Strike Love: Episodes 1-2

Strike Love (a.k.a. 2009 Alien Baseball Team, 2009) is rekindling memories of my past, in ways sweet and sheepish.

Sweet because I remember similar scenes of sitting on the beach, my head resting on my first love’s shoulder. The two of us barely fifteen, unaware that prolonged exposure to the sun could cause skin cancer. Ah, the innocence of youth!

Sheepish because when I was young Eom-ji’s age, I didn’t possess half her maturity. Observe how maternal she is towards Hye-sung, hearken at the wise words that spew forth from her tender lips! In contrast, at thirteen I was prone to daydreaming (about inconsequential things) and nothing I said left an impression, even on myself.

But enough about childish yours truly. Let’s get to the drama, or specifically to…

A DISH CALLED WONDER.

Because he is every bit dishy and wonderful, yes, he is.

The first time I saw Yoon Tae-young, he was playing Ho Gae in Legend.

Now, whatever my feelings toward that 2007 drama, there’s no denying Yoon Tae-young’s solid acting there, even if he did play a love-spurned warrior sporting an expression alternately forlorn and furious. (You would be, too, if your object of desire is constantly pining for her object of desire, the Yonsama himself! It’s enough to drive a man to war.)

Fast forward two years, from period to sports drama, and he’s now a baseball player!

And when he’s not on the pitch, he’s modeling for a series of limited-edition postcards:

(Help yourself to the first two, but third postcard is MINE.)

Yoon Tae-young plays the adult Oh Hye-sung. His young self is played by… Oops, I have no idea. I searched everywhere for his name, but obviously child actors aren’t considered important enough to be listed in the cast info, even if they sometimes act better than the adults. (Not in this drama, of course. ^^)

Young Hye-sung has a gift that will interest wannabe robbers and shame Goliath. The boy is a marvel with stones or anything small that can be thrown… such as a baseball. (Get used to it, since said ball makes an appearance in the drama once every… five seconds? Yes, hammer home that motif, dear director. We forgetful folks sure need reminding what genre this is.)

(By the way, could you help me scrutinize that wound on Eom-ji’s knee above and tell me if such a wound is severe enough to cause its sufferer temporary loss of mobility and even consciousness? I’ve fallen plenty of times, bled much more, and never once become comatose. So much drama on account of a penny-sized scrape, aigoo.)

Hye-sung’s arm power is exploited by a Lee Jun-ki lookalike who runs (pun intended) a gang of petty thieves, all around Hye-sung’s age. Hye-sung throws, victim falls (and drops wallet, handbag, bank vault, whatever), and gang leader grabs (loot) and runs. (And portions out measly share to Hye-sung.)

With the little that he makes from thieving, filial Hye-sung buys rice for his jobless drunkard and gambler of a dad. (He really ought to be buying a shaver instead, don’t you agree? The guy looks like he got marooned on some deserted island while out fishing one day.)

Hye-sung’s life is naturally hard because of his dad.

Enter Choi Eom-ji (name unknown, but the adult version is played competently by Kim Min-jung), a thirteen-year-old girl who looks four but acts like she’s forty.

Witnessing Hye-sung at “work” one afternoon, Eom-ji develops an inexplicable urge to mother, I mean protect, him. So she arranges to sit next to him in class (she just joined the school), she encourages him to use his talent for something more useful (such as baseball, ha!), and she even christens him with a cute nickname.

(I like the child actor playing Eom-ji, but wish she would act her age instead of all maternal-like. Still, she is really sweet.)

Eom-ji’s dad is a baseball coach (we didn’t see that coming by a mile, of course) and she has a younger sister who has eyes that are twice as large as hers. (Never fear, though, because the passing years will enlarge Eom-ji’s eyes in ways that a scalpel can’t.) She also has a suitor, Ma Dong-tak, who is quite the looker even if he’s prone to jealous outbursts.

Who can blame the green-eyed monster rearing its head in Dong-tak?

Like I said earlier, Eom-ji is sweet. But until she learns she can’t hold hands with two guys in quick succession, she is trrrouble.

Anyway, our girl is innocence and initiative in one package, so who can resist her? Not Hye-sung. Not when she’s like his shadow, always following him and making sure he’s safe, even if it means scarring her own knee just a tad.

Speaking of following, guess who should appear in Strike Love? Yes, none other than Eun-sung’s alive-but-considered-dead father from Brilliant Legacy. I also just watched him last week in Spotlight as Woo-jin’s dad! Gosh, am I being stalked?!

Our man in shades is Son Byung-ho (Jun In-taek), a baseball coach. He comes to town one day and oh, happens to sit behind Hye-sung at a packed baseball stadium while our lad is watching a game.

From that vantage point (staring at Hye-sung’s back), the coach is able to discern that there’s fire in Hye-sung’s eyes. (Give him the benefit of the doubt, please; odder things have happened. The chap might not even be human, thus the “alien” in Alien Baseball Team? Just a conjecture.)

So he trails Hye-sung and watches him and Dong-tak pitch and bat against each other. Hye-sung loses, is despondent, until a pair of legs appears mysteriously before him and a hand passes him a name card. (You’ve got to hand it to the coach, seriously. That’s what I call divine scouting!)

It’s one thing to lose to snooty Dong-tak. Not a big deal when you consider what else is happening in Hye-sung’s life. His dad is in jail and Eom-ji is moving away!

(I don’t know how much worldly possessions Eom-ji’s family owns, but it sure is unbelievable that she has no inkling of the impending move until minutes before the event. Share packing tips, Eom-ji’s mom!)

The move is heartbreaking for our young sweethearts. I get teary (my first tears in the drama) when I see him pitching the ball for her in the distance as her train races past. How sweet… and sad.

With Eom-ji’s departure, the trajectory of a baseball propels our drama magically forward and in mere seconds we see our couple all grown up.

Hye-sung is now clad in a baseball player’s garb and practises pitching in pristine surroundings comprising cliffs and brooks and waterfalls. (Hence those “postcards” earlier.)

Three possibilities here, you choose. 1) There’s a severe shortage of playing grounds. 2) He’s deranged. 3) It’s a seasonal pilgrimage for him, a return to the mountain where he first carried a (mildly) wounded Eom-ji on his back. Whatever the reason, I suspend judgment and just soak up the scene. The guy looks so yummy it’s illegal!

Eom-ji, on the other hand, is as far removed from nature as she can possibly be. Surrounded by consumables–clothes, shoes, accessories–our girl is studying fashion design. She’s also being courted by Dong-tak (Park Sung-min), now a professional baseball player and supposedly crème de la crème. (Hence the size of his ego.)

Dong-tak woos Eom-ji by raining bling-bling on her and she collects the stash, which is all the more puzzling when you consider she really isn’t all that fond of him, or so she claims. Apparently he’s been caring for her family after her dad passed away and that gives him ownership over her. (The guy’s been nothing but possessive since we first saw him.) A big function is coming up and he insists she accompanies him.

(You can tell how much she’s enjoying the function by that look on her face. Cracks me up.)

Also at the function venue is Hye-sung, there to meet his old neighborhood buddy and partner in crime, Baek Doo-san (Im Hyun-sung). Both have forged a strong bond over the years from being underlings in that gang of petty thieves.

Portly as before but noticeably more appealing (he did seem rather dull when he was younger), Doo-san is ecstatic to see his old friend and the two leap into each other’s arms. Aww…

Hye-sung and Eom-ji miss seeing each other by inches at the function grounds (insert mild swearing). He realizes belatedly that she could be Eom-ji and runs after her, but she has gone home in a huff, struggling to contain her angry tears on the bus. (The crying’s got nothing to do with Hye-sung; she’s just mad with Dong-tak.) Once home she takes out Hye-sung’s old pics and drawings and gazes at them lovingly and happily. (The shift in Eom-ji’s emotions is just so abrupt and jarring. Or maybe she’s the sort who doesn’t stay mad or down for long. Still, really awkward transition there.)

The next day while in school, Eom-ji is startled to see a series of messages on the ground. They lead to a spot where who else but Dong-tak is waiting, flowers in hand.

(You’ve got to give the guy props for being creative, even if the creativity borders on corny. Most girls would squeal with delight at being so ardently pursued, and by a national sports figure, too!)

Dong-tak gives Eom-ji a diamond ring to add to her burgeoning collection, she accepts it reluctantly (the guy practically pressed it into her flesh!), and then goes home and decides enough is enough. She will reject his proposal, she will return every bling-bling to him. (About time, don’t you think, dear Eom-ji?) So she heads for the training grounds where Dong-tak is, ready to shatter his heart.

(I don’t follow baseball, so I don’t know if it’s normal for a pro player to wear glasses, but Park Sung-min sure looks like he belongs in an office rather than out on the field, don’t you think?)

Eom-ji tells Dong-tak that he’s just a brother to her; she has no romantic feelings for him and in fact resents his control over her life. (I’m firmly on Hye-sung’s side, of course, but I can’t help feeling sorry for Dong-tak here. Hope nourished and dashed is always painful to watch. His eyes redden and I reach automatically for a tissue to give to him.)

Meanwhile, also at the training venue is our Hye-sung, there to attend the Yoosung Seobu’s tryouts. He’s impressive, did anyone expect otherwise? (^^)

I lean forward, holding my breath for the inevitable. And here it comes… Eom-ji running out, Dong-tak chasing her, Hye-sung witnessing it all…

And thus the second episode ends, on that most spine-tingling of notes.

Now, if you would excuse me, I have a dish to gobble up. Episode 3, here I come!

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28 thoughts on “Strike Love: Episodes 1-2

  1. Ooh so you liked Strike Love. I wanted to like it, and I think I would if I had made an effort to continue, but yesterday I was so not in the mood to watch another childhood flashback story so I watched less than 15 minutes of episode 1, got bored, then proceeded to delete it from my computer.

    Hmm what was I thinking? I really liked what little I saw of Yoon Tae Young and Kim Min Jung. One day I will go and download that episode again.

  2. Thundie, you TOTALLY made my day.

    First, because you’re the only one who’s watching Strike Love at the same pace as I am. (Except that you’re 2 episodes ahead of me). Thought of commenting in Soompi, but the thread’s like dead.

    Second, because you totally echoed my thoughts on younger Eom Ji. LOLZ… I was lost for words, didn’t know how to describe this girl – UNTIL you hit it right on spot with this:

    “…a thirteen-year-old girl who looks four but acts like she’s forty. ”

    HAHAHAHHA…

    ===

    So having only seen a few shots of Yoon Tae Young at the beginning of Ep 1, I already decided that he’s going to be the main reason I’m watching this drama. Was totally drawn into his intense eye-acting in the first five minutes…and he wasn’t doing much, he was just pitching man 0_o

    Liked the younger boy who played Hye Sung too… tho Dong Tak was more handsome, the former was more appealing to me. kekeke..

    And does anybody not think that older Dong Tak’s like a younger version of Jo Min Ki? I mean like, he can play younger Shin Tae Hwan in EOE!

  3. “One day I will go and download that episode again.”

    fizzle, one day? Ah, download it now so we can yak about it! The childhood story takes up just 1.5 episodes. As far as juvenile first love stories go, this one is not bad (although my favorite by far is the one in that omnibus drama, Beating Heart). A tad grating because of how young Eom-ji is played, but overall decent fare.

    I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Yoon Tae-young (yet), but boy, he sure is charismatic here. First scene was enough to hook me in… Those eyes! Love at first strike? ^^ He’s just wonderful to watch.

  4. ripgal, haha… So glad you felt the same way!

    It made me really uncomfortable some scenes when she patted him, like how a grandma would pat her grandson. She’s so patient with Hye-sung, so soothing and understanding, so… old! And frankly some of the things she said made my hair stand; it was like watching Winter Sonata played by kids! It got quite cloying, really. I wished she threw a tantrum sometimes, acted giggly… So glad she grew up and stopped being so sensible. ^^

    Yoon Tae-young is YUM.

    Ohhh… East of Eden. Bailed out after ep 1. *runs from ripgal*

  5. Oh Thundie, I so get what you mean. Just finished Ep 2, and young Eom Ji really freaked me out. o_0 She’s so damn mature for her age! And it doesn’t help with her baby-face look… The part of her consoling Hye Sung, telling him that it’s OK to cry. I was like come on, you should be crying and sobbing along with him. Not saying all those deep stuff.. really, I couldn’t take it… and was so relieved that she left. Aiks…

    And man YTY is really a YUMMMMY dish. I love his voice, love his eyes…and what I love most, his smile. When he smiled at his friend at the mention of Eom Ji’s name (during their practice)… I went GAGA…. he’s truly wonderful to watch, just like you said.

  6. lol….you made me laugh. Thanks. I am going to watch this with you.
    Talking about maternal ….my little sister is like that. She’s very nurturing and mothers our cats, dogs and our little brother. She’s been like that since she was 5. She would carry our cats around on her back like a baby. Some girls are just born to be mothers. I am just the opposite and I don’t like childhood sweet hearts themes. I used to have childhood boy enemies….used to fight physically with them. But looks like this drama keeps the childhood romance short ….thank goodness.
    I like your taste in men, by the way.
    Off to watch Strike Love.

  7. Oh ripgal, quick watch ep 3 and tell me if you did not rewind the opening scene like 10x, LOL. Just listen to him saying in that deep voice, “ENOUGH…” Just observe the moment when he turns around, when he flashes that shy smile…

    Aigoo, this is it, no need to pretend otherwise anymore… Yoon Tae-young’s fan count just went up by one!

  8. sayroo and palki, yes, yes, watch Strike Love with thundie!! 🙂

    And haha, palki, your sister sounds like mine. She used to feed ants and pick up strays. I wasn’t the mothering or fighting sort; I just wanted to read all the time. Not the least bit gregarious, oops.

  9. Thundie, I did not rewind that scene.

    But I know what I did, I know I squealed and swooned whenever YTY/Hye Sung flashed that smile of his. I know my heart melted whenever he spoke to Eom Ji with that ever soothing voice… and I know my legs weakened whenever he stared at Eom Ji with that volume of gentleness in his eyes. My heart just flutters whenever he appears on screen.. <3333

    My favourite scene was none other than the zero-distance scene between HS and EJ. His face against his, her breath in his… goodness, it was smmmmmeeeexyyyy… why didn't they KISS? urhhhh….

    ===

    Okay, all the swooning aside.

    Was expecting a lil more on the sport tho… cos YTY looks the best whenever he's pitching.

    And bout Dong Tak, why does he look more like a assistant of some CEO rather than a professional baseball player? Even when he's in uniform, he looks weird…

  10. Oh, have you raced ahead of me, ripgal? ^^ I’ve not watched that zero-distance scene yet, just half of ep. 3. I’m sure there’ll be more sports later, but for now I’m lapping up the romance and thrilled that we’re getting sweet dating scenes so early in the drama. Hurray!

    Okay, got to go brace myself for more ep 3 sweetness. But yikes, Chil-sung that gang leader is back and with that creepy eye, too!!

  11. love this entry. your writing is entertaining and had me laughing throughout.

    right now i’m waiting for ep. 14 to come out, this drama has been pretty addicting and the acting has been pretty good, except for the little sister.

  12. Hi parkerlewis

    This was one of my favorite posts (I had a blast writing it) and I was hoping more people would comment on it, hehe. So you can imagine how glad I was to read your comment. THANK YOU!

  13. Hi Thundie, are you still watching?
    I just watched 15, and just felt like griping some more. Even with the plot’s ups and downs, I swear that it’s little sister Hyun Ji who is single-handedly ruining it for me. I just find her acting so putrid and annoying. I also don’t know how they are going to wrap it up with one more episode. If they were going to do some severe editing, they could have shortened that ridiculously long musical montage of Hyun Ji’s equally ridiculous devotion to Hye Sung (dreamy as he is). The lead actress is much more likeable than I expected when I first saw her, and so much of the story has been building their relationship … If the storyline ends with Hye Sung accepting Hyun Ji, this cranky old girl is going to rewrite the script in the translation!! Don’t try to stop me!! 😉

  14. Hi meju

    I haven’t had time to watch Strike Love after ep 3. *sighs* Feeling a tad overwhelmed by the current crop of dramas; am so behind!

    To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m going to continue. I really love Yoon Tae-young in this; he’s so mesmerizing. But I hate how the story’s moving with his dad’s debts and Hye-sung being hounded by Creepy Guy. Just ep 3 and he gets so badly beaten up. I also chanced upon some major spoilers in the SL soompi thread (remind me again not to make the same mistake!) and yikes, sounds exactly like stuff that’ll make me scream. It’s like nonstop suffering for Hye-sung!

    Yes, please rewrite the script in your translation, lol!! 🙂

  15. thundie, it’s not worth it. trust me.

    this show had gotten shafted in a way i’ve never seen before. There is no resolution at the end. Nothing gets resolved. I wouldn’t even call it an ending because apparently they had already wrapped up atleast 18 episodes and did not decide to reshoot to make the entire story fit in 16.

    it was a huge waste of time for me, and frankly, after watching this trainwreck, i doubt the writers have any dignity.

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