Time is but a destination ….

What if tomorrow vanished in the storm? What if time stood still?

And yesterday — if once we lost our way, blundered in the storm —

Would we find yesterdat again ahead of is, where we had thought tomorrow’s sun would rise?

Robert Nathan, Portrait of Jennie

Title
Splash, Splash, Love (2015)
Also known as
Pongdang Pongdang LOVE
Genre
Fantasy, Fusion Sageuk,  Romance, Rom-Com
Written by
 Kim Ji-hyun
Directed by
Kim Ji-hyun
Country of Origin
South Korea
Episodes

oh! … brief

A teenaged girl, Jang Dan-bi, who suffers from an irrational fear of Mathematics, is headed to sit her College Scholastic Ability Test. When she decides to ditch the test, she travels through a water time portal to the Joseon era.

There she is mistaken for a eunuch and is forced to serve King Lee Do. King Lee Do and Jang Dan-bi are drawn to each other and begin to develop romantic interests in one another, but Jang Dan-bi misses home and after missing one opportunity to return, she does eventually travel back to modern-day South Korea.

oh! … talks drama

If you’re looking to break the monotony of a day, or just don’t have time to dedicate to marathoning a full kdrama, then this very short (2 episodes only) series will suit. But be warned, if you’re looking for anything that has substance or prefers kdramas of a certain level, then this short production will not be of interest to you. It is purely entertaining at a very, very, VERY basic level. And maybe that is what makes it so appealing to so many fans?

Doubling as both director and writer for the production, Kim Ji-hyun used the popular novel Moonlight Drawn by Clouds to base his script off of. The novel was initially aired on a web platform, Naver, in 2013 and then published as a five-part series of books in 2015. Splash, Splash, Love is not the only kdrama to use the Moonlight Drawn by Clouds as the basis for a script, Love in the Moonlight was another exceptionally successful production.

In my opinion, Kim Ji-hyun’s script was in light tone with well-developed and fleshed-out characters. He created strappy dialogue exchanges between the characters which made watching the drama unfolding amusing and highly entertaining. Incorporating the fusion sageuk to create a little fantasy was a winning ploy by Kim Ji-hyun and allowed him to play on King Sejong’s history and use that to develop his character King Lee Do.

I honestly didn’t believe Kim Ji-hyun would master a full story in just two short episodes, but he utilized the time he had to pace his narrative well and the passage of time was depicted authentically. The best aspect, of course, being that the show required no excessive melodrama or sub-plots and so the two episodes proceed without the melodramatic angst you find in most kdramas. Where he did fall short, in my humble opinion, was in creating enough intensity and pathos. Instead, Kim Ji-hyun portrayed the culture-shock that Jang Dan-bi suffers from with delightful and comical antics like taking a selfie with a Joseon king or teaching him to write using a pen etc.

What I wasn’t so keen on was the ending. Jang Dan-bi travels back to South Korea, understandably because she misses her home, her mother and friends. There she meets a guy who resembles King Lee Do, who cryptically suggests they have known each other from before. I would have liked more development of who this young guy is in this modern timeline, instead of just a flashback to a one-time interaction of sorts on a bus. This is perhaps the one hiccup that Kim Ji-hyun left in his otherwise solid script.

In his role as director, Kim Ji-hyun chose the perfect actors and actresses for his cast and he directed their scenes exceptionally well. Of course, he didn’t create the amazing chemistry the two leads shared, but he almost certainly directed them on how to utilize that chemistry for the production. I almost always find the cinematography for kdramas to be of a high quality so I was concerned that for a two-episode production the quality would be gimmicky. There was no need for my concern. Kim Ji-hyun knew what he wanted from his cameramen and he got it. The right visual tones were created using lighting and then mirroring that in production values, the set, costumes and props. You wouldn’t have believed the quality if you understood the low budget that was in place. Kim Ji-hyun did an excellent job.

The soundtrack that accompanied the series was unique because of its very modern take and it didn’t, in my opinion, always fit well with the overall tone and visual narration. It included Fondant to You by Kim Hyung Joong, and Don’t Go by Jung Ji-chan.

A much smaller than usual cast was chosen to pull this kdrama together, but it included actors and actresses that brought the story itself to life.

King Lee Do was played by teenage heartbreaker Doo Joon. It isn’t easy to accurately describe Doo Joon’s acting style based on the two short episodes I watched or the fact that to me he is an unknown actor. He did, however, do an excellent job in his portrayal of a King in conflict with what he knows to be the right path in his heart but has to follow his court. Doo Joon did a fine job of bringing the comical side of his character to life and strongly portrayed a man falling in love. This was a good, strong performance for him.

Jang Dan-bi was played by Kim Seul Gi and much like her male counterpart, she gave an equally strong performance. Her interpretation of her character’s self-deprecation made her character intentionally appealing, especially to young teenaged fans who would feel an affinity to that kind of character trait. I enjoyed this performance because Kim Seul Gi acted with every fibre of her being – her eyes spoke volumes when her mouth stayed silent, her smile brightened up every scene, her vivacious personality was heightened by the lyrical tone of her voice. It was a well-rounded very professional performance, without coming across as such. Kim Seul Gi is a natural performer.

Together Doo Joon and Kim Seul Gi shared a natural chemistry that you just can’t fake. The two were comfortable in their own skins but extended that comfort level to their interactions and it was natural and easy-going. There’s something to be said about this natural ease and it’s something these two could teach some of the older more seasoned actors and actresses who sometimes come across as stiffs!

oh! … sidekicks

There were three other performances worth mentioning in their supporting roles.

The first and best-supporting performance was Jin Ki-joo who played both Jang Dan-bi’s friend in the modern timeline and Queen So-heon in the Joseon timeline. She gave a sound performance in this supporting role and was able to play both friend and Queen convincingly.

Ahn Hyo-seop played Che Ah-jin in the Joseon timeline and as Park Yeon in the modern timeline. I preferred his performance as Che Ah-jin, for one it’s the larger role but also because he suited the role of the mysterious music-playing warrior. Ahn Hyo-seop is an actor to watch for as he matures.

Lastly, Go Kyu-pil played Jang Dan-bi’s math teacher in the modern timeline and the Head Eunuch in the Joseon timeline. The roles were neither here nor there for me in length and it didn’t really offer the greatest opportunity to review the performance, but in a supporting role, Go Kyu-pil supported his leads and other characters with a solid performance.

oh! … that’s a wrap

The kdrama industry has so many hundreds of wonderful productions that range from full-length to excessive length, so it’s a rare gem that can deliver a remarkable piece like Splash, Splash, Love does in two episodes. It’s also a feat I have yet to see other countries within the Asian drama and film industry achieve.

The plot is fun, the script is tight, the characters well-developed, the camera work strong and the production values were exceptional for a limited budget. The acting and chemistry put into the performances was strong and allowed for, or encouraged the production’s overall success.

Admittedly this kdrama will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But that’s not to say it won’t appeal to kdrama die-hard fans who love fusion sageuk, sageuk-styled or romance genre series.

It’s not likely that I will watch this production again, I have such a long list which is ever growing and I never seem to have enough time. Also, this is not likely a kdrama that I would add as a keepsake, but it is one worth watching!

oh! … tidbits

Surprisingly, this body of work was nominated for awards at the Seoul International Drama Awards ceremony and the International Emmy Awards in 2016.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

 

oh! … trailers

 

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