Fate decides, until, challenged by the fated!

beloved eun dong

Every sacred mission, every hunt for hidden relics, every pilgrimage from one end of the earth to the other … I was looking for you. 
Dianna HardyThe Demon Bride

Title
Beloved Eun-dong (2015)
Also known as
My Love Eun-dong    &     Eun-dong Whom I Love
Genre
Melodrama, Romance
Written by
Baek Mi-kyung
Directed by
Lee Tae-gon    &    Kim Jae-hong
Starring
 Joo Jin-mo   &   Kim Sa-rang (adults),    Baek Sung-hyun   &   Yoon So-hee (twenties couple),    Park Jinyoung   &   Lee Ja-in
Country of Origin
South Korea
Episodes
16

oh! brief

This kdrama is supposed to be a quaint romance about a couple who fell in love with each other, not once, but twice in the past. The relationship spans more than two decades. Starting when they were teens and coming to the present day where the male lead is searching, once again, for his lost love.

The story begins when popular Eun-ho (whose birth name is Park Hyun-soo) employs the services of a ghostwriter (Seo Jung-eun) to help him write his autobiography. The writing of this autobiography is important as he wants to journal his life’s search for his first love, Ji Eun-dong. He confesses to the ghostwriter that he only entered the field of acting to use the limelight associated with being a star to try and locate his love. The ghostwriter helps him to travel back in time and recall memories of how he first met Ji Eun-dong, how their love developed, and why he lost her.

oh! talks drama

This is one of the first Hallyu kdrama’s I watched where I actually understood what Hallyu meant.  While this kdrama was listed as romance and melodrama, I found the romance a little sinister and the melodrama quite scary, to be honest. Not in the scary, I fear for my life kind of way, but more like this isn’t healthy, WTF!?

Let me explain further.

The plot of this drama series is to reunite a lovesick actor with his first love, or the woman he is fated to be with but has lost. The story unfolds by travelling back into the past to revisit two periods of time in the past lives of the fated lovers. It appears to be seemingly sweet that this man is still searching for his long-lost love after more than 20 years have passed. I guess for some that are what they took away. The first time I watched this production I also got the whole romantic spin on the story, but something just seemed a little off, so I went back and watched every single episode again. The second time around, I took away a whole different story, more disturbing than I originally believed.

It’s essential to revisit the history between this couple to truly understand the present day situation and my take on the drama series.

The love I’m speaking of, blossoms out of a platonic friendship between an older male teen (17-year-old Hyun-soo as he starts out but later becomes Eun-ho) and a much younger girl (13-year-old Ji Eun-dong who later becomes Jung-eun). As the story progresses, we learn that they find each other through an accidental meeting in the rain and following this initial encounter, this young teenage boy finds himself strangely drawn to and wanting to protect and care for this younger girl who is living with her dying grandmother. Honestly, I can assure you that this is not usual or typical behaviour for a male teenager (whether he is in Korea or in Canada) and comes off just a little weird. A solid friendship blossoms between the two and a mutual liking, which again is very unusual for teens of both genders (just saying), but this is the way the story was written.

The early platonic friendship appears to be innocent and unconditional on the surface and the writing paints a youthful, carefree, sweet sibling-like relationship. The two younger actors did an amazing job with this and complimented each other superbly. The development of the teen platonic relationship builds a solid foundation for either way you decide to interpret the overall story. Unfortunately, as far as luck goes, they’re not that lucky as Eun-dong disappears. Somehow the rain plays a part in the ending of this period of time, as it did in the beginning.

So, this begs the question, if they are fated to be together, would fate have forced them apart so early? Hyun-soo comes across as being absolutely devastated (again not the kind of teenage behaviour I know and have witnessed) and he faithfully vows to search for her.

When they are reunited, again on a rainy day, the tables seem to favour Eun-dong — she has been adopted and doesn’t seem to be so forlorn and poor. She also says she is dating someone, although you never actually see her on a date with the ‘other’ person. Hyun-soo comes across for me as being overwrought and desperate. He knows how he feels about Eun-dong but she doesn’t reciprocate the same feelings immediately. I found Hyun-soo obsessive, intense and a little suffocating. He wants to monopolise her time. He follows her around. Yes, the writer makes the behaviours appear to be comedic but that doesn’t convince me entirely. Hyun-soo was intensely played in this era by Baek Sung-hyun. The two eventually admit their feelings for each other, share some purely magical moments and then once again, Eun-dong disappears. Not by choice. Once again the rain plays a part in their separation, as it did in their coming together.

I know I keep mentioning the rain, believe me, it is significant, whichever way you wish to interpret this drama series. I’ll get to its significance soon.

In the final era, present day, the tables have turned once again. Hyun-soo has changed his name to Ji Eun-ho and is now an established actor who is still obsessed with finding his love Eun-dong. It is very sad and at the same time poignant. But is it also a consuming fixation? Eun-dong has a new name (Jung-eun), in the present day and a new life which includes a husband and a young son (Ra Il).

As this era progresses, we find that Jung-eun has so many obstacles to overcome if she is going to find herself and then reunite with her love. The most important of those obstacles is regaining her memory and overcoming the brainwashing she has been subjected to. Jung-eun has been living as a completely different woman. It is extremely tragic when you look at it from the outside. But she is so submissive and just bows her head and carries on with no questioning. This may be to do with the Korean culture of respect one’s elders, but it’s more to me, it is like she has lost all hope.

Again, in the present day, Eun-ho is acting irrationally and over-the-top obsessive and jealous. He wins her, of course, he does, but that doesn’t excuse the focus and one-tracked mind he has. He is almost stalker-like in how fixated he becomes, it is borderline scary but Jung-eun is oblivious to it. I recognised it as I watched from the outside. This is often true of women caught in a similar situation, they don’t realise how crazy their relationship is, but their friends and family often do. There were times where I caught myself thinking that Eun-ho was suffering from some sort of mental health issue. This kind of person could fast become the type that could threaten the life of his love-interest. The intensity of his emotions, this all-consuming search for his love to the point that he chooses a career and a name that might bring him back to her, is life-defining and tragic. I’m not sure I find this idea romantic! I did, however, see it that way the first time I watched this drama.

All of what I have written so far does not take away the fact that I absolutely loved this kdrama. I didn’t view it as a heartfelt retelling of a tragic love story or as most will, a story of love that begs reciprocation.  But I enjoyed the story, I respected the actors and actresses who were carefully and specifically chosen to complement each other. And they did!

I think the characters came across well, for the most part.

You could view Eun-ho in at least two ways depending on your interpretation of fated lovers, perhaps tainted by your own longing and heartache. The actors who played the younger Eun-ho earlier in his life (Park Jinyoung and Baek Sung-hyun) did very well in setting up the present day. Joo Jin-mo who played the present Eun-ho was mesmerising and hypnotic as either the lover or obsessed ex-lover. He had just the right balance of masculinity and emotion for his character, regardless of whether you saw him as romantic or something a little more sinister. He was broody and the longing and desire he had for Jung-eun, just radiated from him. His performance was tinged with sadness that you could see physically in his features and understand from his raw emotional displays.

Kim Sa-rang who plays present-day Jung-eun played the submissive faultlessly. Not only did she appear to be sweet-natured and gentle, she embodied those throughout, set up of course by the two younger actors who played her role (Lee Ja-in and Yoon So-hee). They all did a terrific job of performing exactly how this character should have.

And together our main characters were just so yin and yang. The chemistry of all three couples, was unspoilt, whether sweet and innocent, or falling in love, or longing and desiring each other. Just flawless!

On the whole, I think the screenplay was skilfully written so that two interpretations could be found. I’m not sure if this was the intent, I suspect not knowing what I do about k drama. If it simply happened by coincidence, then, the writer has more skill than he has been given credit for!  I think the dialogue was cleverly crafted and progressed from innocent and shy to flirty and risqué to honest and heartfelt. I also believe that the character development was shrewdly accomplished in the script.  This writer had much insight, I wonder if there was some personal investment in a particular character, or, the story as a whole. These latter aspects are the absolutes for me and the reasons why this drama series, is in my books, a must watch! But if you’re still not sold here’s a few more reasons, take them as they are, mere observations and personal interpretations.

This production had a little of everything but if you were looking for a typical Hallyu ending, you won’t find it here — there is no sad tragic ending! Eun-dong’s ending is more laid-back and mellow, with the opportunity to expand and create your own original ending. I liked the fact that this drama didn’t have a typical ‘happily-ever-after’ ending but instead ending on a positive note, with an open-ended interpretation. Does Eun-ho remove himself from Jung-eun’s life to give her time to heal and find him when she and her son are both ready and healthy emotionally? Does Jung-eun find herself, the young lady she lost before the accident? There is room here for a follow-up series

The cinematography was breathtaking for specific scenes (you’ll know which ones) and was complimented with a beautiful soundtrack.

oh! sidekick

One other character that must be mentioned is Choi Jae Ho. This character was so well-written that you couldn’t help but hate him or pity him. I think I’d rather be hated than pitied, personally. He was despicable in his treatment of Jung-eun.  He was so incredibly selfish but much like Eun-ho, he was completely obsessed with his wife. The sad thing realisation I came to was that I didn’t believe he felt love for Jung-eun. I believed it was more about possessing her person he couldn’t have completely and that is also scary in the ‘WTF!?’ way I have already mentioned before. Kim Tae-hoon, who I loved in this role but loathed his character, was, exceptional in his delivery of the super-clingy, helpless yet extremely manipulative Jae Ho. WOW!! I think it’s but people will overlook the skill of his performance when they get caught up in the romance and fantasy of Eun-ho and Eun-dong. If you do decide to watch or have already watched, go back and watch again, because this man offers a talented performance in this role.

oh! tidbits

The rain repeats itself at each encounter between the lovers and somewhere around the time of each departure. So what do you think the rain here means? For me, rain has significant meaning. Firstly, it diminishes or hides the sunlight, so if you think of that in human terms it represents the darker emotions like sadness, depression, loneliness, neglect, etc. In literature, it is often used metaphorically to represent dissatisfaction and even restlessness. And in theatre and film, it has been used to heighten drama sometimes as a sense of foreboding. All of this rang true for me who envisioned a more sinister story than I think was intended.

Another hidden gem or as my son likes to call them, ‘an easter egg’ was the fact that the Eun-ho and Jung-eun went to watch the “Notebook” together during their twenties. That film is almost a mirror-image of their own love affair — fated lovers (one of them extremely obsessive) doomed to lose each other only to find one another again later in life. The parallel between these two love affairs is noticeable.

oh! that’s a wrap

I am a firm believer in fate, destiny and karma and so I could understand the premise for this drama. Whether by design or by fate’s hand the two main characters were destined to be together. Most people will walk away after watching this drama with a warm, tingly feeling because that is the purpose.

If you love fate, destiny, karma themed dramas this one is a keeper. It is also one I am certain to watch again.

oh! … soundtrack

Beloved Eun Dong

oh! gallery

As usual with my posts, I have mixed behind the scenes photos with actual photos of scenes from the drama. Here they are in no particular order and save maybe one or two, they are not from an official source. Enjoy!

oh! … trailers

Written by