Drama Check-In 10/26/2018

Friday, October 26, 2018

Drama Check-In is a recurring post that helps to keep track of dramas I'm currently watching and allows me to share immediate thoughts on them as I go through the episodes. The intention is to write down my prevalent impressions and encourage readers to do the same in the comments. Discussion is welcome.
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (8/16)
After finishing up My ID is Gangnam Beauty and Thirty But Seventeen (final verdicts up on the Ratings page), I've only managed to keep up with one new series—The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. It is a fairly interesting mix of crime, mystery and romance, though it was mostly advertised as a melodrama. It's also a remake of the 2002 Japanese series Hundred Milion Stars from the Sky, which I haven't seen and know nothing about. So for me, the storyline feels fresh and the characters unpredictable.

At the centre of the story is Moo Young who's certainly not your average K-drama male lead. At best he's morally grey, at worst...well, possibly a killer. I don't believe he is the latter, though, but I am very curious about his part in the murder mystery as well as in everything else going on in the story. Clearly, he's no saint but I do think his seemingly nonchalant attitude towards serious matters is a carefully-maintained facade to hide the fact that he can't feel genuine happiness, anger, sadness, or what have you. In his responses to Jin Kang, he has mentioned not really understanding his own behaviour either, as if he's so numb to everything going on around him that nothing really evokes a true reaction from him. Perhaps toying with people, especially women, is just a test to see if anything makes him feel again? 

Of course, there is a notable change in Moo Young's behaviour when interacting with Jin Kang, who sees through his bullshit and call him out on it. While his initial interest in her was more out of curious amusement, he quickly figured out that he actually likes her. Whether or not he believes that his feelings are genuine or not, I have no clue, but he definitely sees a kindred spirit in her. It's with her that we learn most about the real Moo Young, even if it's still not enough to form a full picture about who he is. In any case, he shows real concern for Jin Kang and seems to feel bad whenever he pisses her off, as if disappointing her is the only thing he feels guilty about.

Meanwhile, Jin Kang also feels an unspoken connection between them, but she's smart enough to never let her guard down entirely. She knows Moo Young is hardly boyfriend material and that's perhaps why she is trying to convince herself that she should be with Cho Rong (who, poor thing, is deeply taken with her at this point). I can't blame her for doing so, although I feel bad for Cho Rong, because Jin Kang's inner turmoil is very believable. She's a reasonable girl who's trying to fight her feelings towards a guy that she knows is bad news. At the same time, however, she can't really stay away because she has been through the same experiences as him and knows what it's like to grow up as an outcast. She's torn, and understandably so.

Jin Kang's brother Jin Kook is unaware of all this, though he senses there is something going on between his little sister and the man involved in a murder case. It's evident that Jin Kook knows more about Moo Young's past and while I'm terribly anxious to find out what that is, I'm also starting to think that maybe I don't want to find out. Jin Kook's own past is also rather mysterious, from the fact that despite his solid detective skills he's given very little responsibility at work to the revelation that Jin Kang is not his real sister. Whatever his past may be, I hope it won't ruin his relationship with Jin Kang to whom he is a wonderful big brother. 

It is interesting though, that Jin Kook gives off these brotherly/fatherly vibes in almost all of his relationships (excluding So Jung, of course, because Jin Kook totally thinks she's pretty). He's like that with Cho Rong and recently also with the otherwise prickly Yoo Ri, but perhaps most surprisingly, I also get that vibe with Moo Young. Although Jin Kook has accused the latter of murder and is often openly hostile towards him, there are moments where Jin Kook talks to Moo Young in almost brotherly way. I don't know if it's intentional or if it's just the feeling that I personally get, but I find it rather interesting. I don't suppose the two of them are going to truly bond anytime soon, though, especially after Seung Ah's death.

Speaking of whom, I can't say I'm terribly broken up about Seung Ah's unexpected demise in the latest episode. On the one hand, she was being manipulated with by pretty much everyone in her life and was a victim in many ways, but on the other hand, I found her naivety quite off-putting. She was a grown-up after all and falling in love so blindly as she did made me really question her intelligence. No wonder Moo Young got bored of her so quickly. She really wasn't much of a challenge, was she?

I did, however, find Seung Ah's fiance(?) Woo Sang interesting and was rather disappointed to see him go so soon. I would have liked to see him and Moo Young try to outwit each other more, especially since Woo Sang seemed to be getting more chaotic out of what I assume was jealousy. It was unclear if Woo Sang had real feelings for Seung Ah or if he was just angry that someone else took away his plaything, but now we'll never know...

Overall, this series has kept my solid interest each week. The cast is great, story is intriguing and writing seems solid so far. I almost can't believe that it's half-way done already because I still can't figure out these characters. I have, however, grown rather attached to them and that makes me nervous about what's to come. Even though I have no clue what happened in the original Japanese series, I think I have a pretty good idea how tragic older Japanese melodramas can be. That doesn't necessarily mean the Korean version will take the same route, but I don't expect things to end happily. And I'm not good with unhappy endings...welp.

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