After watching two KBS Drama Specials today, I decided to catch up with the two-episode drama special (though not under the Drama Special banner) Waiting For Love.
The two-parter stars BoA, Choi Daniel and ZE:A’s Siwan in a contemporary story about love and relationships.
Before we get to the spoilerific review of the special, how about watching both episodes right here. I absolutely recommend Waiting For Love, both for the charming and emotional story and the great performances by its lead cast.
BoA is Yoon Ae, a college student unlucky in love. Her lovelife troubles are best exemplified by a viral video of her confronting her cheating boyfriend with live octopus. Her friend drags her along to a lecture with a self-professed dating expert and then signs her up for the personal advice service touted by him.
Not wanting to fall in love anymore after being hurt so much because of it, she gives in and asks the love expect for advice. But it isn’t the curly haired guy from the lecture doling out advice, it is his friend Gi Dae (Choi Daniel) who needs the extra money.
After being encouraged by the faceless advisor, Yoon Ae begins dating kind-hearted Jin Gook (Im Siwan) who has been admiring her from afar.
But while Yoon Ae enjoys her time with Jin Gook and sincerely likes him, she begins to develop feelings for the faceless advisor. And the feeling begins to be mutual for Gi Dae as well who is looking for some advice of his own to deal with his girlfriend Sae Rom (Kim Ji Won) who aims to make him, basically, a trophy husband.
Despite Jin Gook’s good intentions and doing everything he can for Yoon Ae, he is soon no match for the faceless advisor even when Yoon Ae finds out it isn’t the love expert she has been exchanging texts with this whole time.
The bumpers and title cards for Waiting for Love scream out a Yoon Ae-Gi Dae endgame. But what makes the series so interesting is that the couples we actually see go through the motions are Yoon Ae/Jin Gook and Gi Dae/Sae Rom with Yoon Ae and Gi Dae’s SNS exchanges framing those two couples’ journeys. While the trajectory of those two couples both seem to head in the same direction (towards Splitsville), there’s still that feeling where we are rooting for Yoon Ae and Jin Gook’s happy ending just as much if not more than for Yoon Ae and Gi Dae to meet face to face for the first time.
There might be a bit of 2nd Lead Syndrome in wanting to root for Jin Gook, but the story evolves organically.
Yoon Ae wants to merely date and have someone to be with, but she starts to genuinely fall for Jin Gook when she promised herself she wouldn’t. And when Gi Dae realizes he can’t force himself into marriage with Sae Rom, his feelings for this faceless “live octopus girl” turn from mere interest to a possible romantic connection.
You know a show has done its job when you are affected by the events unfolding on screen. You understand Yoon Ae moving further away from Jin Gook when it appears it is mere lust on his end than true love. Your heart breaks when Yoon Ae walks away from a scarily distraught Jin Gook. You are excited and kilig when Yoon Ae and Gi Dae are finally about to come face to face in the pouring rain. And then you suddenly want to cheer for Jin Gook when he makes a sincere last plea to Yoon Ae on his knees.
Talk about heartbreaking. Jin Gook literally popping up at the end was an unexpected twist. But what may have been even more surprising was his apparent sincerity as framed by Gi Dae’s final piece of advice:
“Sometimes, the one who loves more can win when the love is sincere.”
Yoon Ae’s story comes full circle. She believed that she “loved more” in her previous relationships, but realizes maybe she was never necessarily sincere. And now here’s a guy who made a scene in public to confront her (like she did once to her own ex), but now apologizing, admitting his mistakes and wanting for them to go at it the right way. Yoon Ae’s never had this kind of relationship before and Gi Dae’s last bit of advice is very meaningful.
Which is why I loved that final scene and wished there were no “4 Years Later” prologue. That final scene of Yoon Ae moving forward to shield Jin Gook from the rain as Gi Dae walks away was heartbreaking for everyone involved, but it was pretty realistic. It was poignant and emotional, but not cheesy.
We have no idea whether or not Yoon Ae and Jin Gook live happily ever after, but ending on that note after everything we witnessed the two hours previous would’ve been perfect. We didn’t need to see Yoon Ae and Gi Dae meeting for a blind date in four years even if just in the credits as a prologue. It still devalued the excellent scene before it.
We otherwise could have been left to our own imaginations. Maybe Yoon Ae and Jin Gook do end up together. Or maybe they both go their separate ways after making each other better people and learning more about how to love, together. That open ending would’ve really been an excellent way to cap off what was a turning point in Yoon Ae’s life.
Choi Daniel’s already proved he’s a romantic lead in many a role before this one. But BoA and Siwan deserve much kudos.
For BoA’s Korean acting debut, she showed she’s got a lot of potential as a romantic lead. Her character may not have broken any new ground, but BoA certainly kept Yoon Ae’s feet on the ground and made her a relatable and believable character. And before Park Hyungsik broke out as one of the most promising young idol-actors today, his fellow ZE:A bandmate Im Siwan had already done so in 2012 with acclaimed performances on megahit Moon Embracing the Sun and the darker Equator Man. Here, Siwan shows his versatility and proves he can go the romantic route as well with the early makings of being a dashing lead himself.
Waiting For Love may have just been a two-part drama special, but it packed in more story and emotional heft than many full-run dramas. Overall, it was a charming and poignant look at love and relationships with a little coming of age thrown in and some great performances to back it all up.