Lie To Me: A Love Story

I was pretty certain that I had to wait at least a few years after Secret Garden before I chanced upon another drama in a romantic comedy genre worth raving about. After all, there were similar intervals between My Girl (2005), Coffee Prince, First Shop (2007), and Secret Garden (2010).

But it was the kiss, one of many I might add, that told me loud and clear maybe I didn’t have to wait that long this time. The telltale signs were all there because I found myself watching certain scenes over and over again without becoming tired of them. But this obsessive-compulsive phenomenon didn’t happen until the end of the fifth episode, when the first kiss occurs. Does this mean this drama is not worth watching until the episode 5? Hardly.

The participants in this momentous kiss appear in a new SBS drama Lie To Me starring Yoon Eun-hye as Gong Ah-jung and Kang Ji-hwan as Hyun Ki-joon. The kisses have enjoyed such acclaim, even before they were aired, that they even have their own names: the ice cream kiss and the cola kiss.

But this drama is much more than the kisses. Don’t get me wrong, I love the kiss scenes like any other hot blooded Homo sapiens. But there is more to their romance than the kisses. I was savoring the slow buildup of their romantic tension of volcanic proportion before it erupted into the kiss.

Toward the latter part of the drama, the story becomes somewhat choppy, perhaps because a different writer had to take over the writing helm due to the ailing health problem of the original writer, but it is still one of the sweetest love stories ever told. Let me re-tell you all about it.

But first, let’s start with our prince charming, Hyun Ki-joon. From the moment we set eyes on him in the first scene of the first episode, we sense that he stands out in more ways than one.

First of all, he is the CEO of World Hotel with a pristine appearance, attention to details, and demand for excellence from all of his staff. As he walks majestically through the hallowed nooks and crevices of his hotel as a part of his walk-through for the wedding ceremony to be held in this very hotel tomorrow, he chances upon the hysterical bride-to-be who demands to know the room number of her wayward fiancé who checked into a hotel room with her best friend. When a hotel clerk, citing the hotel privacy policy, politely refuses to divulge that information, our prince charming, the CEO of the hotel, orders him to relinquish that info to the woman, telling him that “at a time like this, we shouldn’t stand behind rules and regulations.”

But once in front of the cad’s hotel room, the bride cannot bring herself to ring the bell. When her frustrated friend tries to ring the bell, the bride stops her and timidly asks her friends, “If I confirm it now, then there would be no wedding tomorrow, right? Then I can’t recoup the expenses for the wedding venue contract, the wedding gifts, not to mention the honeymoon. And I even decided to buy rather than rent the wedding dress.” Looking completely forlorn, she asks Ki-joon, “What should I do with all these?”

Ki-joon thinks to himself, Most women marry the institution called marriage rather than the man. Meaning, I guess, that women are more emotionally vested in the intricacies of wedding process than the man they are marrying.

Her friends are not happy with the scorned bride-to-be, and the bride, in a vulnerable emotional state, asks Ki-joon, “What do you think I should do?” When Ki-joon doesn’t say anything, she takes his silence as a concordance and brightens, “It’s better not to see, right? You agree with me, right?”

Looking at her with an imperceptible disdain, he walks past her to ring the bell. The bride becomes livid and asks Ki-joon, “Who do you think you are to do this against my will?” Politely, he replies, “It’s my hotel, ma’am.”

She doesn’t get the opportunity to rebut, because her fiancé opens the door. She runs away screaming, and her fiancé politely asks Ki-joon what’s going on. Smiling, Ki-joon thanks the cad for staying at the hotel and asks him if there’s anything he’s not satisfied with.

The cad shows his true color. He speaks to Ki-joon in a lower form of language. “I have a lot (in fact). Why is it that room service is still not here when I called a long time ago?” And then he points out Ki-joon’s poor timing while yelling, “Is this your first retail business gig, huh?” A real douche bag, this guy.

Ki-joon provides the almost-bride with courage she couldn’t muster herself. Oh, sure, she protests initially, but once he opens the door for her, both literally and figuratively, she does the rest with aplomb.

The bride, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, gives her sure-to-be-now ex-fiance a face cake that he richly deserves while telling him, “This is your room service, (you jerk face)!” as she and her friends invade his room. And she proceeds to give her best friend, I’m sure, a piece of her mind, a mouthful in fact of exactly how she feels about sneaking behind with her supposedly best friend with her fiancé, on the eve of her wedding no less. One of her friends grabs the cad’s hair and starts to pull him into the room, “You jerk! Come in here.”

Ki-joon tells his right-hand woman and a personal friend, Ms. Park, the general manager of the hotel, “Take care of this situation.” When she starts to go into the room, he stops her, “In ten minutes. And make sure you take the woman back home safely.”

As judging by the thumbs up gesture and a big proud grin from his Secretary Park, Ki-joon appears to inspire not only respect but also admiration. But Ki-joon apparently can elicit a healthy dose of fear from his staff as well. As Ki-joon walks back to his office, he notices one of the Hotel staff standing in attention behind the check-in area, and even from a distance it’s obvious that he had missed a button on his shirt. As the Secretary Park tries to silently motion warn him, Ki-joon, wearing a stern expression, approaches him and starts to button the shirt correctly, while the staff member literally drips with sweat from fear. After he is done, Ki-joon gives him a mildly stern look that says, I hope there is no next time, and he walks away.

Just from this initial scene, we can see that a person named Ki-joon has a keen sense of righteousness, thoughtfulness, and compassion as well as certain suave touch. So, it no longer matters to me that he had played a charismatic but slightly goofy Hong Gil-dong character in the past. From the beginning of this drama, I know in my heart that he will do, that he will be good enough for our reigning princess of romantic comedy, Yoon Eun-hye, to swoon over.

You remember Yoon Eun-hye, right? She is the one who bewitched us with her perfect portrayal of innocent yet sultry, tomboyish yet charming persona from Coffee Prince, First Shop. In Lie To Me, she is not tomboyish, but she is no less beguiling or captivating.

Why do I like Yoon Eun-hye so much? Aside from her obvious physical attributes, it’s because she makes you love her character. Yes, she has beautiful eyes, adorable nose, and inviting lips that make men, at least the ones with a pulse, literally drool like smitten grade school kids. But it’s the way she portrays such a lovable character that makes it almost impossible not to root for her. She played such a role in Coffee Prince, the First Shop, and she does it again here in Lie To Me, although on surface, she appears to play two different characters.

As Gong Ah-jung in Lie To Me, she is not as poor as Go Eun-chan from Coffee Prince, but she is poor enough, as her father is only a poor law professor (sounds sort of incongruous, doesn’t it, to call a law professor poor, but, hey, welcome to the wacky world we live in), and she is a government worker, a civil servant if you will, in the Ministry of Culture, Sports, & Tourism, so we know she is not exactly loaded, either.

Bickering Sparks

The first meeting between our two lovebirds in the episode 1, time 18:05, is not what I would necessarily consider an auspicious start for the couple. When the head of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, & Tourism asks whose idea it was to hold the event designed to showcase the Korean arts and performances to the foreign dignitaries and other guests outdoors, Ah-jung rightfully takes the credit over her silently disgruntled boss.

However, the glory and the honor of a beautifully orchestrated event goes awry when a swarm of temperamental CGI bees decided to have a field day of their own, which leads to Ah-jung’s binge drinking in a chic bar while drawing up a letter of resignation on a napkin and in the process befriends Ki-joon’s little brother, Sang-hee, of course she having no clue that the two Hyun boys are related.

Ki-joon, while looking for his brother, first runs into Ah-jung when she passes out in front of him from a potential deadly mixture of bee venom and alcohol intoxication. And in the emergency room, even though he tells the doctor that he doesn’t know Ah-jung, the nurse standing next to the doctor reminds Ki-joon, as they hurriedly take Ah-jung into the emergency room for treatment, “Make sure, as her guardian, you register inside first.”

He tells her that he’s not Ah-jung’s legal guardian, but the nurse doesn’t hear him as she hurriedly runs after the doctor. Ki-joon sighs and starts to leave, but something holds him back. A sense of responsibility maybe, a seed of attraction, or perhaps a fate tugging at his heart, but whatever it is, he stays, literally standing all night next to her emergency room bed while she sleeps, just like “her husband,” as her neighbor patient later gives Ah-jung her unsolicited observation. In the morning, Ki-joon, in an attempt to cover Ah-jung with a blanket, inadvertently wakes her up, and as they stare at each other’s face closeup she thinks to herself while smiling brightly, Here is a handsome guy. Do I know him?

On a subconscious level Ah-jung may be attracted to Ki-joon at first sight, but on a conscious level, she just wants to reimburse the emergency room expense that he had paid and thank him properly for saving her life, but Ki-joon mistakes her action for something more in the episode 1, time 26:25.

Ah-jung chases Ki-joon down the sidewalk, “Why don’t you like it when someone wants to give you money?”
“I’ve told you. It wasn’t that much.”
“It’s only because I don’t feel comfortable (owing money to someone).”
Ki-joon hails a taxi, “Then stay uncomfortable.”

“If you can’t come with me (to retrieve my purse to pay you back), then at least tell me your contact information. I’ll deposit the money to your account.”
“Let’s not overreact (oh-bah*) here, shall we? You don’t seem like a person with an overabundant sense of propriety (yum-chi**).”
He then takes off in a taxi, leaving her behind to ponder what he said.
“I don’t seem like a person with an overabundant sense of propriety? Wait. He thinks I came onto him… Ah!!! I can’t believe this. What does he take me for?” She then reaches into her pockets for money that she doesn’t have, “Ah! Where did I put my money?”

*(Oh-bah (오바), which is used very frequently in Korea comes from the English word, over, which means to overreact or act out of proportional to what’s needed or expected. The proper word, after taking into consideration as there is no ‘v’ sound in Korean, for over is actually오버 (oh-buh), but over time, it has evolved into oh-bah and ‘r’ sound dropped for some reason. Over may be short for overreact, but it has more of overreach connotation)

** (Having yum-chi (염치) is to have conscience or sense of shame or modesty. I think Ki-joon comes to this hasty conclusion of her character based on her apparent lack of shame or demureness when she buttoned her shirt in front of him in the emergency room after he pointed out that she missed a button, even though she had a T-shirt underneath. I don’t think he realizes that he comes across as an uptight socialite more than she does as an immodest hussy.)

A Spark that almost was

Let us digress here for a moment, and talk briefly about Ki-joon’s other woman. Ki-joon had liked this other woman, but, of course, that was before the hurricane named Ah-jung came hurling in and blew her completely off from the Ki-joon’s world.

In the episode 1, time 33:50, at his aunt’s insistence, who also happens to be the Chairman of the World Hotel, Ki-joon meets a woman through his first seun (Korean blind date). The woman, who is the daughter of Chairman Lee with cultured and expensive look, apologizes for taking such liberty but asks him anyway, “What kind of woman do you want?”

Ki-joon obliges and gives her an honest but stuffy answer, “A kind of woman who knows what it means to be a wife of Hun Ki-joon. Right now, I’m responsible for many things, and will be responsible for even more people over time. Thus, I would like someone who will stay quietly by my side and look after me so that I may stay centered.”

“Your sense of responsibility is commendable.” He smiles faintly, “(Yes,) unfortunately.”

I think he really liked her. She was not only beautiful but also came across as intelligent, sophisticated, elegant, gentle, and most of all understanding. In short, she had class, but with one impatient stroke of faulty conclusion, she threw away what could’ve been her match. After overhearing the gossip, which spread like a wild fire in this world of internet and technology, about Ki-joon’s secret marriage, she doesn’t bother to double check nor give him the benefit of doubt and ask for his side of the story. She just gives him the cold shoulder as if discarding a broken golf club. Well, that’s how a golf ball rolls sometimes. Or is that how a cookie crumbles. But I think most would agree that it’s her loss.

Bickering continues

Ah-jung is determined to return Ki-joon’s money, so she waits in the next table in the episode 1, time 47:25, while Ki-joon and the seun woman are getting to know each other better. Ah-jung has to empty her bladder badly but she decides to tough it out, because she doesn’t want to risk his leaving while she was gone. She thinks about just handing him the money envelope, but she decides against it because it wouldn’t reflect well for him in front of the other woman.

Thus, Ah-jung waits while drinking tomato juice, but she can’t help wondering what they could be talking about so long. Finally, her curiosity gets the better of her senses and she tips her chair back toward them to eavesdrop, and of course, falls flat on her back with the tomato juice all over her white sweater. Out of embarrassment, she pretends to be unconscious, but Ki-joon picks her up and brings her to a hotel room and literally throws her on the bed.

The first thing Ah-jung does is, not get angry for being thrown unceremoniously onto the bed, but to hurriedly rush into the bathroom to empty her bladder, looking so relieved and cute that I must coin a new phrase to describe her expression – post-micturition ecstasy. But Ki-joon interrupts the joy and her angst over proper excuse for “fainting” – “What should I say? Anemia? Epilepsy?” – by pounding loudly on the bathroom wall to hurry up.

In the episode 1, time 51:55, Ki-joon begins to feel that maybe Ah-jung is not the loose, opportunistic kind of woman he thought she was. As Ah-jung comes out of the bathroom, she at least has thought of an excuse for staying in the bathroom so long, “My legs fell asleep because I was sitting down too long.”

He doesn’t want to take any chances, “It could be concussion, so let’s go to a hospital and get a CT scan (of your brain).” He says x-ray, but who gets x-ray nowadays. “Oh, no. It’s okay. I’m perfectly fine. My head is so hard, nothing can hurt it.” “Even so, let’s make it absolutely certain, because I don’t want you to tell me something else later.”

“Something else?” She ponders it for a few seconds, then she looks at him as if she’s very disappointed in him, “Ah, (I see). (You’re afraid I’ll say later,) I got hurt here, so give me compensation. I should be offended. Do I look like some kind of a blackmailer or something?”

“You are not? You were fine, but you pretended to be unconscious.” “That’s because I was embarrassed. Okay?” And then it occurs to her, “Then, what about you? Why did you hug me without my permission? Are you a pervert?”

“Because I figured that if I didn’t drag you out, you were going to lie there all day long.” There must be a grain of truth in that statement, because she can’t seem to look him in the eyes. It’s interesting that the same action, he picking her up and carrying her, is interpreted as ‘hugging’ by her and ‘dragging’ by him.

Sensing her wavering, he doesn’t let up, “If that wasn’t a self-serving blackmail, then what was it? (And furthermore,) let me hear your explanation as to what you’re doing here after changing your hairstyle in less than a day.”

Ah-jung changed her hair style, not because of Ki-joon, but because so many people recognized her on TV thanks to her crazed bees trying to massacre innocent people in her event, but Ki-joon must think Ah-jung changed her hair style to impress, beguile, or deceive him somehow.

Ah-jung self-consciously strokes her hair, and then goes to her bag to produce an envelope, “Here! 73,500 Won.” Which is about $70. He’s still not convinced, “How did you know who I was?”

“I saw you in a magazine… although it was hard to recognize you with all that photoshopping.”
“I’m sure I’ve told you that it was okay with me.”

Seemingly tired of all this tit-for-tat, “I’m sorry, but it’s not okay with me, you know. I’m a government employee. Under any circumstances, I cannot accept any form of service, payback, or bribery.” And she puts the envelope on the bed. He reminds her, “I have no recollection of offering you service or payback, and certainly no bribe.” “I’m also making sure that you’ll not tell me something else later, okay? I’m going to leave now, because I did what I came to do.”

“Wait!” When she stops, he asks her, “Are you going to go out looking like that?” With tomato juice all over her white sweater. Looking at her sweater, “Ah. Are you worried that if I go out like this, I’ll ruin the hotel image?”

He offers to have different clothes delivered so that she can change, but she just smiles proudly and leaves which throws him off-guard. He has probably never met a woman willing to go out in public in less than perfect state. But not only does it not bother her, she flaunts it. She pretends that she is mortally injured and tells the onlookers, “This hotel is not a safe place to stay. Oh… what kind of hotel is this?”

She stumbles into an elevator, as one of the concerned onlookers asks her, “Are you okay?” Then she notices, “Ooh, blood!” Of course, once downstairs, Ah-jung is happy as a lark to besmirch the image of a hotel run by whom she thinks is an overbearing jerk.

A Budding Romance

Even though the full impact of her action didn’t register in his brain and served at the time to irritate him more than anything, the money that she returns right down to the change and the moment Ah-jung jumped into the water from the swan paddle boat to try to save a complete stranger because it was the right thing to do in the episode 2, time 33:16, he gets an inkling of what kind of person she really is.

Ki-joon comes to realize in full force that she is not all that impressed with his wealth or his position in life in the episode 2, time 37:00. He invites Ah-jung to his house to discuss the ways to solve their vexing public misunderstanding that they are secretly married and to overcome mutual distrust.

When he starts to discuss the matter in a serious tone, she chides him, “You don’t have to take it so seriously. I’ll take care of it. Isn’t your position – Many people mistakenly think we are married, but it’s too tiresome having to explain this to everyone – No?”

“It’s not that it’s tiresome for me, it’s just that they don’t believe me.” Oh-so-innocently, “Why don’t they believe you? Are you a habitual liar?”

He’s not amused. In a stiff tone, “Ms. Gong Ah-jung.” As in how dare you insinuate something like that about me. Not at all intimidated, and in an upbeat tone, “Just get all of those non-believers together, and I’ll tell them, ‘You’ve got it all wrong.’ Wouldn’t that solve this problem in one fell swoop?”

He doesn’t say anything but just looks at her. Feeling his stare, she asks him, “What’s the matter?”
“Are you always this simplistic in your approach?”
“Just because you approach it in a complicated way, does the problem always gets taken care of? If I started this, then I should end it.”

He’s skeptical, “Why? I mean, if we go by your logic, it’s not like you did anything wrong, so I can’t think of any particular reason why you would go to this length to try to solve this problem.” She tells him as-matter-of-factly, “That’s because I’m also a victim (in this mess). What makes you think I’d be in a deliriously happy mood with rumor swirling around that I’m wedded to you?”

It never occurred to Ki-joon that there would be someone who thought marrying him would actually be a crime and an injustice. He finds the independent thinking Ah-jung interesting and delightful, although he won’t admit it even to himself at this point.

But in the beginning of the episode 3, when Ah-jung’s archenemy friend, Yoon So-ran, riles Ah-jung up again, Ah-jung calls Ki-joon, “Yuh-bo*! I’m right here” within So-ran’s earshot. It’s too bad, because Ki-joon has already begun to feel something for Ah-jung, as before she drops the ‘Yuh-bo’ bomb, he actually smiled at Ah-jung fondly. *(Yuh-bo (여보) is used exclusively by spouses to address each other. ‘Yuh-bo’ is short for ‘yuh-gi-bo-si-oh (여기 보시오)’ which means ‘look here.’)

Ah-jung, later, in the episode 3, time 33:10, tries to explain to Ki-jung that it wasn’t intentional on her part, and that she became temporarily insane due to So-ran, and begs him to give her one more chance to tell everyone that she’s not his wife. He tells her ominously that it’s okay, that she doesn’t need to worry. She is puzzled by his reaction, but she takes his words at their face value.

But when she gets an official letter from Ki-joon stating that if she doesn’t rectify the situation, he is ready to resort to legal action, she tries to see him, but his secretary tells her to talk to his lawyer.

Later, in the episode 3, time 53:07, Ki-joon asks his secretary, “She came here?” “Yes. I told her to talk to your lawyer.” “And she said she’ll do that?”

Smiling, his secretary tells him, “Well, it’s not like she has a lot of options.” Ki-joon contemplates. And his secretary is puzzled, “What’s the matter?” “No, it’s nothing. (It’s just that) I didn’t think she’d give up that easily.” “Beg pardon?” Ki-joon patiently explains, “She’s a person without a lot of dai-chec*, you know. I didn’t think she’d back down so easily.” *(Dai-chec (대책) means a methodical plan to handle a problem) Smiling, “You sound somewhat disappointed?”

Ki-joon denies the observation vehemently, but we know better, don’t we? He is disappointed about not seeing her anytime soon.

Marry me, She says

Well, Ki-joon gets his wish, because Ah-jung gets a suite in his hotel and demands to talk to the President by raising a major stink about how water on the bathroom floor could’ve caused her to fall, possibly resulting in brain hemorrhage.

In the episode 3, time 57:25, when Ah-jung can’t talk Ki-joon out of proceeding with legal steps for masquerading as his wife, she abruptly asks him, “Marry me.” He stops from walking out and turns around, “What?”

“Not for real. Just pretend marriage. You don’t have to do anything. Just be like this for two months. No, even one month is fine.”

He can’t believe his ears, “Miss. Gong Ah-jung.”
“You said you really want to sue me. So do that. But just a little later.”
“Do you really want to get embarrassed?”
“It’s okay if I get embarrassed. I don’t care if you want to sue me. You do whatever you want to do, because I’m willing take whatever you dish out. On one condition: Just stay the way we are for one month. Please?”
Scoffing, “Why should I?” She replies in a pitiful, desperate tone, “Because I’m asking you (as a big favor).”

Simple and straight forward begging with even simpler reason appears to surprise and move him… but only for a few seconds. She pulls out all the stops, even telling him that she only has a month to live. He tells her, no, and walks out, leaving her alone in her despair. Ki-joon, once outside the room, wonders how far she would go (to get what she wants).

Pale green with Envy

In the episode 4, Ki-joon’s little brother, Sang-hee, who likes Ah-jung, volunteers to become her “fairy godmother” and helps her become indebted in the eyes of Ki-joon by ditching his brother on the countryside near their parents’ gravesite to pick up and befriend Chairman Chun and his wife from the Shanghai company whom Ki-joon hopes will invest in the World Hotel instead of their competition, the Great Hotel.

Before Chairman Chun arrives in the airport, Ki-joon gets a scoop that Chairman and his wife are planning to stay at the Great Hotel. There is a lot of pressure on Ki-joon, as this deal is apparently critical in the global growth of the World Group.

After helping the Chairman couple check into the World Hotel, Ah-jung plays hostess to the Chairman Chun’s wife, who takes a liking to Ah-jung. The wife asks Ah-jung not to feel too disappointed about their earlier decision to stay at the Great Hotel, because she’s the one who convinced her husband as this trip was to be their second honeymoon, and she didn’t want her husband to talk business all the time while in Korea. The wife hugs Ah-jung goodbye, and while waiting for an elevator Ah-jung runs into Ki-joon in the episode 4, time 51:55.

Ki-joon can’t help but become somewhat sarcastic in his greeting, “I didn’t think I’d run into you so soon.” Ah-jung is equally as thrilled, “I know. I can hardly believe my good fortune also.”

“Are you sure you’re a civil servant who cannot accept any form of service, payback, or bribery?” When Ah-jung looks puzzled, he explains, “I mean, considering, you seem to frequent the hotel too often.”

She gets flustered for a split second, but she recovers nicely, “Uh-muh*, don’t tell me you don’t like it when your customers return frequently?” *(Uh-muh (어머) is an expression uttered by a woman in response to something unexpected or when surprised or frightened)

The elevator door opens, and she becomes playfully flippant as she waves goodbye, “Okay, I’ll try to remember that next time.” She walks into the elevator, and unseen to him she furiously presses the button.

She visibly relaxes when the door is about to close, but he doesn’t let her get away that easily. At the last minute, the elevator re-opens, and Ki-joon walks in to join her. He apparently has a beef with her, “Why did you ask me to marry you when you already had a man?” He heard from his secretary Park that Ah-joon was seen leaving the suite with a young man, having no idea that the man was his brother, Sang-hee.

“Did the man refuse to marry you? Is that why you spread that false rumor?”
She can’t believe her ears, “Hey! Why are you trying to pair me up with a man just to tickle your fancy?”

He tries to reason with her, “Don’t I have at least that much right to know, since I was unnecessarily sacrificed thanks to your man?” She is clueless, “Sacrificed?” I think he feels sacrificed because of all the headaches caused by her lies could’ve been directed to “her man” instead of him.

She gives him a you-must’ve-skipped-your-medicine-today look in the elevator, and when she realizes that he’s still hounding her off the elevator, she tries to lose him by shouting that he’s a stalker. That doesn’t deter him from chasing after her, and he prevents her from getting into a taxi, “Tell me the reason why. Who knows? Depending on your reason, I might just jung-sahng chahm-jahk* (정상참작) for you.” The reason why she asked to marry him when she already had a man.

Surprised, she asks him, “You mean you’re not going to sue me?” Annoyed, “I said, jung-sahng chahm-jak.” She gets equally irritated because what he’s saying is essentially what she’s saying,

“Do you think I’m stupid?”
“Is he, by any chance, someone I know?”
Showing surprise but trying to mask it with a little pretended indignation, “Mr. Hyun Ki-joon!”
He is persistent, “Who is he?”

Unable to countermeasure his persistence, she gets into the taxi and drives off, but not until she has the last words. She rolls down the window and shouts to him, “Hey! Whether you’re talking more nonsense or not, talk to my lawyer from now on. Capish?” She then pounds the taxi to drive off. He mutters to himself, “Does that mean she doesn’t have a man?”

*(Jung-sahng (정상) usually means normal, but in this case it means extenuating circumstances, while chahm-jak (참작) means to consider, take into consideration, or make allowance for. So together it means, he’ll take into consideration if her extenuating circumstance sounds reasonable)

Although Ah-jung doesn’t pick up on it, and I’m sure Ki-joon will deny it at this juncture, but he’s jealous. He is smitten, but their love is at a very early stage.

Marry me, He says

Over a lavish meal, in the episode 4, time 54:40, Ki-joon greets Chairman Chun and his wife, from whom he finds out that his wife, in the person of Gong Ah-jung, met them at the airport. The chairman’s wife goes on to tell Ki-joon that she and his wife (Ah-jung) have already become fast friends.

The chairman tells Ki-joon that according to his wife, seeing how you married that lady (Ah-jung), you must be a very good person. The wife chimes in to say how you can tell what kind of person a husband is by his wife. The chairman laughs and affectionately pats her hand while telling his wife, “Yes, yes, you are my face.”

Ki-joon thinks to himself, Gong Ah-jung is my face? He doesn’t appear to be too upset by the possibility.

So, it’s not surprising that Ki-joon’s business part of the brain reconciles beautifully with his as-of-yet-still-subconscious smitten part of his brain by offering Ah-jung a contractual marriage proposal in their private rendezvous place, you know the swan paddle boat. He even calls Ah-jung, “Our Jung yi,” which is a very intimate way to address someone, in front of her archenemy friend So-ran, which So-ran finds nauseating and envious, just to entice Ah-jung to the swan boat.

In the episode 5, time 00:28, Ki-joon tells Ah-jung in the aforementioned swan boat, “Let’s get married.” Seeing shocked Ah-jung, he hastily explains, “Not really get married, but just pretending to be married temporarily. Ah… a month or two would be okay with me, too.”

She continues to look at him with her mouth agape, so he tries to explain himself better, “Since you’ve been begging that your fervent wish is to marry someone like me, well, I’ve been feeling somewhat guilty about the way I reacted, so…”

But she continues to just stare at him. Puzzled, he asks her, “Miss Gong Ah-jung?” as if to say, Are you okay? Ah-jung, all of sudden, erupts in a fit of laughter, and he, thinking that she’s overcome with joy, joins in on the laughter. He asks her, “Really, now. Does it make you that happy?”

“You, Mr. Hyun Ki-joon, are not being fair. Shouldn’t you tell me why you’ve changed your mind, first?” His expression changes. She presses on, “Since all my dirty reasons have been revealed, why don’t you reveal your dirty reasons why?” “Dirty?”

She becomes tunnel-visioned, “Now, why would you all of sudden want to pretend to be married to me? Maybe… because you felt sorry for me, your sense of compassion was aroused – you weren’t going to say that, right?” She’s having fun with him, and he suddenly realizes it. She slaps his arm lightly while smiling, “I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. Now, really.

Feeling a bit embarrassed and put out, “You don’t have to do it, if you don’t want to.” Smiling sweetly, “Okay, good. Because marriage is a serious matter, and I can’t decide the matter this way.” He still feels somewhat awkward since he didn’t expect to be turned down so disconcertingly.

Back on the solid ground, Ah-jung tells him sweetly, “We don’t have any other issues to discuss, right?” He’s about to say something, but she interrupts him, “You’re going to sue me? You do whatever you have to do. Then…” She bows goodbye, and walks away, now wearing a knowing smile.

Knowing it’s just a matter of time before he calls her, she starts to count, “One, two, three…” But when he doesn’t stop her by the count of eight, she starts to worry. But because her tactic dictates that she doesn’t turn around, she can’t see that he is just as, if not more, antsy than she is. Finally, at the count of twelve, he calls her, “Miss. Gong Ah-jung!” She hides her triumphant smile and turns around.

Continue reading >>> Page 2: The Contract

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144 Responses »

  1. i had a fantastic read. i enjoyed it same as watching the drama. your excellent description of every OTP scene/interaction added extra meaning to what i already have understood from the subtitles making me appreciate more of their dialogues and simple reactions to what was said/exchanged by their characters. i am already in love with KJ and AJ but you made me immortalised them as my forever drama OTP who both have love with their whole being without any fear of the consequences as long as they are both honest and sincere. such a kind of love story i want in my life with exception of having media interference of course.

    thank you very much for sharing your talent and interest to all of us LTM fans. reading about their love story from a man’s point of view is awesome especially on the part of KJ and how he was wearing his heart out on his sleeve yet so damn proud of it. that for me is a real man in love.

  2. Great perspectives on Ah Jong and Gi Jun and their love story! I really loved reading your elaborate and insightful take on the show. I compete with so many of the readers here on keeping the drama on re-run mode as it lifts up my spirits each time I see it. I found the acting of the leads very genuine and believable. Thanks for your write up

  3. Michael, many thanks for taking time to write us this long recap of LTM. Your writing helps me to know the true meaning of some Korean phrases/words and I am going to rewatch those scenes again.

    Also really appreciate that you translated KJ’s ideal woman list. BTW, I learned from another website that Kang Ji Hwan himself actually stated that he wants his ideal girl friend to have pretty hands and feet. Guess that’s why it is a p.s. in the LTM list. Not sure if you notice that LTM shows many times Yoon Eun Hye’s hands and feet, e.g in ep 8 the Cola Kiss scene.

    I am not ready to say goodbye to LTM yet and I am going to read again and again your writing.. Thanks again!

    • Come to think of it, you’re right. They did show a lot of her hands and feet. And they looked beautiful, to me. Although I’m sure he wouldn’t have put it on his list if he felt that she had ugly hands and feet, .

      • Oh, we forgot the 1st 4-1/2 min of ep 15. AJ ran out of the party without her shoes. KJ carried bare feet AJ all the way to his car. KJ/KJH then put AJ/YEH’s feet on his hand, clean them and put them in her shoes one by one gently. If YEH is not beautiful, I guess the director won’t agree to show them so many times.

        Michael, you have written such detailed recap/summary that I think I am reading a mini novel. I won’t read it just once. And it’s good too to learn how a guy thinks of this story as most of the time we obviously got comments from ladies fans.

  4. Hello Michael, I realy enjoying your LTM recaps… Thanks!
    Your opinion about 10 tipes HKJ’s ideal woman is so funny and so true! ^^
    Just curious, why you didn’t including the scene “he proposing her” and “he take her to work” on your recaps ? But I think it doesn’t matter because without them, your LTM recaps still perfect.

    • If she had said yes at that moment he proposed to her, then I would have, but the post was already very lengthy, so that’s the only reason why I didn’t include it. Regarding “he take her to work,” are you referring to the omitted scene?

      • Hi

        I daresay jae is referring to the scene on Jeju ‘the morning after’. He sent her to work and wouldn’t leave without a goodbye kiss, like a good little husband. 😉

        • Ah, yes, that one. It’s funny how a cute scene like that doesn’t stick in your mind because of a personal reason. Let me explain. I didn’t like the way he shouted her name to wake her up, not to mention the way he physically helped her to get up. Obviously the more romantic way to wake her up would’ve been to whisper, not necessarily sweet nothings but anything, without having to resort to raising your voice or to physically do so.

          And this pet peeve of mine, and apparently I have a quite a few of them, stems from my childhood. Growing up, my mother used to wake me up by opening the curtain in my room wide open blinding me with the bright sunlight and with a loud booming, too cheerful for the morning kind of voice, all this as she pulls all my blankets off me, “Rise and shine. You don’t want to waste your whole life sleeping, do you?” Now I love my mom dearly, but I hated her waking me up that way, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her not to do it because I know she meant well. So over the years I tried and succeeded most of the time to get up before she did.

          So, that’s my long-winded explanation as to why I didn’t think about including that scene, but I did go back and re-watched it, and I found the scene very cute. So I guess I should’ve included it, especially since he seems to get back at her by patting her behind, exactly the same number of times she poked him in the buttock earlier, in his attempt to wake her up. The parting kiss was also cute, but at the time it seemed self-evident and not a whole lot of conversation, so I thought it’d be an overkill to go over it again. Obviously I’m not always very sound-minded all the time as you can see.

          • you’re really a romantic… the more romantic way to wake her up would’ve been to whisper.
            SO TRUE!!! Love the way you think Michael.

  5. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for all your comments. I loved everyone of them. Sorry for not responding promptly, but I did most of the LTM review over the past 2 week vacation, so I thought I should spend what’s left of my vacation with my family more. I’ll try to respond to each one of you as fast as I can, but if I happen to skip over your response, it doesn’t mean I don’t value, appreciate, or love your response, it just means it appears not to require an answer but instead know that I’m sending you my silent heartfelt thank you, so don’t feel bad or slighted.


    • thanks so talented…its very rare for a man can tell love story like this…so soft ,romantic n touching..make me love LTM more n more…thanks again…bravo!!

  6. Ah, ockoala. That’s quite a compliment coming from you. I’ll have you know that after I finish each episode of my LTM review, I read your blog just to make sure I didn’t miss anything, because I value and love your insights and writing. So thank you.

  7. Dear Michael,

    Thank you for such a beautiful recap. The way you drew the narrative made this a spell-binding and captivating story between two persons caught in a lie very possible. Also, the way you slipped in key translations and explained the Korean words made me wish I could catch those nuances and also how times I caught none of those intricate details in the many dramas I watched over the years.

    Thank you. 🙂 You sound like a Brit living in the land of the free, who’s into kdramas… how interesting!! lol 🙂 Happy Holidays!

    • Yes, I do get that response sometimes because of the spelling of my name. A few thought I was an Irish. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words. Happy Holidays!

      • This proves that I’m a typical man, you know being dense. It just occurred to me that your reference to my sounding like a Brit is due to my using words like “old chap.” When I was in training, we used to have a British young woman, and because I loved her accent so much, I would find every excuse just to be near her so I can hear her speak. I just love British accent, especially when a beautiful woman speaks it. It’s similar to my infatuation with Seoul accent (or some, like my wife, would say proper Korean) since I have a “Southern” accent. It’s probably one of the many reasons why I married my wife. 🙂

        • lols. Yes. it was with reference to you using ‘old chap’ in the review. Brit accents are just way cute to imitate. What a great variety of choices to pick from: BBC style / Queen’s English, the London, Manchester (totally intelligible to me) or even Liverpool accents .. Irish accents & Scottish accents are WAY fun as well. alrt. enough already.

          But thanks again. 🙂 Let us know when you’re running Korean classes. 🙂 🙂 Am sure you’d have a few takers. Such as common kdrama phrases. hehe 🙂

  8. Dear Michael
    I stumbled upon your Secret Garden recaps recently and I must say, that was a unique read in the kdrama blogging world. For all the reasons listed above (man’s POV, focus on the romantic story only, korean language/culture tidbits).
    Then when I saw you did the same for LTM, I was so thrilled, my heart actually jumped. And it did not disappoint at all – you truly brought out the most lovely parts of this story, and added some of your own happily-married-man perspective, which was wonderful. Thank you thank you!
    I did want to read more of your overall opinion at the end of the story. I saw you did some of it at the beginning, but may I respectfully request for your overall wrap up and thoughts? I’m curious to know what you think about some of the controversy and low ratings surrounding LTM? Or even the rest of the story, such as the Sang Hee angle.

    • Ah, Webfoot, thank you so much. I didn’t do the wrap up for two reasons. One, because I wanted this to be just a love story, not a recap for the whole drama. Two, because the rest of the story wasn’t as interesting as the love story. So I guess that explains the low rating, but I think some of that, I thought, was also due to the incongruities of the other characters and stories, etc. The story certainly didn’t unfold like, let’s say, 49 days, where the audience was spellbound and hanging onto every scene wondering what’s going to happen next.

      Having said that, I actually found San-hee, not so much his story, as much as his character endearing. The story itself seemed somewhat contrived and maybe overused in Kdrama, but I liked that his character, which was well-developed so that he came across as fun, charming and yet also deep and warm, grew up over time for the love of his brother, to reciprocate what his brother has done for him 3 years ago, although it was difficult for him to come to terms with his own feelings, even trying to convince Yoon-joo, was touching.

      I also liked the background triangle relationship of Ah-jung’s father, his lady love, and the artist/chef who’s enamored with her. It was cute how despite the fact that Ah-jung’s father and the lady didn’t legally consummate their relationship earlier because of Ah-jung’s opposition, the lady and Ah-jung’s relationship still flourished and how the lady drops the chef’s advances just like that whenever Ah-jung’s father offers her something similar – like the time when the chef offers to make her a meal and she agrees, but when Ah-jung’s father walks into the restaurant and asks her to go out, she without any hesitation, says yes, while silently asking the chef to understand. I think it’s a reflection on the lady’s character to remain in love with one guy all that time and not resent the kid for preventing their lawful union. I think the lady understood the sensitive psyche of a little girl who just lost her mother at a tender age, and I love the fact that the lady and Ah-jung’s father were both sensitive to Ah-jung’s needs growing up.

      • Thanks for the thoughtful reply! I get it now about not recapping but retelling the love story. Looking forward to the next wonderful one from you. *no pressure* 🙂
        Happy 4th of July !

  9. Hi Michael, i appreciate your writing and focusing on the OTP in LTM. If i hadnt been hooked by episode 8 – before that, i’ve just been reading the recaps and wanted to delay gratification by watching the drama episodes after its finale but the net-wide attention to the ‘cola kiss’ got me watching the remaining episodes (and then going back to watch the whole drama from episode 1 to 16). Wow! Dare i guess that you are a script writer? or a novelist? Have you written any stories or books that we can read – you write so well, very incisive and witty. (I should read your Secret Garden recaps – its well recommended here somewhere).

    Hmmm… going back to the drama – methinks that much of the success of this love story is how the actors/actresses and director/editor brought it to life… they should get awards for the great acting, they’ve convinced us that the loving is real (and. that. is. the. STORY!)… whether both of them were affected, well its anybody’s guess (they are humans after all and they should take a step back and ponder whether their reality would blend after the reel story ended). its time to move on – back to reality… and maybe in the near future, focus on another heartwarming drama that we can enjoy and be entertained by.

    Michael, kudos to you and the fellow kdrama fans out here – you bring joy and laughter to an otherwise “so-so” life of a workaholic looking for a much needed break, that’s moi! hihihi

    • Oh, how I wish I were those things, but no, I don’t write professionally. But that’s so sweet of you to think that.

      I truly believe that the most important purpose of life is to feel the love, and what better way to do that than give love and receive in abundance. So, thank you for giving me your “joy and laughter.”

      • Your wife is truly blessed to have a hubby like you, so sweet and romantic.

        I just wonder 🙂 if YEH and KJH are reading all the comments on LTM (and most especially their reel and real love story)… what would they be thinking and saying? hmmmm… hihihi

  10. Tengo un setimiento de pérdida tan grande por no ver Lie To Me, que buscando alguna información al respecto, llegué a esta página… realmente hermoso el trabajo de recapitulación del dorama. Soy una admiradora de YEH y de KJH, realmente muy hermoso su trabajo, y como todos espero que el amor entre elos surja en la vida real.
    Espero tener noticias de ud. al respecto.

  11. To Michael and all my LTM like-minded friends on this blog,

    I just want to say that my husband watches k-dramas with me and LTM, by far, is the one we LOVE most. My son was the one who introduced k-dramas (Full House) to us because of his Korean uni-mates and that got us on a roll. We became k-addicts 😀

    Now he and his bride are watching Secret Garden (thanks to me!) and I told them they simply MUST follow this with LTM. My daughter-in-law said she’s now hooked… hahaha. I can’t wait to hear her (fan-girly) comments.

    And talking about my husband, the other day after I had my hair done, he SMS-ed me and told me to go straight home because he didn’t want me to meet other men or get kidnapped! That was a line from LTM. How cute is that?

    Thanks to a blog like this one, we get fed with entertaining reads in between watching dramas. Thank you, Thundie, Dramabeans, ocKoala and many many others who took the time to write, recap, reminisce, linger, berate, lament…. k-dramas.


  12. i really love this drama and am totally addict for both them. hope they will become real couple in real life.

  13. I really really enjoyed reading your post. I cant even express how much. All I know is that between you and ockoala, I dont think i’m getting over this show anytime soon. And its crazy, because the show already ended, but I really dont want to get over it. I love it.
    First time reading from you, and I liked your take on the show I love alot. Favorite line?
    “And love must truly be blind for Ki-joon not to see Yoon-joo standing by the entrance right in the line of his vision.” Hhaha SO True.

  14. Michael, HIGH, HIGH, PRAISES FOR SUCH AN AMAZING R E A D!!!!! I actually got so frustrated waiting each week, surfing the net…just waiting, waiting for each episode… even watching, downloading the raw episodes… that I just waited until the whole drama ended… this usually doesn’t happen to me. I’m usually really rabid about the dramas I like… so today after a long, long, busy night at work.. I happened unto your AWESOME recap for LTM… bowing hands down, you did well–awesomely well… thanks so much.. I started to read but got sooo tired, not because of your writing-just that I was exhausted after a long 12 hour shift that I had to go nap…and of course finished without stopping your recap. Michael, thanks soooo much to you and ockoala… I have always enjoyed YEH and KJH.. I loved that your focus was totally on our couple GAJ and Kijoon, basically the nitty gritty of the story… THANKS-THANKS-THANKS, I’m glad you’re a YEH fan.. she’s the key that led me and my family to KDRAMA addiction!!! I am always so glad that many are Kdrama addicts are not swayed by ratings nor rantings by haters. Just the enjoyment of watching Kdramas is a treat. And your recap just put great icing on my Kdrama addiction… You go guy…. 5 stars.. again thanks so much… hope you continue to do more recaps…

  15. Thanks Michael for such a lovely recap. Makes my day!

  16. Wonderful piece you’ve written…but I never got the feeling Ah Jung wasn’t doing alright because she was wearing about 5 or 6 different Christian Louboutin Simples and Pigalles in this drama. Yes, I’m a shoe shopaholic…LOL

    • LOL. You could have slapped me silly with all those shoes and I wouldn’t have known the difference between the shoes. Just curious, are you “shopaholic” only with shoes? 🙂

  17. What happened?!!! I spent half of the night reading your love story although I have watched the drama and know every detail. O.O Lie to me still has me in its fangs…! But now I got into your writing’s fangs and just have one word: MORE.
    It’s awesome to read from a man’s point; your comments on Ki-joon’s list cracked me up! XD I’ll continued reading your Secret Garden story!

  18. Hello Michael.

    Thank you very much for the recap. It was wonderfully made especially in the way you inserted translations of some Korean words that has different meanings when used in different situations. I also love the way you described Yoon Eun Hye.

    “Why do I like Yoon Eun-hye so much? Aside from her obvious physical attributes, it’s because she makes you love her character.”

    “it’s the way she portrays such a lovable character that makes it almost impossible not to root for her.”

    Those were my exact thoughts put into words. It was very well-written (a talent which I do not have).

    This was my first time to ever read your blog. My big thanks to ockoala. If it weren’t for her I would have missed on a good reading. I look forward to more of your articles. Have a great day!

  19. I have never find such drama that could attract such polarized opinions. For hater, I shared your arguments; for LTM-die hard-fans, people.. I share your love. The defects of the drama crumples when the leads came in one screen. An Jung and Ki Joon shows of affection toward each other were something so addicting to anticipate. Not just the KISS, but the little gestures that probably redefine the meaning of on screen-romance. Their display of love didn’t really burn a hole in my screen as “Lover” once did, but they sure tickles and my neighbors could hear me scream ‘more..more..more..’

    Anyway, love the recap. Hope to find another recap from you.

  20. Hi Michael, I re-read your LTM love story again and I noticed that you haven’t written about the first part of ep14. I would like to read your thoughts on KJ’s reaction and how he feels when he finally finds AJ at the park. KJ seldom cries in LTM, it is always AJ who cries. When KJ sees AJ, his eyes are full of tears and he is trying to control himself/his sadnes, that he is unable to protect the woman he loves. To me, this is also an important scene. If you have a moment, may I know how you view this part of ep14?

    • This scene, I thought, was most poignant of all the AJ and KJ’s interactions, but I didn’t include it only because there wasn’t a whole lot of conversation, so I didn’t think the scene needed any explanation. There also was that length concern as well. But in retrospect, since I was telling a love story, I admit that it was a very dumb decision on my part not to include such a critical scene.

      KJ just found out that AJ had risked everything and jeopardized the job she loves all for him, and how can you not tear up, right? Even though they ask mundane questions to each other, such as did you have dinner? Did you have a good trip? Are you doing okay?, the underlying overwhelming emotions they feel for each other shines through. It was a very touching scene, but my only excuse at the time was that since Koala has already done such a good job recapping LTM that I just wanted to add to that, not rehash it.

  21. Michael, I love your review with or without this scene and glad to learn that you also agreed that it was a touching scene. I will add your reply to my file, to make it my special version of your review. Though I have only copied the last few ep’s photos, your story takes up almost 90 pages! You must have spent a lot of time to write this. Really really appreciate it.

  22. Hi Michael, thanks to you (and to Ockoala for directing me to this website) for shedding more light on this delightful story entitled LTM. I confess to have watched the series with three different sets of English subtitles and also with Chinese subtitles. Yet, I learn even more through reading your post on it.

    Armed with very little knowledge in anything Korean and being a newbie in the K-drama world, I have found your explanations on the language and culture to be vital in helping me understand better the LTM story.

    There is something in Episode 12 that I don’t understand and I hope that you will be able to enlighten me on this. When Hyun Ki Joon appeared unannounced at Gong Ah Jung’s door, wanting to meet up with her father,
    1) I presume his purpose was to seek Dad’s permission to court Ah Jung. Am I right?
    2) If I am right, was it proper for him to do that ? If not, what would be the usual Korean way ?

    Looking forward to your reply. Thanks in advance.

    • First, thank you for your kind words.

      I don’t know if you ever saw an old Korean drama called “All About Eve,” but in that drama Jang Dong-gun character is in love with Cha-rim character. And he has just given her a ride to her house and as they are getting out of the car, she demurely asks him if he could come to her birthday party this Saturday. Right at that moment, another car drives up, and brightening, she tells him that it’s her father. Seizing the moment, Jang Dong-gun tells her that he’ll come to her birthday party if she does one thing for him. When she looks at him quizzically, he grabs her hand and sort of drags her to her father who’s just getting out of the car.

      Even though Jang Dong-gun doesn’t say he’s dating or like his daughter, the fact that he’s standing in front of her father holding her hand says volumes about his intention, and even though Cha-rim is embarrassed and tries to wriggle her hand out of his grip, he steadfastly holds her hand while he bows and introduces himself to her father. Jang Dong-gun apologizes to her father for bringing his daughter home so late and that he promises him not to do that again. (All this comes from my recollection and so bear with me if the exact details are a little off).

      The proper etiquette dictates that her father invite him into the house, and even though Cha-rim appears to be against the idea, it’s because of culturally derived demureness and perhaps a little of personal conservatism on Cha-rim’s part.

      So, it is perfectly appropriate for Jang Dong-gun, and in this case Ki-joon to sort of bulldoze themselves into the respective woman’s house, because it’s not culturally appropriate for women to initiate or enthusiastically endorse such an event. That’s why Ah-jung was trying to block Ki-joon from entering her house, and that’s why Ki-joon kept it a secret from Ah-jung.

      By the way, it was cute that Ki-joon shaved again, when he had already shaved that morning, right before he leaves the office, enough for his secretary to question him if he’s going on a blind date. I think it reflects well on him to feel such anxiousness to show his best face to the father of the woman he loves.

      So, yes, Ki-joon’s purpose was to ask for Ah-jung’s father’s permission or blessing to “officially” date or court his daughter.

      • Thanks very much, Michael, for making this clear to me.

        No, I’ve never watched ‘All About Eve’. My first Korean series was ‘Creating Destiny’ and I only joined my sister in watching the last few episodes. So LTM is the first K-drama series that I’ve finished watched in its entirety.

        When the desire to keep rewatching LTM subsides (who knows when), I may move on to Secret Garden, on which you’ve written a lot. That must be a good series, too, I gather.

        Any other good K-drama series similar to LTM that you’d recommend to a newbie who loves stories with a happy ending ?

        • These are some of my personal favorite romantic dramas, in no particular order, besides what I have mentioned before, namely “Coffee House, First Shop,” “My Girl,” and “All About Eve” are:

          Lovers in Prague – This is one of my favorite “Love” series that I did some translations in the Soompi thread.
          Jumong – I know, this is not exactly all love story, but I especially like the love story between Jumong and his first wife. So touching.
          Full House – This is an old but classic romantic comedy starring Bi and lovely Song Hae-geu.
          Sweet 18 낭랑 18세 – This is another old but classic romantic comedy. Very cute.
          Dong Yi 동이 – This is last year’s 60 + episodes that I’m still working on.
          Resurrection 부활 – This is one of my very favorites that has everything, everlasting soul mate love, revenge, suspense, etc.
          The Vineyard Man 포도밭 그사나이 – A cute love story starring our LTM heroine.
          The Return Of Iljimae 돌아온 일지매 – A love story. Cute and yet touching.
          My Sweet City 달콤한 나의 도시 – A more modern, more Westernized love story, but I liked it after about 5 episodes when their love story begins more earnestly.
          Jewel Bibimbap/assorted Gems 보석비빔밥 – The main characters’ love story is cute and worth watching. More family wacky story otherwise.
          Pure 19 / Pure in Heart / Hearts of Nineteen 열아홉 순정 – A very cute and romantic story.
          Invincible Lee Pyung Kang 천하무적 이평강 – The story is so and so, but the love story is very cute.
          One Fine Day 어느 멋진 날 [MBC] Sung Yuri, Gong Yoo – Good solid romantic tale.
          Alone In Love 연애시대 [SBS] Son Ye Jin & Gam Woo Sung – A more bittersweet and somewhat “serious” love story, but definitely with a happy ending.

          Some of my favorite romantic or just good movies are:

          Overspeed Scandal 과속스캔들 – A more of a comedy, but I recommend this highly.
          April Snow 외출 Bae Yong Jun, Son Yeh Jin – A very touching love story born out of betrayal.
          My Little Bride 어린신부 Kim RaeWon and Moon GeunYoung – A very cute love story.
          Mr. Hong, the Handy Man – A very funny yet very satisfying love story.
          Don’t Believe Her – A very cute and funny but peculiar love story.

          • I think it’s “Coffee Prince, First Shop” not “Coffee House”. I also get confused sometimes 🙂

            • Of course. Thank you, sheila. I don’t know why I keep writing “Coffee House” when I didn’t even watch the drama. I caught myself when I proofread the LTM review, and I did it again last night when I was in a hurry and didn’t bother to proofread.

              One drama I didn’t include was SungKyunKwan Scandal 성균관 스캔들, only because I watched the first few episodes and didn’t finish due to time constraint. I just can’t seem to go back and finish it. I don’t know why. Someday I will, I guess, because a lot of people said they loved it.

              Thanks again, sheila, for catching that.

          • Wow! So many K-series to choose from. That should keep me busy for a long while.

            Often, the true meaning of a scene is lost in translation. So, non-Korean speaking viewers like me do really appreciate your going to such lengths just to share wonderful Korean stories with us, Michael. Well done and do keep up your superb effort!

  23. Dear Micheal, I just love your reviews and specially must thank you for this one. I have not read it yet since I have just finished LTM but waiting to savor it slowly to ease my withdrawal and linger at all the sweetness. I couldn’t get past episode 1 of LTM much as I love KJW/YEH. But when I saw that you have reviewed it I know it’s a ‘hidden’ gem and I need to start watching it again. Honestly, I still didn’t get the pull in the first few episodes but when I reach episode 5, my romantic heart started pounding and then it went full force and I breathe, eat, sleep, drive, etc LTM! What a love story and the OTP made it so real!

    I haven’t felt the pull of an OTP since Secret Garden, and even though I love TGL, MP etc my heart was not really connected. But I have to say imo this OTP is the top in all my kdramas!

    Btw, is it the norm for father-in-laws to test the drinking limit of their future son-in-laws and a sign of approval? I see that happening in a lot of kdramas.

  24. Hi simplesim,

    I felt exactly like you did. It was interesting and gaining momentum kind of feeling until the episode 5 when I knew I had to share this feeling I had in my heart.

    Regarding the future father-in-laws testing the drinking limit of future son-in-laws thing, I guess it’s similar to the idea of getting him drunk to see his true intention toward your daughter if you have such doubt as a father, but I have never seen this done to anyone in real life, although that doesn’t say much since my parents dont’ drink. It’s possible that this sort of thing happens in some parts of the Korean culture, but I venture to guess that this practice is much more common in Kdrama world than in the real Korean society. Or let me just put it this way: If my daughter gets older and brings home a man she wants to marry, you won’t see me put him through such alcohol litmus test. Seeing my daughter being happy and making sure that the guy is not a homicidal maniac would do. 🙂

  25. Hi Michael,
    I’m rewatching LTM and am up to Ep 10. A series of questions suddenly pop up in my mind. My knowledge of the Korean language is limited to the few phrases I’ve picked up watching Creating Destiny and LTM. I’d really be grateful if you could clarify for the following for me:

    Am I right that
    1. Gi Joon (GJ) spoke in jondae to Ah Jung (AJ) till the end of Ep 10 when he dropped to banmal and he continued to use banmal with her from that point on ?

    2.AJ continued to speak in Jondae with GJ till the end ?
    a) If she never switched to banmal with GJ even after they became very close, why not ? Is it because
    GJ was older and a male ? After they started dating shouldn’t she be calling him oopa? GJ referred
    to himself as her oopa twice when he spoke to AJ but she never reciprocated. Is there a reason for
    that ?

    b) If she switched to banmal with GJ, at what point did that happen ? What about after their marriage,
    how should AJ talk to her high-profile hubby in public ? Would that be the same at home ?

    Sorry for bombarding you with so many questions. I’m really curious to know. Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Teratai,

      I went back and re-watched the episodes, and Ki-joon (although Gi-joon is closer to the actual pronunciation) starts to speak ban-mal (반말) to Ah-jung starting in the episode 6 when he text messages her about whether her preparation for housewarming is going well.

      Ki-joon then starts to sprinkle ban-mal to Ah-jung here and there. He did it a couple of times when they were sitting by the bench after they both got kicked out of the condo by the real estate lady.

      After he gives her the secret code to his house for her to use the house for housewarming and as he walks toward his car, Ah-jung calls to tell him that he won’t regret it, he speaks ban-mal to her when he tells her, “I’m already regretting it.”

      And then he starts to use mostly ban-mal from here on out, sprinkling jon-dae-mal (존대말) to her here and there. But then from about episode 7, he doesn’t even sprinkle; he just talks ban-mal to her all the time.

      Jon-dae (존대) means respect or deference whereas mal (말) is speech or language. Ban-mal (반말) means lower form of language, where ban (반) means half, so ban-mal means less than whole or lower kind of speech.

      Ah-jung speaks ban-mal to him a few times, once when in the episode 6 when she tells him not to live like that being a showoff with his house, and once when she was mad at him because he told her that he kissed her because he was acting. But otherwise she speaks jon-dae-mal to him throughout the drama because that’s the accepted cultural standard in most cases although I’m sure there are exceptions. So, yes, it’s because he is a man and older. And that shouldn’t change regardless of the location such as at home versus in public.

      Her not calling him oppa is probably because she didn’t know him that closely before they became romantically embroiled or because she didn’t know him when she were younger. Guys like to be called oppa, especially from someone they like, because that moniker denotes closeness sort of built into the word, sort of like he calling her “Ah-jung-ah.” But I’m sure Ah-jung feels somewhat awkward calling him that because she wasn’t that close to him from the beginning, and some women, once they get married, don’t like to call their husbands oppa because the word has other connotations such as being close but no sexual relations, etc.

      Btw, my wife, who is 4 years younger than me, and we both came to the U.S. when we were 12 years old, speaks jon-dae-mal to me most of the time unless she is really angry with me, which thankfully is not that often. I, on the other hand, speak mostly English to her unless we have Korean company or we are among our extended family members, and when I do speak Korean I tend to talk jon-dae-mal to her as well because I want to show my respect although by the cultural standards I don’t have to. It just doesn’t seem fair to me if I don’t reciprocate when she shows me respect by speaking jon-dae-mal. However, there is no question, and it’s for this reason why I like it, that when a guy starts to use ban-mal to a woman in Kdrama, that means their relationship is that much closer, more intimate, and less stuffy and formal.

      • Another reason why I don’t use ban-mal to my wife, and this is somewhat embarrassing and still awkward for me, and I think this may be the same reason why Ah-jung doesn’t call Ki-joon oppa, is because my wife and I didn’t know each other all that well before we got married. I met her on a blind date, and it was love at first sight, once in a lifetime kind of thing for both of us, and after 6 months of long-distance courtship, we got married. So using ban-mal between men and women or using familar terms like oppa is somewhat tricky. I can just imagine what my wife’s reaction would be if I asked her to call me oppa. 🙂

  26. I know this sounds redundant already but THANK YOU!!! Seriously, to this date, since LTM ended I have not watched other Kdrama or any drama. It’s like all the other dramas don’t exist anymore. I keep going back to LTM and reading your “A Love Story” just enhances that love and appreciation for LTM. I really don’t know when I will be able to watch other dramas again but really, THANK YOU!!!

    I just had a surgery and I am stuck in the house for a week, but LTM and your “A Love Story” has kept me in very good company. The pain and the long-hours-doing-nothing disappears when LTM is on or when I read your blog. I smile and feel good.

    Again, THANK YOU!!!

    • If there ever was a reason that kind of validates my “writing” the love story, your story has to be the one. I’m so glad to be a small part of your healing process. Thank you and godspeed on your quick and complete recovery.

  27. Hi Michael,
    I’m still stuck with rewatching LTM. Here are two questions which have popped up. I hope you’d be able to help provide me with more lessons in Korean. Thanks in advance for your help.

    LTM Ep12 @ 19:28 mins
    HGJ drove GAJ to AK’s café because he said HSH wanted to see them. Yet, SH appeared unhappy to see them and asked why they arrived together. I have watched this part with different sets of subs and am still not clear about GJ’s reply:
    “Haven’t you heard, ‘husband sings, wife follows’?”
    “Doesn’t the thread follow the needle?”
    “Haven’t you heard that a husband should follow his wife?”

    What did GJ actually say in Korean and what message was he trying to convey? Was it his public proclamation to all and sundry that he and AJ were as good as married? Was he staking a claim on AJ in his brother’s presence ?

    LTM Ep 13 @ 34:46 mins
    When GJ took AJ to the spa, she broke an egg on his head. What’s the story behind this, if any? Is this the Korean way of shelling a hardboiled egg (or was it just AJ’s quirky method)?

    • Before I start, let me preface it by saying that short of watching the whole drama over again, the scenes concerning our OTP (one true pairing) that I didn’t review, I don’t remember them like I used to (a sign of old age, I’m sure), but hopefully my feelings and opinions are not too much off the mark.

      Regarding Sang-hee wanting to see them, I think Sang-hee wanted to see his brother alone, not together with Ah-jung. Sang-hee has not come to terms with his feelings about Ah-jung yet, but seeing them together, I think, confirms his fear that he has no place in Ah-jung’s heart, and later he conveys his newly enlightened feelings to Yoon-joo trying to convince her to give up Ki-joon.

      Going back to your question, when surprised Sang-hee asks his brother how they arrived to the cafe together, Ki-joon, having no clue about Sang-hee’s feelings about Ah-jung, lightheartedly replies, “How can the thread not follow the needle?” meaning that Ki-joon and Ah-jung are inseparable, “a set” if you will, which is a typical Korean way to describe a bonafide couple.

      Regarding Ah-jung breaking a boiled egg over Ki-joon’s head, that’s a sign of affection. The shell of a boiled egg is not that hard, so instead of breaking it over a hard surface, you do it over someone’s head if you feel close to that person. You actually see this much more common among Korean guys. It’s sort of like guys in junior high or high school showing affection to male friends by lightly punching the shoulder or a football player patting his teammate’s behind after doing something spectacular (not my favorite moments while watching football, mind you, but anything for clarity is my motto). 🙂

      • Terima kasih, guru! That’s ‘Thank you, teacher!’ in Indonesian. It’s through the help of people like you that I’m learning more about the Korean language and culture. I take my hat off to you.

  28. Hi Michael – Just wanted to let you know I really appreciate your posts for:

    a) the mini-lessons in the Korean language and culture that you took the time to write here, esp for the benefit of us non-Korean viewers. I totally missed out on the 1004-angel wordplay! *gasp*

    b) offering a rare glimpse of a man’s POV on how the different sexes react in a given situation and on K-dramas in general. I especially love the bit of insight about how men tend to give up rather than analyse their complicated actions/emotions whereas women tend to analyse things and esp their feelings to death (it’s true!) in the episode where Gi-Joon was texting Ah Jung the morning after the food poisoning incident

    c) your funny prose (e.g. “When he doesn’t respond, she calls his name and pokes his leg and, for good measure, his buttock with her finger….twice.” in the bed scene)

    I think this drama rocks because of the amazing chemistry between the two leads which saved the horribly uneven and over-simplistic plot lines plus cliche, old-fashioned scenes (i just can’t help but cringe when I think about the “romantic” dinner scene complete with LOL bad 70’s neon lighting in the Jeju Island episode). Think this may explain why the ratings for this drama were so bad in Korea.

    Just 2 questions though which I hope you or Captain Koala or other readers can shed some light or share your thoughts on:

    1. I still don’t get Ah Jung’s “missing something” conflict and explanation in the letter she wrote to Gi-Joon in the last two episodes. What is the fuss about really? Is it much ado about nothing (as a result of a badly written script by the replacement writer) or is there some deeper meaning I’m missing here? I couldn’t help but laugh at the final cliff scene when Gi-Joon ran (that man can really sprint!) to Ah Jung over what? I mean I can understand the woman’s fear of losing her own identity by the prospect of marrying this chaebol and coming to terms with it but what is this about “missing something” and the too-neat and hasty ending in the form of Ah Jung’s letter? The cheesy cliff scene was only saved (yet again!) but the electrifying kiss and affectionate gestures (loved the way Gi-Joon held and stroked Ah Jung’s head while looking at the fine scenery) between the two leads.

    Like the rest of LTM fans, I’m holding my breath to see whether there is something really brewing between HJK and YEH (the wrap-up party is mighty telling if you ask me!) in real life or these are just two incredibly convincing actors! Of course, the romantic and fan in me would love to hear news that they got together in real life as I love both actors!!

    2. Why is there always a piggy-back riding scene in every k-drama? Is this a common courtship ritual among Korean couples? This is not common in other cultures (my hubby and I only did this once in our 10-year courtship) 🙂

    Oh, one last thing, I love Manager Park’s character and thought that her lines were some of the best in this drama (would love to have this character as a chingu!) plus she looks fantastic in all her scenes (cue the actor Park Hoon’s wish that he had a romantic plot line with her in the wrap-up party!). Compare her dressing with Ah Jung’s dressing in this drama (I mean how many civil servants can afford so many pairs of Louboutin shoes and branded bags, I think I saw the Celine shopper in Jeju Island too and why is So-ran’s outfit in the couple date ep so much better than Ah Jung’s outmoded ahjumma dress or her old-fashioned blouse in the ice-cream scene). Fashion details like this plus the lost-found-lost again, Ah Jung no reception-Gi-Joon has reception lost in the woods episode really showed the sub-par elements in this drama. It is really a testament to the two leads’ charisma and great on-screen (also off-screen?) chemistry that they can keep us viewers glued to this drama in spite of the cliche plot line and cheesy LOL scenes.

    • Thank you. Sorry for taking so long to respond.

      Regarding Ah-jung “missing something,” well, since I’m only a guy, I wasn’t going to bring it up first, but now that you mention it, I think it IS much ado about nothing. I think Ah-jung was “missing” her freedom and her own identity, but I don’t think it was something earth shattering to call it anything other than apprehension associated with any major transition in one’s life. I think the writer wanted to portray Ah-jung having brief cold feet of some kind, but I don’t think he/she did such a great job of it.

      The piggyback ride is traditionally used, at least when I was growing up, by mothers to carry their young ones because that gives them the freedom to do almost any household chores, provided that they don’t have more than one child in which case the youngest child gets the free ride. And because of this, piggyback ride has a connotation of being warm, close, and intimate, and thus is only allowed if the relationship between a man and a woman is close whether it be romantic or not. Piggyback is usually allowed by a female between non-filial only if the two are close, regardless of rather it’s between good friends or between wannabe romantics.

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