I’ve been watching Korean dramas for a good many years now, and I’ve liked many of them. However, most were too bland in characters and plot, and slow on pacing, so I dropped most of them. I admit, I watch mostly romantic comedies (I’m a girl and a romantic – who can blame me?), but most Korean romantic comedies, I’ve found to be – pretty tame and simple. No raw emotions, no real internal conflict, just – either class struggle or some kind of external pressure to make the main couple go through turmoil. I Need Romance, however, doesn’t need any of that to make its story work. The premise is very simple – we follow In Young, our heroine, go through the latter half of a long ten-year relationship with her boyfriend Sung Soo – and her tremendous heartbreak at his increasing alienation, his cheating ways, and their eventual breakup. It sounds sad, and parts of it are incredibly sad – but it portrays modern love so realistically, that you can absolutely relate. Many have toted it as the Korean Sex and the City, but since I haven’t watched SatC, I can’t make an accurate comparison. However, what I can say is that I Need Romance is itself a great piece of television, and one of the better Korean dramas I’ve seen in several years.
We know at the beginning of the drama that In Young’s boyfriend Sung Soo has cheated on her with a much younger woman. The first several episodes is about In Young neurotically going over scenarios in her head of her boyfriend’s signs of showing infidelity: having a girl’s hairpin in his car and then imagining a crazy chain of events that could lead to the girl’s hairpin flying out of her hair and landing in the backseat (crazy stuff, I tell you!). If it weren’t for the clever pacing, the likable characters, and the way actress Jo Yeo Jung handled the rather (at first) flimsy character of In Young, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with the drama. But Jo Yeo Jung is so charming and winsome in this role that I can’t help but feel bad with her. The rest of the drama is carried on her very capable shoulders, so if you don’t like the actress, chances are, you won’t like the rest of the drama either. But seriously, I’d be surprised if you didn’t like the lead actress. Please comment below if you didn’t.
If you read further, there will be spoilers, so if you want to enjoy the drama without me ruining the ending for you, go watch the drama and then return to this post and read the rest of the review. Happy viewing!
Honestly, in the first couple of episodes, Sung Soo (played by Goong‘s Kim Jung Hoon) was a really unlikable character. We saw him from the start as a bad guy, as the cheater who threw away his ten-year relationship for a fling with a young actress. And we, as the audience, really didn’t understand why In Young still held onto him as tightly as she did. He did the most asshole-ish things, like sharing food with his new girlfriend right in front of In Young! He even told In Young that he had feelings for this actress and that he felt that In Young became like a mother or sister to him. I mean, seriously? Girl, get over him!
But as the episodes wore on, and as In Young started to date Sung Hyun (played by Choi Jin Hyuk), Sung Soo redeemed himself, in my eyes. He was still there next to In Young as a best friend, if nothing else, as she was going into this new relationship. Sure, he was still arrogant and even hoped Sung Hyun would hurt In Young the way he hurt her so she’d go back to him. But I think that was said more out of spite and hurt than anything else. I truly believed he recognized the gravity of the things he did to hurt In Young, and in doing so, did his best to repair whatever damage he could. He watched out for her, even when she didn’t know he was around, to make sure she was doing well.
It’s kind of like the book Flipped in a way. In Flipped, a girl falls madly in love with a guy at her school. He shows absolutely no interest and she’s heartbroken, but she continues to love him. Several years later, the girl has moved on, but the guy has taken an interest in the girl. He continues to like the girl more and more, until it becomes love. I forget how the story ended, but the situation here in I Need Romance is definitely similar. At first In Young is devastated over the fact that her boyfriend of ten years cheated, while her boyfriend can only give her an apathetic “I’m sorry.” And after she has moved on, he FINALLY realized what he lost and tries desperately to get her back. For many viewers, this is not enough. Many viewers feel that Sung Hyun deserved In Young and feel gypped that she ended up with that jerk, cheater Sung Soo instead.
But here’s what I feel. The problem with her ending up with Sung Hyun is that In Young never stopped loving Sung Soo.
As much as Sung Hyun loved her, she never returned those same certain feelings of wanting to be together forever, as she felt with Sung Soo. Sung Soo’s comfortable, sure, but she felt destined to be with him. In Young started to develop feelings for Sung Hyun, but mainly out of spite for Sung Soo. I don’t think what she had with SH was nearly the same as she had with SS. One was a rather steamy affair and the other was a long-term, steady relationship based on real compatibility.
My true feelings – Sung Soo was In Young’s destined partner from the beginning. They have such great chemistry, both emotionally and romantically. They are the best of friends, have the same sense of humor, and did all the big firsts together. People say, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” But seriously – who doesn’t have wandering eyes? Who doesn’t think there must be a younger, more interesting, and more physically attractive option out there? I don’t hate Sung Soo for cheating; it’s human. But what he did afterwards – staying by In Young’s side despite her continuous efforts to rid herself of him and acting as a real friend without wanting anything in exchange – won me over. It’s not a “happily ever after” by any stretch of the imagination – real life is NEVER like that – but In Young’s happy enough with Sung Soo to take him back at the end. There’s no engagement, but there is a promise ring, which means Sung Soo matured in the process. It’s not the ideal situation, but life isn’t like that, so you just have to take what you are given. It seems like there may be a continuation to the story (a Season 2?), and I would love to see it.
Do you agree or think my review is crap? Let me know below!