She’s So Lovable, starring Krystal Jung as Yoon Se-Na and Rain as Lee Hyun Wook, is a deceptively light-hearted drama about an orphaned young girl pursuing her dreams of becoming a song writer, and a seclusive man who is hiding from the world; avoiding responsibilities after the death of his girlfriend, Yoon So-Eun, some years ago.
What you find after watching the first episode is that the show isn’t entirely the light-hearted, comedic fluff you’d think when watching the promotional teasers and trailer.
Don’t get me wrong, the drama does include many amusing moments, as well as the occasional not so subtle cues that lead to a romantic storyline, making you squeal with unrestrained glee, and not to mention the cringing second lead syndrome that is typical in k-dramas. But that doesn’t account for why I was bawling over my ice cream halfway through the first episode.
It opens with Hyun Wook driving a fancy car on a winding road atop a mountain, arguing with a very angry girlfriend in the passenger seat. I’m pretty sure we can all tell where this is leading up to.
Apparently Hyun Wook needed a break, so decided to park his car on a conveniently positioned open stretch of road, where we then witness a rather predictable scene in which a truck crashes into their car, a collision of which I’m pretty sure So-Eun would have survived otherwise. In a dramatic turn of events, a distraught and bruised Hyun Wook cradles So-Eun, valiantly attempting to rouse her to consciousness.
What is meant to be a considerably emotional and intimate scene of a woman and man sharing their last moments together is, quite frankly, the opposite. We gain a sense of loss here, So-Eun dies in a heartbreaking way, she and her boyfriend spent their last moments together not out of love, but with anger and hatred. As the audience, we have been given a mere few minutes of exposure to So-Eun’s character, and entirely consists of a negative image of her. We’re not meant to like her as Hyun Wook’s girlfriend, these glimpses indicate we’re supposed to sympathise and pity Hyun Wook for the death of his girlfriend, rather than So-Eun herself. This lack of insight into her character cements that we’re meant to dismiss her as Hyun Wook’s girlfriend, we’re not emotionally attached to her, so we won’t really mourn the loss of her life, but rather would sympathise with Hyun Wook; we want him to recover from this heartbreak and find love again.
A suitable amount of time has passed, and Hyun Wook is living in a cottage in a isolated part of the country, he’s ardently attempting to avoid all links to his former love, and apparently failing to do so if the expressive cues of sadness and remorse are anything to go by. He is clearly in a state of grief, most people go through two scenarios when grieving, they obsessively attach themselves to that object/the person’s memory, or like Hyun Wook, avoid the memory trigger at all costs. For him, it is composing music. He drops all responsibilities and hides himself from the world, the one thing that he retains in his memory of So-Eun is a small collection of her items, a bracelet and a phone.
The phone is what connects us to Se-Na, who we see at the beginning of the drama as a considerate and poor girl, working a part time job, yet showing compassion for a half starved kitty. Se-Na is curiously in some deep trouble with mysterious loan sharks who are chasing her over the country, leaving her to abandon her job and uproot entirely to escape them. A pivotal and extremely important scene arises when a hopeless Se-Na must leave town, but before that we see her sitting in a crowded park, surrounded by people and clutching her phone. She calls her deceased sisters phone, offering a heartbreaking lament at being left behind and utterly alone.
Not gonna lie, this is the moment that I both cried hysterically, and also fell in love with Krystal’s acting. Not only was it completely flawless, and emotive, I felt the pain she was feeling at being alone and abandoned. This contradiction we feel here in regards to different people reacting to the death of an individual is stark and impacting. I sympathised more so with Se-Na than I did with Hyun Wook, both in equal parts to his limited acting and the poorly developed character relations.
I look forward to seeing Se-Na’s character progression, and if Hyun Wook improves at all. I do wonder how obviously they’ll play out their eventual romance.