I need to begin this post with a little rant. Who coined the title Hateful But Once Again?
It isn’t just about semantics. Try substituting “hateful” with any other adjective (like “batty” or “butyraceous”). The phrase is still ungrammatical and illogical. But once again what?
So I’m going to go with Again, My Love as my preferred name for this 2009 drama. Privately, though, I’m calling it The Lioness, the Itch and the Warthog. Don’t tell the folks at KBS.
The “lioness” in the drama is Han Myung-in (Choi Myung-gil).
I feel sorry for everyone living with or working for her. Not only does this woman not smile, she is snappy, snooty and downright self-centered. So much for positive first impressions. Watching Her Scowly Lioness ride roughshod over the other characters (throwing things, yelling, slapping, threatening) made me squirm so hard it was like sitting on eels. The “Itch” to quit the drama in the first 30 minutes was very real, to be honest.
What’s the reason for Myung-in, otherwise known publicly as Chairman Han, to be so pissed with life? (I’m addressing her as “Chairman” in the generic sense because “Chairwoman” is such a mouthful, and no, I’m not shortening it to “Chair” because she’ll likely hit me on the head with one!)
Well, thirty years ago, the man she was very much in love with decided to kill himself, presumably because her (extremely wealthy) family was against their union. Her grief was so immense she would have joined him in the netherworld if not for the fact she was pregnant with his child. To save face, her family arranged for her to marry another man.
A loveless marriage. A son who daily reminds her of his father and thus her pain, of what might have been. I guess those are reasons enough for our Chairman Han to be all fangs and claws? For her own sake (and ours) let’s hope her taming comes soon. It must wear her down to be so unhappy every day.
Lee Jung-hoon (Park Sang-won) is the man who married Chairman Han. (Oops, that does sound weird, doesn’t it? Haha.)
He’s Vice Chairman in their company, but that doesn’t mean he enjoys special privileges. If he needs to discuss official business but his wife is in a foul mood, then he has to stand in line to see her, just like the other employees. Waiting for her has become habitual, but the dear man is blessed with the patience of a tree awaiting rain. He will wait, for as long as it takes, for her to open her heart to him.
Does that mean, therefore, that he loves his wife? It’s unclear at this stage if he does, because there’s no display of physical affection between them, they don’t share a bedroom, she calls him by his official title even at home, and… he has another woman. Whoa!
That’s not all. The other woman has a daughter. His daughter. Wait till Chairman Han finds out.
Lee Min-soo (Jung Gyeo-woon) is Chairman Han’s son. That he is her son and not Lee Jung-hoon’s, is a fact that he already knows, although we are not told in the first two episodes how he came by that knowledge.
Thirty years old and employed in his mother’s company as manager, Min-soo has a peculiar goal. He wants every woman he meets to remember him for the rest of her life, even if he has been a cad to her, even if their relationship is as brief as a one-night stand. So he woos and wines, beds and dumps, one woman after another. All in the name of making that one lasting impression. He is often drunk and a trip to work is as rare as snow in summer. His Casanova lifestyle is fodder for Internet gossip, but he is completely unconcerned.
Wherefore that wasted life? Because he despises his mother for her selfishness? It’s obvious to him how she is still immersed in the memory of his real father and how shabbily she treats her husband. Because he is ashamed that he is not Lee Jung-hoon’s son and therefore has decided to stop regarding him as dad? Because he hates business and wants instead to study art, but his mother absolutely will not hear of the idea because his deceased father was an artist? And so he rebels?
One day in his mother’s departmental store, evading one ex-girlfriend while eyeing a promising new catch, Min-soo runs into a changing cubicle to hide. He startles a woman changing inside. He covers her mouth to prevent her from yelling and giving his hiding place away. She thinks he’s a pervert and reacts by kicking him where a man must never be kicked. Ouch! Min-soo stumbles out, bent over in pain but still with enough cheek to yell out her vital statistics, to her abject embarrassment. A most memorable first meeting, wouldn’t you say?
The woman who kicked Min-soo in his groin is Choi Yoon-hee (Park Ye-jin), an anchorwoman at KBN TV. Smart, beautiful and ambitious, she is the pride of her family. After being manhandled by Min-soo, she bumps into him again at a restaurant. Let’s just say their second meeting is anything but cordial and Min-soo brings home a slap on the cheek as souvenir.
A netizen spills the beans about the incident and Chairman Han is notified. Our lioness is outraged. She arranges for an interview (one that she had declined earlier) with KBN TV and insists that the interviewer be Yoon-hee. Uh oh.
The interview, conducted at Chairman Han’s company, proceeds swimmingly with both women poised and professional. No one knows of the little private drama just before the interview. Yoon-hee had asked to speak to Chairman Han, presumably to go over the interview formalities. Angry words were exchanged, a slap administered (there must be some slapping itch going around!), threats issued, mercy sought (most grudgingly), and a boxing ring readied for future matches.
Though she loses the first round, Yoon-hee is not retreating. She finds out where mama’s boy Min-soo usually hangs out and marches there. The next day the Internet is on fire about what happened. “Anchorwoman Choi Yoon-hee creates scene at nightclub!” “Anchorwoman Choi Yoon-hee fights with MJ Group’s heir Lee Min-soo!”
(I think Park Ye-jin is very pretty, but she looks so thin here. The long hair overwhelms her pinched face, making her look like one of those wig mannequins you see in the store. Love her acting, though. She is rapidly proving to be our second lioness in the drama.)
Eun Hae-jung (Jeon In-hwa) is an actress who has been around since forever, a fact that she trumpets (which instantly diminishes my regard for her; doesn’t hurt to be more humble, lady). She also happens to be the other woman in Lee Jung-hoon’s life.
We’re not shown their past, so we’re spared flashbacks of the two as teenagers or young adults (what a relief to not see him in a toupee or she in ponytails!). We’re just told that his family objected to their relationship (sounds familiar?) and he ended up as sacrificial lamb, wedded to Her Lioness.
So there’s your right royal mess: a couple who each has a child that the other didn’t beget. A Lee Jung-hoon caught between two women who, incidentally, look rather similar thanks to the liberal use of eye-shadow, eyeliner and mascara.
Eun Soo-jin (Han Ye-in) is Lee Jung-hoon and Eun Hae-jung’s daughter. Let’s just call her The Spoiled Brat.
I’m not sure what message the scriptwriter is trying to convey making both Spoiled Brat and Casanova such messed-up characters. That being illegitimate is a passport to self-destruction? Anyway, between the two I much prefer Casanova because… well, he’s Jung Gyeo-woon. Spoiled Brat wears too much fur and makes my skin crawl (that damned itch again!). Don’t get on her wrong side because she’ll take it out on your car, thus necessitating much cursing and an expensive trip to the car workshop. Her dad (whose car she rammed), however, neither curses nor chides. Perhaps out of guilt, he handles her like a delicate plant, patiently listening to her “I’m such a victim of cirumstances, how long are you going to hide me, reactivate my canceled credit cards or else!” tirade.
Problem is… someone is standing outside Lee Jung-hoon’s office and overhearing everything that Spoiled Brat is yelling. Then Spoiled Brat rushes out and Chairman Han can hardly believe her eyes. Her husband has a mistress and she is this young?
The first two episodes are each an hour and seven minutes. That’s two hours and fourteen minutes total. For two hours and two minutes I could not wait to stop watching.
Again, My Love is really not my kind of drama. The plot just seems so entangled. I can’t stand histrionics and there’s a lot of that in the first two episodes. I’ll also be upfront and say I don’t like Han Myung-in. Her refusal to relinquish her past is just too implausible. C’mon, thirty years have already passed. Get a grip, will ya? I hate how she coddles Min-soo, micro-managing his life. So a news anchor has the audacity to slap your precious son. Why not find out the reason instead of jumping to conclusions and using your palm and your clout to intimidate her? What are you, a thug?
Then there’s our resident spoiled brat. Is it even believable that the press and the public have no clue of her relationship to the famous Eun Hae-jung? We don’t see the mother doing anything to conceal her daughter. On the contrary the petulant one is prancing all over town, behaving like the princess she is not. Yet the mom can lie through her teeth and tell a nosy reporter that the only daughter she has is a houseplant named Samsoon. Hoho.
So there I was, all fidgety and ready to flee. Then it happened.
With twelve minutes left in Episode 2, the scene is the lioness’s den. Min-soo has come home drunk. His mom ticks him off for allowing Yoon-hee to make a mockery of him (all that Internet coverage is damaging his reputation) and a war of words follows. Then Lee Jung-hoon steps in. Telling Min-soo to shape up or leave, he continues: “If your head is not made of stone, there must be something you can do to put food in your mouth.”
Park Sang-won is just magnificent in this scene. Wow (and “Wow!” is exactly what Min-soo says after a stunned silence), I can watch more of this, certainly. I stop squirming.
And how about a little scene in the last few minutes of this episode that made me giggle? Yoon-hee calling Min-soo who has her handphone (she dropped it in the nightclub the last time they met). She calls, he answers and then hangs up. Repeatedly. See that mischevious grin on his face? He knows exactly how to nettle her. And she, on her part, is so different when she’s with him, all spunk and temper. Two puppies goading each other and making me squeal with delight at their antics. I can watch more of that, of course.
So yes, I’m not quitting the drama. Not with that sort of sterling acting and scorching pace.
And oh, if you’re wondering who’s Warthog, he’s the pesky paparazzo tailing the rich and the famous. We’re sure to see more of him because he has uncovered a juicy secret, something that’s bound to erupt into a whale of a scandal. Warthog is happy.