The Third Charm tells the 12-year love story of how two young people with completely different personalities manage to find each other again. From the tender age of 20 to 27 years old, and then to the matured age of 32, will they find love for the third time?
At 20 years old, On Joon Yeong is a nerdy, smart university student who wears plain clothes, plain glasses, and doesn't obsess over fashion. He plans everything in his day meticulously, grows frustrated easily, overthinks things, and is very sensitive. With the guidance of his friends, he takes part in a blind date where he meets Lee Yeong Jae.
Lee Yeong Jae is also 20 years old, doesn't attend universit,y and instead works as an assistant hairdresser. Lee Yeong Jae has had a difficult life and is an orphan who looks up immensely to her brother, Lee Soo Jae, a barista. She is honest, hardworking, and somewhat daring: the complete opposite to Oh Joon Yeong. Her dream is to become rich, though she would rather get there by her own perseverance. One day, her friend takes her to a blind date group with university students. At the meeting, she encounters Joon Yeong and goes on a date with him. From there, at 20 years old, their love story begins.
(Source: AJ at MyDramaList) Add Synopsis In Portuguese
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This was one of the most discussed and controversial dramas this year. Many viewers felt cheated, angry because result totally differs from synopsis and marketing materials (hard to say it is even about romance). On other hand it had most intense discussions I ever saw. It was very fun to watch it live and later join in the comments. Though this drama has zero value to binge watch it. If you missed some episodes, I do not recommend to continue.
As writers tried to achieve ratings, create turmoil between viewers they forgot whole purpose of the drama, what message they want to convey. Seems all unprofessional work was covered up under "art", like you cannot criticize art though it has obvious flaws. Producers chose wrong methods to deliver wrong message. They had all the talent (actors, cinematography) to do right way.
Producers described drama as "poem about love during four different seasons". Usually artful dramas conveys strong emotional message and at the end leave you baffled, reminiscing what and why it happened. Here it is not the case. Chosen actors are really great and drama had many emotional turning points, Cinematography is artful too, there are many symbolic and hidden messages. But as story goes, felt like you were played around. Episode after episode you get really unexpected things but it became unimportant as story goes nowhere. In the end feels like everything returns to very first episodes. What was in the middle actually did not matter. There was no meaning behind those emotions. I felt less and less caring about character's ending. It feels tiring to watch it.
Story begins great. Feels very modern drama there main characters are very realistic and has obvious flaws. SKJ plays dorky geeky student with low EQ. What catches the eye, that SKJ does not try to be laughable or pitiful, but having friends, loving parents though very lost in social world. LS plays uneducated down to earth hairdresser. She is early matured, street smart, strong, willful but emotionally underdeveloped - she cannot express emotions freely, holds everything inside her because of dark past. These both socially awkward people unexpectedly blossom into love. Feels like one fits another, they both are outcasts, but combined together they are much better than other couples. This early love symbolizes spring - pure, naive etc. Personally such unique and realistic beginning rose huge expectations from this drama.
Sadly then came time jump into summer. They meet again and fall in love again. This time their love is free, head spinning but also burning and full of conflicts. Leads chemistry was amazing. Here are introduced 2ML and 2FL. These characters are very vague and only bring contrast to leads and source to their insecurities. They have no background or actual connection to the story or leads. They were so unimportant that I double checked whether they are on "main" or "support" cast. This was first very huge mistake from writers.
It was really hard to understand which secondary characters are important which are not, because many of them from first charm disappeared and many new were introduced. Who knows which ones will be left at third charm. Most importantly they had different purposes or if had any purpose at all.
Secondary stories were really boring and actually do not add anything to main story. Interactions with secondary characters brings more chaos than direction. Due to lack of direction many viewers started to search for hidden meanings between these dialogues, purpose of these characters. I call it "rise of conspiracy creators". This created huge contradiction - is this drama is artful or actually realistic? I lost what I am watching and what I should expect.
But what actually happened that producers created diffraction between two sides - one is ML, his friends, family and other is FL, accordingly. Between these sides there is no interaction. This automatically caused discussion, comments from viewers, which side they support, who was right and who was wrong during couple conflicts. Also viewers could not communicate among-selves because some saw drama as "art" and discussed hidden meanings of love, fate. Other saw it as realistic drama and what should actually happen in similar life situation.
Then came autumn (third charm) and everything fell apart. Drama did not had good ratings of viewership because of unimpressive first episode and sloppy work of writers. It attracted by its uniqueness, but plot was not engaging and consistent enough. Writers needed to save this drama somehow. The only strong point was that it caused discussions. Then producers created seesaw. One episode causes hate for FL and support for 2FL, then next episode causes pity and support for FL and uncovers hidden facts. Cycle repeats. Discussions and conspiracy theories ("child was his", "she was forced to marry", "he should chose comfortable realistic love") reached peak.
It was fun to discuss, read comments, but something important was lost - reason to continue to watch this drama (except "I will finish only because I like actor or actress"). Suddenly drama became very dark, sad and worthy of tag "tragedy". Drama became kinda a joke - "I will see how will writers clean this mess". I felt, that I was promised to see character development, growth, maturity from students to thirties. I thought third part should bring towards closure, not create additional mess. It had zero connection to first two charms. Most importantly I did not expect that writers will make FL character hateful and same time pitiful, just in order to create more discussions. It was very cheap move from writers. None of the promises were delivered.
Character development is not "crying while eating bread in Lisbon" or "losing everyone, and when none left asking for a help". Maturity is not talking less or looking at each other without words. There was none of character development or maturity displayed, only depression of growing old and coping with that.
And ending oh my... This is not even open ending. They did not define their happiness, it is even open for interpretation that makes them happy. What values left unchanged or changed during these third charms? After 16 episodes actually I do not know nothing about main characters for certain. Such ending made viewer further away from main characters rather than closer.
Second charm conflicts raised so many serious questions and none of them were answered till the end.
Second and Third charm discarded every possible meaning of romantic happiness:
-not a kiss (they both were together, no need to clear misunderstandings)
-not engagement (YJ was married)
-not married life with children, (YJ and HC had that)
-not mature comfortable love, (JY and SE had that)
-not passionate love, (JY and YJ had that)
-not supporting, extended love, (YJ do not meet JY parents, both friends)
-not healing love (who heals JY pain from being dumped, they never talk about it)
-not friends (still in love)
-not separation and moving on (neither is a bad person)
Writers shot themselves in the leg, not leaving any possible way to end the romance. The very worst way to end drama. Ending was not about romance at all. All four main characters ended in misery, not able to move on and not able to fight for.
It had huge potential. It had moments with very deep emotions. But it was totally wasted by direction. It has mix of styles (hidden messages+reality) (romance+majkang). It has no message, no core of the story that follows, connects these three charms. Feels like it was three different stories with very open interpretation. Zero consistency and definitely not a poem. Actually it is hard to describe as a drama, because story goes nowhere.
Each episode was great in quality, acting amazing, each episode was enjoying to watch even if it was very sad. But overall at the end I feel it was waste of the time, because producers cheated me.
I also find the representation of the four seasons in our leads' life very effective. SPRING which is the beginning, SUMMER, a joyous and active season, AUTUMN, the transition and closer approach to end, and WINTER, the season where it's the coldest and we seek comfort and warmth to others, also where we prepare to start again.
There are some instances where the characters' motives and decisions were questionable and confusing, particularly Young Jae. That's one of the downhills of the drama, you'll have to sit through and wait a week after feeling frustrated and confused. This drama is probably better to binge-watch. The music pieces were also brilliant and the songs were catchy. Mature and outstanding performances to all the casts, especially our leads Seo Kang Joon and Esom. Overall, I believe this is a well-thought and well-written drama, but is very easy to misunderstood given that the setting and ending is quite different from your typical Kdramas.