I honestly don’t know what it is about Playful Kiss that made it so utterly enjoyable for me to watch. Was it the fact that it seems so very realistic and simple that it could very well occur to real people? Or was it the steady determination of Ha Ni’s love for Seung Jo that made me root for a happy ending for her? Whatever the reason is, I absolutely loved watching her win the heart of the guy for whom she harbored an unrequited love for four years, and the fact that that very love was what led him to love her back was indicative of both the characters’ personalities. I think that was the best thing about PK, how tangible the actors made their characters’ personalities (or was it thanks to the writer?), and there was not one character I didn’t root for by the end. The second leads were both adorable, and I loved that they never crossed over into the crazy, obsessive kinds of second leads we usually have to deal with in almost every k-drama. Both Bong Joon Gu and Yoon Hae Ra knew that the love between Ha Ni and Seung Jo was real, so they gracefully backed off, despite their strong feelings for the two of them.
I absolutely adored Lee Tae Sung in the role of Bong Joon Gu. He could’ve very well come off as OTT to some people, but I thought he was perfect in both his comedic timing and dramatic beats, making the emotions that his character was feeling so incredibly real that all you wanted to do was give Joon Gu a hug and comfort him on Ha Ni’s behalf. Oh, was that just me? Well, more Joon Gu for me then. 😛 It’s hard to find anyone in real life who’s so devoted to the person they love, and the fact that they gave Joon Gu a (suggested?) happy ending left me satisfied, no matter how contrived it was. Joon Gu deserved someone who would see only him, and even though his story with Kris? Chris? Cris? was very rushed, I was glad that the writers dangled that carrot in front of us viewers knowing that we were hoping that Joon Gu would end up with someone by the drama’s end. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I totally thought that there could’ve been something between Dok Go Min Ah and Joon Gu. I remembered one scene when they were still in high school and the three friends were talking about unrequited love and when Joon Gu was brought up, the camera focused on Min Ah and she had a wistful look on her face. I could be totally off about the scene but I distinctly remember thinking that it was possible they shot the scene that way because Min Ah had been harboring a secret love for Joon Gu as Joon Gu loved Ha Ni who loved Seung Jo. I guess it’s better that they didn’t have the best friend of the girl Joon Gu was in love with fall for him because that would’ve been quite messy for the friendship.
As for Hae Ra, I think it’s realistic that the drama ended with her gradually reaching out to her tennis club sunbae because of the similarities between her and Seung Jo. The fact that the sunbae was always there for her when she really needed him mirrors how Ha Ni’s feelings for Seung Jo were unconditional, and so it would only make sense that Hae Ra would begin to warm up to Kyung Soo slowly but surely. I like that they didn’t show us anything concrete because it would definitely take time for Hae Ra to begin to develop feelings for Kyung Soo, but they included a hint of that possibility, which is good enough for me.
Ha Ni’s character did annoy me from time to time for reasons that girlfriday discussed during some of the PK recaps on the dramabeans site. It was as if Ha Ni couldn’t think of doing anything that wasn’t related to Seung Jo, which essentially meant she had no identity, no sense of purpose if Seung Jo wasn’t a part of her life. No matter how much a girl likes a guy, it’s crucial for her to be able to choose her major and career path in life for herself, not for him. What if Seung Jo turned out not to be the one who Ha Ni would end up with? What would’ve happened then? What would Ha Ni have done about school? Yes, I know it’s a drama and they did ultimately get married and begin their lives as Doctor Husband and Nurse Wife, but I did have my qualms about that aspect of Ha Ni’s personality. I’m all for devotion in love, but not so much so that one loses their unique identity in the process.
Aside from minor quibbles (and some major ones), I really enjoyed watching Playful Kiss. Jung So Min has proven herself to be quite the talented actress at such a young age, and I think we can expect great things from her down the line. Kim Hyun Joong has made an improvement since his Boys Before Flowers days, and I’m glad he took this opportunity to work on his acting because through PK I saw that there is potential there. Of course it’ll take a lot of effort and work on his part, but I think KHJ might possibly reach Choi Si Won‘s or Lee Seung Gi‘s level of talent if he keeps working at it. Yes, it’ll take a while, but anything’s possible if one has the determination and motivation to make it happen, right? 🙂