” her new husband with a child who wasn’t biologically his? Which leads to the question: Who would want to marry a man who thinks it’s fine and dandy to leave his wife’s child behind?
This mother sends him three postcards. After that, she stops. So his aunt continues to send them to him — along with birthday and Christmas gifts — pretending that they were sent by his mother. He figures this out eventually, but never says anything, because he doesn’t want to hurt his aunt and uncle’s feelings. But wouldn’t anyone over the age of 12 look at the postmark and think, “Wait? Is my mom in Korea? Why aren’t the postmarks from overseas? Ahhh, my aunt and uncle must be sending me these instead…”
In episode 10, Jung-Hyung’s therapist asks if he ever wanted to contact his bio mom. He says no. His aunt and uncle raised him as their own and he feels like it would be a betrayal to them. 🙁
The mother does show up eventually … and it is heartbreaking. She didn’t come to see him, per se, but to ask her brother-in-law for $20,000 to pay for her daughter’s surgery. Which made me wonder — why would she need that? Wouldn’t most of that be covered by Canada’s socialized health insurance plans?
She tells Jung-Hyung that she thinks of him all the time and wondered what he was like as he was growing up. Then…Why hadn’t she returned to visit her son? Why didn’t she have him visit her in Canada, even if only for a short trip? Surely if she and her husband couldn’t afford it, her in laws would’ve sprung for a plane ticket.
And not for nothing but … Bitch — this is the 21st century. There is Skype and Kakao and this thing called The Internets. She could’ve easily kept in touch with him, but chose not to.
@2017 Jae-Ha Kim | All Rights Reserved
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