I Have A Lover felt more than just one drama, it felt like several dramas put together in the best way possible. The main concept of the show, even if it isn't very apparent at first, is Forgiveness! People will go around hurting you, is life worth spending trying to pay them back, or is it better to just let go? As someone who doesn't believe in forgiveness you can imagine how i felt when i realised what this show is about, but they managed to pull it off beautifully.
At the same time I Have A Lover, gave me the best, most intense and fucked up/twisted true love story i have ever watched in my life. The chemistry here is simply effortless and emotional beyond words, you can see the sparks around them while they look at each other, simply magical. The drama is worth watching because on screen chemistries like this one are hard to come by, almost impossible!
As i said IHAL brought several things to the table, the main premise is forgiveness but, separating the drama into parts, each part its own thing to present:
Part 1: Infidelity. The beginning of the show, the first 10 episodes, how can a marriage come apart at the seams, and at the same time the notion of how people react and get through tragedies, and how they expect the people around them to react. Get ready for some frustrating events the writting is realistic and brutal.
Part 2: Romance. Episodes 11-20. You will begin to grasp what the show is about here, whatever happened in the first 10 episodes, character-wise, will completely change, depicting how unpredictable human feelings are in the best and most natural way.
Part 3: Episodes 20-31. The story here stops being character driven ans becomes story driven. The focus shifts to the classic family-company drama that we all know. However it is dead-interesting even though it was the slowest part of the drama imo. The show tends to tell you things while the characters are unaware of them. Here the characters get to know them, and you just watch as they are shocked and try to cope with everything.
Part 4: Revenge and Forgiveness. Episodes 32-50. The pace gets accelerated from this point, especially the last 10 episodes were absolutely fabulous, and possibly the best of the show along with the first 10.
50 episodes and this drama never got dragged. It had a complex story, there are several backstories here, that help the story proceed. We have our everyone-wants-the-big-company classic sub story, evil characters, multiple love stories and love triangles and amazing well-rounded characters. It has illness, twin siblings, backstabbing friendships, constant turning tables between the leads, frenemies who scheme, revenge. I seriously have nothing bad to say, it was a wonderful ride, and i would have watched another 50 episodes seriously.
One thing that might set people off is the way the main love story gets told. We have a lot of set backs and back and forths. Yes, it is true, but the chemistry was so mesmerizing, so effortless, so real, that i didn't have any problem with it. I felt every moment of pain, every moment of backstepping, every moment of love and hatred. Best and most fucked up love story (possibly) ever!
Standing Ovation for Ji Jin Hee and ESPECIALLY KIM HYUN JOO!
Kim Hyun Joo. The female Ji Sung of Kdramaland. She didn't pull off 2 characters, no. Her role felt like 4 characters if not more. I won't even mention that she has the BEST resting bitch face in kdramaland, i won't even mention that she ACED all her comedy scenes (her 2nd character is the main comedic character). But i will stand by the point that after episode 30 she is seriously giving the performance of her career, the way she manages to be BOTH a total raging bitch and a kind hearted girl at the same time was beyond me, she was leaving one personality and entering the other like it was nothing, in the same scene! She was amazing and flawless in every way and the show couldn't have worked without her. She WAS the show! I haven't seen any of her previous works, but i admired her a lot, and i doubt that she was ever better than here. I am looking forward to her next work!
Ji Jin Hee. His character was the easiest to hate BUT, his was so effortlessly expressing all his feelings through his eyes and facial expressions, that it was impossible for me to hate him. I kept rooting for him to be happy like my life was depending on it. Second best facial expressions in kdramaland after Kwon Sang Woo! He was luscious and sensuous, i loved his emotional scenes, he was indeed in love with her, i am not sure i have seen such *in love* eyes even in real life. Standing ovation for both of them. THEY MADE THE SHOW!
Lee Jyu Han. Obviously overshadowed by JJH, but it's ok, he standed on his feet completely, he was great i had no problems with his perforance, it was totally on point.
Park Han Byul. And we get to her. Her character was fundemental for the drama to continue. She wasn't bad, but we can only imagine what would have happened had a stronger actress given the role. During the midst of the show, she needed to express some hatred and her role needed her to be a bitch, but she couldn't, her acting felt mediocre like the least she needed to give to be acceptable. I think she would perfectly fit fluffy rom coms, this was too serious for her. If i wanted to be strict, the acting should have been a 9.5 as she just couldn't live up to her character's and role's expectations, but a 9.5 is a disgrace to JJH and KHJ's flawless performance as well as literally everyone's in the supporting cast. Thankfully in the last 15/20 episodes her role gets smaller almost insignificant and the rest of the actors do their thing.
At this point, the only thing i can do to praise the incredible and superb supporting cast is just write their names. Awards deserved!
Firstly, Baek Ji Won, why doesn't she get more roles? She was an amazing evil character and at the same time one of the funniest actors, she would fit comedy PERFECTLY, i am keeping an eye on her.
Gong Hyung Jin. He was the main evil character, and he pulled of his twisted role perfectly without becoming a stupid evil character with no soul. He was scary but funny when he was supposed to be. Overall, great!
Child actress, Kim Ha Yu. OMG how can a child actress be this good? Cuteness overload, amazing acting, effortless! My favourite kid actress!
Also, Na Young Hee, Dok Go Young Jae, everyone did a splendid job! Congratulations!
If the 50 episodes make you think and rethink before starting this, just start it already! I was afraid of the 50 episodes too, i ended up watching 40 in 1 week and then waiting anxiously for the rest of the show to be aired! You won't even realise as the episodes fly by, you will be sucked in instantly!
IHAL has something pretty much for everyone. If you like romance, this is totally for you. It has infidelity, it has revenge, it has constant backstabbing, scheming, blackmailing, plot twists, backstories, twin siblings, illnesses, identity swap. It has everything, literally it has everything, it is more than a drama, and it deserves to be watched!
50 episodes, and yes, i'd rewatch it, especially the first 10 episodes which were so shocking to me, completely filled with reality, shivering, chilling. And then the effortless heart-warming and simultaneously heart-breaking romance, and then the backstory, omg yes. This is an overall 10 show!
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The story centers around a ridiculously attractive couple played by Kim Hyun and Joo Ji Jin Hee. Their dysfunctional relationship ends up being the catalyst for infidelity, mistaken identity, family wars, business betrayals, and a lot of frustration (not a plausible plot at all, but still entertaining). Ji Jin Hee was great as Jin Eon (who I named "The Brat" because of his annoying tantrums), but Kim Hyun Joo was really unbelievable, and the MVP of this drama! I really thought of Hae Gang and Yong Gi as two completely different people. Even knowing that it was the same actress, I still felt like I was watching 2 completely different actresses who looked slightly similar. I started calling her "Orphan Black". Then there's Park Han Byul who played the young "homewrecker" who tests their relationship Seol Ri ( I started calling her "Young Ho" - inappropriate but befitting her character). I wanted to smack her in her head for most of the show, but that means she was really good. Then they added Lee Kyu Han as Baek Seok (who I named "Forever friendzoned"). Will he ever get the girl? I just watched him in "Can you hear my heart" and he is really the perfect second lead. I would totally friend zone a guy as cool as him, but I hope to see him as a lead (Does that drama exist?). In the first quarter, it's the dynamic between these four characters that drives the story, but this drama almost changed into a completely different drama several times before it ended. It's only the acting that really holds the whole story together.
I was really into the relationship story, then the show started to focus more on the corrupt family business, and that's when I started to slowly lose interest. Dok Go Young Jae, Baek Ji Won, and Gong Hyung Jin were great at playing characters you love to hate, but I just didn't care about that story line. Thankfully eye candy Lee Jae Yoon starts having a more prominent role (I called him Dr. Aspergers) and I started to wish that he, Kim Hyun Joo, and adorable Kim Ha Yoo had their own spinoff show. Soon I started to like them more than the main couple, who's antics became just too repetitive, but they weren't given enough scenes, and their story resolved way too early in the show. That's why, for the last few episodes, I was forcing myself to watch, because it seemed like a waste to drop it after committing so much time to it.
Would I rewatch this whole thing? No! I could definitely watch certain scenes again, strictly for the chemistry and attractiveness. The last few episodes felt almost like complete filler (so many flashbacks at the end), so watching those episodes even once was more than enough. I also didn't like the introduction of new characters at the last minute. It almost seemed like they had no idea how to resolve certain main character stories, so they just added random characters to make the audience feel better. I didn't feel better, I felt cheated.
What about the music? Ryu's "Years" is damn near impossible to get out of my head. That's probably because it was played so obnoxiously during every single tragically romantic moment. Once that drum intro started I knew Hae Gang and Jin Eon were about to have a "moment". It's a beautiful song, so having it as an earworm is forgivable. The rest of the soundtrack was good too, and I like how music played a part in reminding them about their daughter. Oh, and my confession about the Ryu song... yes I already downloaded it. The fact that i still wanted to listen to it after hearing it so many times during the 50 episodes, means I must like it a lot. I think I will play it while I finish writing this review, to set the mood *Cue drum intro*
Overall, This drama is good enough to recommend, but I definitely understand if people don't want to make the 50 episode commitment. I didn't feel that addicted feeling until about episode 10, and it didn't lose it's thrill until after episode 40. I'm personally not sold on watching dramas this long, but I have no regrets about watching. What this drama does really well is show the depths a relationship can go through, which I loved. This is a grown up love story that is sad, and sexy, and frustrating, and inspiring. I would recommend it, but suggest loading up on snacks, getting a super comfy spot, and not making any plans for a while.
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Central to this story is a love quadrangle involving the lives of four people. Except for Baek Seok who is the penultimate goody two shoes who can do no wrong, the other three (Hae Gang, Jin Eon and Seol Ri) are flawed characters, all dealing with their own personal struggles. This love quadrangle is sure to take you on an emotional tailspin.
What made me stick around is the performance of Kim Hyun Joo. She’s the star of this show hands down. She’s such a great character actress, playing three entirely different characters in one show: the high and mighty, win at all cost Hae Gang, the amnesiac confident Mother Theresa Hae Gang, and her unsophisticated, simple-minded identical twin, Yong Gi. Her performance is breathtaking that one keeps forgetting she’s in these multiple roles. Her ability to emote a variety of emotions, love, sadness, anger, indifference through her facial expression and eyes is simply unbelievable,
The second reason I keep watching is the amazing on screen chemistry between Kim Hyun Joo and Ji Jin Hee. It is impossible to deny the effortless chemistry and deep sexual tension between Hae Gang and Jin Eon. The sparks just fly when the two are together. The eyes say it all making it so hard for me not to root for a reunion.
Running parallel to the love conflict is the saga of Hae Gang’s twin. In hiding to save herself and her child, she’s quirky, naive and almost comical. Mother and daughter find refuge in the unlikely brother of her enemy. This is a heartwarming part of the show. Kim Hyun Joo having conversations with herself in the two roles is nothing short of perfection. Throw in little Woo Joo. She’s got to be the cutest kid on k-ent. Sweet and endearing like no other, she’s unassumingly charming as Hae Gang’s niece and Yong Gi’s daughter.
And there’s always the trusty sidekick. Hyun Woo as Jin Eon’s best friend, confidante, matchmaker and errand boy, he gives us the candid humour and lighthearted moments.
Unlike other melodramas, the casting of the antagonists were a tad soft in my opinion. Jin Eon’s father doesn’t come across as evil or sinister. Min Tae Seok, the serial murderer is mild compared to other villains in kdramas. I thought the role of Seol Ri was appropriately cast. Park Han Byul is very credible as the beautiful and young seducer. She succeeded in making me hate her for most of the show.
For the most part the characters are all well written, multidimensional with many layers which make this show realistic and unconventional.
This is mainly a story about human relationships and the bonds between husband and wife, between brother and sister, between parent and child and between friends. The other storylines are secondary and only serve to complement the love quadrangle theme.
My only gripe is that at the end, the show tries to tie everything up too neatly for each of its leads which takes away some of the edge. Other than that it is an engaging show well worth my time.
The OST is excellent and very memorable. As for rewatch, not likely at 50 episodes.
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I started watching it because I love dramas with twins, and the story that this one told was intriguing and you never knew where it would go. It was quite long since it was a weekend drama, but the story keeps on refreshing every 10 episodes or so. It's like it's divided in batches of 10 because each batch deals with a "problem" and then moves forward and tries to deal with other intricated stuff that needs time to be resolved. Some things move at a slow pace while others are faster, so for those who like quick development maybe this drama would look boring and stalling a bit, but after all it has 50 episodes so it cannot go fast all the time. The changes in the characters were more believable like this, but there are some outcomes I am not happy with because the writer left some loose ends in regards of side characters, but if you're looking for a happy end for the main couple, you can find it in this drama despite they don't start with the right foot.
The main couple, played by Ji Jin Hee and Kim Hyun Joo was the strongest point of this drama. She plays the twins and is able to pull off the selfish one and the good one very well, even if my favorite was the "evil" one because she had a multi-dimensional personality. We see her evolve a lot in the drama and become a better person, along with her husband played by Ji Jin Hee. The husband, Choi Jin Eon, started off as a kind-hearted man with a soft spot for weak people, and this is not usually the type of man I like in a drama because he is a doormat. He changes a bit during the drama and gets tougher. I liked the story of his character with Do Hae Gang because they rebuilt their love from the ashes, but sometimes they argued too much for my taste and it seemed that we got back to square one (although I think the couple dynamic was meant to be like that).
I guess if you like drama dealing with revenge, secrets, business, you won't have a problem watching 50 episodes. But if you're looking for something romantic with a bit of comedy, this is not the drama for you. I have a lover is a melodrama and has its light moments, but the dramatic ones overpower them.
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