Riding the A Love to Kill roller coaster

I’ll say it up front: I have a love-hate relationship with A Love to Kill (2005).

As I was sorting through the images that I would be using for this post, I felt an inexplicable longing for the drama. Seeing how tightly Kang Bok-gu (Jung Ji-hoon a.k.a. Bi) was hugging Cha Eun-seok (Shin Mina), I suddenly missed them. The theme song, which I had not listened to for a long time, played in my head, reviving forgotten street scenes of a man walking behind a woman, quietly watching her.

Then I remembered one word which described exactly what I felt like doing after I finished the last episode. (Hint: Look at the drama’s title and pick one of its four-letter words.) My longing instantly evaporated.

I had no inkling that this was going to be a roller-coaster ride. Lee Kyung-hee wrote this, she who had written two dramas that I loved fiercely: Sang-doo, Let’s Go to School and I’m Sorry, I Love You. Whatever their flaws (a penchant for too-dramatic plot shifts, for instance), her dramas gripped me and her male lead characters were always unforgettable.

Moreover, everything had looked so promising in the first few episodes. The drama felt very different and experimental, as though I was watching an art-house movie. Disjointed scenes, flashbacks, dream sequences and breathtaking backdrops. Tree-lined avenues and leaves a riot of fall colors. It was all so achingly beautiful. The music felt very different too, that pulsating beat of the drums. I was hooked immediately.

But even as I was addicted, signs that this would be a bumpy ride were already present.

The supporting cast is always important to me and if I do not care for the minor characters, it’s difficult to like a drama. I did NOT like the supporting characters in A Love to Kill.

No one appealed to me and I especially could not stand Lee Ki-woo‘s Kim Joon-sung, that possessive fiance of Eun-seok. The character was repulsive and the acting was wooden. Bad combination. And Bok-gu’s girlfriend, Da-jeong (Kim Sa-rang)… Why the weird accent, eh? I like dialects normally, but hers sounded so fake, as if she was trying too hard to enunciate. Then we have Kang Min-gu, Bok-gu’s older brother (played by Kim Young-jae). A more boring character you won’t find if you sift through twenty dramas.

Still, in any drama the leads are the ones who matter the most, right?

I loved Bi in Sang-doo and tolerated him in Full House. Which way would the scales tilt after this third drama? From first appearances he was a lot more appealing here than in his second drama. The scruffy look suited him well; it made him look more earthy and manly, ha. A definite improvement from his immature Full House character. And when he smiled, it was adorable Cha Sang-doo all over again!

(But what’s with the lollipop? In I’m Sorry, I Love You, Moo-hyuk’s trademark was the gum-chewing. It made him look cool, no doubt about it. But Bok-gu, our macho boxer and fearsome bodyguard, simply appeared childish and un-macho sucking constantly on a lollipop. And how many adults do we see who go around with a lollipop in their mouths all the time? When did cavities become cool?)

Shin Mina whom I adored… She portrayed Eun-seok with grace, vulnerability, and a childlike simplicity that seemed to border on naivete yet was really a sign of her strength of character. She made peace with her past and moved on. Instead of feeling burdened by her awful and pretentious stepmother, she continued to care for her.

Shin Mina’s pairing with Bi was also swiftly shaping up to be my favorite yet. (Count me among the few who aren’t wowed by the Bi-Song Hye-gyo dynamics.) I loved how tender he was with her and how trusting she was of him. They spoke little to each other in the early part of their relationship, but there was a quietness and gentleness about their interaction that I found touching. (On a separate note, the way he kissed her was anything but gentle!)

And so I watched, touched but not tearing (which is most unusual since I’m normally such a crybaby). Entranced by moments that were truly “take your breath away” beautiful. Irritated with rehashed plot devices and some really boring scenes. And then I watched the final episode.


Worst. Final. Episode. I’ve. Ever. Watched. In. My. Life.

Most. Unimaginative. Writing.

Most. Cliched. Dialogue.

Most. Boring. Scenes.

I had never wiggled so much watching a K-drama. Nor cursed so much.

Poor Bi. And poor Shin Mina. To have to act in that incredibly horrid final episode and to meet THAT fate in the end. Just because Lee Kyung-hee ran out of ideas in the last two episodes.

“Hmm… let’s see. It’s the last episode, but I’m having a major case of writer’s block. What to do? Okay, let’s give Bok-gu this brilliant idea of spending one last day with Eun-seok. Forget about the sorrow in the previous episode. Let’s recreate Winter Sonata instead. Have the couple frolick in the snow. Have them ask each other the most brain-numbing questions. Have them suddenly, miraculously, incredulously forget their pain and be giddily happy like two kids at play. And then let’s finish everything with the mother of all ridiculous endings.”

I staggered off the roller coaster, too queasy to do any pelting. If anyone is in a foul mood because of a drama, please help yourself to the rotten eggs.

16 thoughts on “Riding the A Love to Kill roller coaster

  1. I didn’t watch this.. first, I’m not too fond of Bi as an actor, secondly, it seemed like a tragic and depressing drama. I think I have developed a love-hate feeling toward Lee Kyung-hee. Let’s take Thank You for example. I started watching it when it first aired and fell in love with it right away. I was recommending it to everyone because I liked it so much. But then came Ep 8…(I think). You mentioned ” too-dramatic plot shifts”, right? Yep, that’s what she forced on viewers in Ep 8 when the village people suddenly ungratefully turned Jang Hyuk into a some sort of murderer — which I felt was a forced instrument to make Jang Hyuk become all sarcastic again and leave that village. This took away all my interest from this show and I couldn’t enjoy the show from then on. And she continued to put all these obvious events and happenings here and there throughout the show, trying to squeeze tears out of viewers.. I knew they were supposed to be sad but since I could clearly see her intention of placing certain scenes, they merely ended up annoying the heck out of me. This is why I’m not too enthusiastic in recommending Thank You to people anymore. I enjoy her scripts in many ways (I loved MISA when it aired but when I tried to rewatch it the other day I couldn’t stand the over-the-top tragedy in it.) but I think she should work on making her plots to flow more naturally.

  2. Wow!

    You just speak up my mind again. I think I have a very similar preference like you. You and Dahe always seems to read my mind.

    I’m in the middle of finishing Who Are You? and will give my two cents about this post later.^^

    Thanks for this post.

  3. I stumbled upon your blog a few days ago, and it seems like you’re reviewing old stuff!

    I agree with what you said about A Love to Kill. Just like you, I had high expectations because I loved Sang Doo and MISA – and of course Bi! XP But yeah, the drama kinda fell flat for me. It sorta didn’t flow well… and I didn’t really get how Bok Gu fell for SMA’s character..

    Ending was blah…something like Sad Sonata’s ending.. WTH?

  4. Hi amy

    We have the same thoughts about Thank You. I loved it so much at first and then it went downhill. Still, among the four full-length Lee Kyung-hee dramas I’ve watched, this one at least had an ending that didn’t make people pull their hair out.

    Have you watched her Dramacity offering, the one-episode My Older Brother? It’s pretty good. Perhaps she should go back to writing shorter dramas!

  5. Hello ripgal! What a neat surprise.

    *blush* Yes, I’m writing about old stuff. Now you know why the blog gets few hits, LOL. I’ll get to the more recent stuff eventually, but of course by then they’ll be old stuff, too! ^^

    Thanks for dropping by.

  6. Hi thundie! 🙂

    I found your blog about two weeks ago, and I absolutely love it. Being a relatively new fan to Korean dramas and movies, I love that you write about some of the old(er) stuff because it helps to expose me to older gems that I wouldn’t have otherwise checked out. So thank you!

    I’ve read through all your posts here and I love the way you write and all the comments you include. It’s entertaining and insightful at the same time. ^__^

  7. Hi Denise

    I’m sooo ENCOURAGED by your words. THANK YOU.

    I have no personal agenda for the blog. I love to write and I truly love Korean dramas and movies, so to write about them is a labor of love that makes me happy. (Also, I’m such a lazy bum, and a blog forces me to be more disciplined about my writing; it’s totally different from rambling in forums.) BUT to know that my posts will help expose someone to “older gems” just makes my day. I’m so glad that you may check out some of these “oldies but goodies” as a result. Please do! ^^

    And thank you for commenting. *muah!*

  8. OH? This drama was written by the same person who wrote I’m Sorry I Love You (I’ve just discovered your blog and am slowly reading through your posts so please excuse my numerous comments)? I watched this weepy because of Rain… and right after I’m Sorry I Love You. Not crazy about the show although I did enjoy the pairing of the leads. And I hate to admit this but I cried so much at the end. Because why would they do this to the lead characters???!!! I honestly sobbed at the unfairness of this lol.

  9. Hi Thundie,

    Feel the same bout this drama but I still finished it. Not only that but I watched it twice. Why? Coz I felt for the 2 leads and I watched it again in a desperate attempt to dig for some brilliance in it. Then, I would feel that the pairing between the two won’t be so wasted. I even found a valid reason in my head bout the lame ending…..huhuhu (SO DESPERATE)

  10. currently watching after having this drama in my HD for a long time…every time i watch a drama,i would predict the ending but sadly for this i dont know what to think of..even it not on good list,still i want to finish it so i can relate to your opinion…

    by the way,the kiss o should i say kisses kind a hot..hehehhe

  11. at last…finish watching it..and i had to agree..what the hell is wrong with the ending…there are no more things to not let them together but still he have to die?…i know reality not always happy ending but its a drama..can’t they let us happy for a while…like 90% is full of tearjerker scene(but i only cry a bit on the ending for not having them alive 2 gether)….

  12. Hello, I have to say this was one of the first dramas I have watched. I thought it was cool, interesting, nice characters and then the ending – hmmm, at first I genuinely thought it was my mistake, maybe i pressed the wrong buttons or something. I remember I saw the last ten minutes twice because i couldn’t believe that was it. So many hours of watching (and i also had a bad internet connection) for that awful ending.

  13. Hey thundie….new reader here…
    just found out your blog yesterday, and reading ur old posts (especially the one with Kang Dong Won in it :p)
    And agree with you…this drama had the WORST ENDING EVEEEEEEEERRR!!
    I watched this drama 5 years ago with my friends…we finished it in 1 day, no sleep just to have that ending…after it finished, we immediately wanted to burn the DVD!!
    And until this day, we still regret the day we watched this drama :))

  14. I just finished it. Yes, I know, I’m a late comer to K-dramas. I really had high hopes for the end. I had to go on a google searching spree to make sure I understood the end correctly! I felt just like you! WORST ENDING. I mean, what’s with stopping at the top of the hill????? Why not just hoof it back to the house?!? What in the world. Thanks for putting into words exactly how I feel. 🙂 I need to go find some eggs.

  15. I felt so so very bad sad about the ending..still hope that it will have the next sequel with happy ending in it..but I luv Bi Rain overall.

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