Lie To Me (SBS 2011)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Koala in possession of a keyboard, must be in want of writing about Lie to Me (“LTM”). While my proverbial pen is hardly mightier than the critic’s sword, a heart in want of expression most often than not trumps logic in service of persuasion.

I set forth the presumption that a drama existing solely as a showcase of love hardly merits scientific analysis. Really LTM ought to be enjoyed through the lens of airy emotion. But who can turn off the brain when it governs equally as the heart does? Perhaps the most fitting perch from which to view LTM is in the context of the divide between Sense and Sensibility.

For those of you who loved LTM because it engaged your full sensibility, and those of you who hated LTM because it aggravated all your practical sense, a viewer can and may find a common ground between the two.

So come take a walk down a cherry blossom lane with me. If it pleases you, do stay for a visit. If it befuddles you, feel free to traverse another path. This is one drama where folks have some mighty strong opinions, perchance review is warranted to parse the extremes for a comfortable medium.

Sense and Sensibility 

I’ve noticed over the years that a good number of K-drama bloggers are Jane Austen fans. My guy doesn’t get my Austen love the same way he doesn’t get my K-drama addiction. He finds her overrated and repetitive. I find her incisive and fascinating. We have agreed to disagree. What makes Austen’s love stories work for her fans is that she has a knack for creating unique characters and then populating the rest of her world with people near, far, and in between the two extremes. Sense and Sensibility was her first novel, and really set the stage for showcasing her talented wit and keen sense of character construct.

The English blogsophere’s reaction to LTM mirrored Austen’s debut work – critically divided between the seemingly insurmountable polar extremes of sense (the drama is stupid) and sensibility (the drama touched a part of me no drama has ever done before). How can you argue with fact that the drama didn’t make much sense? How do you refute feelings that are based on personal experience? Tempering my urge to shout “can’t we all just get along”, what really inspired me to write a review on the entirety of the LTM was the fact that there is a middle ground in viewership.

The sensible part of me acknowleges, nay is fully cognizant of, all the limitations as a drama LTM possessed. But the romantic in me swooned over the most palpable sensation of love I have ever watched onscreen. Join me on a remembrance or discovery of love and K-dramas as seen through the lens of empirical fact versus irrefutable emotion. Will it be sense that sways you? Or sensibility that moves you? It’s for you to decide, but ultimately the barometer ought to be joy. Does watching this make you happy?

Ah Jung: “Love came towards me like a lie, and then the lie became love.”

I recently had a dream about a memorable first date long gone by. When the world becomes the now and the mundane, it’s been forever and a day since I consciously or unconsciously reminisced about something poignant that is nevertheless passed. When love exists, it’s easy to forget how it became.

LTM is the first and only drama to make me re-live my own love story. It wasn’t because my own romance has any similarity to the LTM narrative. It was simply that watching two people fall in love in such a undeniable way triggered my own memory. ‘Twas not a pining for some dramatic or grand love that can only exist onscreen, but rather a remembrance of love that exists in a grounded reality that nevertheless feels so magical to the person in love.

When the love you see onscreen feels undeniably real, suddenly the heart takes over and the mind is content to be a passenger on the journey. LTM is not about the plot, it is about the connection. If you felt it, it transformed your viewing experience. In the drama, our male lead says to the woman he loves: “Love is the constant. One can rediscover the true value of love through one’s memories. Thank you for helping me figure that out.” I would gift that quote right back to LTM (and its two leads).

This review is a reflection of both the qualitative and subjective impact of LTM as dramatic fiction and as real connection. Our heroine writes a note tucked into an empty necklace case for her beloved, allowing words on a page to sweetly express words she isn’t certain how to say aloud. This is my love letter to LTM, tucked into Thundie’s Prattle, capturing a moment in time so when the feelings fade the memory remains.

Are you a Mariane or an Eleanor?

In the Spring/early Summer of 2011, there was a K-drama that appeared to divide the drama-watching world into two camps. You either loved it or loathed it. There was hardly any in between. Vascillating between those who watched with their hearts and those who watched with their minds, LTM became quite possibly 2011’s version of Boys Before Flowers. You know, a polarizing drama. For such a low-rated drama starring two big actors (but no idols in the mix), I was stunned by how explosive this drama became. Are people who enjoyed LTM truly mindless fangirls? Are people who hate this drama genuinely patronizing jerks? Does it have to be either or? I posit that LTM can exist perfectly peaceably in the dramaverse.

The question of how you reacted to LTM might come down to whether you tend to live with your heart or with your mind. Almost all of us are both, of course, with the difference between the varying degrees and circumstances where one drives our decision-making process more than the other.

While the analysis of the quality or lack thereof inherent in a piece of entertainment is purely a sense-driven endeavor, the enjoyment of entertainment remains squarely a sensibility-affected connection. The schism with LTM is that some perceive the quality to be so lack it preludes the ability to genuine love it. That is not so.

While my sense allowed me to see the inherent flaws in this drama in terms of pacing, narrative, characterization, and spotty logic, I was nevertheless governed by a surfeit of sensibility when I watched it. I can’t fathom the need for some to repeatedly deride LTM for its flaws rather than simply writing it off the way I do for dramas I don’t like.

My personal experience cannot transcend beyond the boundaries of my heart, but I like to be reminded of my own terribly trite but nevertheless cordial way of accepting diversity in opinions in any context. My feelings are for me to cherish and you to respect. My experience is for me to savor and you to allow. My love is for me to decide and for you to accept.

Perhaps it might be a welcome diversion to view LTM through my eyes, maybe seeing some of the wonder I felt, or maybe seeing still nothing of particular distinction. What I see is a drama so brimming with the palpable energy of love that it’s time feel the euphoria of falling in love again alongside Hyun Ki Joon (Kang Ji Hwan) and Gong Ah Jung (Yoon Eun Hye).

Have you ever seen acting that felt so real?

Kang Ji Hwan and Yoon Eun Hye are two are my personal favorite actors. I love them for their expressiveness in making me feel whatever their character is feeling. While not technically the most precise of actors, they make up for it with heart. The news that they were doing a rom-com together turned me practically rabid with want. While LTM was not my most anticipated May 2011 drama (that would be Best Love), I had an inkling that I may end up more obsessed with it. My Koala instincts turned out to be wholly accurate.

 

The first four episodes of LTM was a major disappointment for me in terms of narrative flow (so slow), character development (none whatsoever), and a palpable lack of sparkling energy. It took four hours to set-up the story when it could have done so in two. I think this was the single most critical death knell for whatever happened to the plot of the drama from that moment forward, a domino effect that affected everything to come. Reality pointed to my expectation not being met. But something kept me hanging in there.

LTM attempted to use the contract marriage concept to create yet another drama around something overused and hard to execute properly. A series of events occurs to entangle 5th level civil servant Gong Ah Jung in a fake marriage with hotel president Hyun Ki Joon. The whys and hows are not important as the real story starts when they start orbiting each other’s vastly different worlds. Uptight and in control Ki Joon finds himself befuddlingly intrigued by emotion-driven and prideful Ah Jung. Been there, seen that. So why couldn’t I stop watching? Because while the plot was substandard, the acting chemistry was so powerful it blew a fuse in my brain and activated my heart.

“Sense will always have attractions for me”

The two main characters in LTM starts off embodying the two extreme opposites of sense and sensibility. Our male lead Hyun Ki Joon is governed entirely by a surfeit of sense, running his hotel with precision, deciding his own emotional future with sensible clarity. Here is a man who broke off his own engagement because his beloved younger brother was in love with the same woman. Never mind the woman in question wanted Ki Joon and not the younger brother. Logic dictated a future of awkward family dinners, so Ki Joon picked family over female.

On the other hand, we have a woman governed almost entirely by sensibility. Our female lead Gong Ah Jung isn’t wildly romantic as some heroines are wont to be. She is exceedingly prideful, an emotional crutch that serves as her downfall. When her pride gets trampled on by a betrayal whereby her best friend steals the man Ah Jung likes, it becomes the loose screw just waiting for the trigger to come off the wheels. Years later, faced with the realization that the other couple is happily married while she’s still been unable to move on, Ah Jung casually lies that she’s married as well.

Just one lie told in the heat of the moment becomes the flimsy foundation on which an entire drama is premised on. No wonder LTM wobbled, swayed, and ultimately toppled as a narrative presentation. If I were governed entirely by sense, the lack of it in LTM would have made me check out in a heartbeat. How can a girl lie that she’s married when that lie can’t possibly be sustained? But I am a creature of an excess of sensibility, so I looked become the flawed construct and saw something utterly divine within.

While narratively the lie takes too long to get set-up and the OTP hardly have enough interaction in the first few episodes, the natural and as-yet-bubbling-beneath-the-surface chemistry between Kang Ji Hwan and Yoon Eun Hye anchor the drama during the early moments with a heady possibility of what’s to come. I sensed something was potentially explosive between them. I stopped dwelling on the hows and whys of the lie and its impact, curious to see if another reason to watch LTM would draw me in. Starting from episode 5, I found my faith validated.

“Is love a fancy or a feeling…?”

It turns out LTM is not a story about lies or consequences, it is simply a love story. That’s it. Asking more of it and you shall be greatly disappointed. I’ve been so conditioned by K-dramas to expect a love story to be surrounded by, well, a lot of ancillary story that I almost forgot that a well-written plot cannot be more important than a mesmerizing love when it comes to this genre. In a field of field of flowers arranged artfully with precision, the love story in LTM became the single most perfect flower that took my breath away. I didn’t need a tableau, it was simply one bloom (and one love) that touched my heart.

Episodes 5 and 6 of LTM are what I consider the critical turning point of the drama’s (very limited) narrative. For reasons that defy logic and common sense (which can be a defining attribute of love, no?), Ki Joon and Ah Jung agree to stay in their fake marriage. But even pretend marriages require some pretend couple interactions, so they end up hosting a housewarming party at Ki Joon’s grand home.

In a moment of either wild romantic passion or sheer what-the-hell-was-that, suddenly the normally staid Ki Joon gives into his attraction to Ah Jung and kisses her (oh how he kisses her) in front of all her friends. This is either the moment the sensible fellas all check out of this drama because the leap of logic inherent in the kiss submarines the love story for them, or the emotional romantic in you feels the attraction in the air, rationalization of how the moment arrived bedamned.

If love is a fancy, then it naturally needs some reason to strike our interest and keep our curiosity. A well-constructed drama love story does that, it keeps our interest from the inception to the conclusion, taking us on a journey that is both linear and validated. We understand the love story. But if love is but a feeling, then it naturally needs no reason to capture our hearts and keep our affections.

For me, Ki Joon’s interest in Ah Jung (which he explains very clearly much later in the drama) was really present from the moment they first met. It wasn’t predicated on anything other than who she was (so diametrically opposite of his upbringing) fascinated him and touched him. It’s not merited on it making sense insomuch as it’s predicated on it resting on pure feeling.

Just like Ki Joon likes Ah Jung so seemingly abruptly, the drama takes an abrupt turn from screwball comedy to love story the end of episode 6. What makes this razor-sharp tonal shift for the romantic in me is because Kang Ji Hwan and Yoon Eun Hye transformed and evolved their characters to match the love story.

At that critical juncture, they become Ki Joon and Ah Jung falling in love so believably it felt like blending fact and fiction. You don’t have to accept it’s anything other than acting, only understand that they make it feel completely and utterly real. So would you want to watch a well-constructed narrative that feels like two people acting like they are in love, or could you derive intense satisfaction from watching a middling story where two people make you believe 100% that their characters are completely in love?

While an either/or choice feels like it’s a cop-out (why can’t I have both you ask – a good story and a palpable connection of love?), I posit that many rom-coms fail at one or the other with more fervor than LTM ever did. So to have the Solomon’s Choice is not a novel requirement, but merely that the two poles appear so utterly divergent for this particular story.

“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”

Starting from episode 7 onward, LTM becomes no longer a drama attempting to tell a story. It becomes a medium simply to showcase the palpable developing love story between Ah Jung and Ki Joon. Stripped of a coherent narrative, the drama flows from pure OTP-driven moments alone that impart the sensation of love without any justification of time or experience. Occasionally it dips a toe into pointless angst, but never once does any plot machinations feel like any threat to the OTP.

We have Ki Joon’s clingy ex-fiancee Yoon Jo (Jo Yoon Hee) wanting another chance with Ki Joon, who promptly shoots her down flat. We have younger brother Sang Hee (Sung Joon), who actually likes Ah Jung before Ki Joon does, but never does anything until he’s lost his chance. These two second leads might as well be replaced by cardboard cut-outs and the story would still function. I hardly bemoan their lack of three-dimensionality, since at some point even the most kick-ass second lead ultimately fades into our memories behind the OTP.

The inherent possibilities in stocking LTM with so many other secondary characters such as Ah Jung’s first-love-stealing frenemy So Ran and her first love sunbae Jae Bum, Ki Joon’s Aunt, Ah Jung’s dad and his own thwarted second love Ae Kyung, none of these folks ever get their proper due. Everyone ends up lightly orbiting the collective Sun that is Ah Jung and Ki Joon, some of them burning up by the wayside as their characters fade into oblivion.

While the inability to execute that portion of the story galls me on a principle level, really on a gut level it becomes pointless to dwell over. If the drama already lacked a compelling and consistent story, then second characters failing to be utilized becomes a rather mood point to argue for. I simply point out the sad fate of every character not named Ah Jung and Ki Joon in this drama, but at the end of the day, it was never about them in the first place.

LTM was always about Ki Joon and Ah Jung, and their love story moves forward in ways that dramas almost never show. Since it’s not grounded in any discernable plot, it’s instead free to luxuriate in the details of what a relationship feels like. Once our OTP decide to be together, they actually spend time dating and moving their relationship forward.

They talk, they tease each other, they work through their insecurities, and ultimately, they find that their love is precious and unique. Watching LTM is akin to taking a walk down any happily married couple’s own memory lane – triggering the same “ah-ha” moments of falling in love, building the love, and choosing the ever after together.

When Ki Joon looks at Ah Jung, it’s not with any theatrical gaze of a man in love. Rather its with such tenderness and passion, a longing that is so bone deep because this man has found the woman who makes him feel alive. When Ah Jung is around Ki Joon, she blushes constantly, her shyness the very reaction many woman experience around the man who engages every part of the heart. They behave like a normal albeit stunning gorgeous couple in love without any of the plotted baggage that comes with needing to tell a substantive overarching story.

“Esteem him? Like him? Use those insipid words again and I shall leave the room this instant.”

What makes Lie to Me so unique and special in my mind? It’s because it can’t be viewed in the prism of a drama. I’ve already intimated that it’s pretty much a complete and utter failure as a drama based on the requirement that dramas have a well-constructed plot. Too bad it was billed as a drama, because it turned out to actually be a 16-episode Season of We Got Married starring Kang Ji Hwan and Yoon Eun Hye. WGM is a scripted reality show that has two stars pretending they are a couple. The scenarios are scripted each week as to where they go and what they do, but the rest is primarily the stars being themselves onscreen putting on a reality show.

So while one drama watcher is furious about being bait-and-switched a drama for a pseudo reality show, another drama viewer is conversely thrilled at seeing something unexpectedly addicting. The wails of disappointment from half the drama-watching universe is conversely echoed by the sheer screams of excitement from the other half of the drama-viewing world. Does everyone need to re-adjust their expectations? Of course not. But when something works when viewed from a different perspective, then it’s accomplished a viable goal regardless.

I watched LTM with a love for the drama increasing exponentially with how much this drama increasingly rekindled the fluttery feelings of love. With that said, my appreciation for LTM requires neither a validation of quality nor a defense of its merits. I have spent the last month listening solely to the LTM OST, finding every single song perfect and satisfying the romantic in me. It quite simply makes me utterly and completely happy.

The journey of Ah Jung and Ki Joon from pretend married strangers to the most heartfelt in love K-drama couple I have ever watched renders so many mild love stories seen in a dime-a-dozen rom-coms feel like such a waste of celluloid. Watching their love story belies the sensation of seeing something take your breath away.

“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. Or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

A weakly constructed and later hastily cobbled together plot nothwithstanding, I objectively found LTM to be quite charmingly competent when it came to most everything else. The OST was excellent, an expansive combination of cute pop songs for the peppier scenes and lovely ballads for the more introspective moments. While it won’t win any awards, as a viewer it really connected with me rather than taking me out of any scene. The musical cues were well integrated and never intrusive or jarring.

The cinematography was very solid, though with two PDs at the helm the difference in styles was evident. The first PD who directed the first half of the drama had a more whimsical style and slower pace, emphasizing mood over delivery. The second PD who took over midway (it wasn’t due to a PD change, LTM was always scheduled to have two PDs at the wheel) was much more procedurally focused, making each interaction more critical than the overall atmosphere.

With the first PD, we got lots of lovely lingering scenes. With the second PD, we got tons of memorable yet fast-paced moments between the OTP. Watching LTM with premise being that this drama isn’t aiming for any award-winning or awe-inducing production quality, what it does deliver is something very easy to watch. It’s pretty, it’s calm, and above all else, it’s allows the camera to take a backseat to the characters.

As the love story takes a turn for the surreally realistic, the camera becomes the viewers’ proxy, a voyeur or sorts peeking at the private and oh-so-intimate moments between a pair of lovers without once feeling like its hovering. For a drama with such low stakes yet such high emotional connection, the two PDs together did a commendable job of just being the guy holding the camera and not over-directing everything.

My Daddy says: If it doesn’t work as planned, then build something else.

LTM started off as an ensemble drama. So much so that the entire extended cast was trotted out at the press conference when normally only the four leads get to attend. I suppose there is a certain amount of irony when LTM completely devolved into the Ki Joon and Ah Jung show midway through, with pretty much every other character getting chucked out the window to make time for more relationship moments between the OTP.

Does that offend the drama purist in you? To witness the utter collapse of a drama structure for the sake of what might seem like fan service? I beg to consider this in a different light. Have you ever built a Lego set? The new ones are all filled to the gill with custom pieces that fit perfectly, but really lack imagination of the builder. When I was growing up I built ridiculously misfit Lego sets based on my whimsy and the story I wanted to tell. It wasn’t very professional, but there was a certain amount of amateurish charm to it. Or so I was told.

LTM the drama is akin to a custom fancy Lego set where the specialized pieces just didn’t fit right because maybe it was misassembled. So rather than throwing it away, the drama decided to tackle the conundrum but focusing on what was working in the story, namely the love story. Not the lie story, not the family story, not the friends story, not anything outside of the affection and growing love between Ah Jung and Ki Joon.

What followed was episode after episode of dates, gestures, moments, and stares that utterly captivated a diehard group of LTM-fans. Whatever Franken-plot remained was accepted for the contrivance needed to get this drama to a basic conclusion, but what was paramount was that the love story must be allowed to progress naturally. It did. It was akin to watching two beautiful and perfectly-matched people fall in love before your eyes.

The drama switched writer midway through in hopes of resuscitating the ratings, but it was to no avail. I actually like the first writer’s rather deliberately paced style, but nevertheless found the second writer’s brisk narrative used to cushion the developing relationship also worked in its own way. The sensation of love isn’t anything that the world’s best written description can hold a candle to an image of a caress and a smile that hits you right in the heart region. Rather than read it, it makes more sense to show it to you know. Below is 100% spoilerrific, so stop now if you actually want to watch this drama armed with a shred of surprise.

A Scrapbook of Love’s Journey

Who knew a chance encounter (bee venom+alcohol mixed with looking-for-missing-brother = midnight hospital visit) between two strangers could become something unforgettable?

He thinks she’s a freak, she thinks he’s a jerk.

Are you my wife?

>

She finds having an important conversation in the middle of the lake a good idea. Without realizing it, he’s already getting dragged around by her.

She’s thinks she’s a victim in the fake marriage scandal, he finds everything she says completely odd.

Yobo, I’m over here!

Can I borrow wuri Jungie for a little while?

Let’s agree to be pretend married then. At least until we both get what we want.

“Why do men cheat? It’s not even my own husband, so it’s ridiculous that I’m even upset.” But he sees through her attempt to smile through her tears.

Sometimes attraction can’t be explained, and needn’t ever be. First comes the connection, then let’s figure out the reasons for it.

Every time he learns something new about her, it affects him.

A song about ice-cream leads to a kiss that can melt a thousand cones.

If there has to be a lie, I will do the lying!

He’s not just acting, she’s not just unaffected by him.

A pen in exchange for a movie date?

They say drinking lowers conversational inhibitions. So does liking the other person.

A bout of food poisoning compounded by stress is a convenient reason to stay the night.

I wanted to text you back, but I didn’t know what to say. If I said I was well you wouldn’t come. If I said I was unwell you would worry about me.

I will never see a bottle of coke the same way again. Neither will Ki Joon and Ah Jung.

Can your heart break when it’s just starting out on a new love? It most assuredly can.

Do you like me a little, and that girl a lot?

Mountain rescues are stupid, but time spent together is priceless.

Why are you having a matseon at my hotel?

I like you. I said I like you, so please don’t like her!

Ah Jung-ah…..

I am here to escort Ms. Gong Ah Jung to Jeju.

Wipe, wipe, wipe, keep on wiping the water off her shirt.

You act all in control, but there is a little boy who loves making miniature models that still resides inside here.

If we apologize for how we got started, can we start over again, and this time the right way?

I want to know everything that happened to you every single day.

How can she resist?

Do you know hard it was for me today? Do you know how much I missed you?

Ice-cream – better eaten or shoved in the face?

Flirting across a table at work – unprofessional or totally hot couple foreplay?

I want to spend tonight with you? What? I mean let’s go sweat (at a jjimjalbang).

An airport farewell has never ever seemed so sweet and poignant.

I will take all the blame for you because I love you.

Did you eat? Did you have a good trip?

I, Hyun Ki Joon, love Gong Ah Jung.

Dating Korean celebrity style.

The entire world knows about us, do you want to break up with oppa?

When one gets terrible news, it’s nice to have a caring and considerate boyfriend who will give you a perfect piggyback ride.

Don’t worry, it’s not like these slippers are made of glass.

I will do everything in my power to support you, Ah Jung.

Write down your top ten things you want in your significant other.

I have always lived for others, but now I want to live for myself, and share it with you. Will you marry me?

Don’t think too much. A love that wants to last forever needs to have patience.

Jeju cannot be as beautiful as Ah Jung and Ki Joon when they are together.

I just want to hold your hand and sleep. Don’t you trust oppa?

A diary is a good reason to pounce on your boyfriend.

I don’t dislike you, I like you a lot.

If your doting boyfriend drives you to work, you have to reward him.

Time has no limit and leaves no trace. Space is infinite and leaves no mark.

I found what I was looking for – the memories of our love, and the realization that our meeting and falling in love in the infinite time and space is a miracle. Thank you for waiting for me. And I love you.

I’m sorry for coming so late. I’m sorry for making you wait.

We both realized that within the lie there is a truth more passionate than fact.

Why do I write?

Why do I write about the dramas I watch? I actually never stopped to think about it until writing this review. It is for gain? No, I get nothing out of it. Is it for adulation? Not really, the thanks are ephemeral akin to a wave of the hand from a passing car. Is it for posterity? Hardly, since the subject matter is as meaningless in the grand scheme of things as all entertainment is wont to be.

I thought about it, and took it all the back to why people start writing anything at all. It’s to communicate. And what is communication but the sharing of thoughts. So I write to share my thoughts, but I also write to preserve them. Each review I have written for TP have been a snapsnot of a moment in my viewing experience. Reading my own reviews immediately brings back the feelings of watching said drama, feelings that dissipated with time, but nevertheless are retained in my memory to be brought forth with the proper trigger.

When you love something without reservation, it’s hard to let go. You feel this bone-deep sense of loss, of longing, of emptiness where anticipation and satisfaction once resided. You find things to do to occupy your time, but your mind keeps darting back to those precious moments. That is how I feel about LTM, and why I found the time to write one final review on top of the 16-recaps and innumerable posts I’ve already written on this one drama alone.

While love is often idealized as eternal when you find the right person, even the forever inherent in that presupposition takes into account that love changes. Like a prism love travels the emotions from passion to conviction. Watching LTM, I saw the couple take that journey before my eyes and rekindled the romantic tucked away inside the practical gal in me. Because LTM showcased the expression of love that transcended acting, even if it was all simply just acting at the end of the day.

Lie to Me – An Exercise in Sensibility Over Sense

Having accumulated so many memories and unforgettable experiences over the years, I’ve discovered that while the details fade with time, the recollection of the sensation lingers on the periphery for all time. I’ve already forgotten the ancillary plot of LTM, but I shant ever forget watching Ki Joon and Ah Jung fall in love right before my eyes.

Would the brain chafe at being subjected to pedestrian narrative in order to experience the heart-pumping spine-tingling peek at love in its most palpable glory? I simply told my sense to take a chill pill, and allowed my sensibility free rein to be wild and free for once.

In Sense and Sensibility, Mariane chides Eleanor when she says to her ever sensible older sister: “Always resignation and acceptance. Always prudence and honour and duty. Elinor, where is your heart?.” In the end Mariane did temper her wildly overwrought sensibility and Elinor did tentatively have her own romantic ending. But the sisters found they could understand each other, and yet retain their own unique personality.

So I leave you all with a parting refrain, if I may borrow the same sentence construct from the ever emotional Mariane: Always plot and narrative. Always logic and structure and execution. Drama-watcher, [consider watching LTM with] your heart. With that, I put my two-month long LTM addiction to bed, thankful I experienced a drama that so moved me, awaiting the next gem I come across in the search for both sense and sensibility in my drama-viewing fare.

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100 Responses »

  1. hi mrs. koala… i’m kind of a newbie in watching k-dramas (truth be told, i only ever watched two K-films, one was my sassy girl and other was LTM ;D)
    same as you, i couldn’t stop smiling and giggling while i was watching it (hey, i’ve been watching it like forever now haha) and yet i still somehow fall in love again and again with HKJ and GAJ love story (how i really wish they will be a real couple a.s.a.p, dear God please hear me praying..)
    my husband told me that i was living in a fairy-tale dream because i was so affected by their love story, i kept asking him why he couldn’t treat me like HKJ treated GAJ every single day just like in LTM… but i guess we really are living in real world 🙂
    you have written a wonderful review (same went to you too, Michael) and please please please don’t stop writing about LTM (especially KJH and YEH)
    say hi to all of you LTM’ers and go HwanHye! fighting!

  2. Years ago, I lived and breathed Austen. It was so easy to get lost in her writing because she is a gifted storyteller. But the romantic in me took a backseat when the demands of work took precedence. My life subsisted on a steady flow of clinical case studies, scientific treatise and evidence based randomized trials. They pretty much swamped my daily existence and it was either sink or swim for me. Oh…my life wasn’t totally a stick in the mud. I do allow myself the occassional popcorn movie or TV show. But around March this year, I finally gave in to my friend’s badgering and watched Kdramas. I found them interesting, shallow but entertaining (at least the ones I watched), a respite from a hard day’s work. Like what @ Sere said, it was pretty much a “brain off, heart on” affair. I have zero expectations until I stumbled upon LTM.

    This drama is insidious. It slowly crept on me and by the end I was completely enthralled. Ah Jung is my Elizabeth Bennett and Ki Joon, my Mr. Darcy. I was so captivated by the acting performances of Yoon Eun Hye and Kang Ji Hwan that the lines that would clearly separate fact from fiction blurred. So this is how it feels like to be a fangirl. I’m suitably chastened. I will never patronize fangirls/boys ever again.

    Koala, it’s fascinating that you alluded to Austen while explaining LTM. I think it’s brilliant. Dividing the audience into Elinors and Mariannes – genius! Of course in reality, we are governed by either one of them at the different stages in our life. According to a HSI shipper (@joestill) The drama will eventually find it’s own audience, according to you, it’s all about the connection. I agree. It’s just like a matter of finding the right fit.

    And finally, like Ah Jung finding the reason why she started to love Ki Joon. After watching LTM, I also found my old happier and unaffected self.

    Thank you Koala. Your writing is insipred. Your blog is divine.

    • I meant…your writing is inspired.

      • @drmjs

        i find a kindred spirit in you… what’s with Ms K’s blog that inspires so many people “waxing poetic” about LTM and revealing our innermost thoughts and feelings?
        drmjs, pinay din ako at parang related ang ating fields, hehe 🙂

        wow, Mz K, for this, i congratulate you for opening the floodgates of so many inspired comments…

        • Hi lurkylab! I’m glad to have found you here. Talaga? Our fields are related? Nice! 🙂 What I’m experiencing right now is a total 180 degrees shift from the norm. It’s funny because these are the exact same emotions that I’m actively suppressing! (read: Forgetting) I’ve realized that I should embrace them because it’s a part of who I am. 😉 I hope to read more comments in the future from you lurkylab (by the way, somebody quoted your comment at YEH.net, they were touched by your kind comments about YEH).

          Thanks again Koala, you writing really opens the floodgates for unabashed communication.

          • i saw the re-post at yeh.net… wow, they are really fans of yeh there, and so loving and protective of her. but nothing beats the shippers at KP! ROFL me when lurking, what with all the funny, near-perv jokes, and dreamy wishes expressed and the pics and vids being shared… grabe! my neighbors must be puzzled when they hear me laughing by my lonesome self… at least i am able to release the toxic stresses in my being, otherwise by now, i’d be flat on my back. hehehe

        • Oh, my word!!! lurkylab and drmjs, two of my favourite bloggers are not only kindred spirits but actually countrymates???? (although “home” is of a different shore now) kaya naman pala… birds of the same feathers indeed…nice to “virtually” meet you beautiful ladies. with “lab” and “dr” in your names, yeah, I would guess you’d come from the same field.

          @drmjs, loved Austen too. And while watching LTM, especially in the earlier episodes, I used to see cold and unpleasant Mr. Darcy in our very own Hyun Ki Joon. He hardly ever smiled before, did he not? Of course, our joyful and effervescent Gong Ah Jung changed all that just like Ms. Elizabeth Bennett did to dear ole Darcy! And Ms. K’s parallelism between LTM and S&S is, I concur, just brilliant!

        • You made me go watch again from the beginning, no fastforwards no rewinds sometimes not even bothering to read subs – just watching and listening, body language and expressions, voices and nuances – a very happy H2O is rejuvenated!!

          As always – Koala you inspire.
          And chingus – agree with all you say and am blessed by your sharing

  3. reading this makes me really miss Gong Ah Jung and Hyun ki joon……

  4. “A diary is a good reason to pounce on your boyfriend” —> LOL… must i begin write diary now ?? kekeke….

  5. lie to me watching simply makes you all feel giddy inside… makes you reminisce how it was to fall in love… fought for it and eventually have your own happy ever after… Science has never understood or explained what love is, how falling in love is… it’s always been a gut feel…

  6. Simply put, how do you do it? I need at least a week to absorb your review of Lie to me and the acting of Yoon Eun Hye and Kang Ji-Hwan. The drama is over bu the savoring is not. It seems this will go on for a long time like a book a thousand times re-read. Thanks Ockoala. Oh how I wish, Eun Hye will continue with Love Song with KJH. Their couple instincts will surely scorch the screen.

  7. wonderful article ockoala. I love when i find someone article who loved something some people don’t like. Sometimes, I’m like that, too. See what people can’t see and enjoy it with another people who love it.

    Though I’m not loving lie to me, I love reading your article. thanks ockoala.ething some people don’t like. Sometimes, I’m like that, too. See what people can’t see and enjoy it with another people who love it.

    Though I’m not loving lie to me, I love reading your article. thanks ockoala.

  8. “LOVE SURRENDERED THE TRUTH THAT REDEEMED THE LIE.”

    This, in a nutshell, is LIE TO ME.

    AND WHAT LOVE IT WAS!!!

  9. Better yet….

    “LOVE SURRENDERED THE TRUTH THAT REDEEMED THE LIE.”

    AND WHAT LOVE IT WAS!!!

    This, in a nutshell, is LIE TO ME.

  10. Thanks so much, Captain Ockoala. But you made me cry even sob, starting from the 2nd paragraph of Sense and Sensibility. At first I didn’t know why I was crying, tears just kept on trickling out, and I pause one after another paragraph for my tears won’t stop falling. Finally, I realized why I was crying. You wrote exactly how I feel, you’ve nailed it on the head.

    I really enjoyed LTM. But, unlike most of you who can relate on the feelings of love between our OTP, I haven’t experienced falling in love yet. But watching our OTP makes me blush and i get all giddy. This is the first time a drama has made me want to fall and experience love because their actions are so real for me, I can feel that they’re really in love and somehow I felt like I’m in love just by watching them 🙂

  11. Your review, ockoala, truly was a masterpiece. It was like eating a divine dessert, the one that you know you shouldn’t have because you have already saturated your senses with the essence of it too much but you can’t seem to control the urge and at the same time you don’t seem to get tired of it, that with each additional words and phrases they give you different, refreshing, and strangly comforting flavors to continuously titillate your senses. You want to succumb slowly and just savor all the different flavors and senses. Thank you for yet again rocking our senses. Or was it sensibility?

  12. Thank you for this wonderful review.

  13. I agree about the crazy camera – thankfully it’s much better in Lie to me, which was also better in other ways – and the story is starting to develop, so it’s getting more interesting.

  14. It’s great to “virtually” meet you as well. I’ve been reading your entries at the playground and I found them – as your name suggests – clever and humorous. As an added plus…you’re a Kababayan. So you did see dear Lizzy in Ah Jung and Darcy in Ki Joon! Actually I also see a little of Emma, Fanny, Anne and Elinor in Ah Jung. LOL Thanks for the wonderful comment Wits!

  15. @drmjs and @wits, hi ka-berks… just read your comments and lifted my ‘rainy day’ spirits… lol. birds of the same feather? hehehe let’s find out more… common interests and all.

    drmjs, thanks for the info on the yehnet (have yet to find it… uh, after work maybe :). i didnt finish d/l LTM so have to do it again tonight.

    wits, salamat din, asan ka palang continent?

    have a great day everyone! 🙂

    • Wow! Mga Kabayan! You’re HERE 🙂

      Thanks OcKoala for this wonderful final review of LTM 🙂 I also feel the same…until now i haven’t let go Gong Ah Jeung & Hyun Ki Joon 😦 Still having 2 LSS (last song syndrome & last SCENE syndrome) hehe Every time i watched kdramas, am using my HEART over my head..It’s really a FEEL GOOD series…Their Chemistry STANDS alone! That’s why am rooting for them (For REAL!)

      Haayyy I really miss them :(( Hope there’s another kdrama for YEH & KJH..

      Kamsamnida Unnie! GodBless you!

      • hi oasis… you’re right, the songs are lovely and fitting for the various scenes… and the music is so catchy, i find myself humming them at times (ehrm, really! LOL). i just got floored at KP after missing the controversial post by KJH, buti na lang mabait si drmjs at ibinulong yung gist. hehehe
        are u in country or overseas? ako dito sa pinas… see u again either at TP or KP. ciao!

    • Am based in Toronto, Canada. hahaha… amazing indeed are the wonders of the worldwide web! now we can reach out to each other across the globe, wherever we are. As Ki Joon quoted in the last episode, “time has no limit; and space is infinite”. So where back home, we might not have met each other though we might have walked the same paths, now we are bound, not by time and space but our common love for LTM and our OTP. I am honoured to have shared words and feelings with you, along with these other wonderful people in TP and KP’s sites.

      • hi wits, just read your post now… been busy at work. i visited Canada several years ago – Quebec, Toronto and Niagara – though just a brief visit during the period between summer-fall, i loved the scenery but at the start of autumn it was way too cold for me. its a beautiful country and wish i could visit other places there again someday. and thanks to these forums, we can “connect” thru our common liking for LTM and OTP. enjoy life, amiga!

  16. Thank you all for taking the time to read the review, and for sharing your own LTM-watching experience here. Sometimes we can’t quantify our love for something, but our adoration of this little drama is surely validated by how happy it made us to watch it. It’s been my greatest pleasure to watch, recap, and now review, LTM with everyone who enjoyed it with me.

    Ki Joon and Ah Jung are less a figment of our imagination as they are the onscreen projection of what falling in love must be like. And for that they will live on in celluloid for as long as folks want to peek into a love affair and savor their lovely relationship.

  17. Im all sensibility, thats for sure… Ive never seen a kdrama couple that was soo real, natural and normal: Good kisses, great chemistry and interaction. LTM rulez!

    • Isn’t that the truth– I LOVE this series– watch it over-n-over– can’t get enough! These two make me want to hop the next flight out to Seoul. Chemistry is so good, it make me feel like I’m peeping through a neighbor’s window. TOTALLY Good Stuff!!!

  18. wow! what an awesome review Ockoala! 🙂 meanwhile i lost all of what i wrote a while ago 😦

    anyhow this are the the things that struck me the most….

    “it is simply a love story. That’s it.
    the love story in LTM became the single most perfect flower that took my breath away. I didn’t need a tableau, it was simply one bloom (and one love) that touched my heart.
    I have spent the last month listening solely to the LTM OST, finding every single song perfect and satisfying the romantic in me. It quite simply makes me utterly and completely happy.”

    i am a romantic at heart, thats a given but when i watched LTM every single cell of my being became alive! all due to Kang Ji Hwan and Yoon Eun Hye being on screen together and falling inlove as aj and kj! i didnt see the flaws, all i saw was the powerful/magical chemistry and the essence of being pure and utterly inlove with one person. who else has this sort of power? i think no one will match our OTP for a long while. im still not moving on because im still having fun watching it over and over again. im still playing the songs and even my boys now are singing with it 🙂

    long live LTM and the power of HwanHye!!!

  19. Just love love your comments can’t get enough u have a way with words ockoala love u girl u just made my day just to let u know reading about our lovely ltm/hwanhye one of my destressors bazillions of thanks ur super duper fantastic Greetings from Vancouver canada

  20. Oh wow, I guess a drama that terrible would need its fans to be at a certain level of dedication in making up excuses/fanwanks as to how it worked for them. Amazing, KJH & YEH!

    • Oh jee willikers, what a thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. That was your intention, right? Though I suspect you just wanted to use “fanwank” in a sentence. The ability and the right to free speech still should be tempered by the barest of self-reflections on the purpose of what you seek to convey.

      To insult, in such an elementary and not even witty way, further emphasized by the glaring obviousness that the substance of the post and/or comments of people who appreciated LTM, make any meaningful discourse on your opinion impossible. A productive reminder that a dissenting opinion is only as persuasive as the ability to intelligently argue it. You, madam/sir, have not exhibited any such capacity, hence I shall be unable to do more than ask that you refrain from leaving pointless comments purely as an exercise in trolling.

  21. Dear ockoala, your storyboard style of A Scrapbook of Love’s Journey is so brilliant that when I have time after rewatching LTM, I will do a simple layout to keep it.

    I must confess that I really started watching LTM after it finished airing and for that I am thankful cos the wait for every week would have kill this heart of mine. I couldn’t get past the first two episodes and much as I love KJW/YEH, I didn’t want to be disappointed like in MSOAN and the scenario is so similar. When Micheal (I love his reviews) also rave about it, I know it’s a hidden gem and I need to start watching with the heart. And boy oh boy, what a love story! I am such a romantic at heart but after countless dramas I got a bit jaded. But LTM really pulled/tug/twisted my heart and I cried as the love is so real. I haven’t cried for a drama since Thank you (and that was for the child actor).

    Thank you so very much for this special review and all the recaps at your playground. I am reading and savoring every recap of yours while watching every episode concurrently. You have such a special gift for writing and you write how I feel but what I can never put in words. You’re awesome!

  22. as i submerged in the depth of the drama LTM…indeed a witness of what LOve is all about…..either a lie or not…just follow whats in your heart so that you will not regret later…a thumbs up for you Koala…..you did a good job here….i love yoon eun hye..she is my fave korean actress..i think shes a phenomenal actress that can give justice to the role shes in……

  23. My eyes are watering just from looking at the pictures. This is an excellent review. I have been so moved by this series, I think it has changed my outlook on relationships, and rekindled my faith in love. One pivitol moment for me (and Ki-Joon) is when he snatched he snatched Ah-Jeong from in front of that car– I think he didn’t know– until that split second- just how much she meant to him. That’s when his ‘train” left the station.

    Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this blog. Glad I stumbled across it.

  24. Can’t get over with this drama! Already watch it for the nth time 🙂

  25. Amazing review. Says exactly how I feel. I could not understand why my friend did not like LTM, now I get it, she is not a romantic at heart. Which it true. Watching LTM brought back all those feelings when I fell in love with my ex boyfriend, now husband…all those exciting moments. While watching LTM I could relive those emotions with butterflies in my tummy and that’s what I need to enhance the marriage of 16 years. I love KJH and YEH , best kissing scenes KDrama. I could feel their passion , how they look inti each other’s eyes….not mere lips pressing against each other. Did you hear the ‘jub, jub,’ sound during the ice cream song kiss! oh my, really made my heart race. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Fantastic write up indeed.

  26. YEH, in my opinion is one of Korea’s finest leading actresses. She has excellent comedic timing and works hard at her craft. She represents Korean women in a positive light, which is what young women around the world need, these days.

    Being in the public limelight, isn’t always easy for young actors….some, have realized something very important, they are intelligent and adult enough to realize with all the perks, acting affords them, also comes responsibility to the very young who idolize them, and watch their every move. Some female actors know this to be the case, step up to the plate and make women feel proud to be who they are and to actually like themselves.

    LTM, isn’t a drama one needs to figure out, if you sit there and try you end up missing the feeling part of this drama. LTM makes you laugh out loud and cry deep cathartic sobs. Life in this world isn’t easy, these dramas are just what the doctor ordered. Who wants to think in detail after a long hard day at work. We just want happy endings, is that to much to ask? I don’t think so…Proof of the pudding, look at the dramas which are popular.

    Keep up the good work, I enjoyed your review.

  27. hi, congratz to LTM..’twas a big hit here in the Phils..wish for a sequel which tackles ’bout marriage & family values but still with romantic comedy on it which we all loved..HWANHYE are both such an amazing & brilliant actors oozing with charm & personality..hope something good (fate) might happen in the near future as you both deserve to be happy.. as i believe in match made in heaven..keep the faith ^^

  28. hi..thumbs up for you Koala…..you did a good job here..^^ thanks !

  29. you are just so great! all your documentations are very meaningful to me. i cannot thank you enough for everything you write about esp on LTM. we are so alike about it! i so love this drama so much. like you said, its resembles with sense & sensibility. on the other hand, i was thinking of my happiness of it when i watched pride & prejudice… LTM made me fall in love for many times. up to now, when i miss it, still im reading your recaps. thank you for sharing your thoughts… you are simply an amazing and inspiring person! more power to you! 🙂

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