Well, readers, I’ve entered new territory. Yep, I started watching my first drama that is currently airing. Well, if we’re being technical, it’s finished airing now, but you get what I’m trying to say. I’ve watched my fair share of k-movies and k-dramas, but never have I watched a k-mini series. (Okay, so you could argue that the length of each KARA: Secret Love story spans the length of a typical movie, but let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on episode 1 & 2 entitled: Missing You.)
When I think of the mini-series KARA: Secret Love, “daebak” is the word that comes to mind. Because this series is pretty darn daebak, guys. Gut-wrenching, endearing, sweet, and add in some fantastical elements for a really well-rounded series.
Disclaimer: I really don’t know much about k-pop or k-music in general, so please forgive my ignorance and lack of knowledge on all things KARA. (I’m slowly learning, but there are so many groups out there that are overwhelming. If you want to recommend any groups and/or songs, be my guest. I’m happy for a starting point!) I know that you see a lot of crossovers in the Korean entertainment industry (from music to drama and/or movie or drama and/or movie to music), but this was really my first time watching a series that starred every member of a k-pop group.
Of all the stories, episode one, Missing You, is the one that left a profound impact on me. I’m sure we’ve all had moments in our lives where we acted rashly or stupid. I know I have. For Ji Hye, her moments of rashness spawn from her fears. She wants to be a successful model; she wants to work hard and get ahead. Because Ji Hye is so focused on the future, she ends up losing the one person she can’t live without. But don’t throw the kimchi and ramen at your screens just yet. Missing You has a solid ending that’s sure to turn your frown upside down. Oh, and you might shed a few tears, too. I feel I should disclose that bit right away because I was, quite literally, crying enough to fill rivers throughout this story.
Gyu Won (Park Shin Hye) from Heartstrings
KARA: SECRET LOVE
Episode 1 & 2: Missing You
In “Missing You,” we have a great opening series that is a mixture of The Butterfly Effect and The Notebook. Okay, so The Notebook is a bit of a stretch, but the characters in this series, Ji Hye and Hyun Jin tugged at my heartstrings just like Noah and Allie did. They were in love. Then, there were circumstances that ripped them apart. It seemed that the universe wanted to keep them apart, but their love was a force to be reckoned with and they found a way back to one another.
Enter Ji Hye. She’s a model who is focused on her career and future—so much so that she never tells her boyfriend of two years that she loves him. She even cuts him off during his marriage proposal because the timing is all wrong. It seems that the universe wants to punish Ji Hye for her selfishness because she has to watch Hyun Jin die in front of her. He even places the engagement ring in Ji Hye’s hand. The whole thing is just so damn sad, and it’s only through his death that Ji Hye truly realizes what was really important to her all along. Way to make me a sobbing mess in less than twenty minutes, drama! Aigoo.
After trying to commit suicide, Ji Hye is given the rare opportunity to travel back in time to prevent her younger self from ever meeting Hyun Jin. The all-knowing guy who I prefer to call Ghost From K-Drama Past, tells her that severing their bond and preventing their meeting is the only way to ensure that Hyun Jin will survive. But he will go on never knowing Hyun Jin—it will be as if they never met. Well, kkwemaeda (darn). Way to be a wet blanket, Ghost From K-Drama Past.
It’s at this time that I really feel for Ji Hye. Sure, she was a little selfish. And yeah, she did forget what mattered most along the way, but her feelings for Hyun Jin were most definitely love. She didn’t shout it into the sky from a rooftop. Maybe they didn’t go on half as many dates as their relationship aged, but even an oblivious past!Hyun Jin tells Ji Hye that a man wouldn’t stay with someone he didn’t love—regardless of dating or lack of expressed feelings. Coming from past!Hyun Jin, I feel this was a pretty substantial moment that eased some of Ji Hye’s remorse and sadness. She finally understood that Hyun Jin knew of her love for him—even if she was unable to vocalize it.
Ji Hye’s true love for Hyun Jin was shown in that she was truly willing to do anything to save him. Against the heeding of Ghost From K-Drama Past, Ji Hye stayed in the past too long and she, quite literally, died in the arms of the man she loves. She ultimately gave her life for him to live. Man, the hits just kept on coming and coming in this drama.
But, never fear! After future!Ji Hye dies, Hyun Jin ignores a younger Ji Hye and walks away from her as he promised future!Ji Hye. He spends the next several years looking for her everywhere. It’s a nice tie in to the first episode that opens with Hyun Jin talking about love and fate.
Eventually, Hyun Jin stumbles across present!Ji Hye while at a restaurant. Ji Hye became a chef. If you remember, when Hyun Jin and future!Ji Hye shared a meal that Hyun Jin prepared, she told him that she never had to cook because her boyfriend always did it for her. So, again, yet another tie-in that shows that the writers were really paying attention here. It’s also nice to see that while the timeline was altered, Ji Hye really was the same person—except for a few differences that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
The only sad part is that Hyun Jin still remembers everything that happened with future!Ji Hye. (Did anyone else have serious Rooftop Prince feels when this happened?) It was always their destiny to end up together, but it’s a little bittersweet because Hyun Jin has to progress the relationship backwards and pretend that they never met. Still, the core of this Ji Hye is so similar to the Ji Hye who came back in time that I can’t really be upset. Despite everything, they found a way back to each other just like Noah and Allie did. And the hopeless romantic in me can’t help but be satisfied with that.
P.S. Of all the stories, this one is my favorite.